[tabi] Re: My response to the FCB executive committee 05/22/2013

  • From: "Chip and Allie Orange" <acorange@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 31 May 2013 21:06:59 -0400

Hi Robert,

 

Sorry it has taken me so long to respond to this.

 

I am sorry you have had such an unpleasant confrontation in an organization
you've given such a large part of your life to promoting.  Let me urge you
to consider not leaving it, but to remain a voting and vocal member, and
continue to work to get it to change its mind or position.  It sounds to me
like you have issues with particular individuals, and not the FCB itself.  

 

Individuals leave, are voted out, or sometimes even change their minds!  If
you stay; you can help this happen; if you leave, you aren't achieving
nearly as much.

 

I'm not addressing the particular issue which started this for you, as I
don't know much about it.  I was concerned that you felt an FCB member
wouldn't be allowed to speak their mind freely on the FCB mailing list, so I
spent some time trying to determine how the FCB did feel about freedom of
speech.  Unfortunately, I did receive a mixed message, and any time I (and
some others) tried to raise this issue on the list, the moderator (Jay
Bater) kept instructing us to take the discussion off list, and terminate it
on the list.

 

The FCB president Paul Edwards however, did assure me discussions of any
topic would be allowed (if carried out politely). then unfortunately, he
went on to say that your questioning his motives was a personal attack, and
so a discussion questioning what he is doing or plans to do won't be
allowed.

 

I concluded, for those who care, that you did have some justification in
being concerned that you couldn't speak freely on the FCB mailing list.

 

This leads me to answer your last point: you asked about a state wide
blindness discussion mailing list which would be independent of the two
major advocacy organizations.  The entire point of TABI was that there was a
strong need for each community to be able to discuss blindness issues in
their community which transcended the goals of the advocacy groups (or
perhaps better expressed as just fall under the radar of such groups)
because they would be quite local.  A state wide list however wouldn't have
such an obvious geographical motivation, which wasn't related to the
blindness politics of the state.

 

I'm trying to say, such a list, being state wide, would largely only have
blindness-related state political issues to discuss, and this is being done
right now, quite actively, by the two consumer groups.  I'm not sure there
are very many people who are interested in engaging blindness political
issues at the state level outside of these two groups.  If there were enough
people, then such a list would make sense, but I don't think there are.

 

That's just my guess however; I don't have time myself to moderate another
list even if I thought otherwise, but I would sign up if one did exist.  If
you (or anyone) wanted to start one; that would be great (that is, I can't
do it, but I don't have to be the one).  All you have to do is ask around
amongst other lists you are on to find out what current free email lists
seem to be blind friendly, and get some tips on these other lists as to how
you go create an account for yourself (which often is the same thing as
creating your list).

 

That's the easy part; the hard part is constantly going around to other
lists and promoting your new list, asking people to sign up, and spending
time with all the people who have some little difficulty when they do try to
sign up.  It turns out to be really difficult to get the word out about your
new list; if you feel it's really important however (as I did with TABI),
you just keep on doing it, until your list hits some magic threshold (some
critical mass), where people start talking about it.  It helps a lot if you
can precisely describe what the point of the list is going to be; don't say
something like "I really want to have a list where we talk about stuff, any
stuff, just sign up ok?".  It also helps if you have some volunteers to help
promote it because they too believe in the need for it.

 

Here is where it helps you to stay an FCB member, and even to join the NFB
as well; then, you should be able to promote your new list on their two
existing state-wide lists (especially if you discuss working together in
cooperative efforts in Florida, without regard to the dogmas of the two
national groups).  They both should allow a message such as that, and then
you'd have a pretty good audience.  You'll need to repeat this every month
or two.

 

I hope this was of some help, and I hope those who have never been a part of
either of the two national groups can now glimpse how difficult it truly is
to accomplish anything, and how much we all owe those who have done so to
this point.

 

Chip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From: tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf
Of Easy Talk
Sent: Sunday, May 26, 2013 4:51 PM
To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [tabi] My responce to the FCB executive committee 05/22/2013

 

Chip, thanks for giving us such a wonderful gift when you started tabi, Ever
thought about say maybe a fabi that would be state wide

Looks like FCBL is not so open anymore.

