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Board Meeting Minutes for December 5th 2005

Board of Directors Meeting

December 5, 2005

ATTENDING: (Board members) Aaron Curtis, John Lorentz (OSFCI Secretary), Andrew Nisbet, Mary Olsen, Linda Pilcher (OSFCI President), Patty Wells, John Williamson (OSFCI Treasurer); (Other): James Fiscus (Endeavour Award), Page Fuller (Clayton Fund), Sam Justice (OSFCI attorney); and Arthur Aldridge, Mark Burns, Steve Criss, Michael Pinnick, Daniel Reitman, Brenna Sharp, Marc Wells.

[John L. "I've got four hours of tapes, and I don't want to fill them."]

[Aaron "Is this a legal meeting? It's not at the location published." It was a last-minute change necessitated by the hotel not having space available. But this location was posted on signs left at the hotel.]
The meeting started at 7:35PM, according to Mark Burns' computer.

Because of the last minute change in the meeting location, it was decided that, for anyone who wasn't here tonight, it was an excused absence. Because Karyn Hoffert was dealing with a take-home final, she sent in a proxy for Patty to vote for her.

I. Minutes of Previous Meeting

Dan Reitman had a correction: the last line of the Gamestorm 8 section should have read "…this doesn't, however, solve the lack of fast food in the neighborhood."

II. Treasurer’s Report (John Williamson)

Not many changes since last time, since there have been no significant OSFCI income or expenses since then, and we haven’t heard yet about what the OryCon 27 surplus will be. We still have $1300-$1400 in the account (not counting the CD and the cash from the previously cashed out CD– the total is about $7,000). John W. does note that there’s about $11,000 in the merchant services account (from bank card transactions at events) and he still needs to know the allocation of that money. That is about a 30% increase over the transactions for last year’s OryCon.

John W. had copies of the our overall accounts–OSFCI has about $20,000 for all its accounts (including all the event accounts). We have about twice as much cash in OSFCI funds this year than we had a year ago.

Question: Has there been a revised OSFCI budget created? Not officially–we’ve been trying to cut expenses down as much as possible to make the money we’ve received so far, not just keying it to the money we’d like to get (from the event surpluses). The official budget needs $4000-$5000 a year, but we’ve been able to cut the costs down to $2000 to $3000.

Dan: When was the last time OSFCI did a calculation of in-kind donations? John W.: We haven’t anything formally this year, although there’s been some discussion on fund-raising efforts, such as by the use of PayPal buttons and such. Patty Wells: We have a lot more effort this year to bring in donations, such as with the art show panels frm CascadiaCon and the money for Smofcon to bring in Tyra Hilliard. John W. will start tracking those donations.

Andrew Nisbet: At the last meeting, it was suggested that the audit committee get together to go over the books. Has this happened yet? No– There’s been some discussion via e-mail, but the meeting hasn’t actually taken place.

III. Reports on Sponsored Activities
A. Conventions and Bids
1. OryCon 27

Patty: She is on the second run at getting the hotel bill correct. If they accept the latest correction, the total should be just under $3,000 for everything, including the GOH sleeping rooms. However, if we do want more space for next year and fulling pipe-and-drape the space, the cost will be going up significantly. It would be really useful if someone would take that $3,000 from this year and let her know how well the convention (OryCon 27) did so that she knows how much OryCon 28 could afford. But it looks like, for the same amount of space, we could expect about the same cost.

Andrew: When you say "the same amount of space", does that including sharing some of it with Intel on Friday? Patty: If we go to the third weekend in November, we should have all the space to ourselves for the entire weekend, including space on Thursday for dealers, art show, office, etc. The place where the additional costs come in is if we ask for more space to be piped & draped. That would entail more labor costs for them to get this done. They’re willing to eat a little of the increased cost, but not a large increase. Their initial offer is, if we go from 5,000 ft² to 10,000 ft², that would increase the cost by $2,000. Patty has warned them that she intends to haggle very hard with them.

