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State Committee of Vendors

Orlando, Florida - Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2007

Mr. Spiliotis called the meeting to order at 1:30 P.M. and asked Mr. Klindtworth to call the roll.

  • District 1 - Steve Schneider (Debby Malmberg, Alternate)
  • District 2 - Stephanie Zolin
  • District 3 - Don Tuell
  • District 4 - Dan Angelicola
  • District 5 - Phil Bluschke
  • District 6 - Randal Crosby (Bob Murray, Alternate)
  • District 7 - Tom Saunders (Jim Warth, Alternate)
  • District 8 - Gyorke Alger (Steve Barnes, Alternate)
  • District 9 - absent
  • District 10 - Ken Moore (arrived at 4 P.m.)
  • Chairperson - Tom Spiliotis; Vice-Chairperson – John Klindtworth
  • Agency staff - Mike Elliott, Bureau Chief; Kathy Murphey, Operations Director; Regional consultants Chanel Chevalier, Raquel Falero, Maureen Fink and Darryl Lane
  • Gallery - Charles & DJ Hackney; Debbie Hietala; Valerie James; Jim & Lorna Lover

Mr. Saunders moved to approve the minutes of the May, 2007 meeting. Motion was seconded and the minutes were approved without objection.

Ms. Murphey reported on the training conference that was held prior to the committee meeting. This was a follow-up on changes to the BEP training program announced at the May meeting.

One point person will co-ordinate all aspects of training for persons referred by client Services. Trainers will henceforth be known as instructors. The current OJT evaluation form will be revised to make it more task oriented and specific. The training sub-committee, comprised of Don Tuell, Phil Bluschke and Valerie James, will work with the Bureau to fine tune this process.

The first step in the educational process will be a two-week period of work experience, during which the student will be assigned specific tasks that must be mastered before proceeding to the next level. This will be done in the DOE cafeteria under the supervision of Michele Macomber, the Florida supervisor for Aramatic. The Agency plans to engage the commissioner of Education and building personnel as partners in the BEP educational program. The DOE cafeteria will be the center for work experience and later OJT. The goal is to standardize our training system and this can best be done in a single environment.

Mr. Spiliotis asked Ms. Murphey to provide some specific details of the new work experience evaluation protocol. She responded that although it is still in draft form, it will cover personal grooming, attire, timeliness, attendance and include a real focus on customer service. She stated that these categories will have specific benchmarks and requirements. As an example, she said that the dress code will make clear that footwear must be sensible and safe, no sandals, spike heels, cowboy boots etc. The instructor will keep a full attendance record/time sheet and the Consultant will review it every two weeks.

The current four-level OJT evaluation form is very general and allows the instructor room for too much subjectivity. This form is under reconstruction and supportive text will be developed to clearly define all requirements.

The instructor and the Consultant will work closely with all students and both must agree that an individual has mastered all elements in any given level to move forward.

Ms. Malmberg asked if lesson plans for instructors could be developed in order to build a consistent training product. Ms. Murphey replied that this is being done and that the instructors will be consulted for their input.

Mr. Spiliotis stressed the necessity of developing a consistent training product to ensure that all clients receive the same information and that it is sound information. This needs to start with the Client Services counselors, and must also include all consultants and individual vendors who may be approached by prospective BEP recruits. Mr. Spiliotis also stated that immediately upon completion of the formal training in Daytona all students should be transferred to the DOE building for their extended OJT. We should market our program to the DOE staff and make them our partners. Mr. Elliott agreed with this approach and said that he has already initiated the contacts that will help make it happen.

Upon successful completion of extended OJT in DOE the student will then be assigned to a field location for what can be termed finishing school. Although every BEP facility has its unique characteristics, the consistency of training must be maintained at this level.

Mr. Saunders pointed out the need to ensure that those students who cannot or will not do the required work aren’t just passed through to licensure.

Mr. Angelicola stated that people seeking entry to BEP training should be required to demonstrate basic math skills as part of the referral process.

