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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Steps Toward Transparency

There have been quite a few changes and steps taken during the past few weeks that will improve the organization. Comments/suggestions are welcome on this site. Also, remember that you can write to your Board of Directors and state your opinion, make suggestions, ask for clarification, and/or make requests for additional information. It is recommended that you include all members of the board on your correspondence/e-mails.

Some highlights of recent changes include:

Formation of a Bylaws Working Group. This group will be working independently and making recommendations for bylaw revisions and additions. There have been over 30 Saints members who have volunteered, and they had their first meeting last night, Tuesday, October 13th. Check the comments below the bylaws posting to find out what happened at the meeting, and continue to check for updates.

Questions and Answers at a General Membership Meeting. At the meeting held on September 29, about 50 members stayed and asked questions of the board. There will be a scheduled question and answer session at our next board meeting which will be held on Monday, October 26th.

The minutes will be posted on the Saints website within five days of their approval starting with the minutes that were taken at the Board Meeting held on Monday, October 13th. This means that if the minutes are approved on November 8, which is the date of the next board meeting, they will be posted on November 13. If, for some reason, they are not approved at that meeting, the posting will be five days after the minutes are approved. In addition, the minutes will show how each board member votes on each motion.

The 2009/2010 budget will be published and/or posted for viewing by members.

Observers have been present at every board meeting for the past six months - the most recent one had twelve observers.

I wish to encourage observers from the last board meeting to add comments to this posting. And any Saints member should feel free to post their questions/comments too.

The organization is gradually becoming more transparent, and there will be more information available to you than there has been in the past. There still is a lot of work to do, and we want to encourage members to become more involved in asking questions, making suggestions and volunteering to do more than ushering. Together, we can make the Saints an even better organization than it already is.


  1. Is there at least one lawyer in the Bylaws Working Group? I sure hope so. The current bylaws do not appear to be wholly legal and enforcible.

  2. Also, I see that your post states that the Board Meeting Minutes will include a listing of how each Board member voted on any given issue. Yet the October Spotlight states that the Board decided NOT to include roll call vote information. What happened? Has the Board reversed itself again? A welcome change, but a curious one...

  3. There are at least two lawyers who have volunteered for the Bylaws Working Group. You might want to read the comment from a member of the group that is posted below on the posting referring to the bylaws.

    Also, they have an e-mail address so that you can send questions and suggestions directly to them. I don't have it readily available but someone will probably post it. Questions like this can be easily answered if you send me an e-mail. I see that people still are reluctant to be identified and that is sad. I will know that we have truly progressed when people are comfortable using their names on this site.

    There has been a change in regard to the policy regarding minutes. The October Spotlight summarizes the policy that was determined at the September meeting but a new motion was introduced at the October meeting. Some of the board members are shifting their point of view, and I have been reinstated to the organization and am voting at Board Meetings too.

    The membership has been quite vocal about their desire to know what the Board is discussing and how they are voting. Quite a few members are attending meetings as observers, sending e-mails to the board, and posting comments on this blog.

    The board is elected by the membership and there will be elections in the Spring. Four directors' terms will expire on May 31 - Lorraine Edelstein, Andy Lingras, Sharon McLean and Jim Venskus.

  4. News about posting of minutes, and the inclusion of individual Board members' votes in those minutes is very encouraging. An educated membership will be better able to make decisions when the spring elections take place.

    Any idea when the budget will be posted? What about the 2008/2009 budget which we have never seen?

  5. Dear Anonymous:

    I'm not certain whether these "anonymous" posts are coming from one person or several different individuals. At minumum, keep your anonymity and use initials or make up an alias that you consistently use. In the choice where you it states name or URL, you may type in whatever name you want to use. But it would be nice to know whether one person is asking all these questions or different people are asking them.

    There is no stated deadline for the posting of the budget but there is a budget. I recommend that you send an e-mail to Linda Berg, the current Treasurer, and send copies to the Board and ask the same question you asked on the blog. In addition, I suggest that anyone who is interested in seeing the financials contact the board so that there is no question that members want this information.

    You can verify this with last year's Treasurer, Jim Venskus, but I don't think that there was a budget in 2008-2009. There were monthly financial reports and the reporting was more detailed than it had ever been before. Several board members expressed concern that there was no way to measure whether we were going over budget. And you will see on this year's budget, there are line items that have no budgeted amount (for example, the 30th annivesary celebration).

    There also has been resistance to sending things out to bid and getting multiple quotes. There was a motion that passed requiring all purchases over $500 have three bids but this was ignored, and rescinded during the period that I was not allowed to attend the board meetings. It might be time to raise that figure to $1000, but it would be good to see some "comparison shopping" and written proposals. It's time for you to speak up.

  6. Do any Saints members care about the Saints Financials?

    The last published yearly report to the membership was in the summer of 2006 for the accrual year of 2005-2006. This was prepared and reported by the Treasurer at the time, Red Vermeire.
    The next treasurer Andy Lingras (Treasurer for about four months), produced and reported a report that was totally uninformative and was not for a accrual year (as had always been the practice before), and therefore made no sense. He was replaced by Enid Frandzel in mid year who attempted to produce an accurate report but with no luck. This would have been for the year 2006-2007. Then at the next Saints year beginning June 1, 2008, Jim Venskus became treasurer. He also did not produce a report for either the previous years 2006-2007 nor 2007-2008. Now here we are in the fifth (almost sixth) month of another year (2009-2010) with another treasurer, Linda Berg, and still no reporting now for the previous three years with no word as to when this will if ever happen.

    As a long time member, I hope this does not indicate any wrong doing with the Saints monies. But it certainly opens that possibility with NO REPORTING to the membership.

    Another concern we should have, even more so, is weather the Saints organization has been reporting the proper documents to the Federal IRS and the State of Illinois Attorney General’s Office. If this has not happened or in arears are we as an organization subject to FINES or WORSE?

    What would happen to our organization if the IRS or Illinois Attorney General’s office should start an investigation or audit?

    When will the Saints Board concern themselves with this? I had written to the officers of the board in August of 2008 about this issue. It is now more than a year later and we are still without information.


    There seems to be so much concern with members of the Saints Board about how much it costs to send the members a printed edition of the Spotlight.

    They now say that per issue is much more than the $20.00 we have paid. But what was the per issue of printing and mailing a spotlight when we all paid and everyone received one. This comparison has not been presented. It is normal in these times to think we are better off saving $20.00, but many have realized their mistake and would like to go back the way it was.

    The board continues to tell us to just print one with our own computer, assuming everyone has THEIR OWN COMPUTER, and A PRINTER. What about those using office facilities or library facilities or simply not having a printer attached to their computer. What about the individual ink(cartridge) and paper costs.

    What else do we as members actually receive from the dues? Grants to the theater community is a good thing (but not all members agree that this is where our monies should go)

    Also just what might ALL the charges from CLUBEXPRESS be to the organization. This has never been reveled to the members. Should we have something to say about this expense?