[Ctabs] September 2020 Board Meeting

llee at nfbct.org llee at nfbct.org
Thu Oct 8 20:45:46 UTC 2020



Minutes from our September 12th Board Meeting are below. I've also attached
them to this email in a Word document.





National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut

Board Meeting Minutes

September 12, 2020


Called to order: 11:04 AM 


Roll Call:

President: Maryanne Melley

1st Vice-President: Philip Magalnick

2nd Vice-President: Beth Rival 

Acting Secretary: Marchele Davis 

Treasurer: Nathanael T. Wales

Board Members:

Shonda R. Rosetta

Cheri Duquette

Mary Silverberg 

Jim McCollum


Recite of NFB Pledge:


Opening Remarks: 

President Maryanne Melley stated that rumors are spreading throughout the
affiliate. It is suggested that person(s) do not have the NFB philosophy in
their hearts. Rumors only encourages hate destroys reputations etc. It was
advised that one should not pay attention to rumors and to get the facts
from the affiliate! We should share the sentiments of President: Mark
Riccobono, "With love, hope and determination, let's go build the National
Federation of The Blind!"


Treasurer's Report: Nathanael T. Wales



As of September 10, 2020


Bank Accounts:

*       Our available checking account balance is $49,276.43.

*       Our available savings account balance is $52,541.60.


General and Restricted Funds:

*       Our total general fund (liquid assets) is $71,540.60.

*       Our total of restricted funds is $30,277.43.  of these:

*       $1,556.00 in the Blackford Fund; this balance we have yet to use for
outreach such as outreach tables (or virtual events) at which affiliate
members would demonstrate Newsline.

*       $9,473.91 in the Cummins fund

*       $8,697.95 in the Demarest fund, comfortably allowing us to award
this scholarship this year and in 2021.  The rate of annual donations over
the past few years would, if it continues, continue to allow us to award
this scholarship every year.

*       $334.95 in the Higley Fund

*       $126.50 in the Bruce Woodward scholarship fund; I heartily recommend
that we use some of our General Funds to add to this to award a scholarship
in Betty and his honor.

*        $3,553.02 in a fund now for a Braille Enrichment for Literacy and
Learning (BELL) Program next year.

*       $2,999.51 in the Paul Duquette Technology Fund

*       $175.50 in a fund temporarily holding funds for the at-large chapter

*       $182.05 in a fund temporarily holding funds for the Waterbury

*       $948.92 in a fund holding funds for the CT Association of Blind

*       $597.05 in a fund temporarily holding funds for the CT Association
of Guide Dog Users

*       $20 in a fund temporarily holding funds for the CT Association of
Blind Merchants

*       $103.19 in a fund temporarily holding funds for the Southwest
Connecticut Chapter

*       $174.05 in a fund temporarily holding funds for the Hartford Chapter

*       $1,084.83 in a fund holding the assets of the East of the River
Chapter until March 28, 2021

*       $0.00 in a fund temporarily holding funds for the Central
Connecticut Chapter's cycling challenge

*       $250.00 in state convention sponsorships


As I have stated over the past few months, we should expect some decrease in
fundraising income during the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts,
and we have begun to see such a decrease albeit slight.  Our General Fund
has actually continued to grow but at about half the rate as this period in
2019.  We are in an excellent position to invest in our members and
potential members with programming, including assistance to them with
technology in advance of our state convention now to be held entirely
virtually in accordance with state restrictions on the size of indoor

(Report Completed)

Discussion: Question from Philip: Is there a board or committee of the
Merchants Division? Response from Mary: There are not any members of that
division. Philip stated that he would like to make a motion to close that
division and liquidate the asset, sending them to the general funds. Beth
disagreed. Beth feel that the division should stay opened. Philip, stated
that if there are no members, then it's just a title. Maryanne agreed. Jim
stated that it can always be re-opened in the future. Voted to close the
account and transfer funds to the general account: Unanimously agreed. 

