Braille Monitor                                                                                August-September 1986

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Indiana Vending Program Examined and Found Wanting

What would the vending program be like if there were no National Federation of the Blind? The vendors of Indiana could tell you--and (because of extensive newspaper publicity) so could a great many average citizens of the state. As is true throughout the country, the Indiana vending program is part of the rehabilitation services to the blind; and as in most cases, there is a great deal that will not stand scrutiny Earlier this year the Evansville Courier carried an extensive series of in-depth articles on the state Division of Rehabilitation, and presumably everybody (except, of course, the blind) was surprised.

In the fall of 1985 Mark Willoughby, a staff attorney for the Division for the Blind of the Indiana Rehabilitation Services, wrote a letter to the Chairman of the Blind Vendor Committee:

State of Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
November 13, 1986

Mr. Gene King, Chairman
Blind Vendor Committee
Indianapolis, Indiana

Dear Gene:

...This agency has received a demand from the Federal Aviation Administration to pay $2,700.00 plus interest in penalty totaling $2,888.25 for an indebtedness which was required to be paid by the operator (Joe Money) at the rate of $150.00 per month to cover utilities furnished by the government. (I have enclosed a copy of the page of the contract setting forth this requirement, as well as a copy of Mr. Money's contract with this agency wherein he is obligated for the payment of any rent or utilities as may be required by the site grantor.) Your input on the resolution of this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,
Mark A. Willoughby
Staff Attorney

Copies of this letter were sent to Jean Merritt, State Director of Rehabilitation, and Ms. R. Douglas, head of the Division for the Blind. At the same time a letter was sent to by Mrs. Merritt to Joe Money, past President of the NFB of Indiana:

State of Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
November 13, 1985

Dear Mr. Money:

Attached is a copy of a letter received from the Federal Aviation Administration indicating that you have not met the terms of your rental obligation. Please advise this office immediately of the steps that you plan to take to satisfy this obligation. Your failure to meet your responsibility in this regard jeopardizes the continuation of your license.

It is not our desire to be forced to take any action with regard to your continuation as a vending operator. However, we are very anxious to hear of your plans to resolve this particular situation.

Sincerely,

Jean Merritt
State Director

If Mrs. Merritt's letter does not say categorically that the Federal Aviation Administration was expecting Joe Money to pay a rental fee, it certainly leads one to that conclusion. Joe Money and other leaders of the Indiana affiliate discussed the matter with the National Office of the Federation, and Marc Maurer sent the following letter to Mrs. Merritt:

Baltimore, Maryland
December 2, 1985

Dear Mrs. Merritt:

By this letter I inform you that I represent a licensed blind vendor in Indiana who is operating a vending facility in the Randolph-Sheppard program. This vendor is Joe Money.

I am responding to your letter of November 13 directed to Joe Money in which you demand that Joe Money pay over $2,800 in rent for operating his vending facility at the Indianapolis Airport. Mr. Money also received a copy of a letter from Mark Willoughby to Gene King dated November 13, 1985. Both November 13 letters violate portions of the Randolph-Sheppard Act. Joe Money never agreed to pay the FAA rent. The Indiana Rehabilitation Services demanded that Joe Money pay $3,000 to the Air Traffic Controllers Association in violation of the Randolph-Sheppard Act. The Indiana Rehabilitation Services charged Joe Money a set-aside payment of $150 per month for four months even though no rule had been adopted authorizing the charge of this set-aside. This is still another violation of the RandolphSheppard Act. The Indiana Rehabilitation Services failed to pay Joe Money unassigned vending machine income to which he was entitled--a violation of the Randolph-Sheppard Act. Now, you, Mrs. Merritt, are attempting to charge Joe Money rent which violates the Randolph-Sheppard Act. And Mark Willoughby, your employee, has asked the Committee of Blind Vendors to make a decision about Joe Money's case without using proper procedures. Joe Money is entitled to have the Committee of Blind Vendors act as an advocate on his behalf. The actions of Mark Willoughby have deprived Joe Money of this statutory right. This violates the RandolphSheppard Act.

You say in your letter that "your failure to meet your responsibility in this regard jeopardizes the continuation of your license." If this is notice of adverse action to be taken against Joe Money, this letter of mine demands the full evidentiary hearing to which Joe Money is entitled. If your statement is not notice of proposed adverse action, then it is a threat in the nature of harassment. You are directed to stop it.

