[nfbmi-talk] Decentralization of the Commission (the longversion)

joe harcz Comcast joeharcz at comcast.net
Sun Feb 26 04:50:27 CST 2012

Dear Fred,

Most well said. Again though I would like to add that the Governor in his 
approach to long term and simmering issues within not only MCB, but also 
MRS, which is even worse by the way took a mechanistic, unsound and 
unconstitutional approach to the issues here.

Beyond all the issues you bring up relative to blindness and programs for 
and of the blind, there are some issues of government here. MCB, and indeed 
the State of Michigan are supposed to be government components and belong to 
we the people after all. All of us. These are not private corporations.

One of the fundamentals of the American system of government is that we have 
three branches of government all with their checks and balances against 
abuse for a reason. Public Act 260 was a creature of legislation and only 
the legislature has the right to alter it, not the Executive. If the people 
didn't like the way MCB was structured then the people through the 
legislature could change it. Now, all this is important...

Last year when there were rumblings about merging MCB with MRS I, personally 
did my due diligence as a citizen using the rights to know laws, and 
personally contacted members of the Michigan Rehabilitation Council looking 
into the matter. Though stymied for a bit by non-compliant types within MRS 
II prevailed and it was noted in the report to MRC that the only way the 
commission board could be dissolved, etc., was through an act of the 

I, personally am not disenchanted with the move to DHS, or even the BEP 
split in to DTMB. That is not, in my mind the issue, and is a prerogative of 
the Governor. Besides LARA wasn't any treat and full of hacks who basically 
skimmed money from MCB, and MRS for things other than their earmarked 
purposes.  A million per year in BEP rent alone is a case in point!

The conflicts of interests and outright money funneling documented in the 
RSA monitoring by MCB, MRS, and the SILC were other violations of law and 

In addition for more than a decade both MRS and MCB had illegal means 
testing, and maintenance policies for those on SSI/SSDI which basically 
robbed the customers of millions in services rightfully theirs.

In many instances this "reporter" has been blamed for being the messenger by 
many as if I or other freedom fighters and truth tellers caused the problem.

Regardless, where Snyder was and is wrong is in this solution for he took 
away the real check and balance which is an independent commission board 
with teeth.

It is throwing out the baby with the bathwater on steroids for there will be 
less accountability, and even less  transparency, and certainly less 
meaningful input into the process -- if that is even fathomable.

It would be similar to those who have been watching the unfolding scandals 
in Wayne County government where the Executive is accused of all sorts of 
things and where many of his subortdinents have already been indicted for 
criminal activities, and then saying, rather than getting rid of the bad 
guys, "Well let's just eliminate the Wayne County Commission altogether and 
the position of Executive." Let's just not have a government and tthrow  it 
all to corporations here...Oh maybe those corporations will be the likes of 
Peckham, New Horizons, and the other NISH shops/private vocational rehab 
agencies which are really the tail wagging the dog after all?

On that point there was a policy consideration on the table for the next MCB 
meeting from the CIC and all parties. That Wwas a proposal to direct the 
director not to contract with entities ofpaying sub-minumum wages, and/or 
not following Section 504. The latter is a requirement of law, civil rights 
law at that already. And it would be the Commission board making sure the 
Rehab Act was being followed in all of its aspects which is, fundamentally 
its primary job.

That includes, by the way ensuring that MCB implements and follows its 
requirements under the State PLan.

Snyder and, indeed no one in LARA even knew of these obligations. Yet, they 
are rrequired to follow these federal mandates and laws too. That is if they 
wish to receive the federal money that is.

Peace with Justice,


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Fred Wurtzel" <f.wurtzel at att.net>
To: "'NFB of Michigan Internet Mailing List'" <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2012 10:50 PM
Subject: Re: [nfbmi-talk] Decentralization of the Commission (the 

