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September 08, 2005

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Comments

robert ferrigno

What's amazing that for a customer base composed of readers and writers obsessed with greed, passion, duplicity and betrayal (all the basic food groups), it's taken this long for such questions to be posed. and the foolishness of those who think to divert such questions.

David J. Montgomery

I'm ready and willing to believe that everything is on the up-and-up. But I do tend to be a suspicious sort by nature, so I would like to have some reassurance that it's so.

Donna

Actually, it hasn't taken this long for the question to be asked, since it was asked quite openly in Las Vegas at the business meeting as I understand it. It's just taking a long time to be answered...

Donna

Elaine

I was at the business meeting on Saturday and I have to say the crowd was a bit testy for many reasons-but-the main thing that pissed me off was to learn the board admitted they had little teeth when it came to enforcing the bylaws-which translates to what happened to the profits from Las Vegas and Toronto. What the hell is the purpose of any board if not to keep a handle on an organization and expect/and or/demand accountability?? Each Bcon is a separate non-profit corporation and the bylaws 'suggest' profits to be forwarded to the next convention organizers. Suggest?? There were other issues as well-Pari mentioned that one of the future cons (Baltimore I think) falls during Jewish High Holidays and that she was dismayed to realize that this wasn't taken into consideration. The reply from the board was weak and I personally felt they just brushed it off as not being important-and that pissed me off as well. Deen didn't show up, but Sonya Rice did and when questioned about attendance, she said she had no idea, then finally admitted that out of 1500 book bags, 1460 had been distributed (do the math or see Paul's blog) and then left in a huff. What's the big secret? So yeah, I think changes need to be made and I'll be glad to sign on. Oh, almost forgot-in all the years Bcon has existed-a detailed S.O.P. has never been formulated. What does exist is a loosey-goosey list.

Andi

I'm going to try NOT to get into much of this but yeah, we got troubles, right here in river city. There are by-laws but no incorporation (that allegedly will finally happen) and thus enforcement does not exist. It's all gentleman's agreement stuff, has been for years. Worldcon IS incorporated and while people often sneer at "anal science ficiton fans using Roberts Rules of Order" blah blah blah, it HAS helped in years where finances or other issues arise.
I CAN explain where the money should go, but I can't explain it for this year and don't intend to get into it. Can I be rude and say - I'll post it on my blog? I've written, fyi, a "how to run a mystery convention" that is available for free to anyone who wants it - whether you're running a con or not. I'll excerpt the bit where I talk about where the money goes and post it on my blog. This is not a solicitation, but I don't want to fill up Sarah's blog with it, as she seems just about ready (understandably) to wrap up and move on. How's that?
This year? I can't tell you where the money went, but I really do NOT want to get started and end up screaming the way I'd like to about this year.

John Rickards

This may be a stupid question, but what is an annual "not for profit" organisation doing retaining profits of any kind regardless of bylaws and their enforceability?

And if Vegas and Toronto didn't retain them, and they didn't get passed on, where did they go?

Lee Goldberg

Whatever happened to the controversy that arose after Las Vegas Bouchercon where it came out that Deen supposedly copyrighted the name "Bouchercon" behind everyone's back?

And what's this I hear (via Paul Guyot) that it cost $12,000 to design and run the Bouchercon website? I saw the site. If they spent $12,000 on that, they got massively ripped off and I can only imagine how they got gouged in other areas. Maybe that's where all the money went...grossly overpaying for services.

Janet Reid

I know people are posting extemporaneously here and I don't want to come off as a nit picker (ok, I AM but never mind that now). The phrase "an annual not for profit" really raises my antenna. "Not for profit" is an IRS designation. You don't just get it for a one off convention by mailing in cereal box tops. I've been involved with several non-profits (501c3 corps) and it's an arduous process to get the designation.

If each Bouchercon is managed by separate groups under an umbrella 501c3 designation the board has more than teeth..they have legal responsiblity for the accounting.

People aren't going to go to jail or anything but this can be the kind of organizational mess that makes people crazy....and has led to lawsuits from some of the crazier folks.

Jon Jordan

The Baltimore Bouchercon opening on a Jewish Holiday was not done as a sight to anyone. All the hotels in the city that could hold this size convention were booked excpet for this weekend. This was 4 years away.It was a matter of going with that weekend or not doing it in Baltimore, which would have meant not doing it. And there were no other bids for that year.

October is the busiest month for conventions for a lot of hotels. That's why room rates are what they are.

