Amid arguments and considerable tension, URTV members voted 33-12 to dismiss outspoken board member Davyne Dial on April 29, according to figures from URTV staff. Dial and her supporters have taken issue with the process, however. An Asheville police officer was present during the proceedings.
Dial’s detractors asserted that the station is running well and that her behavior has brought the public-access channel negative publicity. “We’re moving forward; we’re trying to make this work,” said URTV member David Connor Jones. “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 countered that she’s merely tried to call attention to important issues concerning station management and lack of transparency, saying she shouldn’t be penalized for, in the words of URTV member Sean McNeal, “exercising her First Amendment rights. She’s being censored.”
The member poll, which ran from 1 to 10 p.m. in URTV’s offices, was a last-minute change from the membership meeting originally scheduled for that night. Objecting to the change, Dial and others held a “nonmeeting” to discuss issues facing the station.
Board member Sandra Bradbury was there and said that although the notice announcing the change 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.
Dial, meanwhile, confirmed that she’d hired an attorney, who called URTV and said that any votes counted before 7 p.m. were invalid. “I retained an attorney because this process is not legal,” Dial explained. “I did not threaten to sue. The attorney just said, ‘Hey, if you do this, it’s not legal.’”
But board Treasurer Joe Scotto maintained that the transparency concerns have been resolved and that URTV is complying with the state’s open-meetings law, as required by its contracts with Asheville and Buncombe County. Both local governments funnel a portion of cable-TV fees to the public channel.
“There’s no secret meetings,” said Scotto. “Our meetings are open; they’ve been filmed. We’ve addressed these concerns.”
After the vote, Dial sent out a list of criticisms of the process. Her supporters, she said, hadn’t been instructed to vote after 7 p.m., while her opponents had. In addition, said Dial, the requisite membership meeting was never called to order.