October 13, 2007, Board Meeting Minutes

ACB Board of Directors Meeting, Fall 2007

The Fall Meeting of the Board of Directors of the American Council of the Blind, held at the Quality Inn OHare Hotel in Chicago, Illinois began at 9 a.m. on October 13, 2007.

A call of the roll revealed that all Board members were present, except David Trott who was ill. Additionally, 7 guests were in attendance.

President Pomerantz reviewed the agenda; Mr. Bradley moved approval, which carried after discussion of the board letter and 2008 first quarter expenditures were added.

Mr. Godino moved to approve the August 2, 2007 Board Meeting teleconference minutes, and that motion carried.

President's Report, Mitch Pomerantz
The Office Review Committee has thus far addressed three items:

1. Minneapolis and DC leases which are up in 2008. Mr. Waters is meeting with a commercial realtor in early December, Ms. Brunson will do the same in DC, and the Committee will meet again by mid December to discuss next steps.

2. An initial review of the employee handbook for the DC office has been done. Ms. Brunson pointed out that the two offices have slightly different handbooks, and the Committee hopes to produce a uniform handbook for Board review by the mid year board meeting.

3. The Committee reviewed and approved a draft of the job description for the Development Director. Copies were handed out to Board members. Ms. Brunson read the description. Ms. Lieberg moved to approve the job description. After some discussion and minor changes to the document, the motion was carried. Ms. Lieberg will receive a finished copy of the document, and will post the same to the Board list. Mr. Pomerantz hopes to have the document ready for posting by mid November, and someone on the job by March 1, 2008.

VDPC Committee. Jeff Thom has been appointed Chair of the VDPC Committee. Ron Eller of North Carolina and Robert Miller of Florida will serve on this Committee.

Direct Mail. AKA has been authorized to conduct another direct mail campaign. The committee working on this issue is chaired by Chris Gray; other committee members are Kim Charlson, Carla Ruschival, Donna Selliger and Melanie Brunson. Mr. Gray reported that we are moving toward a mailing that could go to press by mid October. The Committee is considering a proposal from another company to analyze ACB's direct mail program, make recommendations and serve as our guiding expert for a period of time. The Committee's goal between now and the end of the year is to be up and running, and to bring back to the full board a report with information and direction for 2008.

President Pomerantz has established a task force consisting of Mr. Thom, Mr. Sheehan, Mr. Stewart and Ms. Dillon, whose scope will be to determine whether there is a need to change the method by which voting is conducted at national conventions and if so, to recommend how or what method or methods might be implemented. He requested this Task Force to hold its first teleconference call within one month of this Board meeting.

Kim Charlson has been reappointed to represent ACB to BANA.

There will be a reception on November 5 at the Double Tree Hotel in DC to introduce President Pomerantz as ACB's newly elected President.

ACB will continue to work closely with AFB, and Jeff Thom will be serving on the AFB Board.

Melanie Brunson and Patricia Beattie will present ACB's White Paper on Rehabilitation at the NCSAB meeting in San Antonio.

Chris Gray and Mitch Pomerantz will attend the meeting of the World Blind Union North America and Caribbean Regions in December. Mr. Bradley moved adoption of the President's Report, and the motion carried.

Staff Reports
Ms. Brunson reminded the Board that Lane Waters has been with us for one year, and has already been of tremendous benefit to ACB. Mr. Waters received a round of applause from the Board. She further reported that Phil Strong has returned to New Foundland. There are a couple of options for filling his position, including a woman in DC who is applying to law schools who may be interested in working with ACB. Another possibility is a student who contacted ACB to investigate internship possibilities. He is seeking a 1 semester internship, at the end of which ACB would provide an evaluation of his work to his school. Eric Bridges has been in discussion with the student, and the internship will begin in the middle of January. His name is Bill Matthews, and he will work with ACB until some time in May. Ms. Brunson has also been in conversation with Dr. Otis Stevens who has a student interested in writing a paper regarding long term care insurance-the insurance rationale for why blind people are denied, and steps blind people can take to get around this. Possibly this could become another white paper. The resolutions from the 07 convention are now in the hands of the web master and will be available by request in alternate formats from the National Office. The staff has begun working on priority one resolutions. Staff liaisons have been assigned to all committees who need them. Final copies of this list will be sent to Ms. Lieberg and Mr. Pomerantz on Monday. The office has been visited by rehabilitation professionals from Denmark who took with them copies of our rehab white paper. Staff also had the opportunity to meet with Korean educators of the blind who visited the office to learn about advocacy issues in the United States. ACB has invited to send a representative to a DOT meeting in January, and Ms. Brunson will participate. Eric Bridges has been working on the rehab reauthorization act. Staff is working closely on the potential issues blind people will face with the upcoming conversion of television from analog to digital. Options for an improved phone system are being reviewed. Ms. Brunson is in the process of working with Damar Travel to renegotiate some contract issues. Staff will meet with the executive directors of AAPAID and Nccd to discuss the ADA Restoration Act. Grant applications are pending, one for funding for a western leadership conference and another for a legislative seminar and other advocacy projects. Staff are participating in CFC events to promote ACB. The Legislative Seminar may be the first or second week in March. The copyright royalties for ACB Radio Interactive are nearly complete. Structured negotiations work continues, and ACB is close to a settlement with the three national credit bureaus regarding provision of credit information in accessible formats.

