Community

Comparing Annual Meetings

InterBel Telephone Cooperative held its annual meeting on Saturday.

Registration- two lines

It was a bright, sunlit morning and a well attended meeting; 311 people were registered when the meeting began (Unlike Lincoln Electric’s Meeting with only 97 members registered).

Attendance: InterBel definitely had better attendance- but more about whether or not that’s a virtue for attendee’s later.

Registration: The lines were definitely longer for InterBel; Unlike Lincoln Electric, InterBel had a single registration point. Of course, they were handing out capital credits at that point, so the reason for the lengthy line was pretty self-explanatory.

The Radio: InterBel wins this one. Unlike the static of Lincoln Electric’s pre-meeting, when visitors sat in cold cars and wondered if they had the right station, InterBel provided a concert. By a local musician, no less!

Length: About equal, actually. And they felt equally long. InterBel’s had what felt like longer stretches with people talking, but the cold and nasty weather made the Lincoln Electric Meeting feel long as well.

Content: If you wanted to learn what was going on, InterBel held the better meeting. It was almost a shame to attend in person and miss the livestream, because there was a video and presentation.

The representative of the audit firm didn’t just state that they’d provided an unbiased opinion (which was the case for Lincoln Electric) but actually explained some of the features of the balance sheet. While seeing the graphs would have been helpful (printouts next-time?) it was a fairly clear, easy to follow, useful explanation.

In related news: InterBel is working on converting the Eureka business corridor to fiber optics, extending fiber to the West Kootenai, and expects to have fiber access to most of Eureka by the end of the year.

Trustees Election: When was the last time we had an election? And I don’t mean election by acclamation, I mean an actual election where people voted. Neither meeting had an actual election with voting. No, not even Lincoln Electric- there was literally no more candidates than vacancies, despite the mail-in ballot members received.

Prizes: Lincoln Electric definitely had more available. InterBel had 8 total (Including the grand prize). The odds were also better at the Lincoln Electric Meeting -far lower attendance! With only 97 people registered, and over ten prizes, the odds of winning something were at least 10% (and increased as each winner was removed from further drawings). The prizes for InterBel were a bit larger though.

My preference was for the InterBel meeting, which ran smoothly, included plenty of content, and for the most part seemed better planned. But folks interested in winning prizes (any prizes) would definitely have been better served by attending the Lincoln Electric Meetings. Not to mention the Luck of the Draw scholarships which Lincoln Electric provides.

One complaint: No bathrooms- this does limit the people who are able/willing to attend somewhat.

Community

LEC members voted to let all members vote

Lincoln Electric Cooperative members voted to give voting rights to all members. Granted, that’s not actually what Proposed By-Laws Change #4 said, but it is precisely what it accomplished. While there was a delegate certificate included in the Notice of Annual Meeting, it applied only to voting “the membership of a corporation, association, school, political body, church or firm with multiple ownership”. Individuals cannot vote by proxy (See article 3, section 4 of the by-laws).

Individuals cannot vote by proxy, and members were required to register and vote at the meeting in order to vote. So, who couldn’t vote at this last meeting?

Effectively, for Canadian Members of LEC, voting was prohibited this year. While our Canadian neighbors have some capability to cross the border, it’s limited and comes with a mandatory 14 day quarantine -It’s insane to expect anyone to donate 2 weeks of their lives purely for a LEC meeting, however exciting the meeting.

But it wasn’t just Canadian Members that couldn’t attend. This year’s Notice of Meeting included the warning of limited bathroom facilities, and for some members of our community that’s a huge issue [It’s hard to imagine that bathroom visits every10-15 minutes aren’t sufficiently limiting of major life activities to qualify under ADA].

But- no more! While some members of LEC have been previously denied their vote at the annual meetings, this will no longer be the case. The Proposed By-Laws Change #4, passed at Saturday’s meeting will give them the same ability to vote as other LEC members. This change introduced mail-in ballots, which means physical attendance of the meetings will no longer be a requirement to vote.

While mail-in ballots are not without problems, this change will make LEC more accessible to its members. To read the by-law changes (all passed), check out the Notice of Annual Meeting, found here.