[nfbmi-talk] mcb march 19 minutes won thru mi foia
jj at bestmidi.com
Sat Apr 17 23:45:56 UTC 2010
These are much more accurate than I expected they would be, all the way up
to the end.
----- Original Message -----
From: "joe harcz Comcast" <joeharcz at comcast.net>
To: <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 8:14 PM
Subject: [nfbmi-talk] mcb march 19 minutes won thru mi foia
DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT
MICHIGAN COMMISSION FOR THE BLIND
MARCH 19, 2010
VICTOR CENTER BUILDING
Ms. Jo Ann Pilarski, Chair Ms. Velma Allen (via telephone)
Mr. Michael Geno, Vice-Chair Ms. Geri Taeckens
Ms. Margaret Wolfe
MICHIGAN COMMISSION FOR THE BLIND STAFF PRESENT
Mr. Patrick Cannon Ms. Sue Luzenski
Mr. Leamon Jones Ms. Susan Turney
Ms. Sherri Heibeck Ms. Christine Movalson
Ms. Sue Chinault Mr. Bruce Schultz
Ms. Constance Zanger Ms. Julia Burdgick
Ms. Carla Haynes Ms. Amber Silvey
Mr. James Hull
Mr. Daniel Frye Mr. Joe Harcz
Mr. Larry Posont Ms. Roxanna Mann
Mr. Herb Grassow Mr. Geoffrey Krause
Ms. Michelle Carrington Ms. Christine Boone
Mr. Doug Boone Ms. Elizabeth Mohnke
Mr. George Wurtzel Mr. Matt McCubbin
Mr. Jason Meddaugh Mr. Michael Torrez
Mr. Paul Posont Mr. Larry Scott
Mr. Mike Ellis Mr. Bob Rafferty
Mr., Mark Eagle Mr. Terry Eagle
Mr. Geer Wilcox Ms. Mary Wurtzel
Mr. Greg Keathley Mr. Fred Wurtzel
Mr. David Robinson Mr. Joe Sontag
Ms. Mary Ann Rogek Ms. Yvonne DeWitt
Mr. Bryan Sackrider Ms. Mae Kent
Ms. Shirley Wiles Ms. Phyllis Magbonua
Ms. Janet Wisswell Ms. Donna LePiors
Mr. Jerry Clay Mr. Wayne LePiors
Ms. Terry Mahoney Ms. Paula Stevens
Ms. Debbie Huntley Ms. Daphne Johnson
Ms. Stenetta Burroughs Mr. Brian Brown
Ms. Michelle Crawford Ms. Mary Jenkins
Mr. Bennet Grass Mr. Adam Parker
Ms. Sarah Norwood Mr. Shane Jackson
Mr. James Chaney Ms. Chamille Jones
Ms. Crystal LaFleche Ms. Lydia Shook
Ms. Gwen Botting Mr. Greg Botting
Ms. Chris Barnard
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
The Committee of the Whole was called to order at 9:12 a.m. by Chair Jo Ann
Ms. Margaret Wolfe attended the Diversity Committee in January.
A presentation was given by the Native American Business Alliance focusing
on interactions between MCB staff and Native American groups. This person
actively wants to work with MCB on diversity within the Native American
groups and the presentation was very informative. Commissioner Wolfe also
said that it appears the sub regional library is doing well with becoming
part of MCB and said she was saddened to hear about the sub regional library
closing in Marquette.
Commissioner Michael Geno met with MCB staff regarding partnering
opportunities for the Computer Recycling for the Blind program. A letter
has been written outlining proposed procedures which will assist the program
in getting computers to applicants. This program is also collaborating with
the MCB Training Center to explore having computers available in students'
Commissioner Geri Taeckens reported that she attended the Service
Delivery Design Team. Commissioner Taeckens also has been involved with the
Quality Education Team (QET) and is promoting the upcoming 2nd Annual
Braille-A-Thon to be held at the Capitol in June with fliers, posters and
fundraisers. She has served on the College Policy Committee which is on the
agenda to be discussed later in this meeting.
Commissioner Jo Ann Pilarski said that she has attended two
Planning and Quality (PAQ) Team meetings since December. She commended Sue
Chinault for contributing and running a well organized library.
Commissioner Pilarski highlighted action plan updates including the Michigan
Commission on Disability Concerns (MCDC) losing staff which has delayed
client survey results. Also there had been discussion on how B E P
Operators receive their point reports, which will be received on a quarterly
basis. She also spoke about the MCB Director's Performance Objectives for
2010 and indicated some of the objectives will be deferred and that the new
objectives added focus on B E P and the planning of an all staff meeting
including stakeholders, community partners, operators and consumers which
will focus on reintroducing the agency's Vision 2020 Initiative to
participants. She also reported on the Elected Operator Committee (EOC)
meetings she has attended and said she has been impressed with both staff
and operators, the feeling of unity between operators and the spirit of
cooperation among all participants.
Commissioner Geri Taeckens added she had attended an ad hoc
meeting on MCB data systems focused on tracking college consumer
information. She identified team members and suggested consideration be
given to adding a college student and a parent of a college student which
would provide a different perspective.
Commissioner Velma Allen joined the conference by telephone and
informed participants that she will be resigning from the Commission due to
her relocation to Alabama. Commissioner Allen wished the best for everyone
and stated she looks forward to a time when everyone can problem solve and
come together with all constituent groups in a way that moves everyone
Director Cannon expressed his regrets that Commissioner Allen
would be unable to participate in this meeting so attendees could wish her
well. He and others shared their appreciation for Commissioner Allen's
service on the Commission Board.
DISCUSSION OF DIRECTORS 2010 OBJECTIVES
Commissioner Pilarski stated the current goals and objectives are
appropriate for now and believes that future goals and objectives will arise
during discussions at the all staff meeting to be held in June 2010.
Commissioner Taeckens shared concern regarding the client survey
on unsuccessful closures which has been put on hold and stops the agency
from moving forward. It has been three years since the beginning of the
process and Ms. Taeckens asked for a timeline commitment from Director
Director Cannon agreed that this is an important project and noted
that the Michigan Commission on Disability Concerns (MCDC) lost one-half of
their staff, and said MCDC has recommitted to moving this project forward.
He said the two progress reports to Commissioners last year on this
initiative were helpful and said Commissioners can expect additional reports
within the next several months.
Commissioner Wolfe said that she liked Objective three in regards
to succession planning. Director Cannon stated that the ad hoc committee
for succession planning met for the first time March 17 and will continue to
meet during the coming months.
DISCUSSION ON MCB'S SEPARATE AGENCY STATUS
Commissioner Pilarski said that this topic is on the agenda
because of frequent rumors of consolidation or merger with the general
agency, Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS), especially in these very
difficult economic times and also because of the changes in the Executive
Branch and Legislature. She said remaining a separate Agency is important
because of issues related specifically to specialized services for the
Commissioner Taeckens spoke about the trend happening in other states and
the candidate for Governor who is talking about merging MCB with MRS.
