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Quarterly Meeting of the State Committee of Vendors
December 5 thru 6, 2014
Embassy Suites, International Drive, Orlando Fl.

The meeting was called to order at 9:05 am by Committee Chairman Tom Spiliotis.  Tom also called the roll.

The following individuals were present:

Tom Spiliotis, Chairman

John Klindtworth, Vice Chairman was unable to attend.

District Representatives: Lourena Mellott, District 1; Mike Renaud, District 2; Steve Barnes, District 5; Brian McKenney, District 6; Charles Hackney, District 7;  Tom Saunders, District 8; Jesus Villeda, District 10.  The representatives from Districts 3, 4 and 9 were unable to attend.

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, Business Analyst; Brian Ashworth, Region 1 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. The Region 2 Business Consultant was unable to attend.

Licensed Vendors:  Georgia Kellogg, District 2 Alternate; Mitzi Tyler, District 6 Alternate; Woody Matthews, District 7 Alternate; Shirley Smart

Rehabilitative Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired: Instructors, Steve Moss and Jill Richardson; Trainees: Kinesha Cole, Rachel Hage, Roselyn Duran, Tony Dagraca, Carl Walker

Guests:  Joe Urbanek, vendor in the South Carolina program; DJ Hackney

The new Region 1 Business Consultant, Brian Ashworth was introduced to the group.  A synopsis of the August meeting minutes was read.  A full copy of the minutes had been emailed previously to the committee.  Steve Barnes moved to accept the minutes as written.   Seconded by Mike Renaud.  Approved by all committee members present.

BBE Updates – Bill Findley

A meeting has been scheduled with the DOT for December 18.  Bill Findley, Tom Spiliotis, Brent McNeal, DBS attorney; Robert Doyle, DBS Director and Antoinette Williams, DBS Deputy Director will be in attendance.  The meeting will address the lack of communication by the DOT as well as rest area renovations, closures and security.  Recently the operator of Facility 381, Rest Area on I-75 was told by the maintenance staff that the location was scheduled to close on January 7.  Subsequent investigation by Alan Risk and Bill Findley confirmed the planned closure.  No notice from the DOT of the closure had been given to the vendor or to the Division.  Previously, when Bill Findley asked for a status on the rest areas, he was told that the DOT had not had the time to review them.  There has been a series of break-ins at the rest areas on I-10.  Bill validators have been upgraded to make them more secure and some operators have added security cameras. The Division was told by the DOT that their policy was to allow cameras for only 30 days.  The Division requested a written copy of the policy, but has not received it.  The current agreement with the DOT indicates that the program is responsible for the security of the vending machines.  Bill has requested that the rest area vendors provide him with information on any problems at their rest areas including police reports. 

The contract with Broward Sherriff’s Office (BSO) Complex has been signed and is being routed through the DOE for a signature by the Commissioner of Education.  Once the contract is signed the BSO will give thirty days’ notice to the current company.  The existing company will close on a Friday and will remove all their equipment.  The new operator, Jesus Villeda, will serve from a temporary kitchen until the new equipment is installed.

The agreement with Palm Beach County for Facility 469, Palm Beach County Courthouse has been signed.  DMS requires language in all lease agreements which allows them to relocate a facility from leased space if space in a state building comes available.  This would not apply in these circumstances but has to be included in the agreement.  The concern is that a county government would not sign our agreement with this language.  The Division needs to meet with DMS so that we can get a change in the contract language in situations where it doesn’t apply.

Space Florida is a state created organization leasing space from NASA at the Kennedy Space Center that is not interested in working with us.  A working relationship between the BBE program and Space Florida is in line with the Governor’s proclamation concerning opportunities for the disabled.  The Eglin contract continues to be challenging.  Eglin has not paid for services for the months of May – September.  The Division will need to bring the problem to the attention of the Commanding Officer.  The current contract has been extended for six months.  We continue work on VA locations with marginal success.