In case it is not already clear, Joe Money will not be paying the $2,800 to the Indiana Rehabilitation Services or anyone else. If you would like to argue about it, Joe Money is quite confident that his counterclaims against you will be larger than the $2,800 you want him to pay.

Very truly yours,

Marc Maurer
General Counsel

Joe Money did not pay the money which had been demanded of him. The demand was made in November of 1985, and this article is being written in June of 1986. The status quo still prevails. No action has been taken against Joe Money, and nothing more has been heard about demands for illegal rent.

Joe Money was not the only vendor who received attention from Indiana rehabilitation officials in 1985. Mike Latta, who managed the vending facility in the Main Post Office in Evansville, was kicked out of his location. With the help of the National Federation of the Blind he commenced the long road of appeal. In January of this year the Evansville Courier began its series of articles, and as a result, heads rolled among the staff of the vending program. The exposes conducted by the Courier brought to light no shocking scandal of fraud and secret sin. In a way it was worse than that. As fact after fact was brought forth in article after article, the cumulative effect was devastating. The picture which emerged was one of bungling incompetence and administrative red tape which protected the jobs of the state employees but did little good for the blind rehabilitation client. It showed whim, long-standing inefficiency, promises that things would be better soon, and a total lack of positive action and understanding. Rather than attempt to describe Indiana's rehabilitation program for the blind or what the Courier articles say about that program, we reprint here four of those articles. They speak eloquently and at length of what is and what must be done:

The Evansville Courier
January 13, 1986

BLIND VENDOR PROGRAM FAILING TO MEET GOALS
"Opportunity" for Job Turns Into Liability

by Chuck Clark and Craig Sanders
Courier Staff Writers

Michael Latta is 31 and blind. A year ago, he was four months into his first job, and he had big plans to buy a home and finish his education.

On April 2, 1985, a state agency designed to help the blind find work fired Latta from his vending job at Evansville's main post office.

Among other things, Latta was cited for failing to change a burned-out stockroom light bulb. Workers at the post office had never complained about Latta's snack operation, even when asked.

Latta is contesting his firing. And he's raising questions that echo to the top of the state agency that runs the federally mandated blind vendor program. If you're blind, getting a job isn't easy; seven in 10 don't.

Those numbers--which the blind call catastrophic and others consider jnfortunate--are at the heart of the Randolph-Sheppard Act, a law passed by Congress in 1936.

The law gives the blind priority on running vending facilities in all buildings the federal government owns or occupies. It is supposed to foster "economic opportunity" for the blind. In Indiana, the Department of Rehabilitation Services runs the program. And, its director admits, it does so "poorly."

The agency's programs are so bad that advocates for the blind accuse it of Deing arrogant and negligent toward those it was designed to serve. Rehabilitation Director Jean Merritt, who took over the department in February of 1985, said things are changing, but that the process takes time.

She said the program has failed to find a sufficient number of vending sites for the blind and has operated under inconsistently, if not haphazardly, enforced rules.

Under the program, the department finds vending sites in federal and local public buildings that can be handled by the blind. The state decides what type of facility would best serve a site, and ouys the machines. Blind people apply to operate the machines.

The Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired administers the program. It decides who will operate the franchise and provides training and supervision. Vendors buy the stock for machines and are expected to pay the state 10 percent of their profits to help fund the program.

The Vending program is administered on its earnings, which include the "set aside" from the blind and a commission from independent vendors in federal buildings, which totaled $164,000 last year.

The blind are skeptical of Mrs. Merritt's pledge to improve the program. They say improvement has not accompanied change.

Latta 's case apparently is not unique. Other blind vendors in Indiana's program tell similar stories.

They say some of the 37 vendors across the state get away with the same "infractions" for which others are fired. They say the bureaucrats running the program from Indianapolis have no concept of what it's like to be blind. One vendor, Evansville's Myrtie "Betty" Tetzlaff, came away triumphant after a landmark, two-year battle that challenged the legality of a state ordered kick-back." She saved her job and changed, at least in part, the way the department handles the program in Indiana.

Latta lost his vision 20 years ago, a victim of detached retinas, the back of the eyes where images are formed. As a child, he had looked too often and too long at the sun.

Losing his sight was an experience Latta does not find easy to put into words. But he has learned to cope. "My perceptions are completely different now from when I was 10 years old.

I've had to concentrate on my assets because if I dwelled on my loss, it would be a non-productive way of living." In

November 1983, Latta heard from a blind acquaintance that a vending position was opening on the second floor of the post office building downtown. "There have always been things I've wanted to have, and having a job would allow me to get them, I thought," he said.