Commissioner Wolfe felt it was not yet necessary to begin a letter
writing campaign on this issue.
Commissioner Geno said it was important to keep the perspective
that MCB is one of the best in the country and emphasized the necessity of
unity. He also stated that every time a person who is blind is successful
it benefits the whole blind community.
Director Cannon noted that rumors of merger or consolidation are
not new and frequently surface many times a year. He said that after
speaking with 3 key officials in the Governors office who asserted that no
such plans were under consideration he's satisfied that any threat of
consolidation is not eminent. He acknowledged that one potential candidate
for Governor is looking at privatizing food service on the inter-state
system which would be very harmful to the Commissions blind highway vendors.
MCB Staff met with MDOT and the Governor's Policy Team a few years ago and,
although the idea seemed intriguing to MDOT and the Policy Team at first,
after grasping the importance of highway vending to blind operators they
were no longer pursuing this subject and said this issue has not been
brought up again.
Commissioner Pilarski referred to a document developed in 2002 that spoke of
MCB and MRS remaining separate agencies. She then asked that the President's
of both consumer organizations comment on this subject.
Mr. Larry Posont, National Federation of the Blind of Michigan
(NFBM) commented on an agreement created by the NFB-M and Michigan Council
of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI) in 2003 on keeping separate
agencies which identified 9 areas of concern. Mr. Posont also referred to a
study that Mississippi State University completed on separate agencies and
initial analysis indicates that keeping separate agencies is best.
Director Cannon noted that Mississippi State University (the other
MSU) did issue the report and its resulting data confirms that blind
individuals served by a separate agency are finding employment 82% of the
time compared to 57% in a combined agency.
Mr. Joe Sibley, MCBVI, stated that their organization will stand
with others to support MCB as a separate agency. Commissioner Taeckens and
Commissioner Geno said they appreciate positive information about the
effectiveness of separate agencies and urged supportive comments about
specialized services for the blind. Commissioner Geno commended the staff
on its communications and public awareness activities.
DISCUSSION ON PUBLIC COMMENT
Commissioner Pilarski stated that NFB-M has requested more public
comment be put on commission meeting agendas. An initial idea was to have 2
public comments in the morning related to morning issues only and an
afternoon public comment geared to those issues on the afternoon agenda. A
question has already arose about whether the Board can limit public comment
to one specific agenda item or items on the agenda during a specific time
frame. Director Cannon reported that the Open Meetings Act (OMA) expects
public comment to be on the agenda, but limiting public comment to specific
items on the agenda may be debatable. The Attorney General's office
suggested that, generally speaking, limiting public comment to a particular
topic is not advisable.
Commissioner Taeckens asked about the possibility of encouraging
participants to speak about a certain topic.
Commissioner Geno said that when a group is dealing with a forum
such as this meeting it is out of tradition to restrict topics of
discussion. He stated the two issues he can see are the legal aspect of
limiting public comment and the common courtesy aspect of allowing public
comment as decided by the Chair.
There was discussion about the possibility of impromptu public
comment being called and this was left up to the discretion of the Chair.
Commissioner Pilarski reiterated the need for participants to
speak respectfully without calling out people by name. She also reserved
the right to call for a public comment during a particular issue where
comment from the audience would be helpful.
Commissioner Taeckens proposed possibly scheduling two or three
public comments knowing that more opportunities may arise directed at a
Commissioner Geno stated that he would support as much public
comment as can be managed. He also stated that he would like to have public
comments that are not repetitious, be constructive and reflect both sides of
Commissioner Taeckens asserted that the Board cannot control
Commissioner Pilarski asked for Larry Posont and Joe Sibley to
comment on this discussion.
Mr. Posont stated that public comment is an ongoing issue and said
he would like to have public comment before a Board vote is taken on an
Mr. Sibley agreed that public comment is critical and stated that,
for consumers, it is not just a privilege but an obligation to express
Further discussion included having three public comments and a
floating public comment as directed by the Chair. Commissioner Geno stated
that public comment times could be most effective when all participants made
prudent and efficient use of their time when raising issues.
ISSUES/QUESTIONS FROM PREVIOUS MEETING
Ms. Luzenski reported there were no issues or questions from the
Commissioner Geno asked if audio streaming quality can be checked
on a periodic basis. Ms. Luzenski shared that staff checks audio streaming
so that we are informed of how it is working. Mike Ellis commented that he
is currently working on the internet connection to correct the volume issue
but the phone option is working fine.
Commissioner Taeckens asked for a Board discussion regarding
programming and whether policies need to be established or existing policies
need to be looked at regarding what is considered rehabilitative programs
and what is considered recreational opportunities. For example, unless
someone wanted to be a sky diver she doesn't see skydiving as a
rehabilitative program and certainly does not think that MCB should have
sponsored any portion of this program. She asked how programs are funded
and asked if there is a process for approving such activities and, if not,
one should be created.
Director Cannon explained that there is, indeed, a process in
place and it begins with MCB's Executive Management Team, which includes the
Consumer Services Director, Training Center Director, Administrative
Services Manager, Rehabilitation Consultant, Library for the Blind Manager,
Director's Management Assistant and the Director. These participants bring
ideas to the table for discussion whether they come from themselves or from
MCB staff, consumers or stakeholders. Items requiring a policy would come
before the Board. Director Cannon said that the MCB Training Center is not
a career training center and elaborated on the function of the Commission's
Training Center as an orientation and adjustment center, a place to be
taught the skills of blindness, to learn that it is okay to be blind, to
raise expectations and to gain confidence.
Discussion focused on liability issues, where to draw the line
regarding classes, being cognizant of how funds are spent and the impression
this may leave with the general public and integration of blind people into
all segments of society with regard to recreational activities.
Break at 10:30
CALL TO ORDER, ROLL CALL AND DETERMINATION OF QUORUM
The regular meeting was called to order by Chair Jo Ann Pilarski
at 10:45 a.m. Roll call was taken and a quorum was present. Commissioner
Allen was not present
Guests in the room introduced themselves.
APPROVAL OF DECEMBER 11, 2009 MINUTES
Commissioner Wolfe moved to accept the December 11, 2009 minutes as
corrected; supported WITH CORRECTIONS by Commissioner Taeckens
Commissioner Taeckens asked that public comment made by Elizabeth
Mohnke regarding the college policy be more fully reflected. She also asked
that during Leamon Jones' report when she asked specific questions about
data on MCB college students and he was unable to respond fully that the
minutes reflect this also.
Commissioner Geno asked that a line be added during his comment
regarding lunch "I pledged to, if this happens again, suffer with those
involved the same consequences of not being able to get lunch."
Commissioner Wolfe amended her motion to reflect these changes.
THE MOTION PASSED UNANIMOUSLY.