Getting current and accurate information on the program’s budget continues to be a challenge. Bill has met with budget and fiscal personnel three times since August 2014.  The comptroller will attend the next meeting and all future meetings.  The program has $595,000 in spending authority and needs to spend close to that amount each fiscal year.  If that amount is not spent it could impact the Federal matching funds.  As of October there is $308,000 in the Bank of America account and $166,000 available in the spending account.  Because the total of these two accounts is less than our spending authority we need to return to the 6% set aside.  The additional 1% will generate an extra $6,500 per month.  Additional monies should be generated through other projects in the works such as the BSO and the new third party vending contracts. 

Tom Saunders moved that the set aside be returned to the previous level of 6% as of the December report due on January 31, 2015.  Seconded by Brian McKenney.  Passed unanimously by the seven representatives present. 

BLAST – Bill Findley, John Ahler

Bill Findley, John Ahler and licensed vendor Debbie Hietala attended the BLAST meeting in Texas in November.  Bill Findley participated in a focus group concerning vendor training offered by The Hadley School for the Blind. The training is comprehensive and is only offered as a whole and would not be useful for retraining or CEU credit. The curriculum would fill a need for states with smaller programs or for trainees who are unable to leave home for an extended period of time.  Bill believes that the training needs to be more flexible and allow trainees to do portions of the curriculum as needed to make it effective and applicable for more people.

DBS attorney Brent McNeal attended the legal training sessions and received a better understanding of federal issues.  The RSA has a new leadership team and realizes that the organization has not been effective in the past.  They will be taking a more active role.

The Surface Transportation Assistance Act was discussed.  The current amendment comes up in May 2015 and there is concern that the government will try to privatize the rest areas.  Another concern is that if the rest areas aren’t privatized that the DOT may consider closing more rest areas.  If privatization passes, blind vendors need to make sure that they are involved in the process as there is a fear that they will be given a minimal presence. Vendors will need to be ready to contact congressmen should the issue come up later this year.

John Ahler felt that the conference was valuable and encouraged all vendors to attend at least once.  He learned that GSA is planning to review all permits every five years and felt that they will start to mandate a percentage of healthy products in vending and in food service.  The FDA released its guidelines on menu and vending machine labeling on November 25, 2014.  Effective December 1, 2015 restaurants with 20 or more locations will have to display calorie information.  Effective December 1, 2016 operators who own 20 or more vending machines will have to disclose calorie information.  John feels that customers will start to expect the information even from locations that are not subject to the rule.  Some resources for finding healthier options for vending machines include Fit pick, GSA vending guidelines and NAMA guides.

Marketing and Site Development Update – Don Meloy

Don Meloy reported on leads to new locations and locations that are currently in process.  In Miami he is working on the Children’s Courthouse and the Community Health Institute.  The Children’s Courthouse is a snack bar with estimated annual sales of $225,000.  The proposal included a rent of $50.00 per month, payment of utilities and 2% commission of gross sales.  Community Health Institute will be a snack bar and vending and will have estimated sales of $250,000.  Other Miami locations include vending for a DEA lab and the Miami Lighthouse. Other potential locations include vending in Pasco-Hernando State College; snack bar and vending at Florida Gateway College in Lake City; vending at the Army Reserve Center in Cape Coral; vending at Department of Economic Opportunity in Tampa and snack machines in Marion County that would be added to the Ocala route.

Compliance Officer Report-Alan Risk

41% of the currently assigned vendors have 3 or more CEUs, 41% have at least 2 CEUs, 15% have 2 or less CEUs and 3% have no CEUs.  Mike Renaud asked if any more classes were to be scheduled and was told that would be up to the Regional Consultants and District Reps.   CEU opportunities include the Florida NFB convention scheduled for Ft. Lauderdale in January, the National NFB convention in Orlando in July and Hadley courses.  It was recommended that the District Reps be apprised of the CEU status of operators in their district.

Four new operators have been licensed since the meeting in August.  Twelve new vendors were licensed in 2014 and six have been awarded Type I facilities.

