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Quarterly Meeting of the State Committee of Vendors
August 15 to 16, 2014
Embassy Suites, International Drive, Orlando Fl.

August 15, 2014

The meeting was called to order at 9am by Committee Chairman Tom Spiliotis. Vice Chairman John Klindtworth called the roll. 

The following persons were present:

Tom Spiliotis, Chairman

John Klindtworth, Vice Chairman

District Representatives: Lourena Mellott, District 1; Mike Renaud, District 2; Don Tuell, District 3; Robert McClaskey(Alternate), District 4; Steve Barnes, District 5; Brian McKenney, District 6; Charles Hackney, District 7;  Tom Saunders (Alternate), District 8; Joel Rose, District 9; and Jesus Villeda, District 10

Bureau of Business Enterprise Staff: Bill Findley, Bureau Chief; Maureen Fink, Operations Manager; Alan Risk, Compliance Officer; Don Meloy, Marketing and Site Development Manager; John Ahler, Region 1 Business Consultant; Bernie Kaiserian, Region 2 Business Consultant; Greg Coon, Region 3 Business Consultant; Tony Arduengo, Region 4 Business Consultant; Jim Carper, Region 5 Business Consultant; Alejandro Garcia, Region 6 Business Consultant; Janet Chernoff, Administrative Services Consultant

Licensed Vendors:  Terri Bowen, District 1 Alternate; Mitzi Tyler, District 6 Alternate; David Kaplan, District 9 Alternate; Patti Fulda, Valerie James, Justino Colon, Jim Warth

Rehabilitative Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired: Instructors, Steve Moss and Jill Richardson; Trainees, Edward Shettlesworth, Edward Spence, Nelson Velasco and Natalia Silva, interpreter for Nelson Velasco

Guests: DJ Hackney, Jesse and Sarah James, Bernice Colon, Nancy Spiliotis, Julie Barnes

Maureen Fink read a synopsis of the minutes from the June meeting. The full meeting minutes had been emailed to Committee members. Joel Rose moved to accept the minutes as written. Seconded by Mike Renaud. Passed without objection.

BBE Updates – Bill Findley

Sales for the past State Fiscal Year were at $19.5 million.  Sales were up over last year despite the fact that Facility 481, Alligator Alley rest area has been closed.  Facility 33, Duval County courthouse snack bar has increased sales and two new facilities, Facility 609, Pensacola NAS vending and Facility 608, Tacachale vending route were added.  Bill Findley will meet with the DBS Fiscal Department next week to discuss the status of the set aside account.  Some expenditures may have been applied to that account that could have been taken from another account.  Bill will send out a budget report to the committee following that meeting. 

Bill Findley, Tom Spiliotis and Alan Risk attended the NFB National Convention in Orlando on July 3.  They met with Terry Smith concerning the recent resolution from the Florida Chapter of the NFB which was critical of the Florida BBE program.  Terry reviewed the Florida BBE program and gave a glowing review.  He was very impressed that 25 of 29 recently licensed vendors are in their first facility.  Bill and Tom presented to the National Federation of the Blind Merchants group during the NFB Convention in Orlando.  It was a good meeting and attendees were very supportive and interested in the Florida BBE.  The BBE staff will attend a meeting of the West Palm NFB chapter in October.  Overall the Florida Business Enterprise Program has a good reputation with the national chapter of the NFB and is working to have one with the Florida NFB. 

Alan Risk and Bill Findley attended the DBS administrative staff meeting in Gainesville with vendors Todd Bowen and Jonathan Caudill. Bill, Tom Spiliotis and Don Tuell attended the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind Quarterly meeting in Gainesville and discussed the BBE program. 

At the June meeting the committee voted to look at engaging outside legal counsel to represent the licensed vendors of Florida and provide advice on legal issues.  DOE requested that DBS/BBE first utilize the DOE legal counsel. The door was left open for DBS, at its discretion and expense, to seek outside counsel for federal matters if it felt that was necessary.

