Charlotte LGBT center will fix closed meetings, releases new member fees

Additional forthcoming changes will relax original meeting restrictions adopted last week

by Matt Comer  Editor
Published: January 20, 2014 in News

lgbtcentercharlotteUPDATE, 1/22/14: Charlotte LGBT center may close in February

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The board of directors of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte released the fees and levels of their new membership structure on Monday evening, following news on Monday morning of their revised bylaws and other procedures regarding membership, meetings, rental rates and other changes.

The center also addressed some concern over continued closed-access to its board meetings. Some community members had issued concerns regarding continued closed meetings which restricted access to only those individuals who were paid members of the organization.

The center had adopted several significant changes at its board meeting on Jan. 15, instituting new bylaws revisions on a membership structure and open board meetings.

Among the changes, the center adopted a new 15-minute public comment period wherein any member of the public could attend and speak, provided they gave 24-hour notice to the board of their intent to speak. The revised bylaws, however, restricted attendance at the full board meeting to only members.

According to new membership levels released by the center on Monday evening, membership would require payment of anywhere between $24-$240 annually, thereby limiting board meeting attendance to only those who were paid members.

Patrice Shannon, chair of the center’s public relations committee, said via email that the board did not intend to limit attendance at its board meetings, which the board voted to open to the public in December, following a Dec. 4 town hall meeting, at which 100 people attended, where concerns over openness, transparency and board accountability were discussed. The town hall was planned in response to several commentaries from this writer at his personal blog in November.

“We are working now to get a board vote on changing the wording in the bylaws to make it clear that board meetings are open to the community (no supporting membership required),” Shannon said in an email. “When we were putting together this particular part of the bylaws, the term ‘membership’ was misused, but its intended meaning was the entire community. This was a human error that occurred when drafting the bylaws, but it was the clear understanding of each board member that all board meetings were to be open to any and everyone and free of charge.”

Shannon said a vote to update the bylaws to fully open board meetings to all individuals should come no later than Tuesday evening.

The new membership structure will allow individuals to join for several new benefits. The bylaws provide few rights to members, though a separate board-adopted membership structure provides benefits such as a member newsletter, programming discounts, rental discounts and, notably, voting rights. However, the bylaws extend voting rights to members only when the board opts to give members voting privileges. Members will not have the right to vote on board officers or members.