[nfbmi-talk] Another Article

J.J. Meddaugh jj at bestmidi.com
Sun Feb 21 05:57:25 UTC 2010

This one is not as positive, but putting it here anyway so you can see all of the coverage as it happens. 
It's from the Kalamazoo Shopper, one of those free weekly papers with not a lot of reporting.
Commission For the Blind Training Center Director Is Fired over Safety Violation
By Jonathan Kleyer
The Director of the Michigan Comission for the Blind Training Center in Kalamazoo,
was fired February 4th for violating safety regulations.
Patrick Cannon, the director for the commission, announced on January 28th that Christine
Boone's employment was to be terminated because of a marksmanship program Boone established
at the training center. Boone was placed on paid administrative leave until a disciplinary
conference could be held, at the end of which she was officially fired.
According to Mario Morrow, the director of communications for the Department of Energy,
Labor and Economic Growth (DELEG), the disciplinary conference was an investigation
into her actions on the marksmanship class.
Boone was charged with violating civil service rule 2-20 and regulation 2.05, both
of which deal with firearms and workplace safety.
"Basically she implemented and developed a class, she had firearms brought onto the
grounds and there was a conference. First there were disciplinary charges brought
and at the conclusion of the conference she was terminated," Morrow said. "There
was a wide range of options that could have been taken. After carefully reviewing
the options that were available, the confidence level in her ability to work within
the parameters of department rules was not there anymore."
The training center is meant to provide training and services to blind and visually
impaired residents of the state. According to the commission's website, MCBTC staff
believe in the capabilities of individuals who are blind to participate in every
activity of daily living."
Boone's marksmanship program fit with this belief, but the program was canceled because
of what Morrow called "serious, serious safety issues."
The National Federation of the Blind of Michigan held a rally in Lansing January
29th protesting the firing. Its president, Larry Posont, claimed that the firing
was an abuse of Cannon's power, saying that the marksmanship program was to use a
pellet gun and that under Michigan law, it is not considered a firearm so long as
it is under .177 caliber.
Posont stated, "Christine Boone has been doing an exemplary job of creating a quality
training program for blind individuals that sets high expectations for students,
instills in them a positive philosophy of blindness, and helps them to compete for
quality jobs in the labor market. Mr. Cannon is using trumped-up charges about a
single aspect of the training program in order to discredit Ms. Boone."
The organization's rally ultimately had no effect on the outcome of the disciplinary
conference. When asked about it, Morrow commented, "We have the utmost respect for
freedom of speech and right to demonstration, but we have a diligent duty to make
sure all our employees and constituents are safe. You've got rules, you've got regulations.
You can't take a firearm to work. We have to take safety seriously."
Until a new director can be found for the training center, Bruce Shultz will be the
acting director. Morrow said that DELEG's personnel department is handling a posting
for the position. He also commented that the department has confidence in Shultz's
ability as the acting director, so there has been no press to get a permanent director
back in. According to him, they intend to allow time for the search to yield the
best results.

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