National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota

Resolution A02-03

 

WHEREAS, since February 2000, Bonnie Elsey, a political appointee with no experience in blindness and a demonstrated lack of willingness to learn about it, has been the Assistant Commissioner of State services for the blind (SSB); and


WHEREAS, Ms. Elsey's administration has been characterized by ignorance of blindness, hiring of managers and supervisors who have no knowledge of blindness, and the virtual elimination of staff training in blindness; and


WHEREAS, Ms. Elsey steadfastly refuses to seek and use the advice of the legitimate, elected representatives of blind people, and expresses contempt for blind persons and their organizations--preferring instead to rely on the advice of paid consultants who have no experience in blindness; and


WHEREAS, Ms. Elsey's administration has also been characterized by elimination and destruction of essential services and programs (such as services to blind children and senior citizens), layoffs of service-providing staff, and the waste of hundreds of thousands of dollars on management systems and administrative buildups; and


WHEREAS, according to the state Client Assistance Project (CAP), the number of appeals by blind persons because of SSB'S service denials has doubled over the past year; and


WHEREAS, only three years after receiving the largest state appropriation in its history, SSB is heading into a financial crisis and is currently trying to obtain additional state money; and


WHEREAS, SSB is the subject of a continuing federal investigation by the Rehabilitation Services Administration; and


WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota has tried to work with Ms. Elsey, only to find its advice disregarded and its leaders ignored; and


WHEREAS, Ms. Elsey is a political appointee who serves at the pleasure of the Governor of Minnesota; now, therefore


BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota in convention assembled this third day of November, 2002, in the city of Rochester that this organization condemn the administration of Bonnie Elsey and deplore the harm that she has done to blind people, and furthermore that we call on the new Governor of Minnesota to fire Ms. Elsey and to consult with the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota on the selection of a new assistant commissioner who understands blindness and blind people, respects their elected representatives, and is willing to work hard to repair the damage which has been done.