January 22, & 23, 2005, Board Meeting Minutes

American Council of the Blind
Mid-Year Board Meeting
January 22, & 23, 2005

The meeting was called to order by President Chris Gray at 9:20am in Capri 106-107 in the Riviera Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas Nevada.

Roll Call was conducted by Secretary Donna Seliger. All Officers and Directors were present except Mr. Brian Charlson, who was speaking at another conference, however, he was present for most of the meeting. Several Guests were present and introduced themselves.

Motion 1: Mr. Beatty moved to approve the agenda as amended. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 2: Mr. Pomerantz moved that the Board suspend any business and begin discussion of the budget at 4:00pm to include Mr. Olsen and Mr. Charlson. On a voice vote, the motion carried. The motion was ultimately withdrawn until Ms. Brunson had an opportunity to talk with Mr. Olsen.

President Gray told the Board that the heat is turned off at 2:00pm on Saturday in the building where Mr. Olsen works.

Ms. Seliger asked for approval of minutes taken at the following meetings: June 22, 2004 conference call; July 3, 2004 pre-convention; July 10, 2004 post-convention and fall 2004 conference calls.

Motion 3: Dr. Bradley moved to approve the minutes taken at the June 22, 2004 conference call board meeting. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 4: Ms. Bazyn moved to approve the minutes taken at the July 3, 2004 pre-convention board meeting. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Motion 5: Ms. Bazyn moved to approve the minutes taken during the July 10, 2004 post-convention board meeting. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 6: Mr. Edwards moved that the Board adopt the fall board meeting minutes as sent by e-mail. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Item 6: President Gray reported to the Board several items.

1. Point of sale machines: The work has begun with meetings in the Bay Area to make these machines accessible. Mr. Edwards reported a complaint has been filed in Florida against Wal-Mart because the point of sale machines are not accessible.

Motion 7: Mr. Edwards moved that this board authorize and encourage the American Council of the Blind to take a leadership roll in working towards creating the existence of accessible point of sale machines. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Motion 8: Mr. Edwards moved that the Board of Directors of the American Council of the Blind support and encourage efforts by the Executive Director to intervene with believe of the court to oppose proposed settlements concerning accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act of places of public accommodations which do not include the accessibility needs and concerns of people who are blind or which are arrived at without the consultation of consumer blindness organizations including the ACB. The motion carried on a voice vote.

2. President Gray received a request that ACB have a committee on technology enhanced accessibility and not limit membership of the committee in any way. It may be a possibility in the future. Several suggestions were made to improve the Information Access Committee and/or combining two committees on information and technology.

3. Long Range plan: Work needs to be done on a new long range plan since the previous one has outlived itself although it was successful in many ways. The original long range plan cost nearly $10,000. Mr. Miller suggested getting a quote on the cost of writing a long range plan and has the Board discuss and vote on it at a later date. Ms. Brunson suggested a grant be written for funding of a long range plan. It was also suggested that we take a look at the results of the road map and future place sessions held last summer.

4. President Gray happily announced that the World Blind Union conference was streamed on ACB Radio and Mr. Dave Williams, who gave a personal financial contribution, was thanked for his work in making it possible. Mr. Geoff Shang also worked on the project.

Motion 9: Mr. Edwards moved that this Board express our deep appreciation to Mr. Williams and Mr. Shang for the wonderful job they did in allowing ACB to take a leadership roll in bringing the World Blind Union to blind people of the world and that a letter is sent to these people. The motion carried on a voice vote.

5. President Gray indicated he would like to invite Mr. William Rowland from South Africa, who is the new president of the World Blind Union.

6. The Office Review Committee has been working on employee job descriptions. He reported that the employee handbook needs work.

Ms. Brunson reported she spoke with Mr. Olsen and he agreed to begin budget talks at 3:30pm Pacific Standard Time.

Item 7: Mr. Pomerantz reported to the Board about NTI. When blind people applied for employment at home doing work for IRS, they were told that the computer software was not accessible. Also there had been some problems with the IRS. Those problems were resolved; however, NTI was still unable to provide employment for blind people. After tax season in April 2005, they said the software might be accessible. Ms. Lainey Feingold would like to help with the case, but is unable to do so since she is now working on her own and not for a firm that can afford to cover the cost of a case. Mr. Pomerantz has been contacted by about a dozen people and has referred them to the EEOC. Although NTI is at fault also Alpine Access Software is also at fault in this case.