Minneapolis Office. Mr. Waters reported that all books are current through August, 2007. A new credit card agreement for ACB and ACBES has been executed with United Bank Card Processing. UBCP agreed to provide the same rates for processing credit cards to ACB affiliates. Mr. Waters further said that 403B's will need to be changed to meet IRS requirements as of 2009. The Minneapolis Office has hired one full-time position, and will be making other changes that will relieve Mr. Waters of some of the day-to-day tasks for ACB, and allow him to handle more of the major tasks for ACB and ACBES. It is his goal to provide monthly revenue statements to the Board. Mr. Campbell moved adoption of the staff reports, and that motion carried.

Treasurer's Report, Mike Godino
Due to continued prudent management, ACB continues to operate in the black. After a thorough review of the treasurer's report by Mr. Godino, Mr. Bradley moved acceptance of the report, and the motion carried.

Next followed discussion to clarify the meaning of in-kind contributions. Mr. Waters explained that what is required are copies of travel and lodging expenses incurred as a Board member for ACB when expenses are not reimbursed. It was also felt that the BOP should track their in-kind contributions as well.

Investment Policy Draft
The Board was presented with a comprehensive investment policy. Once the Board approves this document, three or more companies will be invited to Minneapolis to present strategies for how they would respond to its requirements. Mr. Gray suggested it would be prudent to have 2/3 to 3/4 of the reserve invested similarly to the way in which scholarships are invested. Mr. Waters suggested changing the risk tolerance of the reserves category. Mr. Gray moved that 3/4 of Board designated reserves be invested with a risk similar or identical to scholarship endowment funds and that one quarter be invested at a lower risk level to be defined by the investment committee. The motion carried. Mr. Campbell moved adoption of the investment policy, and that motion carried.

The Board recessed to Executive Session at 12:30 PM.

The meeting was re-convened at 1:30 PM. President Pomerantz stated that during the Executive Session, he reported on the three litigations involving ACB; there were no motions made.

2008 Budget Committee Elections
Ms. Ruschival, Mr. Sheehan and Mr. Godino were elected by unanimous acclamation to a one year term on the Budget Committee.

Mr. gray moved to recess the ACB Board of directors for the purpose of going into the meeting of ACB Enterprises and Services Board of Directors and Membership Meeting; that motion carried, and the Board recessed at 1:38 PM.

The ACBES Board of Directors and membership meeting, chaired by Michael Garrett began at 1:39 PM. Mr. Garrett reported that management changes have been made in some of the stores that are already resulting in higher sales. The stores are being made more presentable, putting out the best merchandize at the lowest possible prices. Some regions are doing better than others, and in regions where sales need boosting, ACBES is emphasizing more direct involvement. Mr. Garrett and Mr. Waters maintain close contact with all managers on a nearly daily basis. He stated that he believes ACBES will meet its commitment for this year. It is possible that one store will be closed in Detroit. This might help boost sales in the remaining two. The net profit as of August is higher this year than it was last year. Future anticipated expenditures for the stores include new camera security systems and improved point of sale systems. Mr. Pomerantz suggested doing publicity for our stores within immigrant communities in the language of the community. THERE was other discussion of ways to bring new customers into the stores. One idea involved having copies of the Braille Forum in stores, along with ACB brochures, vehicle donation brochures, etc. Mr. Godino, Mr. Gray and Ms. Ruschival were elected to the ACBES Board of Directors. Mr. Garrett was re-elected to the Board by acclamation.

