September 21 & 22, 2002, Board Meeting Minutes
American Council of the Blind
Fall Board Meeting
September 21-22, 2002
The meeting was called to order by President Chris Gray at 8:40am at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Roll call was taken by Secretary Donna Seliger. All officers and directors were present as well as Ms. Melanie Brunson, Governmental Affairs Director, Mr. Charlie Crawford, Executive Director and Mr. Jim Olsen, CFO. There were also eight guests present.
Motion 1: President Gray asked for approval of the agenda. Several items were added. The motion passed unanimously.
Ms. M. J. Schmitt was asked by President Gray to keep a list of “To Do” items for the President throughout the meeting.
Item 5 – Approval of the pre-convention Board minutes and post-convention Board minutes.
Ms. Carla Ruschival suggested two clerical changes to the minutes as follows: 1) It is recommended that ACB use $75 per night as a base for hotel bids in the future. 2) Bids are currently under development for 2005 through 2009.
Motion 2: Mr. Paul Edwards moved the acceptance of the pre-convention minutes as amended. The motion carried.
Motion 3: Ms. Ruschival moved to reconsider the previous motion made by Mr. Edwards to accept the minutes as amended. The motion carried.
Motion 4: Ms. Ruschival moved that the three addendums to the minutes be struck.
Mr. Edwards offered an amendment to the motion to adopt the minutes up to the end of Braille Page 12, therefore, take no action on the remainder of the document rather than striking. The motion passed.
Motion 5: Mr. Miller moved to delete from the minutes as distributed the paragraph that begins with “Following the motion…” on Braille Page ten. The motion failed.
Motion 6: Mr. Annunzio moved that the pre-convention minutes be adopted as described in motion four. The motion carried.
Motion 7: Mr. Edwards moved the adoption of the post-convention minutes. The motion carried.
Motion 8: Mr. Charlson moved to append to the minutes of the September Board meeting with the addition of the addendums which were discussed in Motion 4 pertaining to the pre-convention minutes. The motion carried.
Ms. Julie Whitted, executive director of sales at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis spoke to the group. She welcomed everyone to Minneapolis and stated she hoped ACB would hold its convention at the Hyatt Regency in 2007.
Ms. Ruschival thanked Ms. Whitted for the hospitality shown ACB by the hotel staff, Millennium Hotel and Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Item 6 – Report from the National Office – Mr. Charlie Crawford, executive director, proposed that the national office staff take on more responsibility with fund raising. He reported that membership has dropped significantly over the past five years. Mr. Crawford further reported that there should be a better communication between the President, national office and the Minneapolis office. The scholarship raffle still has not been resolved. A gambling license in the DC area has been applied for but there is one more piece of documentation needed before a license is finalized.
Motion 9: Mr. Edwards moved that the President be asked by this Board to make a determination where in the national office structure the database program he has now begun to use be placed, but that the President be instructed by this Board to monitor the ongoing utilization of that database by whichever element that the national office determines to put it in. The motion passed.
Motion 10: Mr. Edwards moved that the President consider instituting a monthly conference call between those individuals from the volunteer side who he designates and designated members of the national office staff so that they can regularly communicate on what each side is doing. The motion passed.
Item 7 – Fund Raising by the ACB Board - Mr. Mark Silver spoke to the Board via speaker phone. Mr. Silver lead a discussion pertaining to fund raising.
Prior to Mr. Silver’s presentation, Dr. Ed Bradley presented Mr. Olsen with a check for $2,500 from ACB of Texas.
Comments were made by several Board members on how comfortable each one felt about the different ideas Mr. Silver had previously sent via e-mail. Mr. Beatty stated that he felt the Lions Clubs would be a good source for donations. Mr. Silver encouraged approaching people for donations even though they may not be affluent, but that a few dollars from many would add up.
Mr. Olsen indicated that when Board members donate to ACB, a note should accompany the donation to designate that it should be deposited in the Board donation fund.
Item 8 – Executive Session - 11:30am This session pertained to personnel issues.
The executive session adjourned at 12:40pm for lunch.
During the lunch break, reports were given by Ms. Melanie Brunson, Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs and Ms. Susan Crawford, chair of the IDEA Task Force.
Ms. Brunson stated the Treasury was passing the buck on the accessible money law suit. She also stated that the 2002 resolutions are nearly ready for distribution.
Motion 11: Mr. Edwards moved the acceptance of Ms. Brunson’s report. The motion carried.
Next, Ms. Crawford reported from the IDEA Task Force. She stated a white paper has been written and it is hoped that all affiliates will sign on to it.
The Board meeting reconvened at 1:55pm
Item 9 – Membership Committee Report, Ms. Pam Shaw. (Due to a car accident, Ms. Shaw was absent. Ms. Bazyn gave the report.) Two potential affiliates will apply for charters during the mid-year meeting in February.
