Friday 8 January 2010

Community radio breached broadcasting codes, president ignores

Just one hour after yesterday's ruling from the Australian Communication and Media Authority, ACMA, that found Cairns community station 89.1FM had breached the Community Broadcasting Radio Codes of Practice because as it did not have required policies and procedures in place, president Rodney Coutts, sent off his sixth letter to terminate a member who had spoken out against him.

The investigation found that Cairns Community Radio did not have policies and procedures regarding corporate governance, membership, conflict resolution, complaints handling, encouraging participation, and volunteering.

Following the ACMA ruling, and the day after a violence-fuelled lock out that he and his vice president Pieter Blaauw orchestrated, Rodney Coutts sent the following email to terminate yet another member:

  • From: Rodney Coutts
    Sent: Thursday, 7 January 2010 4:31pm
    To: Shane Wilson

    Subject: Addressing your membership

    Shane, Due to the adjournment of the Management Committee meeting 6th January 2010, we request your attendance at a special Management Committee meeting to be held at 7.30pm on Wednesday 13th January, 2010, where the matter of your membership will be addressed.

    The only matter on the agenda at this time will be your membership.

    Rod Coutts
    Cairns Community Broadcasters Inc.
The email followed a discussion with Coutts on the 21st October where he told Wilson to "fuck off, we don't want you here anymore."

Wilson, as the Station's technician and also a member of the Association, had enquired why so many committee members were leaving, and why he had called the Police to remove the Association's secretary Donn Corcoran that morning.

"The email he sent to me, advising that the committee had agreed to terminate my [technician's] agreement, is a direct admission that he acted well beyond his authority," Shane Wilson says. He says that the current committee was not elected by the membership.

"I do not recognize it," Shane Wilson says. "Any decision of Coutts' hand-picked kangaroo committee would not be valid because the replacement members were appointed by Mr Coutts, and not by the committee, nor the general membership."

Rodney Coutts claims that on Wednesday 21st October at 9.50am, Wilson entered the office of Cairns FM89.1, and "created mischief."

"You falsely accused the constitutionally elected president of Cairns FM89.1, of issues unrelated to your position as a casual contracted radio technician," Rodney Coutts says.

Coutts also cites "derogatory and highly inflammatory e-mails with false and misleading information against the constitutionally elected president and members of the committee." He also says Wilson's open letter to readers of CairnsBlog, had false accusations against the president.

"For the sake of the entire community radio in Cairns, I ask him resign immediately as president," Wilson says.

Rodney Coutts cancelled Wednesday's meeting, even though there was no reason to do so when Cairns Regional Councillors Linda Cooper and Diane Forsyth turned up with along with Wilson and other members to deliver membership application forms. It's obvious that it he terminates Wilson's membership, it will effectively invalidate the membership applications he signed as a sponsor.

Coutts may think he is clever to cancel Wednesday's meeting so that the organisation does not have to accept new memberships prior to a general meeting of the membership on the 20th January. However the constitution states that new applications must be presented to the committee, as soon as they are received. His action is yet another breach, and one of the specific rulings of ACMA's findings against Cairns community radio.

Coutts has changed nothing. He is carrying on the way the secret club was under the former Arona-run committee.

The tide is against Coutts and he has lost respect from an over-whelming majority of the membership.

Coutts' letter to Shane Wilson says that the rescheduled committee meeting is "only for the purpose of his termination," another contravention of the rules of the association's rules which demand that membership application must be presented to the next meeting after receipt.

He is clearly manipulating the situation to remove anyone who talks out against his appalling leadership.

This simply confirms the view that Coutts' attitude is that he and his two cohorts, treasurer Mimielle Alvero, who has been in a personal relationship with Coutts and is signatory to the cheque book, along with Pieter Blaauw who violently attacked Councillor Forsyth on Wednesday night, can do what they like to whoever they like, with impunity.

