[nfbmi-talk] federationists speak aloud

joe harcz Comcast joeharcz at comcast.net
Thu Dec 4 16:17:51 UTC 2014

            ACTION ITEM






3490 Belle Chase Way, Suite 110

Lansing, MI  48911

517.887.9370 or 877.335.9370



Business Meeting Minutes


Tuesday November 18, 2014



Members Present:  Carol Bergquist, Sharon Bryant, Mark Eastburg, Trina Edmondson, Sara Grivetti, Rod Jones, Caryn Pack Ivey, Michael Poyma, Anne Riddering, Brian Sabourin, Mitch Tomlinson, Jennipher Wiebold.


Members Excused:  Sheryl Diamond, Suzanne Howell (Department of Human Services – Michigan Rehabilitation Services DHS-MRS), William Jones, Adam Kaplan, Deanna Middlebrooks, Ed Rodgers (Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs – Bureau of Services for Blind Persons LARA-BSBP), Matthew Weaver.


Guests Present:  James Bunton (DHS-MRS), Joe Harcz, Sherry Hybeck (LARA-BSBP), Leamon Jones (LARA-BSBP), Lisa Kisiel (LARA-BSBP), Dave Robinson. 


Staff Present:  Marlene Malloy, Shori Teeple. 


Call to Order

The meeting was called to order by Council Member A. Riddering.  Roll call determined that a quorum was present.  


Welcome & Introductions

A. Riddering welcomed Council Members and guests.  Introductions were made.



The draft agenda (November 18, 2014) was reviewed by the membership.  A motion was made by C. Bergquist and seconded by T. Edmondson to approve the agenda as presented.  A friendly amendment was made to have the meeting end time changed to 1:00 p.m., with items at the end of the agenda (FY 2015 Business Meeting Agenda and Customer Experience Methodologies for Obtaining Customer Input) to be tabled and moved forward to the January business meeting.  


A motion, made by S. Grivetti and seconded by B. Sabourin, was passed to approve the draft agenda as amended.


The draft minutes (August 8, 2014) were reviewed by the membership. 


A motion, made by S. Grivetti and seconded by M. Eastburg, was passed to approve the draft minutes as presented.


Public Comment

The public comment statement was read aloud.


Joe Harcz

Joe Harcz, National Federation of the Blind and consumer advocate.  One thing, I don’t get a response within 30 days in writing related to public comments.  Two, substantially, every, every agency in this state is out of compliance with the Rehab Act and with provisions of due process and information in alternate format.  That includes Protection and Advocacy Services.  I requested, formally, the four alternate formats: braille, large print, audio, and electronic for distribution at the National Federation of the Blind state convention.  Not forthcoming.  People don’t even know who, what, when, where, why and how.  Then we go into the violations that have been documented over and over again by the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons, related to basic inquiry and basic access in a timely and accessible manner.  I got a little good news and a little bad news.  People may have known that I requested my complete file in accessible format, since I made that a part of the public record, and it was denied and it was timely and it was belated, or it wasn’t timely, it was belated.  It’s supposed to be made concurrently, but when I did it, oh, postmarked September 19th, and I haven’t been a client for a while, I got false entries in there, including acceptance to the training center from a counselor I never even heard of.  This is pattern and practice for this agency.  None of their numbers make sense.  None of them can be accounted and there is no consumer input.  There is no actual due process for anybody.  You’re supposed to be going to things later on on how you get consumer input?  Well, heck, we get isolated time and time again, picked off one by one, in the dark.  Then this agency goes with our federal funds off hob-nobbing all over the place and denying fundamental due process.  I’ve talked to 3 people this week alone who have had counselors changed, and rather than anything being noticed to them in accessible format, get a print letter.  We’re dealing with blind people ladies and gentlemen.  And look at Mr. Sabourin’s CAP (Client Assistance Program) report and look at the monkey business going on with due process by violations of the director asking people to rubber stamp an inaccessible notice to get files released to CAP.  And then, they can’t even talk to counselors.  What in the world is going on people?  And then you people see this month in, month out, I put stuff in writing, and then you rubber stamp more funding for this egregiously violative agency.  It’s an outrage.  If you even read the state plan, you’d see lies, you’d see agreements with agencies that don’t even exist.  That’s documented, these are facts, these aren’t conjecture, these aren’t opinions. 


