State Committee of Vendors Meeting

Altamonte Springs, Florida: November 1, 2002

The State Committee of Vendors’ Chairperson, Mr. Tom Spiliotis called the meeting to order.

Roll Call

SLA Staff

Other Division Staff


Mr. Spiliotis introduced and welcomed Mr. Steve Moss who has joined the Rehab Center by contract with Daytona Beach Community College to coordinate the Business Enterprises Program training initiative. He deferred a more elaborate introduction and discussion until later in the meeting.

Mr. Spiliotis then introduced Ms. Michele Nelson representing Gentry Insurance Agency. She discussed a variety of insurance issues and coverage plans. She can be reached by calling (407) 886-3301, ext. 103 or by emailing MICHELEN@CFL.RR.COM . She provided a handout to the Committee, which summarized her comments (see Attachment 1).

Mr. Gaudette asked about the political aspects of having so many cafeterias in the Tallahassee area. Ms. Murphey responded regarding some of the historical development of these cafeterias over the past number of years.

Mr. Spiliotis indicated that the Training sub-committee had met in Daytona Beach this past Monday to discuss the new curriculum being developed there. He re-introduced Mr. Moss who provided some insights as to his background. After graduating from college in 1977 he became employed at Ricardo’s Italian Restaurant in Daytona Beach, where he ultimately became its manager.

Mr. Moss shared his viewpoints on the curriculum that he is charged to develop. Mr. Harper asked how Mr. Moss would be involved in the evaluation process. He responded that he did not know at the present time but certainly felt he would play a role.

Mr. Moss shared his perceptions about the challenges, which face him and face the program. Mr. Spiliotis thanked Mr. Moss for his comments and pledged his and the Committee’s support.

Mr. Harper brought an issue up regarding a threat involving our locations at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville. Ms. Murphey said she would take the lead on investigating this situation.

Mr. Spiliotis expressed his frustration regarding various matters referred to the Department of Education’s legal services. He specifically mentioned the situation regarding the Post Offices in Miami. Ms. Murphey said she knew the Department’s legal staff is understaffed due to the illness and subsequent treatments of the Division’s primary litigator.

Ms. Murphey also shared that there had been tremendous strides legally with the federal Bureau of Prisons. Mr. Spiliotis said he was displeased with the lack of communications regarding this matter and similar developments. He acknowledged that Mr. Kiser and Mr. Elliott were not present to discuss this. Ms. Murphey said she would share the need for closer communications with Mr. Elliott. She said that sometimes developments are so quick to change that to devote time to constantly call everyone with non-formal information would be unproductive. Mr. Spiliotis agreed but said he wanted to explore alternatives to learning about program developments through the "rumor mill."

Mr. Spiliotis said he had recently received an email communication from Mr. Kiser regarding a recent Rehab Services Administration Directive on "active participation." Mr. Newcomb read the directive (see Attachment 2). Mr. Spiliotis said he felt confident that the relationship between the Division and the Committee embraced the directive’s content.

Mr. Renderman asked if this Program Directive could be shared with vendors and Mr. Newcomb said that it would be when the minutes of this meeting got posted to the web. He suggested that a notice be sent to all vendors in print to encourage them to access information posted to the web and this notice could also advise the vendor about the Division’s address change.

Mr. Rose presented his viewpoints regarding a situation with a newly licensed vendor that exemplifies some of the shortcomings of the current training process. Mr. Newcomb shared his views reinforcing the need for improvements in the training process.

Mr. Rose informed the Committee that he was affronted by not being invited to the recent meeting in Daytona Beach for curriculum development. Mr. Spiliotis said he too was affronted by this oversight since he had appointed Mr. Rose to the Training Sub-Committee. Mr. Newcomb said that the curriculum meeting was not a meeting of the Training Sub-Committee per se but definitely a meeting that had good representation from the sub-Committee. Mr. Lover, Mr. Harper, Mr. Weitzel and Ms. Fink provided that representation.

The Committee discussed the relative merits of having one OJT trainer verses multiple trainers. Mr. Lover said he felt it important that the Committee as a whole adopt a recommendation as to address the OJT needs of the program.

November 2, 2002

Mr. Spiliotis opened the meeting.

Roll Call

SLA Staff

Mr. Spiliotis then initiated a discussion of the Patrick Air Force Base (PAFB) business opportunity. He explained how the opportunity came to the Division and how it would work. FSIG (a food service contracting company in Gainesville, Georgia) approached the Division asking for its partnership to procure the food service contract with PAFB for military personnel feeding.

The blind vendor contracts with FSIG, as does the Division for five years. There are three options for the blind vendor regarding remuneration.