Latta, who had about three years of college in political science and history, applied for the job through Rehabilitation Services, and went through a long series of interviews, psychological tests and physical exams.

In June 1984, the state sent him to a 10-week training course at the Cleveland Society for the Blind, a school that was supposed to prepare him for the job. It didn't.

The post office position was a vending area that consisted of machines that dispensed foods from ice cream and soft drinks to candy bars and sandwiches. "In Cleveland, I learned to be a soda jerk," he said. "What they taught me, what the state spent $3,000 for me to learn, did not have the first thing to do with the job I wanted."

He was placed in the job on Sept. 25, 1984. There were problems immediately. Richard Supple, a regional supervisor for Rehabilitation Services, noted in an initial report that "there was certainly a lack of proper training from the school attended in Cleveland...." Yet, Latta said, the state offered him no additional training beyond suggestions from people he said knew as little as he did about the mechanics of vending. One of those suggestions, from Supple, was to color-coordinate the packages in his machines so the selection would be more appealing to customers, said Latta and Joe Barron, a friend who was there when the suggestion was made. Other vendors across the state tell of similar suggestions from other supervisors. Supple declined to comment on Latta's case.

Latta said one of his chief problems was that he did not know his responsibilities. Still, he made money, taking home between $1,100 and $1,200 a month. The contract Latta signed when he accepted the position was never read to him, he said. "I was told I was just signing a paper accepting the job." That paper consisted of 11 pages outlining duties and responsibilities and other terms of the vendorship. No contracts or official documents about the program are available from the agency in Braille or on audio tape, or in any other form a blind person can digest on his own.

Latta was not given a copy of the contract until after he was fired, when his attorney, David Jones, demanded it. Infractions from inspection reports by Supple and Gregory Jinks, who since has been removed as program director for the state, began to pile up. But on the reports, no dissatisfaction was expressed by postal personnel, whom Latta served. One document, in the space provided for building management complaints, said, "None whatsoever!"

When asked about Latta's case, which now is in an administrative appeal process, Mrs. Merritt declined to comment on the advice of department attorney Mark Willoughby.

The reasons for Latta's firing, as listed in a letter from Mrs. Merritt, who did not visit the site, included:

--The stockroom was in disarray.
--Machines occasionally were out of service.
--Vending slots were sometimes empty.
--A microwave oven was not cleaned.
--He was two hours late for work on the day of one of the surprise inspections.

Latta admitted his machines occasionally ran out of products, but in most instances, he said, an empty slot had held an item that was duplicated in other areas.

Although he did not know it at the time, the microwave oven was not an item he was responsible for, according to his contract.

On the day he was late for work, Jan. 29, 1985, there was ice and snow on the ground and Latta was forced to find alternate transportation.

Latta said he was never given the opportunity to respond to the reports. .And, he said, state officials stifled his attempts to improve he service. "One of the most ridiculous things, to me, was over a quarter I taped to a pay telephone," Latta said. "I put the quarter there, along with my name and telephone number and a note telling anyone to call me at any time if there was a problem... I put myself on 24hour duty to give good service, and they ordered me to take it down." Latta's attorney, Jones, said the three-step internal appeal process "has been an absolute joke."

The first hearing was before a department head, who ruled in favor of the agency. The case is now stalled in the second phase, a "full evidentiary hearing," where it has been since Oct. 17. Latta's side was presented that day, and the hearing was recessed until Dec. 3 for the state's case.

On Dec. 3, Jones, Latta and a group from the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore showed up for the hearing in Evansville. They were told by state personnel who had made the trip the day before from Indianapolis that it had been postponed. Transportation problems for the hearing officer had cropped up the day before, and Willoughby said a decision was made late Dec. 2 to postpone the hearing. It was nearly a month before Jones was formally notified why the Dec. 3 hearing was canceled. Its continuation has been set for Jan. 23.

"They didn't even have the common decency to let us know right off what the problem was...," he said. "That is the height of arrogance. "

After the evidentiary phase is completed, Jones said, the case likely will go into federal arbitration. If Latta does not win at that stage, he plans to sue.

Jones is donating his legal services to Latta because, he said, blind issues "hit pretty close to home." Jones' grandfather, who raised him in Maryland, was blind.

