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RVC Columns

THE TENTH STORY for February

I am writing this column from the Central Florida Mensa's "Sun 'n' Games" Regional Gathering (RG), which is the only regular RG remaining in Florida. When I moved here from New York in 2000, there were several RGs to choose from: Tampa Bay Mensa over Memorial Day weekend, Northwest Florida Mensa's "ValenTime" in mid-February, Central Florida Mensa's "SmartiGras" in mid-January, and Broward Mensa's "FLoRanGe" and Space Coast Area Mensa's "SCAM-o-Ween" trading off every other autumn for their biannual RGs. There was even a Micro-G in the Florida Keys in November. But unfortunately, with the loss of affordable hotel venues, retirement of many long-serving volunteers, and general burnout, we're now down to this last hurrah in Orlando. Fortunately, Event Chair Debbie Freeland continues to display boundless energy, and with her excellent crew including Jen Keating, Bill Keevan, Tiffany Patterson, Stephen Stull and more, put on an excellent weekend of speakers, games, tournaments, and special events. I hope this may help inspire others to relaunch some of the other Gatherings, as they are among the best opportunities for members to have full immersion in the Mensa Experience. (If you're feeling adventurous, other Gatherings are held all year 'round throughout the country, and you can find them in every issue of the Mensa Bulletin or by viewing the National Events Calendar at https://www.us.mensa.org/attend/calendar/entries/.)

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The next regular meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) will be held on March 9, 2024, at the national headquarters in Hurst, TX. Currently we don't have a draft of the agenda for the meeting, but because there will be a second motion regarding the membership dues change, our bylaws specify that the agenda must be posted 30 days prior to the meeting. This can be found at the link https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/ under the dropdown "2024-03-09 - Hurst, TX".

____________________________________

I mentioned this last month but it's worth mentioning again: The American Mensa Elections are coming up in April. To vote in this election, your membership must be current as of March 31, so be certain that you remember to renew, if this applies to you. This is especially important because if the dues motion passes at the March meeting, renewing after the deadline will be at the new rate.

____________________________________

At this writing, there are just over two weeks left for petitions to be completed for AMC candidates, including RVC 10. Only four Regions have candidates who have qualified, and no candidates have yet qualified for Secretary or Treasurer. Any position that does not have a candidate receiving sufficient signatures to appear on the ballot will revert to the current officeholder. I sincerely hope it doesn't come to that. If the national positions are not filled by election, they can be filled by a vote of the incoming AMC, but if any RVC defaults to an officeholder who chooses to resign the position, their role would be filled by a Regional Coordinator (RC) chosen by the Local Secretaries in their Region, who would have all the rights and responsibilities of an RVC, but no vote on the national board.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas
Mensa Connect https://connect.us.mensa.org/communities/local-groups/region-10
Region 10 Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/

THE TENTH STORY for January

The American Mensa Committee (AMC) met via teleconference on Saturday, December 9, 2023. Both motions that I noted in my column last month passed. The Principles of Conduct motion stated that AMC members could not concurrently serve in certain Local Group positions for which they were responsible for financial decisions. There was discussion about removing the Ombuds section from the motion, but motions to amend the initial motion failed.

The motion to increase the annual membership dues rate to $107 passed the first vote, but per the American Mensa Bylaws it will not take effect unless it passes a second vote at the March AMC meeting. If it passes, the new rate will be effective April 1, 2024. This would also be effective for late renewals, so if it applies to you, make sure to renew your membership before March 31. (Side note: Local Groups get Jewel Points for early renewals prior to February 1, and also for prompt renewals prior to March 31.)

Because this motion passed, there will be two different budgets presented at the March meeting, which is when the budget for the following year is traditionally presented. One motion will be derived from revenues without the dues increase, and the second will take the new dues rate into account. The main impact of the dues increase will not be seen until the 2025-2026 fiscal year, since the 2024-2025 revenues will still be based on the current dues, with only incremental increases in revenue from new members, reinstatements, and late renewals.