  1. Flat salary of $50,000.00
  2. 60/40 Split (Manager/FSIG) on projected profit
  3. 60/40 Split (Manager/FSIG) on actual profit

Set aside is based on the amount the vendor receives. The blind vendor can compete for the next five-year contract.

Mr. Newcomb acknowledged that there are aspects of military feeding ventures that need to be explored, such as the impact on transfer and promotion for the blind vendor, the second contract period award potential for a vendor.

With regard to the selection process, setting thresholds for qualification on different locations was discussed and the PAFB may present the first opportunity to implement such a threshold.


Mr. Newcomb presented the potential rule revisions that were previously sent to the Committee for review (see attachment).

The following ideas resulted from the extended discussion.

  1. Change Rule 38K-1.0044(3) to read change "notification" to "consultation."
  2. Reword Rule 38K-1.0044 to specify the type of "placement", i.e. type of LOFA for each circumstance mentioned.
  3. Retain terms for Selection Panel members but remove terms for alternates.
  4. Eliminate the word separate from the establishing language added for selection panel(s) for new ventures.

Ms. Murphey thanked the Committee for its patience while the Division has pursued the facilities now located in the federal prisons.

Mr. Rose asked if the Regional Consultants had a performance manual.

Round Table

District 3 – Mr. Renderman advised the Committee about a vending machine location in Madison County that might well be added to the new location at the Madison County Rest Area. Mr. Spiliotis asked that a process, including criteria, be established as to how locations are expanded. Ms. Murphey agreed.

District 6 – Mr. Angelicola said he had received a letter from Mr. Kaiserian, which outlined some changes needed at interstate facilities regarding cleanliness and signage.

District 12 – Mr. Rose mentioned that he had had a meeting with Broward County officials regarding vending machines on County property. Part of that meeting resulted in a request that the Division inform Broward County of its interest in being informed when the service contract is up for renewal. He asked Mr. Batterton if this communication had taken place and he said it had not to the best of his knowledge. He said he would look into it.

District 7 – Mr. Gaudette brought up the issue of timely receipt of monthly reports and suggested post marks be used to determine timeliness. Mr. Newcomb shared his views on postmark use and suggested the sending party use a verifiable courier service or other method that provided receipt date verification. He said he would discuss this idea with the Bureau Chief upon his return to Tallahassee.

Ms. Alger reported for the Policy Sub-Committee regarding allowance of commercial vehicle insurance as a deduction on the monthly report.

Motion by Ms. Alger to allow such a deduction. Mr. Renderman seconded.

Motion failed

Mr. Perdomo asked if the Division had notified all vendors of its new address. Mr. Newcomb assured a letter would be sent out to advise the vendors.

Mr. Klindtworth announced that VSA (a purveyor of canned and bottled drinks) had agreed to reduce the minimum delivery requirement from 50 to 35 cases.

Meeting adjourned.

Attachment 1

Presentation made by Ms. Michele Nelson of Gentry Insurance Agency to the Division of Blind Services on Friday November 1, 2002.

Insurance costs are on the rise for everyone, not just one class of business. This is Due to the increase in Reinsurance Costs, and the loss of Investment Income for the carriers.

Claims Example: A slip and fall accident for a patron on your property could cost into the Millions when there are medical bills and litigation costs calculated into the claim. A recent small kitchen Fire loss cost an insurance carrier approximately $5000. The premium collected on that policy was only $1100.

There are 3 different class codes separating all of the vendors within the Division:

  1. Vending Machine Operators – Premium is usually lower for this class due to having the least claim exposures. There are a few companies that don’t want this class due to the Hot Beverage Machines. Burn claims can arise out of selling Hot Coffee (McDonald’s is a prime example). The premium for this class is usually based on the vendor’s sales figures.
  2. Deli Operators – Defined as NOT having a Grill or Fryer on premises. Premium is usually based on the number of seats, wait staff, Take-Out Only, and Annual Sales. The claim potential is greater than vending because of Food handling.
  3. Cafeteria/Restaurant Operations – Defined as having a Grill and/or Fryer on premises. Premium is based on the same as the Deli but also must include the UL 300 Ancillary Hood System to be approved by the majority of insurance carriers.

All locations, despite their class code, the following items are taken into consideration when calculating premium or the underwriter is considering for acceptance:

There are many carriers that I work with that will offer more than just your basic General Liability coverage. Some of the additional coverage you may want to consider would be:

There are more coverage types, in addition to those mentioned, that are available for your business protection.

Considering all that I have mentioned, the premium from one vendor to the next will vary greatly. I am working with various insurance carriers on a regular basis to put together one policy for all vendors. The insurance marketplace today is very tight; pricing is on the rise, and underwriting guidelines are changing from month to month. Finding one company to absorb the risk for the vendor’s across the state of Florida is a great challenge, but I will continue looking.

