Can't Get No Respect

No Faith in KOOP Board

The writing would seem to be on the wall for KOOP's board of trustees, but don't think the fight is over by any means.

By a vote of 442-151, with 29 abstentions, the membership of the cooperatively run community station supported a resolution declaring no confidence in the trustees, and declared that "a state of emergency exists" which endangers the station's survival. The resolution calls for the board to be replaced with new trustees and designates a transitional oversight committee to see the station through the process until the new trustees are seated. The vote occurred at an Aug. 31 meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Church. The membership will select the oversight committee at another meeting at the church on Sept. 20.

The meeting was organized by Friends of KOOP, a faction of station members who complain that, among other things, the board of trustees has been ignoring the concerns of a majority of members, managing the station incompetently, and being verbally abusive towards members who disagree with its decisions (see "Media Clips," July 17).

However, the participants in the debate weren't merely pro- or anti-board of trustees. Another faction calling itself Movement for Mediation, which includes trustee Donna Hoffman, tried to convince the membership that the solution was not recall, but working within the existing system, and fostering non-hostile dialogue between the warring factions. The group urged members to patiently work through the upcoming election of the community board (the body which elects the trustees) to change the board membership in the station's standard fashion, and they also called for an expansion of the board of trustees from six members to eight; one of the new seats would be elected directly by dues-paying members, the other by the station's volunteer staff.

Many members of the "Friends" group rejected this call, saying that dialogue in all forms has already been attempted and failed. An attempt to amend the resolution by eliminating the oversight committee was voted down by the membership.

In the aftermath, members on all sides of the issue agreed that the trustees would likely file litigation to prevent their replacement, and all were fearful that such litigation could bankrupt the station. "Media Clips" would hate to see this be the outcome. As we have editorialized before, KOOP is a tremendous media outlet for the public, and one that is badly needed.

After this, the board can't possibly continue claiming that they represent the silent majority of the membership, unless they are just completely delusional or incapable of honesty. Perhaps this overwhelming vote will finally clue the trustees in to the fact that, yes, they really are unpopular and should step down. But the signs – such as programmers meetings wherein huge majorities have angrily denounced the board – have been obvious for a long time, and the board has failed to open its eyes and see them, so there's no reason to think they will do anything other than continue to stubbornly fight.

KOOP could be destroyed by this, and 11 years of hard work to get the station on the air could go down the drain in a matter of months. It doesn't have to be that way. Step down, trustees; don't file a lawsuit, and let the station begin to heal.


Reassigned

Word has just come that Don McLeese's column in the "Metro & State" section has been canceled. McLeese, the Statesman's former music columnist, has been doing the column since 1995, filling the void left by humorist Mike Kelley, who had become a features reporter. McLeese said he has been reassigned to being a general features writer.

McLeese said on Tuesday that he had been informed of his reassignment by Melissa Segrest, the Statesman's new assistant managing editor for features, but said "it was probably [editor] Rich Oppel's decision. ... Obviously it wasn't my decision, and I recognize their right to make the decision. I'll miss the column."

Segrest wouldn't comment on why the column was dropped or who made the decision, but said "[Don] is a talented writer with a rich voice that we value. You will continue to see his byline on the front of this paper and on the front of sections of the paper in the future."

Frankly, this move strikes me as best for McLeese and long overdue. McLeese's column never really found a direction, and consistently amounted to little more than navel-gazing. And when he occasionally strayed into meaty topics, he handled them pretty poorly (see "Media Clips," Sept. 12, 1997). Though McLeese told me "It's not my intent to muscle back into music ... Corky [Michael Corcoran] and Chris Riemenschneider are the music guys, and they're doing a good job," I would like to see him return to music coverage. Although I can understand his reasons for changing (I used to be a music journalist myself, and eventually burned out on it), he really excels at it, and did a much better job there than with his column.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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