February 19, 2010, Board Meeting Minutes

Respectfully Prepared by: Ray Campbell, Acting Secretary for This Meeting

A meeting of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) Board of Directors took place on Friday, February 19, 2010 at the Holiday Inn National Airport Hotel, Arlington Virginia. This meeting was called to order by President Mitch Pomerantz at 9:03 a.m., with the following board members in attendance: Mitch Pomerantz, Kim Charlson, Brenda Dillon, Mike Godino, Chris Gray, Ray Campbell, Berl Colley, Marsha Farrow, Michael Garrett, Carla Ruschival, Pat Sheehan, Jeff Thom, David Trott and Cammie Vloedman. Marlaina Lieberg was the only board member absent and this was excused.

Staff present: Melanie Brunson, ACB Executive Director and Lane Waters, ACB Controller. Board of Publications Representative, Marcia Dresser, was present.

After roll call was taken, several guests introduced themselves.

The agenda, which had been distributed via e-mail to all board members prior to the meeting, was reviewed. There was one addition requested, a personnel matter to be discussed during the planned Executive Session. A motion to accept the agenda as amended was made by Mike Godino, seconded by David Trott. Motion passed.

The minutes of the December 15, 2009 Board Conference Call meeting were discussed. There being no additions or corrections, a motion to approve them was made by David Trott, seconded by Jeff Thom. The motion passed.

President’s report: President Pomerantz discussed the following items:

1. President Pomerantz was interviewed by Sky Radio on February 11, 2010 and discussed several items which ACB is working on. Sky Radio provides business entertainment services to American Airlines, and this interview will be broadcast on the business channel on some 29,000 American Airlines flights during the month of May. In addition, there will be a 30-second ACB Public Service Announcement broadcast on the CNN Airport Network. The interview has been posted on the ACB Website, and ACB can use it and the PSA as we wish. ACB was charged 50% less than we had been offered previously.

2. Working with Tom Shaffer to re-vamp the ACB Store website. Mr. Shaffer is giving us a very reasonable rate for his services. President Pomerantz also mentioned that Carla Ruschival has been appointed as co-chair of the store committee.

3. President Pomerantz had an opportunity to meet with Lynnae Ruttledge, new Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration. She appears to be consumer oriented, and has a disability herself. Melanie indicated she is very sensitive to our issues about categorical services and access to residential programs for people using guide dogs.

4. Mitch informed the board that we are about 80% complete with our agenda for the 2010 ACB National Convention.

5. Finally, Chris Gray, Chair of the Information Management Oversight Committee reported on the October, 2009 server crash which disrupted much of ACB’s internet infrastructure. After giving a bit of history, he reported to us that we were able to rebuild much of this infrastructure, and have created a disaster recovery plan. We are also working to ensure that we have redundant backups so ACB doesn’t have significant down time if there is a major, catastrophic event in the future. A motion was made by Campbell, seconded by Charlson to accept the President’s report. The motion passed.

DC Area Office Report: Melanie Brunson, after covering several housekeeping items and indicating that the legislative seminar is being dedicated to the memory of Patricia Beattie, Melanie discussed several items:

1. The plaque honoring ACB Patrons, individuals and organizations who have made six figure or higher contributions to ACB is ready and will be displayed in the national office reception area. There is plenty of space to add additional names to those already listed, and it is a painless process to do so. Anyone interested in seeing the plaque will have a chance to do so during the President’s Meeting and Legislative Seminar, February 20 and 21.

2. ACB has $150,000 in grant applications out, with about $115,000 which have been discussed. Also, working on direct mail solicitation, with the theme being save our schools for the blind.

3. IN addition to RSA Commissioner Ruttledge, ACB has met with other administration officials including Kathy Martinez, Office of Disability Employment Policy within the Department of Labor and officials at the Department of Justice. In part as a result of these meetings, Mr. Sam Bagenstos who is an assistant to the Deputy Attorney General for Civil Rights will be speaking at this summer’s ACB National Conference and Convention.

4. Discussions are ongoing with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) regarding a treaty which will allow for making materials created under U.S. Copyright exemptions in alternate format available internationally. Also, ACB has been invited to an international workshop put together jointly by the U.S. State Department and Copyright Office to speak as part of this event which will be discussing access for those with print disabilities.

5. ACB Governmental Affairs is working to put together state by state resource lists. These can be used by affiliates in their advocacy work.

6. Justice for All Action Network, of which ACB is a member and on the steering committee. Concerns about some members wanting to, for example, do away with sheltered workshops.

The board meeting recessed at 10:30 a.m., re-convening at 10:45 a.m. At that point, several other guests introduced themselves.

Lane Waters, ACB Controller, gave a report on activities at the Minneapolis Area office. Michelle Mueller has left us and Alisha Clausen, who had been handling receptionist duties has replaced her, with a new part-time receptionist having been hired. The office is working on integrating the accounting software being used so that we can more easily track all contributions received, including those received during conventions. Finally, Lane said that the new ACB Thrift Store in Louisville has opened up, and plans are underway to move the Knoxville store.

A motion was made by Brenda Dillon, seconded by Billie Jean Keith, to approve the staff reports. The motion passed.

