Controversy looms over URTV board meeting

At the URTV board’s March 19 meeting, outspoken members Davyne Dial and Richard Bernier kept their seats—for now, at least—despite a recommendation from the public-access channel’s Executive Committee that the two be dismissed.

The board also voted to increase the number of times it meets and scrapped a controversial oath board members had been required to take.

Controversy concerning the channel’s management and operational transparency has continued over the past month-and-a-half. And though those issues were brought up at the meeting, the board avoided any prolonged discussion of them.

During the meeting proper and again during public comment, Bernier suggested that the board discuss questions about transparency and the state’s open-meetings law. But he was shot down by Parliamentarian Bob Horn, who noted that no such item was on the meeting agenda.

Board President Jerry Young revealed that the channels’ Executive Committee had met Feb. 9 and recommended dismissing vocal board critics Bernier and Dial. The meeting place, said Young, had been changed at the last minute to Trinity Baptist Church, where he is a pastor. “We changed the venue, as I was required to be at my job,” he explained. “We do have audio of that meeting, and I’ll be glad to let anyone listen to it that desires to. So that’s my report for right now.”

Treasurer Joe Scotto seemed unwilling to leave it at that, however. “Being that the meeting was called on such short notice and that didn’t give everyone a chance to attend, can we move that we disregard what happened at that meeting and reconvene at another time?” he asked.

“No,” replied Secretary Ralph Roberts. “I wouldn’t support that.”

“No,” Young said. “We met and we had the meeting.”

URTV’s bylaws require four days’ notice for special committee meetings.

Board member Sandra Bradbury asked what had happened at the meeting, noting, “I haven’t seen any minutes.”

Young said the Executive Committee had gone into closed session to discuss “possible legal issues from the recent press about URTV.” When they came out of closed session, he said, they made a motion to recommend dismissing Dial and Bernier. (The final decision rests with the board.)

But after Bradbury asked whether the board had to vote on such a dismissal, Horn responded: “These are reports; You report and then move on. Items of discussion are the things on the agenda.”

However, no motion to dismiss Dial and Bernier was made at the March 19 meeting, and both continued making motions and voting on matters before the board as usual.

A motion by Bernier to scrap a controversial oath requiring board members to keep URTV dealings confidential was approved on a 5-3 vote. Dial and Bernier were joined by Scotto, Horn and Bradbury, while Roberts, Young and Pam Silver voted against the motion.

“URTV’s cornerstone is to be transparent and open,” Bernier declared. “I have sworn several oaths of office, and when I read [URTV’s], it appeared to be a secrecy oath.”

Roberts, however, said he had no problem with the oath.

The board will now devise a new oath.

A motion by Dial to expand the number of board meetings from six per year to eight was approved with only Roberts opposed. (The bylaws had originally called for eight meetings, but the board reduced that figure to six without changing the bylaws.)

Executive Director Pat Garlinghouse was absent, and Young said she was out of town.

Also absent was Asheville City Council member Bill Russell, who is Council’s liaison to URTV. Russell, who was listed as an official guest for the meeting, had previously said he’d show up to “have some pretty frank, open discussions about their charter and bylaws.”

Questions remain

Meanwhile, several speakers during the public-comment portion of the meeting also raised transparency concerns.

“This community got a lot of bad media, specifically from articles in the Mountain Xpress. I think some questions have been raised, and I haven’t heard anyone address those questions,” said Gillian Kearns. “There are a lot of people—at least in West Asheville, my neighbors—who have a really bad feeling about all of this. Any nonprofit, if they make an agreement with a government body, has to abide by that or they’ll get their money pulled.”

The big meet: The URTV Board of Directors at its March 19 meeting. Outspoken board members Davyne Dial and Richard Bernier are at the far right end of the table. Photo by Jonathan Welch

Kearns called on the city or county to look into the matter, saying, “This has brought a really bad taste in the community, and I don’t see anyone from URTV addressing it.”

Local activist Jerry Rice called the meeting “a kangaroo court” and took issue with Roberts’ having asked him before the meeting not to film the proceedings.

“It shouldn’t be. It should be respectful and meaningful and respectful to the citizens,” said Rice.

“I still think you’re out of line,” Roberts replied.

“This is a public building, and you can video all you want to,” retorted Rice. “It ought to be a standing thing [for URTV board members] to get trained on what open-meetings law is.”

He added: “I think a lot of the things we’re hearing in the negative is not because you’re not good people but because you’re ignorant. You’re not educated to what you need to be doing. Get yourself in order before you start telling everyone else how to do it.”

Also during public comment, URTV producer Dale Joyner attacked Dial, presenting a petition signed by 26 URTV producers calling for her dismissal.

“Dial has brought undue negative publicity and false rumors to URTV that have served to bring URTV negative press at a very critical period,” Joyner charged, adding that she believes Dial has “openly defied polices of URTV as a seated board member.”

The meeting ended an impassioned plea by URTV producer Matt Howard for the channel to get past its difficulties.

