Florida Division of Blind Services logo




Mr. Spiliotis called the meeting to order at 1:30 P.M. on Friday, November 4. He gave a brief opening statement expressing his pleasure to be returning to the Committee and stated that he believes this new term will be exciting and productive.

Prior to calling the roll, Mr. Spiliotis asked each member to give a brief introduction and statement of their goals for the Program.

District 1 - Steve Schneider stated that his primary interest is in improving training and education for all vendors.

District 2 - Kathy Graham said that she wants to "bring it back", referring to loss of facilities and overall quality of the Program.

District 3 - Don Tuell expressed his pleasure at returning to the Committee and his hope that we and the Agency will embrace the principles of the working partnership that has been our greatest strength. He also expressed a desire to review and possibly alter some past decisions he believes are detrimental to the program.

District 4 - Victor Rosario said that this is his first term on the Committee and that his goal is to work for all vendors and to keep those in his District informed of both Committee and Agency activities.

District 5 - Phil Bluschke wants to upgrade training, retraining and OJT.

District 6 - Jim Anderson arrived at 3:20 P. M. and pronounced the "shortcut" a failure.

District 7 - Paul Prescott stated that he believes access to blind friendly technology must be a priority. He would like us to move toward filing the monthly business report online.

District 7 - Gyorke Alger, Alternate, said her goal is to return the Florida BEP to its former status as the best and most forward thinking in the country.

District 9 - Joel Rose stated his willingness to help the Program in any way he can.

District 10 - Lonnie Wilcox, a new member, was unable to attend because of continuing problems associated with Hurricane Wilma.

Vice-Chairperson John Klindtworth expressed his hope to work with everyone on all aspects of the program.

Agency staff members present:

  • Craig Kiser, Director
  • Mike Elliott, Bureau Chief
  • Kathy Murphy, Operations Director
  • Gene Newcomb, Compliance Director
  • Larry Batterton, Administrative Consultant

Guests present:

Bonnie Prescott, David Kaplan, John and Marilyn Kalivoda, Jim and Lorna Lover, Charles Hackney, Sherri Brun, Bill and Barbara Perret, Jim and Jenny Gaudette, Arthur Johnson (trainee), Gail Kiser

Charles Hackney introduced Sherri Brun as his "gift to the Committee", stating that she would be the recording Secretary at his expense. Mr. Spiliotis expressed reservations as to the propriety of the Committees acceptance of a gift having monetary value.

Ms. Brun told the Committee that she is very interested in learning more about the BEP and looks forward to working with us.

The minutes of the previous meeting were approved without change.

Mr. Spiliotis spoke of his determination to bring the Florida BEP back to its role of national leadership and expressed full confidence in our Agency partners. He then introduced Craig Kiser, the Director of DBS for the past five years, and invited him to address the assembly.

Mr. Kiser spoke at length about the Randolph-Sheppard program, describing it as exciting, fun and challenging. He reminded the Committee that there is a lot of work that needs to be done, citing attacks on the program at both the national and State levels. At the State level, the DOA has requested a legislative exemption from Randolph-Sheppard priority on the grounds that we are providing poor service at two buildings in Tallahassee. He stressed that the only way to combat this type of situation is to upgrade our training and monitoring and most especially the screening process by which people are selected for BEP training. We must get the right people into BEP training and not allow the program to be used as a dumping ground.

Mr. Kiser also mentioned the need to create more business opportunities for blind people, including those that do not fall within the scope of Randolph-Sheppard. We need to market the Business Enterprise Program throughout the State In order to increase awareness of the program and improve our public image. He told the Committee that he does not have all the answers, that we must all work together to grow and improve the Program, pledging support and resources through both Agency staff and funding.

Mr. Kiser then stated that the Commissioner of Education, Mr. John Winn, has shown great interest in the Division and most especially the BEP. Mr. Winn sees both as an "easy sell" to the State Legislature for expansion and growth. Mr. Kiser said that the move of DBS offices to the Turlington Building has mad the Agency more visible to DOE. He added that Commissioner Winn has prepared a strategic vision document for DOE and that DBS is an integral part of that plan.

Mr. Spiliotis then asked the Committee for comments, ideas and questions.

