Potential bylaws changes at the Denver Press Club

There have been a lot of things we’ve done at the Denver Press Club in the last 18 months to make things better. One that’s been on my to-do list for some time — and has become more urgent — is to make some changes to our bylaws.

A little history: For many years, the Club was able to conduct its board elections by ballots that members could mail to or drop off at the Club in advance of the annual members’ meeting. But in 2016, before I became president, I chaired a bylaws committee that discovered we could not find evidence that the members had properly approved the bylaws that governed that method of conducting an election. In an abundance of caution, we returned to a system in the original 1999 bylaws where members needed to show up in person at the annual meeting to vote. We have heard from members who cannot attend on that one night of the year and are irritated at being disenfranchised in that way.

So, the key bylaws change is a return to the voting system used for a dozen years. We also propose returning to a term limit for the Club president. And there are a number of other changes listed below.

The revisions are a product of a discussion in recent weeks among the members of that 2016 bylaws committee — Mike McClanahan, Alan Kania and John Eckstein — as well as current board members and some past presidents.

Perhaps ironically, the bylaws are silent on how revisions are to be crafted, saying only amendments must be approved by a member vote. But we will take a number of additional steps to ensure a full hearing:

The current board will discuss the changes this Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. in a special meeting

We will have informational sessions on the changes Monday, Feb. 26 and Tuesday, March 6.

We will have a special membership meeting Thursday, March 8 to vote on the changes.

We will then conduct an election — with whichever rules prevail — and have the annual membership meeting Thursday, April 12.

I believe these changes reflect what a number of members have asked for and make our upcoming election more accessible to the broader membership.

You can read a marked up copy of the Denver Press Club bylaws here, which also includes my explanation of all of the changes.

In my view, the major items are:

  • Membership classifications are eliminated in the bylaws. We had seven classifications, and the board had in recent years created different levels of dues payments that did not match the forms described in the bylaws. We also discovered in 2016 that the bylaws technically prevented many members from voting, and we made only a partial fix by extending voting rights to retired members. This change removes the member classifications from the bylaws so as not to constrict the board.
  • The annual board elections can be held by paper or electronic ballots and do not require in-person attendance. Also, there is no “nominating committee” which screens candidates; all members may submit their applications and be presented as candidates. However, there will be no nominations from the floor for the board or for officer positions.
  • A term limit for the president is restored. Before 2008, the president was limited to two two-year terms. Now, the president may not be elected to the position in more than two annual elections. A new addition also says no officer may have signatory power over the corporation’s bank accounts for more than five years.
  • Special meetings now require 5 percent of the membership. Previous language allowed just five members (out of our current 450) to call a meeting of the entire membership. Changing that to 5 percent, or about 20 to 25 members, should help ensure an issue is significant to a broader group of members
  • Members are considered late on their dues after 30 days, and ineligible to vote if they’re 60 days late. This is change from 60 days and 90 days, respectively.

I hope you agree with a former president who wrote me and said, “All of these changes are very good common sense steps that will improve the club’s governance.” Please join me on Feb. 26 and March 6 to learn more and ask questions. You may also send comments at any time to president@denverpressclub.org and secretary@denverpressclub.org.

As always, thank you for your support of the Club.

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