"Mike Latta has just been raked over the coals by this state," Jones said. "The state sits up there dragging its feet on this, violating Mike's rights every step of the way, and Mike's left sitting down here in Evansville trying to live on $370 a month" from Social Security benefits.

The Evansville Courier
January 13, 1986

State Failings Put Jobs of Blind In Jeopardy

by Chuck Clark
Courier Staff Writer

James Gashel didn't have to think long when asked to rank Indiana's blind vendor program among the 50 states. "Indiana's about 45th," said Gashel, legislative and governmental services director for the National Federation of the Blind, a Baltimore-based advocacy group.

"But about the only state I can think of that's significantly worse would be Wyoming. When they had a vendor program, there were no vendors in the state.

"But now that it's been delicensed, we've found a job for one there...." State officials don't deny there are problems in Indiana's program. But they say solving them takes time and complain that critics such as the Federation aren't giving them a chance. Hoosier politicians watch the feud from the sidelines and agree that until the blind are convinced that the state is trying to improve its program, the verbal battles will continue. Marc Maurer, an attorney for the Federation, said Indiana's version of the federally mandated vending program is one reason the program has failed to meet its goals nationwide, much less its potential.

The state Department of Rehabilitation Services runs the program under a licensing contract with the federal Department of Education.

"In Indiana, you have some serious problems," Maurer said. "Frequently, Indiana Rehabilitation Services does not live up to the spirit of the agreement, and quite frequently it does not live up to the letter of the law."

The foremost problem with Indiana's program, Gashel said, are serious questions about its legality. The Federation and some vendors contend that the regulations under which the state program operates have never been legally adopted or approved.

"These are not meaningless documents we're talking about," Gashel said. "We are talking about documents that essentially set forth people's rights."

If the rules were ever challenged in court, he said, Indiana's program likely would be ruled void, potentially costing the jobs of the blind.

Jean Merritt, director of the state department since February 1985, said attorneys have been hired to jockey the program into line. She acknowledged that the rules probably haven't been legally put into place, but said all policies are supported by state and federal legislation.

Maurer disagreed. Within the past year, he noted, a state policy that required a "kickback" from a blind vendor to a private employees' recreation fund was struck down.

"Most states, at least, have the legal side in order so everybody knows the rules of the game," Gashel said. "This is where Indiana falls down. They are administering the program out of the seat of their pants, not up front where everybody knows what's going on." Maurer said the most "obvious indication" of how Indiana runs the vendor ships is that none of its contracts, literature or other documents for the blind are available in Braille or on audio tape.

"Any agency that deals with the blind, much less is set up to help the blind, ought to have some mechanism to make its information available to the blind." Gashel said, "It shows a shocking lack of sensitivity, if nothing else." He said it is commonplace for most states to publish information for blind vendors in a form they can use. Most tape the documents because it is the least expensive way to reach the most people, he said.

Also, Gashel said, "You know good and well there are more than 37 locations for blind vendors available in Indiana, and the reason there are not more is not because the blind people aren't out there to fill them."

It is estimated that there are 14,000 blind Hoosiers.

If Indiana were to lose its license even on a technicality such as not having properly adopted rules, which must be established through a series of public hearings--the blind who have found vending jobs could stand to lose their posts, Gashel said. "Where there is no licensed agency, there is really no requirement to abide by the program. "The thing about it is, (the agency) is supposed to be welcoming people in when...in fact, they are doing their level best to keep the blind people down."

The Evansville Courier
January 14, 1986

Blind Services' Chief Promises Attitude Change

by Craig Sanders and Chuck Clark
Courier Staff Writers

The developers of the gleaming new downtown Indianapolis office tower housing the offices of Indiana Rehabilitation Services tried hard to provide a pleasant, comfortable workplace. But not even the panoramic view out of her 14th-floor office window can brighten what Rehabilitation Services Director Jean Merritt sees when she examines Indiana's Randolph-Sheppard Act vendor program for the blind.

When asked about it recently, Mrs. Merritt took a long draw on a cigarette, muttered "Jesus" and admitted Indiana was "poorly" administering the program. "If you were asking me these questions a year from today, I would be defenseless. But I'm telling you things are going to change," she said. "I really am going to put a major emphasis on blind services. The whole blind services has not received very much priority in this agency.

