by DeAnna Quietwater Noriega

All board members were present except Paul Edwards, who had a conflict. Guests included three representatives of Maxi-Aids (including Elliot Zaretsky), interim comptroller Don Gardner, Melanie Brunson, and Michael Garrett.

Chris Gray read his letter to Maxi-Aids explaining the decision by the board to ban their participation as exhibitors at the next three conventions. Zaretsky requested an opportunity to speak to the board, as he had not been asked for his side of the story by the committee designated to study the matter. Zaretsky stated that he has always worked for the best interests of the visually impaired and intended to do so in the future. He stated that his company had become entangled in a series of misunderstandings rooted in envy by competitors of his company's history of innovative development of products and place as a front-runner in the marketplace. He spoke about his practice of offering internships for disabled youth to get on-the-job experience and his hiring of disabled people at all levels of his company. Many questions were asked concerning whether he was banned by any state or federal agency for purchases. He said that he was not.

After much discussion, Godino moved to rescind the motion to ban Maxi-Aids from participation in the next three conventions. Ruschival seconded the motion. The vote was tied with Gray casting a vote to break the tie in favor of rescinding the motion passed in October. Those in favor of allowing Maxi-Aids to exhibit were Beatty, Godino, Keith, Ruschival, Schmitt, Seliger, Towers, and Gray. Against the motion were Bradley, Charlson, Miller, Pomerantz, Sheehan, Soule, and Trott.

Miller moved a one-year suspension of exhibitor privileges which was seconded by Soule. This motion was also tied and broken by Gray against the concept of ACB placing itself in the position of judging exhibitors' business practices. This time Keith voted in favor and Trott against. Pomerantz moved that a disclaimer be written by the convention committee, for inclusion in the program, stating that ACB does not take responsibility for exhibitors.

Ruschival moved that a new position be created on the convention committee for an individual to take charge of seeking sponsorships and advertising. She outlined a new program for seeking sponsors for the convention. Individuals wishing to assist could begin at the bronze level with a $25 donation up to a platinum contribution of $500. Corporate sponsors could underwrite an event or choose from packages beginning at $1,000 for a pearl sponsor up to $20,000 to sponsor at the diamond level. Charlson amended the motion to adopt this new program to state that the funds would be used to put on the convention, and any surplus be put into the general fund. This was accepted and passed.

There was considerable discussion of the scheduling of the midyear meeting so that both the sessions for the presidents and the board meeting be long enough to meet the needs of both groups without shortchanging anyone. It was deemed that a day and a half for each event was necessary; the logistics were left to the committee to work out. This meeting will be held in Jacksonville over Presidents' Day weekend, Feb. 17-20.

As a member of the GDUI board, I asked for clarification on what was being done to replace Naomi Soule as the Guide Dog Users' liaison to the convention committee to oversee relief areas and other dog-related logistics. Gray explained his reasons for delaying the appointment of a new liaison. He felt the expense of flying someone out to evaluate the hotel was not warranted, as the layout is much simpler. He stated that Margie Donovan had agreed to handle the process of hiring a professional firm to maintain the relief areas and that the matter would be handled as expeditiously as possible.

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