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Previous minutes: November 12, 2002 | List of available minutes | Next minutes: January 12, 2003

IJA Board Meeting - Dec. 3, 2002

The Board of Directors of the International Jugglers Association met on December 3, 2002, 9:00pm ET via conference call.

Present at the meeting were - Chairman: Paul Richmond; Directors: Jaye Butler, David Davis, Andy Ford, Art Jennings, Bill Ritchie, Ben Schoenberg, Scott Slesnick; Officers: Norman Schneiderman, General Manager; Becky Schneiderman, Recorder; Stan Allen, publisher of Juggle

Roll Called

Butler here
Davis here
Ford here
Jennings here
Ritchie here
Schoenberg absent
Slesnick here
Richmond here
Schneiderman here
Schneiderman here

Davis voices objection about Stan Allen attending as he thought only board members were to attend

Meeting called to order 9:05pm ET

Agenda

1) Minutes
2) Reports: Staff

3) Norman's positions as general manager
I proposal that Norman is the general manager until a review is done. You have all received the job description and evaluation that was sent out in Sept. (I will send it again) Board members were to go over this and accept, make changes, etc and then do the evaluation. It was stated that the remaining old board members were going to do this. The whole board needs to accept the job description and the goals and expectations and make them clear. What has not been done is the evaluation of last year and renewing Norman for another year. Since he is already working on this year the job description and evaluation needs to be made clear for this year, if there are any changes that the board wants to make regarding the rest of the year.
4) Committees ( I have sent out my proposal for the committees,
waiting board's reaction.)
5) Confidential statement
6) Policies

Richmond calls vote if Stan can attend

Davis removes objection to Stan Allen's attendance

Davis objects about Schneiderman attending meeting

For the record, Richmond points out that it seems that Dave does not want to have a meeting and doesn't help with the meeting

Davis for the record states that Richmond just stated that Norman Schneiderman is currently, on Dec 3rd, our general manager until the board says otherwise

Richmond calls vote if Schneiderman can attend

Richmond rules against Davis's request

Davis asks for board opinion if they want to vote for Schneiderman to attend

Vote for whether to vote or not

Vote
Butler yes
Davis yes
Ford yes
Jennings yes
Ritchie yes
Schoenberg absent
Slesnick yes
Richmond yes

Board votes to vote

All in favour of Schneiderman attending

Vote
Butler yes
Davis no
Ford no
Jennings yes
Ritchie yes
Schoenberg absent
Slesnick yes
Richmond yes

Board votes for Schneiderman to attend

Davis states for the record that this goes against Richmond's' ruling given out to the board by private communication that no one was going to be allowed to attend tonight's meeting other than board members

Butler States for the record it seems impractical for Schneiderman to leave the meeting and then come back to give the manager's report

Schneiderman states for the record that it is part of the bylaws for an employee to attend the meeting where their employment and compensation was discussed, and also that since hired as CAO that it has always been required for CAO / GM to be at board meetings

Schoenberg joins at 9.28 ET

Motion: Richmond moves to accept agenda

Davis objects

Richmond states for the record, this is the 5th meeting, 30 minutes in, Dave has a number of objections and nothing has moved us forward

Schoenberg states for the record that following procedure is important. Besides, procedure is important. Each board member's opinion is also important.

Davis states for the record I believe that the following items, committees, confidentiality statement and policies, are ??? issues that should be dealt with outside the meeting. I would like to remove them from tonight and future agendas until such point as we are ready to act on them.

Richmond moves that we address the first three items of the agenda that are minutes, reports from staff and Norman's employment

Slesnick seconds

Richmond calls the vote

Vote
Butler yes
Davis no
Ford abstain
Jennings yes
Ritchie yes
Schoenberg no
Slesnick yes
Richmond yes

Motion carries

Slesnick moves that any motions that are never voted upon shall not be included in the minutes

Davis seconds

Richmond calls the vote

Vote
Butler yes
Davis yes
Ford abstain
Jennings yes
Ritchie yes
Schoenberg yes
Slesnick yes
Richmond yes

Motion carries

Schoenberg proposes to correct a statement for the record from the minutes as follows: For the record, Schoenberg states that our response puts this original post in its place where it belongs and puts it down.

