While it’s not announced on the public-access channel’s Web site, the URTV Board of Directors will meet tomorrow at 6 p.m. A number of controversial topics could be on the board’s agenda, including major changes to the current bylaws that would eliminate the current membership structure and place more power in the board’s hands.
The meeting may also see the board take up the removal of outspoken board member Richard Bernier, who has sharply criticized the station’s management and what he sees as a lack of transparency in the board’s dealings.
The board will meet in the Buncombe County Television offices at 199 College St. The meeting is open to the public.
The proposed changes to the URTV bylaws would eliminate the current station’s membership structure, and states flatly that “URTV shall have no members.”
Instead of members, the Board of Directors will create categories of “associates.”
“Associates of URTV shall not have the right to vote in any matter(s) brought before the Board of Directors,” the new bylaws read. “Associates are considered URTV clients who should have a venue for input to the facility operation and activities.”
However, the new bylaws make no provision for membership meetings. They also radically change the make-up of the board. Instead of 11 board members, there would be 15. Seven of those would be appointed by the sitting directors, two each by the city and county and four “associate members representative of the group of URTV clients or users of the services.”
There will be no member-elected board members, and the four associate members “shall serve indefinite terms at the pleasure of the Board. … There are no provisions for the election of Associate Members.”
The new bylaws would also vest far more power in the board’s Executive Committee, composed of the station’s officers. That committee could not approve new members of the board, change the bylaws or dissolve URTV, but otherwise “shall have and may exercise all of the authority of the Board of Directors between Board meetings.”
URTV has seen considerable controversy in recent months, most recently in a membership vote to remove Davyne Dial, another board member who has criticized the running of the station. Dial has questioned the legality of the vote. Other controversies include a confidentiality clause in an oath (later repealed), a memo from board President Jerry Young directing Board members not to talk to the press, and questions about if the board properly followed open-meetings law.
Opponents of Dial and Bernier have asserted that the station is running well and that their criticisms are bringing it negative publicity at an important time.
Bernier is also facing a removal attempt, and the Executive Committee voted to recommend his dismissal (and that of Dial) in February. However, both members took their seats and voted normally at the directors’ March meeting. After that meeting, Young declared that they were both suspended from their seats. Both have challenged that move, as URTV’s current bylaws don’t mention that the Board President has that power.
Under those bylaws, URTV board members can be removed by a two-thirds majority of the board.
Contacted by Xpress, Bernier said simply that “I plan on taking my seat.” Dial confirmed that she will attend the meeting.
— David Forbes, staff writer