February 20 & 21, 2006, Board Meeting Minutes

American Council of the Blind
Mid-Year Board Meeting
February 20 & 21, 2006

The meeting was called to order by President Chris Gray at 9:08am on Sunday, February 20, 2006 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Jacksonville Florida.

Roll Call of the Board was taken by the secretary. Ms. Naomi Soule was absent due to illness in her family.

The guests in the room introduced themselves.

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

President Gray announced that Ms. Cynthia Towers had resigned from the Board to pursue other avenues of interest at this time.

President Gray opened the floor for nominations to fill the vacant seat from now until the 2006 convention.

Ms. Keith nominated Ms. Becky (Floyd) Collins from Mississippi.

Mr. Pomerantz nominated Ms. Carol Ewing from Nevada.

Ms. Schmitt nominated Ms. Brenda Dillon from Tennessee.

Mr. Edwards nominated Mr. Gene Barton from Pennsylvania.

Motion 2: Mr. Beatty moved to close nominations. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Motion 3: Mr. Miller moved to drop the bottom name until a clear majority of votes has been reached. On a voice vote the motion carried.

Elections were held and Ms. Carol Ewing will retain the position until the 2006 convention when she will be up for election. On a roll call vote no clear majority was reached on the first round. The votes were as follows: Mr. Gene Barton two; Mr. Charlson and Mr. Edwards. Ms. Becky Collins received three votes from Ms. Keith, Mr. Miller and Mr. Sheehan. Ms. Brenda Dillon came in second with four votes from Ms. Ruschival, Ms. Schmitt, Ms. Seliger and Mr. Trott with five votes for Ms. Carol Ewing. Those votes were from Mr. Beatty, Dr. Bradley, Mr. Godino, Mr. Gray and Mr. Pomerantz.

On the second round, Mr. Barton’s name was dropped and the results were: Ms. Collins three; Ms. Keith, Mr. Miller and Mr. Sheehan. Ms. Dillon received five votes from Mr. Godino, Mr. Gray, Ms. Ruschival, Ms. Schmitt and Ms. Seliger while Ms. Ewing receiving six votes from Mr. Beatty, Dr. Bradley, Mr. Charlson, Mr. Edwards, Mr. Pomerantz and Mr. Trott.

A third round of voting was between Ms. Dillon and Ms. Ewing with Ms. Dillon receiving five votes from Mr. Godino, Ms. Keith, Ms. Schmitt, Ms. Seliger and Mr. Sheehan. Ms. Ewing received nine votes from Mr. Beatty, Dr. Bradley, Mr. Charlson, Mr. Edwards, Mr. Gray, Mr. Miller, Mr. Pomerantz, Ms. Ruschival and Mr. Trott.

The board welcomed Ms. Ewing and proceeded with the meeting.

Item 5: Minutes – Motion 4: Mr. Edwards moved to approve the minutes taken at the fall board meeting. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 5: Mr. Pomerantz moved to approve the minutes from the November 22, 2005 conference call board meeting. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Item 6: President’s report – President Gray discussed briefly a new long range plan. It was agreed that President Gray will send via e-mail the long range plan to refresh the memories of the Board.

Also discussed was a possible board training day again sometime in the future. President Gray suggested possibly having another training session in conjunction with the fall, 2006 board meeting.

Item 7: Dr. Bradley spoke on behalf of the MMS Committee. Although the members of the board cover their own expenses to attend meetings, donate to the organization through the Monthly Monetary Support Program and other avenues, there is no record to refer to when asking for corporate donations or grants.

Motion 6: Mr. Pomerantz moved that a statement be drafted by the chair of the MMS committee and be completed by April 1, 2006 and inserted in each Braille Forum regarding the MMS Program and how to become involved. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 7: Mr. Pomerantz moved to accept the MMS report. The motion carried on a voice vote.

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Item 8: ACBES Report from Mr. Michael Garrett. He began by thanking the ACBES Board for their working through the transition of the resignation of the Executive Director. He also thanked Mr. Don Gardner for his work with ACBES.

Mr. Garrett reported that two thrift store managers have resigned since late November. Several changes have been made in the pricing system and Mr. Gardner has visited some of the stores to assess their operation. Sales are up over all thus far this year.

Mr. Garrett estimates the American Council of the Blind Enterprise and Service could contribute as much as $450,000 to ACB in 2006.

Motion 8: Dr. Bradley moved to accept the ACBES report from Mr. Garrett. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

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Item 10: The Resource Development Committee report from Mr. David Trott. He asked that Ms. Brenda Dillon and Ms. Pam Shaw be included in their discussions.