The Board of Directors and Membership Meeting of ACBES adjourned at 2:30 PM.

The Board of Directors meeting of the American Council of the Blind reconvened at 2:34 PM.

Convention Updates, Carla Ruschival
Ms. Ruschival reported that at this time, the convention can reimburse ACB for staff time, travel and per diem related to the 07 convention. Jerry Anunzio will coordinate suites for socials and ensure suites are available when they need to be; Mike Duke will manage public relations; Sheilah Styron will serve as a consultant for the guide dog relief area, and the host Committee will be chaired by Darrell Beuford, with Jim Shaw co-chairing. Robert Spangler will manage tours.

The Committee will be updating meeting room requirements for 2009, to ensure the hotel is aware of our needs since the contract was made in 2003. We have received a draft for 2010 from Phoenix; Ms. Ruschival will respond with any appropriate changes.

Ms. Ruschival is still working on 2011; several proposals have been received at the $95 to $99 range, but she is hoping to work out a lower rate.

For the year 2012, the Convention will be back at the Galt House. Mr. Godino moved to accept this report, and that motion carried.

Request from the BOP to restore an 11th issue of the Braille Forum.
Mr. Stewart presented the Board with a request from the BOP to print an 11th issue of the Braille Forum this year. He read statistics prepared by the editor. After discussion, Mr. Bradley moved that we have the 11th issue printed for December. Mr. Gray moved to refer this issue be referred to the Budget Committee with instructions that the 11th issue be approved only if it does not exceed the Braille Forum budget of 2007; the motion carried with one opposition cast by Mr. Bradley.

The Board next discussed whether the 11th issue should be a convention issue or December issue. Mr. Miller suggested that information about the MMS Program be interspersed among the Forum's pages.

Board Stipends
Mr. Bradley moved that this board amend the 2007 budget to provide a stipend of $200 to Board members attending the fall Board meeting. Discussion revealed some concern that the Braille Forum should be restored before any Board stipends are made available. Conversely, others felt that this stipend serves as a demonstration that ACB is trying to make it possible for any of its members to hold positions of leadership. The motion was carried with 11 yes votes and 3 no votes, cast by Mr. Gray, Ms. Ruschival and Mr. Campbell.

American Center on Blindness and Visual Impairments, Elections
The ACBVI Board consists of 2 ACB Board members, 2 non Board members, the ACB President, one presidential appointee, ACB's Executive Director, 2 members who are part of the current provisional ACBVI Board, and 1 member voted by that Board. Mr. Pomerantz appointed Mr. Gray provisional Chair of the ACBVI Board. Otis Stevens and Pam Shaw, were elected by acclamation to the ACBVI Board. Ms. Lieberg and Ms. Ruschival were elected to serve on the ACBVI Board.

Internet Oversight Committee
The Committee is planning to close the ACB Chat list by December 1, 2007. Subsequent adoption of this recommendation, notice will go out to ACB Chat members alerting them to this change, and inviting eligible persons to subscribe to ACB-L. Mr. Campbell moved adoption of this report, and the motion carried.

Damar Travel.
Ms. Brunson reported that Damar Travel is asking to do a mailing to ACB members to inform them of Damar's services, and encourage them to book travel through Damar. The Board agreed that we would not provide our mailing list, nor would we be inclined to include the Damar brochure in our fall letter. Further discussion revealed that ACB has not yet received all proceeds from the last ACB Cruise from Damar. Ms. Brunson will continue to work with Damar on these and other contract issues. Discussion of booking Board travel through Damar will occur during our Sunday session.

The meeting recessed at 5:10 PM until 9:00 AM the next day.

The meeting of the ACB Board of Directors continued on October 14, beginning at 9:10 AM. Consideration of booking board and scholarship travel with Damar Travel was raised. Mr. Gray moved to have Damar Travel arrange scholarship recipient travel for 2008, conditional upon payment of money owed to ACB. During discussion of this motion, Mr. Godino requested to be placed on the record as strongly directing Ms. Brunson to inform Damar Travel that we know that two ACB cruises went out this year with over 100 people, and we have a zero balance of payment from Damar thus far. The motion carried. Mr. Waters added that when Damar sends payment, there is no accounting such as number of persons traveled, etc. Ms. Ruschival strongly urged that any use of Damar for convention travel or other travel be accompanied by some sort of accounting.