If the increases are approved, it is hoped that the next Budget and Finance Committee will consider long-standing requests which were not feasible with the current budget, including increasing local group funding support. These suggestions will be documented and shared with the next AMC for their consideration.

Additional actions from the meeting included the appointment of Tommy Ryan as the interim Communications Officer to complete the remainder of the 2023-2024 term. Tommy had previously served as Communications Officer during the 2017-2019 term. The AMC also chose Atlanta, GA as the location for the 2027 Annual Gathering pending approval of the contract by the AMC Executive Committee. Both of these actions took place in executive session, the former because discussions of individuals and appointments are not held in open session, and the latter because contract terms had not yet been approved and could not be discussed publicly without compromising the negotiations with the hotel.

The mini-minutes from the meeting can be found by clicking the dropdown item "2023-12-09 - Teleconference" at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/. A recording of the meeting will also be posted for those who wish to hear the details of the discussions.

_________________________

Petitions are currently available for candidates for the 2024-27 AMC term, and I encourage you to visit https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/elections/candidate-petitions to sign petitions for national candidates and Region 10. National candidates require 250 signatures to qualify, and Regional Vice Chairs (RVCs) require 100 signatures. While this doesn't sound like a high threshold, in the last election one of the Regions did not have any candidates qualify with 100 petition signatures, and their RVC continued from the previous term without election. Since I am not running this time, I ask for RVC 10 candidates to get as many signatures as possible so I won't be in the same position as that other RVC.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas
Mensa Connect https://connect.us.mensa.org/communities/local-groups/region-10
Region 10 Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/

THE TENTH STORY for December

The next meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) will be held via teleconference on Saturday, December 9, 2023. The agenda is short, but likely to engender a lot of discussion.

The first motion expands the principles of conduct for AMC Officers to prohibit their service on a Local Group level as LocSec, Treasurer, Editor, RG Chair, or any other position that is authorized to sign contracts on behalf of a local group. Because the AMC has an oversight role over Local Groups, it is improper for AMC officers, particularly RVCs, to be in a position to have oversight over their own actions. This motion similarly prohibits AMC members from serving as Ombuds at either the local or regional level, for the same reason.

The second item is less wonkish, and more interesting to the membership: to increase the single-year membership dues to $107 effective April 1, 2024.

Admittedly, nobody likes dues increases. But just as all other costs have gone up, so have the costs of running the organization, from printing the Bulletin to employee salaries, and dues increases are inevitable. The main question is how much should the increase be, and what goes into the calculation.

There are some complexities that need to be considered. First, this motion, if passed, will not result in an increase in dues unless it passes a second time at the March 2024 AMC meeting. This is because our Bylaws require that an identical motion must be passed at a second regular meeting, not less than 60 days after the first meeting. (All of this is outlined in Article IX Section 8 of the Bylaws, as per a vote of the membership in 2015).

Also keep in mind that the March meeting, when the second consideration of the dues comes up, is when the annual budget will be set for 2024-2025. In order to set the budget, we must be able to project what revenues will be, and therefore need to know when and how much dues will change.

In 2017, when the current dues rate was set, it was expected to cover the shortfall of the prior year and give a little leeway until the third year, when another dues increase would be proposed. But then the pandemic hit, and many plans had to be delayed and reconsidered. Now that we're six years on, we are behind schedule on dues and are playing catch-up. If we had gone by the original plan, we'd still be looking at a comparable rate, but it wouldn't be as much of a raise at one time.

There's more detail to go into but not enough room left in this column. I encourage anyone interested to listen to the meeting on December 9, where it will be discussed in detail. A link will be emailed out to the membership before the meeting, so make sure you have your communication preferences set to receive emails by visiting https://www.us.mensa.org/my-mensa/my-membership-profile/.

The agenda can be found by clicking the dropdown item "2023-12-09 - Teleconference" at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas
Mensa Connect https://connect.us.mensa.org/communities/local-groups/region-10
Region 10 Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/

See our new proposed by-laws (PDF format).
See our current local by-laws (PDF format), and the national minimum standards for bylaws (PDF format).

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