Ms. Brunson said we need to look at the contractual arrangement under Section 508 and perhaps 504 in regard to NTI and Alpine Software. She also suggested involving the Advocacy Services Committee before pursuing it further.

Mr. Edwards suggested that either President Gray or Mr. Pomerantz talk with Mr. LeRoy Saunders who is on the Committee for Purchase and see where to go from there. Ms. Brunson would like to be on the call also. She also said she thought a call to Mr. Kennedy from IRS would be helpful.

Item 8: Mr. Edwards reported to the Board as chair of the ACBES. It continues to operate thrift stores throughout the country. The environment is increasingly difficult. Consignment stores are in competition as well as large chains who sell at very low levels. Sales in 2004 were down, but the profits were up. ACBES contributed $450,000 to ACB in 2004. At a recent meeting ACBES decided to contribute $450,000 to ACB in 2005. The ACBES Board approved the purchase of a new truck for the Detroit store. He acknowledged Mr. Michael Keoghan and Mr. Olsen for their hard work.

Ms. Ruschival asked for discussion of the Louisville thrift store. Mr. Edwards pointed out the store had been very profitable until three years ago. It was decided to make an effort in the Louisville store to use direct mail to encourage donations. The Louisville store may be closed unless it can be turned around. It was decided to extend the lease through the end of 2005. In 2004 the store made a small profit but a small deficit is predicted for 2005.

Ms. Ruschival stated that in 2001 the Louisville store had made a profit of $143,000 and that every effort should be made to keep the store open.

Motion 10: Ms. Towers moved to accept the ACBES report. The motion carried on a voice vote.

After a break, the ACB Board entered into an executive session at 11:40am.

The American Council of the Blind Board meeting resumed at 2:20pm.

President Gray reported from the executive session. The Board authorized the Executive Director to move forward with a possible relationship with a Government Agency on acquiring a grant. In addition, several personnel issues relating to the budget and employee compensations were discussed. The related items will be reflected in the 2005 ACB budget.

Item 9: Ms. Towers introduced Ms. Theresa Matson from the Riviera Hotel. Ms. Matson spoke about the Riviera Casino having 60 per cent of the slot machines that accept and redeem coins.

Ms. Ruschival reported that Mississippi State University is going to host a technology based workshop during the ACB convention.

Ms. Towers spoke about having a quick meal area for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast will be approximately $10 and $12 for lunch with sales of $500 plus $125 per cashier which could be up to six. The general consensus was to try the quick meals.

Ms. Towers talked about the carpeting and the pathway in the casino to follow. The current carpeting in the public areas will be replaced by the time ACB attendees arrive.

Ms. Towers reported that June 9, 2005 is the cut off date for the guarantee of the specific room rate for the 2005 convention.

Mr. Charlson arrived after several hours in airports and planes due to weather conditions.

Ms. Ruschival reported that if a reservation is made and cancellation is necessary it should be done at least 48 hours in advance or a night’s stay will be charged to the credit card.

The Board members will each have a suite at the single room rate and the special interest affiliates will be offered one bedroom suites at double the room rate.

Motion 11: Mr. Edwards moved to accept the 2005 convention report from Ms. Ruschival and Ms. Towers. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Item 10: Treasurer’s Report Ms. Ardis Bazyn reported that as of November 30, 2004 Revenue $953,615 Expenditures $942,104 Revenue over Expenses $ 21,511.

Motion 12: Dr. Bradley moved to accept the treasurer’s report. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Item 12: Time Share report Mr. Bob Seliger reported on the time share that had been donated to help the organization with fund raising. The Krystal International Vacation Club has 4 units each in a different location that can be used. We have the opportunity of one week of time share and seven coupons to use in the hotel.

Motion 13: Mr. Edwards moved that the Resource Development Committee meet and bring a proposal back to the Board on the time share. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Motion 14: Mr. Edwards moved to accept Mr. Seliger’s report. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Item 15: Budget Committee report - Mr. Charlson began the review of the budget for 2005. He first reviewed the revenue side.

Motion 15: Mr. Pomerantz moved to amend the revenue side by an increase of $7,500 from the Blue Skies event. The motion carried on a voice vote.

ACB is budgeting $975,596 unrestricted revenue for 2005.

Motion 16: Mr. Charlson moved to have Mr. Olsen move funds from the George Fogarty Endowment from the money market to CD’s to increase the interest. The motion carried on a voice vote.

