Board of Vice Presidents Candidates Chat
Featuring the slate of Ada Prill, George Fekete and Ken Lawrence
[Not everyone who attended the chat spoke. This transcript has been edited of extraneous comments and the entrances and departures of participants. © 2003 de Vries Philatelic Media.]
April 30, 2003, 9 p.m. EDT:
Lloyd: A voter!
Alan: How about that.
Alan: And I have not turned in my ballot yet either
Alan: Got my first issue of The Compulatelist today
Alan: I guess it means I was accepted?
Lloyd: And since it was mailed from California, you got your copy quickly, Alan.
Ada_M__Prill: hi Arieh - another voter?
ariehg: 15-year APS member this June.
Teamcat_2[Ken Lawrence]: Finally I'm in. VSC blocked me for 10 minutes, Why are there two of me? Ken
JOHNFLANNERY: Hi everyone!
Lloyd: I can boot the other one, although it will probably disappear in a few as a "timed out."
Lloyd: The room has a limit of 20; I was debating changing it, but decided if I did, that would guarantee no one would be here :)
Lloyd: I'm going to leave the room in "informal" mode, meaning anyone can speak at any time, unless it gets out of hand.
Teamcat_2: Don't boot me. Two is better than none.
Ada_M__Prill: That does not appear to be a problem, alas
Lloyd: OK. ;-)
Lloyd: Not yet.
ariehg: Limit 20, that is about the number of director candidates (plus one glass of wine running as a write in?)
Teamcat_2: Has anybody here NOT voted yet?
GTFekete: Lloyd, even though this will be informal, are you going to facilitate the discussion?
Lloyd: Yes, George.
Ada_M__Prill: Lloyd, are you going to moderate, whatever that means?
Lloyd: Yes, Ada.
ariehg: I haven't voted yet, so start campaigning :)
Lloyd: Well, let's start by asking if there are any questions from the non-BVP candidates....?
Lloyd: Anything anyone wants to ask George, Ada or Ken?
ariehg: what is the difference between the slates, and what matter is it to the members?
Lloyd: (We are transcribing this session, btw, but will clean it up.)
DICKSINE:: What is the single biggest issue facing the APS board right now?
GTFekete: At a very high level, our slate has supported and continues to support the Match Factory project. But that's not all.
DICKSINE:: Is that still an issue?
Teamcat_2: Broadly, the biggest issue is how to adapt our hobby to the new era we're entering.
DICKSINE:: In practical terms, what does that mean?
Teamcat_2: Narrowly, the issue on the current Board is how best to deploy resources.
ARKCPA:: How do we grow the declining membership in the society?
DICKSINE:: Good point, Ken ... so, at the first board meeting, what is done to facilitate that approach?
Ada_M__Prill: I think we differ from the other slate in being more open to input from the staff who are on the front lines every day and who know the issues in very practical terms. We will obviously make our own decisions, but after listening to them, I think the Match Factory IS still an issue - not whether any more, but how and when.
Teamcat_2: Our proposal for growth is similar to the formula that has worked for the ANA. They built a Money Museum in Colorado Springs, which brought new members and reversed their decline. We are doing something similar in Bellefonte with stamps.
DICKSINE:: Does that mean you believe it is possible for the project to be stopped mid-stream?
GTFekete: We're also eager to talk with APS members so we can incorporate their input into our decision-making process.
Ada_M__Prill: Growing the membership is a serious problem, as we are fighting against demographics. I think we need to be very visible on the Internet, as that's where the eBay customers who are potential members hang out.
DICKSINE:: Interesting ... which ties directly into the resources comment. So, what can be done to improve the income situation to improve the resource issue?
Teamcat_2: Income isn't a problem. Keeping dues level with inflation will provide the needed resources. But our opponents propose cuts for what seem to be ideological reasons.
Alan: What kind of cuts?
DICKSINE:: With due respect, is not income a problem as long as membership is on the decline?
Ada_M__Prill: I don't think the project will be stopped, but the other side (with the exception of Ann Triggle) opposed the funding mechanism in the last vote that was taken on the MF - and that was not really a very controversial matter. So I'm concerned that roadblocks will have to be cleared.
Ada_M__Prill: The rental portion of the Match Factory will eventually help on the income side
Teamcat_2: Dick, I think you know from long years of experience that declining subscriberships often increase income, because the cost of fulfillment is about double the cost of dues/subscriptions.
Lloyd: Arieh, were your questions answered?
Foster_Miller: OK - let me ask a loaded question...