Dave Robinson

Dave Robinson, I’m also with the National Federation of the Blind and I’ve made comments on this public comment line before in regards to your meetings.  My comments have been taken with some argument from the Director of BSBP.  There has been no change within the agency, the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons, from the very beginning.  I spoke to Mr. Rodgers when he first came on as Director of BSBP and I said to him, ‘how we will feel as blind people is relevant to what you do’.  He had a clean slate when he started and he has corrupted this agency to such an extent that blind people have no faith in anything that they do.  There have been many examples of lies from counselors, from management, and inaccessibility of documentation, falsification of documentation, not allowing clients to see their files, actually closing their files without any agreement by the client, bullying tactics among management staff, not only management bullying the staff but also bullying clients.  There have been several situations where we felt that the client should take the agency to a hearing, but what’s the use, because the hearing system that’s available to clients and to BEP (Blind Enterprise Program) operators is corrupt and injust and not set up the way to give any type of rights to a blind person in this state.  The final determination, even if the client wins at an administrative hearings level, it’s always overruled by the director of the agency, and so it’s useless.  And then when we try to go to CAP, we can’t get information, we can’t even hardly find their phone number because their materials aren’t accessible to us, and when we do call and finally get somebody, they do nothing.  They absolutely do nothing.  We have no way to grieve any type of issue with this agency in this state except to take them to court, and if we take them to state court, we’re overruled anyway because it’s always in favor of the administration.  So what’s left to us?  We have to go to federal court.  And so, what happens is that they’re getting away with everything that they want to by stealing federal dollars, going off on junkets, going off on conferences, spending lots of federal dollars, lots of parties and meetings and so forth, and nothing is spent on the client.  In fact, clients, their cases are being closed because the agency doesn’t want to spend money on them to make them successfully employed.  It used to be that we always said that Michigan was once upon a time one of the best rehabilitation states in the union, but now it’s absolutely the worst, absolutely the worst.  We have a terrible reputation among other rehabilitation agencies.  They know that the director of BSBP is a buffoon and not interested in anything as far as employing blind people, in fact we got lots of sighted interns that are taking jobs away from blind people, putting them in food facilities where blind people should be employed, and it continues on and on and on.  I thought your body of people here was supposed to be the overseers of that and you continue to let them get away with it.  Well, somebody has to be accountable and I expect that you guys need to be accountable.  Thank you.


A. Riddering stated that for future reference, it would be appreciated that there was no further name calling during public comment.


Overview - Partner Reports

A written report from the Statewide Independent Living Council was included in the meeting packet.  An overview was provided of the outcome of recent discussions of the Executive Team with regard to partner reports for business meetings.  It was determined that this and future business meeting agendas/packets will include written partner reports, while verbal reports will be removed from the agenda.  


Executive Team (ET) Report

Members reviewed the proposed Final ET Minutes for April 22, July 8, August 5 and 8, September 2 and 23, and October 14.


A motion, made by T. Edmondson and seconded by S. Grivetti, was passed to accept and place on file the final ET minutes as presented.


Financial Operations

Members reviewed the Financial Statements for July, August and September 2014.  


A motion, made by M. Poyma and seconded by B. Sabourin, was passed to accept and place on file the Financial Statements for July, August and September 2014 as presented.


Update - Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs – Bureau of Services for Blind Persons (LARA-BSBP):  Lisa Kisiel, BSBP Training Center Director

Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Monitoring 

The scheduled RSA Monitoring visit for this fall was postponed due to the recent passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).  A new date for the monitoring visit has not yet been determined.


re:con The Convention of New Beginnings

BSBP staff recently attended the re:con conference in Grand Rapids last week.  



With many unknowns about all of the changes that will take place with WIOA and how the changes will affect BSBP, staff are becoming more educated about the new legislation.  More information will be shared in the future.


Blind Enterprise Program (BEP)

There are 5 openings for BEP locations, with plans in place for a training program to begin in January 2015 to train potential new operators.


New Counselor Training

The second of two 2-part New Counselor Training are taking place this week in Lansing.


BSBP Training Center

During FY 2014, 130 consumers were served at the Training Center.  Staff there also participated with the Consumer Services Division to provide opportunities for 3 mini-adjustment programs around the state.


Report of the Executive Director (ED):  M. Malloy

Office Suite Renovations

A written staff report was included in meeting packets.  Updates were provided regarding current renovations taking place for expansion of the MCRS meeting room and office space.  With all construction completed and equipment reorganization in the final stages, it is anticipated that the meeting room will be ready to welcome members and guests for the January 20th business meeting.  


National Coalition of State Rehabilitation Councils (NCSRC) - Miami, Florida

Additional updates were provided for recent events that were attended by both council staff and a member (B. Sabourin) for the NCSRC, including a full-day strategic planning session (for the Steering Committee), the Saturday/Sunday Training Conference (with MCRS Staff facilitating two different sessions), and a ‘Members Only’ reception.  The sessions and reception were well attended and networking took place among attendees from over 34 member state rehabilitation councils.  The ED also reflected on her attendance at the Florida Rehabilitation Council’s business meeting while in Miami.  An overview was provided of new information learned about VR agency requirements for WIOA. 


re:con The Convention of New Beginnings - Grand Rapids

Lastly, highlights were shared of staff and council member participation (C. Bergquist, S. Bryant, M. Poyma) at re:con.  Staff and members hosted the MCRS exhibit, attended sessions, networked with colleagues, with S. Teeple facilitating 2 sessions.