The need for major changes in training was mentioned again. In many cases, our current training sets people up for failure and also creates unrealistic expectations of easy and instant high income levels. The training protocol must teach both food service and vending. Most Committee members believe that the food service component of the current training protocol is inadequate, and a suggestion was made to utilize culinary school training, both with new trainees and current vendors in food service. The Committee also believes that vending machine training is not being given sufficient emphasis.

A suggestion was to investigate the possibility of tiering BEP facilities according to the level of skill required for successful management. This would require the establishment of an equitable way of determining a licensees proficiency level. It should also function as an incentive for vendors to participate in ongoing training.

The need to combat public perception that the BEP is subsidized by State funding was discussed. Ms. Alger stated that the vendors could be instrumental in this endeavor by talking to customers and other members of the public. We should stress the fact that we are independent contractors and that we are paying our own way.

Mr. Kiser put forth the idea of hosting a dinner party for the Governor and all Agency heads to show them what we can do. He also suggested that a vendor be featured in the monthly DBS newsletter that is distributed to thousands of people.

Mr. Rose stated that a BEP vendor should attend every meeting of the Rehab Council. Mr. Kiser agreed and will work on making it happen.

Mr. Schneider stated that the challenge is to define our mission and market our image. He further stated that training is the basis for improving the program. Mr. Spiliotis agreed and said that we should look at national training and licensing.

Mr. Spiliotis stated that there should be immediate follow-up when a problem is identified so that small problems dont become big ones.

Mr. Spiliotis also addressed the need to create more facilities and said that since 1974 the number of vendors nationwide has decreased by 30%. At the same time, vendor income has increased. Not every facility needs to produce huge profits; we should establish locations with different income levels in order to meet the needs of a greater number of blind people.

Another suggestion was to investigate the possibility of melding JWOD and Randolph-Sheppard in Florida using Gulf Coast Enterprises in Pensacola. Mr. Kiser said that in Florida the JWOD companies want to work with Randolph-Sheppard, seeing a partnership as a way of expanding its operations into State facilities.

Mr. Spiliotis asked the Reps and Alternates to state their preferences for subcommittee assignments. He informed the Committee that the Chairperson serves on all subcommittees. He also stated that the list may be amended from time to time and that anyone with an interest in serving should contact him.

After discussion of how the subcommittees could function effectively without violating the requirements of the Sunshine law it was decided that each would meet by teleconference on a monthly schedule that will be announced in the Florida Administrative Weekly. The date, time and toll-free phone number will be made available by DBS to all interested parties.

The importance of keeping all vendors informed of Committee and Agency activities was discussed. To that end, contact information for District Reps and Alternates will be posted to the BEP web site. Ms. Alger will be responsible for transmitting this to the Compliance Director.

The Committee discussed possible venue changes for its quarterly meetings. Mr. Anderson suggested that the February meeting be held in Tallahassee, and the Committee approved. The consensus was that a central location such as Orlando or Tampa would be appropriate for most meetings but that from time to time another venue could be used.

Mr. Rose stated that the BEP needs a mission statement. The Committee and the Agency will work together to formulate that document.

Ms. Murphey presented reports on ARAMATIC and VISINITY.

ARAMATIC, the company under contract to DBS to provide management services for vacant food service facilities when there is no vendor available or vendor placement is inappropriate for any reason, is currently managing six facilities in Tallahassee. They are doing a good job, are responsive to reports of problems and take action to resolve them if found to be valid.

VISINITY is the company under contract to manage our unassigned vending locations. The company is also charged with discovering and securing new locations. The full-service vending contract with Coke is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2006 and there are 125 Pepsi machines we need to switch over to Coke. The commission to us is 38% of sales. Ms. Murphey said that we need an auditing mechanism for unassigned vending and that random audits would probably be the most effective way of verifying the data. VISINITY provides excellent data to DBS, but we need to do a better job of scrutinizing it. VISINITY recently began deducting sales tax from our commission, which they are not entitled to do because they are in fact the retailer and must pay the sales tax from their revenues. This will continue to be monitored. Our revenues from VISINITY are approximately $7,000 - $8,000 per month.

The Audit and Budget subcommittee will work with Ms. Murphey regarding VISINITY locations, number of machines, sales and other data.