Teamcat_2: However, the decline is overstated by our opponents. In reality, we experienced a boomer bubble, and we are now regressing to the mean. The long term trend line is still up.
DICKSINE:: That was an argument put forth by Mike Laurence over the years and I never accepted it. If fulfillment is more than subscriptions, then something must be done to reduce the unit cost of various forms of fulfillment.
Lloyd: Alan asked "What kind of cuts?" earlier....
DICKSINE:: Unfortunately, that logic leads to the question of how low do you go before you break even.
Ada_M__Prill: Apologies if I miss a question - I can't type and read at the same time, and sometimes things scroll out of view when I don't realize it.
Foster_Miller: As members of the Board of Directors, will you agree to support the actions of the APS Board once a decision is made - and not take out an ad in Linn's opposing the decision?
Lloyd: That's part of my function as "moderator"
Alan: What cuts are your opponents proposing that you oppose, and how do they get funded with decreasing income?
Ada_M__Prill: Foster, I can answer that with a resounding YES - we can't afford Linn's rates anyway. :-)
GTFekete: I can speak for myself Foster. Yes!
Teamcat_2: They have proposed cuts in staff, and in the magazine.
Lloyd: Further cuts, Ken?
GTFekete: To clarify: yes, we WON'T take out an ad.
ARKCPA:: How will the APS reposition its investment portfolio from fixed income securities to equities with the eventual return of an advancing stock market?
BS980731125: What staff?
Lloyd: American Philatelic Society staff, Bonnie.
Lloyd: Question might also be "SHOULD the APS reposition..." etc.
ariehg: I thought magazine cuts were previously discussed, and dismissed as not yielding enough savings to really matter?
BS980731125: Yes, but what kind? Are there specific positions they want to eliminate?
Teamcat_2: In my opinion, APS should never have speculated in the stock market. That was a blunder foisted upon us by Dan Walker. If we had kept our reserves in CDs, as historically they were, APS would have $2 to $3 million more today than it has.
Alan: Do they have any specific cuts in mind to the AP?
Ada_M__Prill: Magazine cuts have been made by improvements in the technical side - but there have been suggestions to change to fewer than 12 issues annually.
Teamcat_2: They proposed reducing the pittance we pay authors, which shows an attitude of mind.
ariehg: Ken, how could Dan alone 'foist' anything?
Teamcat_2: Dan was Treasurer, and the Treasurer selects the Finance Committee, which oversees investment policy.
Alan: Ada, are those suggestions from any of the other BVP candidates?
ariehg: Ad it is not subject to board oversight?
JOHNFLANNERY: And the Treasurer/Finance Comm are overseen by whom?
Ada_M__Prill: I believe it was from Janet Klug, but I can't be sure.
Foster_Miller: For the candidates, one of the problems with the recent auction bid rigging case was that it took forever for the APS to take action. How would you improve the handling of this type of situation?
Teamcat_2: Jack, The board typically adopts the policy proposed by the Finance Committee. It would be enormously cumbersome for the Board to redo everything that the Finance Committee takes a full day to recommend.
Ada_M__Prill: Foster, it's very difficult to speed up disciplinary action and still protect the rights of the accused.
Alan: If someone is indicted with a felony charge, shouldn't they at least be suspended pending trial?
Teamcat_2: Foster, the new bylaw if adopted will solve the problem, by allowing the BVP to suspend a member charged with civil violations. The problem was language that allowed only criminal charges as grounds.
Lloyd: That's SOP, Alan, but the problem here was that these were CIVIL charges.
Ada_M__Prill: The problem was that the actions were in civil rather than criminal court.
ariehg: Can any of the bid-riggers who plead guilty (to whatever) return to APS membership, or is their suspension/expulsion permanent?
Foster_Miller: Do you folks support the proposed bylaw change, assuming the wording problems are worked out?
Teamcat_2: Any expelled member can reapply after three years, but they must prove they are good citizens.
Ada_M__Prill: Yes, Foster, I think the change is needed.
BS980731125: What bylaw change?
Teamcat_2: Foster, Yes.
GTFekete: Yes we support the proposed bylaw change.
Lloyd: Does this slate prefer a Bylaws change or a Standing Resolution? The current BVP proposed both.
ariehg: Ken, guess that rules out someone from Palm Coast, Florida.
DICKSINE:: Does the bylaws change include ALL civil actions or only those brought by a government agency?
Lloyd: Bonnie, there's a proposal to make a rule about CIVIL charges from government agencies.
Ada_M__Prill: Bonnie, the current BVP proposed a bylaws change that would allow the BVP to act in cases brought in civil court in some circumstances.
