Meeting Minutes – Executive Committee — Lansing – August 16, 2014

AUGUST 16, 2014

Members Present: Robert Tischbein, Larry Krieg, Hugh Gurney, Jeanie Merckel, John Langdon, Kay Chase, Kathleen Newell, Jim Wallington, Robert Patterson, Rosemary Horvath, Jim Hinkins, Don Monteith, Warren Fritz

Also Present: Michael Frezell, Lansing Model Railroad Club and former Vice Chair, MARP

Call to Order: Chairman Tischbein called the meeting to order at 10:05 a.m. After Roll Call, it was determined that a quorum was present.

Approval of Agenda: Patterson asked that the agenda be amended to include distribution of Michigan Transit Museum materials just before the close of the meeting. Langdon moved approval of the agenda with this amendment. Newell seconded the motion and it was approved by the members present.

Minutes of the Executive Committee meeting held in Traverse City on July 19, 2014 were reviewed. Krieg moved approval. The motion was seconded by Langdon and approved by the members present.

Plans for September 14, 2014 Annual Meeting: Langdon briefed the group on arrangements to date for the Annual Meeting. Tom Carper of Macomb, Illinois, who serves on the Amtrak Board of Directors will be the keynote speaker. Tim Fischer will review progress on M-1. Tim Hoeffner is confirmed as is Ron DeCook, who will brief us on a study supported by MDOT and MSU. Senator Carl Levin and U. S. Representative Dave Camp have been invited.

As Jeanie Merckel is scheduled to leave town on September 1, Kathleen Newell will check the MARP mail box for reservations and forward them to Rosemary Horvath, who is handling arrangements for the meal. Rosemary needs to give the caterer a count and pay for the meals as soon as possible.

Horvath moved to have a membership questionnaire discussed at the Annual Meeting. The motion was seconded by Gurney. Newell agreed to provide the survey she has already done in preparation for today’s meeting with a little tweaking. It was agreed that the Membership Committee, including Newell, Langdon and Farmer would be responsible for having the survey available.

At Tischbein’s suggestion, it was further agreed that an Executive Committee member would sit at every table to guide discussion during the lunch break. The motion was approved with Chase dissenting to doing the survey, not to having Executive Committee members sit at each table.

Wallington, with assistance from Hinkins, will check people in at the door, collect from those who have not paid, and seek membership renewals. Membership forms will be at the check in table. Horvath will serve as the official photographer. Krieg will bring a projector so one will be available if needed.

Coast-to-Coast: Langdon reported that the $100,000 grant application for a ridership survey for the proposed Detroit-Lansing-Grand Rapids-Holland passenger rail project had been approved by MDOT and submitted to the federal authorities.

Bylaws: Citing Articles #14.1 and #14.2, Horvath urged a full discussion of changes to the Bylaws at today’s meeting. As both Patterson and Monteith asked to be added to the Bylaws Committee, Chairman Tischbein made the appointment. Gurney then led an extensive discussion of the Bylaws, highlighting changes suggested by the Bylaws Committee. Michael Frezell, who drafted the current Bylaws, was particularly helpful.
It was agreed that the Bylaws Committee would meet again on October 28 and there attempt to incorporate suggested changes into a new draft to be presented to the Executive Committee at their December meeting.

Candidates for 2014-2016 Executive Committee: Krieg reviewed the slate of candidates for Executive Committee as it stands at the moment. The slate includes:
Chair Larry Krieg
Vice Chair No candidate
Secretary No candidate
At Large (Public/Governmental Affairs) John Langdon
At Large (Communications) Kay Chase
At Large (Membership) Kathleen Newell
At Large (Meetings) Jim Wallington
Regional Chair, Detroit Metro Robert Patterson
Regional Chair, East/Central Rosemary Horvath
Regional Chair, Western Michigan Warren Fritz
Regional Chair, Northern Michigan Don Montieth

Krieg noted that members could also offer nominations from the floor, which might be a way to fill vacant positions. Both Krieg and Wallington have approached people about serving as Secretary.

There was a question as whether Dave VanderBee was also a candidate for Chair. Krieg will check with Clark Charnetski, who served on the Nominations Committee.

Pratt Fund: Chase asked for a discussion of the future of the Pratt Fund. Langdon moved that the issue be open for discussion. The motion was seconded by Patterson.

Chase then reviewed a memo she had received from MARP Founder John DeLora about the origins and purposes of the Pratt Fund. The seed money came from dissolution of the Friends of the Grand Trunk, a commuter association headed by Edmund Pratt, hence the name of the Fund. The concept was to establish an endowment fund which would grow until it was large enough to support MARP operations. Proceeds were invested in the American Fund Investment Company of America (AIVSX). The plan was to put 10% of all dues collected and 90% of major gifts into the Fund.

In June, 2012, on the recommendation of then Treasurer David Randall, the Executive Committee voted to move the Pratt Fund from the American Funds Investment Company of America to the Vanguard Total Stock Market Investment (VTSMX). This would bring the expense ratio down from 0.61% to 0.18%. In August, 2012, the account with American Funds Investment Company of America was closed and the proceeds moved to the JPMorgan Chase checking account. They have never been moved to the Vanguard account.

Warren Fritz, a licensed stock broker noted that both American Funds account and Vanguard are good investments, but Vanguard does have lower fees, although it is a little more volatile. He recommended that we proceed with investing the Pratt Fund in the Vanguard Total Stock Market Investment.


Be it Resolved, that the Executive Committee of the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers directs Jeanie Merckel, current Treasurer, to move $17,141.26 from the MARP checking account to the Vanguard Index Fund called Total Stock Market Index Admiral Class Shares (VTSAX).

The motion was approved by a majority of the Executive Committee members present and voting. Monteith opposed.

Pere Marquette 30th Anniversary: Langdon reported that the 30th Anniversary of Pere Marquette service from Grand Rapids to Chicago would be celebrated on September 14, 2014. Westrain is heading up the commemoration and has asked MARP provide a birthday cake. Payment for the cake has already been approved by Chairman Tischbein. Langdon has been helping secure items from each community along the route for a gift bag for all passengers. Volunteers from St. Joseph are stuffing the bags.

The train will run on its regular schedule with ceremonies in each community on the west bound trip. Dignitaries from Amtrak, Westrain and MDOT will be aboard. A special theater car will be added to the train.

Pere Marquette 40th Anniversary: Horvath noted that MARP member Don Westcott seemed to be doing most of the heavy lifting in preparation for the 40th anniversary of the
Blue Water, tentatively scheduled for October 1. She and Jim Wallington will be assisting as needed. Westcott will have more details at the Annual Meeting in September.

Grand Rapids Station Opening: The opening date for the new Amtrak station in Grand Rapids is still up in the air. The connection between the station track and the CSX main line has not been completed. With luck, the station will open sometime in October.

Hinkins noted that we will probably see three station openings this fall, with Dearborn and Troy also likely to open before snow falls.

Meetings: Wallington passed out a tentative meeting schedule for 2015. Patterson urged that we try Regional Meetings in the coming year.

Other: Langdon reported that he had received a thank you from Hope College for the Amtrak Guide Books and Junior Conductor hats.

Merckel reported that the Michigan Transit Museum wants to be on the distribution list for The Michigan Passenger. Chuck Merckel has provided them with membership brochures. Langdon agreed to put the museum on the Amtrak distribution list.

Fritz observed that most libraries will be happy to receive a supply of Amtrak timetables.

Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted: Accepted:

Hugh D. Gurney Robert Tischbein
Secretary Chair