The Membership Committee would like to seek guidance from the Board as to how involved they should be in dealing with affiliates who are experiencing problems.
Ms. Bazyn went on to say each member of the committee had been given specific affiliates to contact to offer assistance if needed.
Public Service Announcements are being put together to distribute to affiliates by November 1.
Motion 12: Ms. Christensen moved the acceptance of the Membership Committee report. The motion passed.
Mr. Beatty announced that he has been working with folks in Montana and they may be in a position to apply for a charter in February.
Mr. Crawford was asked to give a short report on the Braille Forum activities. He stated that the Braille copies of the magazine cost $2.08 per issue for a total of 56 pages and $1.97 for a 48-page issue. The national office will work with Ms. Shaw on membership development.
Motion 13: Mr. Edwards moved acceptance of the national office report. The motion carried.
Motion 14: Ms. Ruschival moved that the Board express in some way its displeasure with the issues related to the guide dog article by communicating to the Board of Publication our displeasure with the tone and distribution of the editorial. The motion failed.
Motion 15: Ms. Schmitt moved that inasmuch as the News Notes from the national office was well received by a majority of the membership that does not have a computer, that News Notes be restored to the Braille Forum. And that the Board of Publications be encouraged to see that that happens. The motion carried.
Item 11 – History Committee Report, Mr. Charlie Hodge. The publisher returned the manuscript because they felt it was unacceptable. Mr. Hodge recommended that final payment to Mr. Jim Megivern and Ms. Marjorie Megivern be made, if possible, by October 15th.
The committee found an online digital publisher. This publisher would charge about half of what the previous publisher would have charged. There are some up front costs amounting to about $1,700.
As a safeguard, the History Committee believed it wise to recommend to the Board to engage a professional copy editor to review the manuscript before submitting it to the publisher. This copy editor is an independent contractor. She would be available in the next month and the price is not expected to exceed $2,500.
The History Committee is recommending the following four points: That we authorize Mr. Megivern to enter a submission contract with the publisher and to pay up front fees of approximately $1,700. To engage Ms. Michelle Gitlin as a professional copy editor to review the manuscript before it is submitted to the publisher. To make the last payment owed Mr. Megivern under current agreement with him. To authorize a small committee which this Board had already established namely chair of the History Committee, chair of the BOP, the ACB President and Professor Megivern to make any final decisions pertaining to design of the cover, royalties, etc.
In addition, the History Committee recommended to the Board that it authorize the History Committee to contact Mr. Leonard DuBoff, who is a professor of law and whose specialty is copy write law and ask for a formal opinion as to whether ACB has a case against the former publishing company.
An additional recommendation is to continue with the prior agreement that Mr. Jim Megivern and Ms. Marjorie Megivern be listed on the title page as the authors but that ACB would be listed as the copy write holder.
Motion 16: Mr. Charlson moved the acceptance of the recommendations from the History Committee with respect to the publisher, preliminary fees, the final payment for the Megivern manuscript, the retention of and the payment of copy write editor. The motion passed.
President Gray stated that Professor Megivern had asked for additional payment for further consultation pertaining to the history book.
Motion 17: Mr. Edwards moved that the President and members of the History Committee be authorized to enter negotiations with Professor Megivern for an additional payment of up to $5,000. The motion passed.
Mr. Speicher suggested amending the motion to add that the additional payment be specified for work additional to work contemplated under the original contract.
Mr. Edwards urged that we ask the President to utilize our Advocacy Services Committee and based on their recommendation, proceed in the manner they recommend.
Motion 18: Mr. Hodge moved that a small ad hoc committee consisting of the ACB President, Chair of the Board of Publications, Chair of the History Committee and Professor Megivern be authorized to make any decisions pertaining to cover design, appendices, design of back cover and paper work with the publisher with a limit of $1,000. The motion carried.
Item 12 – President’s Report. President Gray reported to the Board all the difficulties that were encountered with the history book publishers.
The President is encouraged with the interest in fund raising. The major donor campaign is moving ahead. Smart Media on the other hand has hit some snags, therefore, it is on hold. A new software program is being tried which will keep a database of donors to ACB.
A transportation summit which had been planned to occur following the 2001 convention didn’t due to the fact that a chair or co-chairs hadn’t been found to head the task force. However, two people have been named to co-chair the committee: Mr. Ron Brooks from New Mexico and Ms. Alice Ritchard from Georgia. The committee is in the process of writing a set of recommendations. Perhaps some time during the Presidents’ Meeting could be devoted to a transportation summit.
President Gray was asked which affiliate conventions he had attended since convention and which ones he is currently planning to attend. Following convention, he attended the Georgia convention and ACB of Texas. He plans to attend conventions in Alaska, Illinois, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Kentucky.
