November 15 - 16, 2008, Board Meeting Minutes

Fall 2008 Meeting of the Board of Directors
Of the American Council of the Blind

The Fall, 2008 meeting of the ACB Board of Directors, held at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, FL on November 15, 2008 began at 9:05 a.m. At the call of the roll, Board members present were Pomerantz, Charlson, Dillon, Lieberg, Godino, Gray, Campbell,Colley, Farrow, Garrett, Keith, Ruschival, Sheehan, Thom, Trott, Vloedman and Edwards. Staff present were Brunson and Waters.

Pomerantz reviewed the agenda; Godino moved approval of the agenda; the motion was seconded; Gray and Lieberg added two brief items, and the motion carried.

Campbell moved adoption of the minutes of the October 1 Board teleconference call; the motion was seconded and carried.

President’s Report. GDUI. In response to the question of the validity of recent constitutional amendments, Pomerantz reported that GDUI has reversed its recent constitutional change, and will revert to its 2006 constitution. GDUI’s Constitution and Bylaws Committee will rewrite that constitution and present an amended document at the GDUI Convention this summer.

WBU. Pomerantz, Gray, and Lieberg gave brief summations of the 2008 WBU quadrennial conference. They all agreed the conference was fabulous, and ACB was portrayed as a leader. Lieberg noted that ACB was the only United States-based organization with an official delegate to the Women’s Forum at the WBU. Pomerantz gave a brief overview of the November meeting of the Caribbean region of the WBU; ACB may host the fall meeting of the Caribbean region of WBU at its new facility in Arlington.

Direct Mail program Audit. The fundraising letter which highlighted many of ACB’s recent victories and successes was sent in mid October. Gray felt that after a minimum of 60 days, we may begin to see some return and begin to measure success of this campaign. Discussion of conducting an acquisition mailing and a mailing to our members as additional fundraisers ensued. Gray moved that the ACB Board authorize ACB”s Executive Director and Development Director to undertake a holiday acquisition mailing within the parameters of the 2008 ACB Budget. The motion was seconded and carried.

Thom moved to conduct a Holiday Membership letter; the motion died for lack of a second. Edwards moved that a membership letter be conducted; Lieberg offered a friendly amendment to add that this letter be sent out no later than March 31, 2009 with a date certain to be determined by the Development Director and Executive Director. The motion was seconded and defeated via roll call vote with 11 no votes.

Brunson is in preliminary conversations with an individual who is eligible to conduct our audit, and will report back to the Board.

Western Regional Leadership Conference. Pomerantz stated that there were 36 participants at this conference. He felt it went very well, and is supportive of this concept. Pomerantz urged that steering committees wishing to hold these seminars be reminded to contact presidents of states who may participate early on, in the event they have input. Edwards moved acceptance of the president’s report and that motion was seconded and carried.

Staff Reports

DC office. Brunson reported that the office has a new phone system which staff are beginning to learn to use. Preparations for the office move are underway; keys to the new space will be turned over in early December. Brunson will post a note this next week to committee chairs requesting 09 budget line items to be sent to her by December 15. The Dallas Chapter of ACB of Texas has donated $5,000 to ACB, after having been gifted themselves with a donation; their desire was to share part of their donation with ACB. Our Development Director has been attending fundraising activities, and there is interest in the community regarding the accessible currency case. Individuals who are a part of the effected class regarding ACB’s action against Social Security are being sought and asked to share their experiences. Per a 2007 resolution, the Pedestrian Safety hand book is being worked on and it is expected to appear soon in the new year. ACB has shared with the likely white house liaison for disabilities, Kareem Dale, our issues and issue papers. ACB is also involved in a coalition of folks with disabilities who are putting together issues of pertinence to the disability community. The petition to create access to emergency warnings scrolled across the TV screen is moving forward. Brunson concluded by sharing that she is beginning to talk with a provider of long term care insurance which works with associations. The company will get back with Brunson to see if providers can be found who would insure people with visual disabilities.

During comment period, Lieberg shared that Kareem Dale will be a guest on the Marlaina program on ACB Radio. Pomerantz shared that he plans to invite Dale to speak at our convention. Edwards reminded people that if they are interested in employment with the new administration, resumes should be sent to Godino asked that Eric Bridges use the announce-only list to provide weekly updates from Washington; logistics to do this will be worked out.

