Executive Committee Meeting Minutes — Conference Call – March 20, 2018

MARP Executive Committee
Conference Call
20 March 2018
7:30 p.m. – 8:45 p.m.

Members Present:  Steve Vagnozzi, John Langdon, Adam Tauno Williams, Kay Chase, Mark Miller, Stewart Bolinger, Robert Tischbein, Chales Shong (joined the call in progress).

Members Absent: Robert Patterson

Williams – Meetings Update:

April 21 member meeting at MSU Detroit Center. Megan Owens, Transit Riders United, and Joel Batterman, Detroit Freedom Riders, will speak. Meeting time is 10 a.m. to Noon

Summer Executive Committee meeting is rescheduled for July 14.

Langdon, Miller and Tischbein propose that MARP meet in September at the Mountain Top Station in Mount Pleasant. Tischbein has contacts at CMU. This offers a great opportunity to engage CMU students. Langdon has received a favorable response from Louis Ferris, Great Lakes Central, for a train excursion at no cost to us, from Mount Pleasant to Cadillac. Miller is making arrangements with the restaurant. Group favors going ahead with these plans in lieu of the previously scheduled June meeting in the North Region.

Membership Update:

Bolinger has received $1200 in renewals through PayPal (15-20 memberships).

The dues renewal request was sent to all members on February 24 via email or by surface mail to the 60 members for whom we have no email.

Chase – Communications Update:

Chase and Gurney are working on the Winter/Spring issue of The Michigan Passenger and expect to have it out in May.

Langdon moves, Miller seconds, unanimously approved, that copies of The Michigan Passenger be mailed to the Governor, Lt. Governor, 110 State Representatives, 36 State Senators, 2 U.S. Senators, and to the Washington, DC, and Michigan offices of the 14 U.S. Representatives. Chase points out that this will add about $125 to the cost of each mailing. Langdon says that it is not necessary to print extra copies of the newspaper for this purpose. Langdon is agreeable to having the additional mailing costs taken from the Governmental affairs budget.

Langdon – Governmental Affairs Update:

In State Budget action, the House has cut $3M from the Governor’s FY2018-19 budget request, funding intended for work on the Wolverine route. Amtrak’s request may be significantly less due to the elimination of ticket agents at Niles and Jackson and the greater operating efficiency of the new Siemens Charger locomotives. There is talk of a second frequency on the Pere Marquette and an additional frequency on the Wolverine. Langdon will send details on the Amtrak funding request to Williams and to Chase.

Plans are being made for special trains to Holland’s Tulip Time Festival, the Senior PGA tournament in Benton Harbor, and a possible Grand Rapids Art Prize train. Williams is working on plans for a MARP meeting in Grand Rapids during Art Prize.

There is a good chance for a supplemental appropriation to upgrade the A2TC trackage to allow a “tourist train” (demonstration project). Not likely to happen in time for Traverse City Cherry Festival, but maybe for Labor Day.


Shong – West Region Update:

Shong is compiling a list of colleges and universities in the region to see what they have going on for fall semester. Has run into snags with the idea of printing legislator’s information on the back of membership cards. Vagnozzi suggests, instead, sending an email with that information. Shong does not favor this because emails tend to be overlooked or “lost”. Chase points out that whenever a call to action is included in MARP publications, information is included as to how to contact the target lawmakers. Also, there are lawmaker locator links on page 4 of every issue of ON TRACK.


Bolinger – Financial Update:

The yearend budget report shows that expenditures exceeded revenues by $1,748.00. Revenues from member dues and donations are weak at this point in 2018, thus some cause for concern. Chase points out that we ended 2017 with a deficit, even though most of the budget lines were underspent.

Bolinger said the finance committee (Bolinger, Gurney, Miller, Vagnozzi, ex offficio) will meet this week and will be looking at reductions in some budget lines.

There is $12,600.00 in the checking account, about the same as what we had at this time last year.

Chase asked what is anticipated for expenses in the social media area. In 2017, $2,000 was reallocated from the Communications budget to this purpose. Williams will send a report on the social edia focus.

Items for Discussion/Information:

Mark Campbell, a MARP member, is interested in MARP taking action on his proposal for Detroit to Pontiac commuter rail.

Vagnozzi feels we don’t have, at this time, the resources (people) to do this. He can’t justify putting any of our limited time and energy into this. Williams opines that the new RTA plan should be our primary focus in Southeast Michigan at this time. This is the consensus of the group.

Langdon speculated about CSX’s proposal to sell off holdings. CP may be Interested in certain SE Michigan holdings.

Vagnozzi – Chair’s report:

Will be attending the Annual Meeting of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association in Chicago on Saturday.

Due to family obligations, Bolinger has asked that a replacement be found. Vagnozzi prefers that it be someone in the Lansing area because that’s where the PO Box is. Williams suggests using our Facebook presence to recruit a candidate.  Langdon suggests also putting it in MI Passenger and ON TRACK, along with the other executive committee vacancies. Chase agrees those are good suggestions, but cautions against expecting much of a response. It is important for each executive committee member to give this some thought and make personal contacts with likely candidates.

Bolinger will draft a “job description” for Chase to include in ON TRACK and Michigan Passenger in an appeal for candidates to fill the Treasurer position, as well as other executive committee vacancies (Vice-Chair, Secretary, East/Central Chair).

Respectfully submitted,

_____Kay Chase_____________________         _____Steve Vagnozzi_____________________

Kay Chase, Acting Secretary                                           Steve Vagnozzi, Chair