Mr. Trott requested the ACB Board give the Resource Development Committee the authority revisit the ACB raffle and the time share auction to determine what, if anything, the committee would do with either of these ventures.

Motion 9: Dr. Bradley moved that the RDC be given authorization to move forward with the time share unless the proper documentation for 2005 is not presented, then it will not be offered this year. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Mr. Trott went on to discuss ACB raffle which was held in 2005. If the committee decides to proceed, notice will be given to the Board for approval.

Motion 10: Mr. Charlson moved that the ACB Board authorize the RDC to conduct a 2006 raffle to benefit existing programs and they specify within that for purposes of marketing. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Mr. Trott revisited the proposal Mr. John Oliveira had made to have a bowling tournament during the convention. Mr. Trott suggested that the proposal be postponed until the 2007 convention.

Motion 11: Mr. Edwards moved that a copy of the ACB bowling tournament proposal be placed on the board list and that this board defer any action on this item until the post-convention board meeting but no later than the fall board meeting to review and consider for the purposes of having the tournament in 2007. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 12: Mr. Edwards moved to accept the Resource Development Committee report. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Item 11: Mr. Godino gave the ACB treasurer’s report in brief as each board member received a copy. The 2005 budget is projected to close with a deficit due to two large short falls.

Motion 13: Mr. Godino moved to transfer an amount of up to $150,000 from board reserves to make the 2005 year end a balanced budget. At such time that a conclusion is reached, that a conference call of the board will convene in order to advise them of final conclusion and ask for a ratification of a decision before any funds are actually removed from the reserves. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Mr. Charlson reported that ACB now has a working estimate of $231,000 in board reserves.

Mr. Godino prepared a resolution which Mr. Gardner read to the board. Copies will be signed and sent to each financial institution which ACB has a relationship.

Motion 14: Mr. Charlson moved that we refer the creation of these legal documents (resolutions) to consideration by our Comptroller, Treasurer, Executive Director, President and Budget Committee Chair for us to) 1) seek legal opinion on what we ought to be doing in this regard and 2) Bring it to the board at the same time they bring to the board the resolution with final confirmation on the designated reserves or in two weeks whichever comes first. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 15: Mr. Godino moved to authorize the comptroller of ACB to take action to move the stock certificates that have been identified into a Morgan-Stanley account. A letter should be sent notifying each financial institution that by resolution the Board has authorized 1) The movement of the stock certificates to the Morgan-Stanley Investment Bank and also change the signatures on the annuities with AIG to reflect that Mr. Don Gardner has authority to transact with regard to those documents. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Mr. Godino reported he has been working on a project for sometime. He suggested putting the investment portfolio in order. He would like to bring information to the pre-convention board meeting in this regard.

Motion 16: Mr. Miller moved to accept the treasurer’s report. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Item 12: Report from Mr. Don Gardner, Interim Comptroller. The lease on the office in Minneapolis expires in 2008. 2) The equipment is old and needs to be replaced. 3) The accounting process is being moved from two older software systems to one new system.

The Scholarship Committee report was given by Ms. Patty Slaby. She reviewed two recommendations the committee wished to present for Board approval:

1. To move the presentation of scholarships to the first agenda item on Tuesday morning to allow more time for members to become acquainted with those people.

2. To provide names of scholarship winners to their state affiliate prior to convention. )

3. If a student receives a scholarship a second time and is not able to attend the convention, the scholarship will be given to another student in the same category.

The scholarship committee is contemplating having a ticketed luncheon during convention so affiliates have the opportunity to meet the winners’ family and friends.

President Gray stated he believed the board agreed to add a statement on the application that their (scholarship applicant) information will be shared with their respective state affiliate and to pass along the scheduling of scholarship presentations the first thing on Tuesday morning to the Program Committee.

Next the board discussed the repeat scholarship winners’ attendance at the convention when being offered for a second time.

Ms. Brunson suggested various criteria for the scholarships such as a winner receiving a scholarship from an affiliate would not fall under the ACB criteria.

Motion 17: Ms. Ruschival moved that ACB scholarship winners be required to attend the convention unless they are required to be in school during the convention, required to work during the convention, medically unable to attend or under age 18. The motion carried on a voice vote, but not unanimously.

Motion 18: Mr. Beatty moved to accept the scholarship committee report. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Item 9: Direct Mail Report. President Gray, with assistance of Ralph Sanders, on the phone provided information. Two mailings were sent in October and November. In October files were tested with vehicle donors as well as a list from AFB. The latter list produced a better percentage of donors.