Problems of the vendor program, she said, include:

--Performance standards for evaluating blind vendors are inconsistently enforced and aren't clearly defined.
--Rehabilitation counselors seldom inform blind clients about the program, set up by Congress in 1936.
--Because there are so few vendorships available in Indiana--37--qualified blind persons sometimes have to wait a year or more for a stand. Training is inadequate. Vendors are trained by a program emphasizing managing a snack bar, but most of Indiana's vendorships contain self-serve coin machines.
--Rehabilitation Services has maintained 37 vending sites for several years, but Mrs. Merritt thinks there is potential for 150 to 200 if the state sought them more aggressively.
--None of the vendor contracts or information about the program is available in Braille or on audio tape.

Mrs. Merritt admits the blind have been underserved by Rehabilitation Services, an agency she took over in February 1985.

"I don't think they've had very much responsiveness from this agency. They have reason to be unhappy, but I also think they need to give me a chance" to make changes, she said.

However, Ronald G. Matias, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Indiana, said blind Hoosiers are skeptical of Mrs. Merritt's pledge to rehabilitate the vending program. "On one hand it appears to be reasonable, but on the other hand there are other people who have had their lives virtually dried up...literally ruined by this system," Matias said. "I find it hard to be tolerant of Jean Merritt's claiming that it all will be over in a year.

"This is not a game. This is people's lives...."

Matias, who has a doctorate in education, gave up his teaching position at Indiana State University in Terre Haute to devote nearly all his time to the presidency of Indiana's Federation chapter. Now living in Indianapolis, he sells insurance in his spare time. Matias said being blind meant sitting at a table in a restaurant and having the waitress ask his sighted wife "What does he want?" It is bigotry, extreme bigotry."

Matias and the Federation have been sharply critical of the Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired and its administration of the vendor program.

During an interview, he said Rehabilitation Services lacked "a clearly articulated philosophy of rehabilitation of blindness." Matias said personnel in the blind services division have treated the blind with contempt and have been unresponsive to suggested policy changes.

"When Mrs. Merritt encounters criticism from the organized blind, her reaction is (that) she feels we have no right to criticize; that we should be thankful for anything she's doing," Matias said. "The state is the parent in her mind and we are the children; (as if) we are ignorant.

"That's the way most rehabilitation people tend to respond to us. Benevolent dictators are no better than malicious dictators. (Mrs. Merritt) goes under the guise of benevolence." Joe Money, past president of Indiana's Federation, said whenever the shortcomings of the vendor program or the blind services division receive media coverage, the state brings in someone for a "political quick-fix."

In an Oct. 26 letter to Mrs. Merritt, Matias wrote, "The rehabilitation system is so out of control and so impossible to change and improve that we as consumers ought to consider doing away with the entire concept of rehabilitation." Mrs. Merritt said reforming the vendor program would be a torturous process because the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly.

"I have to work within the bureaucracy and, unfortunately, someone not sitting in my seat has no concept of what it's like working with the bureaucracy," she said. "I won't go around the system." Fred Silver, who until last year headed the blind services division, said the vendor program for the blind has been hampered for years by lack of staff.

"That program existed for a number of years with just three people," Silver said. "They had to go out and try to solve day-to-day problems, try to find (new) locations and do on-the-job training. That's a big task for three people with one trying to be supervisor. They had to wear too many hats."

Silver, who joined the blind services division in 1965, said his requests for additional funds to hire more staff fell on deaf ears. The vendor program for the blind was never a high priority at Rehabilitation Services, he said, recalling that in the late 1950's and early 1960's the state supervised the program with funds donated by Lions Clubs. Mrs. Merritt acknowledged there may have been past prejudice against the blind by some staff members within Rehabilitation Services.

"We tend to patronize, you know, that's an inherent feeling... I think if any of us had the choice, we would give up a lot of things before we gave up our eyesight," Mrs. Merritt said. Silver has taken his share of criticism of the condition of the vendor program for the blind. Some of it may be justified, he said, but disgruntled vendors and the organized blind aren't always fully aware of the regulations the state must meet to set up a vending location.

"My basic feeling is we all haven't been as honest with each other as we should have been. I just have a feeling that maybe we've been too sensitive and we can't accept criticism," Silver said. "I don't see any reason or any advantage to any of the parties involved to sink the other guy. My personal feeling is I would love to see a little more pitch in. Let's see what we can do. Let's see how we can make it go."

But some blind Hoosiers think they won't have much influence on policy making until they can get a Federation member on the Rehabilitation Services board of directors. The few blind people who have sat on the board or held high positions within the agency were named because they wouldn't make waves, Matias contended.