 

Based on the attacks made on me and Sila during the FCB Executive Committee
meeting held on May 22, I feel it necessary to explain the reasons for my
posts to FCBL and this list and my decision to not remain a member of FCB.
I am also posting to the TABI list instead of the FCB list since the
Executive committee took my remarks and concerns as inflammatory and as a
personal attack on their President, rather than issues that have caused
problems in the past and will continue to do so unless they are addressed
and dealt with.  It was also made clear that my remarks will be suppressed
by the moderator who was blamed for allowing them and will be dealt with
accordingly.

Please feel free to send this message to whomever you like but I caution you
about posting to FCBL.

First of all let me say my intention wasn't personal but rather Mr. Edwards
political agenda based on his current actions and actions he has taken in
the past.  Hopefully the facts I present will help you understand how I
arrived at the conclusions I have. 

 I served as president of FCB from 2000 to 2004, past president from 2004
until 2006 and as first vice president from 2006 until 2010, for a total of
10 years on the Executive committee and have a grate respect for following
procedures outlined in the Constitution and bylaws and learned after my
first business meeting as president that a president is a facilitator and as
president should not inject personal opinions unless he turns control of the
meeting over to the first vice president and speaks with the same rights of
a member.  In most every case where a motion or open discussion has occurred
during Mr. Edwards administration, he makes it pretty clear of his personal
views and in my opinion influences the membership before a motion is brought
to the floor and sets the tone of discussion as he did with the recent
executive committee phone conference. As you will see before I am finished
with this post, Mr. Edwards generally conducts FCB business through the
executive committee rather than the board and convention.  During my
administration, I learned from Carl McCoy that it was the Executive
committee's responsibility to deal with emergency issues that couldn't wait
for a formal board meeting  or convention and not designed to be a general
mechanism for governing the organization and if my memory serves me
correctly, is clearly stated in the FCB constitution and bylaws.  If a
facilitator doesn't follow the rules then they open their self up for
suspicion and promoting there own political agenda as Mr.  Edwards has done
in my opinion.  The facilitator has a lot of power by the issues he allows
to come to the floor and the information he presents to the group.  I am
proud to say as president, I accepted constructive criticism as I think
Sharon Youngs will affirm rather than attack the person giving it as Mr.
Edwards as facilitator of the recent phone conference did.  As you will see,
Mr. Edwards also uses influential members of FCB to his advantage to promote
his agenda which was to attack me and by association attack Sila.

Now that you have an understanding of my opinion of Mr. Edwards style of
administration, let's talk about the straw that broke the camel's back that
led to my decision to resign from my duties in FCB and no longer be a
member.

As many of you know, one of my strongest passions was to make the state of
Florida bring its websites and software used by state agencies into
compliance with ADA regulations.   In 2005, Governor Bush established the
AEIT taskforce to deal with the issue and although I wasn't a member of the
taskforce I attended all the meetings throughout the state as chairman of
the Technology committee under Debbie Grubbs administration.  The taskforce
consisted of a range of very committed people and the final report they sent
to the Governor, by now would have brought the state into compliance with
ADA regulations.  As the saying goes, what goes in the political sausage
mill may not necessarily be what comes out and that was certainly what
happened with the AEIT bill.  The only part of the bill that was passed but
not enforced was the fact that any software purchased or upgraded after July
1 2006 must meet ADA regulations.  After the AEIT bill dilemma, there was a
complaint filed by Darla Rogers against Florida Protective Services
pertaining to software that had in fact been updated after the July 1
deadline of 2006.  Shortly after that FCB passed a motion to allocate
$20,000 for legal fees to file a law suit against the state.  The attorney
handling Darla's case wanted to try Darla's case before filing suit on
behalf of FCB in hopes of establishing a precedence which would strengthen
the case for FCB.  Unfortunately Darla decided to settle with the state out
of court which basically shot FCB out of the water and basically left FCB
right where they started from. In 2010 it was already known that the People
First software and phone system used by the state for personnel management
wasn't accessible and that DBS had made various attempts to get DMS to
correct the problem so the Technology committee decided to address the issue
with DMS.  We collected information from users of the system and evaluated
the Myflorida.com website.  We then approached DMS to open a dialog on the
matter and share our findings and give advice on how the problems could be
corrected. I had about three meetings with DMS and after almost two years,
Myflorida was updated to what I would say is an acceptable level of
accessibility.  But it was apparent that nothing was going to be done about
People First.  As chair of Technology I began to attempt to come up with
another strategy to move FCB's efforts forward and during our Technology
committee meeting in 2012, we agreed to and ask Resolutions to write a
resolution to file a complaint with the Department of Justice.  The chairman
of Resolutions Mr. Edwards wrote and presented the resolution at the 2012
convention which passed unanimously and instructed the president to file the
complaint immediately.

