The internal investigation into allegations of open meeting law violations is done. And board members at Vermont Public Television say they will not resign.
The allegations were first raised in an anonymous letter back in December. Since then, VPT has launched its own investigation. During Wednesday's open meeting, the audit committee shared its findings of what some are calling serious violations regarding 18 meetings dating back to 2011. An anonymous letter sent to VPT and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting said the board repeatedly met behind closed doors and failed to post proper notices before and after going into executive session.
"Four of the alleged closed meetings either did not take place or did not qualify as meetings under CPB's open-meeting requirements, for example, due to a lack of a quorum. The 18 meetings that did take place were convened to consider confidential personnel matters," said Tom Pelletier, the chair of the VPT Audit Committee.
The controversy has VPT employees worried about the station's financial future. Right now, all funds from CPB are being withheld as they investigate. As a result of funding concerns and broken public trust, a member of the board is calling for the resignation of the board leadership.
"Consequently, I think that the board chair and vice chair resign, and this would help us regain our focus," board member David Taplin said.
"We worked very, very hard to make sure that our goal and our focus was the Vermont Public Television brand, so I don't plan on resigning because we've put a significant amount of hard work into this and I think we've got lots of really good stuff to move forward with," said Pamela MacKenzie, the chairwoman of VPT.
Wednesday, the board adopted the audit committee's recommendations for avoiding future violations. But some still shared their concerns since VPT is only required to comply with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's federal open meeting laws and no longer follows Vermont's open meeting laws.
"I think further investigation is needed to determine why and when that commitment was dropped and why it was dropped," said James Leas, a VPT supporter.
"VPT should voluntarily comply with Vermont open-meeting law and it's part of our culture in Vermont to have a vibrant democracy," said Roger Bourassa, a VPT member.
The board said it will reconsider the past commitment to Vermont's open meeting laws. Findings of the investigation will be submitted to CPB as they continue a separate investigation, no word on when that will be complete.
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