“I’m of the opinion that to pick unnecessary fights is an impediment to productivity,” he said. “There has been behavior and judgment on the part of both sides that has just made things worse. The most important thing to me is that the money is supposedly going to run out come July 2010 [when URTV’s agreements with the city and county expire]. The most important thing to me is that in August 2010, URTV has a ‘still-on-the-air’ party. Everything else comes in second place.”

To view video of the URTV meeting, go to www.mountainx.com.

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11 thoughts on “Controversy looms over URTV board meeting

  1. Davyne_Dial

    Sorry folks, that first comment got posted before I was able to do proper editing…

    Dale Joyner said: ”
    “Dial has brought undue negative publicity and false rumors to URTV that have served to bring URTV negative press at a very critical period,” Joyner charged, adding that she believes Dial has “openly defied polices of URTV as a seated board member.”

    Ms. Joyner , you hardly know me, so the venom you displayed toward me is perplexing….my private letter extending an offer of understanding and meeting one on one has gone unanswered. It has always been my principle to make a judgment about a person based on first hand association and experience with that person…and not be influenced by others who may just want to further divide URTV’s members. Thank about how you may be being used.

    Ms. Joyner, I am not that powerful a person that I singlehandedly brought negative publicity to URTV. It has been the actions of certain people that have brought about the negative press….I have been on the receiving end of those actions. I have spoken briefly about the propensity of certain people to harshly enforce URTV bylaws, yet ignore them completely when it seems advantageous for them to ignore those laws. An example was the announcement of the Chairman that URTV had eliminated committees…yet when I ask for a discussion (as promised at the January meeting ….see the video of this ) I was summarily dismissed by a fellow board member, using parliamentary procedures of “point of order” to avoid discussing. The rules for URTV are the whole board must vote on whether a committee can go into private meetings and change the bylaws….Currently certain members of the board are using the executive committee to blatantly ignore proper procedure. Here is a video clip to further explain what happened form January to March. In January we were told we’d have an opportunity to discuss any committee or bylaws changes, but look at what happens in the March meeting:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5629661647096642595&ei=zdTJSe9ygaqvAtnJ6PYC&q=urtv+board

  2. Notice that when Scotto made a motion to dismiss the Executive Committee report recommending the removal of Dial and Bernier, instead of taking a vote of the board, parliamentarian stickler Roberts simply says, “No.”

    Way to go Mister “Point of Order.”

    I would consider this to be a pending matter that should be taken up and disposed of at the next meeting.

    Gee, when will that be? I can’t wait.

  3. BS_Monitor

    “Executive Director Pat Garlinghouse was absent from the meeting. Young stated that she was “out of town today.”

    URTV members, who were at URTV just before the Board meeting are saying she was there at the station….not out of town.

  4. Thank you “BS_Monitor”.

    I take it that this means that the Executive Director intentionally avoided attending the meeting, where she was scheduled to present a formal report to the board, and falsified the reason for her absence.

    The photographic record shows a whispering Ralph Roberts coaching the chairman about the reason for her absence (“She’s out of town”). The chairman then repeats his comments for the audience.

    Was Ralph Roberts unaware that the Executive Director was at the studio just a few blocks away? Was the chairman?

    Also, to my knowledge, the Executive Director’s report has not been received by the board.

    Perhaps this absent staff member can muster the courage to attend the next board meeting and make her presentation as requested by the board of directors.

  5. BS_Monitor

    Tim_Peck:I take it that this means that the Executive Director intentionally avoided attending the meeting, where she was scheduled to present a formal report to the board, and falsified the reason for her absence. ________________________

    Yep, looks lie another big fat one she’s so famous for.
    My guess is that now that meetings are filmed she’s afraid., she cannot keep all her stories straight.

    Several people noticed big boy Ralph Roerts (Mr.point of order) had an earphone in, and believe she was in constant contact with him through the meeting.

  6. Matt Howard

    Ralph is one of those people who wears his bluetooth all the time. Seriously guys, if you want to go after people who you see as problems to an instutution, stick to what can be verified, as opposed to speculation. It sounds like crazy talk.

  7. Festus_NC

    Howard: “Ralph is one of those people who wears his bluetooth all the time.”
    ___________________________________

    Not wearing one at the January meeting.

    However the point here is:
    the absence of the Executive Director, and while the President “said” she was out of town….she was spotted at URTV.

  8. Matt Howard

    If there is a point then stick to it. There are valid criticisms of how Ralph conducted himself at the last meeting without needing to make up any spy stuff. It makes the difference between sounding like you are trying to achieve a change, or just going after someone.

  9. Matt is correct, there were numerous “valid criticisms” recorded at that meeting. The most relevent one being where a chosen few members “cherry picked” to have a secret meeting to vote off a couple of members who they deem to be a thorn in their side. Wouldn’t all boards and bodies like city council and county commissioners like to be able to get away with this type of gross cronyism???? The second was again the “chosen few”, changing the committee structure, without the Board giving it’s consent to do so. This is all on the videos folks.

    http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=urtv+board+meeting&hl=en&emb=0&aq=f#

  10. it is coming up soon.. now is the time to get on the phone,or the email,and get all good members out to vote at the meeting.. as you may know we have no email list,so everyone must call who they know…
    please help stand for free speech at urtv…

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