Carriers who are willing to write business based on the following Class Codes:

Vending Machine Operations


Deli/Snack bar Operations

Cafeteria Operations with Grill and Fryers – (Must have the UL 300 Hood System and Maintenance in place prior to binding coverage)

Attachment 2






SUBJECT: Active Participation by State Committee of Blind Vendors under

The Randolph-Sheppard Program


This Policy Directive explains and clarifies requirements regarding "active participation" by State Committees of Blind Vendors in certain aspects of the Vending Facility program authorized by the Randolph-Sheppard Act, 20 U. S.C. 107 et seq. (Act) and administered by State licensing agencies (SLAs). The Vending Facility program (also referred to as the Randolph-Sheppard program or the program) affords blind persons who are licensed by the SLA a priority to operate vending facilities on Federal property.

This Policy Directive supersedes the prior definition of "active participation" in paragraph C, Chapter 3015 ("Randolph-Sheppard Vending Facility Program") of Rehabilitation Services Administration Manual (see RSA-MT-92-13, dated January 28, 1992). There is a prevailing opinion in the Randolph-Sheppard community that the definition in that chapter does not provide sufficient guidance to State Committees of Blind Vendors (Committees) or SLAs for purposes of enabling Committees to "actively participate" in appropriate program activities. Thus, the purpose of this policy directive is to ensure that the "active participation" requirements in the Vending Facility program are properly implemented and to clarify the respective roles and responsibilities of both SLAs and Committees with regard to the "active participation" process.


Section 107b- 1 (2) of the Randolph-Sheppard Act requires that the SLA conduct a biennial election of the State Committee of Blind Vendors, which must be fully representative of all individuals who are licensed by the SLA to operate vending facilities under the Vending Facility program (commonly referred to as "blind licensees" or "licensees"). Section 107b- 1 (3)(A) - (E) sets forth the Committee's obligations to participate with the State agency in major administrative decisions, policy and program development, matters concerning the transfer and promotion system of blind licensees, and training programs for blind vendors, and to carry out other activities. The scope of-the Committee's responsibilities are detailed in the program regulations at 34 CFR 395.14(b). Specifically, the Committee must:

(1) Actively participate with the SLA in major administrative decisions and policy and program development decisions affecting the overall administration of the State's vending facility program;

(2) Receive and transmit to the SLA grievances at the request of blind vendors and serve as advocates for such vendors in connection with such grievances;

(3) Actively participate with the SLA in the development and administration of a State system for the transfer and promotion of blind vendors;

(4) Actively participate with the SLA in development of training and retraining programs for blind vendors; and

(5) Sponsor, with the assistance of the SLA, meetings and instructional conferences for vendors within the State.

As explained above, this policy directive focuses on those aspects of the Vending Facility program in which the Committee is-to "actively participate" (i.e., those aspects listed in 34 CFR 395.14(b)(1), (3), and (4)).


In general, the statutory and regulatory requirements concerning the Comittee's responsibilities, and the SLA's obligation to enable the Committee to carry out those responsibilities, reflect the uniqueness of the Vending Facility Program. The Program provides blind licensees the opportunity to secure high-quality employment and economic self-sufficiency through operating a vending facility business with the assistance of the SLA. In practice, each blind vendor's operation is an independent business with the vendor having day-to-day supervisory responsibility for all aspects of the operation. The SLA initially pays operating expenses and provides supplies, equipment, and other assistance for purposes of establishing the vending facility. In addition, the SLA typically retains ownership of the equipment it furnishes and provides ongoing management assistance throughout the operation of the business. This arrangement requires that the blind vendor be accountable to the SLA for the proper operation of the facility and must function within the rules, policies, and decisions that apply to the overall administration of the SLA's program.

Consequently, the nature of the Vending Facility Program requires that SLAs and individual blind vendors collaborate extensively. Given that relationship and the significant and direct impact that major administration, policy, and other program decisions have on each blind vendor's business (and livelihood), RSA added the "active participation" requirements in the regulations in order to ensure that the blind vendors play a significant role -- through representation by their State Committee -- in guiding the direction of the State's Vending Facility program.

As is stated in the preamble to the regulations, 42 FR 15803, the Committee is to "participate fully with the SLA in making major administrative and policy decisions affecting the [Vending facility program]" (emphasis added). Accordingly, the Committee's involvement in policy and other program matters is not purely advisory or limited to commenting on materials or a course of action developed solely by the SLA. Such limited opportunity for participating in decision making is inconsistent with the regulations since it does not ensure that blind vendors have an active role in guiding the program and policy decisions that directly affect their businesses. On the other hand, the requirement for the Committee to "actively participate" in major program decisions and other aspects of the program must be implemented in such a way as to also recognize the Slab’s responsibility for ensuring the proper and effective administration of the State's Vending Facility Program.