 

About a month or so after the convention, I contacted Sally Benjamin and ask
her if she knew if the complaint had been filed yet.  She didn't know but
said she would check with Paul.  At some point after that she told me that
the complaint had not been filed and Paul was setting up additional meetings
with DMS, and a few other state agencies in an attempt to get the state to
deal with our concerns.     

I think at this point is when I became irritated and somewhat angry at  Mr.
Edwards blatant abuse of his and the Executive Committee's powers of the FCB
constitution and bylaws by deciding to overrule a decision made by FCB on
the convention floor by not filing the complaint immediately and certainly
made Mr. Edwards aware of my concerns. Basically he told me since he was
president and he had discussed it with the Executive committee he felt the
decision was valid.  My thinking at this point was, well you have spent 8
years of your life trying to make a personal passion and goal of FCB happen,
so what is a few more months and I actually had some FCB members bring that
to my attention.  During the six months from the 2012 convention and the
board meeting, we had 3 meetings with DMS, Department of Revenue and
Children and Family Services. Each agency had attorneys, ADA coordinators,
department heads and even some college interns.  Sila, Sally and I attended
in person.  Mr. Edwards attended via phone conference.  At the first
meeting, the Chair had a number for Paul and was able to contact him.  Most
of that meeting was introductions and getting the state people to understand
that the statement sent by FCB was just some of the accessibility issues and
didn't cover all non compliant software used by the state of Florida and I
think the point was well made.  We even talked about ADA coordinators that
had no idea of technology used by blind people. At the second meeting, we
had fewer state people but most of the attorneys were there.  The chair
didn't have a number that Paul could be reached at and neither did sally.
Fortunately Sila had his cell number and we were finally able to get him on
the phone.  During that meeting, Mr. Edwards put the conference call on hold
to take another call while we all waited and if I could have crawled under
the table I would have.  After all the Technology Committee and I had done,
I was very upset that Mr. Edwards didn't show up in person since he made the
decision to go against the resolution and convention rule. At the third
meeting all the         options by the state were taken off the table.
After each meeting prior to the last one, we set dates and times for the
next meeting, but at the last one we were told, we would be contacted and
since we never were, apparently Mr. Edwards came to the same conclusion I
did six months prior, that being the state wasn't concerned with our issues.
At this point is when I decided to drop out of FCB. But again I decided not
to do anything until the board meeting in November and make one more attempt
to talk to Paul about my concerns.  Early on in the board meeting, Paul
happen to be in my room and I invited him out on the balcony for a smoke and
some conversation and in a passionate and intense manner informed him of my
dismay of his handling of the DBS, AEIT issue and his style of
administration.  He told me I didn't do a f-ing thing for the FCB board
during my administration.  I thanked him for making my decision to drop out
of FCB easier.  He opened the door and left.  And during the business
meeting had the audacity to make a motion not to except my resignation and
got a second and unanimous approval.  What was the meaning of that? Other
than to show he has the power to do anything he desires when it comes to FCB
business. I also contacted Mr. Edwards by phone two times prior to the board
meeting with the same concerns and he hung up on me both times and that is
exactly why I put my post on the FCBL and TABIi list.

If you really care about issues pertaining to blind citizens in Florida and
advocate through an organization such  as FCB and not only have to deal with
the issue but also fight the very organization  that should follow their own
rules and support you and decide it is too much, it is basically akin to
going through a divorce and wasn't a decision I made lightly and I believe
most people in my situation would have done the same.  For some reason,
based on Mr. Kratch's remarks during the executive Committee phone
conference, in a effort to attack me said I was a naysayer that took my
marbles and ran home with my tail tucked between my legs.  Mr. Kratch
believe me you are way wrong if that is what you believe and I guess I could
say the same about you when you abandon the board of the Miami Lighthouse,
so what is your point? If that was the case I wouldn't have posted to the
list as I did.

