This will be my last appearance as your ears at ACB board of directors meetings. My one-year term covering these events ends with the notes from the post-convention meeting. Look for Charlie Hodge's byline starting with the September board meeting.
The pre-convention board meeting convened on Saturday, July 8. President Chris Gray moved rapidly through the housekeeping tasks of approving the agenda, minutes of previous meetings and the roll call. He then outlined the points he intended to present to the convention in his president's report. ACB will be sending a letter of support in a 508 complaint lodged by member Margie Donovan regarding access to software used by the Veterans Administration. The executive committee has drawn up guidelines for how advocacy issues should be handled. When individuals, whether ACB members or members of the public, request assistance from ACB with legal/advocacy matters, it is important that such requests be handled as expeditiously as possible. With that in mind, the following procedure is recommended to the advocacy services committee and the ACB board of directors:
1. When a staff member or an officer of ACB becomes aware of a request for legal/advocacy assistance which merits attention by ACB, that individual will report the matter to the ACB president or the ACB executive director;
2. The ACB president or the executive director shall review the situation and if he/she deems it appropriate, shall refer the matter to the entire advocacy services committee;
3. The president as chair of the committee will either convene a meeting of the entire committee within five days, or if such a meeting cannot be arranged, convene a meeting with a subcommittee consisting of the committee chair, either the executive director or the director of advocacy and governmental affairs, and one other member of the advocacy services committee. This group will discuss the best way to respond to the request and decide who will be responsible for implementing the response on behalf of ACB;
4. The committee chair will then advise the other members of the advocacy services committee, as well as the officers and members of ACB's board of directors and presidents of appropriate state and special-interest affiliates, of the decisions made by the subcommittee described above, so that individuals with an interest in the situation will know who to go to for information or to offer assistance;
5. Within 14 days, the committee will convene in order to ratify the subcommittee's decision, receive an update from the person(s) designated to implement ACB's response, and make any further decisions necessary to ensure the appropriate response to the situation.
A new server is now online and will shortly be handling more of the workload of ACB's Internet presence.
Mike Godino gave his treasurer's report, which the board accepted. The audit was not yet complete. Paul Edwards commended Gray for his handling of the vehicle donation problems that arose when an Internet appeal meant that cars donated in states with their own vehicle donation programs were donated to the national organization instead of the local affiliate.
The Internet has increased the likelihood of donations going to the national organization. Edwards opined that the Internet exposure was beneficial to ACB, and its removal hurt the national organization without aiding the state affiliates. Godino pointed out that the expenses for the web advertising were borne by ACB. Mitch Pomerantz stated that CCB suffered the lowest revenue stream to date after the ad appeared. He moved that a committee be formed to develop procedures for revenue-sharing, should such a conflict in fund-raising occur in the future. Oral Miller seconded the motion, which passed. After a short break, Gray announced that due to financial constraints, all ACB business needed to be completed by the close of Friday's general session.
Melanie Brunson gave the office report. She announced that donations were coming in that would cover the expense for bringing this year's talking book narrator to the convention. The lease for the Washington office has been extended for two years to bring it into synchronization with the Minneapolis office lease, at a savings of $6,000. Two affiliates had submitted requests for charters, the Montana Blind and Visually Impaired Council and ACB Human Service Professionals. The office received a Prodigy Talking Glucose Monitor, which was available for examination. Jason Perry, a law student from Ohio, was this year's summer intern.
Day Al-Mohamed reported on the progress of all of the resolutions passed at last year's convention. She had been able to take action on all of them, although some would require more than one year to accomplish. She fielded questions on video description, the braille coin bill, Randolph- Sheppard and JWOD.
Sharon Lovering stated that the first edition of "The Jacksonville Sun," the convention newspaper, would be ready by noon. She reported that "The Braille Forum" readership was up to 25,000 subscribers, and that everything is in place to begin distributing the CD-ROM version in September. Edwards requested that the membership be kept informed through articles in "The Braille Forum" of any updates concerning the Randolph- Sheppard program. He made a motion, which Ed Bradley seconded, to commend the work of Lainey Feingold and Linda Dardarian in improving public access to point-of-sale machines. The motion carried.
In her convention committee report, Carla Ruschival noted that the convention would be in Orlando, Fla. in 2009. She informed the board that convention attendees were staying longer and, although this posed some glitches in receiving the convention hotel rates, it was a good thing overall. She was able to negotiate an increase of our block size so that it was not necessary to go to an overflow hotel. $13,000 was raised in sponsorships for convention events. The sign-ups for the Youth Activities Center exceeded the capacity of the room and it was decided to break the group up by age group next year. David Trott informed the board that the ACB raffle netted $1,000. There was some discussion about the Mexico timeshare documents.