Treasurer’s report: Treasurer Mike Godino presented the Treasurer’s Report for the full year ended December 31, 2009. For the year, we had total revenue of $1,622,110.36, compared to a budgeted amount of $1,473,664. Mike cautioned us that if we subtract the approximately $400,000 in unrealized gains on investment from actual revenue, we would have been under budget. On the expense side, we showed actual expenses of $1,440,353, compared to the budgeted amount of $1,500,347. This gives us net excess of $181,756, compared to a budgeted deficit of $26,683. Currently, Mike told us ACB has total assets of $1,677,324. A motion was made by Kim Charlson that the board authorize the transfer of necessary funds, up to $29,700 to the convention account. This motion was seconded by Brenda Dillon and passed. A motion was made to receive the Treasurer’s report for Audit by Kim Charlson, seconded by Brenda Dillon. This motion passed.

We next discussed the recommendation to change all references to “Convention” to “Conference and Convention” in the ACB Constitution and Bylaws. Due to concerns about tax write-offs and parliamentary rules if we call our convention a Conference or Conference and convention, a motion to defer this recommendation was made by Chris Gray, seconded by David Trott. The motion passed. Lane will talk with our auditors, and President Pomerantz will talk with our Parliamentarian, Don Stevens about the concerns expressed.

Database Management system: Chris gray reported that the new database is being loaded with current information, and a group of affiliates have been chosen to handle certification through the membership database. This will hopefully show that everything works and that the certification process has been appropriately codified which will lead to the conversion to a new database system throughout 2010. It is hoped that this new database will be ACB’s means of certifying members by 2011.

Motion by Mike Godino, seconded by Cammie Vloedman to accept the database management report. The motion passed.

The board meeting recessed at 11:59 a.m., with the board convening in Executive Session at 12:10 p.m. to discuss a matter regarding an affiliate and a personnel issue. A motion was made by Chris Gray, seconded by Michael Garrett to return to open session. This motion passed and the board returned to open session at 1:37 p.m. President Pomerantz announced that no action had been taken regarding the two matters discussed in Executive Session.

Proposed Social Networking Policy: Marcia Dresser brought to the board a policy proposal from the Board of Publications regarding ACB’s presence on Social Networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. The Board approved the following three amendments to this document: Amendment 1, First paragraph, third sentence. Currently reads: “If there are already pages that purport to represent ACB, we would hope to be able to work with the individuals who set up those pages.”

Changed to read: ““If there are already pages that represent ACB, we would hope to be able to work with the individuals who set up those pages.” A motion was made by Chris Gray, seconded by Jeff Tom to approve this amendment, that motion passed.

Amendment 2, first paragraph, fifth sentence. Currently reads: “If necessary, the American Council of the Blind will take steps to be certain that our official pages are the only ones that represent our organization.”

Changed to read: “If necessary, now or in the future, the American Council of the Blind will insure that our official pages are the only ones that represent our organization.”

Motion made by Chris Gray, seconded by Kim Charlson to approve this amendment, that motion passed.

Amendment 3, first paragraph, fourth sentence.

Currently reads: “However, the pages created through the Board of Publications and monitored and administered through the national office and/or other mechanisms yet to be determined will constitute the only official pages of the organization.”

Changed to read: “However, the pages created through the Board of Publications will constitute the only official pages of the organization.” Motion made by Kim Charlson, seconded by Chris Gray to approve this amendment, the motion passed. A motion was made by Chris Gray, seconded by Jeff Thom to refer this document back to the Board of Publications with the amendments approved by the Board of Directors. The motion passed.

Board of Publications Report: Marcia Dresser reported that the BOP is currently accepting nominations for the Ned E. Freeman and Vernon R. Henley awards. They are also developing parameters to measure the effectiveness of ACB Radio and ACB’s web presence. And, the BOP committee working on the re-design of ACB’s website is about 90% done with its work.

A motion to accept the BOP Report was made by Mike Godino, seconded by Kim Charlson. The motion passed.

ACBES Report: Michael Garrett informed the board of several items.

1. Based on ACB’s budget, they are working with each store manager to guide them in setting their own budget. Store managers are expected to work to control labor costs, and to do advertising and other marketing to promote their store.

2. ACBES sales were fairly good in January, despite bad weather in several parts of the country. We have a new manager in our Lubbock, Texas store. Considering this and weather conditions, this store is holding its own. . The two stores in Amarillo are doing well. Milwaukee continues to be ACBES’ Stalwart store in terms of sales. The Detroit store has the highest average sales per customer, but the lowest customer count.

3. Increases in minimum wages over the past few years have added over $100,000 to payroll costs, and our stores have had to adjust pricing to account for this.

A motion to accept the ACBES Report was made by Ray Campbell, seconded by Mike Godino. Motion passed.

At this point, several recently arrived guests introduced themselves.