Alan: The AP is the way most members stay in touch with the Society, do you have any plans to increase member participation through the internet? Something like regular e-mail updates of society news, etc?
Teamcat_2: A bylaw change is the proper way to solve this problem. Dick: by a government agency.
Ada_M__Prill: The wording is being worked out in the bylaws committee, but I don't think it will apply in suits brought by non-governmental entities.
Foster_Miller: Dick - the original proposal from the incumbent BVP slate just said civil charges - at Biloxi, the Board recommended clarifying it with government charges
ariehg: Did the APS even know the palm Coast guy was sentenced to 5 years probation (about 5 years ago) on a CRIMINAL matter?
Lloyd: Is Swidinsky ("Palm Coast Guy") still a member?
Teamcat_2: Arieh, it's hard to know what the BVP knew, and when they knew it.
ariehg: As of yesterday, he was still a member, albeit on life support....
BS980731125: What other issues distinguish this slate from others?
Lloyd: Thanks, Arieh. I meant to check. Isn't it SOP that someone accused of a felony is suspended?
Teamcat_2: But the bylaws specify a philatelic crime. As far as I know, John du Pont is still a member, though convicted of murder.
Ada_M__Prill: The BVPs ordinarily do not disclose their deliberations, only the conclusions they come to in the cases where a complaint is upheld. The rest of the Board hears appeals, but these proceedings are also confidential
Foster_Miller: Going back to Alan's question, the APS used to have a monthly e-mail newsletter sent to anyone interested. It was victim of staff cuts at HQ. Would you support restarting such an electronic newsletter?
Lloyd: No, Ken, I believe you're wrong. It's any felony, and du Pont was suspended and then expelled. I'm pretty sure.
ariehg: I spoke with someone yesterday on that, and was told the BVP had to take the action
GTFekete: I would support e-mail communication.
Teamcat_2: Lloyd, please check with Frank tomorrow and let us all know.
Lloyd: OK. I believe du Pont came up in my first term on the Board, in Appeals.
hfowler3: Yes, please do, Lloyd
[As of this chat, John G. Swidinsky, charged with sexually assaulting a teen-age boy, was a member-in-good standing of the APS, although the APS was looking into the charges. John du Pont, an heir to the du Pont chemical fortune, was suspended from the APS, pending his court appeals. In 1997, du Pont was found guilty but mentally ill in connection with Olympic wrestler David Schultz's January 1996 shooting death. He receives no services from the APS.
According to APS Bylaw 2.11.5, Member Charged With Crime, "Any member charged in any court of law with a crime involving philatelic material or of any felony may be suspended by the Board of Vice Presidents pending trial and upon conviction thereof may be placed on probation, suspended for a definite period, or expelled by the Board from the Society." (emphasis added)]
Ada_M__Prill: The BVP only meets every 90 days, and that can cause delays, too. Nothing is automatic.
Lloyd: The BVP can meet more often, no?
Teamcat_2: Yes, and we shall meet as needed.
Ada_M__Prill: I think the e-mail newsletter is a cut that should be restored. So should the youth staff and a full-time webmaster when possible. The cuts have really hurt recruiting.
ariehg: I recall the e-mails vaguely - surely a much greater % of members use e-mail now - look at StampStore stats
GTFekete: We started a monthly eNewsletter (that I produce) at the company I work for and our experience in the short time that we have been publishing it is very positive.
DICKSINE:: Another possibility ... I believe worth a cost analysis ... is a password-protected members-only area on the website
Teamcat_2: The 90 days is necessary notice if a hearing is needed to assure due process.
ariehg: What would a full-time webmaster accomplish that isn't getting done now?
Teamcat_2: Dick, the password-protected area is already in the works.
Lloyd: But not for a meeting of just the 3 VPs, Ken, right?
Foster_Miller: The password-protected area on the website was approved at Biloxi.
Teamcat_2: Lloyd, right.
Ada_M__Prill: Yes, Dick, the members-only area was Nancy Clark's idea, and it was well received - but it takes time to implement.
Lloyd: I think we have Arieh's question on the floor about a full-time webmaster, but I had a Q: Who will chair this BVP if elected?
Ada_M__Prill: As it is now, the website is changed only once a month, and very few developments get reported in a timely fashion. A full-time webmaster could make changes as needed.
BS980731125: What other issues distinguish you three from your opponents?
Teamcat_2: Lloyd, we have not selected a chair. We need to get elected first!
Ada_M__Prill: We have not decided on a chair, but I would expect Ken to lead us at first since he knows the ropes.
Teamcat_2: We trust and support the staff, and want to equip them to do the job they know best how to do.
