A second round of debate on whether to sunset the Council on Communications yielded different results during the AVMA House of Delegates regular annual session July 10 in Seattle.
The 10-member council was eliminated when 71.3 percent of delegates voted in favor of an amendment submitted by the House Advisory Committee to remove the council from the list of those authorized by the AVMA Bylaws. This is the same amendment that the HOD did not approve at its regular winter session this past January (see JAVMA, Feb. 15, 2009, 436).
Dr. Bernadine D. Cruz, chair of the former council, said the move was disappointing but not unexpected.
"With the formation of the Division of Communications, the council went from being very tactical—handling requests for endorsements, the crafting of brochures and campaigns—to a twice yearly sounding board for the division," said Dr. Cruz, who praised the division and its staff.
She said the council attempted to refocus itself once it became apparent the body was no longer meeting its charge, "but it was too little too late."
The effort to eliminate the council began this past November, when the Governance Performance Review Committee recommended that the Executive Board initiate a bylaws amendment to that effect. It stated that the AVMA Communications Division had assumed most of the council's responsibilities and that the council was not fulfilling its charge, did not perform effectively, and had not remained integral to the AVMA's objective.
The board submitted an amendment to the HOD to eliminate the council, with recommendations for approval from the HAC and the board.
In January, however, the HOD disapproved the amendment. Delegates who spoke against the measure said they considered the council a vital vehicle for member input on the Association's messages.
That argument was brought up again during Reference Committee 2's meeting at the HOD session in July. Dr. James L. Bain, South Dakota alternate delegate, said, "The council provides practitioners and specialists in the field who can provide feedback (to the division) on how veterinarians want to receive information in their limited free time."
The background to the amendment addressed such concerns, stating that the AVMA Communications Division receives member input through the approximately 600 member volunteers who serve on the 35 or so AVMA entities that develop and propose policies that are established by the board and HOD.
Further, Dr. Merry C. Crimi, American Animal Hospital Association delegate, cited the bylaw that says one of the council's responsibilities is to "envision and oversee internal and external communication programs that are strategic, focused, and timely."
"Having to physically come together twice a year for communications today is not nimble and functional," Dr. Crimi said.
The background to the amendment estimated savings in direct travel costs of $9,000 in 2009 from eliminating the council, $11,000 in 2010, and up to $23,000 per year in subsequent years.