05/11/2016 4:30 PM
My afternoon started with a phone call from Terry at Mendocino TV, he was to shoot the Mendocino Art Center (MAC) Board meeting, but had a conflict, and asked me to cover it (Channel D Productions). I agreed, figuring it would be another rather mundane board meeting, but I was very mistaken, it turned into much more than that.
As I was setting up my video gear, various Board members were commenting amongst themselves about “TV” being in the room, and vis-a-vis that stilted banter, it appeared to me that a couple of them were uncomfortable with that, so I introduced myself as Derek from Channel D NEWS, an independent producer, and that the video would be available on the Mendocino TV website.
Some Board members were not prompt, and the meeting started late, at 4:41 PM, with two Board members absent. That late member arrived shortly after the meeting was started, I hesitate to say, “called to order”, as nothing like that occurred, it was all very casual, which set the tone for the rest of the meeting.
I’ll let the unedited video speak for itself, but I do want to point out some things to look for while you’re viewing it.
The members of the public consisted of several members of the Blacksmithing/open forge group, a reporter from the AVA, a concerned citizen, and myself, Channel D NEWS.
Watch the Board not approve the previous minutes or treasurer’s report, without explanation, therefore denying MAC members and the public, timely access to vital information.
Observe how during the public comment time, Board President, John Cornacchia interrupts speakers during their allotted three minutes, and challenges them, in what appeared to me, as crude attempts at intimidation against speaking out with their issues.
Also notice how Board Vice President, Patrick “Rick” Keller starts in with his own clear attempts at intimidation, couched under the seemingly innocent “Are you a MAC member?” question, and then he continued with a canard about how “we need more members… etc. “. I saw that as totally inappropriate behavior for a Board member during public comments.
These two Board members managed to alienate every member of the public in the room by the time they were finished with us, and then Board President, John Cornacchia abruptly adjourned the meeting because, I believe, Scott Peterson was asking the Board some relevant and quite serious questions about MAC financial records.
Directly after the meeting ended, I objected that the Board didn’t take all Public Comments, so I spoke my piece, while objecting to the meeting being shut down in such a rude manner.
After the meeting ended, the Chair started accusing the members of the blacksmithing group of conspiring against the Board by bringing in a reporter and TV NEWS, and then I added that he was getting close to slander with those accusations.
Seconds later, while I was in a corner packing up my video gear, I couldn’t help but overhear the MAC Director, a Board member and another woman, sniping at the public in the audience, repeatedly saying we were psychotic and not in control of our facilities.
Needless to say I was disappointed that a Director and Board member of a nationally known organization would participate in such mean spirited and unprofessional commentary in full view of the public.
As the callow sniping was occurring, Board member Janis Porter approached me to ask about my comments, and how they could find information to be able to fix the problems that were brought up during public comments.
While we were talking, one of the newer Board members Donna Worster approached, also asking me for clarification of my comments, and expressed sincere interest in making things right in the spirit of legality.
I was quite impressed that they both willingly admitted ignorance in these matters, and wanted to rectify it, so I offered my suggestions as if I were dealing with fellow Board members potentially involved in criminal activity.
I stressed that they both may need to pay closer attention to the past dealings of the MAC Board, and to practice “due diligence”, otherwise they might become potentially liable for other Board members criminal malfeasance.
I stressed that I had no idea if criminal activity was occurring, but after seeing how the Board President, John Cornacchia, and Board Vice President, Patrick “Rick” Keller, acted so aggressively towards the public, that there may well be Board malfeasance occurring.
So perhaps they might act as if it may be, and to do their own research on Board matters, don’t blindly believe Board members who have been there for a long time, protect themselves by paying closer attention, and to seriously investigate any discrepancies they may uncover.
As I was speaking with these ladies, Board Vice President, Patrick “Rick” Keller, started interrupting from outside the conversation with rude comments directed at me, so I smiled and told him that I wasn’t talking to him, and that he was interrupting, but he continued, so I told him again that he was intruding, and he said he didn’t care what I thought.
Which I found rather strange, considering he went out of his way to come over to my general area and interrupt my conversation with the two Board members who seemed genuinely concerned about the information I brought fourth after the meeting had been arbitrarily and capriciously ended.
It was almost like he didn’t want me advising the two Board members to practice “due diligence”, and not to blindly trust long term Board members, to do their own research, so they don’t find themselves in a legally comprising situation due to potential corruption of other Board members.
Board Vice President, Patrick “Rick” Keller continued interrupting with snarky provocations and insults until I waved him off again and he finally walked away with a final gratuitous insult.
As I was walking out of the building, my arms full of gear, and a group of three were talking, they were nearly blocking the way out, and I was walking around them when Mr. Cornacchia started in on me with more snarky comments.
The most provocative one I recall the most, was he asked me who I “was with”, and I replied I was Channel D NEWS, an independent producer, and before I could continue, saying, “and this will be up on Mendocino TV”, he raised his voice and yelled over me to say, “SO! You misrepresented yourself! You’re NOT from MCTV!”.
I believe before he could continue, his cognitive function caught up with his provocative fervor and he stopped that line of attack, having realized he’d made a faulty assumption, considering MCTV was dissolved by the Court some years ago, but make no mistake, it was clearly a rather aggressive verbal attack.
As I was walking away he told me to “Bring it on, bring it on, and then I can sue you”, and I admit I did turn to cheerfully respond that I was judgment proof, as a woman came running out of the former textile arts building, and firmly told me to leave the property.
My take on this meeting is that two or more Board members may have something to hide, I have no idea what it may be, but the casual way the meeting was conducted, coupled with the way members of the public and AVA reporter Malcolm Macdonald who were asking tough questions were treated, I’d wouldn’t be surprised if fraud of some sort, may have, or is, occurring at the MAC.
If I was a member of the MAC, I’d be paying close attention to the goings on at the MAC, going to the meetings, asking to see past Board meeting minutes and financial documents, scrutinizing them closely.
If they’re honest, it will help their image considerably, if they aren’t, well, then they need to be exposed and removed from the Board.
The next MAC Board meeting will be May 25 at 4:30, which is their regular time and date to meet. As the President indicated in the video, they are pleased to have the public attend their meetings!
Edited by DH on May 13, 2016.
Mendocino TV has been reporting on various community entities for 4 years and has been exposed to a variety of reactions from the agencies being recorded. These reactions cover the gamut from being received as rock stars when we cover Timberwolves Football out of town to suspicion when we record KZYX Board of Directors meetings. The Mendocino Art Center has added a new chapter to this story when an independent Journalist representing Mendocino TV was asked to leave the property while reporting the news.
We hope that before their next meeting there will be print copies, available for the attendees, of these documents;
- Agenda (hopefully posted at least 48 hrs before the meeting)
- Minutes from the last meeting and the one previous, which hasn’t been approved yet
- Financial/Treasurers report
- Annual Budget
- Supporting information regarding items on the agenda, hand-outs, flyers, etc.
- Information on how to access and view public documents, 990s and supporting documents
- total number of members
- By Laws or Articles of Incorporation
We believe transparency and dialog are crucial to good management of our community resources and affecting what change you can. Mendocino TV is planning on attending the next MAC Board meeting on May 25th at 4:30pm. We hope to stream it live!
May 14th 2016