Acb Store Purchasing Policy
After a review of the draft of the ACB Store Purchasing Policy, Mr. Gray moved to adopt the ACB Store Purchasing Policy, requiring all vendors to provide written contracts for items sold. During discussion, Mr. Gray suggested that number three should state that under no circumstances is funding to be advanced to a supplier. This change was accepted by consensus. Mr. Campbel moved to amend item three to change "express written consent of the ACB Board of Directors" to "express written consent of the ACB President, ACB Executive Director, and the ACB Controller." Mr. Godino moved that any amount over $2,500 for merchandize should be brought before the Board. A roll call vote was taken, and the motion carried. Mr. Campbell's motion to amend item three carried as well.

Mr. Pomerantz expressed concern regarding the last sentence of section two, wherein the purchasing policy states that ACB has limited liability. The Board agreed the wording should be changed to hold ACB harmless. The motion to adopt the ACB Store Purchasing Policy as amended carried.

Mr. Godino moved to authorize the store manager's travel and hotel expenses while at convention during the time of operation of the ACB Store; that motion carried.

Officer Liaison Reports
Each Board member whose respective committees have met thus far, gave a brief report describing their committees' activities. (Secretary's Note: There was a great deal of good information shared during this discussion. In consideration of length, only issues requiring follow-up or which received recommendations from the Board are highlighted here. End note.)

After Ms. Charlson's report, part of which dealt with the SASI Committee, Mr. Godino asked if all interpreters who provided service at the 07 convention had been paid. Mr. Waters stated they had.

During her liaison report, Ms. Dillon requested $1,500 for the Public Relations Committee, which is interested in producing brochures and duplicating CD's for distribution of PSA's. After discussion, Mr. Pomerantz requested that Ms. Dillon go back to the PR Committee Chair to get a written proposal outlining expenses and monies needed, and to present that proposal to him and Ms. Brunson by no later than November 1.

During discussion of the DKM Committee, Mr. Bradley asked for clarification of the DKM fund. Mr. Gray responded that the fund was established during Mr. Saunders' administration. ACB and individuals contributed and for the first one or 2 years, contributions were matched by ACB. A committee was formed and charged with increasing the fund, and took on the project of bringing first timers to the convention. Mr. Gray felt the Committee has the discretion to bring other projects to the Board, but recommended that the first priority is to grow the fund. Ms. Brunson stated that we have been working off interest rather than principal, and that while there may be a possibility to use some principal, it's not a good practice to spend more than we take in.

During discussion of the activities of the Advocacy Services Committee and their work regarding NTI and Alpine Software, Mr. Pomerantz said that Alpine Software is now unwilling to have ACB's expert analyze its software for access because they say it will cost over $400,000 to create access. Mr. Thom suggested that if Board members learn that within their states, the rehab agencies are promoting the hiring of people with disabilities through NTI, they should advise the appropriate state officials of the unwillingness of NTI to work toward access.

After all Board members reported on their respective committees, it was unanimously agreed that this reporting should happen at all regular face-to-face Board meetings. The Board was very pleased to hear about so much activity from so many committees.

Approval of Badge Policy
After a review and discussion of the draft policy developed by two Board members subsequent to the July 7 Board meeting, Ms. Ruschival read from this year's convention program which states that attendees must wear badges at all times. She stated that the issue is not that we need a new policy, but rather implementation of the current policy. Therefore, she moved to refer this matter to the Convention Committee; that motion carried.

Board Letter
Mr. Godino reminded the Board that the time to get the Holiday appeal in motion is here, and asked for a guarantee that it will be in the mail within the next couple of weeks. Mr. Gray responded that he and Mr. Pomerantz are now working on the fall letter, and they may try to use part of the text from the direct mail appeal.

Budgetary Request
Ms. Brunson Requested Board consideration to approve expenditures at current levels for 2008 until such time as a budget for 2008 has been approved. The Board unanimously agreed.

Mr. Pomerantz announced that the Mid Year face-to-face Board Meeting will be held from the 15th to the 18th of February, 2008. The next Board call is tentatively set for October 29 at 6 PM Pacific time.

The meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m.

Marlaina Lieberg