[nfbmi-talk] System Seven

Tonya Smith tonyasmith75 at live.com
Wed Dec 22 20:40:19 CST 2010


Hi, Larry.  It's Tonya.  Well, from what I have heard from the letter and I don't know the whole situation, but I'm going to say that, for those....  Now, if I had a...  Now, I would never call somebody evil or attack their character in a letter.  I would never do that.  That's just not right.  I can't believe that someone would actually do that.  I mean, most people would express it more or less tactfully, keep it to themselves or express it in a different way but unless you know the person personally, I think that it's best that you keep your mouth shut, you know what I mean?  But, I guess that's just my opinion.  I mean, I'm referred back to the scripture Matthew 7:1.  Judge and he shall not be judged.  Condemn and he shall not be condemned.  Forgive and he shall be forgiven.  Many people, they seem to forget that and I guess me included sometimes.  I mean, I'm not exempting myself but I mean, people....  I mean, come on, let's be a little bit more wiser in your choice of words and I think a letter of apology would help.

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> Original Message:
> ---------------------------------
> 
> From: Larry Posont <president.nfb.mi at gmail.com> 
> Sent: December 22, 2010 9:01:23 PM
> To: NFBofMichigan List <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
> Subject: [nfbmi-talk] System Seven
> 
>     Larry Posont
> 
> 20812 Ann Arbor Trail
> 
> Dearborn Heights, MI 48127
> 
> (313)727-3546
> 
> president.nfb.mi at gmail.com
> 
> 
> 
> Dear Michigan Federationists:
> 
> 
> 
>             I would like to encourage your thoughts and discussion concerning the following emails, which I have included below my 
> letter to you. One is from Joe Sibley.
> 
> They all concern the problems at the Commission for the Blind with System Seven.  They also concern the problem with the Director of 
> our agency. I propose a dialog on the listserve about who is really the problem with the Michigan Commission for the Blind?
> 
> Sincerely,
> 
> 
> 
> Larry J. Posont
> 
> President, National Federation of the Blind of Michigan
> 
> 
> 
> From: Joe Sibley
> 
> 
> 
> Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI)
> 
> An affiliate of the American Council of the Blind
> 
> Joe Sibley - President
> 
> 
> 
> Dear Jo Ann,
> 
> 
> 
> I am writing to respond to a letter recently sent to you by Larry Posant, president of the National Federation of the Blind of 
> Michigan, the letter is currently posted publicly on the NFB website. Although I am very pleased with the recent open dialogue 
> between MCBVI and NFB of MI, and continue to look forward to working with the NFB in areas where we can agree, I must take exception 
> to the letter sent by Larry to you and widely distributed to many others. In the interest of open dialogue I am sending a copy of 
> this letter to Larry Posant and Fred Wurtzel, and other involved officials, and give you permission to share it wherever you see 
> fit. I need to address this from three angles.
> 
> 
> 
> First, I am very troubled that internal emails from within MCB staff were used as a base to add additional allegations and bring 
> personal attack against director Pat Canon. Using these emails in this fashion has created a turmoil among the MCB staff and can 
> only result in a situation where staff will be afraid to address concerns in internal emails for fear that they will be publicized 
> and put them in uncomfortable situations. That only further discourages open communication which is already a problem within the 
> agency. We can't have a situation where staff is afraid to bring problems to the attention of management. Reading Karen Silky's 
> email it is a very well written and constructive message pointing out many of the serious problems with the new System 7 upgrade. It 
> is written by a very frustrated staff member trying to resolve these problems, yet it was used for political purposes to attack the 
> director, this was obviously not Karen's intent in writing this message.
> 
> 
> 
> Next I would like to address the continuous attacks on director Canon. I am truly tiring of the never ending personal attacks on the 
> director from those who try to portray him either as incompetent or an all powerful evil dictator. I have known Pat Canon for quite 
> a few years now and have had many conversations with him, and with those who work around him. Do I always agree with Pat on every 
> issue? Of course not. I do find him to be a man of good character and I do believe his actions and intentions are always aimed 
> toward the best for the agency. I can't imagine having to juggle the politics, the burocracy, the variety of funding sources, and 
> the public relations headaches that Pat has to handle. The fact that the agency is still fairly well funded at a time when many 
> departments in our state are having to slash programs tells me that Pat is doing some very positive things. Yes, there are many 
> problems within the Michigan Commission for the Blind and we will continue to speak out to try to address those problems, and yes 
> the ultimate responsibility for all activity in the agency lands on the directors desk, but to continuously try to personally 
> assassinate Pat's character is a cruel mistake. I have not seen the criteria used on the board's annual evaluation of the director, 
> but from my vantage point I believe your 2.1 out of 3 is probably a very fair judgement.
