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VPT Board Member Calls for Chair and Vice-Chair to Step Down

Vermont Public Television is still under scrutiny. An internal investigation released Wednesday found the Board of Directors did violate federal open meeting laws.
COLCHESTER, Vt. - Vermont Public Television is still under scrutiny. An internal investigation released Wednesday found the Board of Directors did violate federal open meeting laws.

An audit committee made up of VPT board members conducted the six week probe into an anonymous letter sent to VPT and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a federal organization that funds about 18% of VPT's operations. The letter alleged 22 meetings violated federal open meeting requirements that VPT must follow.

The audit committee report determined all closed meetings were properly in accordance with an exception to the open meeting laws that allows closed meetings for personnel matters or legal counsel. However, 18 of those 22 meetings, plus 8 more the committee discovered, did not properly notify the public of the meetings, including posting a post-meeting notice on its website.

"Regrettably, this technical requirement was not fulfilled," said Tom Pelletier, the chair of the Audit Committee who made the report to the rest of the Board Wednesday.

After the committee's report, 12-year Board veteran David Taplin decided enough was enough.

"I think the Chair and Vice-Chair should resign, and that would help us regain our focus," Taplin said. He cited a letter signed by 17 VPT employees and read at January's board meeting that also called for the resignation of Chair Pam Mackenzie and Vice-Chair Rob Hofmann.

"I personally applaud David Taplin's courage in the face of that board," said Brennan Neill, a VPT employee who serves as Director of On-Air Fundraising.

Mackenize and Hofmann say they aren't going anywhere.

"It is not easy to sit here and have anonymous allegations and sniping and innuendo put out there," said Hofmann.

"I don't plan on resigning," said Mackenzie. "Because we've put a significant amount of work into this." Mackenzie is also the chair of the South Burlington City Council, where she and two other board members are separately being accused of violating Vermont open meeting laws.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is still conducting its own investigation. Depending on the results of that probe, VPT could lose funding or be hit with heavy sanctions. Employees are concerned that could put them on the chopping block.

"It's definitely a stress," said Brennan Neill. "We look forward to seeing what the results of that investigation are."

The CPB did respond to us but say they cannot comment on pending investigations. Employees say the CPB has not visited the Vermont station yet during the course of this probe.
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