Minnesota office. The office has moved successfully. Staffing changes are going well. Convention books are well in hand, and things are moving in a positive nature. Edwards moved acceptance of the staff reports; the motion was seconded and carried.

Treasurer’s Report, Mike Godino Year-to-date figures: revenue: $1,097,235; expenses: $875,139; total net assets: $2,175,574. Charlson moved acceptance of the report; the motion was seconded and carried.

Elections. Godino, Sheehan and Colley were elected to serve on the 2009 Budget Committee. Officers elected to the Executive Committee were: Charlson and Godino; Board members elected were Keith and Thom.

Gray moved that the ACB Board of Directors enter into Executive Session for the discussion of personnel and business matters; the motion was seconded and carried at 12:09 PM.

The Board moved to open session at 1:56 PM. President Pomerantz reported that the American Council of the Blind has adopted a significant new initiative to promote and advance the cause of audio description in the United States. Joel Snyder will work with ACB, playing the pivotal role on this new initiative. He will oversee a new project containing six major objectives. ACB members will be hearing much more about this initiative in early 2009. No other motions were heard or entertained.

Campbell moved to recess the ACB Board meeting, and convene the ACBES Board of Directors meeting; the motion carried at 1:58 PM.

The Board reconvened at 2:23 PM.

Convention update. Ruschival reported that plans for the 2009 convention are well underway. She will be working with the hotel to improve any issues or barriers which may arise. Small details are being wrapped up from the 2008 convention, and should be completed by year’s end. There was discussion of changing the fee schedule for those wishing to place items into convention bags. It was felt that gifts from the community should be accepted with no fee requested, but vendors or exhibitors wishing to add items to bags could be assessed a fee. The Convention Committee will take this under advisement. Edwards moved acceptance of the report; the motion was seconded and carried.

BOP Report, Paul Edwards The BOP meets monthly. They are working on a range of projects this year, one of which includes looking at the ACB web site. It may be that the site is reorganized both in appearance and ease of locating information. The production of the Braille forum in Braille, large print and cassette has gone to bid. The cost of cassettes has increased. The Board has also taken a more direct involvement with ACB Radio and has adopted a new proposal for ongoing legalities regarding displaying information required for playing music. Godino moved acceptance of the BOP report the motion was seconded and carried.

Gray shared the Internet Oversight Committee view that ACB needs to move toward daisy production of ACB publications. Thus, the Committee would like to take on the production of daisy material for the legislative seminar this year. Edwards moved that this Board welcome early experimentation in the use of daisy files as amended for transmitting data, and in particular, endorse the efforts of a small group to produce the materials for the legislative seminar as a pilot project, and that one license for the use of the Eclipse Writer be purchased from IRTI; the motion was seconded and carried.

Membership Issues, Brenda Dillon. Two persons from Idaho attended the Western Leadership Training Conference, and indicated others in Idaho are very interested in ACB. The Membership Committee will work with these folks to help them grow further along. Regarding the Connecticut affiliate, there are four persons who have agreed to take a more active leadership roll, and it is hoped that by March when affiliates file their membership stats with the DC Office, Connecticut will again have the requisite number of members to maintain their affiliation. The Committee is not in favor of nullification of either of these charters. The Committee will make another report at the Mid Year Board Meeting regarding these issues. Thom moved acceptance of this report; the motion was seconded and carried.

Office Review Committee Report. The Committee has a draft handbook, which will bring both ACB offices into more similar policies and personnel practices. The two major changes made deal with how quickly annual leave is accrued, and how many hours employees may carry into the next year. Current employees would be grandfathered in so that these benefits continue at the rate they were when the employee was hired. Godino moved adoption of the revised employee handbook; the motion was seconded and carried.

Pomerantz discussed the position description of Assistant Director of Advocacy Services. He shared that we need to look carefully at filling this position as soon as prudently possible. He recommended the position description be approved, and forwarded to the Budget Committee for its review and recommendation. Edwards moved acceptance of the job description; the motion was seconded and carried. Pomerantz requested that the Budget Committee make a recommendation at the Mid Year Board Meeting as to whether it might be feasible to bring the position on as a part-time position, and to raise the issue again at the pre-Convention Board meeting in July. Edwards Moved that the job description be forwarded to the Budget Committee with a view toward eliciting their recommendations regarding whether it can be filled on a part-time basis; that motion was seconded and carried with one no vote.

