APS General Membership Meeting
by Lloyd A. de Vries
Program founder Alex Haimann introduced 16 past, present and future Young Philatelic Leadership Fellows, including alumni from each of the previous classes and the members of the new, or fifth, class.
"Wow, do they bring down the average age in the room," remarked APS President Wade Saadi.
He then introduced the recipient of the Ernest Kehr Future of Philately Award, but she wasn't in the room.
Carter Volunteer Awards were presented to those attending the meeting, by Nick Carter's widow Betsy.
The APS asks 25- and 50-year members whether they will be at the meeting to receive their certificates and pins, but every time, a significant number aren't present. Many of those who were at this meeting had interior seats. "Next time, maybe we should reserve aisle seats for award recipients," said APS Executive Director Ken Martin.
There are 120 members achieving 50 years this year. Only a handful are at the show, two at the meeting.
Chapters and affiliates reaching 25 and 50 years were also recognized. "And Westfield (of New Jersey) is arguing over which of the many members here should come up," quipped Ken.
The four Chapters reaching 75 years were also recognized. There were no 50- or 75-year affiliates to recognize.
The certificates for the web awards were not presented at the meeting.
Board of Vice Presidents chair Nick Lombardi reports the BVP handled 37 complaints and 10 appeals in the past year. There were also several questions about prospective members whose names had been published in American Philatelist.
"Please remember this is a hobby," he said. Before filing a complaint, "sleep on it for 24 hours. If you still want to file the complaint, go ahead."
Kathy Johnson reveals that she picked her college so it would be near the APS. Her dorm used to be walking distance from APS headquarters.
The APS cleared a million dollars from the Bill Bauer bequest. "We've really gotten our financial house in order," Kathy said.
Attorney Kathleen Yurchak's announcement that there is no litigation pending was greeted with applause, although she joked that that was her favorite thing, so she was disappointed.
Ken Martin said he got conflicting advice about delivering his advice: One was to be briefer than Secretary Ken Grant. The other was to filibuster to keep Immediate Past President Janet Klug on the Board and President Wade Saadi in office.
He reported that he hopes the distillery will be open for business by April. At that point, the income from tenant leases will be $600,000. The distillery's lease was signed August 5th, pending federal and state license approval.
Ken appeals for member help in slowing the declining membership numbers.
Circuit sales are still strong. Many people still want to see and handle the items, and Ken doesn't think Internet Sales will overtake Circuit Sales for many years.
Last Volunteer Work Week was the largest ever, with 47 people. "That's a tremendous boost to our organization," Ken said.
Former APS staffer, Linn's and Stamp Collector editor Fred Baumann will begin working on a part-time basis later this month.
Questions were invited, but first was about the CEO proposal, and it was put off to the Town Hall session. There were no other questions.
The outgoing members of the Board (Edgar Hicks, Mark Banchik, Kathy, and Janet Klug) were recognized, but Janet was given a special plaque recognizing her service on the APS Board "since the beginning of time."
After the members of the board for 2013-2016 were sworn in, new president Steve Reinhard pledged to earn your trust and support. He praised predecessor Wade Saadi, but said Wade's wife called his wife to warn her what she was getting into!
Steve said he wanted to buy Wade a Rolex watch, but Ken Martin said no. Then he wanted to get one of those Rolexes you can buy on any street corner in New York, but they settled on a $50 plaque. Wade received a standing ovation.
"Over the past few months we have seen how easy it is for divisiveness to triumph over friendship," Steve said. "Let us all work together so that future generations can get the enjoyment out of their APS memberships that we did."
A "town hall" ("open mike") meeting followed, with about half the people who attended the meeting remaining, but first Steve Reinhard made some comments about the defeat of the CEO proposal. He said he'd rather look ahead to the problems that need correction rather than dwell on the results of the vote on the bylaws amendment.
"What I call Stage One of correcting imprudent spending has been successful," Steve said.
He acknowledged there are many stamp collectors who use only the Internet, don't belong to clubs or go to shows.
"We all know we have an executive director who has given his life to this society. He works 24/7, and he is the face of the society," Steve said. "His responsibilities have increased greatly..... he can't do everything. He needs help, we need help, if we are going to have a society that has a future."
He is appointing an ad hoc committee on this and other issues, which will include some of the vociferous opponents of the bylaws amendment, asking them for a report by AmeriStamp Expo 2014. There will be a link on the website to send suggestions directly to this committee. He also wants suggestions of people to serve on the committee.
"Let me make one thing clear: We are not going to stand here and do nothing. We have the responsibility -- probably the legal responsibility -- to do something to make sure this organization is viable into the future," Steve declared, and added, "No one's brother-in-law is out there waiting to take over.
"By all of us working together, we can turn over a strong and vibrant APS to our children and grandchildren."
And he added, "We don't need to be told that some of you were unhappy with the process in the past.... We know that."
[Unfortunately, I had to leave at this point, but I'm told there were no major fireworks during the Q&A.]