Ms. Murphey reported that the major complaint about BEP cafeteria facilities is frequent management turnover. She gave several examples, the worst being nine management changes over the course of five years. The Department of Highway Safety has indicated its desire to exercise it legislative exemption from Randolph-Sheppard because of this ongoing problem.

A discussion of ways to solve this problem ensued. General agreement emerged that it is primarily a result of poor training and monitoring. The absence of mentoring was also discussed. Policies used by other States were offered for consideration. One of these places a set time on a management contract and requires the vendor to complete that contract. In South Carolina, a vendor who declines an appointment is prohibited from seeking another for one year.

Ms. Murphey announced that the Region One Consultant position has been filled by the appointment of Mr. Darryl Lane. Ms. Raquel Falero has been appointed to the Region Three Consultant position. A vendor from each region was part of the Selection Panels that interviewed the candidates and made recommendations to the Director.

Mr. Kiser reported that an agreement has been made between DBS and Mr. Richard Gilmartin of Gulf Coast Enterprises to train vendors in the process of bidding on government contracts. By teaming with the NISH Company, opportunities for vendors to win management contracts will increase and this will in turn create more jobs for NISH clients. Mr. Kiser assured the Committee that this project will be closely monitored.

Mr. Young Choi is the first BEP vendor to participate in this co-operative venture between DBS and a NISH company. The Division will repeat this venture in 2006.

The Committee recessed for the dinner break at 4:40 P.M. and reconvened at 8:10 P.M.














  • GENE Newcomb

There was a general discussion of the BEPs finances, income sources, and accounting practices. For the benefit of new members, Ms. Murphey explained that BEP does not receive separate funding from either the State Legislature or the Federal Government. Our funding is part of the DBS budget, currently $35 million annually. Set aside monies paid to DBS by vendors are used for a variety of purposes and are also used as a base to generate Federal matching funds Set aside revenue has remained stable at approximately $600,000 a year, resulting in $2.4 million in Federal match money. All funds go into the same pot. Anyone interested in finding out how much money the BEP spends can get that information from the fiscal department. Ms. Murphey reported that the BEP has not been placed under any spending constraints for the current fiscal year.

There was discussion about the role of subcommittees, some of which was duplicative of topics discussed in the earlier session.

The system for transfer and promotion needs further revision and improvement. The adoption of a 15-minute presentation has not proved beneficial and the subcommittee needs to submit an alternative. The section of rule dealing with the selection process needs to be revised, and Mr. Kiser has indicated that he will support the promulgation of new rules. Mr. Spiliotis pointed out that transfer and promotion used to be entirely based on seniority; then seniority was eliminated altogether. Neither approach is acceptable and the subcommittee is charged with finding a middle ground. Performance data is difficult to evaluate and a balance must be established between the objective and subjective components of the process.

Training and retraining are the basis for building a successful program. Although the course work taught at Daytona provides a good theoretical grounding, the practical training needed is non-existent. Our OJT program is not working well either. We are not training people for success: in many cases, we are setting them up for failure. The Committee and the Agency must work together to create a new approach to training. We should look at how other States manage their training programs. The possibility of establishing different levels of certification was suggested. The Committees position is that training is a top priority for the program and that we must take bold steps to remedy the current deficiencies.

Mr. Spiliotis adjourned the meeting at 9:30 P.M.

Mr. Spiliotis reconvened the meeting at 9:00 A.M. on Saturday, November 5, 2005.

Roll call: All Reps present with the exception of Lonnie Wilcox from District 10.

Agency Staff: Mr. Elliott, Ms. Murphey, Mr. Newcomb, Mr. Batterton

Future meeting locations were discussed. The Committee will be kept advised of developments.

Mr. Newcomb reported for the Grievance Board. Ms. Maria Reynolds, a licensed vendor, requested a review by the Board to hear her disagreement with the Agency decision to withdraw Facility #502, the downtown Tallahassee route, from the July posting of vacant business opportunities and instead directly place another vendor by administrative appointment. The Agency took this action after the close of applications, citing its authority under rule to not announce a vacancy and place it administratively to remedy a situation in which a vendor had been adversely impacted. The basis of Ms. Reynolds complaint was that not announcing a vacancy and withdrawing an announced vacancy are two different actions with the latter not covered by the cited rule. The Grievance Board agreed with Ms. Reynolds and made the following recommendations to the Agency: (1) the vacancy at #502 should be reinstated, all applicants notified, and applications would be considered in conjunction with the October selections: (2) the Committee, through the Grievance Board, will work with the Agency to establish a clear policy regarding the circumstances in which an announced vacancy may be withdrawn. The Agency agreed with the Grievance Boards findings and recommendations.