Reasonable Accommodations Policy. Discussion of the policy, previously shared with the Board lead to a motion by Edwards to adopt the policy; that motion was seconded and carried with one no vote.

Program for 2009 mid year and President’s meeting. Pomerantz asked the Board to give input on what the 2009 program should include. Ideas shared were: a workshop for presidents on basic parliamentary procedures; discussion with presidents regarding fiduciary responsibility and governance; presentation from ACB Radio what comes on and what’s the content; fundraising; obtaining sponsorships; presentation from a parent regarding needs of parents and their children with special needs; how to grow your own web site; investment workshop; how can special interest affiliates better serve their members; responsibility to provide information in alternative formats; discussion of free matter mailing privilege and how to use it.

The Board recessed at 5:07 PM.

The Board reconvened on November 16 at 9:05 a.m. At the call of the roll, all members were present except Campbell, Colley, Godino and Trott. Trott had to leave the meeting early, and all other members arrived very soon after roll call.

International Copyright issues. Charlson summarized a resolution from the standing Committee on Copyright regulations for the WBU asking ACB to write a letter of support to broaden international copyright protocols. Charlson moved that ACB write a letter in support of WBU initiatives to broaden international copyright protocols, and that motion was seconded and carried.

Gray brought to the table a proposal to establish a health issues Task Force. There is a major lack of medical information in alternative formats available to persons who have been diagnosed with cancer or other major diseases including diabetes. The purposes of this Task Force would be:

(1) To provide preventative medical and health care information to blind and visually impaired persons and to develop a mechanism for the production and dissemination of such material in alternate formats.

(2) To work with the health care system to develop and implement methods that would ensure a greater degree of privacy for those individuals accessing the health care system.

(3) To investigate appropriate and reasonable means of accessing personal medical records independently and privately;

(4) To understand and report on the availability of talking prescription bottles.

Campbell moved that this Board authorize the creation of a Task Force for the purposes outlined by Gray, called the Health Issues Task Force; that motion was seconded and carried. Sue Ammeter will chair the Task Force, and Gray will serve on that Task Force. Charlson offered to be the Board Liaison. Brunson suggested the Task Force could look at Medicaid issues as well.

Proposal to reimburse one night’s lodging for Legislative Seminar attendees. Pomerantz reported that ACB received funding earmarked for advocacy efforts, and there are funds left in that donation which could be used to subsidize one room night (double accommodations.) After discussion, it was clarified that these funds are intended for leadership type training, and might be better used to subsidize one night per affiliate for the Mid Year Meeting. Ruschival moved that ACB subsidize one room night per affiliate for the ACB mid year meeting, and the motion carried with four no votes.

Proposal seminar for a National Legislative and Leadership for Students. Michael Garrett proposed that ACB invite 2 high school students from each state to participate in a legislative and leadership conference. Students would draft an essay which would be the determining factor on who would be chosen. Each pair of students would be assigned a volunteer who would be with them throughout their entire stay to facilitate their getting to events. Activities of a fun and creative nature would be provided, allowing the students to learn about the legislative process. Finally, students would go to Capital Hill to visit their Congress persons. Thom moved that a Board Task Force of Garrett, Vloedman and Farrow develop a proposal to bring to the Board at its Mid Year meeting to include details on logistics such as funding and liability; the motion was seconded and carried. It is projected that this could occur in 2011.

International First-Timer’s Award. Pomerantz felt that one day, ACB should have a means by which we can bring to the convention one individual each year from another country who would then learn about ACB and how we function. The Board was very much in favor of this, and hopes the Development Director will work on finding funding.

Broadcast machines for ACB Radio. Campbell moved that $1,375 be allocated from the software line item in the budget to go toward purchase of broadcast machines; that motion was seconded and carried. Lieberg will continue to research for the best prices.