Pomerantz made a motion, which Ruschival seconded, to adopt a policy restricting ACB staff members from running for positions on the board of directors for one year after they leave the employment of the organization. There was some discussion as to whether this gave the staffer an unfair advantage because of their high visibility as staff. Edwards felt that such a restriction was not democratic. The motion was defeated 9 to 6, with Bradley, Godino, Pomerantz, Ruschival, Schmitt, and Seliger casting the votes in favor of such a policy. The meeting adjourned to go into executive session.
After the roll call, Gray announced the outcome of the executive session. Personnel matters were discussed, and no action was taken.
Michael Garrett gave the ACBES report. The store managers were in attendance for the second time at convention. They were planning to hold meetings with the employees of the thrift stores to pass on some of the things they had learned. Although revenues are down this quarter due to the competition posed by summer yard sales, contributions are up and the fall quarter should be high. Gray questioned whether ACBES would meet its projected income for 2006. Garrett made no guarantees, but promised to do everything possible to cut costs and increase sales. He requested that he be permitted to answer the question of whether ACBES will meet its projected revenue stream for ACB in September.
The Indianapolis store lease runs out in August and that location will be closed, as it has been losing money for years. Trott questioned whether closing that shop would increase costs. Some usable equipment will be reassigned to other stores. The truck from Indianapolis will be moved to Louisville. Potential capital outlays cannot be predicted as equipment failures occur without warning. Garrett gave Don Gardner credit for negotiating a month-to-month lease in one store that may need to be moved to a better location. After some questions about manager and employee incentives, the report was accepted.
Joel Snyder has asked ACB to assist in the publication of a book about the history of video description. After some discussion about the necessity for the board of publications to have oversight so that WGBH's role be included, the proposal was accepted.
Jeff Thom gave a report on resolutions prioritization. He explained that the priority one resolutions would be handled within the next two weeks.
Ralph Sanders presented the direct mail report. He felt that ACB needed a celebrity endorser to make the mailings more effective. There was some discussion of an unfavorable rating on a charity rating web site. The problem was tracked down to a confusion between ACBES and ACB. Melanie Brunson is going to survey such web sites to be sure ACB's ratings are correct. Gray stated that we have almost reached the point at which our donor base for mailings will be large enough to begin bringing in revenue. Some thought is going into how ACB's 990 tax forms are filled out to maximize designations of where activities are recorded. Gray posed the idea of having some fund-raising expertise available to give the board some training at the September board meeting. The direct mail report was accepted.
A committee was formed including Gray, Brunson, Seliger, Brenda Dillon, and DeAnna Noriega, to undertake the writing of a handbook for board members to be presented at the September board meeting.
Ruschival presented her final convention committee report. Pomerantz questioned whether dog accidents were still high. He felt that ACB should send a letter of complaint to the school of an aggressive guide dog. Poor attendance at general sessions, people blocking doors, and poor acoustics from the front of the hall were all areas of concern to individual board members.
Charlie Hodge brought up the fact that the board of publications did not receive the same upgrades as the board of directors. It was felt that the banquet seating arrangements worked better this year. It was suggested that locator tones could be put on the bars. The purchase of some mixers and mikes helped cut the high cost of hotel-supplied audio-visual equipment. The board thanked Mike Duke and Jay Doudna for their tireless work to be sure the affiliates had access to the purchased equipment. Duke and Doudna recommended that four teams of people be trained in its use, to divide up the tasks of getting equipment where it was needed. The convention report was accepted.
Rhonda Trott gave the ACB Store report. She emphasized the need to get the web site functioning so that sales would not be limited to conventions. She felt that a digital camera to add photographs, setting up PayPal and getting more logo items would be progress in the right direction. Ruschival felt that making it possible for affiliates to add links to the store to aid in the sale of items would be a good idea.
After lunch, an executive session to delve into personnel matters was again called. A motion was passed to accept with appreciation the information provided by the president, executive director and the chair of the ACBES board. A motion was made to congratulate Melanie Brunson on her acceptance into an NIB-sponsored MBA program and to recognize that she may be called upon to provide testimonials for that program. Pomerantz, Edwards, Bradley and Thom were elected to the executive committee. A motion passed to create a fiscal policies and procedures manual to establish internal controls.
The board then thanked Brian Charlson for his years of service to ACB.
An ad hoc committee was proposed to deal with seeking partnership opportunities to further the advancement of visually impaired students in math and science. Two dates were chosen for the fall board meeting, but the location was left open so that Ruschival could investigate possibilities for lower costs. Paul Edwards asked that the board receive any documents two weeks in advance of the meeting. The meeting adjourned.
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