Mr. Newcomb read the following draft policy statement received from the Grievance Board:


The Division will make every reasonable effort to avoid withdrawing an announced business opportunity from the selection cycle.

The Division will not withdraw an announced business opportunity for any of the reasons cited in Chapter 38K-1.004(3) that describes circumstances in which the Division may elect not to announce a vacancy and instead directly place a vendor, licensee or trainee by administrative appointment.

The Division may elect to withdraw an announced business opportunity only after consultation with the Chairperson of the State Committee of Vendors under the following circumstances:

1. The discovery of substantial inaccuracies in the information provided in the vacancy announcement. If such discovery is made no later than ten (10) days prior to the close of applications, the Division shall post the corrected information to all vendors immediately upon discovery and extend the closing date for that opportunity by not more than seven (7) calendar days.

2. The announced business opportunity ceases to exist by reason of closure. Closure is defined as signed documentation between the Division and the host Agency that the contract between those parties to provide management services will be terminated on a specific date.

In this event, the Division may elect to convert an existing Type I LOFA to a Type II LOFA, thereby allowing the assigned vendor to pursue other opportunities. The assigned vendor has the right to decline that option, and the Division may then elect to place the facility with another vendor, licensee or trainee under a Type II LOFA. The Division will clearly state this circumstance and the date of closure when exercising this option.

3. The announced business opportunity becomes unavailable because the assigned vendor notifies the Division of intent to retain the LOFA and withdraw acceptance of another opportunity won in the previous selection cycle. The vendor shall provide such notice to the division in writing no later than the posted closing date of applications.

Mr. Newcomb and Ms. Alger stressed that this is a clarification of existing policy and that development will continue.

Mr. Newcomb reported that because of Hurricane Wilma the test schedule for the October selection round has not been announced, but that he will be working on it upon his return to Tallahassee.

A 15-day extension of the due date for the October business report has been granted because of possible hurricane related delays.

The policy regarding the awarding of Type II (temporary) LOFAs was discussed. There have been complaints by new licensees that these opportunities are not announced and there is in some cases a perception that the placements are unfair or arbitrary. Mr. Elliott stated the policy so that all Reps would have clear information. Unemployed vendors have first priority, then trainees, then vendors already under a Type I LOFA. He pointed out that emergency situations do arise and that it is not always feasible to announce a temporary vacancy. Another consideration is that the requirements of the facility must be met, and if, for instance, a new licensee does not have the skills to manage a large cafeteria, or does not have a truck and storage to service a route, that person cannot be given the Type II LOFA.

Mr. Spiliotis agreed that while the policy needs clarification, it must not tie the Agencys hands. He recommended that each District Rep communicate with the Consultant to develop a list of vendors who are available to take a Type II LOFA, and include a description of their capabilities. He further suggested that perhaps an email announcement of a Type II opportunity could be sent out to the Reps, Consultants and the full vendor list. This would have a specified and limited time stated for responses.

Mr. Tuell offered the following motion: When a facility requires immediate placement of a vendor under a Type II LOFA, the District Rep and Regional consultant shall make a joint recommendation to the Agency, citing the reasons for the recommendation. In the event of a disagreement or conflict of interest, the Agency and Chairperson of the State Committee of Vendors shall render the decision.

Mr. Tuells motion was seconded and passed by unanimous roll call vote.

Mr. Prescott requested a list of trainees be provided to each District Rep. Mr. Newcomb agreed to do so.

Ms. Murphey presented the new boundary lines for the three vending routes located on the NAS Base in Jacksonville. She stated that this had been done in co-operation and consultation with the three operators and that no changes in the existing routes will take effect until such time as one of them leaves the location. Please see attached memo for a full description of the boundaries.

Mr. Rose offered a motion to approve the realignment of the three facilities as described by Ms. Murphey. The motion was seconded and carried unanimously by voice vote.