> Hello Mark,
> Thank you for the measured reply to my pointed response to your message. 
> I
> have been involved with this issue since the mid '70's.  I was there when
> Governor Milliken signed P.A. 260.  I believe P.A. 260 was a pretty good
> piece of legislation given the constitutional constraints here in 
> Michigan.
> I was annoyed that someone who, to my knowledge, has never worked with
> others to make changes was so confidently telling us all what we had done
> wrong and how we had created the problem.  I apologize if I overreacted 
> and
> wish to explain, probably in too lengthy a post, my perspective on the
> matter.  It is easy to Monday-morning quarterback.  Not so easy to work
> nearly every day to do one's best to creat an agency that will create jobs
> and opportunities for first-class citizenship for blind people, even if
> mistakes were made.
> I have been away from the computer all afternoon.  It seems there is a lot
> of interest in this topic and you have certainly raised some points that
> have struck some nerves.  This is good.  Until we can all have some
> concensus about what happened, Why it happened we will not be able to set 
> a
> direction in which to proceed.
> First, are we, the consumers, the cause or the victims here.  My opinion 
> is
> clear.  We, the consumers did not cause this to happen.  In my view 2
> unfortunate forces converged within MCB.  First, generally speaking the
> field of rehabilitation of blind people is arcane and thus not well
> understood by the vast majority of public adninistrators.  It is the job 
> of
> the agency administrator and other influencial parties to articulate this 
> to
> decision-makers in order to direct public policy in favor of positive
> rehabilitation outcomes.  Second,
> Second, unfortunately, MCB was directed by an inept, uneducated and
> self-promoting director.  I almost said ineffective.  This would have been
> wrong.  When he had a personal goal he was quite effective in attaining 
> it.
> It even appears that he used some of this effectiveness to make positive
> changes.  He orchestrated the move of MCB from the welfare agency to the
> Labor department.  Second and even more important, he was able to acquire 
> a
> better split of federal funding between MRS and MCB.  Tragically, Larry 
> Best
> died about that time and there wer no more such beneficial outcomes for 
> within state government.  It was Larry Best who managed the budget and was
> liason among various departments including between the Labor finance 
> people
> and MCB.  The MCB Director has no financial acumen and ceded all authority
> to the Department finance people following Larry's death.
> I have my view of the appropriate role for the MCB Board.  I agree with
> those who argue that the Board is not to micro-manage life on a daily 
> basis
> for MCB staff.  The board , clearly to me, has a role to set good policy
> based on sound management practices and sound rehabilitation principles.
> The board needs to see to it that the director is the conduit between 
> these
> 2 segments of the agency. This is where the constraints of the Michigan
> Constitution get in the way.  P.A. 260 was  a little too ambiguous on the
> ability of the board to manage the Director.
> The Director inappropriately acquired too much power over the board by
> manipulating the appointment process and then emasculated the board by
> controlling the agendas, the information they received and partitioning 
> them
> from training about the budget, the laws and their role.
> You characterized the board as amateurish.  I do not see it that way.The
> most recent board was demanding data.  Data like the costs for closing 
> cases
> either successful or unsuccessful.  The numbers of intakes and training
> information about the agency's clientele.  They were demanding apropriate
> legal counsel on those arcane points of law that they were responsible to
> carry out.  To me, this is very professional and appropriate.  It was also
> not in the interest of the Director who wished to keep the Board out of 
> the
> loop on what is happening.
> On 1 major point, the board was pushing hard to improve the training of 
> the
> rehabilitation staff.  Again, even in the general field of rehabilitation,
> blindness rehabilitation is specialized and different from the general
> agency.  Most of MCB's new-hires were from MRS or did not have much if any
> blindness training or experience.  This was leading to poor services and 
> the
> proposal of poor  and even illegal policies for the agency.  To me it is
> totally appropriate for the board to advocate for quality and targeted
> training.
> Now come a whole batch of new administrators with the new administration.
> They see the tension and even hostility created by the Director's 
> inability
> to manage the agency and immediately, as if following an ages-old script 
> of
> paternalistic knee-jerk reactions.  The blame the clientele for being
> dissatisfied instead of grateful that anyone would throw them a few 
> crumbs.
> They, despite much evidence, were unwilling or unable to directly manage 
> the
> Director.  They followed, quite logically, but very wrongly the course as
> you described.  They said well these people are unhappy.  We'll show them
> how it is going to be because we know about administration and never mind
> the purpose of the agency.  We'll figure out a better way and tell those
> amateurish ungrateful poor blind incapable children how it is going to be.
> It was an unprofessional, imature and emotional reaction, but here we are.
> now what to do.  Assuming, and I have no reason except my initial reaction
> to your earler post, to believe you have only good intentions.  You point
> out our major weakness.  It is a communication and marketing problem. We
> have a great product.  We want good-paying jobs for lots of successful 
> blind
> people.  Blind people who can live independetly, contribute to the
