VCOG board meeting minutes, 10/15/09


Virginia Coalition for Open Government

Board of Directors

October 15, 2009

Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center

Staunton, Virginia

Draft Minutes

The meeting was called to order at 3:00 p.m., by Lawrence McConnell, President.

The following Board members were present:  Lawrence McConnell, President; Craig Fifer, Secretary; Lee Albright; Paul Casalaspi; Doug Easter; Jane Elizabeth; Dick Hammerstrom; Wat Hopkins; Waldo Jaquith; Pam Luecke; Tom Moncure; Patricia O’Bannon; Bob O’Neil; Matt Paxton; John Schick; Nancy Kent Smith; Rod Smolla; Ginger Stanley.

Also present was Megan Rhyne, Executive Director, and Joe Smith, Pro Bono Counsel.

Upon a motion by Casalaspi, seconded by O’Neil, the minutes from the June 25, 2009, meeting of the Board were unanimously approved by voice vote.

On behalf of John Edwards, chair of the Nominating Committee, McConnell reported that the terms of Lucy Dalglish, Mark Grunewald, Waldo Jaquith, and Patricia O’Bannon will expire this year.  Each has agreed to continue to serve on the Board, or to step aside if others are interested.  The Nominating Committee recommended that these directors be recommended by the Board to the membership for continued service.   Upon a motion by Hammerstrom, seconded by O’Neil, the Board voted unanimously by voice to recommend to the membership that these four directors be re-elected.

McConnell also reported that the terms of Virginia Press Association representatives John Edwards and Jane Elizabeth will expire this year.  Stanley reported that the Virginia Press Association Board has reappointed them both to continue serving on the Coalition Board.

McConnell further reported that the terms of Virginia Association of Broadcasters representatives John Moen and John Schick will expire this year, and that Moen will step down at that time.  Doug Easter has been notified of the need for VAB to consider appointments for these positions.

On behalf of Peter Maroney, chair of the Finance Committee, Rhyne delivered a report on the Coalition’s budget.  Rhyne further reported that Mark Hultzapple is nearing the completion of the audit approved at the June 25 Board meeting.  Rhyne pointed out that detailed profit and loss statements had been provided to the Board via e-mail.  Rhyne also reported that the endowment was back up over $500,000 for the first time in a year. She also read an explanation provided by endowment manager Craig Forbes about the strategy he will employ, with the previous approval of the Finance Committee, in the coming months.

Rhyne further reported that the Coalition was responsible for an unexpected expenditure of $2,100 for necessary upgrades to the Coalition Web site.

McConnell delivered the report of the Executive Committee, during which time Rhyne was not present.

McConnell discussed the Executive Committee’s evaluation of Rhyne’s performance as executive director in the previous year, which was positive.  Rhyne substantially accomplished many of the key goals she established, and McConnell reported that he has found her to be extremely responsive to his requests and the Coalition’s needs.  He will share additional goals with her for the upcoming year.

The Executive Committee recommended that Rhyne be granted a 2% salary increase as an endorsement of her performance and an encouragement toward further development.  Several members expressed concern about granting a raise, regardless of performance, given current finances.  Several members made comments in support of the raise, and pointed out that Rhyne has been performing a job previously performed by two people.  Acting on the recommendation of the Executive Committee as a motion, the Board voted by voice to approve the recommendation.

Rhyne returned to the meeting, and McConnell shared the Board’s evaluation and recommendations with her.

Jaquith, chair of the Marketing Committee, reported that Rhyne has begun evaluating three web-based marketing services that facilitate the delivery and tracking of mass e-mail campaigns.  Rhyne also showed a video public service announcement that WTVR produced for the Coalition.  The video will be made available to other organizations and on the Coalition’s Web site.

On behalf of Edwards, chair of the Membership Committee, McConnell reported that 76% of members have renewed through September.  A second notice has been sent to the members who have not yet renewed.

Upon a motion by O’Neil, seconded by Stanley, six new member applications were unanimously approved by the Board, by voice vote.

McConnell reported that the Membership Committee has recommended that the Coalition’s Bylaws be amended to permit the Executive Director, subject to guidance by the Board when necessary, to approve membership applications.  After some discussion of the amendment previously distributed to the Board on October 1, 2009, the Board unanimously approved the amendment by voice vote.

Casalaspi, chair of the Awards Committee, reported that there were 17 nominations for awards this year, including six in the citizen category, seven in the media category, and four in the government category.  The winner of the citizen award will be Carol Lindstrom and the winner of the media award will be Mike Owens, of the Bristol Herald-Courier.  The government award will be shared by the City of Alexandria and the County of Fairfax.

Rhyne gave an overview of the annual conference program (which will be held on October 16, 2009) and the organizations that helped sponsor the conference.

Rhyne reported that the Virginia State Bar has added FOIA cases to the list of types of cases from which members of the Bar can choose when requesting inclusion in the Lawyer Referral Service.  Rhyne will meet with State Bar officials to pursue the idea of the Coalition organizing a list of attorneys who may reduce or waive their fees for FOIA cases.

Moncure presented a modification to a proposed amendment to the Coalition’s Bylaws regarding check signing, which had been distributed to the Board on October 1, 2009.  Upon a motion by O’Bannon, seconded by Hammerstrom, the Board unanimously approved the amendment by voice vote.

McConnell announced the creation of a Futures Committee, to consider and recommend a multi-year plan for the Coalition.  He circulated a roster of the committee assignments of members of the Board, and asked each member to make any desired changes to their assignments.

McConnell reported that the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) has selected Arlington for the site of its conference in May 2010.  The Coalition will assist NFOIC in raising money for the conference, and will receive 50% of the profit from the conference.

Elizabeth presented a proposal to establish a Coalition fund to pay for fees charged for the production of records under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.  After some discussion and with no objection, the proposal was referred to the Legal and Litigation Committee for review and a recommendation at the next Board meeting.

The next meeting of the Board of Directors will take place on March 19, 2010, at the Hotel Roanoke, in Roanoke, in conjunction with the Virginia Press Association’s annual conference.  The following meeting will take place in June 2010, in Virginia Beach, in conjunction with the Virginia Association of Broadcasters’ meeting.

There being no further business to come before the Board, McConnell adjourned the meeting at 5:18 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Craig Fifer