APPROVAL OF JANUARY 19, 2010 MINUTES
COMMISSIONER GENO MOVED TO ACCEPT THE JANUARY 19, 2010 MINUTES AS CORRECTED;
SUPPORTED WITH CORRECTIONS BY COMMISSIONER WOLFE
Commissioner Taeckens raised the concern that there was a lot of discussion
during this meeting and a lot wasn't reflected. There was questions raised
about the Operator being successful in his previous employment and that the
P.A. had not been attending to his needs. She proposed to add that the
Operator had been successful in his previous location.
Commissioner Geno amended his motion to reflect these changes.
Commissioner Pilarski stated that as Chair she reserves the right
to not vote unless necessary but not have it be seen as an abstention. She
would like the minutes to reflect that, if she had voted on the January 19
ALJ recommendation, she would have voted "no."
THE MOTION PASSED UNANIMOUSLY.
ADOPTION OF DIRECTOR'S 2010 OBJECTIVES
COMMISSIONER WOLFE MOVED TO ACCEPT THE DIRECTOR'S 2010 OBJECTIVES; SUPPORTED
BY COMMISSIONER TAECKENS; THE MOTION PASSED UNANIMOUSLY
Ms. Luzenski reported on several pieces of board correspondence
1. Joe Harcz regarding DELEG Policies and Procedures on
2. Joe Harcz regarding By-Laws and Minutes to the
3. Joe Harcz regarding the recently approve MCB Board By-Laws
4. Larry Posont regarding analysis items listed of March 19th
The Board & Mr. Harcz brought to the attention of Ms. Luzenski that more
board correspondence was received. Ms. Luzenski indicated that she would
review correspondence received during the break and present her findings
Chair Pilarski noted that there was a statement submitted by the
Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth (DELEG) and asked that it be
read at the end of public comment.
Ms. Michelle Carrington stated she was wondering why the marksmen
class should only be done on recreational time when there are craft classes
and computer cables into dorm rooms. She stated students should have the
right to choose what they want and that the class should be offered and left
up to the student to decide.
Mr. George Wurtzel encouraged the Commission Board to ask the
Department of Education about the inaccessibility of one section of the MEAP
test administered in Michigan schools this year. A second section was read
aloud to students. He shared that it was the Commissions responsibility to
question the Department of Education regarding the education received for
Ms. Roxanna Mann, a student at the Training Center, thanked
Director Cannon for recruiting and hiring Christine Boone as she felt it was
a wise decision. She stated she feels privileged to be there, it's a
well-run facility and the training and staff are wonderful. She was part of
the marksmen class and got a bullseye her second time out and said this was
a life skill which boosted her. The marksmen class was closely monitored by
staff and appropriately controlled. Because of this class she will become
active in this venue.
Mr. Joe Harcz stated that the Commission is required to follow
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and Section 504.
This includes having Braille and raised signage on every permanent room
including room numbers. Mr. Harcz shared that this building has
non-compliant signage, none of the exits or stairways are marked. The
violation of these civil rights laws are an act of discrimination. Mr.
Harcz stated he receives compliance from his local school board regarding
ADA laws and the Open Meetings Act but does not receive the same
consideration from the Commission.
Mr. J.J. Meddaugh, a former student assistant at the Training
Center, said that when he worked there the students were going to concerts,
sporting events, movies, plays, skydiving, marksmen class and trips to
Chicago. These were confidence building and personal growth experiences.
Since the Training Center Director has been fired students are afraid to
speak up for themselves and strongly discouraged to invite NFB members to
the Center and attend this Commission meeting. Mr. Meddaugh asked
participants to visit the Training Center and see the change from a program
that promoted independence and freedom but is now filled with oppression and
Ms. Phyllis McBaun, a former Training Center student, asked if
money spent on trips to Chicago might be better spent on lifestyle learning.
She said money should be used to learn life skills not for shooting guns.
Mr. Terry Eagle reported that there are three blind people running
for state office and they can be supported by campaign contributions. Mr.
Eagle reference Commissioner Geno's comments earlier in regards to public
comment not being repetitious and said that each statement is like it's own
letter regarding one issue. Mr. Eagle touched upon the issues of more
Commission meetings needed for the Board to discuss multiple issues, time
and money constraints but yet the Commission goes off-site for meetings
denying a B E P Operator of a catering opportunity, the Training Center
classes helping newly blinded people gain confidence and Orientation and
Mobility instruction should be moved to people's home community.
Mr. Mark Eagle spoke about the Commission Board needing more
meetings as having four a year isn't enough time for adequate representation
and oversight of the program and its consumers. He stated that with no
representation there is no government.
Chair Pilarski asked Director Cannon to comment on the Executive
Directive regarding not having more meetings.
Director Cannon said there are multiple Executive Directives
issued on spending reductions and one in particular states the need to
reduce all but essential State travel and expenditures and noted that some
other Boards and commissions meet only two or three times a year.
Mr. Jeff Krause, a student of the Training Center who lost his
sight later in life, used to be an avid shooter and the marksmen class
brought back a piece of him that was missing.
Mr. David Ellingwood who has been going to meetings at the City
Council has been pressing for detectible signals, although he has come
across them in city of Kalamazoo.
Ms. Michelle Carrington commented that the skydiving class that
wasn't held was not costing the State anything but the students were to pay
Mr. Fred Wurtzel stated he was glad there were three public
comments. He encouraged Commissioners who were questioning the need for the
recreational activities to read a book called Freedom for the Blind by James
Omvig, which is all about training centers. Mr. Wurtzel would be willing to
supply copies. He said that Michigan has a deep rooted culture in hunting
and having that capability back restores a sense of worth and causes a
person to look around and wonder what else they can do. He commented on the
level of intimidation and bullying of Christine Boone and Center staff, and
students told they are not allowed to come to Lansing.. He advised
Commissioner Pilarski that she can call a special meeting and invite the
people and they can help to provide programs for blind people.
Mr. Joe Sontag stated that he was sure the Director could persuade
the Governor to help overcome the funding barriers being discussed. He said
a BEP position was filled when it was not an immediate issue during a
statewide hiring freeze so funding for a few extra meetings should not be a
After the public comment session ended, Commissioner Pilarski
asked Susan Turney to read a statement issued by Mario Morrow,
Communications Director for the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic
Growth, which stated that Christine Boone filed an action against the
Department protesting her dismissal due to her unauthorized planning and
implementation of a marksman class at the Center which was in direct
conflict with a civil service work rule. The Department stated that it will
vigorously defend its action.
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND OF MICHIGAN (NFB-M) UPDATE
Mr. Larry Posont, President, National Federation of the Blind,
thanked the Commissioners and stated that NFB-M was going to use this time
differently than in the past. He stated they have 3 position papers to be
read to the Board that they encourage the Commission to adopt to make it the
strongest that it can be when serving blind children and adults in the State
of Michigan. He noted that there are 4 documents that NFB feels are the
Mr. Posont spoke on resolutions passed at the NFB-M convention
last November. First is college policy and the Federation urges
Commissioners to reject the policy that's on the agenda and to revisit the
policy development with more consumer participation. The other issue is
training for Commission staff. NFB-M feels that extensive training for
existing and new staff is vital because of all of the impending retirements.