Motion 19: Ms. Christensen moved the acceptance of the President’s Report. The motion passed.
Item 13 – Treasurer’s Report – Ms. Ardis Bazyn. The following figures are as of July: Revenues $504,500
Expenses 871,000 Negative balance (370,000)
ACBES Donation 211,000 Current Negative Balance $167,000
Motion 20: Mr. Edwards moved to accept the treasurer’s report. The motion passed.
Motion 21: President Gray entertained a motion to adjourn the ACB Board Meeting in order to convene the ACBES corporate membership Meeting. The motion passed.
Mr. Paul Edwards, Chair of the American Council of the Blind Enterprise and Services, Inc. brought the meeting to order at 4:00pm on Saturday, September 21, 2002 in the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Mr. Edwards began by giving an explanation of ACBES to those new to the Board. He went on to say that many changes have occurred over the past year with the thrift stores. Sales are up, but also expenses have increased. A new store recently opened in West Alice, Wisconsin, which is a suburb of Milwaukee. The stores are slowly becoming donation centers.
The ACBES Board will meet in October at the Milwaukee store.
Mr. Olsen stated that the store in Lubbock, Texas is the most profitable of all the thrift stores. He went on to say the managers’ workshop was very positive. Mr. Michael Keoghan, Executive Director, now has an assistant, Mr. Dominic LaTelle.
Mr. Olsen also said that he is now giving each store manager a membership to ACB.
Mr. Edwards reviewed the criteria for electing ACBES Board members. Five people are elected by the ACBES Corporation (ACB Board), three members in even years and two in odd years and Two are elected by the ACBES Board. Four of the seven members must be members of the corporation.
Ms. Dawn Christensen presented a slate of nominees for directors of ACBES. They were: Mr. Oral Miller, Ms. Ardis Bazyn and Mr. LeRoy Saunders each for a two-year position.
Motion 1: Ms. Christensen moved acceptance of the slate of nominees. The motion carried.
Motion 2: Mr. Charlson moved to elect Mr. Leroy Saunders for one position. The motion carried.
Motion 3: Mr. Charlson nominated Mr. Oral Miller for the second position. The motion carried.
Mr. Charlson nominated Ms. Ardis Bazyn for position three.
Dr. Bradley nominated Ms. M. J. Schmitt for position three.
Motion 4: The Chair entertained a motion to close nominations. The motion passed.
Following a one-minute statement by each candidate, elections were held. On a roll call vote, Ms. Schmitt received nine votes and Ms. Bazyn received six votes with one abstention.
Motion 5: Mr. Edwards entertained a motion to adjourn the ACBES corporation meeting. The motion passed and the meeting was adjourned at 5:15pm.
Item 15 - Budget Committee report. Ms. Ardis Bazyn, treasurer, presented a list of recommendations compiled by the Budget Committee. Recommends a draw from the reserves of between $150,000 to $200,000 if needed before the end of the year.
Motion 22: Mr. Charlson moved that we authorize the CFO to transfer from the board designated reserves to an active account for purposes of paying expenses up to $200,000. The motion passed.
Cut $6,200 from Braille Forum allocation and left it up to BOP where to take it.
Motion 23: Mr. Charlson moved that collectively the line items known as the Braille Forum be reduced by a total of $6,200. The motion carried with a roll call vote. Those voting for were: Mr. Annunzio, Ms. Bazyn, Mr. Beatty, Dr. Bradley, Mr. Charlson, Ms. Christensen, Mr. Edwards, Ms. Keith, Mr. Miller, Ms. Ruschival, Ms. Schmitt and Ms. Seliger. Those opposed were: Mr. Pomerantz, Mr. Sheehan and Mr. Speicher.
The committee Recommends that $3,000 be reduced from Mr. Mark Silver’s contract.
Motion 24: Mr. Charlson moved that we reduce the line item for Mr. Silver by the balance of this year’s budget item by $3,000.
Motion 25: Ms. Ruschival moved to amend the motion to direct the president to review contract and to explore with Mr. Silver the possibility of reducing the life of contract by $3,000.
Mr. Charlson withdrew the motion with the assurance from the President that he will do his best to have a discussion with Mr. Silver in this regard.
Motion 26: Mr. Edwards moved that Mr. Miller, Ms. Ruschival, Mr. Olsen, Ms. Bazyn and he get together before the Sunday morning meeting to work on budget. The motion carried.
Recommend that when the proposed budget for the first three months of 2003 is compiled, use a three tier priority level system. (Examples of priorities: (1) Contracts (2) Salaries and Braille Forum (3) Things we would like to do.)
To establish budget centers with costs so that the person in charge of a specific budget center could not overspend the specified amount.
Mr. Olsen recommend that an ad hoc committee be formed to help him make decisions on investments.
