The Sad State Of KBOO

August 6th, 2013

 (I had planned to release this earlier but the collapse of the kboo.fm website delayed my ability to post.)

 When application packets for the Board Of Directors were made available, it was a different KBOO.  KBOO last May had a divided board and an embattled but still working Executive Director.  At that time, I saw that with election of four new board members there was a chance of saving the Strategic Plan.  Careful negotiations with the unionized staff could create a better Employee Procedures Manual and a solid, reasonable union contract.  Allowing Lynn Fitch to continue her management, fundraising and outreach to more communities might have worked to stabilize the finances and bring new life and energy to the radio station.  

 In the short time since last May, many directors have left and through skillful manipulation been replaced by members loyal to the views of staff and the Keep KBOO as KBOO movement (KKK).  This activist board has removed the Executive Director from any management role and put the new board policies aside, essentially stopping implementation of the Strategic Plan it it’s tracks.  Now it’s a different ballgame and the combined effect of actions taken at the most recent board meetings make the upcoming elections moot.

 While KBOO needs a lot of help to change and grow, elections that can only seat four new directors have no chance of making any difference.  No dissident directors have terms of office that extend beyond the election.  The eight directors who will remain have shown total indifference to the input of directors in opposition.  Board members who disagree have quit the board to protect themselves from liability, or have been kicked off the board for speaking honestly to membership and the press.  In this moment not only do I feel that I would have no effective voice, but if I were to win and accept a seat on the board I would be complicit in actions that at the very least are improper, and potentially I’d be exposed to civil and criminal liability.  

 So today I object to the following:

 I object to the harassment of, defamation of, and removal of management authority from Lynn Fitch.  It’s rumored the board was asked in closed session for arbitration, not mediation.  Arbitration is a last ditch effort to come to an agreement before filing a lawsuit.  So far as I know not even the agreed on mediation has occurred.  

 I object to the board taking upon itself all management duties after taking them away from the Executive Director.  In very short order emergent situations of administration of bank accounts, crashing website, looming FCC license renewal, election management, and union negotiations have been handled poorly, if at all.  In fact board members at the end of the July 29th meeting spoke briefly about hiring a temporary ED to help them in the current workload.  It’s fiscally and organizationally incompetent to hire someone new to manage the station during all these emergent situations, while telling the existing, experienced manager who is still drawing a salary not to do her work.  I’ve watched this board schedule emergency meeting after emergency meeting to attempt to deal with the aftermath of their ill considered actions.  I was willing to serve on the board of directors, not to be a substitute manager for the corporation.  Clearly the burden of time now expected for serving on this board is unreasonable, and the emergencies present today did not need to occur.

 I object to the board relying on FMLA rules that don’t appear to apply to KBOO to silence ED Lynn Fitch from giving the board critical information relevant to an agenda item, then allowing staff member Ani Haines to interject her opinions at will during board deliberations at the same meeting.  Clearly the board welcomes some staff acting as if they have a seat on the board, but will go to any lengths to block input and advice from other staff.  

 I object to the board of directors refusing to look at relevant documents to an agenda item, then voting to affirm that the actions related to these documents was correct in every way.

 I object to the continuing cover up of what the real issue is regarding the firing of former engineer John Mackey.  It’s not hard from what’s in public record to reconstruct the sequence of events.  Conflict with other staff.  Eventual firing of Mackey during the time of the staff collective.  Threat of lawsuit over the firing.  Mackey being banned from the building, then running for the board and eventually winning a seat on the board.  Board President S.W. Conser (very close friend of staff especially Ani Haines) making an unauthorized request for confidential employee files from Sussman Shanks L.L.C. while the ED Lynn Fitch is out of the country.  Newly seated board member Mackey attempting to get agenda items on the agenda and failing, then mentioning in open session a potential issue with the FCC re the EAS system.  Next day the FCC visits KBOO and writes up a violation.  Next board meeting Mackey is removed as a director for actions "harmful to the corporation".

 I’ve looked and see no record that the FCC visit produced any more serious consequences than a warning form letter to do better record keeping.  So Mackey’s actions don’t seem to have generated any fines or serious liability, hardly an action harmful to the corporation that merits his removal.  I’d like to know the real reason why Mackey was silenced.  It clearly has to do with how the staff collective handled confidential employee matters and related documents during the time of the staff collective management.  Screw the $1500.  Who is being protected by this cover-up, and why?

 I object to the negotiations with the new staff union being handled by a board member who is a staff organizer for another powerful union.  Even if there is no intent to give the staff an unfair negotiating advantage, it’s critical for the negotiations after this much open conflict to be absolutely above board and have no appearance of corruption.  Would the staff agree to have management represent them in negotiations?  Of course not.  So why should the 5500 members of KBOO who are the employers agree to have their interests protected by a union man?  This is a no brainier, Timothy Welp needs to remove himself from the negotiating team.