Mr. Mike Powell, Vice-President of NFB-M read the NFB-M position
on the marksmanship class at the Training Center. He explained that NFB-M
believes that blind people should have equal access to the use of guns and
target practice. He added that in Michigan hunting and target practice is a
popular recreational activity enjoyed throughout the State by both sighted
and blind individuals and, accordingly, the opportunities offered to
Training Center students for target practice at the Center was appropriate
and well planned. He said that the Training Center Director and her staff
were thoughtful and careful in the design and implementation of the class
and that her dismissal by the agency Director was inappropriate. He
elaborated on the importance of the class and all of the safety precautions
that were taken into consideration of the development of the class. He said
the class provided an important training opportunity for blind persons to
learn again how they can enjoy the sport of firearms and that the abrupt
cancellation of the class was unwarranted and a violation of the civil
rights of blind individuals. He concluded his presentation by stating that
the cancellation of the class was contrary to the Commission's claim that it
supports blind persons abilities to pursue their dreams.
Ms. Maryann Rojak, read an open letter to Chair Pilarski and Peter
Plummer regarding the B E P program and how the program and it's operators
have been harmed through the hearings process administered by the State
Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules (SOAHR). The number of hearings
and the chaotic nature of these proceedings are symptomatic of the
directionless administration. NFB-M is asking for an immediate investigation
into the propriety and legality of the tactics and practices of the
Commission for the Blind staff and the Administrative Law Judges (ALJ).
NFB-M is concerned about recent practices where the same ALJ is reviewing a
majority of the grievances filed and the result has been recommendations
going against the legitimate complaints of B E P operators. In the
Federations letter to Mr. Plummer they called for a review of all cases
adjudicated by Judge Robert Meade and to rehear each case under acceptable
rules according to the Michigan Administrative Procedures Act. Other issues
listed in the letter to Mr. Plummer include:
1. Lack of fair and full evidentiary hearing of vendor
2. "ALJ shopping" and undue political influence by the Agency
3. B E P staff failing to make requested relevant documents
4. the halting of B E P paying for hearing transcripts for
5. The B E P manager attaching a staff recommendation to ALJ
6. B E P's failure to notify vendors and vendor
representatives when grievances are to go before the Commission Board;
7. MCB Hearings Coordinator refusing to communicate directly
the appointed non-attorney vendor representatives;
8. B E P staff placing untrained, uncertified sighted persons
in vending facilities as temporary operators;
9. B E P employment practices;
10. B E P financial issues;
The third NFB-M document presented to Commissioners addressed the
role of Commissioners as defined in Public Act 260 of 1978, the law which
created the Commission. The document underscores the power that
Commissioners have in the overall running of the agency and setting policy
and direction in its service delivery.
The fourth document presented to Commissioners provided the NFB-M
analysis of Public Act 260 and identified several areas where the Commission
and its staff were not adhering to the dictates of the law. Mr. Posont said
that although time did not permit the full reading of all the documents to
the Commissioners at this meeting, all materials would be posted on the
website of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan and urged
everyone to review the materials in their entirety at their website.
In his final remarks to Commissioners, Mr. Posont said that
Commissioners needed to step up to their responsibilities under the statute
and said that the Federation would continue to monitor the progress being
made and would return at each quarterly commission meeting and will continue
to make its case that the Commission board and staff must be responsive to
the needs of blind people or the Federation would promote the appointment of
others who would.
Recessed for lunch at 12:20 p.m.
The meeting reconvened at 1:25 p.m.
Ms. Luzenski presented five additional pieces of board
correspondence to be presented:
1. Mr. Joe Harcz regarding a request for accessible proposed
or draft MCB Board minutes on an ongoing basis pursuant to obligations under
the Michigan Open Meetings Act with corollary accommodations pursuant to the
ADA and Section 504.
2. Mr. Joe Harcz regarding request for accessible proposed
and approved MCB Consumer Involvement Council Meeting minutes on an ongoing
basis pursuant to obligations under the Michigan Open Meetings Act with
corollary accommodations pursuant to the ADA and Section 504.
3. Mr. Joe Harcz regarding a specific request for proposed
minutes December 11, 2009
4. Mr. Joe Harcz amended request for proposed minutes
December 11, 2009
5. Mr. Joe Harcz regarding a question about a reference in
the Annual Report on the Area Agencies on Aging
MICHIGAN COUNCIL OF THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED (MCBVI) UPDATE
Mr. Joe Sibley, President of MCBVI and Casey Dutmer, former
President of MCBVI represented the organization. Mr. Sibley introduced his
Mr. Sibley spoke on the firearms issue at the Training Center
stating that he believes in the rights of blind people to participate in
shooting sports in a safe manner but he also asserted that an off-site
location may have been a better choice for this class. Mr. Sibley said that
Director Cannon has taken a lot of heat on this issue and he is saddened
that Christine Boone was dismissed. He said that he doesn't believe that
Director Cannon singled out any one organization or that his action was not
appropriate. Mr. Dutmer added that the adversarial tone of today's meeting
could have been avoided and suggested that the dialogue process from the
Planning and Quality (PAQ) Team should have been utilized for discussions
Mr. Sibley provided an overview of MCBVI and explained that the
organization is affiliated nationally with the American Council of the Blind
(ACB) and said there are 6 chapters around the state with 45 members in
Grand Rapids and the organization is hoping to add more chapters in the
future. In his update of MCBVI activities and future plans, Mr. Sibley
noted that current events include launching new youth activities, advocating
for Braille literacy and said MCBVI will be supporting the Braille-A-Thon in
June. The MCBVI annual conference was held last October and was audio
streamed with keynote speaker Ken Medema. The next MCBVI State Convention
will be in Grand Rapids in October 2010. The 2011 convention will be held
in Lansing. Mr. Sibley reported that the MCBVI website has been redone.
The American Council of the Blind national conference will be held in July
Mr. Sibley reported that MCBVI continues to actively support and
promote the MoPix project, which provides audio description for blind
theater goers with installations in Grand Rapids and Lansing movie theaters.
Format issues are being worked out because of the switch to digital.
Mr. Sibley congratulated Sue Chinault, of the Library for the
Blind and shared his love of the new digital player.
Mr. Dutmer commented on results of the organization's advocacy
efforts, including the Social Security Administration now offering
information in accessible format in Braille or on a CD. He also said
they're asking people to call their local congressman to endorse a new bill,
HR3101 which gives more video description options and emergency
announcements, such as those from the National Weather Service. There are
also three bills in various stages regarding public transportation in
Mr. Sibley encouraged newly blind or visually impaired people to
examine both consumer organizations. He congratulated Larry Posont on
becoming President of the NFB and also encouraged participants to use the
new AutoMark machines for voting.
Mr. Dutmer also mentioned a retreat that is happening the next day
with Commissioners and stated he hoped that the meeting would be
constructive and some resolution is reached so all can move forward.