> 
> 
> 
> I am in agreement with Larry's letter in one area. I have spoken to a number of MCB staff members and this new System 7 so called 
> upgrade is a disaster. The Commission's internal computer technology has never been great, I am assuming much of that goes back to 
> the DTMB. For starters, I imagine those making decisions for the state's computer networks know little about access technology. With 
> this new System 7 revision, field staff who are already stretched with large case loads are having to spend many more hours trying 
> to do their jobs, and the system won't allow them to do what they have to do to do those jobs. From what I have heard and reviewing 
> Karen's original email, this is a problem that must be addressed immediately as it looks like the longer that staff tries to work 
> around this useless new system, the greater shambles that the agency's records will be. I hope that correcting this problem is an 
> urgent priority for the administration.
> 
> 
> 
> Thank you as always Jo Ann for your time, and your service to the agency. I have great respect for you and the direction you have 
> been moving the board in during the past year or so. There will be those that disagree with portions of my message, and I will 
> defend everyone's right to state their opinion. MCBVI remains committed to working to make this a great state to live in if you are 
> visually impaired. We will address problems and work with all parties to correct those problems, but will do so with an attitude of 
> positivity and constructive dialogue.
> 
> 
> 
> I hope you have a very blessed holiday season and a truly happy new year.
> 
> 
> 
> Joe Sibley
> 
> Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI)
> 
> 
> 
> From: "Kramer, Bernie (DELEG)" <kramerb at michigan.gov>
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> Mr. Posont,
> 
> 
> 
> Larry,
> 
> 
> 
> I feel humbled  in thanking you for your kind remarks.  I am indeed honored by your compliments and  feel I'm leaving before the job 
> is done.  It is just Larry, that it's time to go.
> 
> 
> 
> In terms of personal situations I am a first generation American German Jew, born in NYC but faced tremendous prejudice as I grew up
> 
> in rural New York State.  The community had many Nazi's living in the area.  I know it's not the same issue; but that is why I have
> 
> always fought for what is right.
> 
> 
> 
> I have the highest professional respect for Karyn Silky.  I believe you are right on target.  Her expertise in all facets of Blind
> 
> and Low Vision qualifications are exemplary.  I think what we both are frustrated with is the Politic that I wrote about.  We cannot
> 
> as an organization get beyond those issues.  I would stand this Staff up against any in State Government.  They are a special group
> 
> of professionals willing to go to the edge to ensure services are offered.
> 
> 
> 
> Until this Management team trusts it's staff, all the learning opportunities I was offered by John Victory just will not allow this
> 
> organization to move Forward.  The tragic part of all this is that my friend and brother, Tony Van Staveren, and I to an extent,
> 
> determined we could no longer "fight the fight".
> 
> 
> 
> You may know I have faced many health  challenges the past two years.  In the early 2000's Tony Van Staveren and I took a lot on by
> 
> ourselves.  I thought we were making progress, but I take you back to my remarks of yesterday's message.
> 
> 
> 
> I would appreciate it if I can remain on the NFB of MI distribution list.  This address expires 29 Dec 10 and new address for you is
> 
> bpkramer45 at gmail.com
> 
> 
> 
> What I will look back on is the tremendous folks I was blessed to have spent the best part of my day with; for 15 years.  I continue
> 
> to learn about Blindness.
> 
> 
> 
> God willing I hope to attend next year's state conference.
> 
> 
> 
> All the Best.
> 
> 
> 
> Regards,
> 
> 
> 
> Bernie
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> National Federation of the Blind of Michigan
> 
> 20812 Ann Arbor Trail
> 
> Dearborn Heights, MI 48127
> 
> December 15, 2010
> 
> 
> 
> Dear Jo Ann,
> 
> 
> 
> Below are 2 emails from 2 of the most dedicated people in the MCB.  They are speaking out about one more system within MCB that is
> 
> broken.  As you are aware, much of the relationship with RSA is data driven.  That is, the agency performance is measured and
> 
> evaluated in quantitative measures.  There are few, if any qualitative measures.
> 
> 
> 
> The RSA recently completed a monitoring report which was a very poor reflection on the agency.  As you read the comments from Karyn
> 
> Silky, you can sense her frustration as she tries to do her work and cannot do it efficiently and meet the demands of the
> 
> administrative management information system (System 7).  As she points out, even the accounting is broken.  She cannot charge costs
> 
> to the proper accounts.  If these are not caught and manually corrected, RSA will, again, find that MCB is misappropriating funds.
