Blind Vendor Will Maintain Base Contract as Arbitration Proceeds
Leonard Johnson, a blind vendor who ran the dining facilities at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base since 1999 will continue to keep his contract while arbitration proceedings play out, according to a settlement announced by Ohio’s Attorney General Mike DeWine. Johnson, owner of Lenny’s Food Service, was told by WPAFB officials that he would be replaced with by Son’s Quality Food Company, a Maryland-based company. Son’s is not a blind vendor.
Blind vendors are given priority to operate dining facilities on federal property under the Randolph-Sheppard Act of 1936. Ohio filed for an injunction in state district court, on the basis of protecting Ohio jobs and the rights of the local vendor.
The Attorney General’s Office, on behalf of Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, filed a complaint against the United States, the Air Force, the Department of Defense, and WPAFB Commander Col. John Devillier. Both sides then filed a motion that Johnson’s contract will continue while the dispute is arbitrated. His contract was originally set to expire the end of May 2016.
Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities operate the state’s blind vendor program for the US Department of Education. The organization designated Johnson as the licensed blind vendor and according to Johnson, his company was extremely proud to serve the military. He has about 45 employees and he’s one of a small group of dining facilities without a big corporate partner.
According to WPAFB, the bid submitted in November by Lenny’s Food Service was not within five percent or $1 million of the lowest bid, so the base wasn’t required to select it. According to Johnson, the base went with the cheapest bid and ignored the law, but he hopes it was a mistake.