Grievance Hearing #1:

On July 28th, 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.

Outcome: After reviewing the facts of the case, the grievance panel voted unanimously in favor of the Division regarding the issuance of the letter. The Director agreed with the grievance panel’s decision.

Grievance Hearing #2: 

On October 15th, 2014, the complainant requested a grievance hearing in order to challenge a letter of warning he received, dated September 18, 2014 for falsification of the monthly business report and for serious operational deficiencies.  A grievance hearing was held on October 23rd, 2014.

Outcome: The grievance panel voted on the two issues separately.  The panel voted unanimously in favor of the complainant regarding the operational deficiency and the Director agreed with the findings of the grievance panel.  In a split decision, the panel voted in favor of the Division on the false report.  However, the Director did not find any intent of submitting a false report and instructed that the warning letter be removed from the claimant’s file.   A new letter was issued and placed in the claimant’s file notating the error and emphasizing the importance of accuracy on monthly reports.

Browning Moving Contract-Bill Findley, Maureen Fink

The Browning Moving contract will expire soon and an extension will be requested.  There has been dissatisfaction with them as they sometimes need to travel long distances to get to the location and often show up without the proper equipment or clearance.  It was recommended that the new moving contracts be done by region. 

NFBEI Renewal –Bill Findley

The NFBEI subscription will need to be renewed as it ends in December.  Cost is $3,500 per year. The group has provided us with support and information and will be important when Surface Transportation Initiative amendment comes up for a vote.  Charles Hackney made a motion to renew the NFBEI subscription.  Tom Saunders seconded the motion.  The motion passed without objection by the representatives present.

Rules vs Policy Discussion – Bill Findley, Alan Risk, Tom Spiliotis

Any part of the manual that is not connected to a Rule either in the Federal regulations, Florida Statues or the Florida Administrative Code is considered a policy.  In order to protect the program’s interest the Division has recommended that the entire manual be incorporated into Rule in order to strengthen the Division’s position if ever challenged in a hearing. If the Division lost an administrative hearing it would be responsible for court costs.  The pros and cons of this action were discussed. Concern was expressed that the program would lose flexibility in administering policies. It was decided not to incorporate the manual into Rule at this time.  

Giving Credit for a Type II LOFA towards the one year requirement for new operators-Lourena Mellott

The current policy requires a one year commitment by a new operator when they sign into their first Type I LOFA.  Lourena moved that a new operator in a Type II be given credit for time spent toward their first Type I commitment when it involves the same facility. Mike Renaud seconded the motion. The motion was discussed and clarification was needed.  Lourena will work on the wording and make the motion later in the meeting.

Type IIs – Maureen Fink

Currently there are 20 Type IIs.  Two facilities, Facility 150, KSC snack bar and Facility 584, Community Health Center have uncertain futures. We are determining viability on eight facilities. Three facilities will be on the January selection cycle and seven will be on the January or May selection cycle.  American Food and Vending is currently operating three facilities; Facility 361, Turlington Cafeteria, Facility 591, Douglas building Cafeteria and Facility 470, Fort Knox snack bar.  A new vendor will be signing into Facility 470 in January and we are working on an agreement to return the food service in Facility 591 to the building as it is not viable due to decreased population. The vending for Facility 591 will be operated by a licensed vendor.

Vending Machines and 3rd Party Vending RFPs – Alan Risk

Crane was awarded eight vending machines and A&M equipment was awarded eight machines and we are cleared to proceed with the contract.  Blindster was awarded the unassigned vending for Brevard County and All Stop vending was awarded unassigned vending in Region 5 and 6. Consultants will be working with local companies to cover unassigned vending not covered by the contract.

Business Analyst Report – John Ahler

John has been working with the new Region 1 Consultant, Brian Ashworth and transitioning into his new role.  He has been working with Alan Risk and Don Meloy on the RSA 15 report.  John reviewed some of the highlights of that report including gross sales for the Federal fiscal year 2014 of over $19 million and net profits of over six million. 

