Central Electric 
Railfans' Association

CERA News for November 2013

Sunday, November 03, 2013 12:00 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

2014 Memberships Now On Sale

This photo of CTA 4391 in Chinatown appears on CERA's 2014 membership card. The only surviving Chicago postwar PCC car is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Photo by Charles L. Tauscher, Wien-Criss Archive)

This photo of CTA 4391 in Chinatown appears on CERA’s 2014 membership card. The only surviving Chicago postwar PCC car is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Photo by Charles L. Tauscher, Wien-Criss Archive)

You can purchase a 2014 CERA Membership right now, either online or by mail. The costs are as follows:

Associate (USA) $42*
Active (USA) $45*
Contributing $90
Sustaining $180

*International members add $30 to these rates. All payments are due in US dollars.

These rates are the same for new members as well as renewals. Once payment is received, we will be able to figure out whether it is a renewal. If you do not know you member number, we can look that up as well.

We will mail our your 2014 Membership Card ASAP. It will have you member number next to your name on the label. There will also be a colored dot on the card indicating membership class.

We are still taking renewals for 2013. Many of our members pride themselves on having had continuous memberships for many years. You can renew for 2013 by mail or online using the same link above (to our web site). You can print out all forms and mail them in, or pay online using PayPal, debit and credit cards. Please do not send your sensitive credit card information to CERA.

We thank all our members for their continued support of CERA. Since we are a 501(c)3 organization, contributions beyond the $45 Active Membership rate may be tax-deductible.

Become a card-carrying member of CERA!

(The international rates have gone up to reflect the greatly increased costs of mailing books and other notices outside the US. Without these increases, we would have to consider discontinuing international memberships, which we do not want to do. Also, if international memberships cannot cover the costs, this means that domestic members would have to pay more to subsidize them, which again, we do not want to do.)

Book Entitlements

All members will receive a book entitlement, in addition to free admission to our monthly CERA programs.

Our next CERA book (B-146) will be Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: the PCC Car Era, to be published in Spring 2014. This is the entitlement for 2012 Members.

We will publish B-147 in Fall 2014. The title has yet to be determined. This will be the entitlement for 2013 members.

We expect to publish B-148 in 2015. This will be the entitlement for 2014 members. This will put us back on our regular production schedule.

Proposed By-Laws Changes

Your CERA Board of Directors will propose changes in our By-Laws, to be voted on at the Annual Meeting on January 24, 2014. The exact wording of the proposals will be distributed by mail to the membership for their consideration not less than 10, nor more than 40 days prior to that meeting. A majority of those Active, Contributing, and Sustaining Members present is required for approval.

Both changes involve classes of membership. At present, the By-Laws specify four such classes, Associate, Active, Contributing, and Sustaining. If the changes being proposed are approved, there would still be four classes, but they would be Active, Contributing, Sustaining, and Life memberships. The two changes, the addition of one category and the elimination of another, will be considered separately.

Life Membership

Many organizations have Life Members, with varying ways of determining the cost. Some organizations offer a Life Membership for a flat fee. Others have a sliding scale based on age. Some have honorary Life Members. At present, CERA’s By-Laws prohibit Life Memberships. The Board of Directors would like to change this.

In general, the Board wishes to establish a Life Member category, with the exact requirements to be left to the discretion of the Directors. Putting exact requirements in the By-Laws would tie the hands and limit the flexibility of future Boards. However, the Directors intend to establish a sliding scale for determining the price of a Life Membership, based on the age of the applicant, of so much per year. This would be based on expected actuarial lifespan.

In addition, the Board would like to be able to offer an honorary Life Membership in exceptional circumstances. Limitations could be placed on the number of such memberships. Perhaps there could be one honorary Life Membership that could be granted in each calendar year.

The Board would also prefer that the dues paid for a Life Membership be deposited in our investment account, so they will generate the funds needed to pay for the expenses involved in having such members in future years. Since this is a new category, it could go into effect as soon as it is approved (if approved) at the 2014 Annual Meeting.

Associate Membership

CERA has offered both Associate and Active memberships for more than 70 years. Over time, it has become obvious to the Directors that the original intentions behind this distinction have been lost, and are no longer meaningful. Therefore, the Board proposes the elimination of the Associate category.

In the first few years of the organization, you had to undergo a “catechism” in order to become an Active member, where you had to successfully answer a series of quiz questions about electric railways. While this may have been done partly in jest, that is how it was done. Needless to say, we have not had such a requirement in a long time.