 I object to the entire way the election process has been handled by the board.  No list of candidates was made public despite repeated requests by dissident candidates like myself.  At the same time, a meeting of the group KKK invited those candidates it wanted to vet to a private meeting and clearly had a list of all the candidates although this information was not made available to those KKK did not want to support.  So preferential treatment has already occurred in the election process even before ballots have been mailed.  This is called election fraud, who knows what else has occurred behind closed doors?

 I object to the lack of information given to board candidates.  As a board candidate I was never formally informed of the election date, and only asked to participate in a on air forum at a specific time only with two weeks notice, during a time I have other obligations.  I immediately responded with an objection to the timing and asked for an opportunity for a pre-recorded interview for air at the proposed time.  There was never any answer to my request.  I only found out the election date itself by attending a four hour board meeting in July, and hearing it mentioned in passing although I had asked repeatedly for this date for many weeks.  Then I was told this date was set way back in March.  The election packet was created in May, and distributed in June.  Is it too much trouble to inform candidates of the details of the election process when they apply to be candidates?

 I object to the continual distorted governance at KBOO that makes the Board Of Directors responsive to the directives of the staff, rather than the other way around.

 It’s sad to say, but at this time I don’t see any possibility of KBOO Community Radio avoiding lawsuits, investigation for possible election fraud, and due to the continuing deficit spending eventual bankruptcy.  

 The only way the elections in September could have any meaningful results other than to affirm the current policy of cover-up, cronyism, and incompetence would be if the entire board were to put themselves up for re-election at this same meeting.  I have no delusions that the current board would agree to this.  If a way can be found to force the regular annual meeting to become also a special membership meeting and have board member removal on the agenda, then there might be a chance for change at KBOO.  

 There might be a surprise development from outside forces intervening due to lawsuit or action by the Oregon Attorney General.  But I don’t see much chance of this affecting the election next month.

 Barring such developments, I don’t see much point in continuing to campaign for a seat on the Board of Directors of the KBOO Foundation.

 Ed Kraus

 

 
 
 

Comments

Not a Rumor

 "I object to the harassment of, defamation of, and removal of management authority from Lynn Fitch.  It’s rumored the board was asked in closed session for arbitration, not mediation.  Arbitration is a last ditch effort to come to an agreement before filing a lawsuit.  So far as I know not even the agreed on mediation has occurred"

 

Board Member Michael P. confirmed in open session at the July 29th board meeting that Interim Executive Director Lynn Fitch asked for arbitration. Michael was quickly silenced by Board President S.W. Conser.

Those are all valid objections.. Here is another concern..

I contemplated running for the board last year as well but I can't stand how board members who dissagree with the anarchist way of governing the station are treated.  While there is tolerance for dissent as long as its done respectfully, there is no tolerance for compromise.  KBOO culture has a blatant disregard for rules, laws, structure, conflicts of interest, accountability and money (which is apparently evil in all forms).  This way of governing the station continues to put the foundation at risk.  With that in mind, the #1 issue that I am concerned about right now is whether we will be able to keep our insurance, which I hear is expiring the end of September.   As long as we are insured, I will continue put myself out there as a candidate.   My next "battle" is to press for the renewal of this insurance ASAP.  

I hope this board and every candidate recognizes the risk that each individual board member assumes if that insurance does not get renewed.  Especially when its only a matter of time before we get hit with another lawsuit.   I have not heard this issue discussed publicly by this board in recent months.  If this issue is being disregarded as I suspect, it really hammers home the concern that "Keep(ing) KBOO as KBOO" is going to kill KBOO.

Anarchy as Governance

Thanks for your comments Rebecca, 

I have also noticed obsession with anarchy within KBOO.  Giving voice to anarchists for some programming, as some of the underserved in media, is an important part of KBOO's overall mission.  But the irony here is that in order to be have the FCC license, KBOO has to be a non-profit.  In order to be a non-profit, we have to operate in accordance with the laws of the State of Oregon and the US.  KBOO has to follow rules and law, in order to retain our ability to broadcast dissent about rules and law.

The best way to protect KBOO's ability to be a media outlet that can give voice to anarchist views is for KBOO to be the best run corporation possible.  We can't be anarchists in our governance and stay on the air.  The mob crying out against "corporatists" in KBOO management and governance don't realize these structures have been developed to ensure access to the airwaves and free speech.

And on your other point you're right, if KBOO can't get insurance (or decent law firms) then it's all over but the crying. 


 

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