Convention committee report: Carla Ruschival indicated that 2010 planning is pretty much on track. She indicated that one representative from each ACB affiliate or committee planning to hold an event can be on the convention planning e-mail list to receive information they will need to plan their event(s). Exhibitor and Advertising and Sponsorship information has been put on-line, and we are receiving calls from several new, potential exhibitors. Carla also indicated that a much smaller paper registration piece is being sent out this year. She stated that the economy is still bad, so we could have attrition. Attrition not only shows up in people not attending the convention, but it can show up in the form of people staying at other locations in the community, doubling up in rooms or not staying for the full convention week for example. The new time schedule for activities in 2010 is being well received.

Finally, Carla indicated she has received convention bids for 2013 and 2014, but will ask that they be re-submitted due to high proposed costs for catering and Audio Visual services.

A motion was made by David Trott, seconded by Billie Jean Keith to accept the convention report. The motion passed.

ACB Audio Description Project: Kim Charlson reported on several items. First, they are working to transition the previous Audio Description International website to ACB. The ADP Project has a facebook page, however, she did not know the address. The Described Captioned Media Project is partnering with ACB through the Audio Description Project. One activity taking place through this partnership is a project called “I can describe that.” Through this project, teen-agers could write descriptions for various programs. The ADP is working to revise and re-submit its grant proposal to the U.S. Department of Education for funding for description. They are also seeking greater publicity, more nominations for ADP awards, and looking to get more content described on Government websites, which speaks to Section 508 compliance. There is now an audio described tour of the White House which was put together through the ADP.

Finally, Kim reported that plans are underway for the next audio Description institute to be held during the 2010 ACB Conference and Convention in Phoenix. And, Joel Snyder will be conducting Audio Description Training during an event being jointly sponsored by the Hawaii Association of the Blind and the University of Hawaii.

A motion to accept the report was made by Jeff Thom, seconded by David Trott. The motion carried.

Idaho Affiliate: Berl Colley reported that a task force consisting of Ardis Bazyn, Jeff Thom, Chris Gray, James Edwards, Marlaina Lieberg and Denise Colley has been set up. They are developing newspaper ads and a contact list of potential or former Idaho members and have been receiving some names. The head of the Idaho Commission for the Blind has agreed to do mailings about this effort. They have established contacts with individuals both in the Idaho AER chapter and the School for the Blind, and are making contacts with the Southern Idaho Veterans Association. Plans call for a meeting on Saturday, May 21 in Boise with Blinded Veterans and potentially others.

A motion to accept the report was made by Ray Campbell, seconded by Billie Jean Keith. The motion carried.

ACB Handbook: Kim Charlson and Melanie Brunson stated that plans call for having the board handbook ready for the 2010 ACB Conference and Convention. They reported that they are looking for planning organizations and funding sources to develop a new ACB long range plan. They plan on bringing a report and recommendations on how to proceed to the pre-convention board meeting.

A motion was made to accept the handbook and long range plan report by Mike Godino, seconded by Cammie Vlodeman. The motion passed.

Officer Liaison Reports: 1. Kim Charlson, First Vice President, reported on her committees. The Constitution and Bylaws committee is on target. The Environmental Access Committee is working hard on the new Pedestrian Safety handbook, and plans to have it finished within the next three months. The International Relations Committee is planning for their conference and convention program, as well as a tour to Spain tentatively scheduled for October, 2010. The Scholarship committee is moving forward. The Schools for the Blind Task Force is working hard, planning a training for the President’s meeting and responding to the nomination of Sarah Gelser to the National Council on Disability.

2. Brenda Dillon, Second Vice President reported on her committees. The Convention planning committee is on target. The Awards committee will have an article in the April forum seeking nominations. This committee would like to be able to have nominations submitted on-line, and will utilize ACB Radio for additional publicity. The Membership committee is continuing their monthly and quarterly calls. Several subcommittees are working on how to recruit younger, older and Spanish speaking individuals as ACB Members. They are hoping to put together a President’s resource list. The next quarterly call will discuss fundraising and ways to get people to state and national conventions.

3. Mike Godino, Treasurer reported on his committees. The DKM Committee is getting off to a late start this year, but plans to have an article in the March issue of the Braille Forum. The Employment committee is planning a job fair during the ACB Conference and Convention, and a panel discussion. They are looking at ways to track whether people actually get a job through the job fair.

4. Mitch Pomerantz, President reported on his committees. The Advocacy services Committee is working on helping someone with accommodations for the GMAP exam. The Internet oversight Committee is in discussions with the Board of Publications regarding e-mail lists. He is not sure what the Rehabilitation Issues Task Force is planning for the ACB Conference and Convention. The Transportation committee is planning a workshop during the conference and convention, 1:30 Tuesday, July 13.

A motion was made to accept the Officer Liaison reports by Ray Campbell, seconded by Brenda Dillon. The motion passed.

Assistance to people who are blind in Haiti: Information has been posted on how to handle a wire transfer for the school for the blind in Port-au-Prince. A motion was made to re-allocate funding originally collected for the Hurricane Katrina relief effort to provide help to those in Haiti by Michael Garrett, seconded by Chris Gray. The motion passed.

A motion to adjourn was made by Ray Campbell, seconded by Berl Colley. The motion passed, and the meeting adjourned at 5:09 p.m.

Ray Campbell, Director

Approved: June 9, 2010