Godino moved that this Board release ACBES from three payments totaling $82,500 that it is unable to make before the end of this year; the motion was seconded and carried.

Colley proposed that the Board approve an oral history project that would include interviews with some of our long-time members to begin to document our history. Edwards invited Colley to join the next Board of Publications Meeting to get the project going.

Board Liaisons. Each officer updated the Board on the activities of the Committees they oversee, and most seem to be moving along quite well. Godino moved that the RDC move forward and print their $50 raffle tickets to go toward scholarships for this year’s raffle; the motion was seconded. Edwards moved that the funds raised by the raffle be utilized to subsidize the Braille Forum; that motion was seconded and carried. This changed the over-all motion to authorize the raffle proceeds to go to the publication of the Braille Forum; and that motion carried with one no vote.

Vloedman moved a recess of the Fall Board meeting to be reconvened on or about December first; that motion was seconded and carried at 11:30 AM.

The Fall Board Meeting of the American Council of the Blind reconvened on December 4 at 6:25 PM Pacific Standard time via conference call. At the call of the roll, all members were present except for Garrett and Gray. Gray joined the call just after the call of the roll, and Garrett joined mid way through the meeting as previously agreed.

The purpose of this meeting includes hearing three bids from potential sites for convention 2011.

Our first presenter was from the Dallas Hyatt Reunion. ACB would likely be the only guests in the hotel during convention week. The Hotel is layered with meeting rooms below lobby level, at lobby level, at atrium and on floor 3 for breakouts. The Hotel has three restaurants on property. Room rates for 2011 would be $89. The Centennial Café is the three meal a day restaurant; Wolfgang Puck’s is the upscale restaurant; The Italian Bistro serves meals in the evenings; there is a take-out place downstairs as well as a Starbucks. The hotel is 23 miles from DFW and 8 miles from Love Field, into which Southwest flies.

We next heard from a representative from the Chicago Hyatt O’Hare located in Chicago, about a mile and a half from O’Hare, 20 to 30 minutes from Midway. This hotel is also within close proximity to the downtown area. ACB would use all hotel meeting space, 110 thousand square feet in total. There are about 40 break-out rooms. The general session and exhibit area might be on lobby level. There is meeting space below this level. The room rate is $89, but the hotel is willing to offer a $2 per room rebate, giving ACB $11,000 which may be used for funding the guide dog relief area. The hotel is also willing to offer a volunteer break room. The hotel has one main three meal per day restaurant, and is able to open other cash stands. They also have a coffee shop.

The next presenter was from the Nugget Hotel in Reno. He shared some of the tourist attractions in the area, including Virginia City. The hotel has 1400 guest rooms and over 110 thousand square feet of meeting space. There are eight restaurants on the property. Coffee is at $35 per gallon; average plated breakfast under $15; lunch under $18 and dinner under $30. The hotel is located about ten minutes away from the airport and from the downtown area. Room rates would be $84 per night single or double; they would comp four presidential suites; other comps include 1 comp per fifty occupied rooms; 30 petit suites at group rate, 20 staff rooms at $50, plus hospitality suites.

Ruschival next shared a bid from the Las Vegas Riviera. The rooms are at $89 with a $2 rebate back to ACB. They will provide a complimentary microphone for meeting rooms.

Gray moved that we provisionally accept a bid from Reno for 2011 based on Carla’s visit and the next visit she puts together. During comment period, Gray also asked that the Board strongly consider a Las Vegas 2013 convention. The motion was seconded and carried.

Dillon moved that Dallas be the back-up hotel for 2011, in the event Reno does not work out. The motion carried with two no votes.

After discussion, it was the sense of the Board that Las Vegas, Chicago and Dallas be given strong consideration and explored for 2013 and beyond. The bids offered by these hotels will serve as guidance to the Convention Committee.

Campbell moved to authorize ACB to operate at its current budgetary levels until a 2009 budget is approved at the 2009 mid year Board Meeting. The motion was seconded and carried.

Walk-a-thon. Trott moved that the Board of Directors approve the purchase of blocks of tickets as needed based on actual sales, for the Watermelon 5K walk/run. The motion carried with six no votes.

The board adjourned at 9:33 PM Pacific time.

Marlaina Lieberg
Submitted 12-04-08