From: John Gordon, Chairman Illinois Committee of Blind Vendors (ICBV)
Date: February 1, 2005
Subject: January 19th meeting summary
Please allow me to thank you for inviting Janet Schuler and myself to the meeting held on January 19th 2005 . As you know prior to the corporate sponsorship initiative the Illinois Committee of Blind Vendors and I had been negotiating with the Governor’s office an administrative order. We thought this was needed to further strengthen state law 2420 and bring other state agencies into compliance. Approximately one year ago these talks stopped and we were informed that our preference on state property and the hope of having an administrative order signed was married to the success of the corporate sponsorship initiative.
We decided at that time that we needed to bring attention to this matter and that’s when we sent out a press release and I began my nine day walk from Chicago to the state capitol. Although we received tremendous coverage by the press, ten months later we are still faced with state agencies that decline us the opportunity to operate concessions on state property.
At our meeting on January 19th we discussed a many issues and concerns on the part of blind operators. However, we did not receive much information in return. We accepted that based on the fact that this is in the evidentiary stages and there would be more information forth coming. We stated that in no way would our operators be interested in beverage machines being placed on full service and would only be interested in purchasing beverages and stocking those machines on their own. We also stated that under the law we should receive preference on all state property and not only the properties we are currently at.
Currently blind operators through self employment opportunity are given the right to choose the products in which they purchase to be placed in their vending equipment. Through an RFP that will soon be executed, these rights would be taken away. We all understand that there are trade offs that could be made to make this both tolerable and profitable for both sides. We are currently operating approximately 43 stand alone businesses on state property and have another 45 businesses located on federal, county, city, and private properties. However, these 45 businesses amount to between 60 and 70 percent of our overall purchasing. If we could come to some type of working agreement I am sure we could convince our managers on non state property to also enter into this agreement.
Please understand that in working out the mechanics for the RFP there needs to be some type of an expedited variance form that could be filed which would allow our operators to purchase product from another company if the contracted company can not provide timely service, timely repairs, quality product, etc.
Also discussed at this meeting was the fact that blind operators currently facilitate 500 of the 1500 vending machines on state property. We need to discuss a transition of blind operators into these accounts on a percentage basis based on the length of the contract. As you know blind business people in Illinois are represented by the Illinois Committee of Blind Vendors which is both a federally mandated committee and a 501 C 3 non for profit organization. We currently, through our own partnering agreement bring in $65,000.00 per year to our organization which is above and beyond any individual programs negotiated between the bottler and our blind operators.
Under the current state law we qualify for both the state health insurance program along with retirement benefits. Although for many years we have made attempts to procure such benefits through the state we have always been denied. If in fact the RFP brings into the state of Illinois between 10 and 15 million dollars, I do not think it would be outrageous to provide our operators with these types of benefits and restoring the small amount of money we currently receive to operate our organization. I also know that by doing this it would change what was once a very negative reaction from the blind community to one which would make the Governor and his office champions both in Illinois and across the country.
I stated in our meeting that not only do concessions on state property affect blind men and women in a positive way but also affect their families and scores of disabled people in the same manner.
When your office conducted it’s survey of vending machines on state property, one important item was left out which was the case price that blind men and women purchase product for across the state. However, if you need assistance in this area please contact me. I hope I have affectively given you some brief history on how we reached this point along with giving you and your staff a summary of the meeting held on January 19th. Through continued dialog I am sure that this could be positive to all parties involved.
Cc. Janet Schuler, Vice Chairman ICBV
Carol Adams, Secretary DHS
Rob Kilbury, Director of the Department of
Bette Odem-Davis BBS Bureau Chief
Paul Drake, Assistant Bureau Chief BEPB
Mark Repasky, Special Projects Coordinator