The total revenues received in 2004 were $947,365 and we are budgeting $1,075,094 plus $7,500 for a total expected revenue of $1,082,594.

Motion 17: Mr. Edwards moved to adopt the revenue side of the budget. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Next Mr. Charlson reviewed the expenditure side of the budget. Expenditures budgeted for 2005 are $1,071,000.

Motion 18: Mr. Edwards moved the adoption of the expense side of the budget based on eleven months in 2004 for an estimated total of $1,076,800. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Item 13: Ms. Brunson reported to the board from the National Office. She introduced Ms. Day Al Mohammad, the newest staff member. Ms. Al Mohammad will take the position of Governmental Affairs Director. She became employed by ACB on January 10th, 2005.

Next Ms. Brunson reported on the currency litigation. We are in the midst of the discovery stage. Ms. Brunson has been deposed for a period of five hours with additional sessions to come. The plaintiffs are Dr. Otis Stevens and Mr. Pat Sheehan.

The National Office has a vacancy to fill and will fill it soon. The staff will have new phone numbers as they are changing offices through restructuring.

The Office Review Committee is writing the job description for the Braille Forum Editor. It was felt the board should more clearly define the role of the editor in relation to the BOP and PR committee. Ms. Brunson asked that we consider the two documents she distributed and take action on them.

Ms. Sharon Lovering, acting Braille Forum Editor, reported to the board. Since February last year, all forms of the Braille Form have increased.

Ms. Winifred Downing added to the report by stating eight issues of the forum were produced in 2004. The BOP would like to produce ten issues, but funds are currently not available.

Ms. Terry Pacheco announced that the movie “Ray” will come out in DVS on a DVD with the ACB logo on it. The original release did not have DVS. ACB will be presenting Mr. Jamie Foxx with the first ever Media Access Award.

President Gray recessed the meeting at 5:45pm.

The ACB mid-year board meeting reconvened at 8:35are on Sunday, January 23, 2005.

Roll call was taken by Secretary Donna Seliger. All officers and directors were present as well as Ms. Brunson, Ms. Al Mohammad, Ms. Lovering and Ms. Pacheco. Mr. Olsen was absent.

Ms. Carol Ewing, president of the Nevada Council of the Blind, introduced herself and discussed some of the work she has done with blind children.

President Gray introduced Mr. Ralph Sanders to the Board and audience and spoke very highly of Mr. Sanders’ expertise in the direct mail business. He went on to state that the committee designated by the Board is made up of Mr. Charlson, Ms. Seliger and himself had the full cooperation of Mr. Sanders in this endeavor.

Mr. Ralph Sanders presented to the board a proposal from A. K. A. Direct for a second fund raising letter. The first letter went out in early December. Due to the lateness of the mailing and the tsunami disaster, the projected return was lower than anticipated. The proposed mailings would be six throughout the year with a total of 150,000 letters to be mailed.

Mr. Sanders stated he would ask A. K. A. Direct for a report at the end of each mailing to be sent to the Minneapolis Office, the Executive Director, the Direct Mail Committee and the Budget Committee. Following the verbal proposal from Mr. Sanders, Mr. Charlson questioned some of the points with the idea of explanation to the Board in the event we should continue with the proposal despite some unfortunate situations in the previous mailing. Several other Board members posed questions and scenarios of Mr. Sanders.

Motion 19: Mr. Edwards moved that the Board of Directors of the American Council of the Blind accept the proposal of the direct mail committee with the expectation that a report will be made to this Board after the third mailing of the progress that has been made to date. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Ms. Pacheco noticed wording on the envelope that apparently no one had known about. It said: “We need your help to find our way…” President Gray indicated the whole Board should have received the mailing so we would be aware of what A. K. A. Direct was sending out to the general public.

The Direct Mail Committee was not aware of the writing on the envelope. Mr. Charlson stated the Direct Mail Committee will insist on reviewing every piece of paper sent out in future mailings and he indicated the committee will continue as long as the direct mail project continues.

Mr. Miller suggested that in the future, the MMS form has a box to check saying no to the MMS but a check is being sent.

Mr. Sanders, committee chair, reported from the Public Relations Committee pertaining to the situation in California where a newborn child might have been taken from the parents if members of the California Council of the Blind had not stepped in and took the case to the media. The Blue Sky project where Mr. John Fleming will jump from an airplane as a fund raiser will be publicized by the PR Committee. A new PR disk will go out to radio stations across the country by the middle of February. Several international newspapers were contacted with information on the World Blind Union Conference to be held in Toronto, Canada.