> 
> The bottom line here is that System 7 is failing.
> 
> 
> 
> If that were the only major administrative problem in MCB it would be very serious and demand immediate and drastic action.
> 
> Unfortunately, this is only one among at least 4 other systems that have failed within the past year.  Or should I say, more
> 
> correctly, which have been reported in the past year.  Certainly the monitoring report covers a broader time span and shows ongoing
> 
> mismanagement by the Director.
> 
> 
> 
> Here is a brief recap of some of the failed and broken systems at MCB:
> 
> 
> 
>   1.. 37 MCBTC staff are sitting idle and did so all last week at a cost of more than $75000/week, because there was inadequate
> 
> planning to anticipate issues that may arise in commencing a major construction project.  This project has been in some stage of
> 
> planning since around 2005; it did not sneak up on anyone.  This failure alone ought to be enough to demand drastic action from the
> 
> board.  It is easy to predict that Pat will blame Melody Lindsey, Christine Boone or Sherri Heibeck.  He will not ever take
> 
> responsibility for anything.  Who is accountable?
> 
> 
> 
>   2.. The Business Enterprise Program is in meltdown.  With 15 facilities on the bid line and not enough blind people trained to
> 
> fill these positions it is just going to continue to cause major problems for MCB.  Sooner or later, there will be a major incident
> 
> someplace which will create public relations problems and possibly attract negative legislature attention.
> 
> 
> 
> The last BEP training class of only 8, had no one in charge.  Trainees were left to sit unsupervised with no assignments and no
> 
> oversight.  An interpreter at $40/hour was allowed to sit while the person for whom they were to interpret had no activity.   Fred
> 
> Wurtzel, the retired BEP administrator called James Hull and offered to supervise the class during John McEntee's absence.  No
> 
> teacher was apparently better than a 20 year veteran.  There have been talks of early retirements for years.  It could be
> 
> anticipated that such an event would occur, yet there was absolutely no planning.  This is difficult to understand, since placements
> 
> of blind clients are down and there allegedly very few jobs, except there 15, today in the Business Enterprise Program.  Who will
> 
> take the fall for this.  Will anyone take responsibility?  Will anyone be held accountable?  Certainly not Pat Cannon, Heaven
> 
> forbid.
> 
> 
> 
>   3.. The RSA monitoring report showed a monumental lack of oversight and numerous instances of violations of the law and rules.  It
> 
> is alleged that RSA is wrong and MCB is not to blame.  It is doubtful if this argument will hold water.  Consumers have brought many
> 
> of these issues to the attention of the Commission Board, the MCB director and various staff people over the years.  Some of these,
> 
> consumers could not easily detect, like misappropriation of funds by serving ineligible clients below the age of 14.  Pat alleged in
> 
> a meeting with the NFB that he provided a copy of the preliminary monitoring report to you, Jo Ann, more than a year ago.  You have
> 
> denied having a copy.  I'm not sure of the truth, here.  It certainly appears that Pat is, again, dumping responsibility on you and
> 
> not taking his own responsibility.  Who will be blamed for this? Will it be Leamon, the MCB Board, and the counselors or, as we
> 
> heard, it is RSA's fault.  Amazing!
> 
> 
> 
>   4.. Back to System 7.  This is the very heart of managing the MCB.  RSA will use data from System 7 to evaluate the agency
> 
> performance.
> 
> 
> 
>   5..
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
>   6.. Yesterday, in the Services Delivery Design Team meeting staff expressed much dissatisfaction with System 7 and MAIN. it was
> 
> mentioned that blind staff, after how many years, now, still cannot  do many of the administrative tasks which most state employees
> 
> must do either as a regular part of their job or as incidental parts of carrying out their duties.  For example blind staff in state
> 
> government cannot even complete their own time sheets, let alone do a large number of tasks required for state jobs.  The Commission
> 
> may become the only place where blind people can work if they need to use MAIN. The whole "MAIN" system is inaccessible and Pat
> 
> cannon is the state ADA coordinator.  Michigan is at risk for a giant ADA suit such as the ones in Arkansas and New york.  These
> 
> states had exactly the same problem with their statewide accounting systems.  Is the Governor aware of this threat?  Pat Cannon
> 
> cannot even advocate for his agencies' constituency, himself or anyone else it seems.  Who is at fault for this system failure?  It
> 
> must be Connie Zanger, right?  She has been doing the job for the past few months and did not fix it.  Or, could it be Sherri
> 
> Heibeck?  She was in charge for several years.  Or is it Libera?  Did they follow the MCB specifications incorrectly?  Or, is it
> 
> DTMB for not monitoring the system progress.  Oh, how about Pat Cannon?  Could he, as administrator be accountable?  No, he is no
> 
> computer guru, so it must be someone else.
