Special Edition, Braille Monitor
February 1980

1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230

Copyright, National Federation of the Blind, Inc., 1980



It happened one evening in the early 1970's (perhaps 1972). I was giving a dinner party at my apartment at the Iowa Commission for the Blind. Twelve to fifteen people were present, among them legislators, business leaders, public officials, and a man from the Des Moines Register.

One particular incident brought a brief time of unpleasantness, a moment of chill to the warmth of the occasion, but the full impact of it all would only be apparent with the passing of the years. The man from the Register (this is not a quote but a very close paraphrase, an exact expression of the flavor) said in an absolutely matter-of-fact tone: "We of the Register can make or destroy any person in Iowa, and there is not one damned thing anybody can do about it. It doesn't matter who it is, and it doesn't matter who likes it or dislikes it. We have the power. That's the way it is."

There was absolute silence. Nobody made a sound. If a legislator had said it, or a public official or a business leader, there would have been angry response or, perhaps, expressions of disbelief or an argument—but not with the Register. In our hearts each of us knew that it was true—or, at least, we did not care to put it to the test.

As I look back on that evening, I am not proud of my behavior. I should have thrown the man out, and (regardless of the cost or the actions of the others at the dinner) I should have begun a campaign to resist such unchecked power over the lives of the people of an entire state. I suspect that each individual at that table subconsciously refused to admit the full implications of the threat and felt that he or she would not likely be a victim—especially, if the point was not argued. It is thus that dictatorships are built and thus that they survive—each individual hoping to pass unscathed and feeling that it will happen to someone else—generalizing the problem and failing to identify personally. The incident passed; the conversation resumed; and the whole thing faded into the background.

I have told of this occurrence to place in perspective the events which I am about to detail. The time has come for the unscrupulous conduct and bizarre behavior of the Des Moines Register to be brought out of the shadows and given the full light of exposure. Except for the record of provable facts, the whole thing could hardly be believed. This issue of the Monitor is largely devoted to the presentation of documents and materials—documents and materials which speak for themselves and which cannot be denied or shrugged off by the Des Moines Register.

I became Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind in 1958. The agency was not well regarded and was doing virtually nothing to assist the blind. The philosophy I brought with me was that of the National Federation of the Blind—the belief that blind persons could compete on terms of equality with others if they were given training and opportunity. It was that simple and that revolutionary.

Almost from the beginning the new Commission programs in general, and I in particular, received good press—lots of press. Year after year as the awards poured in and the recognition came from throughout the country and the world, the Iowa press was ecstatic in its commendation. This was especially true of the Des Moines Register.

When, in 1967, I received the American Library Association's Francis Joseph Campbell Award for developing Iowa's model library and when this was followed in 1968 by an honorary doctorate from an Iowa college and a special award from the President of the United States for pioneering in rehabilitation and improvement of the lives of the blind, the Register's enthusiasm knew no bounds. I call your attention to the editorial entitled "Iowa's Marvelous Ken Jernigan," which appeared in the Register for March 14, 1968. (Marked Exhibit A, it is reprinted in full elsewhere in this issue.) And this was not an isolated incident. Something came every few days and it was uniformly positive. Consider, for instance, the item which appeared in the Register's "On Capitol Hill" column for March 11, 1968, captioned "Pomeranian." (Marked Exhibit B, it is reprinted elsewhere in this issue.)

All of a sudden in 1977 the Des Moines Register did a complete about-face. The Commission was now all bad. Nothing was good. Nothing was right. In particular, Commission Director Kenneth Jernigan was bad—not just a little bad but terrible. The campaign which followed is probably unique in the history of newspapers. Beginning in October of 1977 there was a steady crescendo of smear, attack, and downright lies. From that time to the present there have been in the neighborhood (unbelievable though it may seem) of two hundred articles—most of them containing relatively little that was new but simply pounding away at a few unsubstantiated charges. Many of them appeared on the front page of the Sunday edition.

Why? Had the Commission for the Blind as an organization and I as its Director been good for nineteen years and all of a sudden turned bad? Alternatively, had we been bad from the very beginning and simply hoodwinked the much vaunted investigative reporting talent of the Register for two decades? Or was it, perhaps, something else entirely—something totally unrelated to the normal concerns of journalism?

Certain facts are known. Others are still a matter of conjecture. We know, for instance, that Jesse Rosten became head of the Minneapolis Society for the Blind in the early 1970's and that the blind of Minnesota have been engaged in a bitter struggle with the Society for a decade. We know that Gil Cranberg is now the head of the editorial section of the Des Moines Register and that he has been a power at the newspaper for more than twenty years. Rosten has bragged that Cranberg was his college roommate and that he could get at Jernigan through Cranberg.

Dick Johnstone, President of the Minneapolis Society for the Blind, made it clear in his speech (marked Exhibit P, and appearing elsewhere in this issue) given at the NAC meeting in Oklahoma City in November that he and other members of the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped were helping in the attacks on me and the Federation in Iowa. As reported in the October, 1972 Monitor, Johnstone was not only President of the Minneapolis Society at that time but also the chairman of its building committee. The headline in the Minneapolis Daily American for June 2, 1972, may explain a great deal. That headline reads: "President [they are speaking of Johnstone] of Non-Profit Blind Society Given Whopping Contract." Johnstone just happened to be the President of the Southside Heating and Plumbing Company, which just happened to get the mechanical contract on a big remodeling job for the Society. (Marked Exhibit O, the article from the Daily American is reprinted elsewhere in this issue.)

It will be remembered that the Minneapolis Society for the Blind operated for years without any blind persons on its Board of Directors. When members of the Federation tried to join the Society by paying their dues of a dollar (the way the Society publicly stated that any interested person could become a member), the Society at first admitted a few of them; then expelled all members and said that membership would be restricted to the Board of Directors; then said that it had changed its bylaws several years earlier to make this legal but had simply forgot to file the papers with the Secretary of State; and finally ended up in a court battle over these and related matters with the NFB of Minnesota. Early in 1977 I went to Minnesota to testify in behalf of the blind and against the Society. The articles started a few months later. Was there a pattern? Who can say?

Jesse Rosten, the Cranberg roommate and the Society's Director, is a leading member of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)—National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC)—American Council of the Blind (ACB)—Affiliated Leadership League (ALL) combine. Richard Bleecker, the head of NAC, and Rosten have made no secret of their personal hatred for me as an individual and the National Federation of the Blind as an organization. We know that at the fall 1977 NAC meeting people were urged to go home and pour letters attacking the Federation into Iowa and Maryland. Were these attacks carried out, and if so, were they part of a conspiracy with the Register or some of its staff? The question is (at least currently) still partly a matter of conjecture.

But back to the Register. It is Iowa's only statewide daily, and outside of the state its reputation (built under other leadership and in a former era) is better than it is in Iowa. More and more Iowans refer to the paper as a "Yellow Journal," and circulation has dropped dramatically during the past decade. There are those who feel that the Register's reporters are instructed to find dirt and sensationalism (regardless of the method or the accuracy) to bolster sagging circulation and reputation.

Be this as it may, the pattern of the attacks on me and the Federation during the past two years, as well as the part the Register has played in those attacks, is clear. A smear-type article will be prominently displayed in the Register and will immediately show up in the hands of agency officials throughout the country. When we go to a sheltered workshop to try to get it to pay decent wages to its blind workers, it avoids the issue by trotting out the latest Des Moines Register article and pointing out that we are a bad outfit. It would be downright funny if it were not so damaging to the blind. Even if we were as bad as they say we are, it is hard to see what this has to do with whether blind shop workers should receive the minimum wage. Likewise, when we try to get improvements in library services, rehabilitation, or any other program, the answer is simply to produce articles from the Des Moines Register. Ignore the facts; refuse to deal with the arguments; and attempt to discredit those who are presenting the evidence.

As good a way as any to illustrate the unscrupulous nature of the campaign is to put the spotlight on an article appearing in the Des Moines Register for November 11, 1979. I had been out of Iowa for a year-and-a-half. Yet, the circumstances surrounding my firing of a clerical employee in Baltimore, Maryland, were newsworthy enough to receive prominent coverage in the Sunday Des Moines Register. (Marked Exhibit C and entitled "Fired Jernigan worker tells of 'bizarre' world," the article is reprinted in full elsewhere in this issue.) As you will see, it contains provable falsehoods. Since the Register has repeatedly misrepresented and distorted the things I have told them in the past, they are surely not excused for their falsehoods in this article by saying that I would not talk to them. They could easily have determined the truth by a little effort through other means, besides which the innuendoes and the tone of the article make clear its purpose.

Let us examine only the most glaring discrepancies. The article leaves the clear impression that the National Federation of the Blind makes mass fundraising appeals through the mail and that the envelopes (loaded with cash—sometimes $20,000 a day) are returned to our Baltimore office and are opened in a casual, slipshod way by clerical employees. There is also an implication that I put my hand into the till and rake off a little part (no, probably a big part) of the proceeds. It is all very cleverly, very maliciously and very contemptibly done.

What are the facts? We do, indeed, conduct mail campaigns to raise funds. The return envelopes are pre-addressed to a bank. (Incidentally, the amount is also wrong, for we do not get $20,000 per day, or anything like it. I wish we did.) The bank receives the envelopes from the Post Office, opens the envelopes, removes and counts the money, deposits the money, and writes on each envelope the amount which it contained. The empty envelopes and the bank tally sheet and deposit slip are then sent to our office. The job of the employee in question was to look through the envelopes to find letters asking for information about blindness and available services and to check the amounts written on the envelopes against the bank's tally sheet. Our mail campaigns are not just for the purpose of fundraising but to encourage people to write for information and assistance, and many do it.

If what I have said is true, then the article contains provable falsehood—damaging, slanderous falsehood. If what I have said is not true, then I have lied. But it is either one way or the other. It cannot be both. Fortunately we do not have to speculate about the matter. Under date of November 16, 1979, Mr. James Cordle, Senior Vice President and Cashier of First American Bank of Maryland, set the whole thing down in writing. (Marked Exhibit D, Mr. Cordle's statement appears elsewhere in this issue.) Of course, neither we nor the Register would have needed Mr. Cordle's statement. Our pre-addressed return envelopes are widely available. They speak for themselves.

Now, where does this leave us? The Des Moines Register has often said that it is not carrying on a vendetta against me or trying to destroy me as a person. It just wants to print the objective facts—nothing more nothing less, even-handed, all on the up and up. If that is so, will the Des Moines Register now print the fact of its misstatements in a Sunday edition, and as prominently displayed as the false charges? Further, will it do so cheerfully, penitently, without sulking, without excuses, and without innuendo? Do you think it will?

But there is more (much more) to the November 11 article. Many of us around the country have been gathering proxies to try to help the blind of Minnesota in their battle to get seats on the Board of Directors of the Minneapolis Society for the Blind—an action ordered by the Minnesota courts in response to the illegal behavior of the Minneapolis Society for the Blind in expelling its members. (Incidentally, I am recently informed that the Minneapolis Society admits spending almost $150,000 in its proxy campaign. Whether the contributors will feel that this is a good use of their money and whether the courts will think it proper are not yet known). Be this as it may, we do not have the tens of millions of dollars possessed by our adversaries. We fought as best we could and gathered as many proxies as we were able. A few proxies (I think four or five) arrived at our Baltimore office not completely filled out. We felt that the people in question would want the proxies used, but time was running out. Marc Maurer is an attorney licensed to practice law in Maryland. We asked him whether there was any legal way to complete the proxies. He said that if we called the individuals in question and got their permission, it would be proper for their name to be signed by someone in our office if the name of the signer also appeared, along with the words "as authorized." We complied with these directions, and the people in question authorized the completion of the forms in the manner indicated. (Marked Exhibit E, the statement of Marc Maurer appears elsewhere in this issue.)

Again, the impression left by the article is totally false. The Register did not content itself with one article on the proxy matter but printed three or four. Will they now give equal space to an honest retraction, not weaseling or sniping or trying to under-cut? I think we know the answer.

There is more, much more, to the November 11 article. Read it for the sly little innuendoes, the loaded words, the slanted phrases. Something sinister is implied by the fact that, as the article puts it, the "windows are sealed to the outside world." The "outside world" bit makes it somehow mysterious and evil. The facts are that the building is large and has many windows. For reasons of construction and energy conservation some are covered over, but many are not.

The article manages to pack a lot into its statement that "Only a small sign over one doorway gives a hint of what is going on inside." Does the size of the sign (it really isn't that small) say how good or how bad the organization is? No? Well, then, why was it mentioned at all? Read the sentence in context, and see what really comes through. (Incidentally, how large does a sign have to be before it stops being "small?" One foot by one foot? Two feet by two feet? A yard square? The sign in question is three feet by four feet—twelve square feet. It is as large as the space above the door will reasonably allow, and its letters are several inches high. In other words the Register has simply lied.) If there was ever malice, if there was ever an attempt to discredit and dehumanize, if there was ever an attempt to destroy a reputation, surely one need only read the Register's November 11 article for the evidence.

Almost every sentence contains its innuendo. I had a "complex network." I did not "serve" or "work" at the Iowa Commission for the Blind. No. I was for "two decades on the state payroll." Think about it. Analyze it. Let them try to deny it or wiggle out of it if they can. It is a clear cut case of malice.

Consider the statement that the fired employee "Was pressured by Jernigan to leave her boyfriend, live in an apartment furnished by Jernigan and devote her life to the NFB." The innuendo is not very subtle. It carries overtones of both sex and "cult" behavior. The facts are that the employee had repeatedly told me and a great many other people that she was considering terminating her current living arrangement, and I told her that she could have a room at our building for a few days until she could find another place to live—assuming, that is, that she decided to move.

The article says that the employee "Was called into Jernigan's private, sound-proof office, where she was told to lock the door behind her and listen to lengthy tirades about the NFB's 'enemies' and, eventually, herself." Baloney! The statement is absurd on the face of it. What purpose would be served by locking my office door to give a tirade? If I am really such a vicious, dictatorial fellow, is it reasonable that one of my associates would dare just casually walk in without knocking? For that matter, regardless of the temperament of the occupant, does the ordinary civilized person customarily barge into somebody else's private office without announcement or invitation?

The employee was followed by my "bodyguard." Again, it all sounds so sinister and mysterious—sort of like the Mafia and Al Capone. Homer Medlin is not my "bodyguard." He is in charge of the steam plant and of building maintenance.

The employee, the article tells us, "Sat through week-long 'seminars' from seven in the morning to 11 at night, at which Jernigan railed against his foes and against the Des Moines Register, which has reported extensively on NFB controversies. . . .She was coming home exhausted from the lengthy 'seminars.' "Notice that the Des Moines Register "reported" but that I "railed." So they report objectively, do they? The facts are that the employee did not attend (nor, for that matter did anyone else) "week-long seminars." Hundreds of Federationists have attended our seminars, and know what they're like and how long they last. This employee was given the opportunity (not forced) to attend one seminar. It lasted three-and-one-half days. The malice of the Register article speaks for itself.

