URTV removes board member

On Monday, the URTV Board of Directors voted, with one abstention, to remove Richard Bernier from his post, in a resolution asserting that in his outspoken criticism of the station’s management had not dealt with conflicts correctly and damaged URTV’s reputation. Bernier replied that he had tried to bring up important issues of transparency that many of the other directors had ignored.

Over the past few months, Bernier has criticized a confidentiality clause in an oath for board members (later rescinded), attempts by Executive Director Pat Garlinghouse to discourage filming of board meetings and the overall management direction of URTV, which, he has claimed, hasn’t tried to recruit and retain members aggressively enough.

A “statement for board removal” that asserted Bernier’s actions “have damaged URTV in the eyes of the community it represents”  and circulated among directors gave four reasons for his removal:

• “Richard has not brought issues to Board for consideration, or to be defended, before going to the community/media/Council/Commissioners with complaints and/or demands for action — rather, he has continually argued his positions in the press. Any and all legitimate issues that were raised were dealt with quickly and correctly as per URTV bylaws;”

• “Richard presents a state of antagonism between himself and the URTV board. By so doing, Richard is not acting in the best interests of the organizaton;”

• “Richard doesn’t consider cause and effect;”

• “Richard’s actions are contrary to an acceptable standard of conduct for URTV.”

Before the vote, Bernier made a statement defending his actions as those of a long-time producer and advocate of URTV trying to address pressing issues.

“I support URTV 100 percent, and the current staff has met their obligation to meet the public’s needs on a daily basis — that’s not in question,” Bernier said. “But the direction of the URTV board is troubling.”

He proceeded to tell the other members to vote for his removal if they had issues with his action.

“As board members we have a responsibility to exercise oversight. There were issues brought up in the board that I’ve tried to address,” Bernier said. “After being on this board, I see nothing right. If you’re not a supporter of transparency and open-meeting laws vote me off. If you see no fault in URTV’s staff not wanting our meetings filmed, then vote me off. That was totally against open-meetings law and we [Bernier and former board member Davyne Dial, who has also been removed] tried to bring it up.”

Bernier said that he was left with little choice but to take the matter public. After “a member of the public asks to film and is shot down, where do you go?” he said. “I sent e-mails out, I asked for help about being on the board and procedure and said there were issues. The rest of the board said there were no issues.

“Many times I tried to get something on the agenda, it would fail to be there,” he added. “It’s been a constant battle. I didn’t want there to be this kind of animosity, but I will stand up for what’s right.”

Bernier said that he feared that the conflicts meant the end of “the melting pot” of different views and lifestyles that had drawn him to URTV in the first place.

“We saw that early on, and somewhere we’ve lost that,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ll get that back. The division is there now. After I’m gone, you’ll have full rein. But you’re still board members. You still have responsibilities, and I suggest you look at them very strongly.”

Bernier finished his statement by making the motion for his own removal and voting in favor of it.

New member Matt Howard said that as he had not been on the board during the period of Bernier’s actions, he felt he could not vote one way or the other.

Board member Hunter Goosmann told Xpress after the meeting that URTV’s own attorney had “very different views” on the actions Bernier asserted violated open-meetings law and that the vote, for him, was not personal.

“I hope he’ll remain and be an active producer, he’s an excellent producer,” Goosmann said. “My biggest concerns right now aren’t for Mr. Bernier, they’re for URTV and finding opportunities for it to grow in its services to Buncombe County.”

— David Forbes, staff writer

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23 thoughts on “URTV removes board member

  1. John Smolkin

    Good result. Now maybe we can get on with business without the whining desent!

  2. John Smolkin

    I’d like to clarify. I admire Bernier for standing up for what he believes…to the end. But for the good of URTV, I do think it best he has stepped down. I do hope URTV runs well in the future, and that Mr Bernier continues as a producer of note.

