News from the Board - September 2009

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Election season is in hand and there are 12 candidates who are vying for open seats on the Board of Directors. Be sure to get your ballots in by the deadline- either by mailing them in to Mark Ecklund's office, or by bringing them to the Annual Membership Meeting by 2pm on September 26th at Liberty Hall. For more information check out: http://kboo.fm/governance.

We have appointed 3 new board members this past spring and summer to fill in vacancies on our board. Our newly appointed board members are Nia Lewis, Marty Soerhman, and Paula Small. To learn more about our newest board members, check out: http://kboo.fm/board.  

Lastly, I am closing with a letter that is addressed to the community by the Board of Directors. It has been written in response to an unfortunate circumstance that took place at the end of August. The station manager, Arthur Davis, laid off Toni Tabora-Roberts, KBOO's Outreach Coordinator. The Board of Directors felt that this layoff was handled in a way that caused confusion and concern by many of the staff and volunteers at the station. Arthur presented a letter of apology for how he handled this situation. Even though the Board continues to support Arthur Davis as station manager, in recognition of his poor handling of this termination of employment, a letter of reprimand will be drafted to share with Arthur upon his return from vacation in October. The board appreciates the community's support in working through a resolution to this difficult situation. Direct any inquiries regarding the situation to:
KBOO board president, Judy Arielle Fiestal at president@kboo.org, or
Chris Merrick, acting Station Manager while Arthur is out of town in September, at program@kboo.org.

The letter to the community follows:

LETTER TO THE KBOO COMMUNITY FROM THE KBOO BOARD OF DIRECTORS
September 1, 2009

These past weeks have been a tumultuous time at KBOO. Toni Tabora-Roberts was laid off from her position as Outreach Coordinator after two years of service to KBOO, though she remains an active volunteer at the station. Toni was laid off due to the possible reconfiguration of staff positions. We are considering closing the half-time Outreach position and have changed the Development staffing level from half-time into a full-time Development and PR position. Sun Lee will expand his role in Development to fill this need. Presently the Outreach position will remain unfunded and we will not be looking to do a hire.

The KBOO Board of Directors and the Station Manager, Arthur Davis, would like to express a sincere apology to the KBOO Community for the way this personnel situation was handled. It is often very challenging, emotionally and otherwise, to let a staff person go – but in this situation it was even more difficult.  Although the staff and board have been discussing budget deficits, analyzing staff responsibilities and considering where KBOO should be prioritizing its resources, news of the lay-off and how it was conducted were a complete shock to staff, board and volunteers. This is not how we do things at KBOO. We have a process that is in place to propose and implement changes. Although the Board had indicated an interest in the elimination of the Outreach position, in order to invest more in the Development department, we had not anticipated the lack of planning and care that went into the termination of Toni’s employment and with the vacancy in the Outreach position.

We want to keep in perspective, however, the positive gains that KBOO has had under the management of Arthur Davis while working in collaboration with the members of the KBOO Community. The atmosphere is more positive and there is an expectation of nonviolence and conflict resolution. The station is changing programming and scheduling, creating new standards and trainings for on-air content, and offering feedback to help our program hosts succeed.  We have seen personnel changes handled positively; the major reconfiguration of the Finance department and the creation of a Development department separate from the Membership department where it was embedded are examples. These changes in personnel involved staff coming forward to accept new responsibilities, and in one case to leave employment, with open and amicable communication regarding the process and the direction we are heading in. In contrast to these successful personnel changes, the Station Manager did not succeed in following the practices and policies that are expected in carrying out a decision to terminate employment at KBOO, nor to deal with the repercussions that a vacancy in the Outreach position creates.

It is our intention to communicate clearly and openly about this issue and how best to handle the various ramifications it has had on the KBOO Community.  As we move forward, the Board is committed to a process of accountability, healing and positive solutions.
We appreciate your patience in dealing with a very emotional and troubling situation.

Sincerely,
KBOO Board of Directors

The following resolutions pertaining to these issues were adopted by the Board of Directors at the Monday, August 24th board meeting. Each resolution received unanimous support from the board.

Board Resolution proposed by Becky—We the KBOO Board of Directors have confidence in the Station Manager Arthur Davis and appreciate all the work he does for KBOO in trying times.  However, in support of the staff and the concerns that they have raised, we have counseled him that KBOO values and expectations were not met in his handling of the recent personnel action.  The Board recognizes its role in promoting communication and openness and is committed to providing better leadership and support to Arthur and the staff in the future, in part by examining and improving the organization’s decision-making processes.

