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Federationists Out in Cold, Again, This Time In Kalamazoo, Demand Commission 'Bring Boone Back'

DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich., Feb. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Federation of the Blind of Michigan (NFBM) is picketing the Michigan Commission for the Blind Training Center, 1541 Oakland Drive, on Tuesday, February 23, 2010, at 11:45 AM regardless of weather.  

"Patrick Cannon is trying to bully and intimidate blind people, including the Michigan Commission for the Blind board, and we are not going to take it," said Larry Posont, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan.  "Weather is no obstacle when it comes to standing up for the rights of blind people to work in peace and belong to any organization they choose.  Being a member of the National Federation of the Blind should not cause anyone to lose their job," continued Posont.  

Patrick Cannon, Director of the Michigan Commission for the Blind, fired Christine Boone, Director of the Michigan Commission for the Blind Training Center.  Cannon claimed the reason was a Marksman program Boone had authorized to help blind students realize that they can do most all the things they ever did despite their blindness.  

"Michigan is an outdoor state.  Many blind people learned to hunt and use guns as young people with their parents who hunted in Michigan's forests and fields.  They ought to be able to continue to work, live, and enjoy recreation, and feel confident," said Posont.  

"We (the NFBM) have been accused of trying to destroy the Commission," said Michael Powell, First Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan.  "We created the Commission and have high expectations for its potential to advocate and work to help blind people achieve first-class citizenship.  The kinds of confidence-building activities that Boone was overseeing are exactly what we expect the Commission to do.  The Commission, with a positive attitude toward blindness and blind people, is what we want; we certainly don't wish to destroy it.  No state employee should ever use his or her position to take good people's jobs away without reason, the way Cannon has," Powell said.  

The Federation says it will continue to protest and tell the public about the Commission for the Blind until it is restored to a place where blind people can work without fear of reprisals.  Along with Boone's firing, David Robinson (another Federation member working in the Lansing office) was fired, allegedly due to his NFB membership.  Mark Eagle was forced off the Commission Board of Directors after Cannon accused him of unethical behavior, though nothing was ever proven.  Eagle had been critical of Cannon's handling of public comments by blind people.  

The Commission oversees the Business Enterprise Program.  There are currently a record number of hearings and federal arbitrations against the Commission.  The Federation maintains that Cannon has fired several blind people from this program for speaking out, including both presidents of the Federation's merchant division, which advocates on behalf of blind Michigan entrepreneurs.  

The Federation contends that Cannon has undue influence over appointments of Commission board members, board members who, by law, supervise him and the agency he runs.  The board cannot manage him, because he sits on the Governor's cabinet, an equal-level position with the Department of Energy, Labor, & Economic Growth Department Director, who is his superior according to the state organization chart.  

About the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan:

The National Federation of the Blind of Michigan (NFBM) is a proud affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind.  Originally founded in 1941, the NFBM has been a leader in advocacy and has worked tirelessly to change what it means to be blind in Michigan.  Among our accomplishments are:  bringing NFB-NEWSLINE® to Michigan, establishing the Michigan Commission for the Blind, White Cane legislation, Braille Literacy for Blind Children legislation, and much more.

SOURCE National Federation of the Blind of Michigan

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SOURCE National Federation of the Blind of Michigan
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