September 23 & 24, 2006, Board Meeting Minutes

American Council of the Blind
Fall Board Meeting
September 23 and 24, 2006

The meeting was brought to order by President Chris Gray at 8:45 am on Saturday, September 23, 2006 at the Comfort Suites in Nashville, Tennessee.

Roll call was taken by Secretary Donna Seliger. All Officers and Directors answered the roll. In addition, Ms. Brunson and several guests were present.

Motion 1: Mr. Edwards moved the adoption of the agenda as amended. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Motion 2: Mr. Edwards moved to accept the pre-convention minutes with some corrections. Listen to tape.

Motion 2: Mr. Campbell moved to approve the post-convention minutes. The motion carried with a voice vote.

President Gray reported to the Board on three issues he is concerned about. They are direct mail, the American Center and the ACB database.

President Gray stated we need toward bringing in more funds and that major donors would be of help.

He received a call from a representative at AKA Direct who said ACB had received a donation of $500 from a gentleman.

A representative from the Fred Meyer Stores is interested in hiring blind people in the Northwest since she became involved as a direct mail donor.

Motion 3: Ms. Seliger moved that this board go on record as supporting the concept of direct mail as a fund raising vehicle for the American Council of the Blind for the reasons that it diversifies our income base, creates entirely new sources of revenue, increases our external contact with the general public and increases our potential for bequests and major based donors to this organization.

The reason for the motion is to seek an organization described by the representatives from AFB to provide an audit and begin the process of determining whether or not we should continue with the direct mail.

Motion 5: Mr. Godino moved to table the current motion until later in the day when the Board has had more information. By taking a voice vote, a clear majority was not determined; therefore, a roll call vote followed which failed. There were six in favor and nine opposed. Those voting in favor were: Dr. Bradley, Ms. Dillon, Mr. Godino, Ms. Keith, Mr. Sheehan and Mr. Trott. Those opposed were: Mr. Campbell, Mr. Edwards, Mr. Miller, Mr. Pomerantz, Ms. Ruschival, Ms. Schmitt, Ms. Seliger, Ms. Soule and Mr. Thom.

Mr. Miller added an amendment with the proviso this motion does not ask for any financial commitment. On a roll call vote, the motion carried with twelve affirmative and three dissenting votes. Those voting in favor were: Dr. Bradley, Mr. Campbell, Ms. Dillon Mr. Godino, Ms. Keith, Mr. Miller, Mr. Pomerantz, Ms. Ruschival, Ms. Schmitt, Ms. Seliger, Mr. Thom and Mr. Trott. Those opposed were: Mr. Edwards, Mr. Sheehan and Ms. Soule.

Next, President Gray reported the activities of the American Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. In his statement he separated the Jernigan Institute from our dream of what the American Center can be.

As for the database issue, ACB is in great need of a workable database. A great deal of information is currently not trackable.

On another note, President Gray stated he attended the 50th anniversary convention of the Georgia affiliate of ACB and had a great time.

In addition, he stated It would cost approximately $25,000 to bring a database online for the affiliates to use.

The vehicle donation committee was formed with three affiliate presidents; Ms. Carol Ewing from Nevada, Mr. Gene Barton and Mr. John Horst from Pennsylvania and a representative from the Washington Council of the Blind. The board participants will be Dr. Bradley, Mr. Pomerantz and Ms. Seliger who will keep records for the committee and report back to the Board.

Since the movie “Ray” was introduced with description, there have not been any further movies produced with description. President Gray asked the following people to meet and work on the issue: Mr. Sheehan Chair, Mr. Thom and Mr. Campbell. Ms. Al-Mohamed from the National Office will also sit on the committee.

Ms. Schmitt stated she also attended the Georgia convention and has gotten three students from Georgia and three from New York together on a conference call.

Dr. Bradley reported the Texas Department of Visual Services sent several staff members and clients to the ACB of Texas convention.

Ms. Lainey Feingold and Ms. Linda Dardarian are working to make the World Wide Web accessible for blind users.

President Gray next reported four new programs have been added to ACB mainstream and ten new broadcasters have been added in the past four months.

Motion 6: Dr. Bradley moved to accept the President’s Report. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 7: Mr. Edwards moved that this board authorize the President, the Executive Director and such other individuals as may be needed to begin work on development and implement of a new and improved membership database and that a recommendation for costs associated with that process be made available to the ACB Budget Committee for inclusion in the 2007 budget. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

The Monthly Monetary Support report was given by Mr. Ron Milliman, committee chair. The program is up substantially from 2005. One year ago sixty-nine ACB members contributed on a monthly basis. Currently there are 118 contributors with a total contribution of $2,832 a month. Several board members commented and asked questions about the program.

Motion 8: Mr. Edwards moved that the board direct the Budget Committee to allocate at least $1,000 to the Monthly Monetary Support Committee for the purpose of enabling them to develop and implement a marketing strategy. The motion carried with one dissenting vote.