Ritchie objects

Vote
Butler no
Davis yes
Ford yes
Jennings no
Ritchie no
Schoenberg yes
Slesnick yes
Richmond no

Change is not approved

Davis moves that the tape be checked and Schoenberg and Ritchie be notified of the exact verbiage of their for the record statements

Schoenberg seconds

Vote
Butler no
Davis yes
Ford yes
Jennings no
Ritchie yes
Schoenberg yes
Slesnick no
Richmond yes

Motion carries

Davis moves to replace the word addition and the word subtraction with the appropriate topic in that line.

Schoenberg seconds

Vote
Butler no
Davis yes
Ford yes
Jennings no
Ritchie no
Schoenberg yes
Slesnick abstain
Richmond no

Motion does not carry

Butler Moves to accepts the Oct. 15 Minutes

Slesnick seconds

Richmond calls the vote

Vote
Butler yes
Davis no
Ford abstain
Jennings abstain
Ritchie yes
Schoenberg no
Slesnick yes
Richmond yes

Motion carries

Richmond moves to accept Nov. 12 minutes

Ritchie seconds

Richmond calls the vote

Vote
Butler yes
Davis yes
Ford yes
Jennings yes
Ritchie yes
Schoenberg yes
Slesnick yes
Richmond yes

Motion carries

Staff reports

General manager report

I am continuing under the understanding that I am still the general manager of the IJA and here is my report of the current state of juggle.

The staff are up to date with the all important general day to day chores running the business of the IJA. I am very concerned though, over the current environment and progress of the BOD. Due to the activities of one board member and the support he has garnered, the IJA has wasted a huge amount of resources. This one board member has effectively sabotaged the chairman and every board meeting since being elected at the last festival and prevented any meaningful work from being accomplished. These activities can in no way be construed as being in the best interests of the IJA. The employee moral is at the lowest that I have ever witnessed it. The board's focus is the most scattered and misdirected that I have ever witnessed. He has created the worst public relations nightmare with the membership that I have witnessed. There is a continual flow of misinformation to the membership. We are being controlled by a board member who is by no means working to accomplish anything except his own agenda.

This one board member has cost us the sum total of all the costs and time associated with the past 4 board meetings and now threatening the 5th plus the total waste of a huge amount of effort by all members of the board of directors and staff. If we had focussed all the energy spent since the festival on productive issues, the IJA would be in a far better place today. The lack of progress has our magazine publisher being reluctant to sign the contract which we have approved of all details in principal and agreed to sign shortly after the festival this past summer. I am including here a letter Stan sent to me regarding this issue.

Dear Norman,

Thanks for your email regarding signing the contract. While it has been in my "to-do" stack for some time, I can't say that it has just been a question of finding time to get it together in its final form, sign it and send it off. I guess there's more:

First, I held off signing until the new board had a chance to look it over. As we agreed at the time, it wasn't really fair to the new board to have such a major contract put into place without their approval, just as they were taking over leadership of the organization. Of course, that approval came several months ago.

Second, I seem to have a nagging feeling that the IJA is not moving forward, and I've had that feeling for some time (long before the new board took office). This is probably why the negotiating process too so long. As you know, with a 2,000-member organization and the production price structure that we cut back to, we're doing just a bit better than breaking even. It is a necessity to nurture growth in the organization for the IJA and our company to continue with the magazine. I think I've been subconsciously dragging my feet on signing the contract to see some positive direction in the movement of the organization. While I'm not privy to everything that goes on "behind the curtain," my gut feeling is that there is a lot of movement going on, but very little forward progress being made. Again, this is from somewhat of an "outsider."

So, I understand there is an important board meeting tomorrow night and that some critical decisions will be made. Please let me know if that nagging feeling can be put to rest. It would be nice to get the contract file (which is quite thick) off my "to-do" stack.