John W.: Who’s responsibility is it on the Board to make sure the event Treasurer gets the information in? Linda Pilcher: Mine, and it’s been hard to get a response from OryCon. Paul Wrigley: That usually falls under what the OSFCI ex-officio member to the event committee is responsible for. Patty: In defense of the committee, normally OryCon doesn’t close its books this early. But this has not been a normal year, and we need to get an idea of where we stand. Andrew: Maybe that should be an OSFCI Treasurer«»Event Treasurer discussion.

Patty: It’s hard to know just how well OryCon 27 did since the budget kept changing throughout the year. But it seems likely the event will do OK this year, because at various times she’s been told the budget was anywhere from $8K to $11K–and the actual cost was about $3K. She has heard that the program book was about 5% under budget. Andrew was also told various numbers for his programming budget. Does anyone know what the Registration income was? The total count was about 1,300 people and fewer seemed to be comped memberships this year.

The Board voted to accept what information we have received on OryCon 27, and move on.

2. OryCon 28

Patty had reports on three hotels:

Earlier today, she was finally able to speak with Linda McCaffrey, at the sales office for the Red Lion Hotel on the River (the former Doubletree Jantzen Beach) and she asked Linda if the rumors were true that they about to re-open the Columbia River hotel (OryCon’s old home). Linda told Patty that there has been no work done on the old hotel, and Sales has not been told when they can start booking events there. She is certain that it will not re-open any time before OryCon 28. So the old Columbia River hotel is not an option for next year.


They did record business in all their food outlets Saturday night of OryCon. The Marriott really likes us.

Any other questions for OryCon 28? John Lorentz: When we were deciding last time on who was chairing OryCon 28, there were questions specifically about two committee positions–Programming and Hotel. Who will be running those positions?

Mary Olsen: Patty is negotiating with the hotel. Melanie Schaber will be in charge of the hotel on site. John L.: Do we know that Melanie won’t be disappearing on us again? If so, how do we know this? To me this is one of the most positions on the committee–and as a Board member, I’m uncomfortable seeing her as a lead in this position. Working under Patty would be reasonable, but Patty had a lot of extra work for OryCon, Gamestorm and Smofcon because she disappeared on us. Smofcon nearly lost their hotel over this. Mary: I spoke with Melanie, and her plans at the time were to take a year off to handle other matters. John L.: She took the year off–but she didn’t tell anyone she was going to do so. For a long time, the Smofcon committee thought she was still dealing with the hotel. I’d be much happier if she worked back into things a lot more gradually.

Mary: I am not going to deny her this opportunity. John L.: We’ve seen some real problems with our conventions the last few years because the Board sat back and did nothing, and my feeling is that the Board should be taking a much more hand-on approach to try to prevent this in the future, especially when it’s something as important as the Hotel liaison position. John W.: I understand the concerns, but the management agreements we normally sign give all control over the event to the event. But we should review how we deal with the events. Andrew: On at least two previous occasions, the Board has designated people who would not allowed to hold a committee position because of past actions of those people.

Patty: I turned everything over to Melanie for Gamestorm for the hotel, then when the Aarons asked me to take it back three months later, we had no idea what she had done during that time and she had to retrace all her step to try to prevent Gamestorm from losing their hotel.

Debbie Cross: Is Melanie going to be working as lead on Hotel at the convention, or under another person. Patty, are you willing to work as lead for Hotel? (Yes.)

Aaron: Can we put off this discussion until the next meeting? Jim Fiscus: Can we afford to? Mary: I want to schedule a meeting between myself, Patty and Melanie to determine if she is willing to work under Patty. Patty: If she is willing to work under my supervision, I’d be happy to work with her, but I’m not comfortable with her being lead.

John L.: Does the Board wish to discuss making the OryCon hotel liaison a Board-appointed position, since it’s OSFCI that is negotiating the hotel contract? Mary: In that case, I’d like to ask a question–am I the chair of OryCon or not? Paul: Has a management contract been signed by you? (No.) In that case, the Board can put in any parameters in the contract that they wish. Andrew: The management contract will be signed, and the first OryCon 28 committee meeting will take place, before the next Board meeting. So if we’re going to decide to do something, we need to decide to do so now. Michael Pinnick: I see a reaction to a decision that hasn’t even been made yet. Can the meeting with Patty, Melanie and Mary be set up?

