[nfbmi-talk] FW: governor appoint resolution letter.doc

Fred Wurtzel f.wurtzel at comcast.net
Thu Aug 6 22:22:55 CDT 2009



Today, I sent the following letters to the Governor’s office.  Ms. Burton is
responsible for processing appointments to various boards and commissions in
state government.  


Be prepared to discuss this matter at our board meeting this Saturday in
Grand Rapids.


Warmest Regards,





From: Fred Wurtzel [mailto:f.wurtzel at comcast.net] 
Sent: Thursday, August 06, 2009 3:45 PM
To: 'burtona1 at michigan.gov'
Subject: governor appoint resolution letter.doc


Dear Ms. Burton:

Please find attached a letter and resolution from the National Federation of
the Blind of Michigan regarding appointments to boards and commissions. I
would be most appreciative if you would share this communication with the
Governor and let me know that you received the message.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.


Fred Wurtzel, President
National Federation of the Blind of Michigan 


1212 N. Foster Avenue

Lansing, MI  48912


August 6, 2009 


Dear Governor Granholm:


I am writing to express our organization’s concern about the appointment
procedure for Commissions and Boards.  We realize and know that the present
procedure is similar if not identical, to those of past governors.  Today,
there is a heightened awareness of the need and desirability for
transparency in government programs and processes.  The appointment process
is no exception.


The national Federation of the Blind of Michigan was instrumental in Passing
Michigan Public Act 260 of 1978.  We strongly support the concept of a
citizen Commission to set policy for the delivery of services to blind
people and as a conduit for concerns regarding the general welfare of blind
people in our state.  It is for this reason that we write, today.


We have become increasingly concerned and now alarmed about the way the
Michigan Commission for the Blind’s appointments are managed.  In the past
several years at least 3 Commissioners have been removed.  The most recent,
Mark Eagle, was removed for trumped up and unsupportable reasons.
Additionally, the process for his removal was engineered and orchestrated by
Pat Cannon, the Commission Director.  Mr. Eagle was speaking out about
consumer issues and was punished for carrying out his duty to represent
blind people in Policymaking at the Commission.  The ethics board, an
advisory board with no authority or direct knowledge of the Michigan
Commission was used to give a veneer of legitimacy to the inappropriate
removal of Mr. Eagle.


In our view, the Commission board has become a weak and ineffective body to
adequately set policy on behalf of blind people.  It appears to us that Mr.
Cannon has undue influence on who is selected for the board and how they are
removed.  According to Michigan Public Act 260 of 1978, the Commission
Director (Pat Cannon) is selected and evaluated by the Commission Board.  It
is inappropriate that he has undue influence on their selection or
longevity.  We believe that this is the job of the governor.  The governor
would presumably seek out the input of Michigan citizens, especially
consumer organizations of the blind to make the best selections.  We are not
so naïve as to believe that you would not seek comment from the Commission
Director as part of your deliberations.  This is a natural thing.  However,
such input ought to be only one among many voices considered in the
appointment process.


Attached is a resolution adopted by our board of directors.  We request that
you review our concerns and work with us to make reforms in the appointment
process that will provide a more balanced means of making good Commission
board selections.  We stand ready to work together with you to improve
Michigan government and services to blind people.


I can be contacted at f.wurtzel at comcast.net, 517-485-0326 or 517-256-5575.
We look forward to hearing from you.








Fred J. Wurtzel, President

National Federation of the Blind of Michigan

WHEREAS:  In 1978 Blind consumers lead by the strong vital efforts of the
National Federation of the Blind of Michigan worked to pass the Commission
for the Blind Bill creating Public Act  260 which established the Michigan
Commission for the Blind; and

WHEREAS:  P.A.  260 calls for the Governor of the State to

Appoint Commissioners who have responsibilities to represent blind people to
state government and set policies for the provision of services to blind
people by the Michigan Commission for the Blind; and

WHEREAS:  The law clearly defines the line of authority and sets forth the
guidelines for hiring and evaluation of the performance of the Commission
for the Blind Director and sets forth the roles of the director and Board
such that the Director is under supervision of the Board; and

WHEREAS: the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan is deeply
concerned that on at least three occasions, the director allegedly caused
the removal or non-reappointment of Commissioners who were advocating
strongly on behalf of blind

citizens including the most recent action of the Commission Director to
orchestrate an

investigation by an ethics board without any known authority thereby setting
up a

screen of legitimacy to cover the unjustified forced resignation of Mark
Eagle from

the Commission Board; and

WHEREAS:  these alleged actions resulting in the loss of good commissioners
appears to 




give the MCB Director undue influence on the appointment of members of the
Commission Board and

WHEREAS:  There are no guidelines or procedures which allow for

the public to view the appointment of Commissioners to the Michigan

Commission for the Blind Board; and

WHEREAS:  it has been and remains unclear which criteria or

Qualifications are considered by the Governor when making appointments to

Commission Board; and

Public trust and good governance calls for openness and transparency in the

conduct of public business.


Therefore, be it resolved by the National Federation of the Blind of
Michigan on June 23, 2009 that:


#1.  The Governor's office make available to the public the criteria used
for the selection of candidates for appointment to the MCB Board and the
notice of proposed candidates be available prior to the selection of any
candidate; and

Be it further resolved that:

#2.  A review of the forced resignation of former Commissioner, Mark Eagle
be conducted and the findings be reported to the NFB of Michigan; and

Be it further resolved that:

#3.  The Governor assures the blind of Michigan that those appointed to the
Commission Board carry out their proper role by setting commission policy
and establishing a proper line of authority and supervision of the MCB


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