Commissioner Taeckens asked about the progress of the accessible
currency issue. Mr. Dutmer reported on the ACB suit and said that various
approaches to achieve accessibility are being tested and noted that other
countries accessible currency are being looked at to determine what the best
process is to be utilized.
Director Cannon added that the courts ordered a phase-in of the
accessible currency mandate. Adding the one dollar bill will remain the
same and other currency notes will be formatted differently so that they may
be discerned from each other.
Mr. Sibley added one last thing, that when he became blind the
best thing he ever did was get involved in one of the consumer groups.
Commissioner Taeckens made a motioned that Director Cannon propose a new
policy about how new programming is developed and implemented within the
Agency; commissioner geno seconded the motion
Commissioner Geno asked that Director Cannon respond to this proposal.
Director Cannon explained that there are many ways to develop new programs,
activities and policies, including the Planning and Quality (PAQ) Team,
Service Delivery Design Team and the Consumer Involvement Council and said
that ideas can come from any staff member within the organization. Many
teams within the organization are involved in the process and the agency is
always open and inclusive.
Commissioner Geno asked Commissioner Taeckens to clarify her motion. She
said her purpose is not to bog down the process or eliminate spontaneity but
she is asking for a written process that necessitates approval from multiple
people. Commissioner Wolfe stated that before making a decision she would
need more information, possibly this could be tabled until the next
COMMISSIONER TAECKENS WITHDREW HER MOTION; GENO SECONDED THE WITHDRAWAL OF
Commissioner Pilarski asked that Director Cannon and Commissioner
Taeckens discuss this issue.
George Orwell submitted written comments via email, he said he
thinks the budget must be looked at. Also as an outsider, his eyes have
been opened to the diverse capabilities & interests of limited people. He
states they are not different than me, just follow different avenue to
complete steps. Mr. Orwell sees educating the general public as a charge
designated to the Commission for the Blind.
Timothy Paulding wrote that he believes it was a mistake to
dismiss Christine Boone as she was an asset in so many ways. Blind students
were encouraged to get out and about in the community-to apply the skills
they learned at the center in real life situations. Students were encouraged
to ride the bus, figure out their way around town and get involved in the
community. The Center became a place where students became empowered through
skills of blindness. Students were expected to participate in their world as
first class citizens and they were treated as such. Sighted guide was
discouraged, up-to-date technology was purchased and new curriculums were
implemented as well. Mr. Paulding stated that Christine did a great deal
for the blind of Michigan. He felt the fire-arm issue was a hoax. He asked
to know what the real story was and requested Commissioners to get to the
bottom of this.
Kim Walsh greeted all participants in her written submission and
thanked the Commission for the opportunity to participate in public comment
via email. Ms. Walsh stated she would like to see the Commission offer
public comment by phone as she has participated in other conferences this
way and would like to see the Commission pursue all avenues of remote
Greg Botting, a student, spoke on the college policy focusing on
three issues: college students with multiple disabilities, the 5 year time
limit for college completion and analysis of the request to attend community
college. He stated that MCB eliminating certain regulations in the college
policy would make it easier for students with multiple disabilities as there
is no understanding of the disabilities or personal circumstances. Mr.
Botting cited the 5 year policy as unfair because even sighted students take
longer for college completion. A time limit will only hurt, not help, the
blind community. Lastly he spoke on community college not working for
everyone. He believes MCB needs to explain why community college is better.
Ms. Gwen Botting shared that she felt the college policy was
difficult to understand and that it contradicts itself. Secondly, she has
concerns about the playing field not being level and asked why MCB does not
embrace part-time students as an option not taking into account family or
personal circumstances, chronic illness or multiple disabilities. She
stated adopting guidelines which lays out special circumstances would be
preferable to letting the Consumer Services Director making a case by case
decision. MCB could adopt guidelines to monitor yearly progress in attempts
to allow variations in programs. If students passed their preparatory exam,
the next step allows them summer exposure on a college campus with
residential facilities so students can show they have the capabilities of
being on their own or not. The financial aid section is confusing and could
be interpreted in different ways and the graduate program section is
troubling because if you can find a job with a bachelor degree you could be
denied graduate studies.
Mr. Joe Harcz stated that he will be filing a complaint with the
Department of Justice on the issue of signage in the Victor building and
filing complaints with the Department of Civil Rights and Department of
Education on the issue of receiving accessible minutes in a timely manner.
Mr. Harcz invited everyone in the room who is blind to join him in filing an
ADA complaint on the lack of signage in the room. He also spoke about the
issue of being a combined or separate commission which he stated he has
always fought for a separate commission. The Board is supposed to be
autonomous and consumer driven and supervise key personnel but a blended
agency with a statewide counsel might be more responsive at this time.
Ms. Lydia Schuck, the mother of a blind child with multiple
disabilities, the former President of Parents of Blind Children and a member
of the Consumer Involvement Council brought issues forward about the college
policy. She asked for a design which prepares for long term proposal,
universal design which addresses multiple means of presentation, response,
assessment and accessibility. She said the Lansing State Journal had a
recent article stating that 50% of students finish college in 4 years or
less and these are not people with disabilities who have to deal with issues
of getting books, transportation and funding. The professional counselors
should be allowed to work out with the consumers to determine how long it
may take them to finish college. She finished by quoting a teen who is
blind and autistic which has a higher incidence than 1%, "Mom I'm just going
to need more time than everyone else, I just need more time."
Mr. Fred Wurtzel stated the college policy has been a tumultuous
process that has seen one commissioner kicked off the Commission Board, lack
of respect from Commission staff toward Commissioners during public meetings
advocating for a concrete position the Commission seems to hold, time length
is one issue and holding the students harmless under the Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU), but this still doesn't address the issue of MCB
stepping in when there is conflict between the student and the school.
Another question arose about graduate degrees which would allow consumers to
gain good jobs when the commission should be providing the maximum services
instead of the minimum. He felt the policy needed to be thrown out and
started all over to assist blind people in achieving their maximum
Mr. Terry Eagle spoke about an attempt to take his microphone from
him during morning public comment. He did not appreciate this happening and
it showed a lack of respect. He said the open letter that was read this
morning about the B E P did not surprise him, and that Casey Dutmer even
agreed that these issues have lingered for years. Mr. Eagle also responded
to Commissioner comments on feeling threatened and he said that they should
view his statements as promises, not threats, and reiterated his promise to
take whatever action is necessary to make the Board do what is supposed to
Ms. Elizabeth Mohnke, a current college student who has spent
hours listening to the college policy meetings which tend to focus on
sentence structure instead of the issues at hand. These issues include time
limits, Memo of Understanding (MOU's), informed choice where students are
directed to go the MCB Training Center for the college assessment instead of
giving students a choice. Also the MOU's state that during a period of
conflict between the student and the college it is the Commissions
responsibility to fulfill the students' needs until the conflict is resolved
and she stated that she doesn't see this happening. She said that education
is a good way to combat the slump in the economy and it appears that MCB is
putting up barriers to allowing the most effective education for their
Mr. J. J. Meddaugh asked why transportation from the Training
Center for students was not provided by Center staff so that students from
the Center may have attended. Students need to be allowed active
involvement in these meetings.