Andrew: Move that the Board expresses extreme concern at the thought of Melanie occupying any position of independent authority in the upcoming OryCon. The Board hopes the Chair of the next OryCon will take that concern into account in her actions, and the Board reserves the right to take whatever action they feel necessary. This motion passed 6-0.

Andrew: At the last meeting, the understanding was that Helen was going to be offered Programming at OryCon 28. What she asked? (Yes– she can’t take it on because of her husband’s injury.)

3. Smofcon 23

John L. & Ruth Sachter: Smofcon 23 drew 155 members, making it one of the largest ever (less than 10 of the members did not attend). Depending of what interesting things the hotel presents us, we’re looking at a surplus of about $800. (That is assuming we get reimbursed for the $210 in declined bank charges by a member from Japan.) [The Nippon 2007 US agent is sending us a check.]

It seems to have been well received, both from what people told us in person and from what we’ve read online.

John L.
Mr. Schaber told me yesterday "Well, I won’t be at the meeting, but you can tell then everything about it." And I will, because one thing that was interesting all weekend long was…we talked to a lot of people during the weekend, and not a single one of them knew that David was chairing the convention, because he pretty much did nothing all weekend. That carried on the pattern we saw all through the planning of this convention. There was a brief flurry of activity from him late summer, but then he settled back down to doing nothing and by then it was too late for us to do anything besides get it done ourselves. It was a year of frustration with Mr. Schaber, and it was almost impossible to get anything out of him. Besides Debra and her mother’s outstanding work running Hospitality at the convention, the convention was basically run by Linda, Patty, Ruth and me.

This is one of the reasons I was so cranky when we were discussing Melanie earlier. We weren’t told until the convention itself that we wouldn’t have our hotel liaison there much of the weekend, we weren’t told until very late that David wouldn’t be there until late Friday night. He wasn’t there for the ice-breaker on Friday night; he wasn’t there when my daughter, Linda, Scott and myself put together the large stack of binders for the attendees.

I also tried to work with Patty to pick up a few of pieces and tried to audit our rooming list to make sure we get credit for all of the rooms being used by attendees, since the level of rooms they wanted to avoid the attrition clause was somewhat unrealistic. Despite putting out a request for info on the SMOFCON mailing list, and getting a tremendous response there from the attendees, I never received a answer from David or Jenn when I sent them the information, nor could I get a (many times promised) updated group housing list. If we had had an up-to-date list, we could have seen if we were close enough that renting a room or two might have avoided the $250 a day charge for the meeting space. Because of this, this option was lost. It has been a frustrating year.

This is one of the reasons why I’m worried about Melanie taking on a position of responsibility. When Ruth, John and I realized the contract for the hotel hadn’t been signed, I called the hotel. "Oh, you still want the space?"–they hadn’t heard anything for six weeks. At that point, they told us that we could either sign the contract as it was (with the bad attrition cause) or leave it–there was not opportunity to negotiate more.

Linda: To talk about something positive–we had what was the largest-attended program event in Smofcon history, the Tyra Hilliard event. Donations from SWOC, SFSFC and S.C.I.F.I. helped pay to bring her in, and this was a real feather in our cap that we could present her.

Anything else on Smofcon 23? John W.: If Smofcon 23 could close its books by the end of the year, it would be a big help. John L.: I think it’s possible. Smofcon is still owed about $55 from OryCon 27 for the art show mailing, and we need to know how we’re dealing with rest of Tyra’s expenses. [It now seems unlikely that Smofcon will be able to close the books by the end of the year–the cost of several items are still unknown, as of December 17.]

Given how Mr. Schaber has behaved over the last year, I’d like to point out that once Mary signs the OryCon 28 management agreement, David’s role as vice-chair for that event is purely up to her discretion, and I trust she’ll use that discretion.

David Lohkamp: Page was videotaping several events during Smofcon, including Tyra’s presentation. Patty: We can use the tape of her presentation for our education, but we can’t rent it out. (Normally, she charges $2000-$3000 for such a presentation.)

4. Gamestorm 8

Aaron C.: There’s not much to report right now. They are working to get the web site up, and the program database ready. There will be a (free) promotional game day on January 7 at St. Andrew’s Church, starting at 10AM. Andrew: Given that we have a date set now for Gamestorm, it would be good to pass this information to the OSFCI webmaster, so the OSFCI web page can get updated.

B. Funds and Awards
1.Susan Petrey Fund

Paul & Debbie: The auction at OryCon raised a very disappointing $1,287, and that was including $275 for a special Le Guin item sold to someone who wasn’t attending. So on-site, the Auction raised only about $1000, as opposed to the usual $1500-$2000. They are disappointed with the lack of support from OryCon’s committee–more in the way of overlooking them, rather than maliciousness. There was nothing in the program book, and the scheduled time (and room) was poor.

In conjunction with Susan Petrey Fund, the Endeavour Award, the Jo Clayton Medical Fund–all of which are legitimate non-profit activities that are part of what the core of OSFCI is set up to be–Debbie moved that a committee be formed with people from each of these funds, along with someone from the OryCon committee and someone from the Board, to brainstorm on how we can all work together for the betterment (promoting and supporting) of these funds. This motion passed 6-0. Committee will consist of: Debbie (chair), Mark Burns, Jim, Page, Ruth, Dan Reitman, Paul, John W. and someone from the OryCon committee.

Paul: The Susan Petrey Fellow for the upcoming Clarion West is Vernor Vinge.

Patty; Discussion on more fund-raising has also come up. We need to set up an overall fund-raising committee, maybe including John Bunnell.

Andrew: He mentioned earlier about discussing how we could shield the Funds if OSFCI goes under, especially with the Susan Petrey Fund. Debbie: The bulk of the Susan Petrey money is deposited with the Oregon Community Foundation, so most of the money is protected.

2. Clayton Memorial Medical Fund

See attached report.

3. Endeavour Award

See attached report. The Board appointed Shawn Wall to the Endeavour committee, she will be also taking over as the committee treasurer.

IV. Other Continuing Business
A. OryCon 28 Hotel Location

This item is now folded into the OryCon 28–no longer needs to be listed separately.

B. Subcommittee Reports

No reports were submitted. Outstanding committees are the Hotel committee, the Treasury Audits committee and the new Funds Coordination committee.

V. New Business
A. Bid for Potlatch 16 (2007)

Ruth presented a bid to hold an OSFCI-sponsored Potlatch early in 2007. Potlatch is a small (200 people), literary-focused convention that was organized as a way to raise money for Clarion West, and to get away from the hustle and bustle of Norwescon. Portland last hosted Potlatch in 1996, and (other than an ice storm Saturday night) that was a very successful event. The folks in Eugene ran one in 1999 (also an OSFCI event), and that was also successful. Talking to the rest of the regular Potlatch attendees, they’d like to come back to the area. Potlatch has alternating between its founding city of Seattle and the Bay Area. It’s usually late February or early March. Looking at the Red Lion that we just used for Smofcon, it felt like it could be a good site for Potlatch. The fact that several Smofcon attendees spontaneously suggested the same thing doesn’t hurt.

Since we’d need to have OSFCI sponsorship in place before the next Board meeting (since the Potlatch where she’d have to present this bid is before the next Board meeting), we need to get a decision at this meeting.

Andrew: I do have a concern on what this will cost us in money and in people, since Smofcon involved burning Ruth, John and Patty to the ground–will Potlatch do the same thing yet again? John L.: Smofcon didn’t burn us to the ground; Mr. Schaber burned us to the ground. The problem we encountered with Smofcon is because we were depending on him for results; for Potlatch, we won’t be depending on him. The people we have talked to about this work together very well–it should be no more difficult that the first Portland Smofcon (1991), which ran very smoothly. Ruth: I recruited very successfully when I chaired OryCon 18. There are people involved with Potlatch who are not part of the usual OryCon committee that are looking forward to working on a Portland Potlatch. Andrew: Ruth, if you assure me that we won’t be picking up people parts in March of 2007, I will take your word for it.

Ruth will be the chair of this event. Linda: Do we have a budget? (Yes–it’s attached to the proposal.) It’s a very tentative budget at this point, and it’s very conservative, since it’s based on a much lower attendance than Potlatch has been drawing recently. As part of this, Potlatch will be using the OSFCI PO box, and will pay for the 2007 rent (the L.A.con IV Hugos will be paying the 2006 rent, and Smofcon paid for the 2005 rent). Potlatch will use the same bank account that was opened under OSFCI’s name for Smofcon, so there will be no additional costs there. All we’ll have to do is a file a DBA for "OSFCI-Potlatch".

The bid was approved many to none.

B. Other New Business

Aaron C. Asked for $85 to reimbursement of games bought for OryCon. Linda: Can we afford this? John W.: Yes. It was approved.

Linda: Ariel Shattan has asked to borrow some of OSFCI games for Arthur’s bar mitzvah next spring. (She’s already spoken to Aaron Curtis about this.) This was approved.

Jim suggested that all management agreements be run by Sam before they are signed. (This will start with the OryCon 28 agreement, which needs to be signed soon.) Should the Board ave approval over GoHs, maybe ensuring a proper geographic distribution? This was not felt to be necessary. Linda: This is one of the few percs a chair gets–I think the chair should be able to pick whoever they want for GOH, as long as they’re not sleeping with them.
[Linda: "We’re at twenty minutes after nine."]
Storage Space [and How to Pay For It]
Andrew: We were going to discuss moving crap out of Aaron’s garage. How much would hiring a professional storage unit cost? (About $80/month.) How much were we paying previously? (About half of that.) What would it take in raising fees we charge the conventions to raise enough money for this? It seem more stable to rent professional storage space, than to take people up on their generous offers to let us park a shed on their property.

Much discussion of public vs. private storage, John L.: The problems I can see with using storage on someone’s property are: the person’s spouse could say "I don’t want this stuff here any more." (it’s happening to us right now); there’s more of a chance that someone may suddenly announce they’re moving to Virginia and we need to the items out right away (this has happened to us in the past); it’s harder to insure the items; and it may be more difficult to have access at all hours.

MIchael: Can we make use of our non-profit status? We don’t seem to use this much. Can we get a discount from this? Brenna: Has there been an insurance policy of the stuff being stored. (No–It’s hasn’t been possible so far.) Then I suggest a storage facility that includes insurance.

Sam: Sureguard over in Hazel Dell (which his lawyer group is using) is charging them $89/month, of which $8 is for insurance. Dan: $80/month is $1/OryCon attendee or less. Andrew: Is there an equitable way to allocate the expenses to the various events. My feeling is that something like 60% OryCon; 20% Gamestorm; 10% other events; 10% paid by OSFCI itself. Pro-rating by person isn’t fair to Gamestorm, since they don’t use the art show panels and that the bulk of the items being stored. Aaron: I hadn’t realized that items being stored at my house weren’t covered by insurance.

Andrew proposed that, as part of the various management agreements, that OryCon pays $600, Gamestorm $200; all other events a total of $100–all for storage and insurance. John W.: I’ll second that motion, but this would substantially change how we deal with the events. From the standpoint of being OSFCI Treasurer, it makes that job easier since the budgeting would have firm numbers to work with–but for the events, it seems like OSFCI is adding a lot of overhead on to their budgets. Aaron: There’s not a lot, besides the art show panels, that needs to be stored. Is it cheaper just to throwing it away each year? (Many 'No's.) Ruth: There's a lot of equipment that happened to be in people's houses when we lost the original storage garage. The idea here is to provide storage for those items, also.