The November mailing resulted in the following: Using the ACB donor file as well as some automobile donors and a list of affluent home owners, the total number mailed was 47,419 pieces.

One more mailing has been completed since November. The donor list has increased over the past eight months. Over time the Direct Mail campaign should benefit ACB.

There are two pieces to the new Direct Mail proposal. We would generate a monthly newsletter to donors and increase each month to a total of 15,000. The projected cost would be $7,500 per month and the projected income would be $200 above that figure.

The second item would be to produce six mailings in 2006 similar to the ones in 2005. The projected cost of the six mailings is approximately $101,000 and the projected income would be $73,000 as the worse case scenario.

President Gray recommended that we proceed with a March, April and May mailing and go ahead with the September, October and November mailings. He feels we should revisit the newsletter issue in July.

Item 16: The National Office report presented by Ms. Brunson, Executive Director and the staff. Ms. Brunson reported ACB has been in contact with a pharmaceutical for a possible grant from them. She mentioned several other projects the ACB staff is working on.

Ms. Day Al-Mohamed distributed her report to the board as well as updating members on her activities. She mentioned there have been approximately 46 legislative updates and alerts on the ACB e-mail lists.

Ms. Al-Mohamed reviewed each of priority one 2005 resolutions passed during the ACB convention. Priority two and three resolutions were mention also.

Ms. Sharon Lovering, Braille Forum Editor, gave a summary of a written report which was distributed to members of the ACB board. She stated approximately 150 pieces of mail are returned monthly, which doesn’t sound like much, however ACB has to pay a fee for each piece returned.

To date there are 24,358 readers of the Braille Forum in all media except the floppy disk which has been discontinued.

Ms. Terry Pacheco reported she has been working on large print maps and brochures of several National Parks.

Since the movie “Ray”, more and more DVD movies are including audio description.

Ms. Pacheco went on to explain that a large number of assistive listening devices were request during the 2005 convention. She acquired a grant to purchase additional equipment for the 2006 convention.

There were 101 registered for the 2006 Legislative Seminar held the weekend prior to this board meeting. The number of registered members in 2002, 175; 2003, 87; 2004, 90 and in 2005 we had a combined Presidents’ Meeting and Legislative Seminar 146 total registered. Representatives from 28 states and Washington, DC visited Capitol Hill on Tuesday, February 7, 2006.

Mr. Charlie Hodge stated the Board had approved Mr. Leonard DuBoff to have ACB’s logo and name registered. Mr. Hodge had also stated he had committed to pay for the expense of Mr. DuBoff’s services; however, Mr. Hodge had heart surgery and was forced to retire early. He still plans to cover the cost of registering the names for ACB albeit contributions would be appreciated.

Motion 19: Mr. Trott moved that we go ahead with the March, April and May mailings with AKA and ask the committee to revisit the look of the mailing, type of paper, message and photograph.

Mr. Charlson opposed the motion in lieu of sending out the monthly newsletter from the National Office.

Mr. Trott withdrew his motion.

Motion 20: Mr. Charlson moved in lieu of the original motion that we move forward on the monthly fund raiser newsletters going to those who have donated to ACB up to this point and doing a bit of prospecting in each of those monthly issues. The estimated cost would be $7,500 a month with $7,500 income per month. On a roll call vote, nine voted in the affirmative, five opposed and one absent. Those voting in the affirmative were: Mr. Beatty, Mr. Charlson, Mr. Edwards, Ms. Ewing, Mr. Godino, Mr. Miller, Ms. Schmitt, Mr. Sheehan and Mr. Trott. Those opposed were: Dr. Bradley, Ms. Keith, Mr. Pomerantz, Ms. Ruschival and Ms. Seliger. Ms. Soule was absent.

Motion 21: Mr. Edwards moved that prior to the pre-convention board meeting in July that this board receive such current information that is available on the direct mailings so that we will have an opportunity to discuss it on that agenda should we choose to do so. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Item 13: The Budget Committee report from Chairman, Mr. Brian Charlson. The Board reviewed the revenue side of the budget taking each item in order.

Motion 22: Mr. Charlson moved to eliminate the line item of benefit lunch from the budget. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Motion 23: Mr. Pomerantz moved that the blue skies item be eliminated from the revenue side of the budget. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 24: Mr. Godino moved to adopt the revenue side of the 2006 budget which totaled $1,097,200. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Ms. Rhonda Trott, the Chair of the ACB Store Committee reported she has had two eye surgeries and is now ready to take on the project.