Tom Spiliotis and Bill Findley met with Andrew Freeman, a lawyer experienced in Randolph-Sheppard cases when they were in Orlando.  The Division may contact him concerning some of the issues we are facing with the VA, Kennedy Space Center and Space X. The Committee is interested in exploring the possibility of hiring outside counsel like Mr. Freeman that can provide expertise in Randolph-Sheppard issues and that can work in partnership with the DOE lawyers.  Some of the projects that may require legal advice are the FL DOR Pensacola agreement, NAS Pensacola permit, Florida State Parks, Space Florida and vending in Dade County.  Recently Dade County put out a solicitation for vending that did not list machines in Facility 156, Dade County Justice Building and Facility 15, Dade County Courthouse.  When the contract was awarded, notice was given that the selected company, Bettoli Vending would be taking over the machines in those facilities. The Division has reached out to the mayor’s office and is questioning the legality of awarding a location that was not on the original solicitation.  We have requested assistance from Paul Edwards, former President of the Florida Council of the Blind.  Facility 15 may not be a viable facility without the vending machines and Facility 156 would be hurt financially. 

Department of Management Services (DMS) is in charge of all leases.  Recently DMS has requested changes in the lease agreement with Palm Beach County and wants language that is not relevant to this situation.  DMS is trying to move state offices out of leased facilities and into state owned buildings and requires language in all lease agreements that allows the office to move.  We have confidence that this contract will eventually be worked out because Palm Beach County wants Don Gerschick to continue to operate the snack bar in the Palm Beach Courthouse. However, this may cause problems with future lease agreements.

John Ahler has been recommended to fill the Government Analyst position recently vacated by Larry Batterton.  The duties of the position been expanded and in addition to the monitoring duties, John will be helping new vendors get started in their first facility and assisting vendors that are struggling.

Daytona Training-Steve Moss

Two new vending machines have been added to the vending room for the trainees.  One came from Crane and another was donated by vendor Phil Bluschke.  A Fastcorp ice cream machine is expected to be added.  The last couple of classes have been small and a couple of trainees have had to leave class for personal reasons.  One of the trainees, Edward Shettlesworth asked about the possibility of selling lottery tickets at a facility.  This would require further study.

Selection Process Discussion – Tom Spiliotis

Valerie James attended the committee meeting to represent the selection panel. The committee discussed the selection process and how points are awarded. The committee suggested that BBE staff look over the consultant questionnaire and come up with a format would be an objective evaluation of the vendor’s performance.  The group decided to leave the current point system in place and add penalty points in areas of non-compliance.  Joel Rose moved that there be a penalty of one point for each late report beginning with the start of on-line reporting which began in November 2012.  On-line reporting has made it much easier to track late reports. Tom Saunders seconded. Passed without objection.

The committee discussed assessing penalty points for warning letters and letters of reprimand.  Warning letters are sent to a vendor when there is an operational deficiency.  Letters of reprimand are primarily sent when a vendor acts in a manner unbecoming an operator in the program as stated in Section 5.0 of the manual.  The committee recommended that operators should be penalized two points for each letter of warning and five points for each letter of reprimand.  The points would be subtracted from the operator’s total prior to the interview phase of the selection process.  The committee discussed whether the points should be applied from this day forward, August 15, 2014 or if points would be assessed for letters sent out previously.  The committee agreed that points would be assessed for letters sent out prior to this vote and there would not be a “grandfather clause exception”.   Tom Saunders moved that two points be accessed for a warning letter and five points for a letter of reprimand and that the points would be accessed for letters sent out prior to the vote.  Seconded by Joel Rose.  Passed 8 – 2.  Representatives for District 4 and District 6 voted no.

Vendtalk, Flabmerch, BEP Roundtable – Charles Hackney

Charles Hackney shared information about resources available to vendors.  The BEP Roundtable has conference calls twice a month. Flabmerch provides a forum for vendors in Florida to share information and Vendtalk provides a forum on a national level. 

Mentoring Minute – Don Tuell

Don Tuell recognized the vendors participating in the mentoring program.  Don Tuell, Terri Bowen, Tom Saunders and Lourena Mellott have all contacted new vendors in their areas to offer help and advice.  Lillian Pemberton has worked with a couple of new vendors and Joel Rose contacts new vendors to his district.

Compliance Officer Update – Alan Risk

Three new vendors have been licensed since the last meeting in June, Maria Del Llano, Dennis Iglesias and Guillermo Alvarez for a total of eight new licensees in 2014.  Four more trainees are expected to be licensed in time to participate in the September selection cycle.