Chair Pilarski thanked everyone for their public comments.
COLLEGE POLICY DISCUSSION
Commissioner Taeckens, Ms. Crystal LaFleche and Mr. Leamon Jones, on behalf
of Sherry Gordon were present as representatives of the College Policy
Commissioner Taeckens thanked all the participants who were
involved in the meetings and said that it has been a long tedious process.
She also thanked Director Cannon and Leamon Jones for their participation in
the meeting held on January 29. Despite those efforts, she said that she's
unhappy with the latest product of their work and stated that she's not
supporting the college completion timeline as it's written. She stated that
she was the only opposing person, she finds it discriminatory and
segregating within one disability. Her other concerns include advocating
for community colleges over a 4 year college, cumbersome writing, and having
original policy committee members editing this document.
Ms. Crystal LaFleche stated that she felt the committee tried their best and
is open to suggestions.
Commissioner Pilarski asked other Commissioners to weigh in.
Commissioner Wolfe stated it appears the 5 year time limit is still an
unresolved issue. The students that will be following this policy have
already been admitted to the University or community college and she
believes it's a disservice to all students to assume they can't succeed
without having a document stating all of their options. She said she
believes that no students have been denied an extension of services or
services in general. She reiterated that students have been encouraged to
submit proposed policy changes in writing, saying that if someone wants
something different in the policy write it down and submit it to the
Commissioner Taeckens said that consumer services are provided
under their Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) which should be the
guiding document for the timeline and the definition of goals and how to
accomplish them. Commissioner Taeckens stated that the agency has
insufficient data on college students, their services and experiences. She
said MCB needs to gather and analyze more data to help drive wise and
informed policy revisions.
Commissioner Geno said that all public comment on this issue was
very well stated, which was helpful to him and asked if the concerns being
raised were more hypothetical than real? The lack of complete data prevents
the agency from knowing how much of the current problems are due to the
existing policy. He stated that there are serious concerns still remaining
that do not seem to be addressed in the latest draft and, as such, said he
doesn't support the policy as presented. He asserted that the process is
still a struggle and he believes that it should be opened up a bit to
generate more trust in the process.
Mr. Leamon Jones thanked the Commissioners for giving him the
opportunity to comment. This review has been a two year process and the
current policy does need some changes. He noted that staff utilizes the
principles of "plan, do, study, act" (PDSA) and Mr. Jones stated he does not
think any staff member would act punitively towards a consumer, they would
strive instead to find a solution. This draft document offers a framework
everyone can work within, while additional data is collected and assessed.
Starting over would cause another two-year delay.
Director Cannon stated that on January 29th when all parties left the table
there was thought to be a consensus on the existing document so it is
frustrating to find out otherwise. Director Cannon has been speaking with
Dr. Fred Schroeder, a previous RSA Commissioner and agency director, about
the time line issue. Director Cannon said that he and Dr. Schroeder agree
that having a policy which suggests that it may take twice as long for a
blind student to do something sends a wrong message to Commission consumers
and the employer community. Moreover, it is antithetical to what MCB has
been preaching to potential employers - that blind persons in the workplace
are just as capable and productive as their sighted counterparts, that blind
people want to compete for jobs based on what they can do, making necessary
accommodations along the way. This high expectation has resulted in many of
MCB clients being employed.
Director Cannon emphasized that having high expectations of what blind
people can do is core to what the Commission is all about and encourages
blind people to reach for higher goals. He also explained that policy
language regarding exceptions being decided by the Consumer Services
Director is to preserve consistency within the program. Dr. Schroeder
believes that the policy as written is reasonable as long as the window for
exceptions remains open. He also noted that Crystal is representing blind
consumers, as she is head of the MCB Consumer Involvement Council, which
selected her to be their representative on the college policy committee and
also noted that she is still a current Commission client and college
Commissioner Geno hoped for realistic expectations and a developed plan that
is a compromise that everyone is happy with.
Commissioner Taeckens responded that Fred Schroeder is not a MCB
Commissioner and he is not a consumer of the Commission. Opinions can be
found lots of places and feedback is that the timeline is not appropriate.
A wording proposal that has been made is the Commission encourages students
to not extend their timeline beyond the one year, if other circumstances
exist timelines should be determined by the I P E. There are many things in
the policy that are fine but the timeline policy should be reworded to be
more compromising and the wording for the 4 year college and the community
college should be deleted. She also wants to add language that says that if
the MOU does not come through then the Commission would be responsible and
stated that she would support the policy with those changes.
Ms. Crystal LaFleche stated that she does support this policy, it has been
worked on very diligently for a very long time by two separate work groups.
She also noted that through this process, many changes have been made, but
not all ideas can be accommodated. She added that while there may still be
concerns about the proposed policy, the new policy could be adopted and the
Commission could start collecting data and collect information from students
and counselors to see if there remains some tweaking to be done. The old
policy is 20 years old and needs to be updated.
Commissioner Pilarski asked how this policy has been improved over the last
Ms. LaFleche stated it is definitely longer and provides a little
more specific items, including financial aid, how degrees work and addresses
the subject of advanced degrees.
Mr. Jones addressed some of Commissioner Taeckens comments. He stated that
much of the data is collected already but it needs to be formulated
together. The I P E does outline the goals and objectives and the services
timeline which can be reviewed to determine how long it can take for
completion of school. If a student doesn't believe they can finish in that
timeline this is generally discussed with their counselor. The agreements
that exist with the institutions of higher education are RSA mandated
agreements and does contain provisions to address the process to deal with
Commissioner Pilarski stated that the comments of others reflect her
sentiments. She saw redundancy, wording issues, and procedures that look
like notes. There is no patronizing verbiage in this document and the
sentence of high expectations rubs her the wrong way. This has been a
source of contention since the beginning. There has been a lot of messing
around with words and the feeling of resistance. The timeline is a big
issue along with the financial issue. Ms. Pilarski stated that she wants a
document that states that MCB will pick up the financial burden if
necessary. Another issue is the full time status because there are so many
reasons why people can't go full time. Summertime should be an option. The
decision needs to be made in regards to going back to the drawing table or
having a special meeting to go through this bit by bit.
Commissioner Geno stated that the best message we can send is a blind person
graduating from college. The decision needs to be made on whether this is
going to be approved or it will be sent back to be worked on.
COMMISSIONER GENO PROPOSED A MOTION THAT THE COLLEGE POLICY GOES BACK TO A
PROCESS STILL TO BE INVENTED TO BE REWRITTEN; SECONDED BY COMMISSIONER
TAECKENS; GENO, TAECKENS AND PILARSKI VOTE AYE; WOLFE ABSTAINED
Commissioner Taeckens proposed a work day, by phone and wants to ensure that
a student and a parent are a part of this process. Discussion included a
timeline so this process doesn't go on another 2 years; a meeting with too
many people could bog the process down; possibly hiring a facilitator from
outside the Agency; should representation be open; and starting with a new
proposed document that is less wordy.