Budget centers and line item transfers. If close to the top of budget center, have to ask for more money.
8. Accept the first quarter 2003 proposed budget.
Motion 27: Mr. Edwards moved that this board adopt in principal the notion of priority budgeting and budget centers and that the old and new budget committees be constituted as a task force to agree upon and submit to this board for its adoption with final details of both of those elements by mail no later than December 1 with a teleconference meeting on December 15, and that Mr. Crawford and Mr. Olsen be members of that committee. The motion passed.
President Gray recessed the meeting at 6:20pm.
September 22, 2002
President Gray reconvened the meeting at 8:40am
The secretary was asked to take roll call. It was determined that all officers and directors were present.
Continuing with the Budget Committee report, Mr. Crawford discussed the elements of the proposed budget. Under spending, 1) Must do it; 2) Should do it because that’s what has always been done; and 3) Would like to do it and probably can if we have the funds. On the revenue side of the budget, priority 1) Money in the bank that we can count on; 2) Reasonable to anticipate we will receive; and 3) There is some risk in not ever having the funds. The budget centers give the ability to manage the money within the jurisdiction of the budget. The third issue is the line item piece and the fourth item is the posting issue.
Motion 28: Mr. Edwards moved that (we add trying to come up with a hybrid approach to the task that we’ve given to the old and new budget committee), the old and new budget committee shall incorporate into its report to be delivered to this Board by the first of December a proposal for the handling of movement of funds from line item to line item. The motion carried.
Mr. Miller, along with other members of the group designated previously, led the discussion in regard to the budget items they would propose. They continued the process of looking at a number of items. As an indication of the interest of the board, attempting to raise funds but also to curb expenditures they applied the standards discussed by the Board. The June 30 statement was used as a guide and suggested items to reduce spending as follows: Affiliate Presidents meeting $4,000 Printing $3,000 Braille Forum (envelopes) $4,000 Board Travel $5,000 Employee travel $2,000 Committee travel $4,000 Affiliate grants $3,000 for a total of $25,000
Motion 29: Mr. Charlson moved the adoption of the list of items totaling $25,000. The motion carried.
Motion 30: Ms Schmitt moved that in the future, since historically the Board has had meetings that might last until noon on Sunday or Monday, anyone who chooses to leave prior to noon will lose $150 from their airplane ticket. The motion failed.
Mr. Crawford suggested that in order to save ACB money those Board members who wish, may call the National Office and speak with Crystal or Patricia to order plane tickets.
Ms. Bazyn presented the budget of $353,870 for the first quarter of 2003.
Motion 31: Mr. Edwards moved to authorize expenditure of $353,870 for the first quarter of the year 2003 on a prioritization system to be determined by the designated committee. The motion passed.
Motion 32: Mr. Charlson moved that ACB establish an ad hoc committee on investments. That committee is to have three individuals, one of whom must be the Treasurer, and two Board members to be appointed by the President. The motion passed.
Motion 33: Ms. Ruschival moved that beginning with the budget process this fall that we move toward incorporating the convention budget into the overall budget of the organization. The motion passed.
Item 16 - Ms. Ruschival, chair of the Convention Site Committee, reported that there are four to five sites in the West to consider for 2005 and either the Midwest or Northeast for 2007. There are up to 12 cities currently under consideration for the 2005 and 2007 conventions.
Motion 34: Ms. Schmitt moved to accept the convention site report from Ms. Ruschival. The motion passed.
Item 18 - Executive Committee elections: the officers elected Mr. Edwards and Mr. Speicher. The directors elected Mr. Miller and Mr. Pomerantz.
Item 19 – Board of Publications recommendations. The recommendations were read and dealt with individually.
Motion 35: (1) Mr. Edwards moved that this recommendation be forwarded to the Budget Committee so that they can consider incorporating the cost of the purge into their budget process for next year. The motion passed.
(2) Revisions will be made to the Editorial Policy Manual for the BOP to report the establishment of the Public Relations Committee and to include as an ex officio member of the BOP Jonathan Mosen. No Board action taken.
Motion 36: (3) Mr. Edwards moved that the President be asked by the Board of Directors to monitor the ongoing issue of royalties and to make recommendations to the Board for action should he see fit. The motion passed.
No Board action was taken on the issue of the candidates forum and candidates page on the website. No Board action was taken on adding important phone numbers to the convention newspaper’s first issue. No Board action was taken on the fact that Mr. Mosen should be an ex-officio member of the Board of Publications. No action was taken on this issue except to note that Mr. Mike Duke sits on the Public Relations Committee and Mr. Charlie Hodge is Chair of the Board of Publications.
Item 20 – Budget Committee Election.
Nominees for the first position were presented for election: Dr. Ed Bradley and Ms. Ardis Bazyn. On a roll call vote Ms. Bazyn received 11 votes and Dr. Bradley received 5.
