Minutes – November 28, 2021

  1. Call to Order
    1. Because of COVID-19 mandatory prohibition against public gatherings, this meeting was conducted via video conference. Meeting was called to order at 6:33 PM.
  2. Attendance
    1. Present: Richard Hittinger, Susan Lema, David Michel, David Monti, Robert Murray, Peter O’Biso, Richard Reich, Roger Tellier, Dawn Filliatreault Wood, Greg Vespe
    2. Absent: Gary Johnson
    3. Guests: Steve Skenyon, nominee for Treasurer; Mitch Riffkin, RISAA attorney
  3. Minutes
    1. Motion to dispense with the reading of the October 19, minutes was made by Roger Tellier, seconded by David Monti. All voted in favor.
  4. Financial Reports
    1. Treasurer’s Report
      1. A motion to accept the Treasurer’s report (as submitted by Peter O’Biso) was made by Robert Murray, second by Richard Reich. All voted in favor. Reports are attached.
      2. Investment Statements, Foundation Statement (see attached).
  5. Membership
    1. Update on Status of Membership Entries
      1. Greg Vespe reports that he now has access to membership files. He is receiving both membership renewals and new member applications. He is mailing membership packets to all new members
      2. Dawn Filliatreault Wood reminded the Board that the membership committee (headed by Ed Kearney) contacts all new members, either in person (at in-person meetings) or via phone to welcome them. Greg will forward all new members’ names to Ed Kearney, who will then assign them to the committee members for initial contact.
  6. Communications
    1. Memorial to Steve Medeiros
      1. Richard Reich, Peter O’Biso, Greg Vespe, and Richard Hittinger met with Conor McMannus (R.I DEM Chief) on 11-18-21 at the Black Point public access area in Narragansett. Discussion centered around a possible tribute to Steve Medeiros on site. Scenarios under consideration would include signage denoting the history of Black Point and its importance to the public and fishing community, information on Steve’s tenure at RISAA, as well as information on the fishing available in the area.
    2. Public Access Commission
      1. Richard Hittinger and Peter Jenkins gave testimony before the Public Access Commission on 11-04-21. They both stressed how important shore fishing is to RI and how that depends on public access as protected in the RI Constitution. Both encouraged Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) to defend and protect public access.
    3. Congratulations to Greg Vespe
      1. Greg expressed his appreciation for assistance received both from Board members and Committee Chairs.
    4. Request from Save The Bay
      1. Save the Bay has requested that RISAA join their BRIEF OF AMICUS CURIAE on the CRMC’s approval (without public comment period) of the 3 acre expansion of Champlins Marina in New Harbor, Block Island. RISAA attorney Mitch Riffkin will read the brief and give his opinion to Greg Vespe. RISAA’s support of the brief would demonstrate to the Court that we are concerned that established process would be followed in all actions by the CRMC.
    5. Communication with RIDEM Regarding Future Regulations
      1. RISAA has requested a “pre-workshop” meeting with RIDEM to discuss issues relative to Recreational fishing regulations in 2022. Conor McManus has agreed to meet with the Board to discuss our concerns. Greg Vespe and Rich Hittinger have begun the discussion when they met with Director McManus at Black Point. Greg floated an idea to limit trophy tautog possession, but the idea was not accepted since it was not discussed at a previous workshop. Greg also introduced an idea to open Black Seabass earlier to the recreational sector.
      2. David Monti introduced concerns from member/charter captain B.J. Silvia and other members of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association that the RIPCBA is not conservation-minded enough. David will explore this issue further with the American Saltwater Guides Association (ASGA) with support from RISAA.
  7. Old Business
    1. Update from Transition Team (reported by Richard Hittinger)
      1. Greg Vespe’s transition into his new position continues. He now has control of the RISAA Facebook account and can post to the page.
    2. Update from Newsletter Team (reported by David Monti)
      1. Dave reports that 170 responses to the member survey concerning content of the newsletter have been received. The team will examine the responses with an eye towards improving content requested by the membership.
    3. Meeting Seminars/Announcements/ Recordings: (reported by Dawn Filliatreault Wood)
      1. RISAA is planning to resume in-person meetings at the West Warwick Elks’ Club in April, 2022. Dawn will contact the Elks’ management to begin the arrangements. She will then contact videographer Don Coyne to arrange recording of the live presentations.
    4. Coastal Resources Management Council Reorganization Committee: (reported by Richard Hittinger)
      1. The Chair and Vice-chair of the Commission are in the process of drafting legislation to re-organize the CRMC. They are optimistic that the legislation will pass in the RI Legislature.
    5. Slate of Officers for 2022
      1. The Board discussed vacancies in the positions of President and 2nd Vice-President now that nominations have closed for the upcoming year. The positions of Executive Director and President were formerly filled by one individual. Greg Vespe expressed concerns that splitting the two offices would confuse the membership. David Monti explained that the responsibility of Executive Director involves the “day to day” operations of the organization, while the Board members make policy decisions. Richard Hittinger suggested that individuals could be appointed to the vacant positions after elections are completed. The matter was tabled for further discussion at a later date.
    6. RISAA License Plates
      1. Greg Vespe commended the amount of work that has been accomplished in this effort. He proposed that the Board consider voting to end the project. The matter was tabled until a later date.
    7. RISAA Saltwater Fishing Show
      1. Robert Murray reported that 70% of the booths have been sold. There are approximately 107 booths remaining. The Board discussed making booths available to parties not directly involved in fishing (i.e. Vineyard Wind, Orsted, The Coastal Institute who have expressed interest in the past).
  8. New Business
    1. RISAA E-Mail Glitch
      1. Greg Vespe reported a malfunction of the email system, resulting in the loss of some original e-mails. The server is working to re-establish this service. A message has been posted on the RISAA Facebook page to alert members to this temporary malfunction.
    2. Donations to the RISAA Foundation and RISAA
      1. The Board discussed having an accountant give a brief presentation to the membership regarding the subject of donations to RISAA and its Foundation. Mitch Riffkin suggested that there are tax advantages to be had in donations when estate planning. Further exploration of this idea is forthcoming.
    3. Annual Awards Banquet
      1. This event has traditionally been authorized by the Board in September. Greg Vespe suggested a possible “Spring Kickoff Banquet” since live meetings are to resume in April. Further discussion was tabled until a future Board meeting.
    4. Bi-Annual Photo Contest
      1. In the past, the winners of the Photo contest have been announced at the February Annual Awards Banquet. The Board will review submissions at the next meeting.
    5. Meeting with RIPCBA President
      1. Greg Vespe announced he spoke recently with RI Party & Charter Boat Association President Rick Bellevance. He believes that there is some common ground between the two associations, and that efforts to work together could be mutually beneficial.
  9. Good of the Order
    1. Peter O’Biso has received a “Key Man” insurance quote. He will forward this via e-mail to the Board for discussion at the December meeting.
  10. Information
    1. Committee Meetings: all RISAA committees are required to meet to draft their 2022 budget requests, and to hold committee elections. Budgets are to be submitted for the December meeting. Richard Hittinger reports to date that most of the active committees have met.
  11. Adjourn
    1. Next meeting: December 21, 2021. Richard Reich made the motion to adjourn, second by David Monti. All voted in favor. Meeting was adjourned @ 7:56 PM.