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STATE COMMITTEE OF VENDORS

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, FL, AUGUST 6th AND 7th, 2004

Mr. Sampadian called the meeting to order at approximately 1:30 P.M. on Friday, August 6th.

Attendees:

  • District 2 - Debby Malmberg, Representative
  • District 3 - Carther Graham, non-voting Alternate
  • District 4 - Mary Hayes, alternate
  • District 5 - Darryl Brinton
  • District 6 - Dan Angelicola, Representative
  • District 7 - Phil Bluschke, Representative
  • Dennis Horn, Alternate
  • District 8 - Jerry Rigney, Representative
  • District 9 - Gyorke Alger (arrived approximately 2 P.M.)
  • District 10 - Jim Anderson, Representative
  • District 11 - Chuck Fickett, Representative
  • Mike Pierce, Alternate
  • District 12 - Shirley Smart, Representative
  • District 13 - Leslie Francis, Representative
  • Agency Staff: Mike Elliott, Kathy Murphey, Susan Johnson
  • Guests: Fred Hayes, Jim and Jennie Gaudette

Mr. Sampadian announced that at this time he has no vision and requested that people identify themselves when they wish to speak.

Mr. Don Weitzel has resigned as Vice-Chair for health reasons. An election to fill the office will be conducted in accordance with the Committee By-Laws.

The minutes of the previous meeting were approved by voice vote.

Ms. Murphey presented updated reports on the Aramatic operations. Aramatic is still losing money at the Brooksville facility, they are just breaking even at the FDLE facility in Tallahassee. They have higher labor costs than a BEP manager would normally incur and are not as concerned with cost of goods as we would be. Their main concern is to rebuild customer confidence thereby increasing sales.

Ms. Murphey was asked about the status of the vending contract at the Brooksville facility and responded that we have not yet taken over that end of the business. Doing so would require the hiring of another employee and that does not appear to be advisable until we know if the facility is in fact a viable location. Mr. Bluschke offered to take the vending as a separate operation on a limited LOFA in order to generate solid sales figures. When a final decision is made the vending would then be turned back to the facility. Ms. Murphey thanked him for the offer and will consult with Mr. Elliott to determine if this is feasible.

A lengthy discussion ensued regarding the Agency decision to award the upcoming vending route contract at Patrick Air Force Base by administrative appointment instead of advertising it as an available new facility. This decision was made almost two years ago as a result of the Agencys inability to pursue the dining hall facility at Patrick, which they believed caused harm to Ms. Smart, the vendor who would have become the manager if the contract had materialized. The Agency did not make a public announcement of the decision because they believed everyone was aware of it. Several members expressed disapproval of the Agencys action on the grounds that it violated established policy. Ms. Smart stated that the Agency had negotiated the vending contract with the DOD officials on her behalf as a condition of withdrawing from the dining hall contract. Mr. Sampadian and others felt that was an inappropriate action. All concerned realized that Ms. Smart had been put in a difficult position, but there was still a feeling that the Agency had failed to treat all vendors equally in this instance. Mr. Elliott promised to take the issue back to the Director.

Ms. Murphey then presented a report on the VISINITY contract. The company is still in the process of developing the database and has identified about 226 unassigned Coke locations. We have the option of making these into routes when feasible. We have experienced a significant drop in unassigned revenues from a high of about $350,000 to $110,000 last year. Mr. Rigney asked what reasons exist for these losses. Several factors were identified, including the loss of the Dade County contract that produced $120,000 in annual revenues. Other factors include the transfer of unassigned machines to vending routes and our prison facilities.

Ms. Murphey and Mr. Sampadian also explained that many types of locations are exempt from the Randolph-Sheppard priority, including port and airport authorities, the State Board of Regents, DOT, Department of Environmental Protection, etc. Mr. Sampadian advised that we allow VISINITY to continue doing its job and monitor the situation. Mr. Elliott said that we can and should attempt to press the State Legislature to remove these exemptions and that he will pursue this effort.

Mr. Sampadian then asked Mr. Horn for a report on the negotiations with Coke for a new pricing and service proposal. Mr. Rigney is now the Chair of the purchasing work group and reported that he has scheduled a meeting with Brian Manatree, a Coke representative, within the next two weeks. He expressed appreciation for Mr. Horns work on this project.

Mr. Sampadian then asked Ms. Hayes to address the Committee on the subject of combing a small facility in Jacksonville with the downtown Jacksonville route. He gave a brief overview of the small snack bar that could be closed and added to the route. The facility is currently under a Type II LOFA and the property has been sold to private developers. Ms. Murphey asked Ms. Hayes if the recommendation was to combine the two facilities, and Ms. Hayes said that was correct. Ms. Murphey stated that as long as the facility is under LOFA she would not want to close or combine it with another. Her recommendation was to combine the vending facility #116, now under Type II LOFA with Ms. Hayes with #513, her Type I LOFA. Mr. Sampadian made the point that a facility cannot be kept on a Type II LOFA indefinitely; it must be advertised as an available location. If no qualified manager accepts the location then it can either be closed or attached to another. After discussion, it was decided to postpone any action on this matter. The facility will be re-advertised with full disclosure that it will likely close within the next year or two.