Nominees for the second position were: Mr. Brian Charlson and Ms. Carla Ruschival. On a roll call vote Mr. Charlson received nine votes and Ms. Ruschival received 7 votes.
Nominees for the position vacated by Mr. Sanderson were Mr. Pat Sheehan, Mr. Jerry Annunzio, Ms. Carla Ruschival and Dr. Ed Bradley. On a roll call vote Mr. Annunzio received 1 vote; Dr. Bradley 4; Ms. Ruschival 4; and Mr. Sheehan 6.
On the run-off vote Dr. Bradley received 5 votes; Ms. Ruschival 5; and Mr. Sheehan 6.
In the final round, (Dr. Bradley withdrew his name) Ms. Ruschival received 6 votes and Mr. Sheehan 10.
Item 21 – Resource Development Committee report. President Gray gave a short report from the committee. He said the ATM that was installed in Alaska had some problems initially. The ATM transactions processed during August totaled $7,680.
In regard to the Resource Development Committee budget, nothing definite has been done. The total balance for the committee was $28,350. The total expenses for the committee are $15,977.66.
The report compiled by Mr. Dodge Fielding was distributed to the Board prior to this meeting.
Motion 37: Mr. Edwards moved that we defer discussion until mid-year of the Fielding report itself. The motion passed.
Mr. Crawford reported that through grants ACB received $53,000 for convention support with a total of $90,000 being raised through that methodology. Another revenue is broad band support. The third strategy is through endorsement of such things as Sound Alert with receipt of stock options.
One of the recommendations that Mr. Fielding made was to update ACB reports offered online by watchdog agencies. President Gray said work will be done on the item.
Mr. Sheehan is working on putting the ACB store online and would like to have someone who will take orders and send the items out. He would like to model the ACB store after the Guide Dog Users store.
President Gray touched on three more recommendations from Mr. Fielding.
President Gray and Mr. Olsen spoke briefly about the MMS program. Mr. Olsen is working with Wells Fargo to help with the internet setup for withdrawals.
Motion 38: Mr. Pomerantz moved to authorize Mr. Olsen to go ahead with negotiations with Wells Fargo. The motion passed.
President Gray reported that Smart Media work is ongoing. He stated that he will work with Mr. Crawford and Mr. Edwards on a contract and bring it back to the Board.
Motion 39: Mr. Annunzio moved to accept the Resource Development Committee report. The motion carried.
Mr. Annunzio reported on the major donor campaign. He talked about the possibility of finding 140 people to donate up to $50,000 by the end of the year.
Also, CFC campaign is one that he hopes ACB will receive funds from. He would like to set up a training program for the Presidents’ Meeting, a reminder program at convention and in September an e-mail reminder would go out. He also mentioned United Way as a possible donation center.
Motion 40: Ms. Schmitt moved to accept the report given by Mr. Annunzio. The motion carried.
Item 22 – Mr. Crawford spoke about the Medicare legislation. He said there are currently two bills in Congress and expects neither will pass. There is some questions as to who should be reimbursed for training blind persons; occupational therapists in particular.
Motion 41: Mr. Charlson moved that the Board of Directors of ACB affirm that professional qualification standards need to be applied to the division of Medicare services with regard to the use of OT’s, PT’s and include O&M instructors and assistive technology trainers. Professionals providing services to blind people for the purposes of Medicare reimbursement should have comparable competency to Orientation and mobility instructors and rehabilitation teachers. The motion passed.
Motion 42: Mr. Charlson moved that we dissolve the voting task force. The motion carried.
Motion 43: Mr. Charlson moved that we authorize the Scholarship Committee to bring before us at the mid-year Board Meeting a proposal that would allow a category for non-full time students to qualify for ACB sponsored scholarships. The motion carried.
Motion 44: Mr. Charlson moved to adjourn the American Council of the Blind fall 2002 Board Meeting. The motion passed unanimously.
The meeting adjourned at 12:10pm.
Donna Seliger, Secretary
of the ACB Board of Directors
and the ACB Board of Publications
in the Hierarchy of ACB
by Christopher Gray, President
In the minutes for the 2002 Pre-Convention meeting held on June 27, the following information is provided:
"Motion 13: Mr. Pomerantz moved to amend the motion to accept by calling for a report from a representative from the Board of Publications, Public Relations Committee and Constitution and By-Laws for discussion at the September board meeting. The motion failed.
"Following the motion, Mr. Charlie Crawford stated that he felt the recommendation and any subsequent vote of the Board would be unconstitutional because the Board does not have the authority to tell the Board of Publications what to do or not do. He asked that his statement go on record.
