Buncombe County Commissioners preview: New URTV rules?

As controversy continues over transparency issues at URTV, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners is set to step in. At its Feb. 3 meeting, the board will consider amending the county’s operating agreement with the public-access channel to require it to follow the state’s open-meetings law.

The city of Asheville, which, like Buncombe County, also allocates money known as PEG funds — generated by a fee paid by all cable subscribers — to the channel, passed a similar amendment to their management agreement in early 2007. However, criticism has recently arisen over a confidentiality clause in an oath required for URTV board members and remarks made by Executive Director Pat Garlinghouse at the board’s last meeting. A North Carolina Press Association attorney has asserted that those comments misrepresented open-meetings law. A release from URTV last week said that the channel has always followed open-meetings law and will revise the oath.

The matter is on the commissioners’ consent agenda and so it may be approved en masse with other matters the board regards as routine, unless a commissioner chooses to pull the resolution and vote on it separately.

Also on the agenda are a possible $45,000 economic-development incentive to manufacturer Plasticard-Locktech International and an agreement with Asheville to allocate federal grant funds to help transport for the disabled.

The meeting begins at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 3, in room 204 of the Buncombe County Courthouse, with an open public-comment period at the end. A pre-meeting work session begins at 4 p.m.

— David Forbes, staff writer

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6 thoughts on “Buncombe County Commissioners preview: New URTV rules?

  1. Oversight

    Oh, dear.
    The executive director is getting her hand slapped. tsk, tsk.
    Looks to me like if she’s as experienced and qualified as she purports to be, she’d have been able to grasp the concept back in early ’07 when at one of her first board meetings she was informed of the law. She’s just deemed the rules to be for others and not for her. That woman takes the 1st place award as the enforcer, while blatently disobeying them herself. Well, that was till now…. bring on the cameras, we’ve got a lot of filming to do.

  2. Curious Observer

    Wow,
    I have a simple question. I have been reading all of these posts on these stories, and I wander why Tim Peck, Illuminati(Peter) Blackwell and others are so obsessed with this. Tim stated that when jen left he was “outta there” yet over a year later, here he is obsessively posting about something he doesn’t even participate in any more by his own admission. Peter, alias……. was removed from the board after he and jen’s coup attempt failed. Blackwell (one of jen’s closest friends) left after he was busted for trying to make money by glomming onto URTV’s popularity. Interesting common thread. Honestly, do you people really think that if you raise enough hell the city and county will turn URTV over to you? I have news for you, they will shut it down and store the gear far away from everyone and you will never see public access here again.
    Please tell me why are you doing this over what seems to be a non issue. None of you even use the station anymore.

  3. Tonight the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners amended their agreement with URTV for a second time, and for the same reason: To explicitly stipulate that URTV is expected to hold open meetings. How many times must this occur before the board of directors and the executive director begin following the law?

    In August of 2006, the URTV board of directors held a meeting where board members disputed the notion that they were subject to NC Open Meetings laws. At that time, Asheville city council member Robin Cape promised to seek clarification on this question from the city attorney and provide the board with an answer.

    Several months later, in January 2007, the City of Asheville amended their agreement with URTV to explicitly clarify that their board of directors functions as a public body and must comply with open meetings laws.

    As recently a last month, at a URTV board meeting—that for some reason included the Executive Director—this mandate to comply with the law was reinterpreted to mean that a public photographic record of the proceedings was contingent upon permission of the attendees. And the public is still unable to readily access a thorough and complete record of minutes from 42 months of meetings.

    Now we have the Executive Director attempting to submit members to an ambiguous and broadly worded oath of secrecy that now has to be re-worded due to unexpected publicity.

    This would appear to me to be a long pattern of disdain for transparency in the service of public ends. All the more reason that URTV is deserving of the closest scrutiny.

    I object to the continuing abuse of the public trust in this manner. And it is for this reason that I support the renewed amendment to the county’s agreement.

  4. Well Said

    Well said, Mr Peck.
    And one has to wonder, what has been the reason for the resistance to open meetings? After all isn’t secrecy the antithesis of what Public Access is all about. So if you have an Executive Director and Board advocating secrecy / and knowlingly in direct violation of the law; you wonder what is going on behind the scenes. Least I do.

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