  3. jeff turner productions

    i liked richards television shows,he and randy were always presenting some interesting topic,,its true im just a producer,but i truely believe in trying to work things out without the loss of other persons that are part of the greater good,i dont really know the articles of incorporation,nor the board responsibilities that go along with it,however, i do recognize when a person has a burning passion for things that he or she believes in,richard may or may not be correct in his assessments of the boards responsibilities and actions,but on the other hand,he never waivered in his beliefs,even after several months of threats and actions to remove him,and i appreciate that kind of stick-to-it-ness.I being a county board member myself,(soil and water conservation district),know all to well how he feels about the issues he speaks of,open books,minute keeping,rules and regulations,changes,issues that he as a board member, should have a right to question.i have filmed at our meetings,but not to use in a detrimental way,but for remembering word for word,the meeting and its issues.a daily study guide,the tape recorder works as well,oh some of the board members dont want to be filmed,and they have that right,,,but i record for my benefit and just the facts,however, open meetings law permits filming..so ” most boards” dont have a problem with it,but if they did ,i’d be inclined to believe they would be hiding something,,or that it might be privileged information about a client,which is protected under the freedom of information act,i have learned myself that to much zeal…can be harmful to the organization,of which i want to preserve,,,not destroy…jeff turner live……thanks mountain xpress!!!!!

  4. jeff turner

    yeh i just hate it when ole jonboy stands there with his AK-47 pointed at my head,reminding me that i shouldnt freely speak on free speaking,,and its even worse when they send me to the siberian editing station,you’d think i was RASPUTIN COME BACK FOR ONE MORE SHOW,,in reality,my membership at U R T V,,IS THE BEST CHOICE I EVER MADE SPENDING MY MONEY,and i appreciate the cicle?, room floor…and personally, i like the czar alot…URTV IS THE FREE SPEECH WEAPON OF CHOICE…JEFF TURNER

  5. jeff turner productions

    yes sir, TIM,its suppose to be very funny,ive had no problems from the station or its board,maybe others have issues i am in the dark about,but i have had ….NO….problems ,and from the staff i ask and receive everything i need to make the show come off good every week,,honestly,,could just be that others like to stir controversy,i dont know about that,but ive paid my modest fees to enjoy the use of the station and its offerings,and i do..i believe some folks just like to politicize everything,a television board is the one board that should be politic free,but in my opinion only,i think certain of members ,were trying to use the station and the board for their political soap-box steeping stone,get a little experience in q and a,and boom,instant candidate for local office,,in reality i think a board with 13-15 members is a joke in the first place,im former navy and i believe strongly in the chain of command,i at times questioned orders,but never in such a way as to cause my officers(pilots)to lose the respect of the squadron,one works their way up the chain of command,we dont just jump to the top with our inexperienced thoughts or actions,or self- indulgent ways,i also know my place on the board in which i serve,and i take it and my sworn oath as serious as anyone can,,,,i love america,and my community,and this is ….no….joke,thanks for responding

  6. URTV Member

    Jeff,

    Tim is far to serious a NON-MEMBER to get anything like URTV brevity.
    It’s a member thing, he wouldn’t understand!
    I’m glad to hear URTV is working for you.

    Be prepared, you are about to be lectured about how bad URTV is and how evil the board and E.D. are.

    Now, I bring you the OFTEN repeated views of the non-participating, no dues paying, bitchers and whiners who didn’t get their way:

    AND…….WAIT FOR IT………..GO!!!!!!!

  7. John Smolkin

    Now Jeff, you know Peck has no sense of humor. How dare you play with him in such a way! -:)

  8. Johnny L House Jr

    Hmmm, so now Hunter Goosmann is the “spokesperson.” Guess it became apparent Jerry Young was a bit incoherent. And Ralph come off as too much of a bully.

    Mr Goosmann mentions open meeting issues brought forward on many occasions by Mr. Bernier, and how he went about dealing with non compliance issues wrongly…..However URTV has continually defied meeting law, notification law, procedures for removing a sitting board member, and there are other issues of non compliance. .Open meeting laws are pretty clear and proper meeting notifications are pretty simple…all on has to do is follow what the city and county is now doing to be in compliance. It’s not that complicated Mr. Goosman.

    At this meeting for Bernier’s dismissal, “public comment” was not allowed by the spokesperson. However all “special meetings” I read about do indeed, allow for public comment. Does anyone but me get the impression that these people (who are supported by public funds) don’t really care to uphold the laws??? Ad what does that say about what is going on behind the scenes with public funds?????

