Controversies continue over URTV transparency

While a recent release asserted that URTV follows open-meetings law, a video has surfaced with statements made by Executive Director Pat Garlinghouse at the public-access channel’s last board meeting that misrepresent that law, according a North Carolina Press Association attorney — and some board members say they were not consulted in a press release that claimed to speak on their behalf.

In a video of the board’s Jan. 15 meeting, in response to John Blackwell filming the meeting, Garlinghouse can be seen asserting that “you can the meeting, but you cannot reproduce it. The video is only a documented version that you can share with someone who needs to know the information. You have no right to put it on TV or the Internet.”

What the state’s open-meetings law says is this: “any radio or television station is entitled to broadcast all or any part of a meeting required to be open. Any person may photograph, film, tape-record or otherwise reproduce any part of a meeting required to be open.”

Asked by Xpress to review Garlinghouse’s statements, North Carolina Press Association attorney Mike Tadych cited that part of law in saying that Garlinghouse was incorrect.

Garlinghouse also states on the video that “people have a right to say they don’t want to be on TV.”

“That’s absolutely wrong,” Tadych told Xpress. Anyone at an open public meeting can be filmed, he emphasized.

Garlinghouse also says that the chair of the board can determine where someone can set their camera to film the meeting, which, according to Tadych, is correct. The law clarifies that the spot chosen “must allow such equipment to be placed within the meeting room in such a way as to permit its intended use.”

On the video, board member Richard Bernier objects to Garlinghouse’s interpretation, saying that “URTV should be more than willing to have this open up to the public. I see no reason why this couldn’t be filmed or shouldn’t be filmed.” The discussion continues briefly before URTV Operations Manager Jonathan Czarny breaks in, saying, “Mr. Chairman, none of this is on the agenda, and with all due respect to the board members, can we stick to the agenda please?”

URTV receives public money known as PEG funds, a fee charged to cable subscribers. Those funds are allocated by the city of Asheville and Buncombe County, who each have separate management agreements with URTV. An amendment to the city’s agreement in 2007 specifies that the URTV board is required to follow open-meetings law.

Also at issue is whether board members were consulted before URTV put out a press release earlier this week announcing that they would revise a controversial confidentiality oath. The release makes several statements on behalf of the board, including “The Board of Directors wishes to thank the public for their interest and recent comments about URTV” and “The Board has full confidence in its management.” It also asserts that “URTV has always been subject to the Open Meetings Act and will continue to comply. The Board will review the Oath of Office to draft language that does not imply otherwise.”

But board member Davyne Dial told Xpress that she heard nothing about the release or the changing of the oath until the release went out.

“I’m perplexed,” she told Xpress. “I was not notified. There was no meeting of or consultation with the board that I know of before this release came out.”

She later added, “The more I think about the release, I’m not perplexed … I am outraged.”

Bernier also said he was not consulted and added that he disagreed with some of the statements made on the board’s behalf.

“It was news to me,” he told Xpress. “It’s just amazing, to say we’ve been following open-meetings law. If we’d been doing that, we wouldn’t have these problems right now.”

Board members Sandra Bradbury and Ralph Roberts refused to comment about the release.

Garlinghouse has not returned repeated calls for comment on these questions.

The video is below. The exchange in question lasts from approximately 11:30 to 14:30.

— David Forbes, staff writer



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24 thoughts on “Controversies continue over URTV transparency

  1. URTV Board Meeting Minutes (excerpted)
    January 18, 2007

    PRESENT: Mark Wilson, Marianna Bailey, Nelda Holder, Bob Bowles, Sandra Bradbury, Jerry Young, Mary Ellen Brown, Pat Garlinghouse, Robin Cape


    Mark noted that all Board members had received an E-Mail from Frank Goldsmith about taping meetings. The issue is still not clear. Mark had also asked whether URTV can either tape meetings or be required to do it. Our Policies & Procedures say we cannot produce programming.

    Pat said there is open statute which allows taping of meetings as a recordkeeping device, but does not require that anything be broadcast. However, a meeting might be taped and should it be broadcasted still requires a release from anybody appearing on the tape. Nelda disagreed and said they do not need a release for public meetings. Pat disagreed. Much discussion ensued.

    Mark wanted to know if we would need a release. Robin and Nelda said we would not need a release. Marianna noted that the City Attorney cited a similar non-profit case and said we fall under the same laws. Mark’s only concern was broadcasting the meeting and protecting people who do not want to be on television.

    Nelda said we voted if a member wants to tape us they can and can put on the show on URTV. Pat said we are not a governmental agency. Nelda replied that we are financed through funds that come from government. Much more discussion ensued.