An opportunity to establish a new vending facility in the Jacksonville electrical Authority building has opened up. The building has a population of 1,000. Although DBS does not yet have a written agreement with JEA, they are willing to proceed based on the hosts stated desire to open this facility. Ms. Mary Hayes will operate the location for six months on a type II LOFa to determine sales figures and profit potential. Mr. Spiliotis recommended that the Consultant take machine readings the day the operation starts up and again at the end of the six-month LOFA. This will ensure accurate and verifiable data. Ms. Murphey agreed.

Mr. Spiliotis also cautioned against automatically adding new locations to existing routes, saying that in some cases the routes have become so large and unwieldy that the manager cannot properly service them. We should continue to seek new opportunities.

Mr. Rose introduced the subject of combining the two locations he currently manages. These are Facility #501, a vending route comprised of ten buildings based at the IRTS building, and #516, a Post Office vending operation in one building. The latter facility currently has no storage. Mr. Rose manages the Post Office location on a Type II LOFA. He estimates that both locations will produce annual sales of approximately $73,000 and would like them to be combined as one facility, citing the lack of storage and the added expense of renting outside storage. Ms. Murphey stated that an effort should be made by the Agency to secure storage in the Post Office. The committee agreed that this should be done.

Mr. Roses request to combine the locations was tabled to the February, 2006 meeting. He then stated that if the two remain separate facilities he would like to be offered the right of first refusal in choosing which of the two he will retain on a Type I LOFA.

Ms. Alger offered a motion to that effect and Mr. Rosario seconded. The motion carried unanimously by roll call vote.

Mr. Spiliotis introduced Randall Crosby, the vendor who participated in the selection process for filling the Consultant position in Region Three. Mr. Crosby expressed his appreciation for having the opportunity to serve the Program in this capacity, saying that he had gained a new perspective on the selection process as in interviewer rather than an interviewee. In response to a question, he stated that the Panel was free to discuss each applicants qualifications and that although number scores were given to the question responses; in the end they had the freedom to exercise real judgement.

Mr. Spiliotis explained to the Committee the need to confirm two new appointees to the Selection Panel. Mr. Joey Garcias term has expired and Mr. John Klindtworths election to the office of Vice-chair renders him ineligible to serve on the Panel. He also stated that at some time in the past we have gotten the term dates incorrectly aligned and that we will remedy this by appointing one member to a one-year term and one member to a three-year term. Before announcing the nominees, Mr. Spiliotis reminded the Committee that the Selection Panel is a critically important part of the Program and that only people of the highest caliber should be invited to serve.

Ms. Debby Malmberg, a long-time Alternate on the Panel, was the nominee for the one-year term that will begin January 1, 2006 and end December 31, 2006. Several people spoke in her favor, citing her experience and the capable way she has performed as a Panelist. She was confirmed by unanimous roll call vote.

Mr. Jim Lover was the nominee for the three-year term that will begin January 1, 2006 and end December 31, 2008. Mr. Lover was present and accepted the nomination, then excused himself so that the Committee could discuss his qualifications without restraint. Mr. Lover has 30 years as a vendor in two States, has served the program in many capacities, most recently as a Grievance Board member and Vice-chair of the Committee. His integrity and fair-mindedness were spoken of by several of the Reps. He was confirmed by unanimous roll call vote.

Mr. Spiliotis then nominated Mr. John Kalivoda to serve a three-year term as primary Alternate. Ms. Alger expressed concern that the loss of both Mr. Lover and Mr. Kalivoda from the Grievance Board would be a serious blow to its ability to function cohesively. Mr. Spiliotis replied that Mr. Kalivoda, as a Selection Panel alternate, could continue to serve on the Grievance Board with the provision that he would not hear any grievance arising from a selection in which he had participated. With that issue resolved, the committee confirmed Mr. Kalivodas appointment by unanimous roll call vote.

Ms. Alger moved to change Selection panel term ending dates to December 31 of the expiration year. Mr. Prescott seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Discussion of set aside expense offsets was tabled to the February meeting.

Discussion of revising net profit expectations for non-highway vending was tabled to the February meeting.