The meeting was adjourned for the day at 4:45pm.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Tom Spiliotis called the meeting to order at 8:30am.  Tom also called the role.

FDA Calorie Labeling – Tom Spiliotis

John Ahler had discussed the new rules the previous day. There was a brief discussion on the implications and implementation of the new rules.

Lourena Mellott made the motion to amend the current policy to: A licensee with a Type II LOFA who applied and was awarded a Type I in the same facility will have that time applied to their required one year commitment.  Seconded by Tom Saunders.  Passed without objection by all the representatives present.  This would apply to any vendor currently in this status.

Regional Status/District Updates – All Consultants and Representatives

Region 1 – John Ahler

John asked the DOT for signs that indicated that vending was available at the I-10 rest areas in his region and now every rest area from Facilities 573 and 574 westward have signs. John reported that it took about 9 months to get the DOT to install the signs.  Only one facility in Region 5 has signs. Bill will mention this at the DOT meeting on December 18. The DOT has removed the comment card boxes and has replaced it with a QR code. Mike Renaud asked about signage advising travelers that the vending machines accept credit cards. Federal approval has been obtained for these signs, but the DOT has been reluctant to add additional signage.  Bill will bring the subject up at the DOT meeting.  John also has been installing signs in the vending area at the rest areas. One sign has the company information and the other indicates that the location is operated by a blind vendor with the Randolph-Sheppard program. Lacy Corker has resigned from Facility 545, Twin Towers Snack Bar and Steve Docie has it on a Type II. Randall Crosby has signed into Facility 485, Capital Circle Office Center Cafeteria on a Type II. Facilities 571 and 572, I-10 rest areas are scheduled to be rebuilt one at a time starting in July 2015.  Terri Bowen will be servicing the vending at Facility 591, Douglas Building.

District 1 – Lourena Mellott

Lourena had trouble with USA technologies.  She was receiving money from a card reader that was not hers. It’s been fixed and they are slowly taking the overpayment back.

District 2 – Mike Renaud

Mike has been having trouble with break-ins.  He had a locksmith create a hasp to protect his machines.  The thieves were shutting off the power so that the cameras did not record the break- in. He advised ICA of the break-in but has received no response to his messages.

Region 2 – Maureen Fink

Bernie Kaiserian, Region 2 Consultant is on medical leave.  The operator was removed from Facility 145, Federal Building snack bar and Darryl Brinton is operating it on a Type II. This facility will be on the next selection cycle.  Four facilities in Region 2 are not making their net profit and Maureen will be visiting with the operators next week.  The operator of Facility 569 has turned in his late reports for September and October.  Ruby Adams will be taking over this facility as soon as she receives her FAA clearance and can relocate.  Jimmy Giles will be signing into Facility 513, Jacksonville vending route. John Ahler will be working with these vendors in the coming weeks.  Sales at Facility 610, Northeast Florida State Hospital are improving. Representatives and alternates from District 3 and 4 were unable to attend the meeting.

Region 6-Alejandro Garcia

Two locations were added to Facility 117, Miami vending route operated by Robert Rodriguez. Robert is also operating Facility 614, Doral Route on a Type II. Sales are increasing at Facility 455, snack bar operated by Daniel Ochoa. Sales have declined over the last couple months at Facility 510, Krome Detention Center due to a combination of immigration policy changes, detainee relocation and construction. Alejandro is monitoring the situation and expects sales to improve once the construction is completed. Miami Dade signed the agreements for Facility 156, Dade County Justice building snack bar. The operator of Facility 568 is on medical leave and he has employed new licensee Guillermo Alvarez to operate the facility.

District 10 – Jesus Villeda

Jesus has been using the square system for credit cards and as a cash register. The system is faster than his previous system and provides him with reports that help the business.