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> These are just 4, (did I say "just" 4?) items that, in most places of employment just 1 problem of the magnitude of these would have
> 
> caused major disciplinary action, that are plaguing MCB  Yet, given all these, you just gave this man a satisfactory job rating.
> 
> This seems inconceivable.
> 
> 
> 
> How about some other items like the firing of Christine Boone on false pretenses with no MCB Board oversight, though the board is
> 
> the direct supervisor of the Director and P.A. 260 calls for such oversight, 2 instances of breaking and entry into the MCB office
> 
> where computers were stolen, allegations of misuse of travel by a staff person, questions about BEP inventories, questions about bep
> 
> judge shopping resulting in overturned administrative hearings?  How many more do you need?
> 
> 
> 
> Read both Bernie's and Karin's messages.  They are afraid of reprisals.  Pat Cannon has managed by bullying and intimidation.  Why
> 
> should an employee be afraid to report problems with the software they are depending on to do their jobs?  This is the very software
> 
> the agency will depend on to report accurately to RSA to account for the $20 million the agency is entrusted with each year to serve
> 
> blind people.  Fear is the management style of preference and as you can see from the list above it is not very effective as a
> 
> strategy.  When will someone take responsibility?  Are blind people so inconsequential that a person earning more than 120000 per
> 
> year is allowed to behave in any manner they choose wit impunity?
> 
> 
> 
> It is up to you.  We are depending on you as the legally appointed body to oversee the Commission to take charge.  When will this
> 
> madness stop and who will stop it?
> 
> 
> 
> Sincerely
> 
> 
> 
> Larry Posont, President
> 
> National Federation of the Blind of Michigan
> 
> 517-482-1800
> 
> Email: president.nfb.mi at gmail.com
> 
> Web page
> 
> www.nfbmi.org
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> Subject: RE: System 7 issues
> 
> 
> 
> All,
> 
> 
> 
> Good afternoon.
> 
> 
> 
> Is this another case of Manager's making decisions WITHOUT ANY INPUT OF STAFF? I can't even count the number of times we have just 
> shoved stuff down the chain, (in our case the West Region) to Field Staff and Administrative Support. What affect does this have on 
> the overall push down to us; to increase Competitive Closures?
> 
> 
> 
> There most surely is POLITIC with this latest decision to revamp System 7?   It must have to do with funding to LIBERA?  Appease 
> RSA? Does anyone hear, or read of staff and administrative support input to the latest from Libera?  Does anyone care about this 
> Staff; BUT, particularly here in the West Region?  Kisiel and I do!  Some of the West Staff may not agree with me; and that's OK.
> 
> 
> 
> How much more can this agency from Commissioner's, right down thru the "THE CHAIN OF COMMAND" ask of this Staff? For one time can we 
> be straight and honest to the hardest worker's we have?  OK; worker's may not be a good title but is this how MANAGEMENT sees it's 
> front line employees
> 
> 
> 
> ?   Sherry Gordon, Lisa Kisiel and the writer have always tried to put our STAFF first.  We tried but maybe never enough, to stand 
> up to what we felt was right?   I always lived with FEAR, i.e., what can "they" do to me?  And, I am a former Colonel in the United 
> States Army.
> 
> 
> 
> I have sat by for many days now; first thinking WHAT CAN THEY DO TO ME if I respond In good conscience I have to!  I have the 
> highest of respect for the professionalism that Karyn Silky and ALL STAFF of this agency bring to the table. For so many years I 
> supported the Director's approach which began upon arrival in 1999.  As a Manager I became a learning person as was suggested to me, 
> not by my Boss then; but the Director.  Eleven years ago I honored that attempt.
> 
> 
> 
> It pains me to see after these eleven years, that I have to ask; have we made any progress
> 
> 
> 
> ?  THIS IS A BURNED OUT FIELD STAFF in the West Region.
> 
> 
> 
> BERNIE P. KRAMER
> 
> West Region Manager
> 
> Michigan Commission For The Blind
> 
> 350 Ottawa NW
> 
> Grand Rapids, MI
> 
> 616-356-0183
> 
> 
> 
> Subject: System 7 issues
> 
> 
> 
> Julia,
> 
> 
> 
> First, thanks for being patient with all of us as we struggle through this mess. My comments below are not directed toward you, 
> please know that.