The article further says: "Jernigan's fund-raising methods are one cause of the controversy surrounding the NFB and his other blind charities. At times, the cost of the fund-raising has taken as much as 96 cents of every dollar donated to his groups." Notice that the NFB is not a nationwide organization of blind people, making its own decisions but "his" charity. The same is true of any other group with which I am associated.

And what about that 96 percent? In 1976 the American Brotherhood for the Blind had expenditures of just over $40,000 for its program services. It stepped up its fundraising campaigns and was quite successful, receiving some rather large gifts. The major part of the contributions arrived late in the fall. Many of the envelopes were not even opened until after January 1st. Yet, the accountants said that all of the money resulting from the 1976 campaign (even that which was not counted or deposited until after January 1st) must be attributed to 1976. What the Register does not tell us is that although the program expenditures were not increased in 1976 (in the circumstances it would not have been possible for them to have been increased), program services expanded sharply during the next three years and it is simply not the truth to imply that only four cents on the dollar was used to provide services to the blind. It is a downright lie to say that 96 percent of it went for fundraising costs. Much of that 1976 money was used to give services to the blind in 1977 and later years.

Furthermore, the Federation and the Brotherhood had traditionally raised funds by sending greeting cards and neckties through the mail to potential donors. Whether the Register likes it or not, this kind of fundraising is not illegal or prohibited by the federal government or by any state regulatory agency. The objective fact of the results (and we have letter after letter to prove it) is that the majority of the public likes to receive the merchandise and responds affirmatively to it. I am frank to say that I see nothing wrong with sending such merchandise. It is true that the National Information Bureau, a private group in New York, does not approve this type of fundraising; but so what? Check the list of groups that the National Information Bureau disapproves, and you will find yourself in very respectable company. At one time or another (I am not certain of the current status) the National Information Bureau has disapproved AMVETS, Congress of Racial Equality, Disabled American Veterans, National Easter Seal Society for Crippled Children & Adults, Epilepsy Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Wildlife Federation, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and Seeing Eye (Dogs).

The same is true of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, but it is my understanding that CBBB does not disapprove of unordered merchandise as such, only being concerned with the total cost of the fundraising. Again, if you are disapproved by the Council of Better Business Bureaus you are in very respectable company. Their February 1, 1979 bulletin lists the following as not meeting their standards: Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Blinded Veterans Association, Disabled American Veterans, Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change, Menninger Foundation, Military Order of the Purple Heart, National Audubon Society, Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, Seeing Eye (Dogs), United Jewish Appeal, and the United States Olympic Committee. Interestingly enough, there are striking differences between the "bad guy" lists of the NIB and the CBBB. For example, St. Jude Hospital and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America are approved by CBBB but disapproved by NIB. I have even heard that NIB and CBBB have sometimes disapproved each other. Ah, the mysteries of "watchdogism!" What political maneuvering and game playing can be done with it all—what horse trading, what ax grinding, what just plain old-fashioned hogwash. The federal government has an Internal Revenue Service. It checks the tax returns of every one of the organizations mentioned, and they either tell the truth and meet the standards of the law or they go out of business. This or that private group may call itself a "watchdog," but we are supposedly a nation governed by law, not private whim or smear.

And speaking of the cost of fundraising, the rules and the reasoning have been changing very radically during the last ten years. Before 1970 comparatively few states attempted to regulate mail fundraising appeals. The National Federation of the Blind, as was the case with many other groups, took the position that state governments could not regulate the United States mails and that as long as we satisfied federal requirements, that was sufficient. Whether one agrees with this position is one thing; to imply some shady illegality because of it is another thing altogether.

If the Girl Scouts or a local civic group decides to sell candy or cookies to raise funds, the usual practice is to deduct the cost of the merchandise before figuring the fundraising costs. A number of the states have said that this is perfectly all right with the Girl Scout cookies but not with greeting cards or neckties. It makes a great deal of difference as to how the fundraising costs appear. But I doubt that it makes any substantive difference since you get to the same place in either case.

Thus, if an organization buys a box of candy for 60 cents and sells it for a dollar, with 10 cents spent on administration and overhead, the cost will look one way if you begin by deducting the price of the merchandise and quite another if you don't. If you count in the 60 cents for the merchandise and the 10 cents for overhead, your fundraising cost is 70 cents on the dollar. If you deduct the cost of the merchandise before you start, then you have only 40 cents on the dollar to deal with. 10 cents (25%) is fundraising cost, and 30 cents (75%) is net.

Now, suppose that a state says that the National Federation of the Blind must count the cost of its merchandise (say 60 cents) and also the cost of its overhead (say 10 cents). This leaves 30 cents on the dollar for programs and means that 70 cents (or 70%) will be attributed to fundraising. Now, suppose that same state permits another organization to raise funds by using the same type of merchandise but permits that organization to deduct the cost of the goods. Then only 40 cents of every dollar will be taken into account at all—10 cents for administrative costs and 30 cents for program items, only 25% on the dollar for fundraising costs.

But, some people argue, there is another factor to be considered. If you receive a necktie in the mail, you didn't order it and you are pressured into contributing. To which I answer this: You receive a necktie in the mail with a request for a contribution. No one is there to insist that you pay or give you any pressure. Alternatively the little girl comes to your door and asks you to buy a box of cookies. (Incidentally, her mother may be standing at the edge of the yard looking at you.) Which way do you feel the most pressure?

Regardless of all this, the implications in the November 11 article are again false. There is no mystery as to where the money went or what the cost was, nor will the Register have any trouble understanding it if it really wants to.

With respect to this the November 11 article says: "what happened to the money and whether Jernigan personally profited from it are not known." I reply that this is a clear falsehood. Further it is an undisguised innuendo that I am a thief, not to mention being a millionaire. If I were to say: "Whether or not the editors of the Register are illegitimate is not known," they would rightly feel that I had cast aspersions on their paternity without having had the guts to do it directly, and I think they would have just cause for thinking so. Regardless of what thoughts their behavior may have brought to my mind, I have not made such statements.

There are many more things which could be said about the November 11 Des Moines Register article, but I think it has been revealed for what it is. However, there is one more item in the article with which I would like to deal: namely, the famous bullet proof glass argument. This is one that the Register has milked for all it is worth, and it shows them at their shabbiest. For almost two years the Register has hinted and implied that I did this or that with illegal guns, fortifications, and bullet proof glass at the Iowa Commission for the Blind building. The November 11 article puts it this way: "Jernigan was accused by former employees of trying to turn the state blind commission headquarters into an armed fortress, stocked with weapons and protected by bullet proof windows." Many of the things we have been discussing are subject to argument, but the bullet proof glass is not. The windows which were installed at the Iowa Commission for the Blind during my tenure as Director were installed with the full knowledge and participation of the Commission Board. Perhaps the Register would like to claim and try to prove that the Board members did not know the windows were being put in or, for that matter, initiate their installation.

However, let us put that to one side and proceed to the real heart of the matter. Whatever windows were installed during my tenure are still there, they either are or are not bullet proof. It is not a matter of opinion but of fact. It does not matter what I may have said one way or another. It does not matter how I feel about it or what I wish. It makes no difference what the Register believes, or how fervently they may hope or deny or affirm. The windows either are or they are not bullet proof.

I say that they were installed to prevent vandalism, that they are ordinary quarter inch Lexan and that this is a regular stock item for building construction throughout the country. I further say that only four or five Lexan windows were installed and that these were only a few feet above the ground in street level areas of the Commission building. I say that many building codes and ordinances throughout the country now require that .some sort of safety glass of this kind be installed in public buildings, and that there are lots oi buildings right in Des Moines that are so constructed. I further say that Lexan is an ordinary plastic that is more and more used for windows in the normal course of remodeling or constructing buildings. Moreover, there is a letter (a letter which is a matter of public record and available to the Register) that deals with this matter rather definitively. It was written by Mr. W. E. Zarnikow, the architect who worked with us during the remodeling when the Lexan windows were installed. It is dated August 8, 1978, and I believe it can be proved that the staff members of the Des Moines Register have had knowledge of it all along. (Marked Exhibit F, Mr. Zarnikow's letter appears elsewhere in this issue.) Even in the absence of the Zarnikow letter however, the conduct of the Register in this matter has been malicious and unethical. The Commission for the Blind building is only a few blocks from the building occupied by the Register. The Register could have employed an expert to go and examine the windows at the Commission building at any time. Yet, they have apparently never done so but have continued to print their allegations and innuendoes. Why? Can there be any other possible explanation except malice and vendetta?

I do not claim that the Des Moines Register offered money to the employee who is the subject of their November II article, for I do not have any information on the subject. However, I do say that an employee who worked in our Baltimore headquarters until mid 1979 told me and others that he was repeatedly contacted by the Register and offered money to come to Des Moines and give information against me. He told me that he felt harassed by the Register reporter, who would not leave him alone. If this sort of thing is ethical journalism, then no human being in this country is safe from vilification and slander, and our very freedoms as a people are in jeopardy.

I have nothing more to say about the November 11 article, but I want to add a few things about guns and fortifications. Ever since the early days of their vendetta, the Register has hinted and simpered and acted mysterious about whether I had guns in the Commission for the Blind building. The answer is yes. I did have guns in the building from time to time, and (what is more) the Register knew about it and approved of it. An article entitled "They 'See' Target With Ears" appeared in the January 19, 1965 Register. It described in terms of approbation my efforts to teach blind persons to shoot by sound. (Marked Exhibit G, the 1965 Register article is reprinted elsewhere in this issue.)

So there was no mystery about it. From time to time I had guns. The Register knew it. If they thought it was wrong, why did they write about it in such glowing terms and why did they wait thirteen years to criticize? For that matter (since they believe in such full disclosure and since they are so honest and objective) why did they not tell their readers that they had known about it and remind them of the earlier article.

But, of course, the charges go beyond that. There are hints that I had submachine guns, M16 rifles, and even (according to one suggestion) maybe an anti-aircraft gun. I say that such charges are not only false but are stupid and preposterous on their face. Where would I get a submachine gun or an MI6, not to mention an anti-aircraft gun? Where is the evidence? Where are those guns now? It is not illegal to possess a gun, and the Register's bullet proof glass-fortress-submachine gun-M16 innuendoes look pretty silly when you really subject them to analysis and place them along side the architect's letter and the Register's own 1965 article.

Even with the space available in a full issue of the Monitor, it is not possible to examine each and every one of the approximately two hundred articles which the Register has used in its vendetta, nor is it necessary. What has already been presented is sufficient to expose the motives and the morals of the Register for what they are. However, there is at least one other item which deserves comment and observation: namely, the article which appeared on page one of the Sunday, February 18, 1979, edition of the Register. (Marked Exhibit H, that article is reprinted elsewhere in this issue.) Entitled "Unanswered questions in Jernigan fund drives," the article deals with matters several months old. Nothing new; nothing "newsy." Then why did it appear on the front page of the Sunday Register at the particular time that it did? There are at least two theories: The federal grand jury (which had had the Federation and Brotherhood records, along with the gun charges and the rest, for almost a year) was about to conclude its term, and a new grand jury was about to be impaneled. There are those who feel that the Register article was meant to apply the maximum pressure on the federal officials to bring in an indictment against me.

The other theory (and, of course, the one does not exclude the other) has to do with NAC (the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped). There is definite evidence that NAC officials and the Register staff are in close contact. One of NAC's favorite dodges is to reprint the Des Moines Register articles as soon as they come off the press and to circulate them far and wide. In February of 1979 NAC was hard pressed. The Wall Street Journal had just come out with two devastating articles concerning many of the agencies which are NAC stalwarts. In fact, the New York agency responsible for handling state purchases of blind made products had just received a scathing audit; and a majority of the Board of that agency consisted of representatives from NAC accredited organizations. A blast by the Des Moines Register could be used to divert attention from the shortcomings of NAC and its associates.

I do not say this theory is accurate or that that is why the February 18 article was written, but I do say that the timing was astonishingly fortunate for NAC and its allies. The February 18 article was used as a weapon against the blind in the battle by NAC and its allies to thwart the requirement of minimum wages in sheltered shops. It was used by agencies for the blind throughout the country, and it was used in the federal Labor Department battle.

The article begins with the usual loaded words and innuendoes. The first sentence is typical. It reads: "Millions of dollars given to two charities supposedly working to benefit the blind actually went into a complex, private fund-raising empire built by Kenneth Jernigan while he was an Iowa state employee." The organizations "supposedly" helped the blind. It is not mentioned that in Iowa alone the NFB has a thousand members, who make its policies and determine what it will do with its money. No. It is a "complex, private fund-raising empire built by Kenneth Jernigan." 80 cents out of every dollar was "diverted to the fund-raising network." That slander requires no comment, having already been dealt with in the discussion of the November 11 article. I am said to be "waging a battle to restore legitimacy" to my organizations. I believe our paternity is at least as respectable as that of those who write about it.

The February 18 article makes much of the fact that the Federation was banned from raising funds in Pennsylvania. The Register cannot be unaware that a titanic battle is being waged throughout the country between the blind and certain conservative and wealthy governmental and private agencies which seek to custodialize them. In Pennsylvania in the mid I970's some of these agencies sought to attack the Federation through the state agency responsible for regulating solicitation of charitable contributions. Along with our attorney and several other Federation leaders, I went to Pennsylvania to discuss the matter with the State official in question. We had not been registered in Pennsylvania, feeling that the state should not regulate the mails. However, we agreed that we would either stop fundraising in Pennsylvania or register with the state regulatory agency. We were told that we would be given ten days to make the decision. Two days later the state filed suit. While the court battle went forward we raised no funds in the state. Ultimately (and not surprisingly) the State Supreme Court said that the Pennsylvania courts had jurisdiction. At this stage we entered into a settlement with the Pennsylvania Attorney General. We agreed that we would register even though we had not raised any funds in the state during the preceding couple of years. As part of the settlement the Attorney General said that we would be required to register and that our registration would be accepted.

When we submitted our registration forms, the regulatory agency (not in the Attorney General's office) said that they intended to reject our application. We pointed out that we had not raised funds in Pennsylvania for the years in question and that the Attorney General had required us to register and had said that our registration would be accepted. In effect, the regulatory agency said that our agreements with the Attorney General were no concern of theirs and proceeded to reject the application. Under the circumstances, perhaps it is not surprising that a number of blind people throughout the country felt that this was not an isolated instance but an episode in the larger battle which the blind were waging for independence.

It was in this context that NFB representatives appeared before the Pennsylvania Charitable Regulatory Commission in 1978. I was not present at that meeting, but those who were present tell me that the statements quoted by the Register in its February 18, 1979, article are taken out of context and distorted. It was a hearing of several hours, and as we all know, wonderful things can be done with selected quotations from that much testimony.