Advisory Board Report: Mary Silverberg

The report was from minutes of the June 18th meeting. The more recent
minutes will be presented at the next board meeting in November. The Blind
American Equality Day: This is a group that plans activities and raises
awareness of the day. In addition, the Veteran's group also supports in
these efforts. With regards to B.E.S.B., It was stated that Ed Owens, who
was in charge of the Business Enterprise Program, has retired on July 1st.
The appointed new supervisor is: Terrell Samson. Due to Covid-19, 32
locations were closed by the end of March. Only 4 Micro Marts and 1 gift
store remains opened. The vending facilities of the 3 state parks were
stated to open later in the season. However, it is unknown as to how many
and which were opened. The staff has been assisting the vending facility
managers to apply for unemployment benefits that were made available by the
federal stimulus law. This helps to provide facility managers with vacation
coverage up to $1200.00. Due to a decrease in building occupancy, the
vending machine income has declined by $40,000.00 this fiscal year. With the
retirement of the facility manager, who ran the newsstand at the Department
of Labor, Statewide Community of Blind Vendors voted to close the location
rather than seek a new manager. Two field representatives were hired by the
Business Enterprise Program. Mary Burgard who is affiliated with Voc Rehab,
says that many have been laid off or furloughed from their jobs. In
addition, there has been very few employment opportunities. This was a
reminder as to why Brian Sigmon, director of B.E.S.B., is not allowed to act
on a lot of the decision-making processes with regards to the executive
branch of the government. It is the Advisory Board, SRC and other groups
that help to vote and make changes. It was stated that there was much
concern and heavy discussion regarding focus training areas. It was noted
that the Personal Adjustment Program, has their own curriculum and
timeframe. There was a public incumbent session. Few members were there from
the NFB. It was reported that Nathanael Wales, stated that there is a need
to revise the timeframe regarding an existing and current policy. Beth Rival
made a motion and Mary Silverberg seconded to request the B.E.S.B director
to work with the State Rehab Council. Furthermore, to develop
recommendations to present to the Advisory Board on visions to the policy.
And then to present those recommendations at the next meeting at the
Advisory Board. After much discussion, from concerned individuals, regarding
accessible voting, explanations of efforts were both written and verbal
communication had been expressed. Unfortunately, resolutions were
unsuccessful! A motion was made by Chairperson, seconded by Beth Rival and
approved by all to address the matter of accessible voting. 

(Report completed)   


Question from Philip: Asking if resolution was issued to the Secretary of

Response from Mary: "I believe so."

Comment from Philip: He stated that the primary concerns of his members,
over the past 6 months are: no services and/or the lack of services. 

Response from Mary: Mary stated that she understood his frustration.
Furthermore, these difficult times are troublesome for everyone. 

Comment from Beth:  Beth stated that Philip is able to email Brian his

Comment from Nathanael: Nathanael stated how he had liked the thought of
problem solving. In addition, he suggested reaching out to the Louisiana
Center for the Blind, and other agencies to see what methods are being used
in handling various issues relating to the Covid-19. Then sharing those
ideas with B.E.S.B.

Comment from Philip: He felt as though B.E.S.B. was being more represented
more so than the blind citizens of CT.

Comment from Maryanne: She is not sure about the government mandates.
Furthermore, Maryanne mentioned that Blind Inc. will be speaking at the
convention. We can ask them how and what they are doing regarding O+M, then
share that information with B.E.S.B. If everyone is wearing masks, there is
no excuse not to offer O+M training.

Comment from Beth: Beth stated that she will check with her resources and
get back to the board. 

Final comments from Jim, Cheri, and Nathanael: Suggested that Blind Inc. be
place closer to the top of NFB state agenda. 


SRC Committee-Deb Reed:

The vocational rehabilitation policy on personal adjustment was last revised
in July 2018. Representing NFB of CT was our president Maryanne Melley, she
expressed her concerns on how an extension of services was determined solely
on the acquisition of skills. Also, there was concern as to who was making
this determination.  The State director rather than the vocational
rehabilitation supervisor. A motion was made by Gary Allen to have the
director draft revisions to be discussed at our next meeting on September

(Reported Completed) 


BCAC-Barbara Blejewski:

No Report. 


Vehicle Donation-Marilyn Wenzel:

No Report. 


Federationist Report: Briana Rigsbee: 

Briana stated that she will be taking over the Federationist Publication. In
addition, gratitude was expressed to the predecessor, Melissa Carney, and to
the board. If anyone desires to place issues or articles, feel free to
contact Briana at: 

 <mailto:editor.fedct at gmail.com> editor.fedct at gmail.com 

Phone: (203)751-0199


Birdies for Charity Report: Mary Silverberg

$945 from 20 donors with 15%= $141.75. With all the total funds raised,
$1086.75. Mary stated that she is very pleased! It was stated that Joe was
the IT tech person and Marchele assisted with the Facebook promotions.
Hopefully next year having an email blast, will help to reach more


Pac Plan Report: 

Anne West will give a report at Convention 2020.


