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

David Robinson drob1946 at gmail.com
Mon Aug 27 16:50:12 UTC 2012

I would like to point out a couple of things that make these minutes read a
little different then intended.  First, everyone that was named in the
minutes were accorded  a first and lat name except for Dr. Jernigan.  He, at
least should be called out of respect, Dr. Jernigan.  Secondly, the $15,000
paid to the lobbyist was from the national office. It give a false
impression that it came form PAC money. To us, the PAC is one thing, to
many, it is a political action committee.   Next, I thought that the comment
about services not being affected with putting it in context was misleading.
That is one persons opinion.  I will lprobably have more comments when I can
read it over again. 

Dave Robinson

-----Original Message-----
From: nfbmi-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfbmi-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org]
On Behalf Of trising
Sent: Monday, August 27, 2012 12:15 PM
To: nfbmi List
Subject: [nfbmi-talk] Minutes,National Federation of the Blind of Michigan
Board Meeting July 14,2012

      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

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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