"I have been part of 4CCR for over 10 years, a lot of time and equipment has been donated for the betterment of genuine people," Shane Wilson said. "My reputation for making the studios the best possible is history, is on record. My many trips, many not charged for, to Mt Yarrabah to keep what was a mess on air is also history. I have even walked up to the transmiter site to restore service when the road was impassable."

Wilson is also credited with bringing together SEA-FM and Community Radio for the establishment of 104.3 Breeze, as it was known then, for the upgrade of the 4CCR transmitter site. Along with at least 30 members, Wilson is seeking his resignation so the station can move forward. Only 19 members are required to call for a new election

Michael Hyams and Shane Wilson both have had separate conversations with Rodney Coutts where he invented a story about another member he wanted expelled.

"I want to get rid of fucken Judi and Donn Corcoran and also that bloody Greg Dwyer," Coutts told Wilson. "He the invented a story in an attempt to discredit Judi Corcoran," Wilson says.

On Friday the 16th of October, in the central technical control room Rodney Coutts said that Judi Corcoran had abused her position. "She has stolen money from the Association and that he would have to get rid of her," Shane Wilson recounts in a sworn statement.

Wilson asked Rodney Coutts what this was all about, he claimed that Judi Corcoran had taken money from the petty cash and bought a desk, now located in the office. In fact, the petty cash float is only $100 and it is controlled by Coutts.

"I told Rod Coutts this had nothing to with Judi, and that along with Greg Dwyer, had got the desk from a shop in the Raintrees Shopping Centre that morning," Wilson says. "Greg Dwyer had purchased the desk with his own credit card. I witnessed this and helped him bring the desk upstairs. It was a bulky item."

Coutts repeated the accusation in a separate conversation a week later to another member, Michael Hymans that day. "She stole $300 from the petty cash to purchase an office desk," Coutts claimed. Hyams has also made a statutory declaration on Coutts' conversation.

The assault on Judi Corcoran is all the most shocking, as the Corcoran's had welcomed Coutts to their home for meals and even agreed to take him to Townsville for a personal health issue.

Rodney Coutts is also seeking to expel another member, senior Council staffer Helen Jaroe, who challenged his autocratic management style, .

"I initially believed that Coutts was a good person and would be good for the radio station," Jarroe says. "All his actions since being elected has demonstrated his abuse of the position as chairman of the committee," Helen Jarroe says.

"I am so disappointed to find that you are motivated by self-interest and that you lack the skills and personal qualities to be a fair and competent chair of the committee," Helen Jarroe told Coutts.

"The actions of the president have made it impossible for me to continue in this role. I am deeply disturbed by the actions he has taken since becoming chairman, to the extent that I have no other option but to resign [from the commitee]."

"I came to the committee with a wealth of experience and skills to contribute, but due to the barriers imposed by the chair from the very moment he was elected - I have had no opportunity to even begin to contribute. Uppermost in my mind is always the good of the station in the long term," Jarroe said.

"I urge the membership to hold new elections, as I feel the station is at risk under the current management committee structure. There are new people on the committee who cannot have been voted on to the committee via proper process, and as far as I can tell have just been independently co-opted onto the committee. I am sure I don’t need to explain to you all what this means," Helen Jarroe warned the membership.

"Your current president appears to prefer to act alone in all things, and wants to run the station as station panager as a paid employee as well as holding the position of chairman," Jarroe wrote to members. "This at the very least is a conflict of interest. It is because of this desire of his, expressed during the first meeting of the committee on 5 October that relations within the committee have broken down."

Jarroe says that serious actions have been taken against members of the committee in order to get rid of them.

"The committee elected at the AGM consisted of nine members and five members of the committee have resigned with a sixth about to follow. I am aghast at all that has taken place and hold very real concerns for the future of our community resource, Cairns FM89.1," she says.

"I would not stand before the committee and defend myself because I have nothing to defend myself about, and have done nothing wrong," Helen Jarroe says.

"I do not recognize the authority of that committee. It contains only 3 constitutionally-elected members. If I am expelled I will request a General Meeting of members where as is my right I will appeal to the whole membership. I will simply present to the membership the absolute facts and nothing more, of what has occurred since the Management Committee was formed at the September AGM, particularly those matters in breach of the Constitution, the Code of Practice and the requirement for a dispute resolution process to be utilised," Jarroe says.