Add to all of this the fact that the National Federation of the Blind is now registered and approved by more state charitable regulatory agencies than any other organization or group in the field, including those very custodial agencies which attack us and talk about our ethics. Why does the Register not mention this in its repeated articles about us? It is a matter of fact and a matter of public record. Why? Conspiracy? Vendetta? Malice? Who can tell?

The February 18 article states that the American Brotherhood for the Blind "still is prohibited from fundraising in New York." In the context this statement is simply a lie. The American Brotherhood for the Blind does not raise funds in New York, has never raised funds in New York and has never applied for a permit to raise funds in New York. It has never been "prohibited" from doing anything in New York.

The February 18 article says that there are incomplete financial records and that the NFB's "own accountant, Owen D. Cudney of Kansas City, Kan., agreed" that there had been "careless accounting." This statement would imply that the Register had interviewed (or at least tried to interview) Mr. Cudney. Mr. Cudney says that such is not the case. He further says that his statements have been taken out of context and do not accurately reflect what he said.

The February 18 article says: "The central difficulty in understanding the organizations' finances, however, is a highly unusual corporate device employed by the NFB until 1976: The ownership of a private, profit-making corporation by a charitable, non-profit corporation." Is it really unusual for a non-profit organization to own a profit making company? Nonsense! It is the rule rather than the exception. Fedco submitted tax returns to the federal government each year, and its books were audited by IRS. If there had been irregularities or if any Fedco officer or Board member had been stealing the money or getting a rake-off, is it reasonable that the IRS would have stood still for it?

In its February 18 article the Register makes much of the fact that the Federation never received "dividends" from its subsidiary Fedco. The Fedco contracts were so designed that the Federation received the maximum return directly from the mailings. What would have been the point of "dividends," which would have been taxable to Fedco? As to the money which Fedco received, there is no "mystery" about it. It was used for the cost of the neckties and the mailings. Again, it must be emphasized that Fedco's books were thoroughly examined by IRS (our opponents doubtless saw to that) and that everything was found in order. There comes a time when innuendo and slanderous suggestion must give way to reason and fact.

As an example of the innuendo, the February 18 article says: "NFB lawyer James E. Carbine acknowledged before the Pennsylvania charities commission that the organization never had accounted for the money that went to Fedco. And NFB accountant Cudney admitted in the same hearing that he knew little about Fedco's financial condition because he had been shown only one report on its condition; Fedco itself had a separate accountant."

What a twisted and misleading implication! Of course the NFB had not accounted for Fedco, nor had the NFB accountant studied Fedco's books or done its accounting. However, Fedco was regularly audited by a certified public accountant. Is it really so unusual for a subsidiary corporation to have its own accountant and its own set of books? Is it not almost standard practice?

When we bought Fedco, it was headquartered in St. Louis. Its contacts (including the certified public accountants who had regularly audited it) were in St. Louis. The NFB's accountants were, at that time, in New England (later in Kansas City), and there seemed no sensible reason to upset the standard operating pattern of Fedco and change its auditors. How different the facts are from the dirty-minded, sly, sinister little innuendoes in the Register's articles!

The February 18 article makes another thinly veiled attempt to imply that I probably stole a good deal of the money from NFB or Fedco or, at least, from somewhere. The article puts it this way: "In sworn testimony before the commission, Ralph Sanders, a Maryland man who served briefly as NFB president after Jernigan resigned for 'health reasons' in 1977, said Jernigan 'served without compensation.'

"'Never received money from the NFB in any capacity?' Sanders was asked.

"'I will not answer the question as phrased. I prefer not to answer it,' Sanders replied."

Ralph Sanders says that he had answered the question several times already and that it seemed apparent that an attempt was being made to try to trap him into contradicting himself. In fact, the language of even the brief quotation makes it fairly clear. I have not received "compensation" from the Federation, but I have received "money" from it. I have been reimbursed for reasonable travel expenses. It is hard to see how the writers at the Des Moines Register can hold up their heads and look people in the face in view of such mangy and shabby behavior and such attempts to use every possible means to ruin an organization of blind people and to destroy the reputation of an individual that they themselves admitted (in fact, repeatedly and proudly proclaimed) had done good work and brought credit to the state.

One final item in the February 18 article requires comment. The article says that the NFB purchased Fedco in 1971. At first glance this seems like an innocent enough error, just sloppy reporting—but wait. The facts are that Fedco was purchased in 1967. I was not President of the Federation in 1967. Is it just an accident that the date 1971 was used? The dates make all of the difference in the world. The Register's carefully fabricated story begins to sag in the middle if the facts are told as they really happened. If I was not President when Fedco was purchased, then the whole sinister, Mafia-like, private fundraising empire theory falls to pieces. The Register can figure this out as well as anyone else, so was the mistake really just a mistake—or was it something else?

The truth is that in 1967 Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, an eminent constitutional lawyer, was President of the Federation. He made the arrangements and conducted the negotiations for the purchase of Fedco. The matter was then taken to the full membership at the 1967 Convention at Los Angeles. Tapes of that convention still exist. The blind in their thousands discussed the pros and cons of the Fedco purchase and then voted to buy the company. The convention directed that the officers of the Federation should be the officers of Fedco. It was only after Dr. tenBroek's death in 1968 that I became president of Fedco.

Will the Des Moines Register retract their defamatory and lying statement with equal prominence and without trying to get even by further attacks? I think I know the answer, and I suspect that you do too.

From the beginning the entire two hundred article smear campaign has been of a single tone and character. Consider, for instance, one of the first blasts in the attack: the October 16, 1977 article by Jerry Szumski. Szumski said: "Membership dues to the organization totaled only $1,500 in 1976, according to the BBB Council.

"Edlund said members pay either '$2 or $5 a year, depending on the state.' At $2 a person, $1,500 translates into 750 dues-paying members—far fewer than the 50,000 total claimed. President Sanders said many members don't pay dues because they can't afford to."

Dick Edlund says that he carefully explained to Szumski that individual membership dues are retained at the state and local levels and that each state pays an annual assessment of $30 to the national treasury. Fifty states times $30—$1,500, not hard to understand. Ralph Sanders says that he told Szumski the same thing. It is true that the Register finally buried a half-hearted admission that they might have been wrong about the dues matter, but they never gave it any prominent display and were clearly not happy about it—not just trying to present the news objectively.

At present we cannot be sure of what kind of working arrangements the Register and our NAC opponents have, nor can we know how much pressure the Register has tried to bring on federal officials either to indict me for some trumped up misdeed or to bring out an unfavorable audit of the Iowa Commission for the Blind for the period of my directorship. We do know that the federal auditors spent almost a year searching diligently through the Commission books to try to find problems and that nothing of substance emerged. There were persistent rumors to the effect that the auditors were repeatedly sent back to try to find something wrong every time they would think they were finished.

Under the circumstances it would have been astonishing if the auditors had not found something to criticize. Their report was presented in December and, as might have been expected, was the subject of an article in the Des Moines Register. That article (dated December 16, 1979) says: "According to allegations in the audit, the agency provided vocational rehabilitation services and financial support to ineligible persons, used federal money to pay for library services for ineligible clients and incurred excessive operating expenses." The Register does not tell its readers that the details of the use of federal rehabilitation funds to help finance the Commission's library were specifically approved by federal rehabilitation officials and were the subject of formal written agreements. (Marked Exhibit I, a letter dated September 9, 1976 from me to George Kester, Director, Office of Rehabilitation Services, Office of Human Development, Kansas City, Missouri is reprinted elsewhere in this issue.) (Marked Exhibit J, Mr. Kester's reply approving our procedures and expenditures dated September 14, 1976, is reprinted elsewhere in this issue.) Federal rehabilitation funds have been used in the operation of the Commission's library since its establishment in 1960. This has been done with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate federal officials.

As to "excessive operating expenses," I have no apologies to make for the fact that we spent more money to help blind persons than most agencies throughout the country. We also got better results—a fact which the Des Moines Register proudly proclaimed throughout the years.

As to the final charge (that we served ineligible clients) I can only say this: John Taylor, the current Director of the Commission, was in charge of our field operations unit and did the overseeing of this matter. He was responsible for determining eligibility and preparing appropriate documentation for the files. I believe that he is as knowledgeable concerning rehabilitation regulations and policies as anyone in the country, and simply do not believe that we gave services to ineligible persons. We certainly did have a more liberal policy concerning service than many agencies throughout the country, but this policy was embodied in our federally approved state rehabilitation plan.

To round out the picture of the Register's concept of ethical behavior, I call your attention to affidavits by Sylvester Nemmers, Mike Barber and John Taylor. (Marked Exhibits K, L, and M, these affidavits are reprinted elsewhere in this issue.) They tell of a reporter who had too much to drink and who said he was hunting dirt on one Kenneth Jernigan. Just good old-fashioned objective reporting, Des Moines Register style. I also call your attention to an affidavit executed by Jeannette Eyerly, Nell Bonnell and me concerning a conversation which we had in December of 1977 with Michael Gartner, editor of the Register. (Marked Exhibit N, the affidavit is reprinted elsewhere in this issue.) it does not speak of good old-fashioned objective reporting but of good old-fashioned tantrum behavior and arrogance, Des Moines Register style.

As a further item of information, I call your attention to a statement appearing in "The Capital Register" column of the Sunday Register for November 11, 1979. It reads, "Kenneth Jernigan, former director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, is again trying for a federal job. Jernigan sought and failed to win a federal position after he left the state payroll and now makes his living operating charities for the blind out of Baltimore." This statement contains about as many lies as can be packed into such few words. I am not "again trying for a federal job" and have not even made any inquiries about federal employment for more than a year-and-a-half. In 1977, several months before leaving my position as Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, I applied for the position of head of the federal Office for the Blind in the Rehabilitation Services Administration. I frankly told the Register at that time that I did not expect to be offered the position but figured that my application could be used as trading stock to prevent the appointment of an undesirable candidate. This turned out to be the case. The Register simply ignored my statement and acted as if I were lying. This is one of the many reasons why I finally stopped talking with the Register concerning anything, even the time of day.

As this issue of the Monitor goes to press, one final incident needs to be related to show what we are dealing with. I had worked late New Year's Eve and was tired. For the past two years I have been receiving anonymous and sometimes obscene telephone calls at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning.

New Year's Eve I was in bed slightly before midnight. At 1:30 in the morning I was awakened from a sound sleep by a telephone call from Des Moines. The background noise made it clear that it was a boisterous gathering. The person who first spoke to me did not identify himself but was insulting. He then gave the phone to a second person (still unidentified), who called me an "old bastard." Then a well-known American Council of the Blind member came on the line. I did not make any abusive remarks but simply hung up the phone.

I have since learned some of the details of this party. It was attended by members of the American Council of the Blind (the small group which has been working with the agencies and the Register to try to destroy the constructive programs for the blind in Iowa, the National Federation of the Blind, and me personally). There was a good deal of drinking at the party. Jerry Szumski (the "objective" reporter from the Register who on a previous occasion according to his own editor as reported in an affidavit appearing elsewhere in this edition, "had spent too much time in the bar" hunting "dirt") was present at the party. Whether Jerry Szumski had anything to do with the call or whether he had had too much to drink or was "objectively" hunting dirt on this particular evening is not known.

What high "professional" standards! What ethics! What civilized and honorable behavior!

As mentioned earlier, the speech of Richard Johnstone, President of the Minneapolis Society for the Blind, which was delivered at the NAC meeting in Oklahoma City in November of 1979 is reprinted elsewhere in this issue. There is not space in this issue of the Monitor to give the details of the proxy fight and the battle concerning the elections at the Minneapolis Society for the Blind which were held last November. This subject will have to be treated at a later time. Let me only say here that the Society behaved as you would expect a NAC accredited agency to behave. It spent lavishly, used smear tactics, and demonstrated general disregard for the blind consumer. By any standard one wishes to use, the election can hardly be said to have been fair.

The blind were required to turn their proxies over to the Society more than a week before the election. The blind were not allowed to verify or even look at the Society's proxies. The Society engaged in so many questionable practices that the results of the election will doubtless be challenged in the courts. Even so, significant gains were made in the Minneapolis fight.

Before the election the Federation had no representatives at all on the Society's Board. We now have eight. In this connection it might be observed that the Society is still trying to play its same old tricks. Immediately after the election it once again undertook to expel all of the members except the Board. Joyce Scanlan tells me that many of the statements in the Johnstone NAC speech are totally inaccurate—particularly, his statements concerning the offer of settlement allegedly made by the Society and (even more despicable) his claims about the treatment of a 95-year-old deaf-blind man.

However, certain things about the Johnstone speech are not in dispute. He makes it clear that the AFB-NAC-ACB-ALL combine intends to wage unrelenting war on the blind. His speech is as clear a declaration of war as could possibly be made. He leaves no doubt that he intends to try to persuade the Baltimore newspapers to engage in the same kind of vilification as that which is being practiced by the Des Moines Register. We have some evidence of attempts which have already been made. I hope and believe that the Baltimore papers will be more responsible than the Register has been.

You will observe that part of the Johnstone speech was lost while the cassette was being turned over. I'm sorry that this is so, for it would permit you to hear his comments about how certain former NFB members (people who still claim to be members) helped the Society in its battle against the blind. A nasty little sidelight to this whole miserable Minneapolis episode has been the behavior of Bob Acosta and his supporters. The Acosta effort undoubtedly helped the Society, but (unintentionally, of course) it also helped us; for it brought us closer together and strengthened our bond of determination. It showed us what we have to do and why we have to do it.

And what does it all mean—the Register, the Acosta behavior, the Johnstone speech, the NAC hatred, and all of the rest? For one thing, it means that we must understand that NAC, the American Foundation for the Blind, and their associated agencies and puppets intend to fight the blind with everything they have. These agencies have money (lots of it), and they are prepared to use it. On our side we have numbers. We have the people. We must maximize this resource by always thinking in terms of the total national pattern, not just locally. We also have right and justice on our side, but right and justice are not free. They require effort and sacrifice.

As part of the documentation of this story, I want you to see an article about the Des Moines Register which appeared in the December 17, 1979 issue of Time. (Marked Exhibit Q, it is reprinted elsewhere in this issue.) I suspect the editors of Time (and, for that matter, the editors of the Register as well) thought it was complimentary. However, after the evidence you have seen in this issue of the Monitor, you will probably look at it from a different point of view. Observe the arrogance, the smugness, and the dictatorial power: "Candidates," Time tells us, "seek the paper's blessing and pray for its endorsement." (And they literally mean "pray"—and "grovel" too if necessary.) Governor Jerry Brown is not permitted to participate in the debate until he comes to the Register and pays "homage." People often tell us more about themselves than they realize. Read the Time article carefully—read between the lines. It will show you more than you could learn from a hundred articles of expose.