Ada_M__Prill: Ken has stated it well - really relations with staff may be a bigger difference than any other.
Foster_Miller: Ada/Ken - can you elaborate a little on relations with staff.
Teamcat_2: Our opponents are cross and suspicious, grilling the staff on trivial details, as though they are not sensible or qualified.
Lloyd: Q for George: You're going to be ROPEX chairman next year. Will you have the time to be an APS VP?
Teamcat_2: Foster, the Board's job is to set policy and approve a budget, not to substitute itself for management.
Foster_Miller: Ken - THANKS - personally I think I know who you are describing.
Ada_M__Prill: I think Ken's previous BVP experience will be very helpful to us. The present group came in as all first-time VPs and had some problems while they were learning. Not their fault - it's hard to get into a job when everything is confidential. We'll have Ken to show us how the BVP operates
Teamcat_2: Foster, I still have the staff's wish list from ten years ago. If elected, we will dust off that old document and see how it can be updated.
Lloyd: George? Did you see my earlier question? (I studied!)
Ada_M__Prill: George is a hard worker - he wears multiple hats well.
GTFekete: Lloyd, yes. I am currently RPA [Rochester Philatelic Association] Treasurer and am not going to run for re-election for the new term which will free up considerable time. Also, we have a relatively large, experienced committee, to which most of the work is delegated, that will return last year.
JOHNFLANNERY: Lloyd, George is a past master at delegation, so ROPEX will be in (many) good hands!
Lloyd: Q for Ken: You've crossed swords with a lot of prominent philatelists. Will you be able to be impartial as one of the APS' disciplinarians?
Alan: Do you have any specific ideas (besides the usual generic ones that always get talked about) on how to increase Society membership and possibly reverse the decline ?
Foster_Miller: New question - what is your opinion of the winter show? Are you willing to lose a small amount on money each year on it in order to bring the society to areas it otherwise wouldn't visit?
Teamcat_2: Sure, Lloyd. I don't take these differences personally. But besides, members of the BVP are always advised by counsel, and in any instance of perceived bias, the member recuses him/herself.
Ada_M__Prill: Ken is one out of three - if there are personality conflicts, I am sure he will recuse himself.
Lloyd: Two other questions on the floor - Alan's and Foster's.
Teamcat_2: But Lloyd, are you suggesting that someone will bring charges against Peter Martin? :-)
Ada_M__Prill: We differ on the winter show, Foster. I support it strongly and consider it a good use of Society resources. Ken does not agree. We are not in lockstep
Lloyd: Nope, hadn't occurred to me, Ken.
Foster_Miller: Sorry, Ken our AFDCS discussions are private. :-)
Lloyd: Where does George stand on the winter shows?
Ada_M__Prill: Alan, there has been a lot of brainstorming about increasing membership, and there are some ideas that can be tried. But bringing back staff functions that have been cut in youth and Internet services would be my first step. I think those matters are important, and we need someone looking after them.
Teamcat_2: Foster, I think we need to change our convention culture. Why must we always meet in a rush, in a big-city hotel and convention center, where everything is expensive, noisy, and crowded? Why not convene in more relaxed and pleasant circumstances, where we can savor one another's collections and share our knowledge?
GTFekete: I view the winter show not only on its own (for financial reasons) but also as part of a package that APS sponsors. I believe the winter show is a good idea as long as it adds value to the overall APS package.
DJS127: Large cities bring large crowds.
DJS127: Did you se Les Winick's review of the Spring Metro event in NYC and his criticism of the APS for small town show venues?
Foster_Miller: Ken - this sounds like an endorsement of the winter show philosophy.
GTFekete: Lloyd, sorry for the lag - my typing is not exactly world-class. :o(
Teamcat_2: Yes, Les was his usual self. Anyone can make money in New York. What about serving all the members who don't live in New York?
Ada_M__Prill: Les Winick was really unfair in that column. ONE major dealer was a no-show [in Biloxi], and that was Subway, right after [owner] Mel Goldberg's death.
hfowler3: I would think if you want the small town people to join, you have to give them a reason.
Alan: I actually like the show moving around and hope that continues. It gives a lot of people a chance to go to the show that won't fly to New York or Chicago.
DJS127: Ada, I knew Les was distorting the no-show dealer which was Subway.
Teamcat_2: Foster, I like the philosophy, but I'd push the reality a lot farther.
Lloyd: How so, Ken?
DJS127: I actually agree with you all even though I live in NYC there are plenty of stamp shows in NYC/NJ and CT.
DJS127: Now if we can just convince my wife to take vacation wherever the APS shows were.
