Meeting Minutes 080113

Virginia Coalition for Open Government

Board of Directors Meeting Minutes,  August 1, 2013
Daily Progress Board Room,  685 West Rio Road, Charlottesville, VA 

The meeting was called to order at 1:00 p.m. by President Craig Fifer.

Board Members present:  President, Craig Fifer; V.P., Dick Hammerstrom;  Secretary, Olga Hernandez, Immediate Past President, Dorothy Abernathy; Peter Easter; Lou Emerson; Paul Fletcher; Bob Gibson; Mark Grunewald; Wat Hopkins; James LeMunyon; Frosty Landon; Pam Luecke; Lawrence McConnell; Patricia O’Bannon; Jeff South; and Ginger Stanley. Mark Caramanica participated by phone. Also attendingwere Executive Director,  Megan Rhyne; Intern, Jamison Shabanowitz, and Alpha-Omega Wealth Management financial advisor Craig Forbes.

Endowment Investment Advisor: Craig Forbes of Alpha Omega Wealth Management attended, at the board’s request, to explain the VCOG endowment investment strategy.  C. Forbes presented his report, provided with the agenda, on the history of the strategy.  He stated it would be fine to go from the current 30/70 to a 50/50 split in today’s market as there has been a recovery from the 2007 decline.  Markets today are more volatile and the Fed stimulus will be here for a while.  We currently have one account that has been kept separate, but Forbes explained that the reasons for that separation no longer exist. G. Stanley moved to merge the accounts so that all funds could be properly invested, L. McConnell seconded,  motion passed unanimously.  Motion was made by J. LeMunyon to allow the fund manager to move between interim and short term funds, P. Luecke  seconded and the motion passed unanimously.  M. Grunewald moved to go to 50/50 split, the motion was seconded and the motion passed unanimously.  President Fifer thanked Mr. Forbes and asked that the board get a formal report annually.

Legislative Report:  P. Easter, F. Landon and G. Stanley presented draft language for a Legislative guidance resolution to give the lobbyist direction on how to deal with public notices put on radio or television stations instead of in newspapers.  The proposed text was edited from the original statement, after much discussion to:

“The coalition supports legislative action that provides citizens with the greatest access to public notices.” The motion to accept the language passed on an 16-1 vote, with P. Easter dissenting and LeMunyon abstaining.  Landon noted afterward that this was the first instance he could remember in VCOG’s history when there was a dissenting vote.

• Lou Emerson, publisher of,. is the new appointee of the Virginia Press Association. Paul Fletcher, editor of the Virginia Lawyers Weekly, appointed to fill Tom Moncure’s unexpired term.  Both were welcomed. 
• Farewell and thanks to Tom Moncure who resigned. 
• Congratulations to V.P. Dick Hammerstrom for receiving the Society of Professional Journalists George Mason Award.
• Intern Jamison Shabanowitz was welcomed. 
• J. LeMunyon has been appointed to the FOIA Council.
• L. McConnell and P. Easter agreed to serve on the Nominating Committee

Approval of the Minutes:  D. Hammerstrom made a motion to approve the March 22, 2013, meeting minutes, D. Abernathy  seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 

Finance Committee Report:  D. Abernathy moved to accept the report of the June 28, 2013, emailed budget extention resolution, B. Gibson seconded and the motion passed unanimously. M. Rhyne reported the year end deficit of $1,084. Future grants from the Knight Foundation may be in jeopardy as the foundation reevaluates its relation with the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC).  Rhyne presented the proposed budget, which has revenue and expenses of $83,793.12 for a zero balanced budget.  W. Hopkins moved that the proposed budget be adopted, P. O’Bannon seconded and the motion passed unanimously.  Rhyne expressed hope that the endowment reallocation will provide more income. 

Membership & Audience Developement Report:  P. O’Bannon circulated a list of new or renewing members. We currently have 186 active members, up from the 167 reported in March.  The individual membership goal for the year was met.  Dues from media organizations, law firms and other business have dropped off.  Board members are encouraged to keep their dues current.  Dues categories have remained constant for seven years.  The committee was asked to look at our dues structure for possible adjustments and plans to reach out to new media and non-media players.

Executive Director’s Report: M. Rhyne
• Scheduled a joint presentation with the League of Women Voters of Mongomery County on FOIA for September 19. 
• Held a “Making Your FOIA Life Easier” training workshop on May 30 that was attended by more than 80 state and local government employees.
• The McBurney v. Young Supreme Court decision spurred the FOIA Council to study a proposal to open Virginia’s FOIA to non-residents, perhaps with a nexus to Virginia.
• FOIA Council studying whether to make State Corporation Commission (SCC) subject to FOIA.
• A follow-up report on the “How Many Clicks” project was issued in June and is available on our website. A copy was circulated to the board, along with a notebook of media clips on the original report.
• Hanover County voted on a resolution to change meeting rules for FOIA.  Upon invitation, M. Rhyne corresponded with them and wrote columns for VCOG’s blog. 
• The new website was launched on May 28 and can now be accessed on smartphones and tablets.
• Applications for two grants were unsuccessful: one never provided a response; the other had already allocated funds for the year.
• Intern J. Shabanowitz is doing research on the State Corporation Commission and writing the weekly open government item for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which is published on Sundays, and blog posts.
• M. Rhyne participated in FOIA training in Alexandria  and held a meeting with Delegate Rich Anderson. She attended the NFOIC board meeting and conference in New Orleans.  

Old Business:
Chip Woodrum Legislative Internship Committee has been appointed.  It consists of VCOG board member President Fifer, B. Gibson, F. Landon, P. Casalaspi and G. Stanley.  Non board members appointed are State Senator John Edwards, former VCOG board member John Edwards, Delegate Jay DeBoer and Maria Everett.  Several other legislators have endorsed the effort.  Chip Woodrum’s family has offered to help as they can.  A flyer has been developed for widespread circulation.  A donation page on our website is up and running   A suggestion to hold a social event in Roanoke on November 16 has been made.

New Business:  Annual Conference is scheduled for December 6 at the Williamsburg Community Building in Williamsburg.  Aneesh Chopra, Quentin Kidd and Brian Schoenenman are confirmed to speak.  Suggested topics are budget transparency and gift disclosure.

Adjournment:  3:06 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by Olga Hernandez, Secretary

Next meeting:
December 6, 2013 in Williamsburg