The availability of liability insurance was discussed. Mr. Rose reported that Hartford no longer write small business policies. It was suggested that we find a company that would insure all vendors at the same premium rate. Mr. Spiliotis said that we had this type of policy in 1997 and 1998, but Safeco declined to renew us after that year. He stressed the need for general liability, product liability and interruption of service coverage. Vendors do not insure either the equipment of the inventory, as these items are the property of the Agency. He encouraged all vendors to contact their insurance agency and others, get rates and plans available and then send him the information. He added that it would be beneficial to post such information to the various list serves.

Round table discussion:

Mr. Gaudette reported that he has negotiated a package deal for a Caribbean cruise as a venue for an off-year Seminar or social gathering. The current price quote is $325/person; he would like to get it lower.

Mr. Anderson reported that DOT officials had visited his rest stop at Mims and plan to evaluate all highway rest stop areas over time. They are trying to determine if any should be closed. Mr. Hackney added that DOT is tracking customer complaints about vending operations at the rest stops. Ms. Alger confirmed that DOT is scheduling in-depth inspections at all rest stops.

Mr. Hackney clarified the circumstances under which he relinquished the Type II LOFa at Facility 476, stating that he did so because he could no longer continue managing the location.

The subject of declining attendance at the Biennial Seminar was addressed. One suggestion was to make attendance mandatory, it was believed that this could be accomplished by enforcing the CEU requirement contained in Chapter 38-K.1

There being no other business, the Chairman thanked all for their attendance and participation and adjourned the meeting at 1:20 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,

Gyorke Alger, Secretary

**scribers note: I want to thank Sherri Brun for providing her notes to the Chairman, who transmitted them to me. Working from two sets of notes proved to be extremely beneficial. 



Division of Blind Services


November 28, 2005

TO: Facility Operators 388, 389, 397

RE: Boundaries for vending routes at JAX NAS

The following is a summation of the meeting held at the Jacksonville DBS office on October 13, 2005. The purpose of this meeting was to establish territories for the three vending routes located at JAX NAS and NADEP. These territories would allow the assignment of new vending locations at the two military facilities to be awarded based on the physical location in which the opportunity is presented.

In attendance were:

  • Kathy Murphey, BEP Director of Operations
  • Bernie Kaiserian, Region 2 BEP Consultant
  • Bill Perret, Contracted Operator Facility 388
  • Shirley Smart, Contracted Operator Facility 389
  • George Colson, Contracted Operator Facility 397
  • Victor Rosario, District Four Committee of Vendors Representative
  • Audience - Barbara Perret

We established the territories based primarily on the boundaries of current routes, and also relied on the input from the three facility operators in attendance. The attached map highlights the boundaries that will separate the routes for the purpose of assigning the new opportunities offered to the Division.

The new boundaries will be as follows:

To Divide Facility 389 from 388 and 397

  • The Southern most point at the St. Johns River, beginning at the Marina from the end of Ranger St.
  • Proceed North on Ranger St. to Enterprise Ave.
  • Turn Right and proceed East on Enterprise Ave to Wasp St.
  • Turn Left and proceed North on Wasp St.
  • Wasp St. ends at Albemarle Ave. but the boundary line will continue North, cutting through the military flight line to the end of JAX NAS.

To Divide Facility 388 and 397

From the Corner of Enterprise Ave and Ranger St., proceed East. The eastern most point of this boundary is the St. Johns River

Currently the three vending routes are servicing the following locations:

Facility 388 - Buildings 2, 6 (soon to open), 101 (inclusive of its hangers), 101U, 101V, 103, 105, 190, 840 and Hanger 122.

Facility 389 - Buildings 13, 108, 109, 110, 135, 160, 170, 171, 175, 176, 196, 536, 582, 583, 902, 919, 929, 2033, the sewer plant, old flying club, roofing contractor complex, and the Military Entrance Processing Center, located off base at 4051-15 Philips Highway.

Facility 397 - Buildings 868, 793, 794, 795, 797, Hanger 140, and two locations, Building 338 and Hanger 1845, located off base at the Cecil Commerce Center.

No changes will be made to the current route assignments. Although several locations currently served by Facility 388 are located inside the new territories of Facility 389 and 397, those locations will continue to be serviced by the current contract holder of Facility 388, Mr. Perret, until the termination of his contract.

Cc: Committee of Vendors

File Facility 388, 389, & 397

Florida Bureau of Business Enterprise

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