Though Alan Beatty and Oral Miller were a little delayed, all officers and members of the board of directors were present when the meeting opened at 1 p.m.
Budget, Brian Charlson: The latest data we have is the report on 2004 made available in January 2005. Every effort is being made to get ACB's financial house in order. One of the requirements for the interim comptroller whom ACB intends to hire is the preparation of quarterly reports, a step that will vastly improve knowledge of the monetary situation. There has been no request for transfer of funds from the reserve, but it is important to remember that this is the time of year when the organization's expenses are greatest. Jim Olsen's emphasis on managing so that bank fees are kept at a minimum still guides those who handle ACB's finances.
It is anticipated that, in the future, expenses involved with the national convention will be included in the budget process. Toward that end, the draft of the 2006 budget will contain an estimate of those expenditures, with full inclusion in the 2007 budget. The motion to adopt this plan passed unanimously.
A motion was also adopted to have Mike Godino take the position on the budget committee which had been held by the previous treasurer, Ardis Bazyn.
Direct Mail Campaign, Ralph Sanders: It has been possible to do only two of the three mailings we had hoped to accomplish by this time, thus sending out 110,000 pieces instead of 150,000. 300,000 pieces in six mailings were approved by the board at the January meeting and will be sent ultimately. The cost of the recent mailing was $35,400, and the donations received totaled $15,431. That amount plus the $3,000 from the first mailing constitute our receipts to this time. 1,100 donors have been identified, and the average gift has been $39.50. It is anticipated that the cost of the mailing will be covered by the fourth mailing. The chief cost of the mailings has been, of course, the purchase of lists. Miller expressed the opinion that the donor letter was too gentle and needs to be more aggressive. The board also discussed the vehicle donation program and how and whether its list of donors can be accessed and added to the donor list ACB is assembling.
Office Manager And Staff, Melanie Brunson. (1) Because most members do not have access to the leadership list, they frequently miss information concerning pending legislation. To address this problem, a conference call concerning these matters is contemplated, perhaps once each month.
(2) The ability to make materials available in the various formats needed is impaired by difficulties with office equipment. Part of the problem arises from the age of the equipment and part from expecting, especially with regard to the braille production, more than the machines can handle. What we really need is heavy-duty braille printers. The tape duplicator has been in the repair shop three times, each problem costing $500. A third component of the situation is that the computer system in the office is becoming outdated (Windows 98); and the long-term difficulties we have had with our telephone system have been well-known for several years. A capital campaign to address these severe needs is the only way of dealing with these problems.
(3) Efforts are progressing toward establishing a smooth working relationship between the Minneapolis and Washington offices. All officers and board members should feel free to report problems they experience with any processes relying on office staff and procedures.
(4) Day Al-Mohamed has been working on last year's resolutions. All the priority 1, most of the priority 2, and even some of the priority 3 resolutions have been dealt with, and plans for handling this year's resolutions are promising. Jeff Thom, chair of the resolutions committee, later read the list of priorities assigned to this year's resolutions. The priority ratings are established according to the time sensitivity of the resolutions and consideration of what action should be taken. Priority 1 resolutions are dealt with during the first week after the staff returns from the convention.
(5) Sharon Lovering, "Braille Forum" acting editor, reviewed the statistics concerning the various formats in which the magazine is issued. The drop-off in tape and braille readers is offset by the considerable growth in the number of people receiving the magazine online. A distressing factor is the large number (upwards of 350 each month) of magazines returned. Each large print and taped return costs 70 cents, and each braille issue, $1.50. The taped edition of the convention newspaper was received well by those who couldn't use the braille or large print versions.
(6) Terry Pacheco, coordinator of affiliate and membership services, said that there had been an astonishing increase in the number of requests for interpreters and assistive listening devices, 70 by the opening of the convention. The sight and sound impaired committee meeting on Tuesday had 38 participants, and there is every indication that the welcome extended to deaf-blind persons will bring more of them to our conventions. The equipment and the interpreters are costly, and it is hoped that grants can be secured in the future to assist our efforts. We cannot now provide listening devices for every meeting being held throughout the convention, something sought by some hearing-impaired attendees. A motion was passed to refer to the budget committee the matter of meeting expenses required by attendees with disabilities in addition to blindness. Pacheco was pleased and grateful to announce that a position will be open for an assistant in the membership and affiliate services department.
Otis Stephens, a past ACB president, announced that he is working with two colleagues at the University of Tennessee to produce a three-volume encyclopedia on the history of American civil rights and liberties. The work is half completed, and publication is expected in 2006, or 2007 at the latest. He hopes to have the entry he is preparing on the considerable part ACB has played in this area ready for examination by the September board meeting. The work will be "The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Civil Rights and Liberties" and should be available in every library of any size.
Convention Topics: Carla Ruschival explained that the 2006 ACB convention will be in Jacksonville, Fla., July 8-15. The change in date from our usual pattern was caused by the hotel having booked two conventions for the same dates; and, to atone for this error, a number of valuable concessions are being made. A representative visited this convention to observe every aspect of the preparation to be made: exhibit space, meeting rooms, meals, dog guide accommodations, and so on. One problem that will need to be addressed before next year is the habit ACB members have of reserving rooms far in advance and then waiting until near the end of the reservation period to cancel them. That practice can cost ACB dearly.
Cynthia Towers spoke of the need to understand just what a volunteer is expected to do, since some attendees had the attitude that they could demand services far above what volunteers are routinely trained to give. Another area of concern before the next convention is the signs used to set apart seating for the states in the general sessions. Registration, the individual meetings, and the operation of the ACB Cafe went well. The advertisement of tours will need to contain an explanation of possible changes caused by a variety of circumstances to avert some of the complaints this year; and affiliates that make individual plans for buses will be asked to work through ACB to ensure uniformity of service.
Fall Board Meeting: The board discussed the pros and cons of a telephone conference call versus a face-to-face meeting. Edwards moved that the board hold its meeting via conference call. There were five in favor of the motion, nine opposed, and one absent. Bradley suggested that the group meet in Houston on the third weekend of September at the Marriott Hotel, since he has reason to believe that he can get rooms there at a substantial savings. That date and place were approved by voice vote, and the exact time of the meeting was set for Saturday and Sunday, ending by noon. The meeting was adjourned.
(Note: Subsequent to the board meeting, various circumstances have caused a change in the date and place for the fall meeting. It will occur in Minneapolis, Minn., the first weekend in October.)
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