In the May Selection Cycle seven opportunities were advertised, 18 applications were received, 16 applicants took the selection cycle exam and 11 applicants qualified and participated in the interview process.  Four of the seven facilities were awarded.  None of the available facilities in Region 1 were awarded.  In Region 2 Facility 517, I-95 Northbound rest area was awarded to Randy Shuster.  Facility 608, vending at Tacachale was awarded to Matthew O’Leary. In Region 3 Facility 378, Hurston Building Cafeteria Orlando was awarded to Richard Stevens.  In Region 5 Facility 547, Broward County Vending Route was awarded to Maria Del Llano. 

As of August 2014 of the 111 currently assigned vendors, 31 have 3 or more CEUs, 68 have at least 1.5 CEUs, 9 have less than 1.5 CEUs and 3 vendors have zero CEUs.  The BBE staff will be offering a four hour training that will allow operators to get .5 CEUs.  Trainings are planned for September for Pensacola, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa.  Trainings for West Palm Beach and Miami are planned for October.  

Grievances and Legal Actions

Grievance Hearing #1 was filed on June 16, 2014.  The complainant requested a grievance hearing in order to challenge the answer to a question which had been counted incorrect on the May 2014 Selection Cycle examination. A grievance hearing was scheduled for June 24th, 2014.  The grievance panel voted unanimously in favor of the claimant and the Director agreed with the findings of the grievance panel. Subsequently, the corresponding test grades were changed on all applicants that gave the same answer as the claimant.

Grievance Hearing #2 was filed on June 16th, 2014. The complainant requested a grievance hearing due to what he felt was non-productive legal assistance provided by the Division in resolving issues concerning BBE operators.  The complainant requested outside legal representation on behalf of all vendors participating in the Business Enterprise Program.  A grievance hearing was scheduled for June 25th, 2014. The grievance panel voted unanimously in favor of the complainant and the Director agreed with the findings of the grievance panel.  The Division will continue to explore internal and external options for addressing legal issues and will further discuss with the Department of Education’s legal department to determine the most appropriate course of action to take.

Grievance Hearing # 3 was filed on July 28, 2014. The complainant requested a grievance hearing in order to challenge a letter of reprimand he received, dated July 8, 2014, for violating the Licensed Vendor Responsibilities as stated in the Bureau of Business Enterprise Policy and Procedures Manual. A grievance hearing was held on August 12th, 2014.  The Grievance Panel has submitted their recommendation to the Director and we are currently awaiting a decision.

Policy Discussion regarding continued service by family following a death – Tom Spiliotis

The committee discussed the possibility of allowing qualified family members to operate a facility for a short period of up to a couple of months after the death of an operator.  According to rule the facility has to have a manager that is a licensed blind vendor.  The committee agreed to wait until final arrangements are made and could allow up to two weeks before transitioning to a new vendor.  The Division needs to protect the assets while being sensitive to the family.  The committee recommended that vendors have an emergency plan that would designate a person to represent the family during the transition.  The emergency plan should also designate a person that can access the facility if the vendor cannot.  The group also suggested that another manager could be selected by the family or the District Rep to operate the facility until a Type I or Type II LOFA is in place.

Surety Bonds/Promissory Note for Working Capital – Tom Spiliotis, Janet Chernoff

The feasibility of requiring that a vendor get a surety bond to protect the working capital has been researched.  Surety bonds are difficult for an individual to get especially if they have limited assets or a poor credit rating.  The insurance company requires that the payee (Division) make every effort including legal action before the insurance company would pay the claim.  This does not seem to be a workable solution.  The contract is between the individual and the Division so the Division may not be able to collect from the estate.

Meeting adjourned for the day at 4:50pm

August 16, 2014

Tom Spiliotis called the meeting to order at 8:30am.  John Klindtworth called the role.  Jim Warth and Justino Colon attended Saturday’s meeting.  Rob McClaskey did not attend.

Manual Revisions – Alan Risk

Section 5.9 Leave of Absence. 

Currently the manual indicates that a short term leave of absence is defined as 3-30 days, but long term is only defined as 30 days or more.  It was suggested that long term be defined as 30-90 days.  Joel Rose moved to limit long term leave to 90 days.  Seconded by Lourena Mellott.  Passed without objection.  Also in the section of absence for illness or injury the wording “managerial services” will be replaced by “management services” to distinguish it from managerial services that can be paid for by set aside monies.  The group discussed the possibility of allowing a manager to temporarily give up their facility and allowing another manager to operate it on a month to month Type II until they are able to return.  Alan will work on the wording and the committee will meet via conference call.