    The city’s 2007 amendment to the original management agreement SPECIFICALLY states URTV is funded by the public and must comply with NC Open meeting laws.
    http://www.mountainx.com/xpressfiles/urtv_in_asheville_and_buncombe_county

    And here’s the county amendment.
    http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:QDUVxS5EZWMJ:www.buncombecounty.org/GOVERNING/commissioners/ArchivedAgenda/20090203/web_PDF/URTVRez.pdf+Buncombe+county+URTV+amendment&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

  9. Bob White

    Johnny L. House, Jr. (another of the many Peter Breznyovichski pseudonyms), do you really give that much perspicacity (acute mental vision) to the city and/or county? Come on! They’ve blown big time issues such as the infamous magnolia tree situation, zoning, property taxes, management of and cooperation with each entity on water issues … etc. etc. … and YOU expect THEM to understand how public access TV works? Again, come on!

    Once more, URTV is not funded by public money. Period. The money comes from a francise fee levied on Charter. Look it up, only about 10% of households in Buncombe County even have cable. … hardly public funds by any definition.

  10. James Wilson

    Good points Johnny but from what I can read throughout these threads is that URTV member, John Smoklin, and the board of directors, with exception of Matt Howard, do not recognize URTV receives public money and do not want to be held accountable by public scrutiny. They continue to disobey their management agreements and I often wonder if they have ever read the agreements and bylaws. If they have, they must be illiterate.

    The only conclusion that the URTV board and it’s members have led me to is that it has been a massive waste of public funds and it would be in the public’s best interest if public funding and support for URTV is withdrawn.

  11. “The money comes from a francise fee levied on Charter.”

    This does not make those funds private. Forceably collecting fees from cable subscribers is simple the mechanism used to expropriate public funds.

  12. James Wilson

    “Once more, URTV is not funded by public money. Period.”

    With all due respect Bob you are wrong and URTV URTV is funded by the public. Those franchise fees you talk about are paid to the city/county and it is a contractual obligation by Charter along with the city and county governments to give Charter exclusivity in the area.

    Being that the funds are paid to city and county governments which are public institutions the money is indeed public funds. However, the point you’re making is additionally irrelevant as the management agreements that URTV operates under and agreed to with the city and county states that URTV receives public funding.

    It is false and irreverent arguments like these made by URTV members and supporters, such as yourself, that have led me and others to the conclusion that URTV is a wastefule “money pit” operated by adult children who are not worthy of public support or funding.

  13. Johnny L House Jr

    Oh for Christ’s sake, this has been hashed and re-hashed..face it URTV management and “chosen few lap dogs”, you are
    financed by the public…the public is your boss, and you have to answer to the public.
    So no matter how much Garlinghouse and her cabal want to spin this..URTV is PUBLICLY FUNDED.
    Deal with it, you are answerable to the public! That scrutiny you hate so much is coming…and I predict a deluge of public attention.

    Back in ’06 Bob Oast wrote:

    From: Bob Oast
    To: Robin Cape
    Sent: Monday, October 23, 2006 12:08 PM
    Subject: URTV

    It is my understanding that URTV operates substantially with public
    money (cable subscriber paid PEG funds allocated by the City and
    County). Its function is the management of a URTV facility for the
    public access station. The equipment and space it uses is paid for with
    public (PEG) money as well. A North Carolina Court of Appeals case, News
    and Observer Publishing Co. v. Wake County Hospital Systems, Inc., 55 NC
    App. 1(1981), held that a non-profit agency contracting with a county to
    operate a public hospital is subject to the Public Records law. The main
    factor that led the Court to that conclusion was that the non-profit
    operated largely with public money; clearly that is occurring here.
    Other factors might be the extent to which the non-profit agency is
    controlled by the government with it contracts or the extent to which it
    performs a governmental function. It appears that the City and County
    exercise some degree of control over URTV’s operations. While TV might
    not by itself be a governmental function, a strong argument could be
    made that public access TV is by definition governmental.

    Even though the Wake County case involved public records and not open
    meetings, I think that the same arguments could be made. On this basis,
    I think that URTV is subject to the Open Meetings law. This means that
    the meetings are required to be open (except for legally-permitted
    closed sessions). This further means that “any person may photograph,
    film, tape-record, or otherwise reproduce any part of a meeting required
    to be open.” NCGS 143-318.6.

    Since the County has some involvement with URTV as well, I’d want to
    review my opinion with their lawyer, but the law is pretty clear and I
    don’t think there will be any disagreement. I’ll try to do that today.

    Of course, I think your reasoning that “it’s public access, for cryin’
    out loud” makes the most sense.