Now I want to address some of the remarks made by members of the Executive
committee and strengthen my point on how Mr. Edwards uses his position as
facilitator to set tone.  If I had been the facilitator, based on the post
on both list serves I would have allowed members to speak first instead of
allowing the tone to be set by the Executive Committee to attack someone who
has dedicated many years to FCB.  In fact it is hard for me to believe it
wasn't planned prior to the meeting based on some of the things that were
said. Mr. Edwards starts out by talking about the moderation of the FCBl
list serve and says "I think we have an obligation to treat each other like
human beings and so when somebody questions someone's motivation or
someone's intent or claims that someone has a agenda, think that becomes a
issue if we need to discourage." This thinking is exactly why ACB broke away
from NFB in the 1960's and having a open forum for blind people to openly
express their views and not be stifled by organizational leaders.  As far as
treating people like human beings, I guess hanging up on a dedicated member
and walking away from a conversation is treating someone like a human being
in his mind but posting my opinion isn't.  Next, Mr. Edwards explains the
reason he felt the next director shouldn't be a former or current employ of
DBS.  If he had done this in his report, not that I totally agree but at
least I would have known why he feels the way he does, I would have not
raised the issue.  Also during his report and the business meeting, he never
said he was opposed to the next director being a FAASB member but does so on
the conference call and that was my point in regards to the amount of
information you choose to give or not give and how that can affect someone's
opinion.  For example he takes great pain in discussing how Florida is
different in the fact that NFB, FAASB and NFBF were cosigners of the
resolution and in my mind, I equate that to mean we are on the same page.
How can a member just swallow that if they haven't been told what FAASB or
NFBF's position is?  If this is true, why do we have separate organizations?
Is it possible that if we knew, the issue would have been discussed on the
floor and the outcome would have been totally different than it was?

Next Mr. Edwards opens the floor for his Executive army to launch their
attacks on me and Sila. Yes, Sila.  She was so flabbergasted by Jim Kratch's
remarks and by that time the tone was so strong she was speechless and
didn't even come to her own defense let alone mine.  It was as if small kids
were being scolded.  Just for your information, Sila is the legal owner of
Easy Talk.

Shortly after I decided to resign, the rumors began to fly That I would
influence Sila to follow suit so let me set the record straight.  Sila and I
have a strong marriage, yet respect our individuality and don't make
decisions for each other.  If Sila decides to not be involved in FCB on a
state level, you can thank Mr. Kratch for that.  Don't blame it on me.  We
were both comfortable with where we were prior to the phone conference.

Before I respond to the remarks made by Mr. Kratch, let me remind you no one
other than the members of the Executive committee would have been on the
call if I hadn't posted the request from Sally.  I have also alluded to the
fact that Paul uses influential members and the attack was planned. If you
were listening or get a chance to hear the recording, Note Mr. Edwards calls
on Mr. Kratch and Jim reminds him to respond to Mrs. Grubb's question and
his remarks are not going to be as nice as hers and are personal in nature.
Mr. Kratch didn't ask to be heard. Hence it was planned. After Mr. Edwards
finished responding to Mrs. Grubb, he again called on Mr. Kratch.    

In response to two committee members and member Mikey Wiseman  who, in a
around about masculine  way indicated I didn't have the balls to be on the
call.  Well my wife is the secretary and when she takes minutes she uses a
digital recorder to record the call on mute so I heard it all and didn't
speak since Mr. Edwards indicated in his post announcement of the meeting
after my prodding, that he wasn't interested in comments from non members.
And based on the tone and facilitation of the meeting Don't get me wrong he
gave the opportunity but who in their right mind would dare go against the
tone that had already been set.  I can only think of one person and he
wasn't allowed because he is a non member. 