> 
> 
> 
> My first question is why can't we be allowed to view all consumers who are in the System?  I needed to check to see if someone from 
> the other side of the state was currently open etc. for a new referral that came in with the same first and last name, and I was not 
> able to view any case information because I wasn't assigned to the case. If the response is that the counselor assigned to the case 
> must change it, then this is just not acceptable.  What if the counselor/teacher doesn't do it in a timely fashion?  What if the 
> person assigned to the case has retired?  Doesn't Libra understand how this complicates service delivery for consumers?  Not 
> everyone sits at their desk 8-10 hours per day - most, if not all of us, are out in the field for the majority of the week.
> 
> 
> 
> Secondly - why can't our support staff be able to do IPE amendments for counselors/teachers? Apparently the counselor/teacher 
> assigned to the case must do the IPE amendment, approve it then our support staff can follow through and do an authorization. 
> Again, this is not allowing us to do our jobs in a timely manner.  It's not that support staff are actually writing the auth - it's 
> that some of us might call/email in a request to have support staff input the information into system, with all the particulars, 
> when we can't access or get to the system for various reasons like being on the road. If timely service delivery is being asked of 
> staff, this problem does not make it very feasible.  It's insane that all of the methods we used to have in the old version aren't 
> still there.
> 
> 
> 
> The new requirement to go into the IPE and Amendments and date when services were rendered and the outcomes is also a huge issue. 
> How are we supposed to know when this has been done if we didn't have the case when original services were planned?  This process 
> does not make our system "efficient" - it is taking an incredible amount of time for staff to even do a simple IPE amendment.  Case 
> note entries should document that services were rendered.  Sounds to me like someone doesn't want to review case files to get this 
> information and want a "quick fix".
> 
> 
> 
> I'm concerned that management does not have a full grasp on how difficult this "upgrade" has made our jobs.  I would suggest that 
> those supervisors without case loads sit down and try to muddle through this mess and get things done in a timely fashion. I mean 
> actually try to write an IPE amendment, try to print one out and see what happens, try to do an authorization, add a new consumer, 
> try to find an existing consumer etc. . .   and do this without having all the rights that you likely would have.  The upgrade is 
> not acting like it did in training nor is it working like it did during the testing phase.  I'm appalled that there doesn't seem to 
> be an upper management statement being made to Libra about the urgency of fixing these issues if not taking us back to the old way 
> of doing things.  If it is being done on the Director or upper management level, it would be nice for staff to know that this is 
> happening - communicate with us on what is being asked to be fixed or corrected,
> 
> 
> 
> let us know that you are all supporting our concerns.  I know that I am speaking for most if not all of my colleagues when I say 
> that we are fed up, tired and angry with what has been occurring.
> 
> 
> 
> My last issue is huge and has been asked of Libera already, but is creating a serious problem - staff (all staff) must be able to 
> plan and do authorizations from the appropriate accounting codes.  Can't anyone see that when authorizations are being done, they 
> are being pulled from AARA funds versus VR because it can't be changed?  What about YLV students - what if they are VR and we need 
> to do both YLV authorization as well as a VR service?  It won't let you do this.  Why are we being required to do ILOB plans when 
> only IL was supposed to have plans.  While I'm on it, what is the definition of an IL consumer versus a homemaker?  When do we serve 
> someone as IL and not VR homemaker?   This question was asked during the testing phase of the upgrade when we learned there would be 
> a split in the funding for IL/ILOB.  That was months ago. How can you implement a new approach to fund and serve IL/ILOB without 
> defining for us what that means?  Leamon, you must address this issue because there will be and possibly are consumers out there not 
> getting services through general IL who have the right to services and/or are being put in the wrong program.
> 
> 
> 
> This "upgrade" is not an upgrade - it is a completely new system.  Upgrades only fix minor issues - not create disasters. I feel 
> sorry for whoever will be in charge of gathering financial data at the end of Fiscal 2011 because the way things are going, nothing 
> will be accurate.
> 
> 
> 
> My appeal to all staff who are trying to use this system is this - if you are struggling with all of these issues, let management 
> know directly via email or phone calls. Specific issues must be identified to them and how it is impacting your job, how long it is 
> taking to do tasks (literally track the time) is absolutely necessary in order for users of the system to get our point across.
> 
> 
> 
> I might be putting my neck on the line sending this, but frankly, I don't care anymore. Karyn
> 
> 
> 
> 
> --
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> 
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