Section 3.4 Vendor Residence Vicinity Requirement

Currently the policy requires a vendor to live within 75 verifiable driving miles of a facility but does specify any method of verifying proof of address.   Adding the phrase “The Division reserves the right to ask the licensee to verify proof of their new residential address by providing any two (2) of the following documents” was recommended. The policy would include 14 items based on a list used by the DMV that would qualify as proof of address.   Mike Renaud made the motion.  Seconded by Stephen Barnes.  Passed without objection.

Section 4.2 Assignment of Temporary LOFA

To clarify an emergency placement, add “After notification and consultation with the Chairman of the State Committee of Vendors” and change “made by the Regional Consultant” to “by the Division”.  Moved by Tom Saunders. Seconded by Joel Rose.  Passed without objection.

Section 4.3 Limits for Operators of Temporarily Closed Facilities

 It was suggested that the phrase “during the Selection Cycle Process” be added to define when an operator can apply and revise the timeline for making a decision on which facility to choose as their permanent to when the “agency is officially notified of the reopening date of the closed contracted Type I facility, the operator shall sign a business opportunity decision form, allowing three days to indicate their choice to either return and operate it when it reopens…”

Moved by Brian McKenney.  Seconded by Jesus Villeda.  Passed without objection.

Facility 156- Justino Colon

Justino attended the meeting to personally apprise the committee of the situation at his facility.

Justino confirmed that he could lose his fourteen vending machines if something was not done.

Justino also wants the agency to pursue the contract for the cafeteria on the 1st floor of his building.  We were initially told that the county wanted an investment of $100,000 for renovations, but this seems to have changed.  We will need to wait until the RFP is posted before deciding whether to pursue this opportunity.  The current company is not serving hot food and runs the facility like a snack bar.  The new lease agreement with Miami Dade still has not been signed, but hopefully will be done in October.  The new lease agreement says that Justino can sell any foods that he can properly prepare.  The previous agreement only allows pre-packaged foods. The committee supports the pursuit of all opportunities in the Dade County Justice Building, including both the cafeteria and continued operation of the vending. 

Alejandro advised the group that the lease agreement needs to be on the county commission agenda to be voted on and he will advise the agency and the committee of the time and date of that meeting.  The Division should proceed with caution as we do not want to cause problems with other locations in county buildings.

Marketing and Site Development Updates –Don Meloy

The agreement for the NW Florida Hospital has been signed and vending machines installed. This facility is being run by Rene Byrd on a Type II.  Silver Springs State Park vending is still with legal.  The Department of Children and Family in Tampa have decided to keep the company currently running their cafeteria.  Other opportunities being explored are Daytona International Airport, Broward County Sherriff’s department cafeteria and vending, Camp Blanding consolidated dining, Orlando TSA, Amazon, Job Corp, DEA Lab in Miami and  the National Guard Armories.

Micro-Market – Jim Warth

The new micro market was installed on July 21.  Sales were up 300% and the market does not seem to affect sales of the other machines in the building.  Jim is still working on product selection and needs to increase the amount of sandwiches offered.  The facility is set up like a convenience store with a reach-in freezer and refrigerator and self-service check out.  The customer needs to set up an account to use the system, but once they are set up they can pay by credit card or cash.  This is a cashless system so if change is owed it is credited to their account.   The market has security cameras and the security guards also watch the facility.  Jim provides free coffee to the guards and free wi-fi for the customers.  

There was a short discussion about the micro market.  Standards for micro markets will need to be set and possible locations for future markets were discussed.  Locations will need to have controlled access.

Region 4-Tony Arduengo

Ron Light was selected for the Type II for Facility 481, Alligator Alley and he will sign in next week.  The air conditioning in the new facility is insufficient and we are looking at alternatives.  Construction on another rest area is planned and it is expected to open in three years. Three machines have been installed in the Tampa Polytrauma Rehab Center.  The location upstairs has been delayed and is expected to open in October.  Joey Garcia is operating this location on a Type II.  The facility is expected to generate about $10,000 a month in sales. 

District Seven – Charles Hackney

Charlie had nothing to add to Tony’s report

District Eight-Tom Saunders (Alternate)

Gyorke Alger’s husband had a stroke and Tom is currently operating her facility. An operator in his district has requested the Division replace two five wide machines with three four wide machines.  The group discussed the pros and cons of chilled machines versus the outsider.

