Dear Secretary Adams:
I will be unable to attend your meeting, set for tomorrow, July 16, 2004 , at the Thompson Building in Chicago . It is my objective to urge the nineteen of my fellow vendors who you have also invited not to attend.
I expect you thought, in setting up this meeting to discuss the future of the blind vending facility program in our State, that you were being responsive to our criticism of you and the governor. Unfortunately, you and the administration have failed once again to understand the nature of the program, and the State’s obligations regarding it.
At the very core of the blind vending facility program is the empowerment of blind vendors created by Congress through the Randolph-Sheppard Act through the establishment of a Committee of Blind Vendors in each State. You should have known, or have been informed, that this Committee is charged by the Act with joint decision-making authority in matters involving major administrative matters, policy, and program development.
By inviting a random group of blind vendors to meet with your staff to discuss the future of the blind vending facility program, you are diminishing the power and authority of the Committee of Blind Vendors conveyed to it by the Congress. You invited me to this meeting, but as an individual, and not as Chairman of the Committee. This is hardly the way to bring about an initiative to setting the future direction of the Business Enterprise Program for the Blind. You state that you have asked for the participation of “a diverse group of individuals,” and that “the recommendations and decisions emanating from this meeting will be instrumental in the direction that we take in the future.”
By excluding the representative body of blind vendors from your meeting, and by meeting with a “diverse group” of vendors, you could hardly have taken a more damaging approach to the future of the program. The only way you and the Blagojevich administration can assist in mapping the future direction of the blind vending program is by involving the Illinois Committee of Blind Vendors whose charter it is to make policy with the State. You have not done so to date. I speak for the Committee and scores of blind vendors in Illinois when I say we are greatly disappointed.