In the course of the discussion, issues involving the actions of the BEP Consultants in some Regions were aired. Mr. Elliott asked that the district Reps contact him and Ms. Murphey and schedule meetings with all parties to attempt a resolution of any problems the operators have with their Consultants.

Mr. Sampadian asked for a report and update on the status of grievances and Chapter 120 hearings pending. Still pending are two 120 hearings involving the disputed appointment to VF476. Six grievances were filed against the suspension of the transfer and promotion process. Ms. Alger reported that most, if not all of these will be taken directly to the 120 process and will likely be conjoined if that proves feasible. Mr. Elliott stated for the record that the suspension of all transfer and promotions was not the Agencys decision; rather that it was forced upon him by the DOE attorneys. He stated that he welcomes these challenges and believes those who did so are correct.

Mr. Sampadian indicated that a discussion of the grievance process was in order. In response to his question regarding the purpose of the grievance process Ms. Alger responded that the original intent was that the Grievance Board was to be a body that would allow for the informal resolution of disputes between vendors and the Agency and that these issues could be discussed fully. Mr. Sampadian agreed but stated that by State rule, a grievance board may only decide if the Agency followed the rules. He stated that our rules are so simple that if material facts cannot be discussed there is no reason to even have a grievance board. Ms. Alger stated that at first the board was allowed to fulfill its intended purpose but that in recent years the Agency had taken the stand that it could only make a determination that the rules had or had not been followed. Several members expressed dissatisfaction with the current status of the grievance process. Mr. Elliott made a statement that he wants the grievance board to act as it was intended to, to hear all facts and issues brought by grievants, and to make recommendations as to the resolution of those issues.

Mr. Sampadian then announced an initiative to gather and collate the information from previous Committee minutes beginning with those from 1993. The Policy work group will be responsible for this project and Mr. Newcomb will be called upon for assistance. Mr. Anderson will be responsible for creating a database of motions passed, Agency responses and policies agreed to. When completed, this database will allow both the Committee and the Agency to quickly locate previous actions. It will become part of the Program Policy Handbook. The committee expressed general approval of this project.

Mr. Sampadian adjourned the meeting at approximately 5 P.M.

Mr. Sampadian reconvened the meeting at 9:30 A.M. on Saturday, August 7th.

Ms. Alger called the roll.

  • District 2 - Debby Malmberg, Representative
  • District 3 - Carther Graham, non-voting alternate
  • District 4 - Mary Hayes, Alternate
  • District 5 - no representation
  • District 6 - Dan Angelicola, Representative
  • District 7 - Phil Bluschke, Representative
  • Dennis Horn, Alternate
  • District 8 - Jerry Rigney, Representative
  • District 9 - Gyorke Alger, Representative
  • District 10 - Jim Anderson, Representative
  • District 11 - Chuck Fickett, Representative
  • Mike Pierce, Alternate
  • District 12 - Shirley Smart, Representative
  • District 13 - Leslie Francis, Representative
  • Agency staff - Mike Elliott, Kathy Murphey, Larry Batterton, Susan Johnson
  • Guests - Fred Hayes. Paul and Bonnie Prescott joined the gallery later in the morning.

Mr. Sampadian opened the meeting with a statement that he believed we needed to revisit the subject of the appointment to the Patrick AFB route to Ms. Smart. Saying that he had given the matter a great deal of thought overnight, he had come to the conclusion that Ms. Smart had indeed been harmed by the Agencys inability to act as her advocate as a result of the Governors order to withdraw from the situation. He stated that he had come to believe that the Agency decision was correct and asked for discussion by the Committee. Mr. Anderson, in response to a question from the Chair, said he had no idea what the sales volume of the facility might be in light of the fact that we do not yet know how many buildings will qualify for a DBS presence. Mr. Pierce stated that we should not become bureaucrats and insist on adhering to the letter of the law at all costs. He felt that our main purpose is to ensure good employment for blind people. Mr. Angelicola agreed with this but also cautioned that we must be careful to maintain a balance, and not return to the days of pencil cups and dry stands. We do have established guidelines as to what constitutes a viable facility. Mr. Fickett stated that he felt Ms. Smart was wronged and that if we do not take action the same could be done to any vendor.

Mr. Fickett moved that the Committee accept the Agency decision to appoint Ms. Smart to the PAFB facility. Motion was seconded.

Mr. Rigney spoke in favor of the motion, stating that Ms. Smart took risks to accept the original facility and that when it did not materialize as planned and became something else, she had still won the opportunity fair and square.

The motion carried by unanimous roll call vote.

Further discussion and explanation of the plan to create and maintain a database of committee actions and Agency policies ensued. Mr. Anderson will spearhead this initiative. When the minutes of all meetings dating from January 1, 1993 have been compiled, they will be broken down into categories and cross-indexed. The following individuals volunteered to work with Mr. Anderson when the minutes have been located: Gyorke Alger, Debby Malmberg, Krekor Sampadian, and Jennie Gaudette. Each person will go through two or three years of minutes and enter the information into these categories: administrative, transfer & promotion, training, grievance, audit, budget & finance, and Constitution & by-laws. When this phase of the project is complete we can then determine what is currently applicable, what may need revising, and what may need to be eliminated. We hope to have this completed with six months.