Erin moves that we suspend the policy that states that the Station Manager conducts exit interviews and that Becky, Erin and possibly Ivonne or Judy invite Toni to meet with us for an exit interview using the template that is used for other staff members.

Ivonne moves to approve the payment of one month’s severance pay to Toni.

Becky moves that we postpone the decision to eliminate the outreach position for further discussion at the Development Committee about the role of outreach in the organization.

Becky moves that we approve the proposal to make the Interim Development and PR Director position full-time and authorize Arthur Davis to make an appointment to that interim position and refer the temporary job description and work-plan to the Personnel Committee for review.

In addition to the above resolutions, the Executive Committee met August 26, 2009 and made the following commitment:
Based on responses from an interview with station manager, and Toni’s exit interview, the Executive Committee will draft a Letter of Reprimand for Arthur Davis.


The Executive Committee consists of the Board President, Judy Arielle Fiestal, Board Treasurer, Paula Small, and Board Member at Large, Erin Brand. In addition the Board Secretary, Nia Lewis, was in attendance.









 

Comments

Anonymity

(Originally submitted by bill michtom on Fri, 10/02/2009 - 1:40am. And corrected as of now.)
--------------------------- 
is not something I do. It reminds me of anonymous sources in the MSM who use anonymity to propagandize for whatever their side is without having to take responsibility for their views.
 
If you have something to say, say it as yourself. If you have a legitimate reason to maintain anonymity, share that with us. Otherwise, I, for one, will trust nothing you say.
 
As a member of the Personnel committee, I was involved with the discussion on what happened between Toni and Arthur, and the involvement of the Board.
 
I agreed with the recommendation that Arthur should be reprimanded, based on the information that was presented. I also think that Arthur has been, overall, a positive force at KBOO.
 
Those of you who think that Arthur's tenure has not been positive are, I think, obligated to give examples indicating a pattern supporting your point of view.
 
For example:
 
"The manager has demonstrated gross mismanagement in this and other matters."
 
What other matters?

"KBOO should be a leader and example for the community, rather than the target ridicule due to it's poor management as is happening now."
 
Where is this happening?
 
"You have completely missed the point. The fact that Toni has a new job and doesn't want her KBOO job back has nothing to do with the problem we are discussing."
 
Judy's comment on what Toni wants and on her getting another job seems completely relevant to anyone concerned about the issue and concerned about Toni's well-being. Toni didn't want to do other than what she was hired to do. That, apparently, was part of what prompted Arthur to take the action he took. Regardless of the appropriateness of Arthur's action, knowing Toni's and Arthur's perspectives is relevant to fully understanding what happened.
 

[The  following comments and my response to them are based on a letter received by the station that was a fake and included Arthur's signature forged at the bottom.]

"Arthur Davis has resigned, that is a new beginning and now KBOO can grow.
 
"Maybe Judy F will see a trend with this action. Keep our fingers crossed."
 
How will Arthur's resignation allow KBOO to grow? Will we look carefully at what happened in a way we wouldn't have if Arthur had stayed? Why? Why is it so important for Judy to leave? What will that accomplish that couldn't happen if she stays? I thought Judy's post, on which we are commenting, was thoughtful, open to criticism, and welcoming to working on the problems.
 
And, just as those things are relevant, so are the identities behind Anonymous (one or more), William, and Concerned Volunteers (credit given to Grace, BTW).
 
Thank you,
 
Bill Michtom
 

An Open Letter to the KBOO Community

We, the undersigned, are writing to express our concern about the manner in which KBOO Station Manager Arthur Davis and the KBOO Board of Directors handled the elimination of the Outreach Director position and the dismissal of Toni Tabora-Roberts. 

Our understanding is that Arthur wanted to eliminate the position of Outreach Director, and make the Development Director position full-time.  Arthur spoke with Toni about taking on a fundraising role, but Toni was not interested in fundraising. Arthur then decided to defund the Outreach department and to throw more resources toward fundraising. Whether or not this idea was a good one is  debatable,  but its execution was a disaster.  

Arthur chose not to consult with staff about the desired changes, although an abrupt alteration of staff patterns can have a great impact upon people who are already overworked.  Arthur gave Toni four days' notice and one month’s severance pay, which gave her little time to transition out of her job gracefully.

We strongly believe it would have been more productive to have kept Toni through to the end of the fiscal year instead of giving her one month’s severance pay.  She could have covered the fundraiser as well as other commitments for the next month, and helped with planning how to handle future Outreach commitments. Instead, staff, with the exception of Arthur, has scrambled to absorb the Outreach Department’s duties. 

