[nfbmi-talk] Minutes, National Federation of the Blind of Michigan Board Meeting July 14, 2012

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Mon Aug 27 16:14:47 UTC 2012

      Minutes, National Federation of the Blind of Michigan Board Meeting July 14, 2012

Quorum yes, Larry Posont, Mike Powell, Melinda Latham, Terri Wilcox, Dave Robinson, Nick Wilcox and Sarah Norwood. 

Treasurer's Report, Mary Wurtzel. $2,600 is allocated for Youth Outreach. $1,500 is allocated for the Bridge Walk. Our current balance is $81,766.55. If Youth Outreach is subtracted, we have $79,176.55. When the Camp Grant is subtracted, the total is $59,176.55. The total for Braille and Science Camp is $13,572. Mary Wurtzel made a motion to accept the Treasurer's Report. Nick seconded the motion. The Treasurer's Report was approved.

Mary Wurtzel made a motion, on behalf of Donna Posont for four scholarships of $350 each in order to allow four students to attend off site camps. Melinda Latham seconded the motion. The motion was approved. Mary Wurtzel will check the grant to see if there is permission to use it for scholarships. 

Pat Cannon's contract is extended until September 30. It is of paramount importance for us to recruit a new director for the Commission for the Blind. Zimmer is trying to incorporate things he learns about blindness into his planning. We are concerned about the legality of stripping down Public Act 260. The Governor's website says the boards of the Michigan Commission for the Blind and Michigan Rehabilitation Services are abolished. The National Federation of the Blind of Michigan insists upon having influence in our own affairs, both for our own benefit, and the benefit of other blind citizens of Michigan. The new Executive Order takes effect on October 1. Currently, no opportunity exists to apply for the Board. Public Act 260 is the best Commission law Mr. Schroeder has ever seen. It was an attempt to replicate Iowa's Commission law at the time that President Jernigan ran that agency. The program flourished until Jernigan retired. Fred Schroeder suspects the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs was frustrated with Pat Cannon and the complaints of the Commission Board. The current Commission Board had been trying to make positive changes. The first Executive Order abolished the current Commission Board and created a five member board without restrictions as to the make up of its members. Pat Cannon's position was eliminated. The Michigan Commission for the Blind and the Michigan Rehabilitation Services were combined and placed under the Department of Human Services. The agency was to be split, with the Business Enterprise Program being placed under the Department of Technology, Management and Budget. This Executive Order was issued while Pat Cannon was on vacation. The National Office helped us hire lobbyists. We need to keep a presence at the Legislature. Lobbyists were hired for 3 months at a price of $15,000 in Pac money. The Randolph Sheppard program must be run by the rehabilitation agency. Mike Zimmer wanted to end Michigan's Randolph Sheppard program. He could not because there are over eighty viable facilities in Michigan. He attempted to appoint a nominee agency to run the Randolph Sheppard Program. This would have been the Department of Technology Management and Budget. A nominee agency must be a nonprofit agency. Fred Schroeder and Fred Wurtzel spoke at a Senate Hearing. The Rehabilitation Services Administration reversed their plan because they could not separate the Business Enterprise Program from the general agency. The Executive Order was rescinded because they got quiet resistance from the Legislature. It is incredibly rare for an Executive Order to be rescinded. In the new Executive Order, we wanted Randolph Sheppard to be part of the general agency. We also wanted the original Commission Board kept in tact. The Governor suggested a five member advisory Board with no restrictions. He finally agreed to a seven member Advisory Board. A state with an Advisory Board must have a state Rehabilitation Council. A majority of its members must have disabilities. Federal mandates dictate who must be on this Council. The state Rehabilitation Council must approve the state plan and conduct the consumer satisfaction survey. Under Public Act 260, the Commission Board participates in hiring the director and evaluates the director's performance. This power is currently removed. Overall, the current administration does not want to invest authority in boards. Fred Wurtzel and Fred Schroeder made recommendations for the state plan that were ignored. The Commission Board is no longer the final authority on Randolph Sheppard Administrative Law Judge rulings. We negotiated to have the Advisory Commission chair be a blind person. We were not successful in getting this into the second Executive Order. We also negotiated for separate State Rehabilitation Councils for Michigan Commission for the Blind and Michigan Rehabilitation Services. We were unsuccessful at obtaining separate Rehabilitation Councils. The Republican Governor is often supported by the Legislature. Currently, we cannot show that harm has occurred. Until appointments are made, the Legislature will ask for time. Currently, there is no process for making appointments for the Advisory Board. We must have recommendations available and ready as soon as appointments can be made. The National Federation of the Blind should support two or three candidates, plus another two candidates that can be supported not specifically through the Federation. A good strong blind candidate is vital for the directorship. First, get excellent candidates appointed to the seven member Advisory Board. Then, appoint strong candidates to the State Rehabilitation Council. We need to keep a strong presence in the Legislature. Newsline funding will be investigated in October. Present the issue of Newsline funding by placing it into the State Plan. This puts the issue into the public record. Senator Jansen is amenable to us. Newsline will maintain credibility in the Legislature. Attempt to obtain a line item in the budget for Newsline funding through the Legislature. Newsline needs to be fully funded. The Executive Order changes the policy making Board to one with advisory status. The Legislature will not take action to reject the new Executive Order. The Executive Order will be implemented. The contract with the lobbyists is extended until September 30. As blind people, we must walk the halls of The Legislature. We must pass out information and invite Legislators to briefings. The presence of kids is a valuable asset in the Legislature. There has been a lot of discrimination against National Federation of the Blind of Michigan members pertaining to employment. Do not allow Public Act 260 to be eliminated or diminished by revision Legislation. The National Federation of the Blind supports Public Act 260 and will not allow it to be diminished. National Federation of the Blind of Michigan members, and other interested persons, must attend the Advisory Board and State Rehabilitation Council meetings. Larry Posont, or his designee should be part of the Advisory Board. The new Executive Order should have no impact on consumer services. The current Commission Board is still in effect. The board should still utilize its Policy making authority. The Commission meeting scheduled for September 21 will not be canceled. Complaints to the Legislature and press should be made concerning the lack of accessibility. Invite Mike Zimmer over for dinner so he can get to know us. We must stand up for Federation members who are losing jobs because of affiliation. Justice must be done for Federationists whose jobs are threatened. People who are interested in becoming members of the Advisory Board, state rehabilitation council or state director should send in resumes. These should be people who have knowledge of blindness and blindness issues.

Adjourn at 4:00 P.M.



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