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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Online Discussion - Post Your Thoughts

I am writing for the first time in quite awhile because I agree with the anonymous comments that this blog is primarily my point of view. Much as I would have liked to see more comments, they just weren't coming. I decided to step back for awhile and wait... I have been listening to what others are doing and saying. It seems like there is a lot going on.

A blog is typically a place where someone communicates their point of view or ideas. There are limitations because of the way a blog is constructed. Those who visit this blog don’t have a place to initiate a discussion or start their own topic. There now is a place where you can start your own topic and/or respond to other people's topics. Simply click on this blue link. Volunteer Ushers' Discussion Group - Saints. You may also post without signing up for a google account by clicking on the following blue link and sending an e-mail directly to the site

Without this blog, I seriously doubt whether I would have been reinstated into the Saints. And it is the only way that many of you were able to find out about what was going on over the past six months. There have been some major changes in the organization and communication is opening up – minutes are posted on the Saints website, question and answer sessions are held at general membership meetings, observers regularly show up at board meetings, and members are talking with each other about the organization and holding the Board of Directors accountable. This is wonderful.

I am confident that this year there will be elections where issues are discussed, and members will be able to base their votes on more than name recognition and a 150 word statement. Already, I see more people participating on committees. There are a large number of members working on the Bylaws. There is greater awareness of our potential as an organization and we are not the same organization that we were five years ago, or even six months ago. We have not only grown in size but in terms of our membership’s expectations. And we have grown in terms of the performing arts community’s expectations.

At last night’s membership meeting, we heard a presentation, given by Hollis Resnik, followed by a generous opportunity to ask her all kinds of questions. The quality of our speakers is something we look forward to, and have come to expect. Part of why we get such good speakers is because we do matter as an organization, and our membership is respected.

Following the presentation, we had a scheduled question and answer session where the members were given an opportunity to ask questions of the board. The discussion was animated; and although there was controversy, the spirit of the discussion was positive. Let’s keep the dialog going.

We have a diverse and intelligent membership. The Saints is a great organization and has the potential to be even greater. We have a lot more we can contribute to the Chicago performing arts community. And there is more that our organization can provide to us. Our 30th year should be a very exciting one.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Acting President? To Be Determined...

The current Bylaws, as well as those preceding them, have no provisions for what to do if an officer resigns or is unable to complete his or her term. Right now, with the tragic death of B. J. Nelson, we have no President and will need to look to Robert's Rules of Order, which does address what should be done as far as chairing our meetings.

Andy Lingras is listed in the January Spotlight as being our Acting President. He has also referred to himself in correspondence as the "Acting President." This is not correct. Andy Lingras is the Secretary of the Saints, and will be calling our meeting to order on Saturday, January 9. At that time, the Board will need to discuss the situation, and vote how to proceed. Most organizations of our size and longevity would be able to look to the Bylaws to specify what should be done when there is a board vacancy or when an officer is unable to complete their term.

Members need to write and let the board know what they think should be done since the current Bylaws do not address our situation. Who do we put in place as the chair or President for the balance of the year, or do we select a chair pro tem at the beginning of each meeting until the end of the fiscal year, at which time we will have had another election. Do we fill the board vacancy or operate with eight directors since the Bylaws specify that we are required to have between seven and nine board members, and are not required to fill the vacancy? Do we fill the board vacancy with a candidate from last Spring? Do we fill the board vacancy with a former board member?

I want to thank and commend the members of the Bylaws working group who are working hard to see that we have a complete, clear set of Bylaws for future use, Bylaws that are specific to the needs of the Saints. Like a constitution, Bylaws provide structure to an organization and are very important when dealing with issues such as governance, officers' duties, succession, member rights, and so on. With 2000 members, and a budget of over $100,000, it is critical that we have procedures in place that protect the organization, and give the board the structure it needs to operate efficiently and fairly.

By reading the excerpts or clicking on the link at the end of this posting, you may read Roberts Rules of Order Revised for yourselves. You will see how complicated they are, and how we will benefit from having a good set of Bylaws specific to the Saints to work with.

Below are a couple of relevant excerpts from Robert's Rules of Order Revised and a link:

The secretary should, previous to each meeting, for the use of the chairman, make out an order of business, showing in their exact order what is necessarily to come before the assembly. He should also have, at each meeting, a list of all standing committees, and such special committees as are in existence at the time, as well as the by-laws of the organization and its minutes. His desk should be near that of the chairman, and in the absence of the chairman (if there is no vice president present), when the hour for opening the session arrives, it is his duty to call the meeting to order, and to preside until the election of a chairman pro tem., which should take place immediately. He should keep a record of the proceedings, stating what was done and not what was said, unless it is to be published, and never making criticisms, favorable or otherwise, on anything said or done. This record, usually called the minutes, is kept as explained in the next section. When a committee is appointed, the secretary should hand the names of the committee, and all papers referred to it, to the chairman of the committee, or some other of its members. He should indorse on the reports of committees the date of their reception, and what further action was taken upon them, and preserve them among the records, for which he is responsible. It is not necessary to vote that a report be "placed on file," as that should be done without a vote, except in organizations that habitually keep no records except their minutes and papers ordered on file.

If it is necessary for the chairman to vacate the chair the first Vice President, if there is one, should take the chair, and in his absence the next one in order should take it. If there is no vice president in the hall, then the chairman may, if it is necessary to vacate the chair, appoint a chairman pro tem., but the first adjournment puts an end to the appointment, which the assembly can terminate before, if it pleases, by electing another chairman. But the regular chairman, knowing that he will be absent from a future meeting, cannot authorize another member to act in his place at such meeting; the secretary, or, in his absence, some other member should in such case call the meeting to order, and a chairman pro tem. be elected who would hold office during that session, unless such office is terminated by the entrance of the president or a vice president, or by the election of another chairman pro tem., which may be done by a majority vote.

Roberts Rules of Order Revised website