Friday, March 5, 2010

Northwest Arkansas Times reports on February 4, 2010, CAT Board meeting

Not Even New Administrator Can Fix CAT Problems

By Skip Descant

Friday, March 5, 2010

FAYETTEVILLE — Two weeks after an interim administrator was named at Community Access Television, the transition has not been smooth as the Fayetteville Video Independent Producers’ Association continues to question actions by the CAT Board of Directors.

The independent producers wondered why CAT Board President Dedra Leaf removed files from the office of former CAT manager Kathryn “Sky” Blaylock.

“I took the tax records and personnel files home on Feb. 18, returned the tax records on Feb. 23, but have retained the personnel records until the personnel committee can review the employee evaluations we requested from Sky back in December,” Leaf said.

Leaf added her aim is to better organize the files and familiarize herself with operational aspects of the local access television station.

They are still accessible through the Freedom of Information Act, Leaf pointed out.

“Whether the files are in my possession or in the office they are, of course, subject to FOI,” Leaf said. “We’re working on getting all monthly reports and minutes up on the Web site so our business is a little more accessible to the public, but if there is anything anyone wants to know it is available to them, as long as it is a public document.”

“I can think of no reason why those files should EVER leave the building,” wrote Sheree Burnett in an e-mail to CAT board members and producers. “Whether they go home with the station manager or the president of the board ... They shouldn’t be going home with anyone. EVER!

“This is blatant micromanagement,” she continued.

Leaf contends though the bylaws do not speak directly to her authority to retrieve files, she has informed the board of her decisions, and has been in regular contact with Mark Warren, who is serving as interim CAT administrator.

“If they have concerns over my actions they have not expressed them to me, but I’m sure this will be discussed at the next board meeting,” Leaf said.

Warren, who formerly served as production coordinator for CAT, reports it’s been mostly business as usual at the local access TV station.

“So far, everything has been surprisingly, fairly easy,” Warren told Leaf earlier this week.

For Leaf and several other members of the CAT board, the last several months have been anything but easy.

C.F. Roberts, who heads up the Fayetteville Video Independent Producers’ Association, says the association wants Leaf removed as a member of the CAT board.

“Dedra, at this point, is referring to us as the ‘Accusation of the Month Club,’ but we never dreamed she’d give us as compelling a reason as tampering with personnel files,” Roberts said.

Leaf says she has tried to meet with the handful of producers who have expressed discontent with the board’s decisions.

“They say they want to be heard, yet we have asked them to speak to the board and they refuse,” Leaf said, identifying Roberts, Burnett and Richard Drake. “They throw accusations around the Web, but are not interested in engaging in civil discourse when the offer is made. I’m still hoping for a positive outcome, but I’m beginning to think the only thing that will satisfy them is my resignation.”

In the next few weeks the CAT board will hold a retreat to orient new members to their responsibilities and the rules that govern CAT. Leaf said she hopes more ideas will come forward regarding how to repair the relationship with the association.

In the meantime, the board has formed yet a new subcommittee — Administrative Transition Advisement — to assist Warren with his new role as interim administrator. Jim Goodlander, a former CAT manager has volunteered time to serve as a member from the public. Leaf and fellow board members Roger Henry and David Orr also serve on the subcommittee.

Leaf assured Warren he should not hesitate to consult the subcommittee.

“Even if you think it’s a piddly thing, send it to me, and if I think it’s big enough, I’ll send it to the board,” Leaf told Warren.

Since Fayetteville maintains a $93,000 a year contract with CAT for local access TV to residents, officials say they’ve been watching the conflicts closely, but the problems have not indicated a breach in CAT’s ability to carry out its responsibilities in the contract.

“We want to make sure that the law is followed and the FOI is followed,” said Lindsley Smith, communication director for Fayetteville, explaining what she looks for when either internal or external problems at CAT surface.

“I always provide answers and then I guess, closely monitor what’s going on,” Smith said.

No comments: