URTV Board President Jerry Young has told board members Davyne Dial and Richard Bernier that they are suspended from the public access channel’s board. Both Dial and Bernier have been outspoken critics of the station’s management, and are potentially facing removal from their board positions.
In an e-mail dated April 10, Young stated that Bernier and Dial were suspended—Bernier for not paying his membership dues and Dial because she faces dismissal.
“Richard, you have refused to pay your membership!” Young writes in the e-mail. “I have previously informed you of this matter which is expected of all our membership. Therefore, you should not be speaking to anyone on behalf of URTV. As president I am the only authorized person to speak for URTV.” URTV’s bylaws, however, don’t require members of its board of directors to also be dues-paying members of URTV. State law that covers the membership of non-profit boards states that “a director need not be a resident of this State or a member of the corporation unless the articles of incorporation or bylaws so prescribe.”
Young’s e-mail also addresses Dial: “Davyne, as you are aware you have been officially noted that you are up for dismissal from the board and as a result you also should not be speaking in behalf of URTV,” it reads. In a subsequent e-mail to Xpress, Dial questioned the reasons behind her suspension and asked “by what authority does the chairman of the board unilaterally suspend a member?”
Dial added that she requested clarification from Young on the reasons and terms of her suspension on April 10, but has not yet received an answer. URTV’s bylaws establish guidelines for dismissing a board member by a two-thirds majority vote of the board, but there is no mention of suspension. Dial said that the suspension “came within hours after I asked for access to Public Records of financial spending, credit card receipts and membership list for at URTV.”
Both Dial and Bernier have criticized what they see as a lack of transparency at the channel, which has faced controversies in recent months concerning a disputed confidentiality clause in an oath administered to board members (the oath was later rescinded), a memo from Young directing board members not to speak to the press, and questions about whether the board has followed open-meetings law.
URTV’s executive committee voted in a closed session in early February to recommend dismissing Dial and Bernier, but no action was taken at the following board meeting, which took place March 19. At that meeting, URTV Producer Dale Joyner presented a petition signed by 26 producers asking the board to take up the removal of Dial, asserting that her actions have brought negative publicity to URTV.
That petition, URTV’s attorney later said, constituted a call for a special meeting of the channel’s membership to directly vote on Dial’s dismissal, since she was elected by the members. That meeting will be held April 29 at 7 p.m. in URTV’s offices. Joyner’s original petition did not mention a special meeting.
—David Forbes, staff writer