[nfbmi-talk] mcb march 19 minutes won thru mi foia

Roxanna Mann roxanna at suitcaseandsandals.com
Tue Apr 20 13:24:10 UTC 2010

It is pretty accurate.  However, what I don't see enough of
is the very heartof most of the issue involving Christine
Boone.  I see very few references to that issue as a whole. 
While I know that there are many issues, we need to keep the
ire in the fire on that issue as well as others.  But right
now, Christine Boone is still without her position and the
Center is suffering greatly because of that.  

From: "J.J. Meddaugh" <jj at bestmidi.com>
To: "NFB of Michigan List" <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
Subject: Re: [nfbmi-talk] mcb march 19 minutes won thru mi
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 2010 19:45:56 -0400

----- Original Message Follows -----
> 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
> MARCH 19, 2010
> Ms. Jo Ann Pilarski, Chair              Ms. Velma Allen
> (via telephone)
> Mr. Michael Geno, Vice-Chair       Ms. Geri Taeckens
> Ms. Margaret Wolfe
> None
> 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
> The Committee of the Whole was called to order at 9:12
> a.m. by Chair Jo Ann  Pilarski.
>            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' 
> rooms.
>           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  forward.
>           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.
>           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  Cannon.
>           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.
>           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  blind.
> 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.
>           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  particular topic.
>           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  an
> issue.
>           Commissioner Taeckens asserted that the Board
> cannot control  public comment.
>           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  action item.
>           Mr. Sibley agreed that public comment is
> critical and stated that,  for consumers, it is not just a
> privilege but an obligation to express  opinions.
>           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.
>           Ms. Luzenski reported there were no issues or
> questions from the  previous meeting.
>           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
> -------------------------------------------------
> Reconvene:  10:45
>           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.
> 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.
> 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."
>           Ms. Luzenski reported on several pieces of board
> correspondence  received:
> 1.                Joe Harcz regarding DELEG Policies and
> Procedures on  Accessible Events
> 2.                Joe Harcz regarding By-Laws and Minutes
> to the  Commissioners
> 3.                Joe Harcz regarding the recently approve
> MCB Board By-Laws
> 4.                Larry Posont regarding analysis items
> listed of March 19th  Agenda
> 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  after lunch.
>           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  blind students.
>           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  silence.
>           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  $250.
>           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  problem.
>           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.
>           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 
> most important.
>           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  grievances;
> 2.                "ALJ shopping" and undue political
> influence by the Agency  Director;
> 3.                B E P staff failing to make requested
> relevant documents  available;
> 4.                the halting of B E P paying for hearing
> transcripts for  arbitration appeal;
> 5.                The B E P manager attaching a staff
> recommendation to ALJ  decisions;
> 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.
> Board Correspondence
>           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
>           Mr. Joe Sibley, President of MCBVI and Casey
> Dutmer, former  President of MCBVI represented the
> organization.  Mr. Sibley introduced his  wife Mary.
>           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  today.
>           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  in Phoenix.
>           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  Michigan.
>           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  Commission meeting.
>           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  participation.
>           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  independence.
>           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  do.
>           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  consumers.
>           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.
> Commissioner Taeckens, Ms. Crystal LaFleche and Mr. Leamon
> Jones, on behalf  of Sherry Gordon were present as
> representatives of the College Policy  group.
>           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  committee.
>           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  student.
> 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  one.
>           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  issues.
> 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 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  listserve.
> 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.
>           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  on catering.
> 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  workshop.
> 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 
> challenge forward.
>  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 
> facts.
>           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 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.
> 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  correspond to.
> COMMISSIONER GENO moved to accept THE EOC report AND URGED
> MR. CHENEY TO  Continue to keep doing his good work;
> 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 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  after it.
>           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.
> The meeting was adjourned at 4:42 p.m.
> _______________________________
> Chair Jo Ann Pilarski
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Roxanna Mann, CTA
Honeymoon & Destination Weddings Specialist
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517.541.0310 / 517.402.4120
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