Commissioner Pilarski asked both consumer Presidents to make a brief comment
about their thoughts on making this happen. Ms. Botting stated there is a
lot of value in having a Saturday meeting and including multiple people.
Parents weren't involved in drafting the last version and the parent
perspective would be an asset.
Ms. Elizabeth Mohnke spoke on behalf of NFB-M and stated that not everyone
is included and large groups can have harder times of accomplishing things.
An idea would be for sub-groups to get together with a certain makeup of
people and work on either one section of the policy as a whole and then come
together as a group to edit the document.
Mr. Joe Sibley commented that MCBVI would definitely participate if there
was a meeting scheduled on this topic.
Commissioner Taeckens summed up that people bring in all of their ideas and
work on them together.
Mr. Fred Wurtzel shared the idea of everyone posting their ideas on the
internet before the meeting is scheduled so when people arrive at the
meeting the information has been reviewed and the document is ready to be
worked on. Ideas that came forth were a Facebook page, a webpage, or the
Commissioner Geno asked if there was an email account that could be used to
centralize the gathering of information.
Ms. Luzenski indicated she could create a gmail account. Commissioner Geno
also stated there should be a deadline. Commissioner Taeckens volunteered
to be a coordinator of this information. A possible date for a joint
college policy meeting would be June 19.
Discussion regarding hiring a facilitator centered around pulling together
multiple options to choose from, Commissioner Geno being in that role or
securing a volunteer facilitator.
COMMISSIONER GENO MOVED TO PROCEED TO COLLECT DATA THROUGH WEBSITES AND
SPECIFIC TARGETS; SECONDED BY COMMISSIONER TAECKENS; THE MOTION PASSED
BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM (BEP)
Constance Zanger, Business Enterprise Program Manager introduced
James Chaney, Elected Operator Committee Chair and gave participants and
update on the B E P.
Ms. Zanger reported on the upcoming B E P manager training class
to be held in April with 6 participants and the Summer Work Opportunity
Program which will again be held for 12 weeks this summer. Last summer 13
operators participated in this mentoring program and B E P staff is hoping
to have at least that many for the upcoming program.
The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) will conduct a national
training conference on the Randolph-Sheppard program this year, the first in
a decade. This conference will highlight the significant program
developments, federal changes as well as state licensing staff, elected
committee representative, and changes that have occurred in the last decade.
The purpose of this conference is to bring Randolph-Sheppard stakeholders
together with a goal of developing leadership skills, educating participants
on promising practices and creating an environment for the exchange of ideas
that will help shape the future of the Randolph-Sheppard program.
The next 2010 B E P Operators' Workshop will take place on April 30, May 1
and 2 in Lansing at the Ramada Inn on West Saginaw. The Workshop
Subcommittee and the E O C have been working to develop their agenda and
this year's workshop will feature remarks from Director Cannon, V R Director
Leamon Jones, an instructional session on the new B E P evaluation form and
the new trial inventory policy. The afternoon session will feature a mini
food show which runs concurrently with the E O C election and later in the
afternoon, operators and staff will present an interactive workshop session
Commissioner Pilarski will be present at the workshop and B E P staff
welcomes all Commissioners who wish to attend all or any portion of the
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Recommendation
Ms. Zanger submitted the recommended ALJ decision for Ron Fellows.
Commissioner Wolfe felt this decision was straight forward. Commissioner
Geno didn't understand what the intended outcome was for bringing the
Commissioner Taeckens stated that she felt it was considered "moot" because
Mr. Fellows was no longer working at that location. Her questions were why
it took a year to get a letter to the Cadillac Place building. Commissioner
Taeckens stated she felt threatened by a meeting participant for his
unsolicited comments during her questioning.
Commissioner Wolfe said that she has reviewed B E P rules and the B E P
operations manual to better understand the role of Commissioners when ALJ
recommendations are brought before the Board. According to this guidance,
she said it's clear that Commissioners role is to make their decision based
upon the facts gathered by the ALJ and it is not the role of Commissioners
to retry the case before the Board.
Commissioner Taeckens voiced her concerns that the ALJ recommendation and
background document does not provide sufficient information for her to make
a sound decision.
Commissioner Pilarski summed up this situation as Ron Fellows left
this site because of an issue at this site and said that he is an operator
in good standing and the issue itself needs to be looked at, she stated she
doesn't believe it is a moot point.
Mr. James Chaney commented on the issue as the current operator at
the site in question and said that, in his opinion, Mr. Fellows got fed up
because the rules are not being followed. The people in Cadillac Place give
off a sense of mocking the operators. Being competitive isn't the issue but
when the operators have one set of rules for catering and the other food
service places have different rules the operators are constantly undercut.
These issues are going to keep coming up until they can be dealt with more
openly and honestly.
Commissioner Wolfe asked if some of the issues Mr. Chaney is
referring to will be discussed at the retreat.
Commissioner Taeckens stated that because Mr. Fellows left the
location doesn't make this an invalid issue. Commissioner Geno stated he is
interested in the recommendation of the law judge and asked if the Board
rejected the ALJ recommendation would that mean the Commission is saying
that this issue is or is not an ongoing problem.
Commissioner Taeckens asked what James Chaney wants to happen if
the Board went against the recommendation and he replied that the ALJ
recommendation should be tabled so the Board can have time to gather the
Commissioner Geno attempted to clarify what the purpose was for
bringing this issue to the ALJ when Mr. Fellows had already left this sight.
COMMISSIONER TAECKENS MADE A MOTION TO NOT SUPPORT THIS ALJ RECOMMENDATION;
THERE WAS NO SECOND; THE MOTION DIED
COMMISSIONER GENO MOVED THAT THE BOARD TABLE THIS DISCUSSION TO ALLOW TIME
FOR FURTHER FACT FINDING; COMMISSIONER TAECKENS SECONDED THE MOTION; THE
MOTION PASSED UNANIMOUSLY
Commissioner Pilarski stated that she would like to see more
documentation in the future about these ALJ recommendations and a more
balanced report from the ALJ.
COMMISSIONER TAECKENS MOVED TO ACCEPT THE BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM
REPORT; COMMISSIONER WOLFE SECONDED; THE MOTION PASSED UNANIMOUSLY
ELECTED OPERATORS COMMITTEE (EOC) REPORT
Mr. James Chaney, Chair of the Elected Operators Committee spoke about
needing to move forward. Ideas have come forward that it is taking too long
for due process and operators believe there should be a stipend put in to
protect the operators and the program.
Another item that the EOC is working on is a focus group that would include
the operators, building managers, and Commission staff that would focus on
presentation, menus, and how to conduct a successful catering. This would
allow more revenue to be brought into the program and result in more match
money. Vending stand training is another issue to help operators get back
to feeling good about working.
Commissioner Taeckens raised the lack of accessibility of vending machines.
