Minutes from 12/6/13 board meeting

Virginia Coalition for Open Government
Board of Directors Meeting Minutes,  December 6, 2013
Williamsburg Community Building, Williamsburg, VA  

Board Members present:  President, Craig Fifer; Treasurer, Paul Casalaspi; Secretary, Olga Hernandez, Immediate Past President, Dorothy Abernathy; Peter Easter; Paul Fletcher; Bob Gibson; Mark Grunewald; Wat Hopkins; James LeMunyon; Frosty Landon; Jeff Lester; Lawrence McConnell; Patricia O’Bannon; Melody Scalley; Jeff South; Ginger Stanley and Executive Director,  Megan Rhyne.

The meeting was called to order at 8:00 a.m. by President Fifer.  He welcomed members and the attendees introduced themselves.

Announcements:  Board member, Mark Caramanica, moved to Tampa.

Stephen Hayes, General Manager of WTVR in Richmond is the new Virginia Association of Broadcasters (VAB) board representative.

Minutes:  M. Scalley moved approval of the minutes of August 1, 2013 as presented; P. Casalaspi seconded, motion approved unanimously.


·      At L. McConnell’s suggestion, the agenda follows a different format to condense many reports.

·      Endowment Committee met via email and proposed to reformulate the endowment committee      and review guidelines to determine if they are still relevant and develop guidelines for the     future.  The Endowment is a better shape than in the last 2 years.  M. Scalley and P. Easter agreed to serve on the committee.  P. Easter stated that the investments of the organization should be very conservative.

·      Finance Committee’s P. Casalaspi looked at the finance numbers and when considering this year’s numbers in comparison to last, when there was money from a Knight grant, the overall numbers have improved.  It is hoped that we will withdraw less from the Endowment than what has been budgeted. The IRS 990 has been filed, and the financial review has been completed. 

·      Membership & Audience Development Committee:  A written report was provided to board members.  Committee members P. O’Bannon, F. Landon and J. Lester recommend that we track lapsed members, focus on donors or benefactors who may be less interested in membership but still interested in giving, and that another fundraising event be added.

The committee does not recommend raising dues; instead they recommend freezing dues.

D. Abernathy asked about premium memberships such as those that come with registering for the conference at $30.  Rhyne directed the board to the list of new members since the last board meeting in August.  President Fifer asked the Membership Committee to work on premium or innovative approaches.  President Fifer stated we need a membership goal after P. O’Bannon inquired about a goal.

P. Easter is concerned about membership billing.  M. Rhyne explained that she bills on a rolling basis as memberships expire.  F. Landon stated that he used to bill on the basis of the fiscal year.  President Fifer stated they would work on possible changes to membership.  M. Scalley asked about reaching out to bloggers, M. Rhyne stated that she tried that and was told bloggers, particularly the political ones, don’t like each other.  VPA reaches out to online members but they do not really recruit.

●    Nominating Committee Report:  P. Easter, Pam Lueke, and  L. McConnell recommend Brian Eckert  and Chris Gatewood as board members.  D. Abernathy moved and L. McConnell seconded that Mr. Eckert and Mr. Gatewood be elected to the board, motioned passed unanimously.  F. Landon moved and J. Lester seconded that appointed member, P. Fletcher, be elected to the board to fill the remainder of his term, motion passed unanimously.  P. Easter stated he is working on convincing the WAVY news director to join.  Stephen Hayes has been appointed to represent the VAB.  Quorum is determined by 50% of current members.

●    Chip Woodrum Internship:  $3,000 has been raised so far.  There is an expectation of a large donation in the future.  The board should promote the internship opportunity.  Randolph-Macon has internship program that M. Rhyne contacted for this year, until the Woodrum Internship can be put into place. Intern Olivia Vandeveer, a junior political science major, will help during the General Assembly session. She lives in Smithfield.

●    Organization Administration:  M. Rhyne asked for input on the Data Breach Insurance coverage included in this year’s business owner’s policy, which costs an additional $55 per year.  Although we get funds mostly through PayPal and our data mostly consists of names and contact information, P. Easter moved and B. Gibson seconded that we continue the purchase of such insurance, motion passed unanimously.

·      Training and Speaking Engagements:  P. Easter stated we need to reach out to do more trainings and speaking engagements and reach out to the Association of Counties.  President Fifer and M. Rhyne have done presentations at UVA, to the Roanoke Times and some conference calls.  M. Scalley stated she does skills training and is willing to add a section on FOIA.  President Fifer asked that the board reach out to localities as ask them to mention VCOG. 

Today’s conference:  M. Rhyne stated she has $8,500 in pledges and registrations.  The message about reaching a specific fundraising goal amount appears to have brought in a good response.  Sixty-eight people are registered. Katy Hurtz of Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) is helping with registrations.  Virginia Gazette reporter Courtney Langley will be tweeting at @opengovva.  VPAP donated a sponsorship announcement on their VaNews email distribution list.  The Republican Advance meeting and Larry Sabato event are in conflict today.


·      FOIA Council is continuing their FOIA review.  Delegate J. LeMunyon will introduce an exemption bill.  G. Stanley stated VPA is in favor of a study on FOIA.  M. Rhyne presented a slide show of potential bills for the session.

●    M. Rhyne is getting calls about ethics legislation but is not sure what to speak on. She suggested favoring those parts of bills that promote public access.  Electronic filings need to be in usable and in searchable form.  F. Landon suggested we only support parts of bills that have a transparency action portion.

Board Meeting Adjourned at 9:30 am

Upcoming meeting:
Spring 2014 – Roanoke or Richmond

Respectfully submitted by Olga Hernandez, Secretary