Queerism Presents: the AGM Report

The Annual General Meeting for the PTS membership took place on November 29th, and we here at Queerism thought it would only be prudent for us to attend the AGM and summarize the happenings for those of you who couldn’t.

The meeting happened at The Church of St John the Evangelist. Now, for those of you who are wondering if anyone was struck by lightning during the meeting, it should be noted that the good folks over at St John’s have a long history of acceptance and service towards queer communities, as well as survivors of violence and members of the HIV/AIDS positive community. We here at Queerism would like to extend our thanks to St John’s for giving PTS the space to host our AGM.

Now, down to business.

The meeting was called to order at 6:34 pm. The attention of the room was gathered by Bob Walsh, to whom the President had delegated the roll of Chair. Sitting to his right, looking all business, was my lovely boss, PTS Executive Director Claudia Van Den Heuvel (or as I call her in my emails, “All-Powerful Overlord Whom I Live Only To Serve”) They sat behind a table at the from of the room, facing the members in attendance.

The meeting was held in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order (edition unknown). This means the first few items of business were to rubber stamp the day’s agenda and the minutes of the previous AGM. Both of these happened without a word of dissent.

First on the list of things that actually mattered was the President’s Report. President of the Board of Directors Jessica Freedman ran quickly through her report. So quickly that the media in the room (myself included) had trouble keeping up with her. What we did manage to make note of was that PTS had made significant progress on its Strategic Plan in 2011. Jessica noted that the organization had taken large steps in:

  • Establishing PTS as a leading centre for queer resources
  • Increasing outreach and improving their online presence (the website no longer sucks)
  • Increasing volunteer engagement and retention (hey, I’m still here)
  • Improving the quality of space and programs, much of which was facilitated by moving from that rat hole on Bank Street into the lovely new Cooper Street location.

Next up were the resolutions. There was a two-fold bylaw amendment on the table, which by consensus was divided into two motions to be dealt with separately. The first motion was to modify section 5c to say that all members of the Board of Directors (BOD) must be members in good standing. At the start of questions/debate, President Freedman commented that the board of directors were very distant from the programs and activities of the Association, and hopes that the amendment changes this, although it is not explicitly worded. The sentiment was echoed by QPOC-IT Facilitator Ben Diaz. This lead to questions to clarify exactly what a member in “good standing” was. The Chair explained that his interpretation was that they simply had to be a member of the Association and pay their membership fees on time. This did nothing to quell that chatter about the disconnect between the BOD and PTS programming. There was talk of an amendment to set some minimal requirements for BOD interaction with discussion facilitators. However, Claudia stepped in and explained that the Strategic Plan was already going to engage this problem. It was eventually decided that such things were better dealt with outside the bylaws.

The resolution passed unamended.

Second on the motion was an amendment to section 7. The motion was to have it set out that members of the Board of Directors shall be elected to a two year term at the AGM rather than a one year term. The director shall continue to serve until their replacement is duly elected and qualified. The  retiring director shall be eligible to reapply if they are qualified. The intent of this was to bring out a staggering of board election, so that every year only half the board goes up for election. This prevents the possibility that 12 new directors get elected at the same time, leaving nobody with the first fucking clue of what they should be doing. However, the change didn’t actually say that, so a member moved to amend the motion to be more specific, now reading that at each AGM, HALF the board will be elected to two year terms. There were questions about how to initiate the staggering, to which someone suggested that next year, members be elected to a combination of one and two year terms. There were also questions about mechanisms to record term ends, but we basically said we’d figure that shit out later.

The amendment passed, and so did the amended motion. In one of those tricky redundancies of Robert’s Rules, members basically had to vote on the same thing twice.

After resolutions came the Treasurer Report. The meeting got slightly more hilarious at this point, as PTS’s quirky and entertaining Treasurer Donald McGibbon took the floor to deliver the report. All in all, 2011 had been a very good financial year for the Corporation. There was lots of ongoing negotiation and fundraising, and Don made a point to thank everyone who had been involved. In short, a large donation from the Ontario Trillium Foundation had led to a large boost in total income. This was balanced out somewhat by the move to Cooper Street from the God-Awful-Hovel, as well as increases in staffing, but PTS was still left several thousand dollars in the black (that’s the good side). The motion to accept the report passed, as did the motion to appoint the new auditor, after a few silly and mildly unnecessary questions of procedure.

On to elections. Because the bylaws had only just been changed, the BOD elections this year were for one year terms. The bylaws also stated that no single gender identity could make up more than half (6) of the seats. The results were as follows.

There were only five applicants for the six seats allotted for women and gender non-conforming folks. As such, Wendy DeWolf, Jessica Freedman, Jeniffer Mackin, Aryn Zeibarth  and Chris Bitterman were all acclaimed and appointed to the board of directors on a one year term.

Eight men applied for the six seats available to their gender. However, only six of them actually came to the fucking meeting. While an election was still technically required to include the two who did not, justice was done, and Christian Hackbusch, Don McGibbon, Doug Saunders, Mike Jan, Patrick Juneau and Robert Crevier were chosen by the membership and appointed to one year terms. This exposed a startling correlation between showing up for your election and getting elected. I have resolved to set aside time to research this strange connection further in hopes of one day understanding it.

Then we moved on to elections for the executive positions. Of the four, three were acclaimed victories by their incumbents. Jessica Freedman was reelected as President, Don McGibbon re-uped at Treasurer, and Aryn Zeibarth will continue to serve as Secretary. The only election was at Vice President, where Doug Saunders narrowly won out over Christian Hackbusch.

Finally, we came to the Executive Director’s report. Claudia spoke to the assembled members briefly, noting the following:

  • Volunteer numbers have remained roughly the same (again, still here)
  • Clients have, however, increased
  • There has been discussion of adding additional benefits to the membership aside from just voting rights at the AGM. A proposition will likely come before the membership at the next AGM. I would fully support this, as it would mean that getting a membership would give me more than the opportunity to attend the AGM as a member, only to declare myself in conflict of interest as a journalist covering the event and thus end up not voting.

The Annual General Meeting adjourned at 8:36 pm, two hours and two minutes after starting. I stood up to a chorus of people talking about how long the meeting had been. I immediately started laughing, but only four other people in the room knew why.

That’s it for the report. Tune in next year, folks.

Well, actually, you should probably check the blog again before next year. We do other stuff sometimes.

Riley Evans: Head Writer/Editor of Queerism

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