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. 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.