Ms. Alger noted that the discussion had focused entirely on business and food service training and asked how vending machine instruction will be handled. Mr. Tuell has been assigned the point person for that part of the training process and will report at the next meeting.

Ms. Malmberg asked how instructors will be chosen and how they will be taught to deliver the consistent training product we need to achieve. Ms. Murphey agreed that this is an important element and will be part of the ongoing process. People working as instructors will be involved in its development.

Ms. Malmberg asked if managers in need of remedial instruction could get that at the DOE teaching center. Ms. Murphey said yes, if the manager is willing.

Mr. Elliott said that at the morning training conference he had brought up the possibility of issuing different types of BEP licenses. We have been told for many years that Federal rules do not permit this practice, but several other States have done so without problems. Mr. Elliott will look into this as a possible addition to our licensing procedure.

Mr. Spiliotis asked if there was any old business. Ms. Murphey presented a draft of the policy re exit inventories as agreed to at the May meeting. The draft reads as follows:

"Effective immediately, the following procedures shall be followed at exit inventories.

  1. There shall be no co-mingling of personal and State property unless approval is documented in facility file. This shall include but not be limited to utensils, pots, pans, trays, cleaning supplies, coin counters, warming trays, display baskets, refrigerators, freezers etc. Items purchased with facility funds shall be a State facility expense or state reimbursement.
  2. At the start of inventory, the outgoing vendor shall have copies of all product invoices on site for unit price verification. The outgoing vendor shall not receive credit on products without prices. The inventory will be extended and totaled immediately at the end of the inventory count.
  3. The outgoing and incoming vendors or their representatives shall remain on site until the inventory has been extended and working Capital forms signed. Each vendor will be provided with a printed copy of the inventory and working Capital form."

A suggestion was made to attempt to arrive at a fair market price for items missing from invoices. Ms. Murphey agreed to incorporate this change.

Mr. Spiliotis asked the Selection Panelists present for input on the scoring process and any other issues they believed should be addressed.

Ms. Malmberg stated that on several occasions an applicant has interviewed very well but she has personal knowledge or has been told by other managers that the applicant doesn’t do a good job of managing a facility. No solutions to this dilemma were forthcoming.

There was discussion about applicants who owe a debt to the Agency and are not honoring a repayment program or have not entered into one. A suggestion was made that vendors who owe money be prohibited from applying for another facility until a repayment agreement has been signed.

The discussion focused on shortfalls at facility changeovers, a frequent cause of vendors incurring a debt to the Agency. Mr. Chuck Fickett from the gallery made the suggestion that when this happens the vendor will only be offered Type II LOFA’s until the debt is satisfied. After discussion the following motion was made and seconded:

When a facility changeover takes place and a working capital shortfall occurs it shall be paid immediately. If the outgoing manager is unable to pay the full amount, any subsequent LOFA shall be written as a Type II not to exceed six months. If the debt has not been satisfied by the expiration of any such Type II LOFa it shall not be renewed.

Mr. Klindtworth called the roll and the motion failed on a vote of four ayes and five nays. The members who voted against the motion expressed discomfort with the six-month deadline for full repayment of a debt to the Agency.

Mr. Spiliotis adjourned the session at approximately 5:00 P.M. and reconvened at 8"30 A.M. on Saturday, December 1st.

Mr. Klindtworth called the roll. All Reps and Alternates were present with the exception of District 9. All Agency staff and guests from the previous session were in attendance.

Charles Hackney, President of the National Association of Blind Merchants, gave a brief presentation encouraging all vendors to attend the BLAST 2008 conference and to look ahead to 2009 when it will take place in Orlando. All present received an information packet about BLAST 2008.

Donna Jean Hackney then gave a presentation about the importance of vendors maintaining a professional image. This is easily done with apparel items such as tees, jackets, caps etc. with the company logo displayed. This can be done either with stitch art or by digital imaging. She would like us to buy these type products from the company she works for but stressed that there are companies throughout the State that offer these items.

Mr. Spiliotis opened the floor for further discussion of selection process issues.