In this context, "active participation" by the Committee refers to an ongoing process of information sharing and good faith negotiations between the SLA and the elected State Committee of Blind Vendors in an effort to jointly make administrative, policy, and programmatic decisions. A joint process for decision making is not only consistent with the "active participation" requirements, but also ensures that the Committee's contribution is significant, that the SLA has satisfied its obligation to assist the Committee to "actively participate" in program decisions, and that the decisions reached will be made in consideration of the best interest of both the vendors (as represented by the Committee) and of the program (the administration of which rests ultimately with the SLA).

RSA expects that honest, full, and good-faith negotiations between the parties will, in most instances, result in outcomes that both parties can support or accept. In fact, some SLAs and Committees currently operate in this fashion. Nevertheless, we recognize that in unusual circumstances the parties may not be able to reach agreement. Should an impasse in negotiations occur, we would expect no action to be taken in regard to a disputed matter unless the matter is time sensitive and critical to the overall management of the vending facility program.

The extent to which the SLA has engaged in a process of joint decision making on matters subject to "active participation" may be raised as an issue by any vendor or group of vendors requesting a full evidentiary hearing or arbitration pursuant to section 107d- 1 and 107 d-2 of the Act and 34 CFR 395.13 for any "action arising from the operation or administration of the program." In other words, a major administrative policy or program decision made solely by the SLA could be suspended or set aside altogether as a potential outcome of a grievance proceeding. Thus, we strongly encourage that, prior to implementation of the SLA's preferred course of action, the parties utilize all options for coming to agreement, including alternative dispute resolution strategies such as mediation. As indicated above, the goal of the "active participation" process is for the SLA and Committee to jointly arrive at major decisions affecting the Vending Facility program. We anticipate that a commitment to the "active participation" process and to reaching, joint decisions will not only eliminate the likelihood of a decision being challenged, but will also serve to strengthen the overall program.


Section 395.14(b) of the regulations identifies the broad areas in which the Committee must actively participate with the SLA: all major administrative decisions and policy and program development affecting the overall administration of the program, the development and administration of a State system for the transfer and promotion of blind vendors, and the development of training and retraining programs for blind vendors. RSA encourages SLAs to consult with the Committee and provide in greater detail -through State regulations or other program guidance -- the specific activities or types of activities in which the Committee will "actively participate."

For example, decisions as to how SLAs will apportion funds among program activities, such as establishing new vending facilities, furnishing and maintaining equipment, providing initial stocks and supplies, and supporting training for vendors, should be viewed as "major administrative decisions" in which the Committee should "actively participate." In addition, SLA policies concerning the setting aside of vending facility and vending machine income for ongoing program activities under section 395.9 (including, for example, equipment purchases and maintenance, management services, and ensuring a fair return to each vendor's operation) should be decided jointly by the SLA and the Committee. This is particularly important in view of the direct effect that decisions on set-asides have on all licensed vendors participating in the program.

Although the Act and the regulations identify the general areas in which the SLA and Committee must collaborate, it remains the responsibility of these entities to identify the scope of programmatic, policy, and other matters subject to the "active participation" of the Committee. We encourage SLAs and Committees to define that scope broadly as the State's Vending Facilities program should operate in an atmosphere that fosters rather than inhibits involvement by the vendors' representative body, the Committee. That involvement serves as a crucial and unique feature of the program.


"Active participation" under the Randolph-Sheppard program refers to an ongoing process of information sharing, discussions, and good-faith negotiations between the SLA and the State Committee of Blind Vendors and anticipates that the SLA and the Committee will work to make decisions jointly. This process must be followed in those areas specified in the regulations. The elected State Committee of Blind Vendors is responsible for representing the interests of licensed blind vendors in negotiating decisions with the SLA, while the State Licensing Agency is responsible for negotiating with the Committee and, afterwards, implementing agreed-upon decisions.

The process of "active participation" is of fundamental importance to the State's Vending Facility program and should be carried out with utmost respect for the perspectives, interests, and responsibilities represented by each party. In that spirit, each SLA, in conjunction with its State Committee, is asked to review and, to the extent necessary, revise existing State regulations and policies consistent with this policy directive.

Return to top of page

DISCLAIMER: Links on the Florida Division of Blind Services (DBS) website that are directed toward websites outside the DBS, provide additional information that may be useful or interesting and are being provided consistent with the intended purpose of the DBS website. DBS cannot attest to the accuracy of information provided by non-DBS websites. Further, providing links to a non-DBS website does not constitute an endorsement by DBS, the Florida Department of Education or any of its employees, of the sponsors of the non-DBS website or of the information or products presented on the non-DBS website.