The staff restructuring was also in direct violation of KBOO policy and practice which  requires board approval for any significant alterations to  staffing.  The staff changes, in this case, were not approved by the Board of Directors. We understand that Arthur discussed these matters in a general way with the Board at a private budget retreat, but no Board member was aware that Toni was dismissed immediately following the retreat, although Arthur cited Board approval. 

 

Several Board members have said they felt duped when they discovered that Arthur had dismissed Toni. Furthermore, one Board member has reported that when he asked Arthur to to consult with the Personnel Committee, he refused to do so;  therefore he  knowingly and willfully violated Article VIII, Section 4(c) of the KBOO bylaws which states:  The Personnel Committee shall advise the Board of Directors regarding the corporation's personnel policies and practices.

 

While we sympathize with Board Members feeling misled, we must also hold the Board accountable for not knowing that they are responsible for ensuring that the Station Manager upholds Oregon Statutes and KBOO bylaws, policies and values. We hold Judy Fiestal and the Board responsible for not holding Arthur’s feet to the fire and insisting that process be followed as mandated.

Not every KBOO member would be opposed to replacing Outreach with Development; that point is certainly debatable. The problem in this case is that there was no debate. Outside of eight board members at a private retreat, no one was given advance notice about the Station Manager's intentions. From these questionable  circumstances, the Station Manager claimed Board approval for his actions, a claim which was not upheld in subsequent public meetings. Not one person who was directly affected by this decision learned about it in any way other than clumsy one-on-one meetings after the fact.

This episode shows a lack of strategic thinking, compassionate imagination or any real understanding about KBOO’s needs on Arthur’s part. He should have been publicly planning this staff change, discussing it in staff meetings and consulting with the Personnel Committee, and given KBOO’s financial problems, that would have been expected. But instead, he did not face KBOOs fiscal problems until the last minute. He then pushed his plan through with spin and dishonesty,  omitting process, and therefore creating a large amount of frustration, extra work for the staff and distrust among staff and volunteers.

 

It is our experience and observation that Judy and Arthur have behaved defensively when confronted about these actions. They have tried to minimize the situation and have stated that since Station Managers and Board Presidents have made unilateral actions in the past, it is OK for Arthur to do so now.

 

We are also concerned that the letter from the Board to the Membership about this incident consists primarily of a defense of Arthur. We fear that this incident will become smoothed over and forgotten.

We would like to remind the Station Manager and the KBOO Board that KBOO is a democratic organization. We have created policies and processes for personnel matters, yet we cannot trust that these processes are being followed. We understand that at times, decisions must be made on an emergency basis, but this was not one of those times; we had time to plan, but failed to do so.  With the survival of the station at stake, we cannot afford this kind of leadership.

We also understand that it is very attractive to have decision-making power without dragging it through a long process. This is why we must be vigilant to ensure that process is being followed and to help our leadership avoid the pitfalls of the intoxication of power.

We encourage the Board to take this issue very seriously. You are legally responsible for KBOO. In the past we have had Station Managers who lied to the board,  and one even stole thousands of dollars from the station.  The Board must hold the Station Manager accountable at all times, even at the expense of a “more positive atmosphere”. 

 

 Sincerely, 

A Group of Concerned Volunteers

Response to "A Group of Concerned Volunteers"

I am writing this note in response to the posting by "A Group of Concerned Volunteers", and wanted to thank them for their considered comments regarding Toni's layoff.

I am sorry that it is felt that the Board response reflected a lack of concern regarding the implications of this type of action. The board deliberated in great length on this matter and understands the seriousness of this situation. We have spent countless hours on interviewing all parties involved and discussing how to move forward. We will be working with Arthur upon his return to ensure this type of management will not happen again.

Although much of their analysis I agree with, I do take issue with a statement that was attributed to me. I have never stated that "since Station Managers and Board Presidents have made unilateral actions in the past, it is OK for Arthur to do so now." I did state that a station manager can fire an employee for cause. Since Toni's fire was not for cause, it in fact was not allowable under the sole discretion of the Station Manager.

I think it is important as we go forward that we are careful with what we say and the accusations are derived from fact. Making false assertions does nothing to enlighten a situation, but instead keeps the waters murky and prevents true understanding to occur.

One other clarification I'd like to make is that Toni is gainfully employed in another job. Although she remains an active volunteer at KBOO, she does not wish to be reintstated in her job. Therefore, reinstating Toni to her position was not an option that the Board could have considered.

Lastly, for the sake of dialogue, I would appreciate having the "Group of Concerned Volunteers", and any other contributors to this posting, sign their names so we know who you are.

Sincerely,
Judy Arielle Fiestal, KBOO Board President

 

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