Advisory Work Team Reports

Customer Experience (CE) - M. Poyma (Chair)

The final CE minutes and work plan were included in meeting packets.  An overview was provided of the work team’s progress in developing and refining draft dashboards of designated state unit (DSU) data.  Data includes information related to customer service/satisfaction, RSA 911 data/Performance Standards and Indicators, and more.  


A motion, made by S. Grivetti and seconded by R. Jones, was passed to accept and place on file the final Customer Experience minutes and work plan as presented.


Regulatory Guidance (RG) - A. Riddering (Chair)

Final RG minutes were included in meeting packets.  An overview was provided of the work team’s progress with assembling/updating content for the Council’s annual report.  With a ‘lighthouse/beacon’ theme, the team is making good progress on completing updates and preparing the document for submission to the governor and RSA.


A motion, made by S. Bryant and seconded by T. Edmondson, was passed to accept and place on file the final Regulatory Guidance minutes as presented.


Update - Department of Human Services – Michigan Rehabilitation Services (DHS-MRS):  James Bunton, Division Director

MRS continues to make good progress with its 4 Vision Statements:


Excellent Customer Service:  Customer satisfaction rates (at exit) are around 83%, with those at Individual Plan for Employment being about 92%.  Staff continues to utilize Motivational Interviewing strategies around the state, including trainings and tapes.  The adjusted rehab rate (~56%) has exceeded the national rate (55%).  Overviews were provided for services being exported from the Michigan Career and Technical Institute (MCTI) to initiate Certified Nurse Assistant programs in other locations, as well as the development of Business Resource Specialists to connect persons with disabilities with businesses across the state.

Strong Fortified Partnerships:  A new Strategic Planning Council was described, including involved partners and statewide coordination, networking and implementation of 4 programs.  


Motivated Enthusiastic Staff:  A redesign has been implemented, with some districts combined.  Following a Phase 1 of hiring new staff, 18 new staff have been hired.  It is anticipated that 27 more new staff will be hired during Phase 2.  The ‘Mobile Worker’ program has been initiated.


High Producing VR:  In FY 2014, just over 37,700 customers were served, with successful rehabs for over 6,660 customers.  The goal for FY 2015 is to successfully rehab 7,000 customers with a dual-customer approach:  both the person with the disability is a customer as well as the employers.



Leasing and consolidation of offices continue.  Jenny Piatt of the Business Network Unit continues to promote the Talent Acquisition Portal (TAP).  


A question was asked regarding updates related to the Council’s recent input to MRS’ draft document for the promulgation of rules.  It was also asked whether public hearings will be conducted for the rules process.  A last question was asked about the amount of money that was returned to RSA at the end of FY 2014.  J. Bunton indicated he would secure the answers to these questions and report back to the membership.


Customer Service System Issues - Brian Sabourin, Vice Chair

Client Assistance Program (CAP) – B. Sabourin 

A written report was included in meeting packets.  It was shared that recent BSBP communication concerns have been resolved following a meeting with Director Rodgers.  A question was asked whether concerns raised earlier during public comment were included within those that have been resolved.  In response, yes, some of those concerns have been resolved, but others remain and continue to be managed on an ongoing/as needed basis.


DHS-MRS Administrative Hearings Manager

A written report was included in meeting packets.  


Other Business

Approval of FY 2015 Business Meeting Agenda

With time remaining before the next scheduled Public Comment, the membership decided to add back onto the agenda discussion related to the proposed FY 2015 Business Meeting Agenda.


A motion, made by M. Tomlinson and seconded by M. Poyma, was passed to add ‘FY 2015 Business Meeting Agenda’ discussion back onto this meeting’s agenda as presented.


Members discussed proposed format changes for future meeting agendas.  Changes include the elimination of verbal partner reports, with the exception of those that relate directly to customer service system issues (CAP and BSBP/MRS Administrative Hearings Managers), with written reports from other partners to be included in meeting packets.  

Other changes include the addition of panels of experts and topic discussions based on unserved and underserved populations that were identified in the final report for the 2014 Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment.  The top 5 topics, as voted on by the membership, include the following:  supported employment, transition services to youth, veterans, mental illness, and minority populations.  Each discussion will conclude with next steps to address these specific needs of customers in communities.


A motion, made by B. Sabourin and seconded by M. Eastburg, was passed to approve the proposed FY 2015 MCRS business meeting agenda format as presented.


Match Process for Funding Public Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)

Brief discussion took place and a suggestion was made for the January 20th business meeting agenda to include an opportunity for membership education and discussion about the match process for funding public VR.  With millions of VR dollars being returned annually to RSA due to the inability to generate match for general funds, members expressed interest in learning more about the match situation and challenges from both DSU (BSBP and MRS) directors at the next meeting.


Public Comment

There was no one present to make public comment.



There was no further business for discussion.


A motion, made by B. Sabourin and seconded by J. Wiebold, was passed to adjourn the meeting.


The meeting was adjourned at 12:47 p.m.



Tuesday January 20, 2015

MCRS Meeting Room, Lansing
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