Region 6-Alejandro Garcia

Locations have been added to Facility 557. The north borderline dividing Facilities 557 and 600 has been changed from the intersection of NW 36th and Hwy 112 to the border line with Broward County. Both vendors have agreed to the change and the change will be reflected in a description of the facility. Robert Rodriguez is doing well with his route, Facility 117 and plans to apply for it as a Type I.  Guillermo Alvarez is newly licensed and is waiting for a facility.  Alejandro is working on creating a South Miami route.  Two locations that are scheduled to be added to Facilities 557 and 600 are now being served by Bettoli Vending.  Bettoli was recently awarded the vending for Miami Dade County.  An agreement has been signed for the cafeteria in the US Post Office, Facility 519 operated Lonnie Wilcox.  The current company will continue to operate the facility and will pay Lonnie a commission.

District 10 – Jesus Villeda

Facility 597, US Customs and Border Protection operated by Alicia Villeda requires a full background check for anyone going into the facility including technicians. 

Region 5 – Jim Carper

The FBI will start moving into the new building in October and should have full occupancy by November.  The facility will have three snack machines, four drink machines, a shoppertron, ice cream machine and coffee machine.  The commissary will be ready next year.  BBE staff will be presenting their proposal for the Broward County Sherriff’s office facility on August 26th.  Three other companies will also be submitting a proposal for this facility.  The facility will be a cafeteria and vending and additional locations will be added next year.  We expect this to be two facilities. Bill Findley, John Ahler, Don Meloy and Don Gerschick will be at the presentation.  Two outsider machines have been purchased for Facility 429, Martin County Rest Area and the US Fish and Wildlife Refuge Center has been added to Facility 257.  Rest area sales are up 7%.  Don Felder has seen an increase of 18% at Facility 508 during the closure of Facility 481.

District 9 – Joel Rose

Facility 501 lost the location at the Government Center Annex.  This will result in an income loss of 20,000 – 24,000 per year for this facility.

Region 3 – Greg Coon

A new location was added to Facility 586, Orlando vending route.  The construction project for Facility 604, George C. Young Federal Building is back on and a contractor should be selected by September 30.  It took a year to secure it, but Region 3 now has a storage unit.  Facility 603, Ocala vending route is moving forward slowly.  There were delays with the post offices as the postal service has a new security approval process and is requiring drug testing and background screening for the vendor and any employee.  There is a tentative installation date of August 29.

District 5 – Steve Barnes

Steve had nothing to add to Greg’s report.

District Six – Brian McKenney

Facility 150 continues to struggle and recently lost an additional 30 people in his building.

Region 2-Bernie Kaiserian

Facility 610, Northeast State Hospital is being run by Renee Byrd on a Type II.  Matthew O’Leary has signed into Facility 608, Tacachale on a Type I.  Randy Shuster was awarded Facility 517, St. John’s rest area on a Type I and Bill Perret is operating Facility 513, Jacksonville Downtown vending on a Type II.  Facility 513 and Facility 569, Cafeteria at Hilliard will be offered on the September selection cycle.

District 3 – Don Tuell

Matthew O’Leary is working with Todd Bowen.  Jonathan Caudill is doing very well with his facility, Gainesville vending route.

Region 1 – John Ahler

Sales in the rest areas are up 15-20% over last year.  A new location, Department of Revenue, is being added to Facility 286, Pensacola vending route.  There have been permit issues with this location.  Randy Shuster is leaving Facility 485 and Randall Crosby is slated to take this facility on a Type II.  The transition is planned for October. Kurt Ponchak will be taking over Facility 533, Tallahassee FCI on a Type II. Facility 602, Citizen’s insurance is losing one location.  Employees are being moved to their Jacksonville office.  Tallahassee VA clinic is under construction.  We are pursuing vending at the National Guard location in Tallahassee and hope to get a state wide agreement that would cover all locations.  Lourena Mellott is operating Facility 609, Pensacola NAS vending on a Type II.  This will eventually be a stand-alone location.

District 1 – Lourena Mellott

Facility 609 has five buildings that are doing only $15 per month, but she will not remove the machines until after the permit is signed.  The facility is doing $11,000 per month in sales. 

District 2 – Mike Renaud

Mike has nothing to add to John’s report.

Round Table Discussion

Jim Warth confirmed that he and others are doing all they can to assist Barbara Coleman and Justino Colon with their problems with Miami Dade County.

Adjourn at 12 noon.

Florida Bureau of Business Enterprise

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