New Business: 

Presentation from NFB of Colorado: Scott LaBarre had updated the board by
way of legal counsel, on the voting situation in CT and what they are doing
to address it. Scott had emphasized that CT, at the moment, has an absentee
voting system, that is inaccessible to the blind and other voters with
disabilities. In addition, he went on to say, due to the pandemic, Governor
Lamont and the general assembly took action to make sure that everyone in
the state could vote by absentee ballot. The idea is good for others;
however, the method does not work for the print disabled. This method
interferes with the right to vote privately and independently. The state of
Colorado, and many other states, have something called an "Accessible
Absentee Ballot Marking System." In particular a vender called "Democracy
Live." Scott stated that the system is very accessible. A brief description
was shared regarding the system. Scott stated that the system is readily
achievable and inexpensive. Connecticut has received 5.5 million dollars
from the "Corona Virus Relief Act." These funds are to specifically help out
with voting. Scott had given complements to the CT affiliate on their
advocacy and dedication towards the implementation of an accessible ballot
marking system! It was stated prior to the pandemic, President Riccobono had
sent a letter to the secretary of state, Denise Merrill, last September,
fighting for the accessible absentee ballot marking system. It said that
there is an obligation under the ADA specifically "title 2" to provide an
accessible voting platform. However, it was stated that President Riccobono
did not get a response. Scott had shared that there had been a lot of
communications with NFB members and to the state dignitaries. However,
voices were not being heard, ignored and having excuses that were
unjustifiable. Scott was appointed to get involved. He stated that he had
written letters, he too was ignored. Subsequently, Scott and his team
prepared to begin a law suit against the state of CT. Scott stated that they
have a great legal team with the support of Disability Rights Connecticut.
Scott and his team, finally got a response. A meeting was set for Tuesday,
September 15th, in hopes that an agreement is made to implement a system.
Scott assured the affiliate that him and his team will take every step
possible to achieve accessible voting! Scott had recommended that we,
affiliate members, write to the town clerks requesting both an accessible
application for absentee voting, in addition to an accessible electronic
ballot. If you are a military or an overseas voter, you can request an email
with the ballot. However, you have to mark and print then send it back.
Maryanne had expressed her gratitude to Scott, President Riccobono, and the
affiliate for the hard work and bringing this important and worthy cause to
light. A few affiliate members had expressed their gratitude and
appreciation to Scott and his phenomenal presentation. 

Final remarks from Scott: "That we will make sure that every blind American
has the equal right to vote as anybody else!" 

(Update completed) 


Remarks Maryanne: Meet The Blind Month 

Maryanne referenced President Riccobono's previous release on Meet The Blind
Month. Maryanne stated although we are currently living in a virtual world,
the chapter presidents need to think about reaching out and educating the
public about blindness. There is so much that we need to do! Maryanne had
shared her experience from the 4th of July. After Maryanne shared her story,
she gave some suggestions as to how and what we can do to educate the
public. Some examples were: speak before a college group or other types of
groups. Furthermore, informing them of laws around the ADA and the
philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind. Maryanne had really
emphasized the importance of educating to the sighted public.

Comment from Philip: Philip shared the same sentiments. Then he further said
that he had encountered individuals with a lack of training. Philip stated
that according to his experiences, the unawareness is getting worse! Philip
said that he has offered to educate and inform individuals with respect to
disability etiquette and awareness. 


Convention Committee Report: Maryanne Melley

We will be voting by phone like we did at the national convention. Once we
are given a number, there will be practice voting. Amy Ruell, from MA, will
be the national representative for our convention this year. In addition,
she will be the one to receive the election results. Enter to win a free
convention weekend in 2021.

For $20.00 you could be the lucky winner of free registration and a
two-night stay at the hotel where we will be holding our 2021 50th State
Convention. Also, there will be a pumpkin contest. Decorate, paint, or carve
a pumpkin for a chance to win! First place, $75.00; Second place, $50.00;
and third place, $25.00. 

On Saturday, we will have great speakers; from 9AM-5PM.

There will be a break from 12:15-1:15PM.  Furthermore, there will be
breakout sessions for guide dog and student divisions. Maryanne stated,
after having a long talk with John Bergman at the National Federation of the
Blind, it appears to be super expensive to have merchants and venders. We
have to pay for phone service and a couple of other things. However, the
costs are not significant. Please remember to pay your dues by the time your
registration is sent in or you will not be able to vote on Sunday. 