Mr. Sampadian and Ms. Alger then presented a comprehensive explanation of the process by which we will elect a new Vice-Chairman. The process will be repeated in the notice to be mailed by the Agency. After a question and answer session the Committee then appointed the following persons to participate in the ballot count in accordance with the By-Laws: Carther Graham, Leo Thompson, Ray Renderman, Valerie James, and Susan Johnson. Only two will participate but it was decided that a pool of alternates was advisable.

Mr. Sampadian then announced the composition of the new Seminar committee. Mr. Fickett will Chair the event with assistance from Mr. Pierce, Ms. Alger and Ms. Johnson. Mr. and Mrs. Weitzel will also be available for information and advice.

The next meeting may be rescheduled to a later date. Notice will be given in time for us to make arrangements to attend.

Mr. Fickett made a motion to combine VF116 with VF513. The motion was seconded. Both are in District 4, Ms. Hayes holds a Type II LOFA on the former and a Type I on the latter. The previous manager of #116 recently passed away. It is a small location and the Agency would like to add it to the downtown Jacksonville route. Motion carried by unanimous roll call vote.

Mr. Sampadian requested that Mr. Elliott make a clarification to all Agency personnel that the motion passed by the Committee in May outlining how changes to the selection methodology are to made and implemented has been approved and that it is in force. Mr. Elliott reiterated his approval of the Committee action and gave his assurance that it will be adhered to.

There was a discussion of the possibility that operators of rest stop facilities might include ATMs as part of the service provided. Many legal and logistical issues would have to be addressed. Security would be a major problem. No action was taken.

Mr. Anderson asked for a clarification of the reason for the suspension of the transfer & promotion system. Mr. Elliott responded that it was because the DOE attorneys have opined that the system must be conducted under the Sunshine law. He said that the process need not be changed, but that a way must be found to protect certain documents from the public. Ms. Alger requested a list of those documents. Mr. Newcomb will provide it for use by the sub-committee appointed to makes proposed changes to the process. Mr.Sampadian clarified that no actions were taken on the recommendations of the Selection Panel from the April availabilities. Mr. Elliott informed the Committee that all expenses incurred by applicants in that selection would be reimbursed and if receipts were not available the reimbursement would be applied to the next time the process takes place. Ms. Alger responded to questions about the sub-committees progress by stating that without clarification of the specific issues that must be resolved they can do little more than exchange ideas. Mr. Elliott will have Mr. Newcomb communicate with them and set up a conference. Ms. Alger also pointed out that the Committee does not meet again until November, thereby making it virtually impossible to have any changes approved in time for the next convening of the Selection Panel.

The oral interview appears to be the main problem because the DOE attorneys contend that it must be open to the public. Obviously this would be unfair to all applicants. If the issue cannot be resolved this part of the selection process will have to be replaced with something else. The most likely substitute would be a standardized test taken by all applicants at the same time.

The status of the Tampa Postal facility is still undecided. DBS submitted a proposal for renewal of the contract with the third shift food service component deleted. Another company, Memphis, has also submitted a proposal, the details of which are not known at present. When our contract expires at the end of September the Agency will send a letter to the Postal authorities informing them that we will continue to operate the facility under the conditions of the new proposal. At that time it becomes a waiting game.

Mr. Rigney inquired about the existence of a set of documents that defines the intent of all sections of the Randolph-Sheppard Act. Mr. Sampadian replied that he knew only of the minutes of the committee hearings that resulted in the drafting of the Act. Mr. Rigney said he would follow up on this and report back to the Committee.

Mr. Rigney requested that the Committee add Mr. Bluschke to the power purchasing work group. The request was approved. He sated that negotiations with Coke are open, but that VISTAR appears to have no interest in making any incentive proposal at this time.

Ms. Alger enquired about the contract status of VF 113, the Pinellas County Courthouse snack bar. It is being operated on a month to month contract and negotiations are still underway.

Ms. Graham asked if there is a Program mission statement. The answer was yes. She also asked if there are guidelines for training the trainers. Mr. Elliott said there are.

Ms. Malmberg asked about the status of the Daytona training program. Mr. Elliott said the addition of the extra two weeks requested by Steve Moss was working well.

Mr. Francis reported that the ongoing problems at the cafeteria in the Miami Service Center continue unabated. These include plumbing, electrical and a poorly laid out facility. Mr. Elliott reported that DMS had refused the request to convert the facility to a snack bar, thus a new hood system had to be purchased at a cost of $120,000. The Agency will hire a restaurant designer to work with Mr. Francis, who will get a cost estimate and bring the proposed revisions to the Committee.

There being no other business, the meeting was adjourned at approximately 11:30 A.M.

Respectfully submitted,

Gyorke alger, Secretary

Florida Bureau of Business Enterprise

Providing Tools and Support for Legally Blind Vendors in the Food Service Industry