Editor, spielbergfilms.com, a Steven Spielberg fansite
KXCI has emerged as an established organization with incredible programming, dedicated volunteers, relatively stable funding, professional staff and an ever-growing membership base. As far as I am concerned, these are all positive signs of a healthy nonprofit community radio station.
In the interest of attempting to learn more about the situation, I chose to attend a recent board meeting. What I observed was a group of volunteer board members dealing with the issues in a sensitive, intelligent and thoughtful manner. It is quite obvious to me that they have taken the issues raised by the Democracy Initiative seriously. It is also clear they take their fiduciary responsibility seriously and uphold the station's best interests in their decision-making. I believe their recent proposed changes to the bylaws, and new policies and procedures they have implemented provide an excellent compromise with what is being asked by the Democracy Initiative. A nonprofit organization deserves as much stability as can be afforded. A fully "democratic" process as proposed by the Democracy Initiative would be anything but that. Most nonprofit boards are elected exclusively by the board, in part, to provide that stability.
At this same meeting, there was a call to the audience. Scott Egan, representing the Democracy Initiative, addressed the board. He began by thanking the board for the changes the board was discussing that very evening. The changes he cited were material--important changes, and clearly meaningful to the group. The next edition of the Weekly contained a letter from the Democracy Initiative with a completely different tone and content than what I observed at the meeting. Further, the letter stated, "The board won't even allow 'a call to the audience' at their meetings." This is clearly not the truth.
Even more disappointing to me is the Weekly's coverage of this issue. I have respect for Weekly's approach as an alternative news source that does not always value "objectivity" per se. But what is being reported is highly biased in favor of the Democracy Initiative, and the Weekly has clearly taken on their cause. What gives?
James E. Cook
The Skinny accuses the board of personal animosity and then proceeds to personally disparage board members. This has been an emotional controversy on both sides, but the board is not the archetypal villain in a soap opera. There has been personal animosity from members of the initiative directed toward board and staff members which The Skinny, as always, selectively fails to report.
Ending this hostility was the goal when I offered the initiative mediation with a conflict resolution specialist. That offer remains on the table, despite continuing rejections by the initiative. The board offered to mediate and resolve every issue raised by this group. Why is the initiative unwilling to sit down at the table? Perhaps the "narrow, winner-take-all-attitude" portrayed in The Skinny would be a better description of some members of the initiative.
Despite the accusations of The Skinny, I was not recruited as a "hired gun" to shoot down the Democracy Initiative. No one from the board has ever asked me to do so. The board has directed me to resolve this matter following the KXCI bylaws and the laws of the state of Arizona governing nonprofit organizations. That is what I have done and will continue to do.
The Skinny's comparison of the KXCI signature certification process to state elections is unfair and misleading. State petition signatures must be presented with a notarized affidavit affirming that every signer's ID was checked. A percentage of state election petitions are verified by the Registrar of Voters by comparing signatures to voter registration records. KXCI doesn't have any such records to use in confirming whether a petition signature is valid.
The initiative's claim, "we have enough signatures," is totally unsupported. The board would have failed in its duty to the members by calling an election without any evidence that there were enough signatures to meet the bylaws requirement, other than a list of names. After three months of refusals by the initiative to agree to any signature verification process by an independent third party, the board retained an independent firm to call petitioners to confirm that they actually signed the petitions. Despite the accusations in The Skinny, members were not asked to remove their names; they were asked if they read, signed and supported the petition. Why wouldn't the initiative want to have those signatures confirmed? For a group devoted to the bylaws of KXCI, they seem very anxious to skip the signature verification process.
Everyone involved with the station--the board, staff, members and listeners--wants this issue resolved. It would be helpful if The Skinny would assist in that process rather than continuing to engage in more one-sided propaganda.
General manager, KXCI Community Radio