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December 14, 2004 – Adams

To: Carol Adams, Secretary DHS

From: John Gordon, Chairman ICBV

December 14, 2004

Subject: Major budget issue

 

I am seeking some very immediate attention to a major budgetary issue and its negative impact on the Business Enterprise Program for the Blind (BEPB). Approximately two months ago bureau chief Bettye Odem-Davis met with me and several other people to discuss reducing our spending plan by 24 %. We currently operate on 2.1million dollars per year and Ms. Davis suggested that we reduce this by $250,000.00 this year and an additional $250,000.00 in the following year.

 

At that time she made it clear that this was hypothetical at best pending further notice. She also made it very clear that this should be done in a way in which we would least impact services to our managers. She also was directed by fiscal manager Ms. Terri Dederer to inform us that this directive was not initiated by the Governor’s office however no one was willing to take responsibility for this proposal.

 

Within three weeks we went from a hypothetical situation to reality when Mr. Carl Suter was brought in to discuss these budget issues with the groups of people who would be most affected. Although I could not attend this meeting, I sent two delegates from my committee who had reported to me that we were being more or less singled out and were not given straight answers on many of their questions.

 

Since my initial meeting with the bureau chief, the dollar amount in which we will be reduced by has gone somewhere between $300,000.00 and $500,000.00 with no formal notification ever being given. I have received through Rehabilitation Services Administration in Washington D. C. a complete breakdown of federal monies collected by Illinois in the past five years. In those five years we have went from $84,000,000.00 to $94,000,000.00 and the BEPB has been working with the same amount of money for the past ten years.

 

We have been the good citizens in that we have extended an arm of employment opportunity to the disability community and this action is what we receive in return. My committee and I are of the opinion that I am being personally targeted for actions and attention I have brought to the agency over the past several years. Just to help you with some history, it was just a few years ago that a BBS staff person brought erroneous charges against me through the EEOC which were proved to be unfounded and unsubstantiated.

 

Based on the fact that Mr. Carl Suter and staff people could not give us any straight information on how we got to this point in the budgetary crisis, perhaps demanding an audit of all federal monies received is over due. Perhaps Carl Suter who no longer works for your agency was flown in to facilitate this budget meeting because he in fact was the one who over committed monies and misappropriated funds putting your agency in this current condition.

 

It appears to be a pretty bold move to propose cutting our funds by 24% when these same people lost our managers millions of dollars over the past several years by their lack of enforcing our priority at Great Lakes Naval Training Station. Although no one is currently willing to take any responsibility for this proposed down sizing in our spending plan, two names continually come up that being bureau chief Bettye Odem-Davis and fiscal manager Terri Dederer.

 

Although I do not appreciate being targeted by these individuals in the agency, I like it even less when the people in whom I represent will become the recipients of these actions. I do not believe you have any responsibility in these types of actions however you must intercede immediately before this gets any further out of control. I would please appreciate a rapid response.

 

Thank you,

 

John Gordon