Q & A: Facts PRS members should know

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The Parrsboro Radio Society, which holds the broadcasting licence for local community radio station CiCR, 99.1 FM, holds its Annual General Meeting on Saturday April 6, 2013. PRS members will elect a Board of Directors at that meeting. Former Board members Laura Landon, who served from January 9, 2012 to July 9, 2012, and Bruce Wark, who served from January 9, 2012 to November 7, 2012, have compiled this Q&A to clear up misinformation about why the present Board led the PRS (and the radio station) into a legal and financial mess.

Q&AQ. How did the present PRS Board of Directors end up spending thousands on a court case despite repeated warnings they would likely lose?

A. It’s not completely clear but the Directors seemed to believe the judge would somehow side with them and order their opponents to pay the hefty legal bills they had incurred.

Q. What was the court case about?

A. PRS members Saundra and George Spence, Carrie Goodwin and Sarah Hartman were seeking access to the Society’s financial records and minutes of Board of Directors meetings partly because they wanted a full accounting for how station monies were being spent. The Spences and Sarah Hartman also believed that the PRS Board had violated its own bylaws by expelling them as members on Jan. 20, 2012.

Q. Is it true that the PRS Board was dragged into court against its will?

A.  No. The present PRS Board had many opportunities to settle out of court. The Hartman-Spence group, and others who attempted to mediate, asked repeatedly for meetings to talk about the issues.

Finally, with Board approval, former Board members Bruce Wark and Kenny Gillis held a preliminary meeting with the Hartman-Spence group at the Parrsboro Town Hall in October 2012 with the PRS lawyer present. The meeting went well and the lawyer advised afterwards that it would be much better to settle out of court. However, at its next meeting on Nov. 4, 2012, the present Board ignored this advice, voted against further talks and decided to let the matter go to court. Bruce Wark then quit the Board, warning in his letter of resignation that it was futile to fight in court and that the expense could bankrupt the PRS.

Q. What did the judge decide?

A. On Feb. 18, 2013, N.S. Supreme Court Judge Robert Wright reprimanded the PRS Board of Directors for expelling members of the Hartman-Spence group without notifying them first and without giving them a chance to speak as required under PRS bylaws. The judge ruled that the Hartman-Spence group were still members of the PRS and therefore had the right to see the financial records and minutes they were seeking. He ordered the PRS to pay their legal costs, which amounted to about $600.

Q. Did the Hartman-Spence group win the case on a “technicality” as some have claimed?

A.  No. The judge ruled very clearly that the PRS Board had violated its own bylaws by expelling members and then denying them their right to see financial records and minutes.

Q. Was the PRS membership ever consulted about the Board’s spending on lawyers?

A.  No. On Nov. 4, 2012, members of the present Board decided against calling a public meeting to inform the membership about the legal battle, including its costs.

Q. How much did the PRS Board spend on lawyers?

A. More than $28,000.

To read a report on the court case click here.

8 Responses to

Q & A: Facts PRS members should know

  1. martha terfry says:

    It is nice to see that some of the previous board members are now telling the truth and explaining what happened behind closed doors. I hope other members will come forward at the meeting and argue what happened was not wrongdoing by the Hartman-Spence group.

  2. Bev McPhee says:

    This is beyond outrageous. All of the people who supported PRS in good faith – and from their own pockets – have been victimized.

    “Q. Was the PRS membership ever consulted about the Board’s spending on lawyers?

    A. No. On Nov. 4, 2012, members of the present Board decided against calling a public meeting to inform the membership about the legal battle, including its costs.” ?????????????????

    Please, somebody explain to me how this is acceptable.

  3. Donna Babineau says:

    Bruce & Laura:
    Thank you so much for standing up and telling the real story behind the wrongdoings by the present board of PRS. If all of Parrsboro see this and still say that the Hartman/Spence group are wrong then there is no respect for justice in Parrsboro.

  4. Gordon Heffler says:

    Listen folks…all! Mistakes were made..no doubt of that…all the way along BUT as Guy Bergeron has stated…the law has spoken….the framework is in place due to the court’s ruling…soooo now do all of you want to argue, complain, and sound off about taking it to court????

    Your misery and self destruction path (North Korea) will only result in a smoldering hole in the ground (North Korea) where the Radio Sation used to be IF you all don’t settle down and get on with constructively re-building this thing instead of continuing to argue and complain and challenge over that which has already occurred, right or wrong. Reasonable humans would seek to learn from past experience (and mistakes) and build on that to assure they do not re-occur ….HEAR THIS…if you ALL don’t settle down and move forward instead of wallowing in the past you ALL are going nowhere with any of this…By the way Easter is over so crucifiction should also be in the past on all of your minds!!

    Gordon Heffler – LPFM Consultant/Halifax

  5. Bev McPhee says:

    I agree with Mr. Heffler that moving forward is necessary. Public confidence will be restored by a forensic audit.

  6. Laura Landon says:

    I fully agree that people need to put the “radio war” behind them and move forward. In order to do that, however, PRS members need to know basic facts about how the current board has run things for the past year. They can then make informed voting choices at the AGM on Saturday. It is my hope that members will elect a board that brings together both sides and restores the radio station as a community resource.

  7. Don Geddes says:

    That is right that the PRS should carry on BUT with the station in a different place and run by different people than what’s there now.

  8. Gordon Heffler says:

    Well, the meeting is tomorrow (Sat) night and my WISH is that…

    1. the meeting is conducted democratically and all rules of proper meeting execution be followed to the letter of both the PRS Constitution and the Societies Act of Nova Scotia. It is incumbent on Don Jewers to see that those rules are carried out at that meeting. Further, the public and members ALL should be present (minimumly a quorum is required) and the Chair will properly recognize anyone who wishes to take the floor verbally BUT their time will be clocked (perfectly legal) so that they have 2 minutes to address the meeting in the interest of not going on forever which I am sure any of us are capable of..TWO MINUTES!

    Having said that there should (must) be nominations from the floor for those board positions that are up for renewal and as far as I remember, that is all of them at an annual meeting (check Constitution) and any member can nominate any other member to run for any position open…the nominated person may accept or decline to run. After nominations from the floor and those other nominations that are standing are closed then those running for that position must leave the meeting and a members vote takes place (show of hands) after which they return and the winner of that position is announced with no announcement of the actual votes counted…then that process repeats…

    It is my hope that by carefully conducting this meeting that a new page can be started for this radio station and although it may take time to heal feelings etc…those all involved, winners, losers, public and all should demonstrate maturity by getting on with this venture or quietly withdrawing from it. To allow the bleeding to continue will result in the death of the patient!

    Good Luck to all//Gordon

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