The numbers are Brailed but there is no indication of what items the numbers
COMMISSIONER GENO moved to accept THE EOC report AND URGED MR. CHENEY TO
Continue to keep doing his good work; COMMISSIONER TAECKENS SECONDED THE
MOTION; THE MOTION PASSED UNANIMOUSLY
As the Commission's Administrative Reports were about to begin, Mr. Larry
Posont, President of NFB of Michigan, suggested that the reports be deferred
and that Public Comments be heard next.
COMMISSIONER WOLFE MOVED THAT WE ACCEPT THE WRITTEN STAFF REPORTS AS
RECEIVED; SECONDED BY COMMISSIONER GENO; THE MOTION PASSED UNANIMOUSLY
Commissioner Geno pointed out that staff is giving up their time
for reports to allow public comment.
Mr. Greg Botting stated he isn't an expert on B E P, and it seems
to be the standard work program for the blind in the State, but the B E P
program is not going to work for everyone. He also stated that the
Randolph-Sheppard law is discriminatory against sighted folks.
Mr. Fred Wurtzel commented that he gets a lot enjoyment out of
working with and hearing from young people. While he doesn't have a lot of
sympathy for sighted people Greg Botting is right that the law is
discriminatory but it is the law. Mr. Wurtzel also stated that he has been
critical of the appointment process for Boards and Commissions, but being as
transparent as possible he announced that he will be submitting his name to
the Governor's Appointment Office to seek appointment to the Commission
Board. He noted that he will be posting his application on the internet and
any letters or correspondence he receives from the appointment office. He
stated he does not know what information he will have access to but wants
some exposure to this whole process. Mr. Wurtzel also commended the
Commission Board today and was pleased with the handling of the college
policy discussion, the ALJ opinion discussion and Commissioner Wolfe
bringing forth the rules and is very pleased that the Commission Board is
getting involved in these important issues.
Mr. Joe Harcz relayed a belated thank you to Christine Boone who he felt had
addressed a long standing accessibility issue at the Training Center
including signage. He noted that there are expectations of public
organizations to meet certain standards and have a certain level of
accountability and openness. NEEDS WORK
Mr. Larry Posont commented on the two fact sheets they referenced during
their report and shared that these will be on the Web for anyone to access.
They analyzed PA 260 stating what the Commission was and wasn't doing and
analyzed PA 260 with the Open Meetings Act which led them to judge that the
Commission wasn't acting under the Open Meetings Act. Mr. Posont thanked
Director Cannon for increasing the NFB-M membership due to his actions. He
also stated that if the Board rules with the ALJ decision then they are
saying that there is no need to go after direct competition. A clear
message needs to be sent and the message sent to staff is that there is no
need to go after direct competition. A lease was reissued and we need to go
Ms. Elizabeth Mohnke commended the Board on the job they have done
as Commissioners including good and bad things. She also shared her
understanding of having an orderly meeting showing respect when speaking,
but the same respect needs to be given back also. Comments she has
submitted in writing about the college policy have been ignored, she was
barred from the original college policy committee, she submitted ideas in
writing to the CIC chair and was ignored, she brought up ideas during ad hoc
committees and those were ignored. The DELEG financial form issue has never
been brought up and discussed. She also stated that she shared ideas at
this meeting today about how to go about this process and this was utterly
and completely ignored. She ended by stating - if you want us to respect
you, then you need to respect us.
Mr. George Wurtzel spoke on the NFB-M a large organization in the
state which has always tried to get blind people headed in the right
direction. Mr. Wurtzel stated that they have always tried to support the
constituents. The Commission Board needs to look at the consumer groups
attending and sharing that they feel it is okay to shoot pellet guns at
targets to improve acceptance back into their spot in the world. In this
town there are 6 bowling alleys but 16 shooting ranges which shows where the
publics idea of recreation is. Blind people have a different perspective
because shooting guns isn't what blind people would normally do but we
should offer that. The consumer groups try to offer blind people as many
opportunities as they can.
Ms. Michelle Carrington asked Commissioners to walk a mile in her shoes for
one day. She stated she had been yelled at by two staff members at the
Training Center at 6:40 a.m. and had been hit in the face by a door twice.
She didn't feel Commissioners could handle being blind and doing everything
on their own.
Mr. J.J. Meddaugh commended Commissioner Taeckens for being
willing to speak out on consumers behalf. The Training Center situation is
appalling when you have students being told they couldn't come to this
meeting and have staff that are afraid to talk about the politics for fear
of being fired. He stated the general climate of the Training Center has
gone from energy to darkness. He invited the Commission Board to come down
and talk to the staff and students.
Ms. Mary Wurtzel stated that they worked with Dr. Allen when she
was Superintendent of the School for the Blind and on the Board previously
and she has put in a lot of time and she should be thanked. She is a
gracious and loving woman who has faced adversity in her own life and has
parented her own family along with a lot of others. Ms. Wurtzel stated that
she went to school and got a masters degree in 6 years. She has been quiet
about the college policy and the time issue and feels that the issues of
today need to be dealt with. She had no problem with technology, although
there was less technology when she was in college. The residential
education that was in place played in factor in readying blind students in
going to college. There are other factors today.
Mr. James Chaney commented on the college policy and said there
was one word missing - productivity. If a person is being productive in
college it doesn't matter how long it takes as long as a person is being
productive. There are sighted people that aren't productive and they have
as much time as they need. He ended by saying that when everything else
stops growing, the mind doesn't.
Ms. Roxanna Mann thanked the Commission for having them today.
She asked the Commissioners to take a look at the whole situation concerning
the marksmanship course and the motivation for the firing. She asked that
Christine be allowed back to the Training Center.
Mr. Terry Eagle wished he had the restraint that others have. He
stated he would like to be able to apologize for his outburst but he doesn't
want to. His reasons are that Ron Fellows and himself were not notified
that this issue was coming before the Board. Secondly his outburst
regarding asking questions of the staff is fundamentally a violation of due
process when the other side is not involved. Mr. Eagle stated his outburst
is diligence and passion and he is not going to apologize. He said that
although some attendees have felt threatened today, he stated I don't
threaten, I promise. His promise is for the people he serves to bring
fairness and justice to blind people under the rights of the law. His
threats are not threats they are promises. He stated that he felt Pat had
let blind people down. Lastly he said it isn't fun to go into court but if
forced they will do so to keep a promise to the people that they represent.
Ms. Chris Barnhardt said that although she is not accustomed to
making public comment she felt compelled to share concerns she has heard
from many individuals regarding MCB's Director Pat Cannon and his abuse of
power which is hurting blind people and ruining careers.
When Chair Pilarski asked Ms. Barnhart to not single out individuals by
name, the meeting was disrupted by shouts from Fred Wurtzel, who was in the
audience and not recognized to speak, which ended the meeting.
COMMISSIONER TAECKENS MOVED TO ADJOURN THE MEETING; COMMISSIONER WOLFE
SECONDED; THE MOTION PASSED UNANIMOUSLY.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:42 p.m.
Chair Jo Ann Pilarski
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