Ms. Alger, reporting for the Transfer & Promotion sub-committee, stated the need to address the performance data section that currently allocates five points to applicants who have met net profit requirements during the 36 months prior to the close of applications. This was to have been implemented with the June, 2006 selection round but the Panel and the Compliance Director concluded it was unworkable and adopted what was to have been a temporary system of pro-rating the other elements to achieve the 25 points allowed in the performance section. Ms. Alger explained that the five points had been taken from the original nine points available as credit for experience and said that she had found no interest in returning to that format. She suggested that the simplest way of revising the point schedule would be to spread them through the existing elements. This suggestion found no support and the discussion turned to other possibilities.

The discussion revealed a unanimous belief that applicants with LOFA cancellations should be penalized. Mr. Klindtworth offered the following: a LOFa cancellation during the 36 months prior to the close of applications shall result in a 40-point penalty to be assigned as follows – zero points available for performance data and a 15-point penalty to be subtracted from the total score. At such time as mandatory retraining has been successfully completed, the 15-point penalty will be rescinded and the applicant will start on the same basis as those with no performance data.

The Committee adopted this proposal with no dissent and Mr. Elliott approved it.

The discussion then focused on managers who are allowed to hold a LOFa even though they are not adhering to the performance standards detailed therein and then are given the option of resigning rather than having said LOFa cancelled when it finally becomes obvious that the person is not managing the facility and may in fact be damaging the Agency’s assets.

Motion was made, seconded and approved by unanimous vote as follows: A resignation tendered while the vendor is in breach of contract is equivalent to LOFA cancellation for purposes of transfer and promotion and applicants in this category will be scored accordingly. The 15-point penalty will apply.

A motion was made, seconded and passed to add a building manager survey to the performance data section of the selection protocol but further discussion revealed too many logistical impediments to this plan and it was cancelled.

The next proposal was to create a five-point questionnaire that the Consultants would be required to complete for applicants managing facilities in their region. Each question would be valued at one-half point and the questions would be objective in nature and relate directly to performance criteria as per FAC 38K – 1. The same questionnaire would be used Statewide. The completed forms would be returned to the Compliance Director who would then affix the applicant’s private ID code to each one. These questions would be developed by the Transfer & Promotion committee in conjunction with the Selection Panel.

Mr. Saunders moved to adopt this measure, Mr. Bluschke seconded and the motion passed by unanimous roll call vote. Mr. Elliott approved the plan and agreed to the Committee’s request that it and all other changes be implemented with the January, 2008 selection round.

Ms. Alger asked Mr. Spiliotis to name appointees to the Transfer & Promotion sub-committee. These are herself, don Tuell, Tom Saunders and Stephanie Zolin. Anyone who has a selection proposal should contact a member of the sub-committee and it will receive consideration.

Mr. Spiliotis announced a vacancy on the Selection Panel resulting from Ms. Hietala’s term expiring December 31st of this year. Ms. Alger nominated Ms. Hietala to serve a three-year term and Mr. Murray seconded the nomination. Ms. Hietala indicated her willingness to serve and was confirmed by unanimous roll call vote.

Mr. Spiliotis stated the need for another alternate to the Selection Panel. Ms. Alger nominated Steve Barnes and Mr. Angelicola seconded the nomination. Mr. Barnes indicated his willingness to serve and was confirmed by unanimous roll call vote.

Another selection issue regarding the 50-point test was raised. It has been found that many people score so low on the test that they cannot be contenders for any of the facilities being offered. The Selection Panel would like to see a minimum test score of 35, or 70 percent of available points for inclusion in the interview group.

After discussion Ms. Alger moved to adopt this proposal, Mr. Bluschke seconded and it was approved by unanimous roll call vote. Mr. Elliott agreed to this initiative.

Mr. Spiliotis expressed his thanks to the Consultants for their participation and stated that he would appreciate their being at all committee meetings. Mr. Elliott agreed to this.

Mr. Spiliotis reported that he and Mr. Klindtworth had recently had productive discussion with representatives of the RSA (Rehabilitation Services Administration), the Federal agency that oversees the Randolph-Shepard program. In accordance with a concern they voiced he asked for a motion to require Grievance Board members who are also Committee members to recuse themselves from hearing any grievance filed by a vendor in the district they represent.