Motion 9: Mr. Edwards moved to accept the Monthly Monetary Support report from Mr. Milliman. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Item 9: National Office Report, Ms. Melanie Brunson. Following some discussion she stated when a contribution is made, the DC office sends a thank you within 30 days. The Minneapolis office currently does not have such a policy; however she intends to institute the practice.

Ms. Brunson stated Ms. Feingold and Ms. Dardarian have begun negotiations with the three major credit reporting companies to make free credit reports available in Braille, on cassette tape or in large print.

Ms. Brunson spent Friday, September 23rd in Boston working with WGBH on making weather alerts and other such verbal emergency announcements.

Senate File 2686 still has not passed which would require audio description of prime time TV programming.

Senator Harkin is interested in getting some of the parts of ADA reinstated that have been removed by the Supreme Court over the past 16 years. If the ADA is opened there should be verbiage that says if a company has a website, that it be made accessible for blind users.

Ms. Brunson stated work has been done to bring ACB’s 990 Form in line to be eligible for grants and other funding.

The Board Handbook Committee has met and outlined what it should do to put together the handbook.

A gentleman who has had 30 years in the financial business has accepted the position of comptroller for ACB. Mr. Lane Waters will begin work for ACB in mid-October.

As for the Washington DC office, Ms. Brunson feels another support staff position needs to be filled immediately as Ms. Castillo will be taking maternity leave in November.

Currently the ACB brochures are running low. Ms. Brunson is questioning whether or not to develop a new one or simply order more of the one we now have.

ACB will participate in a meeting to work on rules for Section 508.

Mr. DuBoff has filed for registration of American Council of the Blind.

Mr. Godino volunteered to contact affiliate presidents who sent scholarship recipients to convention to ask for reimbursement of transportation for those people.

Motion 10: Mr. Edwards moved to request the President and the Executive Director to work expeditiously to make finding someone qualified to work on Randolph-Sheppard issues as a priority. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 11: Mr. Edwards moved the acceptance of the National Office report. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Ms. Schmitt, liaison to the Board from the American Center committee, reported she didn’t have any report. In addition, Ms. Pam Shaw said the group is in the process of brainstorming on putting things together for the American Center. It is definitely in the planning stages. Mr. Charlie Hodge stated eventually the board would have a number of ACB members on it.

Several board members made comments and asked questions about the American Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Motion 12: Mr. Edwards moved that the Board of Directors of the American Council of the Blind fully supports and endorses the decision taken by the membership of the American Council of the Blind convention assembled and that the Board of Directors recognizes its obligation to provide continuing oversight of the American Center program just as it does for other programs adopted by the American Council of the Blind. On a voice vote, the motion passed unanimously.

Motion 13: Mr. Edwards moved to accept the report on the American Center. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 14: Mr. Miller moved to recess the ACB board meeting and convene the ACBES corporate meeting.

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Mr. Michael Garrett, chair of the American Council of the Blind Enterprises and Services brought the meeting to order at 1:50 pm on September 23, 2006.

He reported in July that one store was being closed. That process has been completed.

The ACBES Board has decided to enhance the remaining thrift stores to improve profitability.

Motion 1: Mr. Godino moved that the ACBES director approach the ACBES board to amend their budget to cut the obligation for this year in half to ACB so that we have some time and the ability to recover under the tutelage of a new Senior Accountant and time to get our house in order. On a voice vote, the decision was unclear; therefore, a roll call vote was taken. The motion carried with nine affirmative, six opposed and one abstention. Those voting in favor were: Mr. Campbell, Mr. Godino, Ms. Keith, Mr. Pomerantz, Ms. Ruschival, Ms. Schmitt, Mr. Sheehan, Ms. Soule and Mr. Trott. Those opposed were: Dr. Bradley, Mr. Edwards, Mr. Gray, Mr. Miller, Ms. Seliger and Mr. Thom. Ms. Dillon abstained.

Motion 2: Mr. Godino moved to adjourn the ACBES meeting. The motion carried on a voice vote.

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The ACB Board of Directors meeting was reconvened by President Gray at 2:30pm

Motion 15: Mr. Edwards moved to ask the Budget Committee that we elect today to prepare a recommendation that will be presented to the Board for a decision by November 6, 2006. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 16: Mr. Edwards moved that the ACB Board of Directors meet by conference call on November 6, 2006 at 9:30pm Eastern and 6:30pm Pacific. On a voice vote, the motion passed.

The treasurer’s report was presented by Mr. Godino. He reviewed current budget figures included in a report he sent to the Board, however some will need to be adjusted.

Motion 17: Mr. Trott moved to accept the treasurer’s report. The motion carried on a voice vote.

The Budget Committee report was given by Mr. Godino as interim chair of the committee. The budget committee is recommending ACB discontinue its association with California Canes. Motion 18: Dr. Bradley moved that until we can ascertain how to proceed with any dealings with California Canes in a manner that will protect ACB’s best interest both financially and with regard to any other interests contained in the contract in the Glow In The Dark concept that we do not re-order any further canes. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Mr. Godino stated that ACB needs publishing software and the Budget Committee wishes to know how much this will cost.