    Nelda said she asked about this issue at the last state-wide Press Association legal briefing. Their lawyers concurred with the City lawyer that we are considered public and fall under open meetings law because it is a public meeting. The meeting can be videoed and put on television.

    Bob asked if we want to take control of the taping process and make sure it is broadcast or allow members to tape as they choose. It becomes a program if members do it. It was noted that nobody was taping tonight.

    Mark recommended having a camera on during meetings. Bob wanted to try it for the next six months. Pat said they would need to make staff and equipment available. There was agreement to try to tape for next six months at our meetings for documentation purposes.

  2. Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Agenda
    February 3, 2009


    NOW, THEREFORE BE IT ORDAINED by the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners that the County Manager is authorized and she hereby is directed to execute an Amended Management Agreement with URTV, Inc. to include provision requiring the URTV Board of Directors to abide by North Carolina’s Open Meetings Law as same is set forth in North Carolina General Statutes §143-318.10 et seq.


    Amended Management Agreement with URTV, Inc.

    The Management Agreement with URTV, Inc. dated February 1, 2005 is hereby Amended to include as an additional requirement and obligation of URTV under “Scope of Services”…

  3. Asheville City Council Meeting Minutes
    Tuesday, January 9, 2007


    Summary: The City entered into a Management Agreement with URTV Inc. in November of 2004 and said agreement will expire in November, 2009. URTV, Inc. receives public funding and this Board feels all URTV Inc. Board of Director’s meetings should be open to the public. The City and the Board of Directors for URTV have agreed to amend the Management Agreement between the parties dated the 23rd day of November, 2004, to include the requirement that URTV will comply with the North Carolina Open Meetings Law, set forth in Article 33C of the North Carolina General Statutes Sections 143-318.10 et seq. Councilwoman Cape noted that the URTV Board has been conducting themselves in an open fashion and this action is to amend the agreement to formally include that provision.

  4. Please correct me if I am wrong as a producer at URTV it is my right to suggest removal of board members who I feel are a detriment to the survival of URTV? Is this a bootleg version of the meeting? Yeah Jonathon for keeping the meeting as should be conducted. Producing content for TV is not easy. Many quit after a season or two now we see a disgruntled few. Do you really want your low down actions public, then tell your part.

  5. George

    If glolady can suggest removal of a board member, then can I suggest a removal also?

    Remove Pat because she lied to the board! Then remove Ralph because he also lied to the board!
    If they would lie about this what else are they not telling the truth about?

    And please don’t try to say I am wrong because a lawyer proves that Pat and Ralph were wrong. So to say I am wrong would be calling the Lawyer a lair!

    Maybe lie is a harsh word and may cause this to not be posted, but what else can you call it?

  6. GiveMy$Back

    Malcontents is right. I’m sick of this entire circus. Who in the heck allowed public dollars to go to this. This is a huge waste of taxpayer money that should be spent somewhere useful, not on this circus. There are teachers loosing their jobs and not enough police on the streets. Why the heck is anyone supporting this bunch of children with my public dollars. I demand any money being spent on this nonsense be redirected back to the city and county. I’m not about to see my taxes go up again because they’re spending money on this garbage instead of city or county needs.

  7. Hey George…what have You done for URTV?

    Are you an active producer?

    I Know the countless hours that Ralph has dedicated to URTV… I bet that he donated a bunch of hours and hours… way more than you have.

    Can you prove that they intentionally lied and what did they lie about???

    To say that a lawyer does not lie would be to say that Blagojevich should not be impeached so please do not tell us about the morality of lawyers.

    Fabricating criminal acts keep the lawyers in business.

  8. Matt Howard

    URTV is not a circus of malcontents.
    Personally, it’s one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Yes, many, many, quit after awhile because making your own TV show takes work, dedication, and if you want to make something watchable, dicipline.
    Having been involved as much as I have, I know there is nothing shady going on behind the scenes. However the damage control on this issue in my opinion has been poorly done. As I’ve said before, the problem is a failure of communication on the part of many parties. I know for a fact that people who are coming up on both sides of this issue happen to care about and love URTV.
    And Glolady, if there was an attempt to remove board members over this issue now, at this point, things would not improve. More ammunition would simply be given to one side.

  9. and I am willing to accept the fact the you are a freaking Ahole that does nothing good for the studio.

    Ralph on the other hand has donated hours and hours of programing in one form or another.

    What gives you the right to try to destroy an asset to Asheville over petty personal grievances?

  10. 1. Attacking the arguer instead of the argument is an ‘ad hominem’ fallacious argument. You lose.

