URTV members voted 33-12 on Wednesday to dismiss outspoken board member Davyne Dial, according to figures from URTV staff. However, Dial and her supporters have taken issue with the process.
The URTV studios were the scene of no small amount of tension and arguments. An Asheville police officer was in the offices during the proceedings.
Dial’s detractors asserted that the station is running well and that her actions caused negative publicity for the public-access channel.
“We’re moving forward, we’re trying to make this work,” URTV producer David Connor Jones said. “But negative stuff — portraying URTV as a shambles and not working properly — how does that help the membership? She’s being removed from the board because a lot of people are dissatisfied.”
Dial and her supporters replied that she’s just tried to bring attention to management and transparency issue,s and that she should not be penalized for, in the words of URTV producer Sean McNeal, “exercising her First Amendment rights; she’s being censored.”
The poll, lasting from 1 to 10 p.m. in URTV’s office,s was a last-minute change from a member’s meeting originally scheduled for that night. In objection to the change, Dial and others held a “nonmeeting” to discuss issues facing the station.
Board member Sandra Bradbury was there, and said that while the notice changing from a meeting to a poll had been signed “URTV Board of Directors,” she’d had no knowledge of it.
“It seems like they’re going off on their own and having secret meetings,” she said. “I hadn’t heard anything about it.”
Dial confirmed she had retained an attorney who had called URTV and said that any votes counted before 7 p.m. were invalid.
“I retained an attorney because this process is not legal,” she said. “Me standing on my own and saying that wouldn’t have the same weight. I did not threaten to sue, the attorney just said, ‘Hey, if you do this, it’s not legal.’”
But Treasurer Joe Scotto said that transparency concerns have been resolved and that URTV is following the state’s open-meetings law, as its required to do by its contracts with the city and county, who funnel a portion of cable fees to the channel.
“There’s no secret meetings,” he said. “Our meetings are open, they’ve been filmed. We’ve addressed these concerns.”
“You failed to speak up, Joe — you were a part of it,” Board member Richard Bernier, who’s also facing a dismissal attempt, said of transparency concerns.
“The issues that have been resolved — about open meetings — have only been done because me and Richard and I have been insisting these things are done,” Dial said. “If nothing else happens, and I get kicked off the board, I feel pretty good because things are looking up, people are paying attention. This is an important public entity to our community. I’m sorry that it had to come to this point, but you have a management style that forces a push-comes-to-shove situation, which is extremely unfortunate.”
Both Dial and Bernier said they’re willing to sit down with URTV’s management and other board members to work out their disagreements.
After the vote, Dial sent out a list of criticisms of the process, including that her supporters hadn’t been told to vote after 7 p.m. while her opponents had, and that the necessary membership meeting had never been called to order.
— David Forbes, staff writer