(Update completed) 



Maryanne stated that the constitutions says that we have 2 weeks to
register. But, due to the system that is being used, all dues must be in by
that time. In addition to electronic registration, the paper forms have been
mailed out. All registrations will be verified as paid members. Maryanne
stated that she will register everyone to vote. Furthermore, the names must
be the same on the form as when you vote. Beth had confirmed that
registration had to be in by October 2nd. Marchele raised a question
regarding to pumpkin contest. Question: Would it be wise to have a list of
participants so at the time of the contest it could be managed more
competently? Maryanne liked the idea. Therefore, she will put the
announcement on the listserv and speak to each chapter rep to send names of
those who wish to participate to schedule timing. Nathanael raised a
question. Question: Regarding the deadline, is that a hard deadline?
Maryanne, stated that there is no flexibility. Philip stated that he had 2
questions and 1 comment: Philip had asked if there should be an amendment or
a vote to suspend that  portion of the constitution? He further stated that
he believes that there should be a special meeting. Secondly: Regarding the
function of the nominating committee: Is the nominating committee supposed
to go to the chapters to see who are the interested candidates for the
upcoming positions? Or is it the president that tells the nominating
committee who to nominate? Third: Philip stated how he liked a particular
speaker that will be presenting at the convention. Maryanne responded by
saying that she didn't think a special meeting was necessary under these
extenuating circumstances regarding the constitution. She stated that
President Riccobono had to make changes with respect to the national
convention. Secondly, Maryanne reported that having been to "Team building
for presidents with President Riccobono." she was told specifically by him,
that the president can choose who he or she wants nominated to build and
work with the president for the position and the benefits on the board.
However, if someone declines the nomination, then changes will be made.
Maryanne went on to say that she will check with President Riccobono if
there should be a separate board meeting to vote on a 1-time, not following
the fifteen-day rule. Maryanne stated that we should not have to bother
President Riccobono with issues that we could handle ourselves! There was
heavy discussion on the slight, temporary adjustments of the constitution
with regards to the Covid-19.  Shonda made a point to the fact that we are
not to vote proxy. However, due to the Covid-19 the voting platform has to
be of this fashion. Question to Philip, from Maryanne: What wording would
you feel comfortable with just for this year with respect to an
uncontrollable condition? 

Response from Philip: We will talk offline.


Nominating Committee: 

Noreen Grice: Head of the nominating committee and who is from the Central
CT Chapter. She will announce the nominations on Saturday morning.  

Marilyn Wenzel: Southern CT Chapter

Chrissy Scrimgeour: At Large Chapter 

(Reported completed) 


Chapter News: 

Jim Cronin - At Large Chapter: Jim reported that in June, he had Leslie
Prescott a low vision expert. Also, in June, he had Frank Covesco, a Reiki
3rd degree instructor. August, reported having technical difficulties. Carol
Hix a physical therapist, will speak in September. Finally, President
Maryanne will be on the call in October. 

Gary Allen, Hartford Chapter: Reported that in June, he had someone from
NFB-Newsline and CRIS Radio. July, checked in with members.  

Philip Magalnick, South West Chapter: Reported that they continue to have
weekly Wednesday, occasionally having speakers. In addition, Instructions
for iPhone and iPad were given. In September, they had a meeting. Garry
Allen had attended. He had announced his candidacy for president during that

Shonda R. Rosetta, Shore Line Chapter: Reported that no meetings were held
from June-August. However, will resume in September. 

Beth Rival: Beth reported that Josephina, who is from the Waterbury Chapter,
had recently discharged from the hospital. She has a heart condition, so she
is home resting. Furthermore, her son is battling brain cancer. Beth said
that Richard, from the Central Chapter, had had a stroke, he continues to
recover in rehab. Prayers and thoughts are with them!  

Marchele Davis: Southern Chapter: Marchele reported that in June, Ricky
Enger, from the Hadley School for the Blind, enlightened us on the programs
and services of the school. In addition, prepared for the national
convention, had summer recess. The meeting was to resume on September 13th.
Next NFB Board meeting: November 1, 2020

Meeting adjourned: 1:28PM 


Respectfully Submitted, 

Marchele Davis 

National Federation of the Blind of CT Affiliate:

Acting Secretary

Maryanne Melley




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