Region 5 – Jim Carper

Staff is starting to move into the FBI building. They have changed the location of the vending and we are not sure where it will be located.  The facility will be a Type II but the selected vendor will need FBI clearance.  Four local vendors have begun the clearance process. The Broward Sherriff’s Office (BSO) complex contract is in Tallahassee and is being routed through the signature process. This location will be a cafeteria with vending and was awarded to Jesus Villeda on a Type II.  Within the next 6 months additional vending outside the BSO complex will be available.  Vending will include five jails, 16 district offices, 22 fire departments, a Drug Court and a motor pool. Jim requested that a new BSO route be created that would encompass

all BSO locations outside of the cafeteria complex.  Brian McKenney made a motion to create a new BSO vending route that would include all BSO locations outside of the cafeteria complex. This route would not be affected by current geographic boundaries for other vending routes in the area.  Seconded by Tom Saunders.  Passed without objection by all representatives present. The District 9 representative and alternate was unable to attend the meeting.

Region 4 – Tony Arduengo

We are hoping to add vending from the Pasco-Hernando State College to Facility 272, Brooksville Route. Facility 381, rest area at I-75 Jones Loop is scheduled to close on January 7.

A meeting was held with Lee County on Wednesday, December 3 concerning their vending and we are developing a proposal to submit. The micro-market at Facility 396 is providing 1/3 of the sales for this facility. Sales have increased by 25%.  The operator for Facility 432, I-275 Rest Area north was on medical leave and has decided to retire.  Tom Saunders is operating the facility on a Type II and it is scheduled to be offered on the next selection cycle. Steve Barnes will be taking over Facility 481, Alligator Alley rest area the first of the year.  Jim Warth was awarded Facility 615, Hillsborough County Center on a Type II.  We are working on a new agreement with Hillsborough County which could affect Facility 31, Hillsborough County Courthouse, Facility 124, Hillsborough County Courthouse vending and Facility 396, Tampa Vending route. The county first asked for an operational fee but may be willing to forgo that fee for price consistency. The new agreement would incorporate locations that are currently under other contracts.

District 7 – Charles Hackney

Charles had nothing to add

District 8 – Tom Saunders

Tom had nothing to add.

Tom Spiliotis spoke briefly about the Facility 381 that is expected to close on January 7.  The operator will be out of work through no fault of his own.  The rules allow the agency to do an administrative appointment in consultation with the chairman.  The appointment would be to a comparable facility and Facility 432 has sales within $2000 of Facility 381. The operator would be willing to move to operate Facility 432.  The agency will wait until after the December 18 meeting with the DOT and the closure of the facility to decide whether to make the appointment.

Region 3 – Greg Coon

The Lake Mary post office, the hub of Facility 586, Orlando Vending route is scheduled to close next summer.  This location is the main storage and generates 20% of the sales. A meeting is scheduled with the plant manager next year to check on the status. Greg is looking for new locations to add to the route and options for storage.  Construction has begun on the new headquarters building at Kennedy Space Center.  There is a design consultation meeting scheduled to discuss renovations to Facility 403, snack bar. Three post offices have been added to Facility 603, Ocala Vending Route and a meeting is scheduled with Marion County procurement on Tuesday, December 9.  This will be for the snack machines only.  The drink machines are on a separate contract. A contractor has been selected to build the new micro market space at Facility 604, George C. Young Federal Building. Facility 416, Rest Area I-4 is available on a Type II.  The interviews will be on December 9.   Facility 378, Orlando Cafeteria has a point of sale system from Sysco which has increased the speed of the service in the facility and offers on line ordering. 

District Five – Steve Barnes

Steve has nothing to add.

District Six – Brian McKenney

Business continues to be slow as the population decreases.  Brian expressed interest in a snack truck and was told it was offered on a no bid contract.  Brian was told that the Division was not interested.  Greg Coon and Bill Findley were unaware of this opportunity.  Brian is now using the square.  His previous credit card system required a four year contract and had extra fees.

Round Table

No issues to discuss.

Adjourn at 11am.

Florida Bureau of Business Enterprise

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