Issue Date: April 30, 2007
Board, Council Meet in Chicago
At their recent meetings in Chicago, members of the ACS Board of Directors and Council heard reports on the state of society programs and the chemical professions and got updates on ACS committee activities. During its particularly lively meeting, the council chose candidates for ACS president-elect 2008, but it put the brakes on several proposed changes to the society's bylaws.
The Committee on Budget & Finance (B&F) reported that ACS had a very good year last year. The society ended 2006 with a net contribution from operations of $12.2 million on revenues of $424.0 million and expenses of $411.9 million, which was $7.8 million better than had been budgeted. According to the committee, this favorable outcome was primarily attributable to higher than budgeted electronic services revenue and investment income, as well as expense savings from lower than budgeted health care costs and reduced information technology spending.
On the recommendation of B&F, the council raised full-member dues for 2008 by $4.00 to $136.
Thomas H. Lane, a research scientist and director of global science and technology outreach for Dow Corning in Midland, Mich., and Howard M. Peters, a patent attorney and founding partner of Peters, Verny, in Palo Alto, Calif., were selected by the council as candidates for 2008 president-elect from a field of four nominees prepared by the Committee on Nominations & Elections (N&E). Lane and Peters, along with any petition candidates, will be listed on this fall's ballot. A petition candidate for national office must collect signatures from 300 ACS members to have his or her name appear on the ballot.
At the council meeting, N&E announced the results of the election to select candidates from the list of nominees to represent District II and District IV on the board for the term 2008-10. By mail ballot, the councilors from these districts selected Joseph R. Peterson and Diane Grob Schmidt as District II candidates and Eric C. Bigham and Gregory H. Robinson as District IV candidates. Ballots will be mailed on or before Oct. 10 to all members in District II and District IV for election of a director from each district.
N&E also announced the selection of the following candidates for director-at-large for a 2008–10 term. They are Janan M. Hayes, Helen A. Lawlor, Kent J. Voorhees, and Frankie K. Wood-Black. The election of two directors-at-large will be conducted in the fall. Ballots will be mailed to councilors on or before Oct. 10.
The council received three petitions for action to amend ACS bylaws (C&EN, March 5, page 61). Before considering the lengthy and complicated "Petition on Election Procedures 2006," the council voted to divide it into two parts and handle each separately.
The first part of the proposal was not controversial and was approved without any particular discussion. It will change the timing of run-off elections and specify an election process for situations in which only one director-at-large position is open.
The other part of the proposal was contentious. It addressed consistency in national election procedures by proposing changes to standardize the petition and election processes for president-elect and all director positions on the basis of percentage of voting members.
In short, the proposal would have substantially increased the number of signatures required for a person to add his or her name to a ballot for ACS president-elect to about 1,500 and for director-at-large to about 750. Currently, 300 ACS member signatures are needed for ballot access.
Councilors indicated concern about the procedures for collecting and verifying so many signatures. Also, some councilors expressed a desire that the committee reevaluate the proposed number of signatures required with an eye to lowering it.
George E. Heinze, councilor for the North Jersey Section, said the increase in signatures was "too big a jump." He believes that implementation of this petition would require different election procedures than currently exist. He moved that the petition be sent back to N&E for more work. Supporting this motion was ACS Past-President Attila E. Pavlath, who served as campaign manager for Allen Nixon, a petition candidate who won the election for ACS president-elect in a landslide in 1971.
There was some discussion, but ultimately, the council voted to send this petition back to N&E and ask that it reconsider the signature requirements, procedures for processing electronic signatures, and those suggestions arising from the Governance Review Task Force pertinent to election procedures.
The "Petition on Rules for Nominating Members of N&E for National Offices" led to heated discussion on the council floor. The petitioners sought to establish a one-year waiting period after service on N&E before an individual could be nominated for district director, president-elect, or director-at-large.
Maureen G. Chan, also a councilor for the North Jersey Section, rose in opposition to the petition. She said the bylaw change could result in a three-year wait for a former committee member to be allowed to serve the society as a board member. She urged councilors to trust N&E.
Frank D. Blum, councilor for the South Central Missouri Section, agreed that the issue is trust-not money or jobs. "We're talking about volunteers," he pointed out.
"Conflicts of interest are not a matter of trust but a matter of appearance of conflict," said Charlene A. Hayden, councilor for the Detroit Section. She supported the petition and did not see that it imposed any hardship on those who would run for office.
George M. Bodner, councilor from the Purdue Section, opposed the petition because he wanted to see the best candidates in office regardless of prior service. He noted, "If you want to avoid the appearance of conflict, you'd have to wait three to six years, not just one."
ACS Past-President Eli M. Pearce supported the petition on the basis of his service on N&E. "When committee members were up for nomination, I felt a little queasy myself," he said. "It is not a matter of trust, but it is a compromising position."
"We're giving the perception that we don't care about ethics, and it looks bad," said James F. Tatera, councilor for the Louisville Section. He urged his colleagues to support the petition.
Ken B. Anderson, councilor for the Geochemistry Division, called the petition "a slap in the face to the people we elect." He moved for a recorded vote, which was taken and will be published in C&EN per society bylaws. The final vote was 254 to 151 to defeat the petition. There were 15 abstentions.
The council voted to accept the "Petition on Multiyear Dues." This petition will allow members paying full dues without any of the discounts (retired or emeritus, for example) to prepay dues for up to three years at a yearly rate locked in at the time of payment. The council also voted to make this petition effective when technical procedures are instituted to offer and track the payments, but no later than Jan. 1, 2010.
The board will vote within 90 days on whether to ratify the approved petitions.
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