Elaine

I didn't mean to imply Pari felt slighted by the Baltimore dates-she was only suggesting that some consideration might be given for future cons. The 'slight'-IMHO - was the indifferent attitude of the board. No fault to the Baltimore organizers was intended. Sorry if I wasn't clear.

Andi

The Monterey Bouhcercon was held in monterey rather than San Francisco in part because the organizers could not find an affordable hotel in SF in the entire month of October that year but for one offer. They didn't take it because Yom Kippur fell on that weekend; they looked around and moved it. It was NOT an easy decision, though Monterey sounds like a great location but they had planned on SF which was, among other things, easier to get to (one less plane/little airport) (and believe me when I say I kow this intimately since it was on the SFO to Monterey leg of the flight that United lost my scooter).
I don't blame anyone but I do strongly urge all convention runners to check religious calendars always. They're available years ahead and while lots of folks don't object, and relatively few will be affected by MANY holidays, it's an issue. Just as, to a lesser extent, Labor Day is for some folks whose jobs/families require them to be home or at work on that weekend. I actually googled and found a Jewish calendar website when I was looking at LCC just to be sure (not the high holidays, certainly, but LCC is set in the "first quarter of the year" and ya never know when Passover's gonna sneak up on you. Okay, I don't, because I'm not observant. THEN you do look at a regular calendar and try to GUESS which sundown the holiday really starts on because most calendars don't get that part either.

Ayo

I have got to admit that I went to the Business meeting as well. It was IMHO the worst business meeting that I have ever attended in my life. One could not get a striaght answer out of anyone. This being my first B'Con I have to say that I was very, very disappointed with the responses and behaviour of the Standing Committee. What is the point in having a Committee if they can not do anything? Some very good points were made by people from the floor but they were just ignored and or not taken seriously. Personally I think that it should be compulsory that whoever is hosting/organising B'Con should attend the Business Meeting. Secondly I think that there should be a law which ensures that no later than three months after the event that an audit should be done showing how much money was collected and how much was spent etc. It is not that hard to do and all they need is a very good accountant from the word go. I think that it was Twist Phelan who said something along the lines that anyone who is planning to host a conference should sign an agreement and have a collateral in place. I think that it is a good idea.

I really enjoyed my first B'Con for various reasons but was disappointed with the way in which the meeting was arranged. Why on earth did they have to have it at such a bloody awful time? Having sat on a number of committee's I know that one of the first things that normally gets done after the event is to account for the money. If B'Con comes under charitable status does it not have an obligation to notify the authority that deals with charities on an annual basis what its finances are? Sorry to say this but in the Uk this would not happen because you would have the Charity Commission on your back within months if you haven't filed your tax returns and how the money that you have made has been spent.

The only thing I can say is roll on Baltimore!

Ayo

Andi

I understand what Ayo is saying but if collatoeral were required, I would not be hosting Left Coast Crime in 2007. I get her - and everyone's frustration - as I heard it and YEAH, I think the chairs should be tehre (I will not tell you when or how I heard this but the cochair who did not show claimed she overslept which I find both unacceptable and laughable) and since she was the only individual who should have been there and wasn't, well, no wonder the meeting didn't accomplish much.

Iu don't exactly see any convention as a "charity" though; the fact that a convnetion happens and disappears, supposedly without making a profit does not make it a charity. Yes, we raise some moeny for charity but we are not one. We are a non-rpofit organization but I don't see that that's the same. Nor do we have ONE body that oversees such things; there's state there's federal etc.

All I can hope is that the folks who incorporate get a copy of the Worldcon paperwork and follow that example as it seems to have worked well for a LONG time now.

Cap'n Bob

I attended my first B'con in 1980 and have been to many since. It was a gentleman's/gentlewoman's game back then and there was no need for a lot of rules. Then, at the first Baltimore B'con, the spectre of financial shennanigans reared its ugly head. Since then there have been few committees who have bothered to open their books, assuming they kept any at all. The problem is that the fox is guarding the henhouse. There are no teeth to the laws aurrounding fiscal accountability and no one to enforce them. Who among you is willing to sue one of the organizers for full disclosure?
By the way, don't grouse about Sonya Rice's involvement in the Chicago con. She no more had control of the finances than you or I.
It was suggested in the past that the con chair be a paid position, perhaps with the idea that if they were given some legit money they wouldn't be tempted to rake off an obscene stipend. The idea died aborning.
It should also be pointed out that not all chairs or committees have had questionable books. San Francisco, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Omaha, Pasedena, and several others were notably forthcoming on money matters. But the bottom line is that all Bouchercons are at the mercy of their organizers' honesty--or lack of it.

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