URTV board President Jerry Young has informed Davyne Dial and Richard Bernier that they’ve been suspended from the public-access channel’s board. Both have been outspoken critics of the station’s management.
In an April 10 e-mail, Young stated that both had been suspended—Bernier for not paying his membership dues and Dial because she’s facing dismissal from the board.
“Richard, you have refused to pay your membership!” Young wrote. “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.”
The nonprofit’s bylaws, however, don’t require members of its board of directors to be dues-paying URTV members. And according to the state law governing the membership of nonprofit boards, “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 addressed 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, asking, “By what authority does the chairman of the board unilaterally suspend a member?”
Dial added that she’d asked Young for clarification on April 10 concerning the reasons for and terms of her suspension but hadn’t yet received an answer. According to URTV’s bylaws, a board member can be removed from office by a two-thirds majority vote of the board, but there’s no mention of suspension.
Dial said the suspension “came within hours after I asked for access to public records of financial spending, credit-card receipts and membership list at URTV.”
Both Dial and Bernier have criticized what they see as a lack of transparency in the channel’s operations. In recent months, URTV has faced controversies concerning a disputed confidentiality clause in an oath administered to board members (which was later rescinded), a memo from Young directing board members not to speak to the press, and questions about whether the board has followed state open-meetings law.
In a closed session in early February, URTV’s Executive Committee voted to recommend dismissing Dial and Bernier, but no action was taken at the next board meeting on March 19. At that meeting, however, URTV producer Dale Joyner presented a petition signed by 26 producers asking the board to consider removing Dial, asserting that her actions have brought negative publicity to the station.
That petition, URTV’s attorney maintained later, 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. At press time, that meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, April 29, at 7 p.m. in URTV’s offices. Joyner’s original petition did not mention a special meeting.