    I hope that this is responsive to your question; if you need any further
    information or need me to address the URTV board, please let me know.

    Bob Oast
    City Attorney

  14. Concerned

    Peter,

    Do you realize that it’s been over 2 years since they removed you from the board.

    Harboring this kind of an obsessive grudge for this long a period of time can’t be healthy!

    Dude, you’ve been posting as at least 4 other people relentlessly for months.
    I’m getting concerned about the state of your mental health.
    There are some genuinely worthy causes that could use your wordsmithing energy. (WPVM)

    BREATHE IN……. BREATHE OUT….. REPEAT

  15. Concerned writes: “I’m getting concerned about the state of your mental health.”

    This is just more ‘ad hominem’ personal attack which by definition attempts to sidestep the substance of the arguments of those they attack.

    Faux concern is no concern. Funny they don’t show real concern regarding the real problem.

  16. James Wilson

    Concerned writes: “I’m getting concerned about the state of your mental health.”

    This is just more ‘ad hominem’ personal attack which by definition attempts to sidestep the substance of the arguments of those they attack.

    Looks that way to me also. Is there some reason the facts can not be debated rather then the personal attacks “Concerned”?

    The continual nonsense of personal attacks and inability on URTV’s part to present factual information is why the public should no longer fund or support this organiztion.

  17. Johnny L House Jr

    Bravo, Tim Peck!

    You cannot miss how these people constantly tapdance around all the infractions going on at URTV. No longer your public access station in Buncombe County, now it’s the WNC media center, with no pesky membership to deal with as they’ve all been run off, except for the few crazies left to do the dirty work. Sure they threw M. H. a bone re-instating the membership issue (temporarily) but just watch how quickly that gets revised. If /when they ever get around to posting the revised bylaws, reading through them and comparing them to the original ones gives a clear picture of where the WNC media center is heading.

  18. Concerned

    Tim,
    First of all, I was not addressing you, or asking for a reply from you. (unless you are another one of Peter’s creations)
    Second, you really seem to enjoy throwing around the term ‘ad hominem’. Being concerned about someone’s mental state is not an ‘ad hominem’ attack. I’m really concerned about Peter’s mental health.
    Do you stand around at parties and listen in on other peoples’ conversations, repeat what they said back to them, and then make snitty comments about what they said as well?
    You want an “‘ad hominem’” attack, here ya go:
    “Nice Hat”, you should put it on URTV!…. Oh, I forgot, you don’t participate at Asheville’s fine public access station, you just get on these endless threads and BITCH!!

  19. James Wilson

    “Concerned” is there some reason you can not just stick to the issues and facts?

    What is so hard about that?

  20. some people have asked me to post all of the letter ,i got back from pat..

    Tues. June 9, 2009

    Dear Mr Blackwell,

    Please be advised that your recent request to be a participating member of URTV and use of the facility is denied due to: failure to accept responsibility for following the Rules and Procedures of URTV and repeated abuse of URTV equipment and staff. You may, if you choose, use your membership to submit DVDs made elsewhere. If you choose not to submit programming, we will gladly refund your membership fee.

    Please refer to the Rules and Operating Procedures document.

    III. Rules, Violations and Loss of Privileges
    A. Definitions and Limitations
    3. Any producer who engages in activities in the URTV facility that are harassing, threatening, purposefully detrimental or damaging to another producer, URTV staff member, or URTV resources will be asked to leave the building.

    C. Violations of the Rules and Procedures
    1. The following are considered major violations;
    a. Abuse, vandalism or failure to safeguard equipment and facilities, and, any, and all abusive treatment to URTV staff as stated in Section III.A.3. of URTV’s
    Rules and Operating Procedures document.

    Your commercial programming violation included words to the following: “we know that we shouldn’t say this but we will anyway.” You still do not accept your responsibility for the cancellation of your show and you have not made an appointment to speak with me.

    Please check the Rules and Procedures to avail yourself of the appeal and grievance procedure. See Section III.D.

    Very truly yours,

    Pat Garlinghouse
    Executive Director
    cc: URTV Operations Committee Chair

  21. URTV Board of Directors Special Called Meeting
    June 30, 4:30pm
    31 College Place Suite 20-A
    Asheville, NC 28801
    AGENDA
    I. Call to Order
    II. Motion to appoint Board Members
    III. Discussion and Vote
    IV. Adjournment

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