Motion 19: Mr. Campbell moved to accept the budget committee report. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Next the Budget Committee elections were held.

Dr. Bradley nominated Mr. Sheehan

Mr. Campbell nominated Ms. Ruschival

Mr. Edwards nominated Mr. Godino.

Motion 19: Dr. Bradley moved that nominations cease and elect the three by acclamation. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Mr. Trott reported from the Resource Development Committee. The raffle ticket sales currently stand at $3,200.

The RDC would like to have a live auction on Wednesday night of the 2007 convention with all proceeds going to ACB. Ms. Dillon will be chairing the Auction Committee.

Finally the RDC has suggested having a walk-a-thon on Wednesday morning of convention week.

Motion 20: Mr. Edwards moved to adopt the Resource Development Committee report. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Motion 21: Mr. Edwards moved that this Board of Directors instruct the President and the Executive Director to work collaboratively to establish parameters for seeking a consultant and for arriving at a cost for doing an audit of ACB’s direct mail situation. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 22: Mr. Pomerantz moved that within 30 days a letter of thanks be drafted and sent to all direct mail contributors. The motion passed on a voice vote.

Motion 23: Ms. Ruschival moved that we do one mailing before the end of the year and that it be a holiday mailing to our donor list only. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 24: Mr. Edwards moved to accept the direct mail report. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Item 14: The update on the office leases was discussed. Donna reported she had inquired about office space in downtown Des Moines.

Motion 25: Dr. Bradley moved to have the Office Review and Executive Committees work together to bring a recommendation to the board in February at the 2007 mid-year board meeting pertaining to office leases. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Motion 26: Mr. Campbell moved to accept the update on the office lease issue. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

By consensus the Board agreed to meet on Sunday morning September 24, 2006 at 9:00am.

President Gray reconvened the meeting at 9:15am Sunday, September 24, 2006.

Roll call was taken by the secretary. All board members were present except Ms. Keith, who left the meeting early.

The agenda was reviewed by President Gray.

Item 15: State of Rehabilitation. Ms. Soule lead a discussion about the rehab center in Missouri becoming an NFB controlled facility. She stated she knows of three mid-west state agencies that are currently influenced very strongly by the National Federation of the Blind. Other board members mentioned the situation of the state agencies in their states.

Ms. Brunson will contact Ms. Keith to have the Rehab Task Force work on the issue previously discussed.

Motion 27: Mr. Edwards moved that the Rehabilitation Task Force prepare a white paper on the philosophy and practice of rehabilitation which shall be available for Board approval no later than December 31, 2006. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Ms. Pam Shaw will present a leadership seminar during the Presidents’ Meeting in 2007.

The ACB mid-year board meeting will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota February 17 and 18, 2007

The Presidents’ Meeting will be held at the Holiday Inn in Arlington, Virginia Saturday and Sunday morning February 24 and 25, 2007.

The Legislative Seminar will immediately follow the Presidents’ Meeting on Sunday afternoon, Monday and Tuesday, February 25 through 27, 2007.

The Board discussed the constitutional amendment which was passed during the 2006 pertaining to Article III, Section B.: “Neither currently affiliated organizations nor those seeking affiliation with this organization shall exclude members based solely on their membership in another consumer organization of the blind.”

The Board of Publications report was given by Mr. Charlie Hodge. The BOP is seeking bids for printing of the Braille Forum. The committee intends to publish ten issues of the Braille Forum with eight 32-page large print issues two issues being 48 pages each.

The Board of Publications proposes that the ACB Board establish a new award titled Excellence in Journalistic Practices and in Quality of Writing in the state and special interest publications. The name would be the Hollis K. Liggett Braille Free Press Award. The basis for the award would be: Does the nominated publication portray the affiliate in a positive light and indirectly on ACB?

Motion 28: Mr. Hodge moved that the ACB Board approve a new BOP award titled Hollis K. Liggett Braille Free Press Award for an affiliate newsletter. The award would be a plaque.

Motion 29: Mr. Miller moved to refer the motion made by Mr. Hodge back to the Board of Publications. The motion carried on a voice vote.

Ms. Ruschival announced the Convention Planning Committee will meet at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis during the weekend of October 15 – 18, 2006.

The committee plans to have the focus groups meet from 5:30pm until 7:30pm. This would require all afternoon activities to adjourn by 4:30pm.

Motion 30: Ms. Ruschival moved that we establish a focus group time from 5:30 until 7:30 and that afternoon sessions and programming end by 4:30. On a voice vote, the motion carried.

Ms. Ruschival will check dates in March for the mid-year board meeting rather than the February dates.

President Gray adjourned the meeting at 11:26am.

Respectfully Submitted
Donna Seliger, Secretary