> community, support their families, pay taxes and be good citizens.  This
> seems like a great product and an easy sell.  Now, our task is to create a
> mechanism to make the product.  This process is nuanced and has it's own
> technology which has been proven, but is mainly unknown to the ordinary
> citizen, administrator or policy maker.  How do we insert such a system 
> into
> state government in a way to get our outcomes and meet the needs of the
> political system?  To me, an astute politician would jump at the chance to
> create such an agency given the positive benefits of success.  We need to
> figure out how to sell such a process to the decision makers.
> This is where we all are.  We, the NFB, are a civil rights movement.  We
> view events and actions through this lens.  We are flexible, but in the 
> end,
> to us it is all about equality and equal opportunity.  Any solution or
> course of action will need to take this perspective into account.  Among 
> our
> goals is the means of acquisition of jobs and full participation in 
> society.
> A government agency cannot fully accomplish these goals, but it can create
> opportunities and conditions to make it happen.  I hope you and others can
> come together with us to figure this out.  It will not be easy.  The only
> people who like to be changed are wet babies.  Our governor has created
> change.  It is now up to us to reassert ourselves and retake the change
> process for blind people.  I, for 1 am confident we can do it.  I also
> believe it will take some time and a lot of hard work in the halls of the
> legislature and on the streets.
> If you made it this far, thank you for your attention.  I look forward to 
> a
> spirited and productive conversation about how to deal with what seems a
> tragic turn of events.
> Best Regards,
> Fred
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nfbmi-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfbmi-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org]
> On Behalf of Mark Smith
> Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2012 1:14 PM
> To: 'NFB of Michigan Internet Mailing List'
> Subject: Re: [nfbmi-talk] Decentralization of the Commission
> Hello Fred,
> I am not gloating nor am I being smug, I apologize if this is how my
> Previous message came across.  I am seeing the forest for the trees, 
> calling
> the cards as they have fallen.  Frankly as a advocate for persons with
> disabilities and a person with a visual impairment myself it pains me 
> deeply
> to see the mantel of authority for a esteemed agency be passed to a
> department that is not solely vested to do the work for our community. 
> The
> fact is that the group who is the most vocal in our state has not chosen 
> to
> come to the table so to say like adults.
> When someone who is not deeply vested or has immersed themselves in
> Michigan blind  politics views the situation,  What they see is  a group 
> of
> squabbling children. When an outside elected official views the situation
> along with the  dialog from the consumer groups, finally mixing the recent
> reports the facts do not mesh.  As with any good parent you fire the baby
> sitter and hire a new one.  This is what is happening now.
> The primary purpose of MCB is to empower persons who are blind or
> have a visual impairment so that they can become taxpaying citizens. 
> Please
> do not forget this fact,  do not cloak it in pretty words.  The old 
> analogy
> is to, give a person a fish they eat for a day.  Teach a person to fish 
> and
> they can eat for the rest of their life.  How many times do some people 
> need
> to be re-taught to fish?  I had once heard a quote from  Einstein he  said
> that "to do the same experiment over and over, expecting a different 
> result
> is insanity."  So things needed to be changed, with the lack of a 
> productive
> plan our governor provided one.  I certainly do  not feel that this was a
> proper course of action or positive development for our community. 
> However
> I am capable of reading the table as it is set right now.
> I choose to see this as an opportunity to make a break from the old
> ways.  The castle building that you describe is always going to be in our
> government, this will only change when the fundamental system is altered.
> You are not keeping in mind though that the government is being shrunk and
> only the strong nobles will remain standing after the hammer stops 
> swinging.
> Consolidation and making the system as cost effective as possible is the
> mantra today.  This move as I mentioned in my previous message is the most
> logical for the government now.  The thought of your destruction of civil
> liberties was never part of the decision process.  You are making it
> personal when it is not so. Come to the table in the frame of mind to make
> things work for the community, solidarity is the answer and the point of
> power right now.
> Mark
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nfbmi-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfbmi-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org]
> On Behalf Of Fred Wurtzel
> Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2012 11:52 AM
> To: 'NFB of Michigan Internet Mailing List'
> Subject: Re: [nfbmi-talk] Decentralization of the Commission
> Hello Mark,
> I do not know who you are.  You sure sound smug and a little gloating.  I
> guess we ought to expect this from people who do not understand the nature
> of why there is an agency for the blind.  It is not simply a conduit to
> spread federal money to self-interested bureaucrats for their 
> agrandizement
> and empire building.  This money is to empower people who have little or 
> no
> power.  It is exactly this lack of power that allows the faint
> acknowledgement of people's goals for first-class citizenship to be so
> casually disposed of.  This is 1 more insult and insult to blind people in 
> a