In this analysis, an attempt is made to consider the variety of issues that surround the relationship between the ACB Board of Directors and the ACB Board of Publications. First and foremost, it must be said that the relationship is intended to be cooperative and mutually supportive in nature. The ACB Board of Publications was established to foster organizational cohesiveness. There is no documentary evidence to suggest any other type of basic relationship between the BOP and any other entity within ACB.
Beginning with some historical facts, it should be noted that while BOP is often spoken of as one of the basic safeguards within ACB against abuses of freedom of the press, it is equally true that this "safeguard" was not created at the time of the creation of ACB. Thus, it cannot accurately be claimed that the function of the BOP was considered by the founders of ACB to be either "central" or "key" to the proper, Democratic functioning of the organization. In ACB's original Constitution and By-Laws, By-Law 7 contained several standing committees. The Board of Publications was designated in Part C of By-Law 7 and its membership was entirely appointed by the President. (Braille Forum, October, 1962.)
There is virtually no documentary evidence regarding the reasons for breaking out the BOP into a separate by-law, nor is there any writing in the Braille Forum or elsewhere of which we know that spells out the scope and operational parameters of the BOP. The only written record we have of the change is contained in a letter From Durward McDaniel to Floyd Qualls that mentions the change in By-Law 7 from the Chicago Convention and informs Qualls that he was elected as one of the three elected members under the new structure, though he was not in attendance at the Convention. (letter dated July 23, 1963; ACB History, Chapter 7, page unknown).
However, it must also be pointed out that there had been some controversy between 1961 and 1963, when the BOP was reconstituted, with regard to editorial matters within the organization. Some problems were personal in nature. For example, Marie Boring was the first Editor of the Braille Forum, and it is relatively well-known that some mistrust existed between Boring and George Card due to some of his actions as the former editor of the Braille Monitor. Notwithstanding this fact, Card was an Associate Editor of the Forum and remained so until 1980.
In addition to such unavoidable personal issues that will arise from time to time in any organization, it should be noted, and ACB has always been mindful of the fact, that our publication may be the single most important thing we do to communicate with one another and to bring our message to the world in general. Such a mission cannot be performed adequately by a Board of Directors. To have the assistance of a Board of Publications is a complementary and helpful mechanism for the administration of an organization.
Finally with regard to historical perspective, it must be bourn in mind that the Board of Publications was formed at a time when ACB did not have a paid editor and was barely able to produce a small magazine on a bi-monthly basis. In fact, in the early years of the Forum, the BOP was responsible for choosing editorial staffs, and no single person acted as Editor. June Goldsmith, first Chairperson of the BOP as it is presently constituted, refers to the Editor of the Braille Forum working along with three editorial assistants. The Editor was Marie Boring and her Associate Editors were Ned Freeman, Mary Jane Hills and George Card. (Braille Forum, September, 1964.)
Editors might well need advice, direction, and counsel on a variety of matters. Editors, with the exception of Durward McDaniel who was Acting Editor between the death of Ned Freeman and the assumption of editorial duties by Mary Ballard, worked from their homes on a volunteer basis. Only during the course of Mary Ballard's editorship was a stipend initiated and later a minimal salary provided.
These core items led to the creation of a BOP with regard to the functioning of the Braille Forum. Support for the editor, support of communication, and a mechanism to try and take as much personality as possible out of the day-to-day affairs of the magazine were key factors.
When considering the BOP, there is a second thread of history that should be considered. Perhaps the greatest single vehicle that fostered ACB's creation as an organization was the Braille Free Press. This magazine was created because dissident members of NFB could gain no voice in their magazine. There is no question that the collective leadership of ACB at the time of its formation and at the time of the creation of the BOP believed in and wished to preserve a magazine that could publish many diverse points of view. There can be no question that a Board of Publications would be expected to play a significant role in preserving this freedom for the organization.
There is a final historical thread that weaves through this discussion and should be mentioned here. Many founders of ACB had very negative feelings regarding fundraising brochures that had been distributed by Bernard Gershwin in the name of NFB for fund-raising purposes. There was a wide-spread belief that a BOP could help to protect the "public face" of the organization. A BOP could act as a possible safeguard against the dissemination of condescending, heart-wrenching materials that were not in keeping with the message about blindness that ACB members believed was appropriate for their organization to distribute.
Taken together, all these elements coalesced and led in 1963 to the creation of the American Council of the Blind Board of Publications. Their existence was codified in By-Law 7. Note here that the BOP was not given the status of Constitutional inclusion. This must be given some degree of significance when considering the true scope and power of this body.
The BOP is mentioned twice within the Constitution. The first instance states that the election of a BOP member, as with a Board member, must be by record vote.