The question arises as to why—in view of the innuendoes, slanders, and vicious lies which the Register has repeatedly printed—we have not sued them. The answer is that we may. The matter is being considered by our attorneys. However, certain things must be realized: Such a lawsuit would take several years and might cost as much as a million dollars. The Register is wealthy, and so are its allies—the custodial agencies who are our opponents in the field of work with the blind. The Register would use its money to drag the lawsuit out and make it as expensive as possible. We are not wealthy. Moreover, in a lawsuit against a newspaper it is not enough to prove that the newspaper has lied, or even that it has engaged in a vendetta. It is not enough to show that it could easily have learned the truth, or that it knew it was lying. It is necessary to prove that the newspaper printed its stories with "malice," and reckless disregard of the truth. Because of the First Amendment protections and because of our traditions (in most instances, I am thankful to say, traditions that are right and justifiable) that the press must be protected and have freedom and latitude, it is almost impossible to prove that a newspaper has engaged in "malice and reckless disregard of the truth." It is extremely difficult and costly for a group of consumers successfully to bring suit against a large, wealthy corporation like the Des Moines Register.

So let us turn it around. Presumably the First Amendment will work for us as well as for the Register. The Monitor is part of the press. What we have said is the truth. We will, to the extent of our means, spread this issue of the Monitor throughout the state of Iowa and elsewhere in the nation by the thousands and the tens of thousands. If the Register feels that what we have said is false or if it doesn't like having people know about its bizarre behavior and "dirty tricks," then let it sue us. We will see how it likes the other side of the coin.

The Des Moines Register is parochial, arrogant, bigoted, and narrow. In other words it is characterized by traits that tend to alienate people and lose friends. But make no mistake: in Iowa it has power—raw, naked, unscrupulous power. And it does not hesitate to use that power. The Register is feared. It is hard for people in the rest of the country to understand how much it is feared in Iowa. Very few politicians or public figures in the state (even if they know we are right and want to speak out in our behalf) would dare to do so. The fact that some have underscores the Tightness of our cause and the wrongness of the Register's scurrilous attacks.

In this context we should understand the tremendous pressures to which the staff members of the Iowa Commission for the Blind and the leaders of the blind throughout the state have been subjected. The Register (as its own representative bragged) can create and destroy. It can affect the size of appropriations, can influence legislators and the general public to believe that the blind are not operating good food service facilities in state or municipal buildings, can smear and hold up to ridicule. There is a daily temptation for the Commission staff and the blind of the state to knuckle under, to be humble and beg for peace, to sacrifice their principles, and to say the things the Register would like them to say. If they would only "admit" that the Commission has been bad in the past, that the Federation does not truly represent the blind, that the President of the Federation is evil and that they want no association with him—if they would take a low profile and stop talking about their rights as citizens—if they would be, as the saying goes, "positive" and not act as if there are discriminations against the blind or that they are part of a national civil rights movement to gain first-class citizenship for the blind—in other words, if the blind of the state would fade into the woodwork and go back to their traditional roles of dependence and second-class status, the Register would doubtless bless them and write an occasional drippy story of the "I feel sorry for you," and "isn't it wonderful" type.

It would be easy for the blind of Iowa and the Commission staff to rationalize and give up. A few have done so, and their behavior is understandable. But most have done otherwise. They are determined to continue the struggle for equality and independence. It is a testimonial to the strength of our movement and an indication of how far we have come that the spirit of Federationism is still moving forward in the state with vigor and determination. The Register has been unable to break our movement in Iowa, and in the long run its treatment of us will actually add strength to the Federation.

In fact, throughout the entire country we have had more successes during the past two years than we have ever had in any other comparable period of time. We have won the right for blind workers in sheltered shops to organize; we have helped expose the repression and custodialism of the powerful governmental and private agencies; and we have won important cases in the courts. The Wall Street Journal, Sixty Minutes, and U.S. News & World Report have shown understanding of our cause and presented our case to the public as never before. We have more influence in the Congress than we have ever had. Most important of all, ever increasing numbers of the blind are beginning to understand and speak out in their daily lives. This is why the entrenched agencies (such as NAC and the American Foundation for the Blind) oppose us and join forces with groups like the Register. They feel threatened in their power and unsure of their positions. It is from this perspective and with this broad view that we must understand the bitter attacks against us. Those very attacks are the strongest possible testimonials to the progress we are making and the certainty of the final outcome.

Before concluding this presentation, I want to share with you a letter which was written by Revanne Duckett to Iowa Senator Earl Willits in 1978. (Marked Exhibit R, it is reprinted elsewhere in this issue.) It is expressions of love and faith like this that balance the scale, ease the hurts, and give one the courage to continue the battle.

So where does all of this leave us? I think I can do no better than to reply as I did at the 1975 NFB banquet. In the first place it leaves us with the need for perspective; for as the saying goes, we have never had it so good. Despite the exclusions and the denials, we are better off now than we have ever been. It is not that conditions are today than they were ten or twenty years ago, but only that we are more aware of them. In the past we wouldn't have known of their existence, and even if we had, we wouldn't have been able to do anything about it.

Today we are organized, and actively in the field. The sound in the land is the march of the blind to freedom. The song is a song of gladness. Yes, there are discriminations and misconceptions; but there are also joy and promise. The old is dying, and the new is at hand.

It is true that not all sighted people have goodwill toward us. Certainly NAC and the Des Moines Register and the Minneapolis Society and suchlike do not, but most do. As we begin to move toward first-class citizenship (especially, as we insist upon our rights), we will inevitably provoke hostility (witness the Des Moines Register); but we will also inspire understanding and respect.

If we simply go forth with chips on our shoulders and bitterness in our hearts, we will lose. We must have greater flexibility and more positive belief in ourselves than that. There is a time to fight and a time to refrain from fighting; a time to persuade; a time to take legal action; a time to make speeches; a time to educate; a time to be humble; a time to examine ourselves to root out arrogance, self-deception, and phony excuses for failure; a time to comfort our fellow blind; and a time to stand unflinchingly and uncompromisingly with the fury of hell against impossible odds. Above all, we must understand ourselves and have compassion in our hearts, for the sighted as well as for our fellow blind—and, yes, even for ourselves. We must have perspective and patience and the long view; and we must have the ability and the willingness to make sacrifice, and the courage to refuse to wait.

We must destroy a system which has kept us in bondage, but we must not have hatred in our souls for that system or that bondage—for the bitterness will destroy, not our enemies but us. We must recognize that the system was an indispensable element in making us what we are, and, therefore, that its chains (properly seen) are part of our emerging freedom—not to be hated or despised but to be put aside as outdated and no longer to be borne.

As we look ahead, the world holds more hope than gloom for us—and, best of all, the future is in our own hands. This is true despite the things I have documented in this issue of the Monitor. For the first time in history we can be our own masters and do with our lives what we will; and the sighted (as they learn who we are and what we are) can and will work with us as equals and partners. In other words we are capable of full membership in society, and the sighted are capable of accepting us as such—and, for the most part, they want to.

We want no Uncle Toms—no sellouts, no apologists, no rationalizers; but we also want no militant hellraisers or unbudging radicals. One will hurt our cause as much as the other. We must win true equality in society, but we must not dehumanize ourselves in the process; and we must not forget the graces and amenities, the compassions and courtesies which comprise civilization itself and distinguish people from animals and life from existence.

Let people call us what they will and say what they please about our motives and our movement. There is only one way for the blind to achieve first-class citizenship and true equality. It must be done through collective action and concerted effort; and that means the National Federation of the Blind. There is no other way, and those who say otherwise are either uninformed or unwilling to face the facts. We are the strongest force in the affairs of the blind today, and we are only at the threshold. We must operate from a base of power—yes; but we must also recognize the responsibilities of power and the fact that we must build a world that is worth living in when the war is over—and, for that matter, while we are fighting it. In short, we must use both love and a club, and we must have sense enough to know when to do which—long on compassion, short on hatred; and, above all, not using our philosophy as a cop out for cowardice or inaction or rationalization. We know who we are and what we must do—and we will never go back. The public is not against us. Our determination proclaims it; our gains confirm it; our humanity demands it.

While I'm trying to place our battles in perspective, let me say a few things to you about my own personal feelings. I worked hard in Iowa. For twenty years I gave everything I had to build good programs for the blind and establish a reputation for honesty and integrity. It has not been easy to see my good name dragged in the mud or to be vilified day after day in the largest newspaper of a state I have loved (and, for that matter, continue to love).

It was, I believe, Joseph Goebbels (Adolf Hitler's propaganda minister) who said that a big lie will be more easily believed than a little one. He said something to the effect that a little lie may be questioned but that people will think that surely no one would stray so far from the truth as to tell the truly big lie. He went on to say that repetition will help establish the credibility of the big lie.

Year after year in Iowa our programs were recognized as being the most efficient and fiscally sound in the state, models of economy and productivity and good management. For the past two years the Des Moines Register has said so often that there was mismanagement (and then used their own earlier articles to reinforce and substantiate the falsehood) that there are undoubtedly some who now believe it.

The damage to me personally has been severe and irreparable. The pain and the hurt have been almost more than I could bear. I tell you frankly that there have been times when I have felt so heartbroken that I have literally wept. Yes, and I have also been afraid. It is not easy to see your humanity being stripped from you layer by layer by an influential newspaper which is bent on destroying you. It is not easy to know that there are powerful forces that would like to see you convicted of crimes you know you have not committed, and would be willing to frame you to do it.

A character in a short story that I value most highly defines courage as fear faced with resolution. I do not know whether I have courage, nor do I know whether this is an accurate definition, but this I do know: regardless of the pain, regardless of the damage to reputation, regardless of the heartache or fear, I have never considered quitting—and I have no intention of doing so. You and I have a job to do, and no one else can do it for us. We must see that the blind have the right to lead normal lives, that second-class citizenship and inferior status are put behind us. That is what the battle is all about and that is why we must continue to fight.

Of course, in a broader sense it is not just the blind who are involved in this battle. As long as the Des Moines Register can do what it has done and get away with it, the freedom (in fact, the very humanity) of every person in this country is in jeopardy.

It costs money to bring this information to you. If you want to help with the expenses, make checks payable to National Federation of the Blind, and send them to:

Richard Edlund, Treasurer
National Federation of the Blind
Box 11185
Kansas City, Kansas 66111



(From the Des Moines Register, March 14, 1968.)

"If a person must be blind, it is better to be blind in Iowa than anywhere else in the nation or the world." So said Harold Russell, chairman of the President's Committee on the Handicapped in awarding a presidential citation to Kenneth Jernigan—and it's true.

More than that, the major reason it is true is that for 10 years Kenneth Jernigan has been director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind.

Before coming here, Jernigan had sold insurance, taught in a teachers college, worked in a rehabilitation program for the blind in Tennessee and then had been psychologist and counselor at the California Rehabilitation Center for the Blind at Oakland.

He was brought here by Mrs. Alvin Kirsner, who had known him for years. She headed a volunteer group at B'nai Jeshurun's Temple Sisterhood which had turned a needed textbook into Braille—the raised type which blind can read by touch—for Jernigan when he was teaching in Nashville. By 1958 she was chairman of the Iowa Commission for the Blind which at long last had a program and had talked the Iowa Legislature into putting up some money for it.

Bringing Jernigan here to head it was a brilliant stroke. Jernigan is a dynamo. From one of the worst in the country, Iowa's rehabilitation program for the blind became one of the best in the country.

The money was essential, but even more important was the spirit Jernigan managed to infuse into it.

You can see it in the spirited swing of those long fiberglass canes the blind trainees use around Des Moines as they begin to acquire some confidence in the newly learned skill of "traveling"—making their way around without help.

You can see it in the record his trainees have made, and in the growing acceptance of his work by the Legislature and the public.

By public, we mean not just the people of Iowa. Among the center's trainees was a woman physician from Pakistan, who went back there to start a similar center. The Iowa program attracts visitors from all over the U.S. and the world.

The presidential award to Jernigan was richly deserved. All Iowans can be proud that they have him in their midst.



(From the Des Moines Register, “On Capitol Hill," March 11, 1968)

State examiners wondered what was going on. They found the Iowa Commission for the Blind had spent $150 for a Pomeranian dog.

Said an examiner: "A Pomeranian is not a seeing-eye dog." True. But this dog was not bought for seeing-eye purposes, instead, the commission purchased the dog to help a certain blind person get started in the dog-breeding business.

Explained Kenneth Jernigan, commission director: "A blind person who has other problems and cannot get around, often can make a success of operating a kennel. The fact that he cannot move around easily becomes an asset. He can care for the dogs by touch, and he learns from the barks whether the dogs need something or are disturbed."

An extensive commission program is designed to help blind persons get started in jobs and on enterprises that will make them self-supporting. After hearing the facts, the examiners had no criticism of the Pomeranian purchase.



By John Hyde

Of The Register's Washington Bureau

(From the Des Moines Sunday Register, November 11, 1979.)

BALTIMORE, MD.—The block-long, warehouse-like brick building looks like many others in the working-class neighborhoods on the fringes of downtown Baltimore, except that its third-story windows are sealed to the outside world.

Only a small sign over one doorway gives a hint of what is going on inside: "National Center for the Blind."

Inside is the world of Kenneth Jernigan, the blind man who heads the National Federation of the Blind and a complex network of other organizations involving the blind.

To a young secretary who worked there for nine months, it was a bizarre world of suspicion, security, and envelopes of cash.

The woman, Christine Cole, found her job at the NFB through an employment agency. She had never heard of the controversial Jernigan, or the flamboyant series of events that surrounded his departure from Iowa after two decades on the state payroll.

But during her months at the NIB, Christine Cole says she:

The immediate cause of her sacking, Cole says, was her refusal to sign other people's names to proxy statements being used by Jernigan in an effort to take over the Minneapolis Society for the Blind. Cole suspected that what she was being asked to do was illegal, since the proxies were to be used in an election ordered by the courts. When she raised questions, she was canned.

Collision Course

Even before the proxy incident, though. Cole said she knew she was on a collision course with her employers. She was coming home exhausted from the lengthy "seminars."

And the job had even begun to affect her domestic life, because of Jernigan's demands upon her time and, particularly, because of his insistence that she leave the man she lives with and move to an apartment furnished by Jernigan. "He said it was because he wanted me to devote my life to the NFB," said Cole. "He said it was the only way I could go on working there."

Cole and her boyfriend were both upset by the implications of the demand.

Cole said her boyfriend, Don Hayes, was concerned enough that he sought to talk to Jernigan. But, said Cole, Jernigan rebuffed any attempt to see him, while repeatedly telling Cole that Hayes wouldn't talk to him.

"It was crazy," said Cole.

Envelopes Arrived Daily

Cole, who is sighted, as are most of the 20 or so employees at the NFB office, was a secretary, receptionist and telephone operator. Her duties included the handling of cash, which arrived daily in envelopes from around the country.

Cole is not an accountant, and never saw NFB books, but she said it was not uncommon for the NFB to receive "anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 each day."

The money was raised by mass solicitation appeals mailed nationwide by the NFB. "There would be a mass mailing every few months. Then the money would peter off to a couple of thousand a day."

Jernigan's fund-raising methods are one cause of the controversy surrounding the NFB and his other blind charities. At times, the cost of the fund-raising has taken as much as 96 cents of every dollar donated to his groups. That has resulted in Jernigan's groups being banned, at one time or another, in several large states, including Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio.

For many years, the fund-raising activities were conducted in association with a profit-making firm called Fedco, which was owned by the non-profit NFB. It is known that Jernigan's charities raised more than $17.1 million between 1974 and 1978, but what happened to the money and whether Jernigan personally profited from it are not known.

Jernigan has declined to discuss his fundraising activities or any other matter—including Cole's experiences—with The Register.

Iowa Controversy

Jernigan, 52, was the director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind for about 20 years, until resigning amid a storm of controversy. Soon after resigning he moved to Baltimore, taking with him the NFB headquarters.

Part of the controversy in Iowa surrounded Jernigan's dual role as a state employee and president of the private National Federation of the Blind, and his participation in other private ventures, such as U.S. Senator Roger Jepsen's National Eye Care Association insurance firm.

And part of the controversy surrounded Jernigan's personal style. Jernigan was accused by former employees of trying to turn the state blind commission headquarters into an armed fortress, stocked with weapons and protected by bullet-proof windows.

Network of Charities

In Maryland, Jernigan has continued to operate his complex network of charities, including the NFB, the American Brotherhood of the Blind, the National Service Foundation for the Blind, and the Jacobus tenBroek Memorial Endowment Fund. Jernigan denies that there is any relationship between the charities, although they all operate out of the third floor of the building purchased by the tenBroek fund in 1978 for $532,000.

The NFB has ceased the unsolicited mailing of neckties, and one set of figures shows its fund-raising costs are now about 20 per cent, but it has still not answered enough questions to win approval from the Council of Better Business Bureaus or any of the other organizations which accredit charities.


November 16, 1979

To Whom It May Concern:

I, James L. Cordle, am the Senior Vice President and Cashier of First American Bank of Maryland, a State Chartered banking institution. My responsibilities include the internal Operations Department which is responsible for the Central Payments function.

In connection with your request, I am listing below the sequence of procedures performed by this bank in relation to the Lock Box processing for the National Federation of the Blind.

1. The National Federation sends solicitations to individuals for contributions to the National Federation with return preaddressed envelopes addressed: National Federation of the Blind c/o First American Bank of Maryland. (The remaining address is our Post Office Box.) These envelopes are then picked up by a bank employee at then U.S. Post Office and delivered to First American Bank.

2. Upon receipt of these items in our Central Payments area, the envelope is opened, the amount of cash or check is written on the face of the envelope.

3. These written amounts on the envelope are then added by the bank employee to verify that they represent a like amount with the aforementioned check or cash enclosed.

4. The checks and cash are then deposited and processed through the normal banking procedures at the teller function in our Main Office, Silver Spring.

5. The empty envelope with the amount written on it, along with the adding machine tape are then sent by the bank to the National Federation for internal sorting for follow-up purposes.

James L. Cordle



November 26, 1979

I, Marc Maurer, being first duly sworn, depose and say:

1) I received a telephone call from Ramona Walhof, staff member of The National Federation of The Blind, on or about Oct. 29, 1979.

2) Mrs. Walhof told me that she had proxy statements which designated Joyce Scanlan to vote in an election of the Minneapolis Society For The Blind to be held November 14, 1979.

3) Mrs. Walhof informed me that the persons who had completed these proxy statements had failed to sign them.

4) Mrs. Walhof asked me if a recognized lawful method existed for obtaining signatures on these proxy statements in the absence of their owners.

5) Mrs. Walhof stated that the proxy statements were located in Baltimore and that the persons who had completed the proxy statements were located several hundred miles from Baltimore.

6) I advised Mrs. Walhof that any person with the proper authorization could sign any document on behalf of the person authorizing the signature.

7) A person may authorize any other person to sign a document on his behalf either in writing or orally.

8) Mrs. Walhof should telephone the persons whose names appeared on the proxy statements.

9) Mrs. Walhof should inform those persons that the proxy statements were not filled out completely.

10) The persons whose names appeared on the proxy statements could authorize Mrs. Walhof to sign the proxy statements.

11) The authorization could be made orally in the course of a telephone conversation.

12) Mrs. Walhof would then be empowered to sign each proxy statement with the name of the person whose name appeared on the proxy statement.

13) The signature on the proxy statement, obtained by this method, is the signature of the person whose name appears on the proxy statement; it is executed by Mrs. Walhof pursuant to the authority of the person whose signature it is.

14) The person telephoned by Mrs. Walhof could authorize Mrs. Walhof, or any other designated individual, to execute his signature.

15) It is not necessary to show on the face of the proxy statement that the signature is executed by a person other than the person whose name appears on the proxy statement.

16) It is permissible to execute the signature of the person whose name appears on the proxy statement, and show on the face of the proxy statement that the signature was executed by a person other than the person whose name appears on the proxy statement.

17) When a person executed a signature on behalf of another, it is not necessary to show on the face of the signed document that the signature is authorized.

18) It is permissible to execute a signature on behalf of another and to show on the face of the document that the signature is authorized.

19) I further advised Mrs. Walhof that, in my opinion, the signature executed on each of the proxy statements should show by whom it was executed and that it was authorized. For example, if she were executing my signature it should appear "Marc Maurer by Ramona Walhof as authorized".

20) Signatures executed in this manner would promote full disclosure and provide opportunity for examination in excess of that which is required by law.

I hereby certify that before me, the subscriber a Notary Public of the District of Columbia, personally appeared Marc Maurer and made oath in due form of law that the statements contained herein are true, correct, and complete.

Marc Maurer,

Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 26th day of November, 1979,
Elio E. Grandi, Notary Public.


August 8, 1978
Mr. John Taylor, Director
Iowa Commission for the Blind
Des Moines, Iowa

Dear Mr. Taylor:

This letter is in response to your inquiry regarding the materials used for the windows and exterior doors in the Commission building. In late summer of 1975 a ¼” thick polycarbonate sheet glazing material (Lexan) was installed in the windows. This material is resistant to vandalism and provides protection against easy entry. While it may have resistance to low-powered projectiles fired from a weapon, it is not considered bullet-proof by the manufacturer. This work was performed under contract after bids were received.

That same year new doors were installed on both the Keo and 4th Street entrances. These are 16 ga. standard steel doors which were also glazed with polycarbonate sheet. The doors are typical of the type we specify for high use entrances. They are not to be considered bullet-proof in the sense that such a requirement was not specified and no such claim is made by the manufacturer.

The overhead to door entrance to the shop from the alley on the south is 16 ga. steel. This door was installed as part of a remodeling and expansion project in 1974. Here again, use and location were considered in selecting the door. With regard to bullet resistance, the same applies to this door as the other doors.

Should you have any further questions about this or if we can be of service in any way, please contact me. Thank you.

W. E. Zarnikow, AIA




(From the Des Moines Register, January 19, 1965.)

A group of about 20 blind persons went to a wooded area and shooting range near Van Meter recently to chop wood and plink at cans with pistols.

They were from the Iowa Commission for the Blind in Des Moines. The wood was for a big fireplace in the commission building and the shooting was a way to relax between tiring turns on the big cross-cut saws.

Hear With Ears

The wood chopping exemplifies the philosophy of the commission's new program for the blind—that blindness need not be as tragic and limiting as most people consider it to be.

To shoot at a can with a pistol, for example, a blind person sees the target with his ears. A sighted person first hits the can with a rock and the firer shoots at the sound. The number of hits is surprising.

A day of wood chopping is said to be worth more than a month of classroom lectures or counseling.

An Example

Take the case of a 17-year-old Iowa boy. Doctors had told him he might lose his sight but when blindness came it was sudden. Following the initial shock, dismay and self-pity set in. The boy believed all he'd been told about the inferiority and helplessness of the blind.

Kenneth Jernigan, director of the Commission for the Blind, remembers the boy's case well. Jernigan, who is blind himself, recalls that the boy had hopes prior to becoming blind of finishing college, of having dates, of getting a job and of someday having a family.

"When he came to us at the commission's Orientation and Adjustment Center, we could have commenced counseling and tests—we could have made him feel like a specimen.

"But we didn't," Jernigan recalls. "On his second day with us we went out to chop wood. He must have wondered if we were crazy, all these blind people out chopping wood with axes and cutting it up with big saws.

"I got on one side of a cross-cut saw and put him on the other. And I worked him to what I believed to be the limit of his physical endurance.

"You just can't feel sorry for yourself on one end of a cross-cut saw and when he went to bed that night he slept. He was too tired to feel sorry for himself."

"Most Won't Believe"

Jernigan said the boy is back in a public high school now, doing most of the things he would have done if he had not lost his sight.

"Most people won't believe," he says, "that a blind person can shoot, chop wood, roast hot dogs over a fire or water ski. They want to do everything for him."

To rehabilitate a blind person, Jernigan adds, is to train him for, then place him in a situation where he can operate to the full extent of his capacity.

This means a blind person can become a successful lawyer, teacher, secretary, masseur, packer, machine operator, carpenter, telephone operator.

Half the Task

But to give training, job skills and hope to the blind is only half the task, officials of the commission say. For unless the community at large is willing to afford an opportunity to the blind person to use his talents and capacities, the training and skills are of little value.

Jernigan says Iowa is pioneering in letting the blind do such things as chop wood, plink with pistols, or roast hot dogs over a fire.

"It's part of Iowa's program of instilling in the blind a new sense of purpose and dignity. We're finding that the blind can contribute as well as take from society."

It has been estimated that there are more than 5,000 persons in Iowa considered to be blind.




Of The Register's Washington Bureau

(From the Des Moines Sunday Register, February 18, 1979.)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Millions of dollars given to two charities supposedly working to benefit the blind actually went into a complex, private fund-raising empire built by Kenneth Jernigan while he was an Iowa state employee.

Figures obtained by The Register indicate that more than 80 cents out of every dollar given to the National Federation of the Blind and the American Brotherhood for the Blind were diverted to the fund-raising network.

Jernigan, 52, resigned last year as director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind—a position he held for 20 years—and moved to Maryland, where he continues to operate the NFB and the ABB.

Currently, Jernigan is waging a battle to restore legitimacy to his organizations after a series of events cut deeply into their fundraising potential. However, audits, financial statements, exhibits, testimony, and other public documents examined by The Register indicate that major questions surrounding Jernigan's activities remain unanswered.

Public records in Pennsylvania, for instance, indicate that in some years as much as 90 percent of the money contributed to the NFB went to the fund-raising system.

96 Percent

Fund raising at the ABB sometimes cost more than 96 percent of the organization's total receipts, according to documents on file in Ohio.

Jernigan's lawyers have acknowledged that their fund-raising record of the past is not admirable. "We have sinned in the past and have cleaned up our act and will sin no more," an NFB lawyer last year told a Pennsylvania charities regulatory commission.

Charities regulators in Pennsylvania and Ohio express dismay that the state of Iowa apparently took no interest in Jernigan's private activities and made no attempt to learn what happened to the millions of dollars he raised.

Jernigan's problems are far more serious than any worry about Iowa's opinion of him, however.

The NFB and ABB are prohibited from raising money in Pennsylvania—where State law limits fund-raising expenses to 35 percent of receipts—and have not qualified to raise money in Ohio, after being banned there in 1976.

Despite changes in fund-raising techniques, the NFB and ABB have not managed to win approval from the Council of Better Business Bureaus or the National Information Bureau, the two largest private organizations which accredit charities.

More menacing still is the prospect of legal action by the Justice Department. U.S. Attorney Roxanne Conlin will not confirm or deny that an investigation is under way, but it is known that financial records involving the organizations have been subpoenaed.

Still Prohibited

Even in New York, where the NFB recently won the right to raise money after a decade-long ban, state officials continue to raise questions about the organization's activities. The ABB still is prohibited from fund raising in New York.

Underlying all of the actions by public and private agencies is the question: What happened to the money?

To date, neither the state regulators nor the accreditation agencies have been able to answer the question. Jernigan's attorneys, accountants, and other associates cannot or will not discuss details, and Jernigan refuses to be interviewed by The Register.

What is known is that large sums of money were involved. Between 1974 and 1978 the NFB and ABB raised more than $17.1 million.

Tracking the money is made difficult by conflicting figures, incomplete financial statements, and what the NFB's own accountant, Owen D. Cudney of Kansas City, Kan., agreed was careless accounting.

The central difficulty in understanding the organizations' finances, however, is a highly unusual corporate device employed by the NFB until 1976: The ownership of a private, profit-making corporation by a charitable, non-profit corporation.

Mailed Neckties

The profit-making corporation, called Fedco, raised money for the NFB by sending neckties and solicitation letters to prospective donors. A dollar contributed to the NFB went to Bankers Trust Co. in Des Moines, where it was divided according to a contract between the NFB and its own subsidiary, Fedco. Under the terms of the contract, between 82 and 85 cents of the dollar went to Fedco and the remainder went to the NFB. Jernigan, who was and is president of the NFB, also was president of Fedco during the time the arrangement existed.

For example, in 1975 Fedco raised more than $3.8 million, of which about $633,000—slightly more than 16 percent—went to the NFB.

Because Fedco was a profit-making corporation, it had to establish a reserve for income taxes, which might seem an unnecessary expense for a charitable organization. However, in keeping Fedco private and profit-making, its owners avoided having to make the public financial disclosure required of non-profit corporations.

Jernigan once stated, in response to questions raised by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, that any Fedco profits would go to its owner—the NFB.

No Indication

Various financial statements filed by the NFB, however, give no indication that it received dividends from Fedco. In fact Fedco appears to have "lost" several hundred thousand dollars between 1971, when the NFB bought Fedco for $500,000, and 1976, when it was dissolved with a net worth of $22,000.

NFB lawyer James E. Carbine acknowledged before the Pennsylvania charities commission that the organization never had accounted for the money that went to Fedco. And NFB accountant Cudney admitted in the same hearing that he knew little about Fedco's financial condition because he had been shown only one report on its condition; Fedco itself had a separate accountant.

Fedco, then, became a kind of black hole of accounting, at which all questions began and ended.

Whether Jernigan personally profited in any respect from Fedco or any of the companies it dealt with remains a mystery. In his years as a state employee Jernigan repeatedly assured legislators and others that his work for the NFB was wholly voluntary and uncompensated. But few people knew about or questioned Jernigan's involvement with the ABB, Fedco, or other aspects of the fund-raising system used by the NFB.

