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Friday, December 25, 2009

Send E-mails to the Board

There is a board meeting that will be held in early January. If you cannot attend as an observer, it would be a good idea to voice your opinions to the board (and I mean each of us, not just one person) by e-mail about the following:

$30,000 allocation for 30th anniversary party

Suggestions about board vacancy - should we appoint a new member, or keep the seat vacant? If we appoint a member, should we select based on last Spring's election results?

Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction with the website

Suggestions regarding the printed Spotlight

Suggestions regarding the online Spotlight

Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction with board leadership

Electronic voting versus mail in ballots - mailed ballots to those without an e-mail address

You also can comment on this blog.

The board has a general idea about your feelings regarding the option to subscribe to the mailed Spotlight but your e-mails were not circulated to the board. So if you want us to know the specifics of what you think, please send your opinions to all of the board members.

I am committed to answering every single one of your e-mails. I care about what you think and will take your ideas into consideration.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Board Meeting - Saturday, January 9

The next scheduled Saints Board of Directors meeting will be held at the Saints Office, Room 203, at the Athenaeum, 2936 N. Southport, on Saturday, January 9 at 10 am. Members who wish to attend may contact the Board at large and make arrangements. It is recommended that you send your request to the entire board since we currently are without official leadership. In addition, our current Bylaws do not address leadership succession.

Minutes from the October and November meetings are now available online if you log onto the website and look at "Membership Documents."

Please review previous postings regarding the $30,000 that has been allocated for a Saints 30th anniversary party. There is controversy as to whether this is an appropriate use of funds for a nonprofit organization or consistent with our mission statement.

This issue will be addressed at the board meeting, as well as a report regarding the annual Saints benefit, which was held on Sunday, December 6.

It is important that all requests and concerns be addressed to the entire board of directors right now. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to send something without logging into the website. Two of us, Jim Venskus and Deborah Granite, are not included on the contact list that is available on the home page.

You may, however, log onto the website, click on "committees," select "board of directors," click on the button that says "view members" and select "Send Email to members." Your e-mail address will automatically appear, you can type in a subject in the blank subject line, and then type your text in the empty box. You even have the option to mark your e-mail "urgent".

Good luck!

We hope to hear from you.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No Blog Posts...

Out of respect to the family of BJ Nelson, and those of us who are mourning his loss, there will be no messages on this blog until next week. For updates regarding funeral arrangements, tributes or donations in his memory, please contact The Saints at their official address or go to the website.

Thank you.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

$30,000 for a 30th Anniversary Party?

There is a line item in the budget (and in the budget summary on page 33 of the December Spotlight) that I must bring to your attention. There is an allocation of $30,000 for a 30th anniversary party. Using the figure of 2,000 members (estimated membership), that means that $15 from each member’s dues will be used for this celebration.

At our last board meeting, I made a motion that the amount allocated for the 30th anniversary party be “cost neutral.” By this, I meant that we should not allocate an amount that is greater than the revenue we expect to take in (sale of tickets). The motion was defeated with three in favor and five against my motion. Lorraine Edelstein, Jim Venskus and I voted in favor of the motion.

It is highly unusual to pass a budget that is unbalanced and shows a deficit of $25,811.49. We do have enough money in our reserves to cover the allocation but to budget this kind of money during a recession, and after the benefit committee worked so hard to supplement the $40,000 allocated to grants, seems inappropriate.

Even the highly controversial 2009 bylaws state the following as our mission: The Saints shall support performing arts organizations, primarily not-for-profit, in Chicago and nearby communities through volunteer and charitable services.

A 30th Anniversary Committee is already in place and the budget was approved during the months I was banned from the Saints.

How do you feel about this kind of expenditure or budgeting?

It is very important that you send e-mails letting the board know what you think about this before money is spent. Please note that e-mails sent to the President are not automatically shared with the entire board of directors.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Budget Summary in Spotlight - Update

At the board meeting held on Saturday, December 5, 2009, I made a motion that the unedited budget, rather than a summary, be published in the Spotlight. As I wrote on December 1 (see below), members need to see the line items to fully understand how their dues are being spent.

The motion was defeated 4-3. Two members abstained.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Quick Thoughts About Saints' Annual Party

Today, about 130 Saints gathered to socialize at Galleria Marchetti and participate in the Saints' Annual Party and Fund Raiser. The co-chairs, Bob Korabik and Laurie Nagatomo deserve credit for doing a wonderful job.

Although there probably are many different ideas about how a fundraiser like this should be run, the space was appealing, parking was abundant (and could be found for free), the entertainment was fun, and there were over 150 donations from local performing arts groups, restaurants, etc. There also was a silent auction where many of our members both provided and bid on prizes that ranged from legal services, and sailboat cruises to beautiful and interesting books.

While one can think of things that might have been different, we learn each year from our successes and failures, and it was obvious that there had been much care and thought put into today's event.

It's too soon to know how much money was raised but this year, the drawing of raffle tickets and awarding of prizes was handled much better than the past two years. We all could see the tickets being drawn, put with an envelope (it sounded like the donors' and their prizes were filed in alphabetical order), hear the name of who won, and what they won, It took awhile but it was fun to see what fellow saints had won, and hear who the generous donors were.

Imagine how much more successful we could be next year if every single Saint purchases at least one raffle ticket for $5 and finds one donor. WOW. Let's keep that in mind at our next benefit, and make a point of thanking the Benefit Committee (Barbara Burdiak, Roberta Chapman, Helen Corman, Lorraine Edelstein, Ann Gunn, Neil and Leila Handelman, Krys Lordahl, Sandra Posner, Myles Rothstein, and the Co-chairs - Bob Korabik and Laurie Nagatoma for the hours they must have spent to make this day a success.

As soon as the totals are tallied, we hope that you will post a comment stating how much money was raised today.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Budget Summary Posted in Spotlight

In the December Spotlight, you will see a budget summary on page 33. While it is a step in the right direction, it does not provide the details which are necessary to fully understand how our dues and donations are spent. From this summary, members cannot see the line items and how much is allocated for each one of them.

For example, if the line items were there, you would be able to see how much it costs to print, layout, and mail the newsletter. You would also learn that "office expenses" includes six separate line items. You would be able to see what portion of membership expenses is allocated for badges. And you would know how much we pay for rent.

The board agreed to publish the budget, and not a summary of the budget. It is a "beginning" though. Even though the information is limited, it will help you to raise the questions that need to be asked.

I strongly advise you to ask questions of the Saints board now, before additional expenses are incurred. And please, make sure that you send your questions and comments to the entire board of directors. All board members are fiduciaries, not just the Treasurer or the other officers. You have paid dues and in some cases, made donations, and the board is accountable to all of you.

The next board meeting is on Saturday, December 5, 2009. Contact the president, BJ Nelson, if you wish to attend as an observer.