Meeting Minutes 032213

Virginia Coalition for Open Government
Board of Directors Meeting Minutes ,  March 22, 2013, 3:00 p.m.
Virginia Press Association, 11529 Nuckols Rd., Glen Allen, VA  20359

The meeting was called to order at 3:05 p.m. by Treasurer Paul Casalaspi, President Craig Fifer was delayed in traffic and arrived at 3:50  p.m.

Board Members present:  President, Craig Fifer; V.P., Dick Hammerstrom; Treasurer, Paul Casalaspi;  Secretary; Olga Hernandez, Dorothy Abernathy, Mark Caramanica, Peter Easter, Bob Gibson, Wat Hopkins, Frosty Landon, Jeff Lester, Pam Luecke, Lawrence MConnell, Jeff South, Ginger Stanley; Exec. Director,  Megan Rhyne

New Board Member: Bob Gibson & Jim LeMunyon were welcomed.  Mr. LeMunyon was not present.  Mr. Gibson introduced himself.  He is a former political reporter for the Daily Progress, now serves as Executive Director of the Sorenson Institute.  The Sorenson gala will April 2nd be at the Greater Richmond Covention Center,  Jim Lehrer keyknoter.

Farewell to Bill O’Donovan who was the Virginia Press Association (VPA) appointee but has now left the Gazette and so stepped down from this board.  The VPA board will meet April 19, where they will make a new appointment.

Congratulations:  Past VCOG President , Dorothy Abernathy, was congratulated for her selection to the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame.

Approval of the Minutes: A motion to approve the November 30, 2012 Board of Director’s meeting minutes was made by M. Caramanica and seconded by J. Lester.  The Motion to approve the minutes of the Annual Conference was made by D. Abernathy and seconded by W. Hopkins. Both sets of minutes were approved as presented.

Legislative Report: M. Rhyne reported that a bill to limt FOIA from legislative aide correspondence passed.  Legislation to protect patient evacuation plans also passed; the bill was changed on the floor after an agreement had been made and has been signed by the Governor.  Gun records bill passed after surprise move to amend a narrowly tailored bill to make it apply broadly. The action was influenced by the NY newspaper that published maps of gun owners homes.  Seven states have proposed closing gun information records.  AVirginia Beach Parks and Recreation bill, sponsored by Del. Ron Villanueva, to limit information on minors stipulating that  that parents have to opt in was passed.  G. Stanley stated we need to educate legislators about the need for FOIA.  Delegate Chris Jones may be a legislator to approach.  Senator Mame Locke needs to be approached about transparency.  F. Landon stated this is all about privacy vs. transparency.  The Nuclear Energy Consortium bill exempts the consortium from FOIA and other government administration laws.  Science and Tech Committee of General Laws refered to the FOIA Council a bill on regional electronic meetings.  The council is studying  electronic meetings and also audio and video components.  The FOIA Council bill on criminal laws passed; the bill is a rewrite for clarity only because discussions about substantive amendments went nowhere in the FOIA Council prior to the legislative session. Under the new bill, 911 records are specifically listed as being open.  More information is provided in M. Rhyne’s distributed report. 

Position on Pubic Notices:  The Virginia Association of  Broadcaster (VAB) position is that – public notice bills offering TV/Radio as an option should not be lobbied against by VCOG.  The discussion pointed that VCOG should leave this matter to VPA and VAB.  F. Landon stated that VCOG was in favor of the widest possible access to information.  P. Easter asked M. Rhyne to draft language to run by Doug Easter at VAB. This item and position language should be discussed at the next board meeting.   M. Rhyne stated that the public has been calling in support of newspaper notices. 

Finance Committee Report:  P. Casalaspi reported that there are no concerns, despite running at a deficit, because expenses will be on the stable side for the next three months, and we will take our drawndown from the endowment soon.  In January, part of the Executive Director’s salary was drawn from the “How Many Clicks” grant.

The Endowment: It is below where we were a year ago. Casalaspi suggested VCOG’s investment strategy may be too conservative. May want to go 50-50, we are currently at a 30-70 split. F. Landon suggested finding out what VPA and VAB do. P. Easter cautioned about too drastic a change. Casalaspi feels we need more active management.  M. Rhyne reported she has been having trouble getting in touch with VCOG’s endowment fund manager, Craig Forbes.  President Fifer suggested the Treasurer contact Forbes about what can be done about risk levels and discuss this with the Finance Committee.  L. McConnell moved and D. Hammerstrom seconded that P. Casalaspi meet with the Finance Committee and make a recommendation at the July meeting. 

Banking:  Currently our account is with Wells Fargo, they made changing signatories difficult.  M. Rhyne looked into benefits of using a community bank.  She found that TowneBank, offered good rates and service.  G. Stanley moved and D. Abernathy seconded that M. Rhyne be empowered to move the account.  W. Hopkins moved and B. Gibson seconded that M. Rhyne look into a credit card with a better limit than offered by our current provider BB&T, which only has a $1,000 credit line. 

Membership and Audience Development Report:
A list of new and lapsed members was circulated.  We currently have 167 members,  30 members have not renewed since July 2012. Our seven new members are: Thomas Blackwell, Barbara Brown, Judy Brown, John Byrum, Joan Fenton, Virginia Sanders and Guy Tower. All lapsed newspaper members were sent an email reminder, which resulted in three renewals. Board members were encouraged to contact any non-renewals on the ist. Board members are reminded to pay their dues.

Gifts:  A donation of $150 was received from judges in honor of former delegate and open government supporter Clifton “Chip” Woodburn on his passing  in February.

Annual Conference Report:  
A recap of the Conference in Lynchburg was provided.  We had 56 attendees, 9 more than in 2011.   Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) helped with the conference.  They also donated two days of  sponsorship of their VaNews news distribution email.  Ideas for 2013 are Mimsyln Inn, Luray; George Washington Inn, Winchester; Williamsburg Lodge, Williamsburg; Loudoun County; Dover Hall, Goochland.  All these are historic properties M. Rhyne will look into locations that may draw more attendees. 

Executive Director’s Report: M. Rhyne
President C. Fifer, M. Rhyne and T. Moncure attended the U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments for the McBurney vs Young case on February 20.  A decision is expected by the end of June. 

Intern   Jamison Shabanowitz a Washington & Lee University student will start on June 3.  He will be helping the research on the State Corporation Commission and creating a web-base FOIA training seminar. 

Website  Grant to make our website available on more mobile devices using Drupal software is in testing.  See  Give M. Rhyne your thoughts. 

M. Rhyne has been selected to participate at the Sorensen Institute and will be absent on Fridays. The group congratulated her.

Old Business:
The How Many Clicks? report generated lots of conversation, some changes to websites and discovery by localities.  We are doing the work to make accessibility better. 

New Business:
Chip Woodrum Legislative Internship:  M. Rhyne has consensus to proceed with this idea to provide this internship during the General Assembly sessions.  P. Casalapsi and B. Gibson were appointed to a committee to lead fundraising for this effort.

Adjournement:  5:34 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by Olga Hernandez, Secretary

Next meeting:
Summer – Late July