Much more discussion. Patty: OryCon 27 is still enough of a mess (as far as the financial records go) that it's not possible to determine that they could afford this. And possibly the future OryCons could not afford this. Andrew: My proposal was to only include future events that haven't signed management agreements yet, so OryCon 27 (which has already taken place) and Gamestorm 8 (which already has signed their agreement) would not be included. Mary: I'm not sure that people will be able to afford another increase. John L.: Whether or not it's additional budget item for OryCon, or it's money that's shifted from another line of the budget–it's not an optional cost for the group overall. The stuff is there, it's needed for OryCon, and the storage cost has to be paid. Maybe not all of the $1000 cost should come from OryCon–but one way or another, the money has to be paid, and it makes since to get it from the events that are using the equipment. It seems like it'd be better for planning purposes for the events to plan around if they knew from the beginning what they'd have to pay.

John W.: It seems like it'd be simpler to deal with if there's a fixed, flat fee of $1 or so as an "administrative fee". Andrew made a new motion, to replace his earlier motion: We will charge every OSFCI event $1.50 (changed to $2) per person as an "Administrative Fee", for all events that have not yet signed a management agreement.

Mary: Should there be a provision in case an event has their finances go bad? Andrew: Should the membership fee be broken out as "$x for OryCon + $2 OSFCI Fee"? (Many 'No's.) In that case–it's not possible to plan disasters out of existence. This at least will create an environment where we stop hemorrhaging money.

More discussion (much of it on how OryCon could shift costs around to pay for this).
[Linda: "This place is closing in 13 minutes."]
Andrew's motion passed 8-0.

Andrew moved that: (a) someone find a place, with insurance, ASAP and make arrangements to move the items there. Everyone agreed with this. John W. volunteered to make sure that this progresses.
Patty: This would help us, so we need to get it done. Linda and Patty will try to elicit help with this. Ruth: Can we get the PayPal donation button set up? [Yes.] Marc Burns suggested Amazon (and other) affiliate programs.

The meeting was adjourned shortly before 10PM.


The Clayton Memorial Medical Fund Award
Report to the OSFCI Board

December 5, 2005

Board Change:

Given his work and personal schedule, Marc Wells asked to be relieved as treasurer. He has been replaced by Page Fuller, who volunteered to return as treasurer. Marc will continue on the Board.

Board of Trustees, December 2005

Committee Members First Appointed Term Expires
James Fiscus, Chairman October 1996 Novermber 2006
Page Fuller, Treasurer October 1996 Novermber 2006
Karyn Hoffert, OSFCI Rep. July 2005 November 2007
Geri Jeter November 2002 November 2007
Ruth Sachter November 2002 November 2007
David Schaber June 2003 July 2006
Marc Wells November 2003 November 2007

James W. Fiscus
Chairman, Clayton Board of Trustees


The Endeavour Award
Report to the OSFCI Board

December 5, 2005

2005 Award

Louise Marley won the 7th. Endeavour Award for her book The Child Goddess.

2006 Award

Books are coming in for next year's Award, though a bit more slowly than normally.

OryCon/Fund Raising:

While none of our finalists were at OryCon, we held a reception Saturday night. At the reception, we sold two Individual Supporter memberships and collected additional money totally $80.00. We also received a donation from Bobbie Du Fault's fan group, Carbon Based Rentals, of $937.00, bringing the total raised at the con to $1,017.00.

Committee News:

Marilyn Holt asked to be relieved of her job as treasurer, feeling that doing the job from Seattle was just too complicated, as records had to be constantly shipped back and forth. She will remain on the committee.

Shawn Wall volunteered to join the Endeavour Committee and to serve as treasurer. The committee voted and accepted her offer. Shawn was manager of Powell's Tech Store for a number of years and has worked extensively with accounting and business matters.

Endeavour Committee, September 2005

Committee Members First Appointed Term Expires
James Fiscus, Chairman October 1996 November 2008
Page Fuller October 1996 November 2008
Marilyn J. Holt September 2000 November 2008
Sara Mueller October 2003 November 2007
Sheila Simonson October 1996 November 2007
Shawn Wall, Treasurer November 2005 November 2007

James W. Fiscus
Chairman, Endeavour Award