Mr. Kratch starts spewing irrelevant trash from his mouth when he says 

 "want to talk about agendas Mr. Miller has been in the pocket of Craig
Kiser for years when he was Executive Director of DBS, he had financial
contract after financial contract."  If he had spent a little time
researching the procedure of how state contracts are handled he would have
known how stupid and untrue his statement was and implies that Easy Talk and
Craig Kiser of conducting illegal activities as director of DBS. Or at least
unethical practices.  It isn't the first time I have heard this statement
made by other individuals and in fact have some pretty bizarre copies of
email messages that were sent to the Commissioner of Education and Governor
bush's office and some even requested investigation by the DOE IG.  To hear
the same crap that Mr. Edwards allowed Mr. Kratch to say pisses me off and
just shows he uses his authority to call someone out of order to his
advantage.  If I ever heard anything that was out of order, Mr. Kracht's
statement tops them all and had absolutely no relevance to the issue at hand
except to attack me and Mr. Kiser. I must say out of all the people, this
was the most craziest thing I ever thought I would hear come out of Jim
Kratch's mouth. I considered Jim as a friend and can only attribute it to
him being in Paul's pocket as he has so stupidly accused me and Mr. Kiser
not to mention the thousands of dollars FCB and both he and Paul have bought
from Easy Talk. I guess I am in their pocket too.  Formal state contracts go
through a state bid process unless a vendor is sole source and we did sell
products to DBS under the sole provider provisions but Easy Talk was the
sole source way before Mr. Kiser started working for DBS.  I assume just
because DBS made purchases from Easy Talk that puts me in Craigs pocket so
what about Florida Reading and Emerald Coast?  If I was in Craig's pocket,
when he decided to purchase computers for the vendors, he would have given
me the entire state instead of splitting the state down the I4 corridor and
gave the vendors the right to choose which vendor they preferred.   It is
such a shame that anyone would make such remarks, it's almost like blind
people don't want to see another blind person succeed and even worse coming
from an organization with a mission statement like FCB's. I can say Both
Sila and I consider this a personal attack not only by Mr. Kratch but also
FCB since it occurred in an official meeting and not one member of the
committee objected.

Since this issue came up in an official meeting of FCB, I think it is
necessary to explain my relationship with Mr. Kiser.  Before I start, I want
to say I don't care who the next director of DBS is except to say I am
absolutely opposed to it being anyone who has ever been associated with
FAASB and I say that based on Mrs. Hildreth's administration and FAASB's
contractual relationship with DBS, talk about being in someone's pocket.

In 1991 when Easy Talk was started, The Tallahassee Democrat ran a story in
the local paper.  About two weeks after that I received a call from Craig
who was in private law practice at the time.  He had never used a computer
and ended up purchasing a computer, scanning system and training.  I didn't
know Craig prior to that.  When Mr. Kiser went to work for the Comptroller's
office he was apparently pleased with the service I provided prior and again
called me to assist with the computer he was using in his new job.  If you
had good service for 10 years, why not use a valuable resource as Director
of DBS.  Believe me when I say there were things Craig did while he was
Director that I did not agree with and if you know me at all, you can bet I
made it known to him but in no way influenced or changed anything he did as
Director.

Debbie Drylie,  in regards to your remark "I just want to kind of um echo
what everyone else said." This just strengthens my point that no one will go
against anything Mr. Edwards says.  Can you give me one example where the
Executive committee ever disagreed with Mr. Edwards?  In my opinion the
current Executive committee is no more effective than the yes boards of
FAASB members.  In regards to your statement that I abandoned FCB, I think
you have it backwards.  I was abandoned by FCB in the fact it seems OK to
violate their own constitution and bylaws.  As far as the direction of which
way the arrows are flying over the wall, again you have the direction wrong.
I guess you have forgotten who spent about a hour with you encouraging you
to run for office.  Thanks for the vote of confidence. I know you are a much
stronger person than that, I have seen you in action in defense of Project
Insight.

Mrs. Grubb, in regards to your concerns of people posting inflammatory
remarks to FCBL and wanting to tighten up moderation of the list, I tried to
take my issues to Paul in the past without success and FCBL is supposed to
be an open forum for people to talk about issues of concern to blind people
and that is exactly what I was doing.

In closing there is just one more thing I want to say to Mr. Edwards.  Do
you remember the seminar we had on Sunday morning a few board meetings back
where we talked about why blind people don't choose to join or remain a
member of organizations of the blind? Well I think you now have the answer.
As a citizen of Florida I have the right to contact the Governors office and
press with any issue I so desire but FCB doesn't have the right to stifle me
through intimidation. You lost one good dedicated member and if you
continue, you will lose more.  Regardless of what people say and think, I
loved what FCB use to be but absolutely deplore what it has become. When you
were president of ACB you didn't use this style of administration and if you
had, you would have never gotten away with it and you know it.

  

Robert

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  • » [tabi] Re: My response to the FCB executive committee 05/22/2013 - Chip and Allie Orange