Matias said excluding blind people from policy-making positions at Rehabilitation Services is similar to excluding blacks from agencies dealing with the problems of blacks.

Mrs. Merritt denied that.

"I think that's largely a smokescreen. I run a poverty program and I'm not poor, but I'm not rich either," she said. "It's not that I'm against hiring blind people at all, but you have to realize we have a cumbersome state system." Mrs. Merritt said she would hire qualified blind people if any appeared on the state personnel list, from which all employees must be hired.

"If you're on the outside looking in, it's very easy to say I'm not being very responsive. But I've never seen a blind person on the state list."

Matias said at the heart of the issue is Rehabilitation Services' refusal to work with Federation members on reforming the vendor program for the blind. However, Mark Willoughby, staff attorney for the agency, said the state once asked the Federation for its opinion in helping resolve a particular vending problem. However, the Federation wasn't cooperative, Willoughby said.

The Evansville Courier
January 24, 1986

Counselor Says Latta Didn't Deserve Firing

by Chuck Clark
Courier Staff Writer

The state-hired counselor for blind vendor Michael Latta testified Thursday he thought the state should not have fired Latta from his stand at Evansville's main post office.

Mark Weatherwax, a vocational rehabilitation counselor for Indiana Rehabilitation Services, said he thought Latta was doing his job "and showing improvement" when fired by the department's Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Weatherwax's testimony came during a 7 1/2-hour administrative hearing Thursday at the Evansville Association for the Blind building on Second Avenue. The hearing, which was continued from an initial session Oct. 17, was, recessed until an as yet undetermined date. Latta was one of 37 blind snack vendors around the state operating in government office buildings. Questions arising from Latta's firing prompted an Evansville Courier series on the vendor program, which is run by Rehabilitation Services.

A primary reason for the recess of Thursday's hearing was that Jean Merritt, director of the department, failed to appear although Latta's attorney had requested she be subpoenaed. A subpoena was issued Tuesday by hearing officer Norma Bradway, but was not served on Mrs. Merritt by the Marion County Sheriff's Department, Ms. Bradway said.

David Jones, Latta's lawyer, said Mrs.

Merritt's absence "substantially prejudiced" the hearing because it was she who signed a letter terminating Latta's employment.

Jones also contested Ms. Bradway's qualifications to be an impartial hearing officer, and revealed that Ms. Bradway is staff attorney for the Indiana Department on Aging and Community Services, one of three state agencies under the leadership of Mrs. Merritt.

"...That has the appearance of partiality," Jones said. "We would request that you disqualify yourself from presiding over this case."

"Mrs. Merritt is my employer...," Ms. Bradway acknowledged. "(But) it is considered proper, and in fact the law allows employees to act as hearing officers. "As far as whether I feel I can be unbiased, I do."

Jones also called for a continuance after learning that all state documents pertaining to Latta 's firing had not been supplied by the state when he filed a motion for discovery.

Two department witnesses--Weatherwax and vendor program area manager Richard Supple--referred extensively in their testimony to notes, tapes, reports and personal files that had never been shown to Latta or his counsel.

Ms. Bradway ordered those documents produced and sent to Jones immediately. Weatherwax, who said his job is to help people in the rehabilitation program find and keep jobs, disagreed with negative reports by Supple concerning Latta's attitude.

"I did not notice Mike being confused or despondent," said Weatherwax, who holds a bachelor's degree in psychology. He also said he thought Latta's vendor training at a school in Cleveland was inadequate and that subsequent assistance from program administrators had not solved the problem.

Jones also questioned the legality of the way the department extended Latta's period of probationary employment. Department attorney Debra Hendrickson contended Latta might not be entitled to any appeal process because he was never granted the status of licensed vendor. He was, she said, still on probation at the time of his firing April 2, 1985. Jones, however, said there was no official mention of Latta's probationary period extending beyond Dec. 31, 1984. All new vendors are on probation for their first 60 days, and Latta's probation was extended "through December" in a letter dated Nov. 30, 1984.

That was the only reference made in state records to extending Latta's probation, state officials acknowledged. Supple said Latta was informed verbally of the subsequent extension, but said he did not remember whether a written notice was issued.

If you or a friend would like to remember the National Federation of the Blind in your will, you can do so by employing the following language:

"I give, devise, and bequeath unto National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, a District of Columbia nonprofit Corporation, the sum of $ __________ (or "percent of my net estate" or "The following stocks and bonds:") to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons."