FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
National Federation of the Blind of Michigan to Hold Protest
Lansing, Michigan (May 19, 2010): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) of Michigan will again take to the streets of Lansing on Thursday, May 20, to protest what it feels is an atmosphere of cover-up, secrecy, and intimidation by Patrick Cannon, director of the Michigan Commission for the Blind. The NFB of Michigan alleges violations by the Michigan Commission for the Blind of the Michigan Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act, as well as improper firings of blind staff members for membership in the NFB and wrongful dismissal of a commission board member.
The picket will be held at noon on Thursday at the headquarters of the Michigan Commission for the Blind at 201 N. Washington Square.
The NFB of Michigan has requested a copy of an audit of the commission conducted by the Rehabilitation Services Administration. Commission staff, including the director, have referred to the document several times in public meetings, yet deny existence of the document. The commission board went into closed session to discuss issues raised by the NFB of Michigan. None of the items purported to be discussed were exempt from the Michigan Open Meetings Act.
“The business of the Michigan Commission for the Blind is not classified information,” said Larry Posont, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan. “This is a public agency with public funds; there is no conceivable reason to cover anything up. We thought this administration stood for openness and transparency in the conduct of taxpayer business.”
The NFB of Michigan also believes that blind entrepreneurs who operate food service businesses in state buildings have been removed from their jobs for being leaders in advocacy on behalf of blind business operators.
“It seems beyond coincidence that every time a Federation member is elected to lead blind people, they lose their jobs,” said Terry Eagle, an advocate in the NFB of Michigan. “Pat Cannon’s bullying and intimidation needs to stop. We will not stop until blind people can work without fear of unfair and illegal removal from their jobs.”