The first mention of any significance with regard to the BOP in the Constitution is in Article IV, Section D. It is in this section that a member of the BOP is allowed to hold a seat on the Board of Directors. Historically, this role was fulfilled by the Editor. However, this was changed to align the organization with the Long Range Plan adopted by the ACB National Convention in 1995. This change signified a notable decrease in the role and responsibilities of the Editor position with regard to the governance of ACB and perhaps in other areas as well.
The next mention of the BOP appears in Article IV, Officers, Section L. This section authorizes the Board of Directors of ACB to elect any vacancies of elected members to the BOP. It states in whole:
"L. If a vacancy should occur between annual conventions in any elected position on either the Board of Publications or the Board of Directors, except in the offices of President or 1st Vice-President, the Board of Directors shall, by a majority vote, elect an individual to serve in the position until the next annual convention. At this convention, if necessary, the membership shall elect a successor to serve for the remainder of the term. An officer, director, or member of the Board of Publications elected or succeeding to a position under the provisions of this section shall assume the duties of that position immediately upon election or succession.
To highlight the scope and power of the BOP, here is the by-law as it exists in our present constitution that expressly authorizes BOP and prescribes its duties:
By-Law VII is attached.
In evaluating what may or may not be in accordance with the ACB Constitution and By-Laws with regard to the failed motion or the remarks placed on the record by Charles Crawford, ACB Executive Director, it is only necessary to examine the prescribed duties of the BOP. These are:
"It shall be the duty of the Board of Publications to approve or disapprove employment by the Executive Director of the Editor of "The Braille Forum" and to establish editorial standards and policies applicable to all American Council of the Blind communication formats including: but not limited to, periodicals, the ACB convention programs and ACB brochures, the ACB web site, and ACB radio.
The only additional requirement that could be easily added to those listed above is the holding of at least one meeting per year. Based solely on the Constitutional and By-Law references, there is no basis on which the Board can be forbidden from providing instructions to the BOP. Given that the Board of Directors can elect a member to the BOP, there is a small suggestion that the Board of Directors is hierarchically above the Board of Publications. For most of its history, the BOP has considered this to be the case and has acted accordingly as demonstrated elsewhere in this document.
Before concluding the discussion of the BOP's place in the governing documents of ACB, it is important also to consider where BOP is not mentioned. In particular, the BOP is not even referenced in Article V, "Powers and Duties of the Convention, the Officers, the Board of Directors and Committees". Given the extraordinary role and powers that are suggested to be held by the BOP, it seems hard to believe that some mention of such powers or duties is not contained in this article of the Constitution. However, the Constitution is silent on the matter.
Let us now consider the BOP in its institutional existence within ACB. While not as important as the governing documents discussed above, the history of BOP is unique and peculiar enough to warrant such a discussion. This discussion is specifically and intentionally limited to BOP scope and relationship to the Board. A treatment on censorship and the role of the BOP in its specific duties is excluded at this time. It is a fascinating topic of its own, but not deemed relevant here.
First, it is clear that BOP has acted continuously in its oversight role to the Editor of the Braille Forum. In this matter, the BOP and the ACB Board exist on relatively parallel tracks and interaction is limited if it exists at all.
Over time, the BOP has come to have a role in the contracts through which the Braille Forum is produced. This role came into existence only after the Editor of the Forum was moved into the National Office structure. This role was limited significantly in July, 2002 when the Board of Directors mandated that contracts over $25,000 must be presented to the Budget Committee, an elected committee of the Board of Directors. This will undoubtedly include contracts for the print and Braille editions of the Forum.
Third, the BOP has routinely made recommendations about article length, page count, and possible topics of interest and of a timely nature that might be included in the Braille Forum. For example, concerning activities in the past year of the BOP between 1963-1964, June Goldsmith writes:
"The board recommended a budget to the board of directors of ACB for the maintenance and publication of the magazine. The board took part in the discussions which preceded the decision to make the Braille Forum a bi-monthly publication. The board is also taking part in the consideration being presently given to putting the Forum on discs." (Braille Forum, September, 1964).
During her Chairmanship of BOP, Harriet Fielding writes regarding recommendations by BOP to the ACB Board on the scope of their duties:
"The guidelines proposed by the Board of Publications and approved by the ACB Board of Directors are as follows (Braille Forum, March 1982).
Clearly, the BOP has made recommendations to the Executive Director, the President and the Board of Directors with regard to Braille Forum length and the number of issues of the magazine. This shows clearly that the Board of Directors holds complete budgetary control over the Braille Forum as well as other publications of the organization.
In addition, we see from the Fielding article that the BOP has made recommendations about its own scope and brought those recommendations to the Board of Directors for approval. There could be no clearer demonstration of the hierarchical relationship at work here.
