OMVNA Steering Committee Meeting Minutes: January 12, 2010
Attendees: David Lewis , Laura Lewis, Shelly King, Aaron Grossman, Becky Reyna, Deb Keller , Carter Coleman, Jack Perkins , Robert Cox
Neighbors: Jamil Sheik, Anthony Intravaia, Paul Goldstein, Max Hauser
Introductions: The meeting was called to order at 7:30pm. Laura Lewis asked all of the people in the room to introduce themselves,. The minutes for the December 2009 steering committee were read by Robert Cox and approved by the steering committee.
By-laws amendments: The committee discussed the three amendments which were proposed by Ed Swierk and Mike Reiche, which will be voted on at the next general meeting. They also discussed five amendments to the election process being proposed by Robert Cox and Deb Keller . This amendments would make it easier for candidates to qualify for the ballot, make the form of the ballot available before the election, establish the process for vote counting, and allow people to come vote for elections and then leave without sitting through an entire meeting. Laura Lewis suggested that a bylaws committee might be formed to review amendments to the bylaws, and make sure that the wording of those amendments is both clear and appropriate. Robert Cox and Deb Keller agreed to write up their proposed amendments so they could be introduced at the next general meeting.
Wider outreach: The group discussed means by which people without computers could be reached more easily. Robert Cox mentioned that he went to the public library and asked about getting a folder of important OMVNA communications placed there, but met with some questioning and resistance. Aaron Grossman suggested neighborhood contacts could be enlisted who could get information to people without computers. People could also be enlisted for neighborhood watch and CERT.
General Meeting: Laura Lewis suggested that the next general meeting could be held on Monday, February 22 in the City Council chambers. Scott Ward, Vice President of Classic Communities, who is developing the property east of Minton’s, would be invited to talk about his plans for the development of that property. Laura will check with Scott Ward about the date and see that the room is available that evening. Voting on the three pending amendments and reading of the proposed amendments would occur after the presentation by Scott Ward, so that people not interested in voting will be able to leave after Mr. Ward’s presentation.
High Speed Train: Robert Cox noted that he has been in touch with several people who are interested in the development plans for the high speed train. This could be a good topic for a second general meeting in the second quarter of 2010. Possible presenters could include our council members who are on the committee to study the high speed train (Mayor Ronit Bryant, Margaret Abe-Koga, and Mike Kasperzak), and someone from one of the groups in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Atherton advocating for a deliberate, thoughtful approach to high speed train development on the Peninsula. Robert will follow up with the people who have contacted him on this subject. Robert suggested that David Lewis , as community liaison, contact the council members on the high speed train committee to see if any of them would be interested in speaking with us.
IRS 501c3 Designation: Carter Coleman spoke about the details of filing for 501c3 status. It would cost $300-$400 to file, and that would be a one-time cost. If our revenues were less than $25,000 in any year, we would simply need to indicate that we are not filing. The key difference between this and our current 501c4 status is that we would be an organization dedicated to informing and educating the public. Contributions from individuals and corporations to OMVNA would be tax deductible. Some companies also provide matching funds for employees who contribute. Carter noted that we would need to add a “conflict of interest” clause to our bylaws, and asked if it would be worthwhile to talk to a tax professional. Carter also noted that there is a checklist of items which help describe the social welfare aspect of our organization to qualify it for the 501c3 designation.
Insurance for Steering Committee Members: The possibility of obtaining insurance for steering committee members against intentional wrong doing was discussed. Laura Lewis noted that the insurance is provided through United Neighborhoods of Santa Clara County at a cost of $246 per year. A vote was taken, and the steering committee approved spending the money for the insurance. Becky Reyna abstained, all others present voted for the measure. Aaron Grossman noted that CERT cannot be sued.