CERA’s Directors originally thought that Active Members would be people who live in the Chicago area, and Associate Members would live in different parts of the country. Over time, this distinction has also been lost or blurred. We have many Active Members who live outside Chicago, some even in foreign countries, while we have just as many Associate Members who live in Chicagoland.

ALL classes of members receive a book entitlement, plus free admission to our monthly meetings, so there is no difference there. Active Members receive our monthly program notices, while we sometimes mail them to Associate Members as well, if we have other mailings to send them anyway. While we charge slightly less for Associate ($42) vs. Active ($45) memberships, there is not much difference there either.

This year, CERA has been sending out News updates to our members on a monthly basis. It hardly seems fair that we would not send such updates to our Associate Members as we do to the others.

There really does not seem to be much point in having a class of membership where people are required to be inactive. We want all our members to be active and interested in CERA. Associate Members cannot vote in our elections, and cannot serve as Directors or on committees, even if they want to.

It would be preferable that all Members have the same rights to vote and to serve. If someone wants to be a Member and remain inactive in such matters, they can still do so- but by their own choice, not ours.

The difference in the cost between an Active and Associate membership is supposed to cover the reduced costs of mailing to the latter. For 2014, the Board increased the cost of Associate Membership from $38 to $42, a difference of about 10%, to reflect our increased costs of mailings. We are sending more mailings to all our members, and there really isn’t a downside to that, since these mailings have been very successful in stimulating interest in CERA and its activities.

When we send book catalogs to our members, we sell more books. When we send renewal notices, we get more renewals. It is hard to imagine how CERA could have had a successful 75th Anniversary series of events without the various mailings that were sent out to ALL our members, including the Associates.

For 2014, the difference in cost between an Associate and Active membership is only $3. This hardly seems like enough of a difference to warrant keeping the Associate category.

If people are concerned about the cost of mailings and saving CERA money through reducing them, there are other ways to do that. The easiest and simplest way would be to sign up to become a “follower” of the CERA Members Blog. That way, you will automatically receive much the same CERA news, updates, and program information by email. Better yet, you will be in control of your own subscription, which will reduce CERA’s overhead costs that would be incurred in managing it.

Once you subscribe to the Blog, all you would need to do is drop us a line, telling us that you prefer to receive your updates this way, and we would in turn stop mailing them to you, until you tell us to start them up again. This is something that ALL members can do right now, and it doesn’t take an additional membership category to accomplish it.

The simplest way to put this change into effect would be to eliminate the various references to Associate Membership in our By-Laws. The exact wording of these proposals has yet to be made, and will be approved by the Board of Directors at our November meeting, prior to being mailed out to the voting membership.

Again, any such change would have to be approved by a majority of Active, Contributing, and Sustaining Members attending our 2014 Annual Meeting. AND, the change would not go into effect until 2015. You can still purchase an Associate Membership for 2014 for only $42, either online (through our web site) or by mail.

Directors Election

CERA’s Active, Contributing, and Sustaining Members will elect three people to our Board of Directors at our Annual Meeting on January 24, 2014. Due to the changes in our By-Laws that were approved earlier this year, changing the number of Directors from 9 to 7, this is a transitional election. There are two 3-year terms available, and one 2-year term.

The top two vote-getters will receive 3-year terms, and the third-place finisher will get a 2-year term. In future years, there will be a cycle of three, two, and two Directors elected per year (which adds up to seven), each with a 3-year term. (In the 2013 election, there was only one vacancy, in order to reduce the total number of Directors from 9 to 7.)

The three Directors whose terms are expiring are John NicholsonJoseph Reuter, and Bill Reynolds. All three have indicated that they wish to stand for election again. However, anyone who is an Active, Contributing, or Sustaining member for 2014 is eligible to serve. If you qualify and are interested, please contact our Nominations Committee indicating your interest, as follows:

By mail:

CERA Nominations Committee
PO Box 503
Chicago, IL

By e-mail:


Once it is determined whose names will appear on the ballot, they will be mailed out to our Active, Contributing, and Sustaining Members in accordance with our By-Laws. You can return your ballot either by mail (to the PO Box of the Elections Committee chair, which will be printed on the ballot) or bring it to the Annual Meeting.

Please contact us at ceraoffice@gmail.com (or at the office) if you have any questions or comments about the election or our proposed By-Laws changes.


-Your CERA Board of Directors

Copyright 2018 Central Electric Railfans' Association. All Right Reserved 

Central Electric Railfans' Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  P.O. Box 503, Chicago, IL  60690

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