Annual meeting also nets four new member papers.
At the annual business meeting held June 3 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix, AAN members voted to create a systematic membership termination procedure, but not before some heated debate over ownership issues.
The Organization and Bylaws Committee, chaired by Pittsburgh City Paper’s Andy Newman, recommended dozens of minor amendments, but most of the three-hour meeting was spent discussing the committee’s recommended change to Article 1, section 6B, which gives AAN members the power to terminate the membership of any newspaper “that has changed in character and content since it was first admitted as an AAN member.”
Under the amendment that was ultimately approved, a termination procedure can be initiated by a petition of one-third of the members of AAN or by a three-fourths vote of the board of directors. Once the process is initiated, an ad hoc committee — similar to the Admissions Committee — would be appointed by the AAN president to review the subject paper over the course of a 12-month period, during which the membership would have an opportunity to discuss the issue in person at an annual meeting. Once the committee made its recommendation, AAN members would vote by mail ballot, and termination would require an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the membership.
Several members wanted to lower the bar on termination. For instance, some representatives of the Organization and Bylaws Committee thought that the termination procedure should be automatically triggered when an existing member paper is bought by a daily paper publishing company. Colorado Springs Independent Publisher John Weiss wanted it to kick in anytime the ownership of an AAN paper changed. And representatives of the San Francisco Bay Guardian recommended several different changes, including one that would have created a separate class of non-voting membership for member papers acquired by a daily.
However, all of these amendments were voted down in favor of the original amendment recommended by the Organization and Bylaws Committee.
In addition to the bylaws’ changes, members voted to accept four new papers into AAN; all four had been recommended by the Admissions Committee. The four new member papers are Charleston City Paper, Tacoma Reporter, Urban View and Ventura County Reporter.
In other business, AAN members approved a 2001 fiscal budget, which includes a number of new programs made possible by the success of the AAN CAN classified program. Two free legal hotlines, a classified advertising conference were among the new programs that will kick in when the new fiscal year starts October 1.
AAN President Patricia Calhoun also announced that AAN will provide a cash rebate to members that have participated in the AAN CAN network. The rebate pool will be calculated at the end of the fiscal year, and is projected to be over $100,000.
Several board members were elected at the meeting. They will serve two-year terms except where noted:
* Bill Towler, publisher of City Newspaper , was reelected Treasurer.
* Sioux Watson, publisher of Independent Weekly , was elected Secretary. Watson, a former at-large board member, will fill the seat formerly held by John Saltas of Salt Lake City Weekly.
* Blake de Pastino, editor of Missoula Independent, was elected Editorial committee chair. He was appointed to that position last year to replace David Carr. De Pastino was elected to serve the one year remaining in Carr’s original two-year term.
* Clif Garboden, of Phoenix Newspaper Group, was reelected to chair the Admissions committee.
* Margo DuBos, publisher of New Orleans’ Gambit Weekly, was elected to chair the Convention committee for one year.
* Art Howe, of Village Voice Media, was reelected to chair the Marketing/Publicity committee.
* Sonja Snyder, publisher of Eugene Weekly, and Paul Routly, co-editor and publisher of Seven Days in Burlington, Vt., were elected by to the two open at-large positions, besting Sally Crane MacPhail, publisher of Columbus Alive. All three candidates manage independently-owned newspapers in smaller markets. None of them have previously held positions on the board.
The remaining board members were not up for election. They include: Patricia Calhoun, president; Russ Martineau, vice president; Phyllis Britton, advertising chair; Alex Keuthe, electronic publishing chair; Craig Hitchcock, First Amendment chair; Andy Newman, organization/bylaws chair; and Larry Ragan, at-large member. They will each serve the one year remaining in their term. Finally, the annual meeting concluded when AAN members approved a proclamation authored by Bruce Brugmann condemning Joint Operating Agreements and calling for Congressional hearings and an investigation by the Justice Department.