VCOG board of directors minutes December 9 2015

Virginia Coalition for Open Government

Board of Directors Meeting Minutes of December 9, 2015 Virginia Press Association, Glen Allen, VA  

Board Members present:  President, Craig Fifer; VP, Dick Hammerstrom; Treasurer, Paul Casalaspi; Secretary, Olga Hernandez; Immediate Past President, Dorothy Abernathy (via conference call); Peter Easter; Bob Gibson; Stephen Hayes; Frank LoMonte; Lawrence McConnell; Jeff South; Ginger Stanley; and Executive Director, Megan Rhyne; also in attendance, Ms. Betty Kent.    

Board Members Absent: Melody Himel Clarke; Brian Colligan; Brian Eckert; Lou Emerson; Paul Fletcher; Christopher Gatewood; Mark Grunewald; Wat Hopkins; Frosty Landon; Jeff Lester; Patricia O’Bannon; Nancy Kent Smith; and Jonathan Williams.    

President C. Fifer called the meeting to order at 2:03 p.m.    

Announcements:  President C. Fifer announced that Mark Grunewald would not seek reappointment after ten years of service.  Michelle Bush “Shelley” Kimball of George Washington University where she teaches First Amendment law, will join the board.  He congratulated Dick Hammerstrom on his recent retirement.     

Development: President Fifer adjusted the agenda to introduce Ms. Betty Kent, the sister-in-law of board member Nancy Kent Smith.  Ms. Smith is a fundraising consultant with experience at William & Mary and the American Red Cross.  She explained what she could do for us depending on the contract.  She can provide training for the Executive Director and board members, research to identify potential donors, provide talking points and strategy to approach potential donors.  She stated that payment by commission is an option but prefers a set amount.  She stated that the Executive Director was probably the best to do “the ask” of potential donors.  She said that the 20th anniversary would be a good opportunity to fundraise. She has submitted a two-phase proposal of $8,700: $1,200 in planning and research and $7,500 to put into action.  She would also be able to write grants.  Ms. Kent was thanked for her time and presentation.  Results are not guaranteed but we need to try something to get revenue and not dip into the endowment.  The board members present were in consensus to proceed, but since there was not quorum to take a vote, it was deferred to the Executive Committee to take a binding vote.      

Minutes:  The minutes July 24, 2015, were approved as presented.    

Executive Committee Report:  M. Rhyne has applied for small grants but none have come through.  She may apply for another grant to do joint training with NC and/or TN.  Richmond Times Dispatch publisher Tom Silvestri donated $500 on behalf of the paper, the first known outright gift by a corporate/organization member. Also offered a parking spot during GA  session.   Fall conference raised over $10,956, which was more than ever.  Very successful venue was very nice.  The panels were very interesting and people stayed to the end.  For next year may host it in Harrisonburg, Richmond or Newport News.  Chip Woodrum Legislative Internship got four applications.  M. Rhyne and D. Hammerstrom will be meeting with three of the applicants.  Will line up shadowing opportunities at the GA.  The internship will begin January 13. Membership, currently have 180 members.   Donor base will be transitioning to a free online platform Salesforce. Transparency Virginia will continue to monitor the committee meetings as they did last year.   Public Engagements:  M. Rhyne participated in thirteen outreach events listed in the Executive Director’s report.  Social Media Facebook likes 487 and Twitter followers  1,417.    

FOIA audit by a group of newspapers found that the release of information on some felonies is inconsistent across the localities reviewed.  Many also refused to release employee information that is to be a public record.  Much of the compliance has to do with inconsistent procedures in administering the law. Several bills being proposed especially to clear up the ruling about redacting items in part or the entire document.  Also having someone to witness closed meetings.  The police camera/document records is another difficult issue much because the law enforcement lobby is powerful.  The public access community is not well organized.  After the results of the audit were published the Sheriff’s Association reached out to VCOG to work on the issue, for material for their newsletter and invited M. Rhyne to speak at their spring conference.      

Finance Report:  Reports have been late as our bookkeeper now has a fourth child.  Thus the budget report is $482.82 behind budget through October 2015.  P. Easter asked  that all the financial reports include clear headers of what they comprise and a column to compare between actuals with the approved budget in similar formats.  The comparison was not available at the meeting.  The endowment took a huge hit in August down 1.24%.  The report had no headings and thus it was hard to understand the numbers.  M. Rhyne compiles the report from monthly statements.  The $62,000-plus Chip Woodrum funds were transferred into the new Vanguard account.  The other endowment transfer from Schwab has been harder because they have not been responsive to M. Rhyne’s request.  Treasurer Casalaspi, who set up the Vanguard accounts, noted Schwab has no incentive to be responsive cause they have charged us about $7,000 annually in fees in the past.  Treasurer Casalaspi suggested that perhaps M. Rhyne can ask for a drawdown of all the funds and then transfer them herself.   Woodrum family advised M. Rhyne that they would be making another donation.    

Old Business:  VCOG 20th Anniversary General Assembly Resolution will be carried by Del. Jim LeMunyon.  (HJ91 passed on January 21, 2016)    

New Business:  VCOG 20th Anniversary Award Dinner:  This may serve as a fundraiser perhaps in a time frame of May or June.  The 10th Anniversary dinner was held at the Library of Virginia.  The idea is to celebrate open government supporters.  More like lifetime achievement award.  It was noted this was shortly after the GA adjourns.  Perhaps to be held at the Boathouse River View at Rockett’s Landing in Richmond.  Pros and cons were discussed regarding holding the dinner in tandem to the conference in the fall or separating the conference and location from the award dinner.  M. Rhyne outlined the potential use of the additional Woodrum donation as seed money for the celebration.  F. LoMonte agreed to serve on a committee to explore options.    

P. Easter stated a request that all future meetings be held in the Richmond area.  The April 2016, board meeting will be held at the Virginia Press Association venue in Glen Allen and it was suggested VCOG align its spring meeting with this date. Alice Lucan attorney and founding VCOG member is seeking endorsement of a policy on privacy and body cameras issue and definition in the code for clarity.  There maybe legislation on the horizon.  It was suggested reaching out to Kevin Goldberg for his input.  M. Rhyne to reach out to the legislative committee to take a look.  New VCOG logo samples, by Kevin Goyette of the Daily Press, were viewed no final adoption.  The current sun was developed for the tenth anniversary.    

Adjournment:  President Fifer adjourned the meeting at 4:17 p.m.    

Next Board meeting will tentatively be around April 8, 2016 at the Virginia Press Association venue in Glen Allen.    

Respectfully submitted by Olga Hernandez, Secretary