    2. Who is destroying an asset? Certainly not me. If anyone is destructive of URTV, it is those who seek to skirt the law, who openly lie about the law and their obligations to the public, who arrogantly and willfully mismanage that asset, as well as those others who dutifully turn a blind eye to it all. Will URTV’s problem go away — or will she have to be fired?

  11. SweetHeart….. Your personal vendetta against Pat is obvious.

    Why don’t you tell everyone why that is?

    We see in the news daily the businesses that have been mismanaged shutting down.

    Since Pat has managed URTV the studio has only gotten better. Those are facts.

    URTV’s problem are those who have slandered, misconstrued, and nit picked for personal reasons.

  12. Oversight

    URTV is simply not funded by public tax dollars. Money is collected all across the country by cable franchises to fund PEG channels. Peg=public, E=educational, G=government. Schools and city and county govenment are alloted funds and a channel, as is URTV. This method of funding may change in the near future but right now, that is how URTV is funded.

  13. Hey Matt… I was not calling you the Ahole… just so everyone knows that. We as active producers at URTV see and hear people slander the people who are making URTV an asset to Asheville.

    Those who watch the programing will see the large amount of Community activities that are broadcast. Shows that teach the masses important survival tools in today’s Society.

    Giving solutions to the problems and not just complaining. Active in the improvement of our Community.

  14. hello…lower case.. the video i shot is just a short thing that shows the way that urtv has been being run ,for over a year… how maney things wrong can you find in this short clip ?? is the ed. on the board?? should she sit at the table with the board,or with the other people ??? should staff sit with the board ,or with the others ?? i think you can start to see the circus now,bring in the clowns…

  15. Oversight writes: “URTV is simply not funded by public tax dollars.”

    Perhaps you can plead your case at Tuesday’s Board of Commissioner’s meeting where the board will be amending their agreement with URTV to explicitly state that URTV must fully comply with NC Open Meetings Law.

    See you there.

  16. Oversight

    Dr. Blackwell said: the video i shot shows the way that urtv has been being run, for over a year… how many things wrong can you find in this short clip ?? is the ed. on the board?? should she sit at the table with the board,or with the other people ??? should staff sit with the board ,or with the others ?? i think you can start to see the circus now,bring in the clowns…

    What clip Dr. Blackwell??? Are you sure you’re a Doctor or do you just play on on TV? Is this the clip?

  17. Oversight

    How about the clowns at the table who don’t seem to know that this meeting is basically circus?

    The “parlimentarian” shushes or directs someone asking hard questions…but allows a mere staff member, (who is not even supposed to be at the table), silence a responsible Board Member when he was asking hard legitimate questions regarding URTV’s Executive Director and Secretary (Ralph Roberts) on their statements in violation NC Open Meeting law.

    The Parlimentarien says nothing about the Executive Director running the meeting, the President appears to know squat about what to do, and is being led by the nose by the Ed and Roberts. What a sad / bad joke on our community. I feel cheated and know because of this inept oversight URTV’s very survival is threatened. Anyone (wish I could used caps and underline anyone), on this board that is supposed to have oversight on this important community service, who is not doing their job should ask themselves, what self serving reason do they have for staying on that Board?

    C’mon people, show up at the next board meeting and hold these people’s feet to the fire. We need for our government leaders to know how import URTV is to the community. Start demanding answers to the hard questions,

    Why the violation of Open Meetings?
    Why no easily viewed minutes of past meetings?
    Why isn’t the board in control of it’s meetings and allowing the ED to appears to be running the Board?

    Oh, there’s plenty more, I just have to review the video and make better notes. Better yet, anyone else see multiple “out of order” or questionable points? Add them to the list.

  18. Jon Elliston


    Thanks for commenting here, but please desist from the name-calling. For example, don’t call anyone an Ahole.

    Jon Elliston
    Mountain Xpress

  19. Sorry Jon…. I was just trying to be nice. The words that I wanted to write were un-Lady like so I refrained.

    The good thing is all this will be resolved and the truth will be revealed.

    Facts are if URTV were set up by professional people in the 1st place we would not have the problems that persist.

    Certain people have a vendetta against Pat (obvious) no matter under her direction she has turned URTV around.

  20. and g l ,how much time did you spend at urtv,befor you can judge this turnaround..pat did not build urtv. she just walked into an ongoing thing…a lot of people put in a lot of work to make urtv,befor pat got there…did she raize it from the asheses?? i think not.. i think she would like to take the credit for all the work of others,that came befor…

  21. now after the secret oath,should we be looking for secert hand signs next..i think i could come up with a few hand jeschurs that would spice things up…i think we can all bail out of this thing,with a new show,(urtv gose springer)..every one would watch to see the fight…

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