On Chrismas Eve, as Helen Jarroe was preparting to fly overseas to visiting her sick mother, Coutts instructed the Radio Station's lawyers, to write to her.

"Mr Coutts has consulted us in his capacity as president of Cairns Community Broadcasters," O’Reilly Stevens Bovey Lawyers said. "He has provided us with a copy of a letter which you circulated on 16th November 2009 to the members of the Association, [and] is of the opinion that your letter was intended to undermine the committee of management and destabilise the Association."

"You infer that Mr Coutts is a tyrant and you allege that he has a conflict of interest, the innuendo being that Mr Coutts has an improper or dishonest agenda," they wrote. "You allege that 'serious actions' have been taken against members of the Association in order to get rid of them. Mr Coutts consulted us in his capacity as president of the Association and not in his personal capacity, since he has no intention whatsoever of taking legal action against you as a result of your defamation of his character," O’Reilly Lawyers wrote.

"He wished to be assured that your conduct could properly be considered as 'injurious or prejudicial to the character or interests of the Association'."

However, O’Reilly Stevens Lawyers said that Coutts has no intention of issuing legal proceedings against Jarroe.

"He could not demonstrate that he has suffered any damage whatsoever as a result of your defamation. Secondly, generally accepted that persons who defame others very often bring ridicule upon themselves. It is poetic justice, of sorts. Mr Coutts believes that this is such a case."

It's believed that more $3,000 has been spent on legal letters in the last two months, from Coutts to members advising them of membership termination proceedings.

Anyone who challenges Coutts has to be punished and removed, according to his management. He has clearly learned nothing from Wednesday night's meeting, the physical assault by his vice president Pieter Blaauw on Councillor Diane Forsyth, or ACMA's ruling.

He is seeking to get rid of as many people as possible before the General Meeting on 20 January.

These actions fly directly in the face of ACMA's ruling where they found that Cairns Community Radio was disregarding its corporate governance, membership, conflict resolution, complaints handling, encouraging participation, and volunteering.

Is Rodney Coutts mad? Is he seriously sane when he writes letters to members like this?

Whilst I welcome the Cairns Post for finally airing this issue, they need to act like a community watchdog and not leave it up to the members to fight the illegal goings on alone. Coutts told the Post that ACMA's ruling is being dealt with.

"I'm working on developing policies since taking on the role in September," Coutts said. Of course the statement is laughable. His actions, right up to today, fly in the face of any ruling or charge that the membership demanded after the closed shop of the last 10 years.

An investigation began after a complaint was submitted during 4CCR's licence renewal process. The station's licence has been renewed, but it will have to improve its official processes after the breach finding.

The codes require community broadcasters to have management and operational policies and procedures in place and to make them freely available. The ACMA found that at the time of the complaint the licensee failed to meet these obligations.

In response to the finding, the station will review the documentation required under the codes and "formulate a timetable for the development and implementation of the required policies and procedures."

In renewing 4CCR's licence, the ACMA "accepted a number of measures designed to strengthen the licensee's management capacity." The ACMA believes that 4CCR's response to the investigation and the renewal of its licence demonstrates its genuine commitment to meeting its obligations. ACMA will continue to monitor performance.

Cairns forensic policeman, Greg Dwyer, who was elected vice president at the September AGM, is also disgusted the way Coutts has acted over recent weeks.

"Within three meetings post the AGM election, it became apparent that there were other completely opposite and personal agendas to that we were told to the voting members," Dwyer says. "They have been duped. I have a high level of personal and professional moral integrity and was forced to resign when outright lies and deceits prevented the necessary forward direction of the station."

Dwyer says that his personal integrity is such that he also resigned from presenting on the radio staion, along with 16 others since late September.