Motion 25: Mr. Pomerantz moved to accept the ACB Store report. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

President Gray recessed the meeting at 6:00pm.

President Gray reconvened the ACB Board of Directors meeting at 9:10am on Monday, February 20, 2006.

Roll Call was taken by the secretary and it was found three board members were absent. Ms. Ewing and Mr. Trott left to return home and Ms. Soule was not able to attend the meeting. Several guests introduced themselves.

President Gray discussed the expense side of the budget considering not adopting the budget for at least two weeks when the board could meet again.

Motion 26: Mr. Edwards moved to defer the adoption of the budget for two weeks. On a voice vote, the outcome was unclear; therefore, a roll call was taken with eight in favor, five opposed and three absent. Those voting in the affirmative were: Mr. Beatty, Mr. Charlson, Mr. Edwards, Ms. Keith, Mr. Pomerantz, Ms. Ruschival, Ms. Schmitt and Mr. Sheehan. Those opposed were: Dr. Bradley, Mr. Godino, Mr. Miller and Ms. Seliger.

Ms. Pam Shaw, chair of the International Relations Committee reported from the newly formed committee. Ms. Shaw stated the committee is seeking grants to fund itself in order to reach out to the blind internationally. She asked that each board member make people aware there is such a committee in ACB.

Motion 27: Mr. Charlson moved that Mr. Oral Miller be appointed from this Board to the International Relations Committee. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Motion 28: Mr. Edwards moved to adopt the report of the International Relations Committee. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Items 14: Future convention sites reported by Ms. Ruschival, chair of the Convention Site Committee. The Denver site will not be available in 2010 and the rates are currently too high for 2011. She reported there are plans to have quick meals during the 2006 convention.

Ms. Ruschival stated several people have made negative statements about the 2006 convention since the 2005 convention was so well attended. She urged everyone to approach members with a positive attitude.

Motion 29: Mr. Pomerantz moved to accept the convention site report from Ms. Ruschival. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 30: Mr. Godino moved that we hire the audit firm of Mayer, Hoffman and McCann, PC again this year to perform the annual audit. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Mr. Pomerantz gave a brief update on the NTI issue. The National Telecommunicating Institute advertised home-based business opportunities doing work from home for the IRS. When blind people applied for work and it was learned they had screen readers, they were told NTI’s software was not compatible. Ms. Brunson and Mr. Sheehan are assisting Mr. Pomerantz with resolving the issue.

Motion 31: Dr. Bradley moved to accept the report regarding National Telecommunicating Institute (NTI). The motion carried on a voice vote.

Ms. M. J. Schmitt reported from the membership committee. The committee holds open conference calls quarterly to discuss membership recruitment and retention. She commended Mr. Alan Petersen of North Dakota who has gone to Montana to attempt to form an affiliate of ACB.

Ms. Terry Pacheco stated the Membership Committee proposed using Pay Pal on the ACB website to pay dues and convention registration.

President Gray suggested Ms. Schmitt and Ms. Pacheco work out the logistics to move Pay Pal ahead on the ACB website.

Motion 32: Ms. Ruschival moved that the ACB Board go on record as endorsing the online payment options for all aspects of activities within the organization and that this board direct the appropriate committee and entities within ACB to develop these opportunities as appropriate and report back to the board by July. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Motion 33: Dr. Bradley moved to accept the report from the Membership Committee. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Ms. Brunson stated that the item she had intended to bring to the board could be taken to the International Relations Committee.

Motion 34: Mr. Edwards moved that this board authorize Ms. Brunson to begin active negotiations with regard to our participation in international training collaboration with the National Association of the deaf in the Ukraine. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Ms. Kim Charlson, chair of BANA, asked her husband, Brian, to express her concern about ACB’s stand on the Louis Braille Coin Bill.

Ms. Schmitt discussed her role as a member of the National Accreditation Council (NAC) Board. Mr. Edwards added his opinion concerning NAC’s future existence.

Motion 35: Mr. Beatty moved to accept the report on NAC from Ms. Schmitt and Mr. Edwards. The motion carried on a voice vote.

The Board agreed by consensus to meet on March 6 and 16, 2006 from 6:00PM until 8:00pm Pacific Daylight Time both nights.

Motion 36: Mr. Edwards moved to recess. The motion carried and the meeting ended at 11:20am Eastern Standard Time.

Respectfully Submitted,
Donna Seliger, Secretary