VCOG board meeting 102110

Virginia Coalition for Open Government


Board of Directors

October 21, 2010

Crowne Plaza Richmond Downtown

Richmond, Virginia


The meeting was called to order at 3:33 p.m., by Lawrence McConnell, President.

The following Board members were present: Lawrence McConnell, President; Dorothy Abernathy, Vice President; Craig Fifer, Secretary; Paul Casalaspi, Interim Treasurer, Ginger Stanley, VPA Representative; Wat Hopkins, Immediate Past President; Lee Albright; John Edwards; Dick Hammerstrom; Olga Hernandez; Frosty Landon; Pam Luecke; Tom Moncure; Ed Reams; Melody Scalley; Joe Smith; Nancy Kent Smith; Jonathan Williams. Also present was Megan Rhyne, Executive Director.

McConnell welcomed new board members Olga Hernandez, Melody Scalley (representing the Virginia Association of Broadcasters), and Michael Stowe (representing the Virginia Press Association), and announced that Paul Casalaspi has been appointed Interim Treasurer.

McConnell further reported that Bob O'Neill has resigned from the Board after nearly 15 years of service, because he has moved his residence to Washington, D.C.

McConnell and Rhyne updated the Board on logistics for the Coalition's annual conference later in the day and the next day.

Upon a motion by Moncure, seconded by Stanley, the minutes from the June 24, 2010, meeting of the Board were unanimously approved by voice vote.

Edwards, chair of the Nominating Committee, reported that the committee unanimously nominated the following individuals for two-year terms of office beginning January 1, 2011: Dorothy Abernathy for President, Dick Hammerstrom for Vice President, Craig Fifer for Secretary, and Paul Casalaspi for Treasurer. Upon motion by Hernandez, seconded by Landon, the Board unanimously voted by voice to close nominations. Upon motion by Hopkins, seconded by Hernandez, the Board voted unanimously by voice to recommend the state of nominees to the membership for election at the annual meeting on October 22, 2010.

Edwards further reported that the Virginia Press Association has designated all five of its representatives on the Coalition's board, and the Virginia Association of Broadcasters has designated four of its five representatives.

Rhyne presented a report on the Coalition's budget. She also reported that the Coalition's annual IRS Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax) has been prepared and filed.

McConnell delivered the report of the Executive Committee, during which time Rhyne was not present. McConnell discussed his evaluation of Rhyne's performance as executive director in the previous year, which was positive again this year. Rhyne substantially accomplished the key goals established for the past year, and McConnell reported that he has been impressed with the degree to which she has self-initiated programs and activities. He will share additional goals with her for the upcoming year.

The Board discussed ways in which the compensation of the Executive Director could include a bonus or salary increase tied to successful activities and/or specific performance criteria. Moncure moved that the Executive Committee formally investigate these ideas and make a recommendation to the Board. Upon a second by Landon, the Board unanimously approved the motion by voice vote. Following the vote, Rhyne returned to the meeting.

Casalaspi, chair of the Awards Committee, reported that the committee has unanimously selected the following annual awardees: Nancy Barbour Smith will receive the Laurence E. Richardson citizen award for her work to improve transparency by the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors; Steven Vegh of The Virginian-Pilot will receive the media award for reporting on the City of Norfolk's implementation of Standards of Learning testing; and the Richmond School Board will receive the government award for significantly overhauling its FOIA and meeting procedures. The awards will be presented at a dinner following the Board meeting.

Abernathy, chair of the Annual Conference Committee, reported that the Coalition's 2010 annual conference will be held the next day in Richmond, in House Room 3 at the State Capitol. She noted that registration has increased from the previous year. Abernathy referred the Board to the conference program for details.

Abernathy further reported that the Committee has begun discussion of events to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Coalition in 2011, to include a proposed gala in honor of Bob O'Neill. The gala could be a separate event from the annual conference, and could be a significant fundraiser.

Edwards, chair of the Membership Committee, reported that the Coalition had 130 members as of October 11, 2010, and the membership renewal rate was 65%.

Luecke, chair of the Marketing Committee, reported that the Committee has been investigating the availability of receiving a grant from Google for online advertising, and will work with Rhyne to apply for the grant. Luecke further reported that the Committee has been investigating how the Coalition could sponsor a state license plate to promote open government. She noted that the process is fairly challenging, and several members of the Board commented that they didn't feel the effort was worth pursuing.

Rhyne referred to her staff activity report. She highlighted a successful training session the Coalition held on September 15, at the Library of Virginia, to help state and local government employees better manage records and FOIA requests. The session was attended by nearly 100 people, and received very positive reviews.

McConnell and Rhyne also reported that they gave a presentation about the Coalition at a recent meeting of the board of the Virginia Association of Broadcasters, which was well received.

Rhyne reported that the Coalition received a contribution of $7,838.00 from the proceeds of the 2010 annual conference of the National Freedom of Information Coalition. The Coalition was a co-host of the event, which was held in Arlington.

Landon moved that the Board adopt a resolution in appreciation of Bob O'Neill, which he distributed to the members of the Board. Upon a second by Abernathy, the Board unanimously approved the resolution by voice vote.

Rhyne reported that she noticed a growing trend within the access community towards asking candidates for public office to pledge their support for open government issues. She asked for the Board's input on this subject. Moncure suggested that the pledge would be ineffective unless tied to a specific legislative agenda, and that the Coalition has not traditionally adopted a formal agenda of that nature. The consensus of the Board was that Rhyne should continue to review sample pledges from other organizations and make a recommendation on the subject to the Board at the next meeting.

Edwards expressed his concern that an increased effort will be made in the 2011 General Assembly session to reduce the number of legal notices that public bodies are required to place in newspapers, and that this movement would particularly hurt the interests of rural residents. He moved that the Board reaffirm its position that the placement of legal notices in newspapers remains important to providing the broadest publication of vital information to residents. Upon a second by Hopkins, followed by discussion, the Board unanimously voted by voice to approve the motion.

The next meeting of the Board of Directors will take place on March 25, 2011, at the Virginia Press Association's headquarters in Glen Allen.

There being no further business to come before the Board, McConnell adjourned the meeting at 5:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Craig Fifer