CERT Report (Aaron Grossman, CERT Subcommittee) : In the light of recent earthquake tremor, Aaron Grossman emphasized the importance of getting ready for the next big earthquake. Carter Coleman and Deb Keller agreed to get their home ready for earthquake preparedness. Aaron described how to become a CERT volunteer, and noted that neighborhood watch efforts could be coordinated with CERT. Aaron is looking for more people to become involved in CERT. He mentioned that Ronnie Falcao would like to restock the CERT supplies, something which could be done for $500-$600. Deb Keller asked Aaron Grossman to write something up about CERT for the newsletter. Jack Perkins remarked that he, too, would be interested in joining CERT. Max Hauser suggested that an updated CERT checklist be written and sent out to neighbors.
Secretary’s Report (Robert Cox): Robert sent an official notification to Wendy Wong at the City Clerks’ Office that David Lewis was elected Community Liaison and will be serving on the Downtown Committee. Robert included David’s e-mail and phone contact information, which will become a part of the official record.
Treasurer’s Report (Carter Coleman): Carter noted that Kim Copher and Michael Galli will be placing ads. Laura Lewis asked that Carter do a full financial review for OMVNA. Carter thanked Aaron Grossman for his work in maintaining OMVNA’s spreadsheets and noted that he will keep Aaron’s basic formatting scheme for future financial reports. There will be additional discussion before approving the next budget. Aaron noted that it was typical for the budget to first be reviewed by the steering committee members, and then vote on its approval. The budget will need to be filed for audit.
Newsletter Editor’s Report ( Deb Keller ): Deb sent out a list of publication dates for the calendar year 2010. There will be eight issues published. Julie Lovins has agreed to communicate these dates to all of the newsletter delivery people. Our first issue this year will have 8 pages. Articles will include an interview with City Planning Director Randy Tsuda on General Plan 2030, articles on the Minton’s development, an interview with Mayor Ronit Bryant. There will also be an opinion section in which a neighbor who is an architect may contribute an opinion about the Minton’s redevelopment project. Announcements will include the EPC meeting for Minton’s and the General Plan Update meeting. There will also be a restaurant review and an article about raising chickens.
Mixers, Ads, and Revenues: It was suggested that we have a mixer each time the newsletter comes out. Some candidate restaurants were discussed. The two at-large members, Becky Reyna and Jack Perkins , discussed the possibility of working together to raise ad revenue by canvassing restaurants on Castro Street . Tony Intravaia suggested that people who offer donations might want to come speak to the group about causes they are promoting. Carter noted that in some communities, each person is asked to donate a small, fixed amount and that we could do the same. Restaurants could also be asked to donate money or make in kind donations. Deb Keller said that she preferred going after larger group donations, such as those from corporations. Deb suggested that OMVNA members could vote for an award for Best Restaurant Mixer, and that the restaurants would be eager to compete for this award. Jack Perkins noted that it would be useful to include cheaper places in our restaurant venues, given that this is a recession time.
Web Site: Jack Perkins asked if we were making efforts to expand the OMVNAtalk mailing list, and if we were still considering whether to mail the newsletter, rather than have it delivered by neighborhood “runners”. Deb Keller noted that we have been trying to fix up the Web site, and Max Hauser suggested getting the Web site we have now fixed up before we make any serious modifications. Shelly King has been looking into cleaning up the Web site, but she has limited bandwidth for this at the moment. Some noted that getting on OMVNAtalk is still difficult for many people.
Subcommittee Formation: Laura Lewis said that a lot of business could be conducted outside the steering committee meeting by subcommittees. To form a subcommittee, three member of the neighborhood are needed. These do not need to be steering committee members. By involving more neighbors, issues could be handled in a more transparent fashion. Deb Keller suggested that a newsletter brainstorming session could be useful. Jack Perkins suggested that a brainstorming session to figure out how to get more people on OMVNAtalk would also be useful, but we might hold off on this until a later time. Deb Keller noted that it might be good if people could receive mail based on their specific interests.
Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 9:20PM.