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KXCI DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE
02/20/03
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The Battle Over the List

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The fight that could determine KXCI's future goes to the courts.
By Chris Limberis


Among KXCI'S growing list of disenchanted and dissident members is
William J. Risner, a low-key Tucson lawyer who has worked, with
frequent success, to right wrongs.

A member of KXCI's original board of directors and a member of the
community radio station for the last 10 years, Risner is battling to
reverse KXCI 91.3 FM's increasingly insular board that has served as
an effective buffer for the controversial general manager Tony Ford
and his administration's policies.

Ford and KXCI management angered station DJs and volunteers last fall
with the introduction of volunteer agreements that severely chopped
the limited rights of those who put on shows or work at the station.
Those who didn't sign got bounced. Some who did sign got bounced
under provisions that allowed Ford's team to take such action without
providing a reason.

Several popular shows, including Celtic Crosscurrents, Jim's Joke
Joint and Beat Street, were yanked. That touched off protests,
chiefly from Tucson's Irish Republicans, which call for board reform.

Electoral reform would force KCXI to return to a system in which
members of the board were elected rather than appointed. Fourteen
members are now appointed by the board while only six are elected by
KXCI members.

Ford, board members and the station's lawyer are blocking Risner's
effort to get the names of members in preparation for a showdown
between angry members and underwriters scheduled for Thursday, Feb.
20.

After more than a month of what he calls "stonewalling," Risner said
he waited to "celebrate Abraham Lincoln's birthday" and then
instructed his lawyer, Edward Moomjian II, to file a suit in Superior
Court to win release of the list.

Valentine's Day seemed appropriate, Risner thought.

Bylaws for KXCI's nonprofit parent, The Foundation for Creative
Broadcasting, Inc., allow for members to vote to recall board
members.

Risner sought the list on Jan. 13 via registered mail which, he says,
Ford "intentionally" failed to accept. Risner switched to the fax
machine on Jan. 30, and although his machine confirmed delivery, Ford
and KXCI again did not respond.

KXCI turned to Bradley Miller, its lawyer with the pricey firm
Haralson, Miller, Pitt, Feldman & McAnally. Miller erected two
roadblocks, including a Feb. 6 letter in which he strayed off
Risner's request. Miller misconstrued Risner's request as one seeking
the list of KXCI donors.

It sparked a memorable response.

"I received your bizarre letter ... " Risner told Miller in a return
fax, "only moments ago ... the word 'donor' or 'donors' does not
appear in my requests."

What Risner didn't realize is that he also was about to get
unsolicited Continuing Legal Education credit.

"As you may also be aware," Miller lectured, "federal law governing
stations involved with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, like
KXCI, does not permit the station to make donor names or identifying
information available."

In court papers, Moomjian reiterated what Risner attempted to explain
to Miller: Federal law does not prohibit the release of names of
members of KXCI and the Foundation for Creative Broadcasting.

Moreover, Risner is not a third party, an outsider seeking to solicit
members, but a member of KXCI and its parent.

A judge will now decide whether Risner gets the list. If he scores,
he also is likely to score the cost of having to "go retail" for a
lawyer of his own.

It is a point that Risner has tried to make with the KXCI team that,
despite a reportedly successful winter fund drive, is in constant
financial struggle.

Risner said KXCI leaders are "irresponsibly" handling KXCI assets by
forcing him to go to court and equally "irresponsible" for the
station to use hard-earned contributions "to protect the political
position of Anthony Ford."

KXCI "tried several options," Ford said, to satisfy Risner's desires
to communicate with members.

No solution could be found to meet both Risner's needs and what Ford
said was the need to protect the members' privacy.

"All of our members are donors," Ford said.

The face-off on Feb. 20 will take place at 7 p.m. at Amory Park
Senior Center, 220 S. Fifth Ave.