To: Secretary Carol Adams DHS
Date: February 23, 2004
Subject: Current issues
Please allow me to explain to you the series of events that led up to hundreds of phone calls being placed to the Governor’s office along with media attention given to the issue of Corporate Sponsorship and proposed Concessions audit. As I explained to you earlier, myself, the Illinois Committee, and our lobbyist Mr. Thomas Cullen have been working on an Administrative Order for the last year. If the Administrative Order is agreed on and signed it would give us priority to operate businesses on all state properties. Although we are currently on many of these properties, our blind managers are put in a financial bind by state agencies which choose to charge our people rent, utility, commission, and various service charges. I would be able to understand this and accept this more easily if I thought these monies were going to off set these expenses but in most cases they are being used to operate funds that are unaccounted for. Most states have adopted a mini Randolph Sheppard Act which applies to blind managers on state properties. However, Illinois has state law 2420 which some agencies do not feel has the priority or first right of refusal written into it. I and my Committee did not mean to cause you or your office any embarrassment. However, when the Governor’s office inquired about soft drink sales at each of our facilities it left the door wide open to much speculation. I and my Committee in no way indorsed or encouraged any media attention over this matter and in fact went out of the way to discourage it. Since the beginning of this large agency (DHS) we have had a history of broken promises namely Mr. Howard Peters. In the future I will keep you informed on pending and heated issues before they reach the intensity that we have experienced recently. I have great respect for you and the large agency in which you manage and I hope that our first two meetings are not wasted on these current events.
Vending 101 which we held at your office was a great opportunity to not only educate everybody in relation to what we do in the Business Enterprise Program but I think it was also a great opportunity for some staff people to mend fences and build bridges. I as Chairman of Illinois Committee of Blind Vendors want nothing more than for you to be a champion for blind managers in Illinois and help us accomplish some promises left over by other Administrations. I in no way hold you responsible for any of those and my opinion of you will only be set forth by working relationship today and in the future. A great percentage of state facilities in which we pay unfair commissions and rents all fall under the DHS umbrella and you have total control in relation to those outcomes. Blind managers and their families have desperately needed health insurance and retirement benefits for years and although we have been promised it never has happened. I know there is a way that we could accomplish such goals but I desperately need you and your staff to work with me so we could bring some of these issues to a positive resolution. Please feel free to contact me at any time and I will communicate issues to you as I stated earlier.