Ada_M__Prill: I thought the Biloxi show was a great success - it didn't lose a lot of money, the dealers seemed happy, and the attendees had a really wonderful time. I'd like to go back there.
Teamcat_2: Lloyd, Why only cities? Why not resorts? Cruise ships? Rural retreats? Bellefonte?
Foster_Miller: One of the reasons I liked Biloxi was that it got me away from the snow of DC.
DJS127: Ada besides hiring staff to handle internet and youth specifically what would you do to attract new members to the APS?
DJS127: Anyone besides Lloyd here live in NJ?
Foster_Miller: No, I'm a New Jersey ex-patriate.
DJS127: Lloyd is this a record for VSC chat attendance?
Lloyd: Ken, it's not my candidacy, but if you're on a cruise ship, you won't get casuals attending the show.
ParksK: Sorry to bring bad news, but William (Bill) Callahan passed away the other day and the funeral was today. He was a dealer in Alabama, and a friend to stamp collectors all over.
Ada_M__Prill: I think we need to expand the educational; offerings on the web, which have suffered from lack of publicity/advertising. We need to develope the museum at Bellefonte and promote it in non-philatelic venues.
DJS127: Foster doesn't count in this case.
Lloyd: Yes, it is, David, a record.
Lloyd: Sorry to hear that, Parks.
hfowler3: I knew Bill Callahan.
DJS127: Agreed, Ada.
DJS127: Congrats, Lloyd.
hfowler3: Thanks for telling us.
Teamcat_2: Lloyd, the problem is with one-size-must-fit-all shows. Not every convention needs casuals.
ParksK: You're welcome.
Lloyd: Parks, hope you'll post that in the message board.
DJS127: I wish I lived closer to APS HQ I would think my 9 year old son Aryeh would be a good candidate for helping kids with stamps and FDCs
BS980731125: What can you do to make the APS more user friendly? Or do you think that is a priority?
Lloyd: I've pushed for hotel shows for the winter shows, but not gotten anywhere. There seems to be a mindset on convention centers.
Foster_Miller: Ken - I could see Bellefonte (although Ken Martin frowns when we suggest it) or at least the State College area as a possible show site - don't know if it would work as a winter show however - but there are worse places to be stuck
DJS127: Why hotels Lloyd?
DJS127: PA in summer is nice.
DealerMalls_com: I am glad to hear that Ada, because I think the internet and more member to member promotion would work. I haphazardly tried to find out how I can send out something about the APS with ebay stamp sales, and I recruited a few new members
Lloyd: Smaller and cheaper, David.
DealerMalls_com: That is funny, Foster, State College in Winter.
DJS127: That's why the NJ stamp show fees are so much lower than the Javits center.
Lloyd: We are coming up on the end of the hour, when we switch to the Directors-at-Large chat. Were there any more Q's for the BVP slate?
Lloyd: Congrats on an excellent forum. I am glad this discussion has focused on what a BVP slate WILL offer and not what they will be keeping the other slate from doing. That is a very positive thing.
Ada_M__Prill: How is APS non-user-friendly now, Helen? I've heard people say the AP articles are too technical, but that has not been the case for years. There is a perception problem, perhaps, but I don't think there is a major actual problem. But give me examples.
Teamcat_2: I think the APS Sales Division is much more user-friendly than ever before. And I was a big user when it wasn't.
Foster_Miller: Alan - I was only half kidding - you can get some real inexpensive rooms in State College in February - a lot cheaper than I'll be paying in Columbus in August
DJS127: I think the APS articles have gotten better. Lloyd, Janet Klug have written articles aimed at many different aspects of collecting.
DJS127: Yeah, Foster, because no one wants to be in PA in February.
hfowler3: I didn't say it wasn't user friendly.
DealerMalls_com: I think that is a big issue, overcoming perception of the APS. Maybe an advertising campaign is needed. I love reading the AP, the articles are almost always interesting
DJS127: The politics in the VSC forum e.g. First Days and all the name-calling between APS candidates is bad for the hobby and APS in particular.
Foster_Miller: For the candidates - any quick suggestion on how to improve the APS's image as America's Stamp Club?
ParksK: The other day at our stamp club meeting there was a comment on the improvement of the articles in APS.
hfowler3: I think the AP has some great articles and columns.
Teamcat_2: Foster, build the new Philatelic Center and they will come!
GTFekete: Lloyd, we appreciate the opportunity to participate in this forum and thank those of you who stopped by to chat. You can find more information about us on our website, www.apsbvp.com , to which we continually add new information.
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