> landscape of centuries of similar insults.  We have dignity and we will 
> not
> accept this as our fate.  We have fought this fight before and we will 
> fight
> it again.  We may suffer other setbacks, but we will not ever give up on
> recognition of our right to first-class citizenship.
> Regards,
> Fred
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nfbmi-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfbmi-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org]
> On Behalf Of Mark Smith
> Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2012 11:14 AM
> To: 'NFB of Michigan Internet Mailing List'
> Subject: Re: [nfbmi-talk] Decentralization of the Commission
> Hello Larry,
> Both groups advocated this move by proxy.  If no one provides a
> positive critically thought out solution, you are part of the problem.  I
> have more than 500 messages from this list from the past few months that
> absolutely unequivocally call for the destruction of MCB in its current
> incarnation.  I do not see one positive critically thought out solution. 
> I
> see only the rare call by Christine boone providing a bit of well thought
> out clarification or if necessary admonishment of a member in a gentle and
> kind way.
> Coming from the business world this move that the Governor is taking
> appears to be a  solid one.  He is taking what appears publically to be 
> two
> agencies that are not functioning in an efficient manor, moving them to 
> the
> most logical place where they will leverage the assets of one another 
> along
> with enhancing their own already established organizations.  In addition 
> the
> removal of a program that has smelled of nepotism and insider trading  is
> being placed where it makes the most logical sense, the department who
> handles the states ways and means.
> Only a short sighted person would or could say that the MCB board is
> NOT the most dysfunctional group that has ever existed.  One only has to 
> sit
> in a meeting for about two minutes to realize that it is run by amateurs 
> and
> attended by a group of circus clowns.  The lack of human dignity and 
> respect
> alone calls for its destruction.  The most eloquent and efficient way to 
> do
> this is to dismantle the entire organization.  Take what is working, give 
> it
> to a different management team,, then eliminate the parts that are
> disfunctioning , establish a new legally appointed board to satisfy the 
> law,
> and move on.
> So you got your wish, the change that you have been calling for is
> here.  The bureaucrats in this state are currently hunkering under their
> desks right now just wondering where the next hammer blow is going to come
> from.  The word on the street is that no one has seen this many laws fly
> through the legislature this fast  in a very long time.  Go lawyer up and
> bring up a case.  Before it gets anywhere , you will see the law change.
> The most interesting evidence for the promotion of that change  will be 
> your
> own words and arguments that you have been lodging against MCB for oh 
> about
> the last ten years or so.
> The only question left is; is this going to be good for the blind
> and persons with visual impairment community in our state?  This is a very
> treacherous and mine field ridden question.  On one hand if it is business
> as usual I think that it is going to be very bad for our community.  I 
> feel
> that the credibility is in the toilet bowl and the voice is horse, people
> are sick of hearing the bitching and griping without any real answers that
> call for bringing the community together.  On the other hand it could be
> something that rises like a phoenix from the fires of destruction welding
> our community together in a positive way.  Power is in solidarity not in
> division.  Stop the juvenile antics and come to the table like 
> professionals
> with critically thought out questions and possible reasonable solutions,
> ready to negotiate and give and take a little.  Sound a lot like what our
> federal government should do as well. Lol Mark
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nfbmi-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfbmi-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org]
> On Behalf Of Larry D. Keeler
> Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2012 8:01 AM
> To: NFB of Michigan Internet Mailing List
> Subject: [nfbmi-talk] Decentralization of the Commission
> It is my oppinion that none of us from iether organization of blind
> comsumers advocates this shocking move by our estemed Governor.  I didn't
> nor will ever vote for him.  That aside, to my knowledge, NFB never
> advocated the abolishment of the Commission.  We constantly called for
> reform in order to serv its clients, blind folks the way it waas meant to.
> I am stunned that this is happening!  I am not really sorry about its
> director being out of a job but otherwise, I think this is appalling!  How
> can us blind folks fight for ourselves when our services will be devided
> across the board?  If our Board of Commissioners is abolished, how can we
> continue having a real say in how our tazx dollars get spent on blindness?
> I also know many folks in the Commission who are decent folks and truely
> want to better our lot.  Having dealt with DHS in a semiproffessional and
> personal capacity, I truely don't have a clue how they plan to have access
> to the services they are supposed to be providing.  And what of BEP?  For
> all its faults, it has provided many blind folks iether with a means to 
> make
> a living or as a start to move up and really be able to contribute to the
> tax pool.  Again, I want to make it clear that in my perception, us in NFB
> never!! called for decentralization!!  I believe we will always fight
> against coruption and abuse of the system whereever it occurs!  Dhis
> decentralization is disastrous for all of us!
> Intelligence is always claimed but rarely proven!
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