Jernigan’s Involvement

In 1978 the Pennsylvania Commission on Charitable Organizations, while considering the NFB case, attempted to learn more about Jernigan's personal involvement.

In sworn testimony before the commission, Ralph Sanders, a Maryland man who served briefly as NFB president after Jernigan resigned for "health reasons" in 1977, said Jernigan "served without compensation."

"Never received money from the NFB in any capacity?" Sanders was asked.

"I will not answer the question as phrased. I prefer not to answer it," Sanders replied.

In any case the matter of Jernigan's involvement was irrelevant since "new people" were running the NFB, Sanders maintained.

(Jernigan was re-elected NFB president in mid-1978, shortly after the Pennsylvania commission had acted on the NFB. Jernigan first became president of the NFB in 1968. One aspect of the Ohio NFB case raises questions about Jernigan's sudden resignation in 1977. The Ohio attorney general's office, in bringing its action against the NFB, asked the courts to remove Jernigan as president. The eventual settlement required the NFB, ABB and Fedco to file financial data and refrain from fund raising in Ohio until 1979, but it dropped the demand that Jernigan be removed. The NFB and ABB have not attempted to re-enter Ohio yet.)

The crux of the NFB's appeal in Pennsylvania was that the fund-raising mechanism had been changed.

"Bottom Line"

"Let me take you to the bottom line," said NFB lawyer Carbine. "What I will tell you is that Fedco is gone. It is a thing of the past. Fedco, in this operation, is the very thing charitable solicitation laws are all about.

"We know we have blemishes back there," Carbine said. "The pitch that I am making to you today is that we have sinned in the past and have cleaned up our act and will sin no more. I am not going to make Fedco look like a sweetness and light organization."

The NFB appeal was denied. "I think that you have done a disservice to the blind in those previous years," commissioner Albert Molitor told the NFB officials.

The ABB also had appealed the Pennsylvania fund-raising ban, but the appeal was withdrawn before the commission reached the case.

As with the NFB, the ABB had an extensive cross-membership with the Iowa Commission for the Blind. Jernigan served as ABB president until he became its paid director in 1978; Jernigan's long-time assistant, James Omvig, was treasurer, John N. Taylor, the current director of the commission, was secretary. Taylor, who also once served briefly as president of the NFB, said in an interview that he left the ABB position in 1977.

Fund-Raising Firm

The fund-raising mechanism used by the ABB was similar to—and interwoven with—fund raising at the NFB. Fund raising for the ABB was performed largely by American Mailing Consultants Inc., a private, for-profit firm located at the same address in St. Louis as Fedco.

Bernard Gerchen, the manager and former owner of Fedco, was president of American Mailing until it was dissolved in 1978, according to records on file at the Missouri secretary of state's office.

Potential donors to ABB were sent a package of greeting cards and a letter of solicitation citing the plight of a deaf-blind woman named Margaret Warren, who lives in a Des Moines nursing home.

The Deaf-Blind Hot Line, published by the ABB, "serves as a bridge to the world at large for me and for other deaf-blind persons," Warren said in the appeal.

As with the NFB, donors to the ABB sent money to Bankers Trust, which divided the money between the ABB and its fundraisers. In 1976, for instance, the ABB raised $1,265,258, of which $41,974, or 3.32 percent, went to the ABB's services for the blind, according to an Ernst and Ernst audit performed for the ABB. A total of $8,462 (or 0.67 percent) went to the Hot Line publication cited in the appeal.

No Members for ABB

Unlike the NFB, which claims 50,000 members and says it is the largest blind organization in the nation, the ABB has no members.

Following the action by the Ohio attorney general's office, the ABB stated that it had ceased its association with American Mailing in September 1976.

The ABB's current fund-raising mechanism is unclear, but it is known that its revenues increased to more than $2.2 million in 1977.

Loss of the Fedco operation had a marked effect on the NFB's finances. Its revenues dropped from $3.4 million in 1976 to about $1.3 million in 1977.

The NFB's new appeal includes no neckties (a fund-raising technique disapproved by all major accreditation agencies). It does include a picture of a necktie, accompanied by the message: "Down with neckties! Up with positive attitudes! God closes one door and opens another. . .with your help."

The appeal carries a note from Pat Boone and his daughter, Debby. "I know you'll agree we're all equal in the eyes of God whether we see or not. Let's pray He light [sic] up our lives and give [sic] us true vision and understanding of blind people," Boone says.

With Jernigan's departure to Maryland, Iowa officials apparently have no desire to further explore his activities while he was a state employee.

"When Jernigan left he took his whole bag of tricks with him, didn't he?" said Wythe Willey, assistant to Gov. Robert Ray.


September 9, 1976
Mr. George Kester, Director
Office of Rehabilitation Services
Office of Human Development
Kansas City, Missouri

Dear Mr. Kester:

When you and Mr. Prouty were in my office today, we discussed the enclosed memorandum entitled: "Library Time Study Procedures," which is dated August 27, 1976, and which details the procedures being used in our time studies to determine the allocation between vocational rehabilitation and other rehabilitation in our library. It is my understanding that you feel that this is a reasonable and proper way for us to proceed. I would appreciate it if you could confirm this to me by letter.

As we discussed, the latest time study indicates that approximately 90 percent of our library operation is devoted to vocational rehabilitation. Of course, the percentage will vary somewhat from time study to time study, but unless circumstances change markedly, I do not think the variance will be significant. In order to avoid the necessity of changing percentages from month to month as personnel come and go and as duties shift, we have been cutting well below the 90 percent level for a number of years. We have been charging 75 percent of the library operation to vocational rehabilitation and 25 percent to other rehabilitation. Even though we could (and at a future time may) charge higher than 75 percent to vocational rehabilitation, we are not now doing so.

Very truly yours,
Kenneth Jernigan, Director
Iowa Commission for the Blind


September 14, 1976
Mr. Kenneth Jernigan
Commission for the Blind
Des Moines, Iowa

Dear Mr. Jernigan:

The material dated August 27, 1976, regarding "Library Time Study Procedures," which was transmitted by your letter dated September 9, 1976, has been reviewed by regional office staff.

It is our understanding that these procedures are utilized in conducting the semiannual time studies to determine the allocation of costs between vocational rehabilitation and other rehabilitation activities. We noted that the results of the time study recently conducted indicated 90% chargeable to vocational rehabilitation and 10% to other rehabilitation activities. To date, you have charged 75% of these costs to VR.

We feel that the time-study procedures are reasonable and are satisfactory for use as the basis for allocation of these costs to vocational rehabilitation.

George G. Kester, Director
Office of Rehabilitation Services


Des Moines, Iowa
November 28, 1977


Late in the afternoon of Thursday, November 17th, I and a delegation of blind members from our Des Moines Chapter met with Mr. Bill Maurer, City Editor, Des Moines Register, to discuss two articles by Jerry Szumski which appeared in the Register of October 16th. We expressed our concern over the number of inaccuracies contained in the articles as well as the hostile tone.

Mike Barber, a blind member of the delegation, reminded Mr. Maurer of the discussion during President Carter's visit to Des Moines between Mr. Szumski and Mr. Steve Rapp, a former employee of the National Federation of the Blind. In that discussion Mr. Szumski noted that Mr. Rapp had worked for the National Federation of the Blind and asked what "dirt" he could provide about the organization and Dr. Jernigan.

Mr. Maurer described Mr. Szumski as a kind of bleeding heart and denied that he harbored any hostility. He did admit, however, that Mr. Szumski had made an inquiry of Mr. Rapp along the lines indicated, and stated that Mr. Szumski was tired that evening, had spent too much time in the bar, and that his had been a very unfortunate choice of words.

Sylvester N. Nemmers
National Federation of the Blind of Iowa

State of Iowa
County of Polk

On the 29th day of Nov. 1977 before me came Sylvester N. Nemmers, to me known to be the individual described in and who executed the foregoing instrument and acknowledged that he executed the same.

Sharon Kaye Omvig
Notary Public


November 28, 1977


On November 17, 1977, I, along with a delegation of members from the Des Moines Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa, met with Mr. Bill Maurer, City Editor, Des Moines Register, in his office. Our discussion with him centered primarily around two articles by Mr. Jerry Szumski which appeared on October 16th in the Register. We stated our displeasure with the articles and told him that we felt that the articles were harmful not only to the blind, but to Mr. Jernigan. Mr. Maurer stated that the articles certainly were not meant to be a smear against the organized blind or against Mr. Jernigan and slated that he felt that Mr. Szumski was a very thorough investigative reporter. I told Mr. Maurer that if Mr. Szumski was a thorough investigative reporter and if he did indeed not intend the articles to be a smear against the organized blind and against Mr. Jernigan that he should not have made a statement to Mr. Steve Rapp, a former staff member of the National Federation of the Blind, that he wanted some more "dirt" concerning Mr. Jernigan.

Mr. Maurer admitted that this conversation did take place after the dinner for President Carter. However, he defended Mr. Szumski by saying that he was tired and had had too much to drink and that the choice of words he used was indeed unfortunate.

I felt that Mr. Maurer's attitude was not particularly friendly and that we could expect more of the same from Mr. Szumski and the Register and Tribune.

Michael Barber
Des Moines, Iowa

State of Iowa
County of Polk

On the 29th day of Nov. 1977 before me came Michael Barber, to me known to be the individual described in and who executed the foregoing instrument and acknowledged that he executed the same.

Sharon Kaye Omvig
Notary Public


November 29, 1977


At about 5:30 PM, Thursday, November 17th, a delegation of blind persons, including Sylvester Nemmers, President, National Federation of the Blind of Iowa, and Mike Smith, President, Des Moines Chapter, National Federation of the Blind of Iowa, met with Mr. Bill Maurer, City Editor, Des Moines Register, to express our and the chapter's concern with two articles appearing in the October 16th Register. The two articles dealt, we felt, unfairly with the National Federation of the Blind, the Iowa Commission for the Blind, and Dr. Kenneth Jernigan and they contained numerous inaccuracies.

During the discussion, Mike Barber, one of the blind participants, reminded Mr. Maurer of a conversation between Mr. Jerry Szumski, author of the two articles, and Mr. Steve Rapp, a former employee of the National Federation of the Blind, during the Des Moines visit of President Carter, during which Mr. Szumski reminded Mr. Rapp of his former employment with the National Federation of the Blind and asked Mr. Rapp what "dirt" he could provide regarding the organization.

Mr. Maurer acknowledged that the conversation had occurred along the lines indicated. He stated that Mr. Szumski was tired that night, that he had had a few too many drinks, and that his had been a very unfortunate choice of words.

John N. Taylor
Des Moines, Iowa

State of Iowa
County of Polk

On the 29th day of Nov. 1977 before me came John Taylor, to me known to be the individual described in and who executed the foregoing instrument and acknowledged that he executed the same.

Sharon Kaye Omvig
Notary Public



December 12, 1977

At 9:00 on the morning of December 12, 1977, Mrs. Eyerly, Mrs. Bonnell, and the Director went to the Register and Tribune Building and talked with Editor Michael Gartner in his office. From the beginning of the conversation Mr. Gartner was extremely belligerent and defensive. He almost seemed to be trying to provoke a violent confrontation so that he could salve his conscience for what appeared to be feelings of guilt concerning the way the newspaper had behaved.

Early in the discussion Mrs. Eyerly remarked that it almost seemed as if the paper had a vendetta against the Director. Mr. Gartner responded with such angry rudeness that it was obvious Mrs. Eyerly had hit a sensitive nerve. He said something to this effect: "My God! You of all people should know that newspapers don't have vendettas. You have lived with a former managing editor of this paper for almost fifty years and should know better."

Both Mrs. Eyerly and the Director tried to soothe Mr. Gartner back to some semblance of civil behavior. Later in the conversation he apologized for his outburst of anger, but during the entire discussion it was necessary for the Commission representatives to deal very gently with him and to ignore repeated insults to avoid overt abuse.

The Director said that the Commission was concerned because of the false statements, half-truths, and distortions contained in the recent Jerry Szumski articles. As an example the Director recounted the statements concerning the number of members of the National Federation of the Blind. In his October 16 article Mr. Szumski said that the national treasurer of the Federation had indicated that Federation membership dues were from $2 to $5 per year, that the Council of Better Business Bureaus had stated that the 1976 Federation financial report showed $1,500 for dues, and (even at $2 per person) this would mean something like 700 members, not the 50,000 claimed by the Federation. Mr. Gartner loudly and angrily said something to this effect: "My God!" (Incidentally, my God seems to be a favorite expression of his) "We printed Ralph Sanders' letter and said we were wrong about the membership numbers. What else can we do? Besides, when Jerry Szumski asked Mr. Jernigan how many members the Federation had, Mr. Jernigan refused to tell him."

The Director pointed out to Mr. Gartner that Mr. Szumski had not asked him how many members the Federation had but that he had specifically told Mr. Szumski that the Federation had more than 50,000. Further, both NFB President, Ralph Sanders, and NFB Treasurer, Richard Edlund, say that they went into the membership and dues question with Mr. Szumski in great detail. They said that they explained to him that each state pays $30 to the national treasury, regardless of the number of its members; and individual membership dues are retained in the state and local treasuries. Fifty states times $30 equals $1,500 (not difficult for anyone to understand). (It might be noted here that Iowa alone has more than a thousand Federation members, some three hundred of whom customarily attend state conventions—facts which the Register could easily verify if it chose to do so.)

Mrs. Eyerly pointed out that the Sanders' letter was severely exerpted and that its appearance on an inside page was hardly comparable to the front page coverage given to the Szumski misstatements. Mr. Gartner simply ignored all of this and responded with anger.

He boasted that newspaper editors are not supposed to have feelings or emotions but just to give people "the facts." He apparently did not see the ludicrous inconsistency of these statements with the unwillingness to give equally prominent coverage to correcting the Szumski errors. The Commission representatives tried to point out the numerous other distortions and false statements in the Szumski articles, but Mr. Gartner brushed all of this aside and said that the Szumski articles had no other misstatements at all. He did not seem interested in hearing the facts about the other distortions and falsehoods.

The Director told Mr. Gartner that when Ralph Sanders had gone to see City Editor Bill Maurer and had told him that Jerry Szumski (during the recent visit to Des Moines of President Carter) had asked Steve Rapp, a former employee of the National Federation of the Blind if he couldn't give him some "dirt" on Jernigan, Mr. Maurer had said that this was impossible because Mr. Szumski was not even at the Carter affair. Later, when a group of blind people went to see Editor Maurer, he told them that Mr. Szumski had, indeed, made the statements but that Mr. Szumski had simply been drinking too much and was tired. Apparently (at least, according to the impression of the group) Mr. Maurer seemed to feel that this was explanation enough. The Director showed Mr. Gartner three sworn affadavits (copies attached) from blind persons attending that meeting saying that Mr. Maurer had made the admissions concerning Mr. Szumski's conversation with Mr. Rapp.