All the best,

Stan Allen

The board needs to regain focus and move forward on the very pressing issues that are in front of it. The following represent some of these issues.

- The lifemember and general member fundraising drives and raising money in general.
- Increasing membership. I have had some very interesting discussions with board members who have good ideas on how to proceed here.
- The board needs to clear the existing agenda of items that have been backlogged by the endless discussions on procedure.
- The board absolutely needs to focus on positive energy and moving forward.

Respectfully
nnn

Secretary Treasurer Report


Report from the Secretary

How is the IJA doing? Here is the way it looks from my perspective.

Firstly, contrary to many popularly expressed postings, it does not look to me like we are in a crisis. We certainly could be doing better, but, financially, things are not a lot different than they were one or two years ago But why aren't we doing better, and how might we do better? It strikes me that on a day-to-day basis, things are working reasonably well. The routine work is being done.
From the staff side...
Renewal reminders are going out, and renewals are coming back. New members are joining. New membership cards are being made. Brochures are being sent to regional festivals, as well as mailing labels and goodies for door prizes. Flyers for the Reno festival are going out with every mailing. The 2002 videos are done (Alan Plotkin and Barry Korengold finished them faster than anybody previously) and all pre-orders and current orders have been mailed. In addition, Plotkin produced a Youth Video and a Best of Seniors Video, which are also selling. A new contract with an Asian vendor for video distribution is nearing signing. Other video ideas are being considered. JUGGLE magazine continually receives praises from members and has been coming out on schedule for many issues now, all transition and distribution difficulties resolved and far behind us. Paperwork and payments for various insurances, licenses, and taxes etc are up-to-date. With about 2 weeks to go before I submit labels to the printer for the mailing of the JanFeb 03 issue of JUGGLE, we have about 1947 current members. The mailing for the previous issue was 1991, so we are down about 44, most of which I expect to regain within the next 2 weeks. So the anticipated mailing is about the same or slightly less than last issue.

What about Board responsibilities? Here are what I see as the duties of the
Board...

A) Raising money -- This is, in my opinion, the most important Board function.
The previous Board, along with a lot of impetus from Martin, and help from Paul, was able to draft and mail fund-raising letters to regular members and also to life members. The net result was a gain of a few thousand dollars. This was a fine effort which needs to be continued. It is now a year since these letters went out, and it is time for similar follow-up mailings, but apparently nothing is even in the works. I would suggest, at minimum, having an annual $10,000 fund-raising drive which targets all IJA members, the details to be worked out by the fund-raising committee.
More importantly, there are no current plans to attempt to raise significant sums of money that would more dramatically impact our financial picture. No recent Board has made any attempts to investigate grants, donations, matching fundings, start-up initiatives, corporate sponsorships, etc... Any one of these efforts could easily relieve much or all of our economic stress, but no Board has ever been able to address these opportunities. This is an unfortunate situation and could determine the long-term viability of the IJA.
B) Increasing membership -- This is also a very high priority item for the Board.
Increasing membership means increased revenues and increased financial health, not only in the immediate effect of more money in the bank, but also improving our ability to withstand a bad year when the festival may not bring in much money. Increased member numbers make all things easier, as they reduce the cost per member expenses all around and eventually enable the IJA to undertake wider reaching programs like youth-sponsorships, educational programs and more award competitions. The past membership committees have not been able to formulate possible plans, let alone recommend Board actions. Again, this will impact long-term health of the IJA. Here, I suggest an annual goal of a 10% increase in membership, the details of which should be organized by the membership committee.

C) Long-term planning -- This is the third of the 3 highest priority items I see for
the Board. Somebody has to be setting long-term direction or we will be drifting along in more-or-less the same way we have been for the last couple of years. Recent Boards have again never been able to function cooperatively well enough to accomplish this task, and that predicament has not improved, to the detriment of the well-being of the IJA.