I trust that this brief review of the history of the development of the Board of Publications as a corollary and assistive body to the Board of Directors will prove helpful to those who may have become confused during recent discussions over the roles and relationship of various committee and groups within our family of working groups. Certainly, the work of the BOP is very significant to our ability to meet the needs of our members. But just like the Budget Committee, which is a committee elected by the Board of Directors, no one can presume that such entities take a standing or political status to alter the historic and constitutional order of authority within the American Council of the Blind. We all need to remember that the annual convention remains the Supreme authority of the ACB even though it has delegated certain of its powers to the Board of Directors. And right behind the annual convention comes the Board of Directors, even though we may delegate certain of our powers and responsibilities to other groups.
There is no doubt that the Board of Publications holds a unique place in the power structure of ACB. It is to be respected by the Board of Directors. It may be that there might, under a certain set of circumstances, need to be an arms-length relationship between the two Boards. However, it is equally clear that in a strictly hierarchical sense, the Board of Directors holds sway over BOP unless otherwise directed by the convention.
While it may not be wise to end this discussion on a note of speculation, there is one area in which the Board of Directors would be wise to act with extreme caution with regard to the scope and power of the BOP. That is in the area of censorship of materials that appear in the Braille Forum. While there is no documentary evidence whatsoever on this topic in the formal writings within ACB since September 1961, there is a history of writings by key ACB members before that time in the Braille Free Press. These writings contain some of the threads of ideas that provide BOP with the anecdotal powers many claim for it. While it has been argued here that such anecdotal powers clearly do not exist with regard to the day-to-day budgetary and operational affairs of BOP, it is much more difficult to understand the role, scope, or power of the BOP within the specific area of censorship. The history of BOP further confounds this issue. However, let this specific consideration be the topic for another time.
Clarifying statement of Charles Crawford
The above referenced request to be put on record is correct. The basis of my objection was founded in the exclusive right of the Board of Publications granted under bylaw VII to determine editorial standards and policies as to the publications of ACB.
While I erred in the use of the Constitution to the extent that the relevant authority granted the BOP is actually in Bylaw VII; the argument still holds true given the legitimization of the bylaws under Article VII of the constitution voted by the convention.
Hence, if there is an express right of the BOP created to perform as in this case policy, then the exercise of this responsibility must be carried out by the BOP and any action by the Board of Directors that would have the effect of impeding or invading the constitutionally guaranteed separation of responsibilities afforded the BOP is unlawful. In short, the Board of Directors overstepped it's authority by contemplating an action that would have unlawfully engaged itself in the business of the BOP as exclusively reserved to the BOP by the bylaws. Moreover, the Constitution expressly reserves all powers to the Convention except for those clearly granted to the Board of Directors where in this case no such power is granted.
Further, I note that the election of the Board of Publications from the convention floor, the guarantee of a free exchange of views and opinions under sub-part H of Article II, and the clear absence of any authority conveyed to the Board of Directors to intervene in the editorial and policy making decisions of the BOP in matters of publication clearly prevent the Board of Directors from taking actions or exercising undue influence over the business of the BOP.
Finally, it should be noted that any proposed action by the Board or any other ACB subdivision without a change in the bylaw that would have the effect of impacting upon the rightful exercise of BOP duties without an express vote of the BOP to allow such and without compromising the ability of the BOP to continue it's functions in the future would be similarly unlawful in my view.
Text of By-Law VII is attached.
Text of By-Law VII as of the end of the 2001 ACB Convention.
A. There is hereby created a Board of Publications consisting of five (5) members whose term of office shall be two (2) years. The Board Shall be Selected and constituted in the following manner; every odd-numbered year, the President, at the close of the annual convention, shall appoint a Chairperson and one additional member of the Board; and every even-numbered year, the annual convention shall elect, by a majority vote in accordance with voting procedures contained in the Constitution or in the Bylaws, the three (3) remaining members of the Board, provided, however, that no Board member shall serve more than three (3) consecutive terms and no more than one (1) Board member shall be either appointed or elected to the Board of Publications from any one (1) state. It shall be the duty of the Board of Publications to approve or disapprove employment by the Executive Director of the Editor of "The Braille Forum" and to establish editorial standards and policies applicable to all American Council of the Blind communication formats including: but not limited to, periodicals, the ACB convention programs and ACB brochures, the ACB web site, and ACB radio. The Executive Director shall have the authority to dismiss the editor of the Braille Forum, but only with the concurrence of the Board of Publications, after a hearing on the matter. A majority of the Board of Publications may agree to include an editor/producer of any nationally distributed Board of Publications project of the American Council of the Blind as an ex-officio member of the Board. The Board shall meet at least once each year, and more often if necessary, upon the call of the Chairperson or upon the request of not less than three (3) members of the Board of Publications.
B. A member of the Board of Publications is considered a to be from the state in which he/she maintains legal residency. A candidate for, or an appointee to, the position of member of the Board of Publications shall be considered to be from the state in which he/she maintains legal residency at the time of such election or appointment.