Instead of demonstrating his God-like heart of stone—his determination to give the facts (regardless of who might be hurt by them) to his readers, Mr. Gartner flared up in anger. He said something to this effect: "We have already said it was a dumb thing for Jerry Szumski to do, but this doesn't have anything at all to do with his objectivity. If he asked Mr. Rapp for 'dirt' concerning Mr. Jernigan, he probably asked somebody else if they could tell him something good about him." It is probably not necessary to add that Mr. Gartner did not support this flimsy and irrational argument with any substantiating evidence, nor has he yet published a report of it in the paper. Such unethical and unprofessional conduct on the part of a reporter would seem to be newsworthy, and (after all) Mr. Gartner boasts that the Register carries on no vendettas and publishes the "facts"—all of the "facts"— regardless of what the effect may be.

Mrs. Bonnell suggested that it would at least seem reasonable to have some other reporter deal with future stories about the Commission and its Director. Mr. Gartner angrily responded that this was not at all necessary, that Mr. Szumski would be very objective about the matter.

Mr. Gartner's behavior made it clear that it would do no good to point out to him the loaded words and innuendos of the Szumski articles. He simply continued to act in a self-righteous, patronizing manner—almost as if he had done the Commission representatives a favor by talking to them at all.

Mr. Gartner seemed particularly angry that the Associated Press had dared to print an article concerning the speech recently given by Mr. Gashel at Iowa City. Mr. Gartner said that Mr. Gashel's speech was false and libelous and that the Associated Press should not have reported it without checking with the Register. Recognizing the power wielded by the Editor of the Register and having firsthand evidence of the ethics with which that power is used, the Commission representatives did not argue the point with Mr. Gartner. (It might be stated here that they are aware of no false statements in the Gashel speech but believe it is accurate and factual.)

The three Commission representatives did everything they could to soften Mr. Gartner's belligerence and anger. Toward the end of the conversation he seemed relatively calm and relaxed. He said that he would try to come and visit the Commission's program after the first of the year. It will be interesting to see whether he keeps this promise. It will also be interesting to see whether Mr. Szumski continues his pattern of attack upon the Director and the degree to which the falsehoods and distortions are eliminated.

Kenneth Jernigan
Mrs. Jeannette Eyerly
Mrs. Nell Bonnell

State of Iowa
County of Polk

On the 11th day of January 1978 before me came Kenneth Jernigan, Jeannette Eyerly, Nell Bonnell, to me known to be the individuals described in and who executed the foregoing instrument and acknowledged that they executed the same.

Commission Expires
Sharon Kaye Omvig
Notary Public




President of Non-Profit Blind Society Given Whopping Contract

From the Minneapolis Daily American June 2, 1972

The Minneapolis Society for the Blind has refused to answer questions regarding bids on a federally assisted construction project.

The questions arose when the Daily American learned that Richard Johnstone, president of the Society, also is president of the South Side Plumbing and Heating Company, which has the mechanical contract on the project.

The Minneapolis Society for the Blind—a United Fund agency, is a charitable organization chartered by the State of Minnesota as a non-profit corporation.

It receives funds from the Hennepin County Welfare Board, the State of Minnesota, the federal government and the United Fund as well as other private donations.

The Society is constructing an addition to its workshop at 1936 Lyndale Ave. S. The total cost of the project could not be obtained from the Society.

Frank Johnson, executive director of the Society, told the D.A. that the building would cost "about $800,000." However, he would not divulge details of the contracts or of the bidding.

Frank A. Church, a U.S. official in the Chicago office of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare said that "special problems" are raised if a member of the board bids on such a contract.

"Bids are always supposed to be open and competitive," he said. "In cases like this, the board should take special efforts to make sure that the bidding is open and competitive, and that the bids are opened in an open meeting."

Johnson said that the bids were opened "late in October" of last year. He said that the board of directors did not open the bids, but "delegated that responsibility to the building committee."

Johnstone, whose firm got the mechanical contract, is chairman of that building committee as well as president of the Society for the Blind.

Johnson refused to tell the Daily American where and when the bids were opened, or if that meeting was open. He hung up the telephone when the reporter persisted in asking for more information.

President Johnstone of the Society refused to say who was involved for the Society in handling the project or in the bidding.

Stanley Potter, director of the State Services for the Blind, said that Johnstone, former president James H. Grenell, and Frank Johnson were active in working with state officials to get a commitment of up to $372,000 in federal funds for the addition.

Potter said that $225,000 already is allocated. The grant is on a matching basis, with the federal government putting up 45 percent and the Society putting up the rest.

He said that the original request to the state was for $960,000. Of that, $133,000 was disallowed because it was for site acquisition.

Frank Johnson was asked by the D.A. to supply the current list of directors and a copy of the report of the Society's finances which is required to be filed with the state.

He did not supply either piece of information.

Neither the United Fund, the Hennepin County Welfare Board, nor the State Services for the Blind has a copy of the list of directors. The list was supplied by a blind man whose membership application in the Society was denied.

President Johnstone said that about $100,000 still remains to be raised to complete the addition.

The architect for the project is the firm of Hills, Gilbertson and Fisher, Inc. The firm said it had no connection with the Society, other than drawing the plans.

The general contractor for the addition is Ernest M. Ganley Co., Inc. The firm said it had no other connection with the Society.

A spokesman for the Ganley Co., said that the electrical and mechanical contracts held by Johnstone's company were completely separate, and he did not have any information on those costs.

Sterling Electric Co. has the electrical contract.

The Society has been under attack by various organizations representing blind people in Minnesota because of the Society's alleged secrecy, "paternalistic and oppressive attitude," and failure to allow representatives elected by the blind to serve on the board of the Society.

Mike Nestor of the United Fund confirmed that one of the requirements for participating charitable institutions to stay in the United Fund is for such institutions to make "continuing efforts to involve the persons it serves in policy-making decisions."

Joyce Hoffa, publicity director of The National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota, said that the Society has consistently excluded blind people who want to serve from its board.

"There is a certain amount of tokenism on the board of the Society," said Miss Hoffa, a former English teacher who holds a master of arts degree. "But we've been trying for two years to get someone on the board who really represents the blind."

She said that there are a few blind people on the board, but that most of them have been added within the last year, and none of them are served by the programs of the Society.

"Only one member of the board ever has condescended to show up at blind organization meetings when we've asked them to," said Miss Hoffa, "and she was a newly-appointed member who said she didn't know who else was on the board."

She said the blind groups contend that, since the Society is using state and federal funds, the blind should have representation on the board elected by the blind themselves.

Besides the U.S. grant for the addition, the state pays the Society about $180,000 a year for training the blind in vocational work. Another large part of the Society's operations are manufacturing sub-contracts secured under federal subsidy.

The United Fund allocated $117,000 to the Society last year.

Joe Virden, chairman of the legislative committee of the Federation of the Blind, said, that when his group began pressing the Society to add members elected by the blind, the Society "expelled 2,000 members."

He explained that before this year, a donation of $1 gave a contributor membership in the Society, with the right to vote at the annual meeting in January.

"We had the blind take out memberships, so they could have a vote at the general meeting," he said. "But the board of the Society changed their membership setup so that only the board could vote."

He said that this violates the United Fund requirements, which provide that any changes in dues, membership status and so on must be cleared by the United Fund.

"But when we inquired about it at the United Fund, we got a letter saying that the matter had been referred to Frank Johnson, executive director oi' the Society," he said.

The Society operates a Sheltered Work Shop for the blind, contracts with the state to provide certain training and rehabilitation services and works with the county on some services, and provides charitable social services for the blind.

The State Director for Services to the Blind said that in areas which the state provides tuition money, that the Society "is the only one in the state which is doing these things." These are the Rehabilitation Center, the Occupational Treatment and Training Programs, and the Community Services Programs—this last mainly for shut-ins.

"The blind are fed up with being treated as mental incompetents," said Miss Hoffa. "We think we deserve some representation on the board. As things are, they won't even listen to us."

Besides Richard Johnstone, president, and Frank Johnson, executive director, the officers of the Society include Robert L. Nash, chairman of the board; Mrs. J. G. Atwood, executive vice-president; Mrs. Roger W. Buckholtz, secretary; and William Stephens, treasurer.


What follows is an exact transcript of remarks made at the NAC meeting in Oklahoma City, on the afternoon of Saturday, November 10, 1979.

Dr. Otis Stevens, as chairman of the meeting, introduced the next speaker as follows:—"Now we'll hear from Dick Johnstone, President of the Minneapolis Society for the Blind."


Golly! How do you follow all this? There's nothing I can add to what these people have said about accreditation, and I frankly don't intend to even try and do it, because everything they have said applies equally to the Minneapolis Society for the Blind. Repetition at this point, I believe, is rather senseless. But, as Minneapolis… President of the Minneapolis Society for the Blind, I wish to welcome all of you here, and as president of the largest organization of its type in the United States, I again want to welcome you here. (The last few words were almost obscured by a burst of laughter). And I wish to call this first meeting of the members to order, (Laughter and applause), and to thank you for the support given to our election. I'm talking to you as a winner, not a loser. (Applause). We won by fighting, we, that's you, that's me, not negotiation. This I say to you proudly. I'm also proud of every one of you, especially Dr. Bleecker and NAC for their deep, deep help. As I said, rather than repeat the many helps that NAC—and guidance that NAC has given to the MSB, I would like to go to several personal topics where NAC has played a part. I believe when I talk about them you'll understand what I'm trying to say. They will include our board, the NAC agency itself, the MSB election, and then a final invitation.

As to our board, in the ALL meeting approximately six months ago, I indicated to the ALL mee… people here just as I'm saying to you: the board as chosen by any of us must be strong. Back when I said that at the ALL meeting, I did not honestly realize how strong they had to be. Only a few of us that have been under attack can really understand the pressures put on us as board and agency managers. It's.. it's unbelievable! Fortunately, with NAC's help we have been able to select board people that are strong. To the best of my knowledge, not one single board person, sighted or blind, caved in under the pressure at Minneapolis. I think one of the reasons is not only NAC's standards that we've operated by, but because we've learned from these standards that all agencies must be business-oriented. I don't mean totally business, now. They have to have feelings for rehabilitation, blind training, and the work opportunities on the outside, but basically, without a business-oriented atmosphere, success cannot happen. Let's face it: take a look at Philadelphia! Where are they? Each board member must contribute: if they can't contribute, they should be off. We have looked at the… uh… at each of them to a point of expertise, and we expect each and every board member to contribute their expertise to our agency. NAC has helped us, helped us strengthen our board and our organization.

Now, as to NAC: all agencies in this room, if they do not belong, should. Our election is just one small case in point of the strength of belonging to NAC. NAC has proven leadership; all NAC needs now is a few more teeth and the money to apply them. Money can come to NAC, the same way it was lost, with pressure. All of us should start a write-in campaign to RSA in support of funding for NAC. Gene Apple has written a letter; I'll be glad to get copies to people that need it. But also, uh, I'm sure NAC would help any… assist any and all people in applying some pressure with letters. Letters also should go to congressmen and senators. Think of it this way: if we worked as hard, as a group, to get the RSA funds to NAC again as the NFB did to disrupt them, RSA funds would be back quickly, let's be honest about it. The only reason they're not is because we do not act as a group. With additional funding, NAC can consider programs and, I believe, would be better able to raise funds through foundations and other money-lending groups. Help can be had in all these things. MSB has written a letter; our letter has gone out, copies are also available. We hope that we can give some of the leadership and guidance that NAC has assisted us with. Letters should also go to NIB for more and better support. I believe we have a good director in NIB, and I think cooperation between Dr. Bleecker and George can be beneficial to our whole movement. I believe there's one more point that all of us have to face, a reality. If we don't set our own standards, someone else is going to. Let's all support NAC fully! Believe me, NAC is worth fighting for.

Getting to our election: in the previous two or three years, Minneapolis Society for the Blind has gone around the country talking to people. We've talked ourself literally to death, in Minnesota, New York, Chicago, Washington, I… I… couldn't hope to mention all the places! Ninety percent of the time, uh, the advice given to us was to settle, negotiate. One voice from the wilderness cried out: "Fight!" He's sitting right here, with the glasses, Dr. Bleecker. God bless him! (Applause). After all, we are the agencies that deliver services, not rhetoric. Remember that! NAC is familiar in a fight of this type: it needs no help with the issues. Minneapolis Society of the… for the Blind also needs no help with issues. Boy, we… One of our defendants, for example, called me on the phone one night at eleven o'clock, and I, talked to her till two… two in the morning. And after all this talk, I finally said: "Mary, what are you trying to tell me? What do you want?" She says: "Your assets, that's the only thing we're after." Now, how do you negotiate with people like this? You can't do it. NAC has a policy right now, in hand, ready to go. They can help you in any problems with the NFB without board action. Dr. Bleecker has that authority right now, unlike other agencies who've had to fiddle around and go to their boards. Believe me, MSB is going to have a policy the same way: any help you need, you'll get it out of us. By our own experience, NAC… NAC is prompt, very prompt in comparison to other groups, as I said. In helping us, NAC was number one, first on the scene. Help was just unbelievable! Anything we needed we got.

As far as the election proper goes, a lot of you do not know, or possibly cannot appreciate, the type of people that you're dealing with. First of all, I'm going to tell you this: when you do bargain with them, they are bargaining in very poor faith, period. There's no other way to put it. To give you an example of what I'm trying to say, we were negotiating with them, and finally, as you will see a little later on, the negotiations finally did break down completely. When we got their proxies in, the NFB proxies, we found they had been soliciting one month in advance of when we started! They had been going out for proxies one month while we were still negotiating in good faith. Don't tell me you can talk to people like this! Number two, we found in their proxies whole towns signed up. Now, that in itself isn't bad, really. The only thing wrong is, one person went to a phonebook and wrote all the proxies themself—or him- or herself. The handwriting was the same on all the proxies! Now, this is a fact. In fact, the attorneys yesterday, in reviewing these proxies, their attorney—the NFB attorney—finally looked at our attorney and said: "Well, you'll give us one out of each town, won't you?" (Laughter). Okay, how do you negotiate with those people? Three, it has been reliably reported to us that a Baltimore woman got fired while working for the National Federation for the Blind in the main federal… uh… national office. Her crime for being fired was, she refused to falsify proxies that were not filled in correctly. She thought that was wrong. Dr. Jernigan—I use the "Dr." in quotes, he's no more Dr. than I am—fired her. In her words, she says: "I was royally fired!" And that's a direct quote. Our attorneys are taking depositions and affidavits from her; the Baltimore Sun will have a story on this in the future. The two main plaintiffs in the case sent over to our Eust… called our Eustace Home in St. Paul. It's a home for older NFB blind people that have worked all their lives, saved their nickels, dimes and pennies, literally, so they'd have a home to live in in their elderly years. One ninety-five-year-old blind-deaf man living in the home felt strongly enough to put… cast his proxy for the Minneapolis Society for the Blind instead of the NFB. (Applause). We felt the same way, but what happened? Is, they went over and threatened to throw him out in the street for doin' it! We got wind of this, we called our friends on the paper, and whatever. One day later, the attorney and the president and the treasurer of the NFB were over apologizing to this man. Again, do you negotiate with people like this? To throw a ninety-five-year-old man in the street? With these and many other problems in the election, we anticipate probably going back to court. In fact, we welcome it! I think it's time the press, who has long looked at NAC, MSB, and many of your own agencies a little askance, should know the type of people we're all dealing with. As I say, we welcome going back.