Ms. Alger made the motion to that effect, Mr. Klindtworth seconded and it passed by unanimous roll call vote.

Mr. Spiliotis requested a change to the committee meeting schedule and Mr. Elliott agreed. Beginning with the February, 2008 meeting, the committee will convene at 10 A.M. on Friday, thereby allowing the Agency personnel enough time for their input without having to stay over until Saturday. Any unfinished business will be conducted on Saturday morning. Mr. Elliott agreed to pay travel expenses for Thursday so that all Reps will be able to attend.

Mr. Spiliotis opened the floor for a roundtable discussion.

Mr. Angelicola, reporting for district Four, advised the committee that a snack bar in Jacksonville was closed as a result of the Mayor’s canceling our contract. Mr. Kaisarian intervened to keep the vending contract and that had been combined with another vending location to make one viable location. In response to a question about the process used to accomplish this action Ms. Murphey clarified by stating that the combination was being brought to the Committee for approval.

Mr. Angelicola moved to make the combination permanent. Motion was seconded and carried by unanimous roll call vote.

Mr. Angelicola reported that the cafeteria in the Jacksonville Bulk Mail Center has been closed and the facility has been converted to full vending.

Mr. Bluschke brought a question from a vendor in District Five who wants his rest stop vending machines relocated closer to the restrooms so that impulse buying will increase. Mr. Elliott stated that this is not within the realm of possibility.

Mr. Bluschke also reported on the status of the new vending facility in Mulberry, a private manufacturing company with 1300 employees. All that is needed to go forward is to get the contract signed and that is supposed to happen within 30 days.

Ms. Alger from District Eight brought a question about eligibility for social Security, stressing that the vendor was concerned that people without health insurance could experience great hardship if they had high medical expenses. Mr. Elliott gave the following resource person’s contact info:

Michael Davis 850-674-2041

Ms. Alger reported that there are two troubled facilities in the District and that Ms. Fink is keeping her fully involved and that they plan to visit both locations as soon as possible.

Mr. Schneider from District One said he had asked managers in the District if they had any issues and no one did. He thanked the Agency and the training committee for the excellent progress they are making.

Ms. Zolin from District Two reported that there are no major problems in Tallahassee.

Mr. Tuell from District Three reported that long-time vendor Anita Hinka has retired and that her Interstate location will be on the January bid sheet.

Mr. Crosby from District Six said he looks forward to working with the Committee and the Agency. He said that the next three years at the space Center will be difficult for all the vendors there because massive permanent layoffs are scheduled, these numbering in the thousands.

Mr. Saunders from District Seven reported that there are the usual three revolving door facilities in his district. The first of these is the SWFWMDD cafeteria in Brooksville currently being managed on a Type II by Jim Warth following the LOFa cancellation of the recently appointed manager. This facility is located in Region Three.

The other two troubled facilities are in Region Four, the first being 1313, the Federal Building in Tampa, the other being the St. Petersburg Police Station snack bar with many vending machines. At the time of this meeting none of the qualifying applicants has accepted either location.

Mr. Moore from District Ten thanked Ms. Murphey for coming to Miami and visiting the facilities in that area. He also thanked Mr. Chevalier for all his hard work. With the exception of one troubled facility, there are few problems in the District.

Mr. Hackney from the gallery made a request that the Agency adopt a policy and practice of publishing on the BEP web site the names of people who have accepted appointments to new locations when that information becomes available. Tom thanked Mr. Hackney for this and asked Mr. Elliott to approve it. Mr. Elliott agreed and will have Mr. Newcomb implement the plan forthwith.

Mr. Spiliotis also stated that he would like the testing date to be included with the posting of available facilities. And also the week in which interviews will be held. Mr. Elliott agreed that this was a sensible idea and that he will have Mr. Newcomb put it into practice.

There being no further business, Mr. Spiliotis adjourned the meeting 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