D) Other Board responsibilities -- Other responsibilities include, and are not
limited to, working with the staff by giving direction and receiving information, protecting the IJA legally and financially, maintaining overview and control of all IJA concerns, and growing the IJA into the 21st century. Regarding the first item, both the staff and directors need to strive to maintain open and supportive lines of communication. The staff has found that communication works best through a liaison. This is not the only possible way in the world to conduct business but it is the most common practice of other associations, and has been very effective in our association for a number of years, starting from before I was secretary 10 years ago. Just as Ben is liaison between Stan (for JUGGLE) and the Board so that Stan doesn't have to answer 8 times to 8 directors, Norman has been the liaison for the staff which has simplified and made more efficient the staff's ability to communicate with the Board. Now, when a director undercuts this process, it sends a confusing message to the staff about who is responsible for what and who is accountable to whom. Furthermore, Norman, as liaison/General Manager, embodies otherwise non-existent continuity from Board to Board, submits, oversees and manages the budget, is responsible for implementation of Board policies and programs, oversees staff, personnel matters, and the daily operations of the association.
. Regarding the second item, the directors need to be aware of their fiduciary and legal responsibilities, and have professional skills and abilities to deal with and fulfill them. Regarding the third item, a system of committees appears unavoidable and imperative in order to dissipate workload. Currently, no committee system appears to be in place, even though it has been 4 1/2 months since the Board was created. Such a situation cannot but cripple the Board in its ability to fulfill the responsibilities for which it was elected by the membership.
Regarding the fourth item, the Board needs to have the competence to comprehend current business and association trends, and to respond to them appropriately within the context of a small non-profit association.

So, why is the Board not focusing on these priorities that I feel most people would agree are very important? I believe the answer lies in the fact that we have a Board of elected IJA members who have a wide range of backgrounds, interests, abilities, talents and outlooks. We are, by nature, as jugglers, a disparate group, and we see things very differently, in general, than the mainstream, and even differently than each other. We tend to be highly individualistic individuals in a highly individualistic culture. So Board members are likely to have very different priorities, both spoken and unspoken. Group process, on the other hand, can be effective or not, efficient or not, successful or not. It can happen by accident, or by design, but it tends to be inefficient at best when not designed. For example, people are not always born knowing how or when to allow group priorities to overshadow individual priorities. It is not easy for such a group of individuals as IJAers to come together as an effective team that can maximize group process and insure efficiency or focus. Furthermore, directors may often be tempted, as they are in other similar associations, to become involved in management details because the roles of financial responsibility and long-term, overall leadership of such a diverse group can at times seem daunting.

What is the solution? Here are some suggestions...

The ideal solution is that the Board recognize the existing situation, delegate the lower priority items to committees and focus on the higher priorities in meetings. Unfortunately, given the current situation, I don't imagine that will happen soon, if ever.
Another solution would be to establish genuine committees to work on the higher priorities. By "genuine", I mean committees with professional qualifications, i.e., a financial committee with at least 1 CPA, a fundraising committee with grant-writers and other experienced, knowledgeable fund-raisers, a membership committee with equally experienced personnel, some committee with a lawyer, a policy committee with a parliamentarian, etc.... These committees could come up with real options for the Board to review. This would still have us spending conference call time and money on various arguments, but at least would guarantee that important priorities are not completely neglected.

In summary, I think it is critical that the committee structure be re-established and staffed by the most qualified people we can get.

Richard Dingman

Festival report

(see attachment)

Markowitz fundraising report

(see attachment)

Butler moves that the general manager be rehired retroactive the last annual general meeting as a staff member with compensation of $2000 per year

Richmond seconds

Richmond calls the vote

Davis objects

Richmond calls Davis's objections to a vote, to a vote

Vote
Butler yes
Davis no
Ford no
Jennings yes
Ritchie yes
Schoenberg no
Slesnick abstain
Richmond yes

Board agrees to vote the motion

Vote
Butler yes
Davis no
Ford no
Jennings yes
Ritchie yes
Schoenberg no
Slesnick abstain
Richmond yes

Motion carries

Davis states for the record I am very disappointed in the board and some of it's board members for making a decision of this magnitude without examining complaints that were lodged against said individual.

Richmond moves to adjourn

Butler seconds

Meeting adjourns 11:14 pm ET


 

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