Board Says Yes to April 5 Street Dance, and April 6 ‘Scrapple’ Fest
TELLURIDE – A special election for five of the seven seats up for re-election on the KOTO board of directors will not happen any time soon, it was announced at a sparsely attended meeting of the board Wednesday night at the Wilkinson Public Library.
A special election is being considered, according to board member Mark Izard, because the board improperly notified members of the last election in November. According to Izard, because “no one submitted a letter of intent, except for current board members,” to run in last November’s board election (in part because the three-day notice period “was so short,” that election was canceled.
But attorney John Steel, who represents station Executive Director Dina Coates Koebler, said “the board could find itself in court” it it were to proceed with a special election, outside of its November election slot.
“In my opinion, and I am not KOTO’s attorney,” Steel wrote in an email to The Watch, “the laws are very specific: the board is elected at the annual meeting in November. There is no provision for any other election even to fill vacancies. They are filled by appointment. A court might stop them. Big expense for nothing.”
The board, according to President Ray Farnsworth, must retain legal counsel to “help us decide whether we can even hold a special election or not. If we go down that path and it’s fought in court, that’s a predicament we don’t want to find ourselves in.”
The hullabaloo at KOTO stems from the abrupt January departure of KOTO stalwart Janice “Jumpin’ Jan” Zink, and a subsequent petition for the removal of Farnsworth and Board Secretary Robert Allen.
The petition maintains that the duo’s failure “to ensure such compliance [by KOTO’s by-laws], so-called executive sessions, resulted in substantial harm to KOTO and its members, requiring their removal as director.”
The petition also points the finger at Koebler, suggesting her responsibility for “meetings not properly noticed and improperly designated as executive sessions,” in which the board “voted to rewrite the job description of Janice Zink… to falsely classify her job as part time; to dramatically reduce [her] compensation by approximately half; and to make this new job description and compensation reduction a ‘take it or leave it’ offer.”
At Wednesday’s board meeting, KOTO volunteer Mark Worth suggested yet another avenue available to the board: gathering signatures on a petition calling for the recall of all board members, which, he said, sidesteps Steel’s assertion that a special election violates the station’s bylaws.
“I tried to offer the board an option that would allow them to call a special election without any liability,” said Worth in an interview after the meeting. The petition, he said, “would require a recall election for the entire board within 30 to 60 days.”
Worth said Article VI, Section 5 of the station’s bylaws allow for a recall election to proceed, a move applauded by Izard for doing what “I suggested months ago – for the entire board to resign.
“There’s no question that it’s appropriate, and it would avoid the lawyering-up that everyone’s doing.”
But Worth’s suggestion did not move forward at Wednesday’s meeting because, said Farnsworth, “We should further explore what we set out to do, to get a legal opinion before our next step. We should finish exploring where we’re at now.”
“There certainly is a legal way to have a recall election,” said Steel, after Wednesday’s meeting. “But does anyone think it is helpful to KOTO? I can't believe that board members, confronted with a recall, particularly of this magnitude, will even fight the recall, no matter how much they love KOTO. Many on staff will resign, I suspect, and the lights will go out, perhaps never to be turned back on.
“KOTO members need to trust their board, and support what I see as herculean efforts to right a badly listing ship. Removing the captain and crew will not save the ship,” Steel said.
But Farnsworth and other board members told The Watch that a special election likely won’t proceed any time soon, despite protest in other ranks.
“It’s not fair,” said Baked in Telluride owner and KOTO founder Jerry Greene during the meeting. “It’s unfair for this election not to proceed.”
Izard, agreeing with Greene, made a motion “to proceed with the special election;” the motion failed, for lack of a second, and Wednesday’s meeting ended, with the board going into executive session to discuss retaining legal counsel. It will continue that executive session Monday, March 10, at 5 p.m., at KOTO studios.
Scrapple Fest, Street Dance and Winter Fundraiser
Even though KOTO’s special events have come under considerable criticism since the start of the new year, the board approved the creation of a new event, the Scrapple Fest, to be held at Telluride High School on Saturday, April 6.
KOTO’s annual end-of-ski-season street dance will take place Friday, April 5.
The Scrapple Fest, which began in Ketchum, Idaho, seven years ago, pays tribute to Scrapple, the cult film written, produced and acted by event organizer Geoff Hanson, set in fictional Ajax, Colo. Ajax boasts a revered local radio station, KODO.
The fundraiser brings a DJ, a pig chase, a pig roast to Telluride High School, followed by a screening of the film (in 35mm film) at the Palm Theater. Tickets are $25 in advance, and $30 on the day of show.
The Scrapple Fest, said Hanson, who has obtained financial backing for the event, does not pose any financial risk to KOTO.
“We’re going to indemnify KOTO from any risk,” Hanson said in an interview after the meeting. “If it’s not a moneymaker for KOTO, they’re going to walk away from it.”
Hanson and the board agreed Wednesday night to draft a contract assuring that the station would not lose money from the event.
“KOTO could make anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 in alcohol sales at Scrapple Fest,” said Farnsworth, “using only its liquor license and a small amount of staff and volunteer help.”