Now, as to the results of the election: I'm happy to report that the United… uh… the Minneapolis Society for the Blind has approximately a two to one success ratio in proxies. In other words, out of twenty-four members to the board of directors, sixteen will be ours, eight will be theirs. If I was a member of the NFB, in Minnesota or nationally, I believe I'd ask some questions. Our final offer, when we were negotiating in good faith and they were out gathering proxies, was thirteen seats out of twenty-four, which is a majority, twenty-five thousand dollars cash settlement, and six years' uncontested, absolute membership on our board. What did they get? They have, to the best of our knowledge right now, eight seats instead of thirteen, no money instead of twenty-five thousand dollars—in fact, they're paying their attorneys now, so it's extra money out of pocket—and they have a two-year term on our board. I think, another pr… we all have to ask ourself this question: if the NFB in fact has fifty thousand members, where the hell were they? (Laughter and applause). We must be kinda getting in Mr. Jernigan's craw a little bit. On… uh… public radio, was it, Jess… what, this week?—he made the announcement that MSB is now in the pocket of the Eastern influence. (Laughter). Will you be nice to us out East, you know? But all these things point up the fact that possibly we are getting there. We have a long ways to go, but possibly we're making a little chink in that armorplate. One thing we did learn, and we've researched this a little and I hope you will, too, to prove it to yourselves: fight. Every time you fight the NFB, they lose. Name one time when they have been challenged or fought, whether in court, in public, or wherever, that they've won, if challenged! Name one! I'm deafened by your silence. Sit and think about that a little while. Negotiate? Never.

Enough of this for now: I want to thank two people. God knows there's hundreds I should be thanking, but two outstanding people, one is here, one isn't. I want this gentleman to stand up: Mr. McAlistair Upshaw. Where is he? There he is. (Applause). This gentleman, he's from Detroit, alone got almost four hundred proxy votes for us, individually. (Applause). I can just do nothing but thank you. The other person I want to thank is a member of our staff, Mr. Ed McGuire. I wish he could be here. Ed on his own, just as Mr. Upshaw, got almost eight hundred votes. You sit and think about that, one individual bringing in numbers like that, and like what Mr. Upshaw did! It's… uh… it is… uh… I… I tell you, I'm a flop compared to it. I believe the one huge result of our election—and if you people don't explain it, you're making a big, big mistake—is now an absolute fact: Mr. Jernigan does not speak for all the blind.

One final and, to me, interesting note of the election—and here's where I'm gonna run into trouble. Support was appreciated and received by MSB from many groups: the AFB, ACB, New York Groups. Pennsylvania, California, Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Oklahoma—good Lord, I couldn't hope to name 'em all!—Michigan, I… I mean, the proxies and votes came from everywhere. But here's something you must think about: I hope it bothers you like it does me. Our thanks must go to an outside group that gave us the largest number of votes of any group. It was not, believe it or not, one of our close allies, but, oddly enough, the NFB itself. …(End of cassette tape; change to next cassette). …interests of the legitimate blind, which I consider us to be, to me act somewhat like an ostrich: be nice, hide your head, and the troubles, namely the NFB, might go away. Last night, Durward and I had a short talk with Jess Rosten, and he feels—and he is certainly entitled to his feelings and thoughts—that we can convert them. Well, now, possibly that's correct. I personally don't believe it. After having gone through this election and seeing the things that have been pulled, I don't see how you can convert anybody like this. I equated NAC a little bit to the United States changing the Ru… uh… Russian philosophy of world conquest: no way! Dr. Bleecker knows, MSB knows, the only thing the National Federation of the Blind respects is strength. The power is with us right now, if we will use our heads and use it. If we unite and help one another, as you united to help us, we can't lose. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We have positive, constructive programs. We have a legacy of success. In reality, the NFB has nothing constructive, only against every successful, decent program. It's time we go on the offensive, quit hiding our heads in the sand. I call on you, I call on all of you, to stand up, be proud of your accomplishments! Programs and agencies banding together in strength can only secure success for NAC and all other legitimate agencies. I want to challenge you, too, to something else. We have a victory with the Minneapolis Society for the Blind. I said we; you're members, remember. Don't dry up and quit, as we did when we had Jernigan on the run in Iowa—and we did! Sure as God made green apples, we died on the vine! The NFB is going to come back and fight harder than ever, now. The pressure is on us, the legitimate blind, to counter the new attacks that are sure to come from Baltimore. Don't be lulled, as we were in Iowa. Help keep up—in fact, increase the pressure for our programs and pro… progress. I was sorry to hear about Resolution 1 on the NFB this morning. Maybe I'm not even supposed to know about it, I don't know; but I do. By not adopting this resolution this morning, I feel you've taken a first step in caving in to our Baltimore friends. Please, I beg of you, please reconsider your action! Strength, not weakness, is respected. An action such as this is another sign of weakness on behalf of the legitimate blind and could cause the NFB to see weakness where they—in a group such as ours—should see only strength.

Last on my list of things, I would like to express an invitation to NAC to hold its convention in Minneapolis in 1980, on behalf of the Minneapolis Society for the Blind and the Gopher State Associates. I hope you will consider it, and I hope we'll see you there next year. I would like to ask Dick Bleecker to come up here. This gentleman here has done more to help us as a society, as an agency, than I can ever repay. I just wanna shake his hand in front o' you people and thank him personally. (Applause).


The Des Moines Register

(From Time, December 17, 1979. Reprinted by permission from TIME, The Weekly Newsmagazine; Copyright Time Inc. 1979.)

First they study the paper for signs and portents. Later they make a pilgrimage to the Des Moines Register and Tribune Building. Candidates seek the paper's blessing and pray for its endorsement. Out-of-town journalists beg background and clues. The Iowa presidential caucuses are just six weeks away, and for the moment the Des Moines Register is just about the most closely read and eagerly courted newspaper in the land.

The Register has everyone's attention because it is Iowa's only statewide paper (27% of all Iowa families subscribe, 40% on Sunday), with the power to define issues and influence election results. It is also sophisticated, readable and not at all bashful about its leadership role. Says David Oman, press secretary to Iowa Governor Robert Ray: "They feel they have a mission to set the agenda for Iowa and to prod the slate on important issues."

Lately the Register has been making some national headlines of its own by sponsoring a debate between leading Democrats on Jan. 7 (G.O.P. contenders meet two days earlier). The Register initially invited President Carter and Senator Edward Kennedy but not Jerry Brown; the editors felt the California Governor was not mounting a serious challenge in Iowa. Protested Brown: "I'm troubled… that in a free society I have to convince an editor that I'm a bona fide candidate." Nevertheless, Brown tried to do just that: he made several trips to the state, set up a campaign committee, met with the newspaper's editorial board and generally paid the Hawkeye Slate the kind of homage that the Register felt was fitting and proper. Last week the editors finally extended him an invitation.

The Register (circ. 209,000 daily; 392,500 Sunday) started getting its own way back in 1903 when Gardner Cowles Sr. bought the paper and began distributing it throughout the state. Its sister paper the Tribune (circ. 83,000) is distributed primarily in Des Moines and nearby counties. The Register has six news bureaus around Iowa, an elaborate stringer network and a large, aggressive contingent at the statehouse in Des Moines. Four reporters, two editorial writers, a columnist and an editor are assigned to Washington. They concentrate on topics that have special significance back in Iowa, most notably farm issues. Bureau Chief James Risser won Pulitzer Prizes in 1976 (writing about grain-export corruption) and in 1979 (for stories about soil conservation). The Iowa staff has exposed substandard conditions in old-age homes, written extensively about railroad safety problems and tangled with insurance companies. Politics gets blanket coverage year round. "We're loaded with political junkies," says Editor and President Michael G. Gartner. "We cover the hell out of the state. We smother it."

The Register contains a lot of the bright, breezy writing of the sort found in the Wall Street Journal, which is not surprising since both Gartner and Executive Editor James Gannon are Journal alumni. Reporters are encouraged to write imaginatively about offbeat and humorous subjects. After two weeks in Cedar Rapids, for example, the new Register bureau chief filed a delightful yarn about how the city's street plan made it impossible to go north. This kind of creative license adds to the esprit de corps in the newsroom. Says Managing Editor David Witke: "For many of the people on the staff, the Register is the place they most wanted to work when they were young. This is the place they hoped to end up at."

Ambitious journalism requires a thoughtful audience, and Iowa's population is well educated (it has one of the highest literacy rates, 99.5%, in the U.S.), affluent and increasingly cultivated. Chief Political Reporter James Flansburg, who patiently shares his expertise with hordes of out-of-state journalists, says he writes for "the boys around the stove in my father's hardware store in Tiffin, Iowa. You have to speak plainly or get your ass chewed." The boys, he quickly adds, are sophisticated businessmen who run farms worth millions of dollars. Says Gartner: "The Register reader cares more about news and current events than people in other places."

Politically, Iowa is a fairly progressive state, closer in outlook to liberal Minnesota and Wisconsin than conservative Kansas or Indiana. Even so, the Register is a couple of steps to the left of Iowa opinion. Says Editorial Page Editor Gil Cranberg: "If I hated the paper as much as some of our letter writers do, I don't know why I would buy it." The paper favors abortion on demand, gun control and SALT II. It strongly supports Governor Ray, a moderate Republican, and pushed hard last year for the re-election of Senator Dick Clark, a liberal Democrat. The day after Clark was defeated, the Register published an editorial entitled "The Best Man Lost." Says Publisher David Kruidenier, grandson of Gardner Cowles Sr.: "I now regret it. We sounded like poor losers and were second-guessing the people."

The Register's circulation has declined some in recent years, mostly because fewer families find they can afford it along with their local evening paper. It is also being pinched hard by inflation and high energy costs. "The newspaper was built on the idea of cheap gas, cheap newsprint and cheap reporters," says Gartner. "It's a new game now." Fortunately, though, the paper can count on some old and deep loyalties. Explains Reporter David Yepsen: "The Register is part of the Iowa experience, like tall corn and snow days home from school."


March 7, 1978
Senator Earl Willits
Des Moines, Iowa

Dear Senator Willits:

In 1958 the Iowa Commission for the Blind was ranked 48th among the 48 states; today the Iowa Commission for the Blind is a world leader in work with the blind. This did not happen by chance. It did not happen because the Commission staff was an 8:00 to 4:30, "lock-your-desk-and-forget-it" organization.

I was working at the Commission in 1958. I was 20 years old, withdrawn, ashamed of being blind, and frightened of the future. I was hired at a substandard wage with the understanding that since I was blind I would have to prove myself, and that then we would talk of an increase. Time passed. I took care of case dictation, state and federal forms, and correspondence for the Field Consultant, Home Teacher, Employment Placement Specialist and the Chief of Rehabilitation. I also took care of phone answering and reception duties for our area, and handled some of the correspondence of the Director. One day when I took some correspondence to the Director for his signature, I got up my courage and timidly asked, "Do you think we may be able to talk about my salary one of these days?"

"You must remember that we need to take into consideration your blindness, but perhaps one of these days we will be able to talk." As I turned away, he said, "Just a minute, Revanne. From now on please add the postscript 'This letter was typed by a blind transcriber' to all correspondence." Those words burned deep. It did not matter that I could do the work. That just didn't count; I was blind and was not to be judged on performance. The fury of impotent rage mingled with the humiliation of that damning phrase and all that it implied. "This letter was typed by a blind transcriber."

One more blind person had come face to face with the bleak reality that the real limitations of blindness were not the blindness itself but society's attitude toward blindness. One more blind person had to face that devastating image of a future as a vague shadow on the outskirts of society shrouded in shame, fear, despair and self-hatred.

The prophesy of my future was not to be fulfilled because halfway across the continent there was a young man who had a dream. This young man not only dared to dream but cared enough to try to make that dream become a reality. When he was called, he left California, the then Mecca in the world of work with the blind. He left California and the security of a well-paying job to become Director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, that 48th-ranked, bottom-of-the-heap organization. When he was in college, his greatest desire was that of becoming a lawyer, but he was told, "You can't do that! You're blind! He went on to become a successful teacher. The law profession was deprived of a brilliant lawyer, but the blind of the world were given a dynamic leader. That young Kenneth Jernigan could have become a bitter, destructive force, but he believed in himself and in others like him. He believed that each blind person deserved the opportunity to be judged on his own merits not by what society thought about his blindness, and he chose to dedicate his life to that end.

Mr. Jernigan came to Iowa, and he talked with that 20-year-old girl at the Commission. Supper was forgotten as he sat on the corner of her desk in the empty office and shared his dream with her. Her image of that shadowy figure on the outskirts of society faded as he talked of blind people leading independent, productive, self-respecting lives. He forced me to hold a white cane—that symbol of all I despised within myself—and led me to the realization that it could serve as my badge of independence if I could only believe. We walked together. I trusted him, and he had faith in me. From then and there it was forward: attending the new Orientation Center, on to a college degree, a successful teaching career, and finally marriage and a family.

Seventeen years later I sat at my husband's bedside. "The cancer has spread. You have perhaps two months to live. With chemotherapy and radiation we may be able to retard its progress, but there is nothing else we can do." The door closed and when it was possible to break the stark silence with words, my husband said quietly, "Thank God, you can handle it. I know you'll do whatever needs to be done." He was not talking to that vague shadow on the outskirts of society. He was talking to his wife, the mother of his three sons, the former teacher who did volunteer work in the local school system, and a respected member of the community.

Can you ask why we love and respect the man who has become our leader? Can you feel the anguish of that young girl as she strove to believe in his dream and ached with the knowledge that he might be crushed by life's harsh realities? Is there any doubt that we need to work together in the National Federation of the Blind to insure that those who would dash that dream to bits may never succeed?

Mr. Jernigan has said, "They tell us that there is no discrimination—that the blind are not a minority. But we know who we are, and we will never go back." I say, we not only know who we are and will never go back, but we know where we've been and will not allow others to be doomed to that hell.

Sincerely yours,
(Mrs.) Revanne Duckett
Des Moines, Iowa

It costs money to bring this information to you. If you want to help with the expenses, make checks payable to National Federation of the Blind, and send them to:

Richard Edlund, Treasurer
National Federation of the Blind
Box 11185
Kansas City, Kansas 66111

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