Motion 20: Dr. Bradley moved to accept the Public Relations report. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Ms. Terry Pacheco stated Kurzweil asked to have their scholarship name changed to the John Mattioli Scholarship. She also announced the Presidents’ Meeting and Legislative Seminar will be held in Washington, DC March 20 through 23 at the Washington Terrace Hotel.

Ms. Seliger reported that a new affiliate had been formed with the provision the Board would approve its affiliation. The chosen name is ACB Diabetics in Action.

Motion 21: Mr. Pomerantz moved to give provisional affiliation to ACB Diabetics in Action and after the Executive Director has reviewed the Constitution and By-Laws, grant a charter during the 2005 ACB Convention. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Ms. Brunson continued her report by stating action has been taken on all priority one resolutions and work has begun on the priority two and three resolutions.

Motion 22: Mr. Edwards moved that the policy document presented to the Board by Ms. Brunson, the Executive Director, be deferred until the pre-convention board meeting. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 23: Mr. Edwards moved to accept the National Office report. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Mr. David Trott, chair of the Resource Development Committee, reported to the board. The committee met in a short meeting and decided to propose that we have a silent auction with a minimum bid of $600 on the time share donated to ACB. The winner will be announced on Thursday of convention week. Also an announcement will be made in the Braille Forum and on the ACB listservs. Mr. Charlson requested an announcement be made each day of the convention to let everyone know what the highest bid is as of that day.

Motion 24: Mr. Edwards moved acceptance of the time share proposal to have an auction. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Mr. Trott went on to announce the committee would have a raffle with tickets available by Presidents’ Meeting weekend that would cost $50 each. The prizes would be $5,000, $1,000 and two for $500 each. The money raised from this raffle will go to fund the Braille Forum.

Motion 25: Mr. Trott moved to have a raffle with proceeds to go to the Braille Forum. Each ticket would cost $50 and the drawing for four prizes will be held on Thursday of convention week. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Motion 26: Mr. Edwards moved the acceptance of the Resource Development Committee report. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 27: Mr. Charlson moved to reconsider for purposes of amending the amount of money from the direct mail campaign to be expected in this fiscal year from the number listed of $23,000 down to $13,000. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Motion 28: Mr. Charlson moved to amend the amount of money from the direct mail campaign expected in this fiscal year from the number listed of $23,000 down to $13,000. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Mr. Edwards recommended that the budget be considered revenue neutral and that receipts from previous mailings be used to fund further mailings.

Motion 29: Mr. Pomerantz moved to reconsider amending the expense side of the budget to add in $3,000. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 30: Mr. Pomerantz moved to add $3,000 to the expense side of the budget. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Motion 31: Mr. Edwards moved to adopt the budget in aggregate. The motion carried unanimously.

Ms. Ruschival discussed future convention sites with the group. She has revised the convention needs incorporating the 2004 convention. Anyone such as a hotel wishing to have information may receive it.

She stated she is working with about ten cities for future bids. A couple of those cities are Atlanta, Kansas City (2011), Utah and maybe a return to Las Vegas. Future sites are Jacksonville, 2006; Minneapolis, 2007; 2008 is still open and Orlando, 2009.

Motion 32: Mr. Edwards moved to accept the convention site update report. The motion carried on a voice vote.

President Gray read a letter from Ms. Pat Shreck, the previous ACB Store manager, who resigned due to personal reasons. Ms. Marvelena Quesada will now be the store manager. She was introduced and gave a listing of items currently available in the ACB Store.

Motion 33: Ms. Soule moved to accept the report from the ACB Store manager. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Mr. Sheehan asked that we defer item 18, how ACB litigates, until a future conference call due to time constraint.

Motion 34: Mr. Edwards moved to have a conference call sometime in April. At that time, the policy issue will be discussed as well as Item 18, how ACB litigates. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Ms. Towers announced she has had the honor of being appointed to the American Foundation for the Blind program committee.

Ms, Brunson reported that she spent a night at the NFB Center because she was on a committee that met there. She also said there is a possibility of hosting a showing of the movie “Ray” specifically for Capitol Hill staffers. She talked about having a sleep study during the 2005 convention. The study will consist of visually impaired women and a correlation of breast cancer.

Motion 35: Mr. Edwards moved to adjourn. The motion carried and the meeting ended at 11:45am Pacific Standard Time.

Respectfully Submitted,
Donna Seliger, Secretary