Call for Special Membership Meeting, May 3 at 6:30pm for Proposed Bylaw Changes

Dear the Bristol Historical membership,

We have asked the BHS president to call a special membership meeting at 6:30 pm on May 3, 2019 to vote on the bylaw amendments that the Governance Committee has proposed. As you may recall, bylaw amendments were proposed at last years annual meeting, but the membership voted to table the vote until the issue of the Historical Society’s tenants have been fully considered. The proposed changes are a result of those months of deliberations and an attempt to address the few blank spots that came up during that meeting and during the year.

The current bylaws can be found on our website at this address: Current BHS Bylaws. A copy with the proposed changes (in color and bold faced) is also on the website here: Proposed BHS Bylaws for May 2, 2019 meeting. Please review the changes. We certainly will not go through the bylaws line by line certainly at the meeting, but we ask that you come prepared to vote on the changes. Refreshments will be served. A brief overview of the three types of changes appears below. For those of you receiving this by email, both are attached as well. Hard copies of the current and proposed bylaws will be available in the BHS for those without online access.

  • The first proposed change has to do with our name. Although we are typically known as the Bristol Historical Society, we were incorporated in the State of Connecticut as The Greater Bristol Historical Society. While our dual nature is not a problem on a day-to-day basis, it does cause confusion for corporations who are unable to make matching contributions because of the disparity. Therefore, we are making an effort to bring all of our names in line, matching documents and accounts to our incorporation papers.
  • Additionally, some of the following changes are being proposed to shore up some of the rules around elections and the nominations of board members. In an effort to be fair to all members, we had added a written nomination period, stipulations about who can be nominated, and the tenure required to vote in elections. Our hope is that this will allow the entire membership the opportunity to make nominations and clear up the confusion about when you had to be a member to vote.
  • We have also proposed bylaws defining the difference between long-term tenants and short-term renters and their relationship to the Board of Directors and the Society as a whole. To protect the interests of both the Society and the tenants, we are proposing that board members of tenant organizations not serve on the Board of the Historical Society. Instead, to avoid any individual board member having to negotiate any potential conflict of interest on a vote-by-vote basis and to ensure equitable representation among the tenants, we propose a voting representative for each tenant, with the total votes not to exceed 25% of the board total. Though this represents a change from the way things have been done, it is our hope that this formalization of the roles will protect the organization going forward and protect the tenant organizations, by allowing them to have input in an unconflicted and meaningful way.

We hope to see you on May 3.

Many thanks from the Governance Committee,

Maya Bringe
Don Muller
Bob Boudreau
Mike Saman
Lindsay Vigue