[nfbmi-talk] Press Release on Boon/Robinson Firings

Fred Wurtzel f.wurtzel at comcast.net
Wed Jan 27 22:25:03 CST 2010


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:   
Larry Posont, President
National Federation of the Blind of Michigan 
(517) 482-1800

David Robinson, Board of Directors

National Federation of the Blind of Michigan

517-372-1456

Michigan Commission for the Blind Director 
Attacks Michigan's Organized Blind

National Federation of the Blind of Michigan Accuses Director of Abuse of
Power

Dearborn Heights, Michigan (January 28, 2010): Patrick Cannon, director of
the Michigan Commission for the Blind (MCB), has notified Christine Boone,
director of the Michigan Commission for the Blind Training Center (MCBTC) in
Kalamazoo, and a member of the National Federation of the Blind, that her
employment is terminated as of today.  This action follows closely on the
heels of the firing of another member of the National Federation of the
Blind, David Robinson, an employee of the Commission's Business Enterprise
program in Lansing.  Robinson was fired last month.

 

In Respons to these outrageous actions, the National Federation of the Blind
of Michigan will hold a rally and picket at 201 N. Washington Square, the
Victor Building, the headquarters of the Michigan Commission for the Blind.
The rally will take place from 11:00 to 1:00 pm Friday, January 29, 2010.   

In addition to these firings, Cannon has worked through the Governor's
ethics board to remove a blind commissioner from the Commission board for
speaking out on behalf of the rights of blind consumers to participate in
policy development.  He has also presided over the mass removal of blind
entrepreneurs from the Commission's Business Enterprise program.  His
actions have resulted in a flurry of legal complaints by blind individuals.
In the past Cannon has orchestrated the removal by non-reappointment of two
other commissioners who questioned programs at the Commission.

Larry Posont, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan,
said: "The National Federation of the Blind of Michigan is convinced that
Mr. Cannon's recent actions are an unwarranted abuse of power and amount to
intimidation and bullying of blind citizens of Michigan who dare to speak
for themselves and question his policies.  His firing of Christine Boone is
particularly suspicious given that his administration of MCB programs has
been called into question by a recent federal audit.  Among all the
Commission's programs, only the MCBTC was cited for good quality management.
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.  It is clear to us that Mr. Cannon, who served on
Governor Granholm's transition team and loves to boast of his connections to
her, is using his political influence to cover up his management problems
and to intimidate those who speak up about poor performance at the
Commission."

Mr. Cannon's termination of Ms. Boone appears to stem from her establishment
of a marksmanship program to build the confidence of her students.  Michigan
has a deeply rooted outdoor culture.  Many people who lose their eyesight
feel they are no longer able to live a fulfilling life.  Boon developed a
marksman program using pellet rifles to teach newly-blinded people that they
can, indeed, enjoy the outdoors and live a satisfying and productive life.
The activity took place in a secluded area of the property near the MCBTC.
Under Michigan law, a pellet gun is not a firearm if under .177 caliber.
There was no danger to people or property created by the activity, which was
supervised by a qualified instructor.  

 

###

 

About the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan

The National Federation of the Blind of Michigan (NFBM) is a proud affiliate
of the National Federation of the Blind.  Originally founded in 1941, the
NFBM has been a leader in advocacy and has worked tirelessly to change what
it means to be blind in Michigan.  Among our accomplishments: bringing
NFB-NEWSLINER to Michigan, establishing the Michigan Commission for the
Blind, white cane legislation, Braille literacy for blind children
legislation, and much more.  

 




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