Virginia Coalition for Open Government
Minutes, Spring Board Meeting
Friday, May 22, 2008
Present: Wat Hopkins, president; Dorothy Abernathy, vice president; Ed Jones, secretary; Lee Albright; Lucy Dalglish; John Edwards; Jane Elizabeth; Mark Grunewald; Pam Luecke; Peter Maroney; Lawrence McConnell; John Moen; Tom Moncure; Matt Paxton; Ginger Stanley, Virginia Press Association; Peter Easter, Virginia Association of Broadcasters; Jennifer Perkins, executive director;
Megan Rhyne, associate director; Joe Smith, legal counsel.
President Hopkins called the meeting to order at 4:10 p.m.
Hopkins announced the planned Aug. 1, 2008, resignation of Jennifer Perkins as executive director, which had been communicated to the board by e-mail.
Peter Easter moved, with a second by Peter Maroney, that the minutes of the winter board meeting in Roanoke be approved. The motion was approved unanimously.
Nancy Kent Smith and John Schick were announced as new board members selected by the Virginia Association of Broadcasters.
Craig Forbes from SunTrust Alexander Key Division made a presentation on VCOG’s investment portfolio, 45 percent of which consists of equities. Forbes reported that a risk survey of the board indicated that members are comfortable with the current mix of investments or a slightly more aggressive mix.
Discussion ensued on the Aug. 1 resignation of Perkins as executive director for personal and professional reasons. Perkins said she had learned a lot from the job, but also had suggestions for changes that would make it more likely that future executive directors will serve longer. She will include those recommendations in an exit interview.
Hopkins announced that he is asking Executive Committee members to serve on a Personnel Committee to be chaired by Vice President Dorothy Abernathy. Hopkins will ask former President Bob O’Neil and the representatives of VPA and VAB to serve as well.
Hopkins said he will ask the Personnel Committee to conduct a search for a new executive director, as well as to address some of the issues raised by Perkins. Hopkins said he would meet with Perkins, Associate Director Megan Rhyne and former Executive Director Frosty Landon the next day to talk about transition issues. Abernathy said she would call a conference-call meeting of the Personnel Committee the following week.
Perkins reported that 63 registrations have been received for the next day's Access Conference.
She also proposed going ahead with plans for VCOG to begin receiving payments by credit card. Lucy Dalglish moved that the board authorize the executive director to follow through on the merchant account at BB&T and other necessary measures that would allow credit card payments online, if the executive director so decides. The motion was passed unanimously.
Discussion ensued on new public members of the board to be voted on at the VCOG membership meeting the following day. These new members would replace retiring members Cy Dillon, Chip Woodrum and Tonda Rush.
The nominees endorsed by the Nominating Committee are Henrico County Supervisor Patricia S. O'Bannon; Waldo David Landers Jaquith of Charlottesville, who launched the Web site, Richmondsunlight.com; and Paul Casalaspi, an IT specialist at the Library of Virginia.
Mark Grunewald moved that the nominees be endorsed by the board. The motion passed unanimously. Edwards suggested that letters of appreciation be sent to the retiring board members.
(At the May 23 membership meeting in Fredericksburg, the nominees were elected unanimously to the board on a motion by Peter Maroney. Casalaspi will fill Dillon's term. Jaquith will replace Rush and O'Bannon will replace Woodrum, both of whose terms end on Dec. 31, 2009.)
Perkins announced the award winners who will be recognized at the dinner that evening. Laurence Hammack of the Roanoke Times will win the media award for his series of stories on a city councilman who doubled-billed for expense reimbursements. Leigh Purdum will win the citizen's award for her efforts to access information about an advisory board to the Madison County sheriff. No government award will be given this year.
Perkins led a discussion on the budget, including expenses recorded through mid-May. She said the budget is "in great shape." She predicted a modest profit will be produced by the Access Conference, and that an $8,000 NFOIC grant is due any day.
She reaffirmed her proposal to include in next year's budget a public fees fund, which could be used to help citizens pay for copying costs and other such expenses related to gaining access to public documents.
She also suggested that some benefits be offered as part of the compensation package for the next executive director.
Also included in the proposed budget for the year beginning July 1 is a part-time accountant.
Hopkins said the Personnel Committee will review the recommendations that have been made in connection with a new executive director. He also suggested that the proposed 2008-09 budget not be approved, but be used as a framework during the transition period.
John Edwards moved that, during the interim period after July 1, 2008, expenses continue to be based on the numbers in this year's budget. Lawrence McConnell seconded the motion. After discussion, the motion was approved unanimously.
After discussion, there was consensus that the executive director be authorized to approve new member applicants, with the understanding that the executive director will notify the board should any "red flag" issues be raised by an application. A statement of the VCOG mission will continue to be included in online and written materials about the organization.
Hopkins proposed that the bylaws be changed to allow the executive directors of VPA and VAB to serve as voting members of the Executive Committee. A bylaws change will eventually need to be approved by the membership. McConnell moved that the bylaws be changed in this way. The motion was seconded by Edwards and approved unanimously.
Dalglish asked that Perkins write a proposal for the public fees fund, which was included in the proposed 2008-09 budget. She asked that the proposal include information about how such matters are handled in other states.
Perkins said she will spend much of her remaining time working on a fundraising and membership drive this summer.
It was decided that the board be contacted by e-mail about possible dates for the next meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 6 p.m.
Ed Jones, Secretary