[Ohio-talk] Fw: Some additional info about the whole commercialization of highway business -Article from Columbus Dispatch Ohio Columnists 2012 03 13

Barbara Pierce bpierce at oberlin.net
Mon Apr 2 16:48:46 UTC 2012


Nice job, Deborah! You struck all the right notes and told the truth loud
and clear. Three cheers!

Barbara

-----Original Message-----
From: ohio-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:ohio-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
Behalf Of Deborah Kendrick
Sent: Monday, April 02, 2012 11:48 AM
To: NFB of Ohio Announcement and Discussion List
Subject: [Ohio-talk] Fw: Some additional info about the whole
commercialization of highway business -Article from Columbus Dispatch Ohio
Columnists 2012 03 13

Hello JW and all of NFB Ohio, 
As I've read these messages the past few days about Paul contacting Senator
Brown, which was very cool indeed, I have felt a bit sheepish that my
friends in NFB Ohio are possibly the last to know of my involvement in this
potential legislative nightmare.  
Chris Danielsen contacted me (he's the public relations director at National
Center for those who may not know) to see if I could help with media
coverage of this potential disaster.  
My editor at the columbus Dispatch was very gracious in allowing me to write
an extra column, and we kept in touch daily to get the timing right for
running it.  It was a lot of work -- talking to people in the business
enterprise program throughout ohio and several other states, as well as
Senator Portman's press secretary and folks at National Center.  
The upshot was that we were able to run the column the very morning of the
vote!  It ran March 13, a Tuesday morning, and Chris wrote me a wonderful
email saying that every Senator had it in his hand when the time came to
vote.  To quote Chris, the amendment was a "spectacular failure".  
It was such a thrill to be part of this little success story.  Of course, we
need to be vigilant, in the event that it comes up again, but at any rate, I
apologize for not sharing this process with the rest of you.  Chris dubbed
me a roch star, by the way, which had me grinning from ear to ear.  I also
received a considerable amount of mail from readers of the Dispatch who now
know more about our blind entrepreneurs and will help us in future.  
You might know some of the people quoted, so I am including that March 13
column below for your information.  It was collected from our very own
NEWSLINE!
Peace,
Deborah
----- Original Message ----- 
From: NFB-NEWSLINE Online 
To: Deborah Kendrick 
Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 9:00 AM
Subject: Article from Columbus Dispatch Ohio Columnists 2012 03 13


Blind vendors fear effort to commercialize highways. Tuesday March 13, 2012
6:12 AM Jeff Tolle is living a version of the American dream. He has his own
business and loves his job. His wife, Michelle, is his No. 1 employee.
Family time consists of frequent trips to the Columbus Zoo, Kings Island and
Cedar Point. Tolle takes his sons, ages 8 and 13, fishing whenever possible
at one of two ponds near the family's Delaware home. They don't spend much
time worrying about the fact that both boys have inherited Tolle's eye
condition because life is good, and Tolle always has provided the family
with a more than respectable income. Tolle is just one of thousands of blind
Americans who have benefitted from the Randolph-Sheppard Act, a law whose
75th anniversary was recognized in January by a memorandum from President
Barack Obama, encouraging more federal agencies to participate. If you've
ever bought snacks or beverages in a post office, courthouse, military base
or any other federal agency, chances are you've supported blind business
owners. Tolle's business, like hundreds of other entrepreneurs in the
program called Business Enterprise, consists of vending machines adjacent to
rest areas on interstate and secondary highways. Under the law, priority is
given to blind entrepreneurs in food-service facilities on government
properties and, since 1982, vending machines at highway rest areas. About 40
enterprising individuals in Ohio service the machines that dispense coffee,
beverages, snacks and ice cream at rest areas up and down our major and
minor corridors. They buy the supplies, fill the machines, buy their own
vehicles to transport goods and equipment, hire others to drive those
vehicles, pay all the necessary taxes for self-employment and balance their
own books. I spoke with several of those Ohio business owners last week, and
there were definite refrains in every conversation. They love the work they
do. They take pride in providing a service to the public. And they are
terrified that an amendment to the surface-transportation bill, Senate Bill
1813, proposed by Sen. Rob Portman could have devastating consequences. If
approved, the amendment would render the highways open country for commerce.
Historically, commerce on interstate and secondary highways has been
permitted only in the form of the vending machines operated by blind and
visually impaired merchants. The National Federation of the Blind, the
National Restaurant Association and the National Association of Truck Stop
Operators are just a few of the many organizations representing both
business and disability sectors who are vehemently opposed to any change in
the law. Brendan Flanagan, a spokesman for the National Restaurant
Association, said, "This legislation threatens private businesses of all
sizes and their employees who rely on drivers exiting the highway in order
to purchase food and conveniences. .?.?. It is anti-competitive and will
kill jobs. Julie Russell, president of the Ohio Blind Vendors, says that
even though her own business is a bank of machines at the Ohio Department of
Job and Family Services, the proposed legislation would have a negative
impact on her and others whose businesses are not on the highways. Everyone
in the program pays a percentage of profit into the statewide fund, operated
by the Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired, which is used for
training, maintenance and repair. Because the rest-area businesses are among
the most profitable, those operators pay a much larger share into the
statewide pool, thus enabling smaller businesses such as Russell's to stay
in operation. It sounds like we're just a small number of people," Tolle
said, "but many of the vendors have other employees, both with and without
disabilities, and then there are all those people who are hired on a
different contract to clean and empty the trash. He is referring to the
scores of people, many with developmental disabilities, who are hired for
cleaning and general maintenance in the rest areas, whose jobs depend on the
status quo. An unemployment rate of nearly 70 percent among people with
disabilities is something of a national disgrace. The Randolph-Sheppard Act
was a big step forward 75 years ago and is one of the smartest things we're
doing to alter that reality. To create any law with the potential to
displace hundreds of gainfully employed people with disabilities - people
who are providing a service and taking pride in the work they do - well, it
just doesn't make sense. Deborah Kendrick is a Cincinnati writer and
advocate for people with disabilities. dkkendrick at earthlink.net This article
is provided to you as a courtesy of NFB-NEWSLINER Online for your sole use.
The content of this E-mail is protected under copyright law, and is not to
be distributed in any manner to others; infringement of our
non-dissemination agreement is strictly prohibited. Allowing someone to have
access to this material is in violation of the Terms of Use agreement that
you electronically signed when you signed up for NFB-NEWSLINER Online.
Please do not forward this E-mail or its attachments to any other person or
disseminate it in any manner. Thank you. The NFB-NEWSLINER Team.
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