"Knowing what was really being discussed and decided by some members of the Committee, I could not ignore such behaviour simply to present my show. There are rules of process and accountability that should not be ignored or flouted. And there is public money being given to this organisation. Deceit is something I will not stand by and be part of," Greg Dwyer says of Coutts' leadership.

The Cairns Post story today says that Coutts has appoligised to the Cairns Councillors.

"I have received no apology, no one has contacted me about the awful way I was treated and assaulted," Diane Forsyth.

Cairns Regional Council's CEO Lyn Russsell yesterday recomended that Forsyth report the assult by Pieter Blaauw to the Police. "This is awful, and I will talk with Diane to take action. She needs to take this matter to the Police," Russell told CairnsBlog.

"I will be making a formal complaint to the Police today so that they can investigate," Forsyth said. The witnesses to the events on Wednesday night, hope that Blaauw will be charged with serious assult.

"I will provide sworn statements from the many witnesses that saw the physical violence against me from the vice president," Forsyth said. "I will also show that the president, Rodney Coutts, who was standing right next to Mr Blaauw, did not intervene, and therefore encouraged the behaviour to continue," Forsyth said.

"It was a frightening thing to happen to me. It felt like a domestic violence assult," Councillor Forsyth says.

It's blindingly obvious that Coutts, along with the violent Pieter Blaauw, is incompetent to implement the findings of the regulatory authority ACMA. He lacks majority support amongst the membership of Cairns Community Radio. He is a very destructive influence on this community asset.


Oliver Redlynch said...

I welcome that this should now be a police matter for the violence perpertrated on our elected councillor. How dare our tax money be misappropriated in this way by this organisation - what on earth are the ACMA doing? A bloody circus alright from the sound of it, and what a completely ineffectual bit of reporting in the comic today.

KC said...

Michael, I have read the station's current constitution on its website and have just viewed the license renewal application made last year at the ACMA site (search 4CCR). The appendix docs make for interesting reading also. I may have missed the link but do you have an actual copy of the ACMA's final ruling as I couldn't find it on their site?

Michael P Moore said...

KC, I will upload ACMA's ruling onto the CairnsBlog server this afternoon, as it may take some days to appear on their website.

In Part 2 of my series on the Cairns Community Radio, I put up the licence renewal application, that was prepared by the Arona-controlled committee. You can clearly see the mistruths littered throughout.

Richie said...

Techs like Shane Wilson are worth their weight in gold. Replacing personnel with his kind of commitment, skills and knowledge is fraught with difficulty at the best of times. I certainly hope that the station's broadcast and transmission equipment is able to survive the cyclone season.

Noj Nedlaw said...

until Mike posts

ACMA media release

KitchenSlut said...

There is much interesting information revealed in this series which supports the worth of alternative media such as Cairnsblog. Is community radio really much relevant given new media?

I'm not convinced any arguments here support the worth of old media collective community radio? It's time has passed and support in a forum such as Cairnsblog is somewhat dichotomous? The flaws of collectivism are exposed?

The flaws are apparent as are the interest groups intent on getting their grubby hands on all the public funds they can for their own sectional interests. Whether it be the Greens or Arona!

I think I was the one who on the first Cairnsblog post on this subject suggested maybe someone should query Jim Turnour (as federal funder, member, and presenter) and subsequently was jumped on and abused.

There are questions to answer from both Turnour and the previous imcumbent Entsch who was the Federal member when most of these federally funded misapproptiation accusations started to emerge.

Personally I see any community radio expenditure as a waste and would prefer it be diverted to other causes .... or local ABC rather than a summer of cricket!

DichotomousCollective said...

"It's (sic) time has passed and support in a forum such as Cairnsblog is somewhat dichotomous? The flaws of collectivism are exposed?"

My oh my, what the fuck does that mean? Support is dichotomous???? The flaws of collectivism???? Are you a Russian kulak or what? That's going to be the name of my new rock band - The Dichotomous Collective.

What a KitchenWank!

Denis Walls said...

Ha, ha, ha Dichotomous. Well verbosed! Personally, I’m a bit scared about what’s going to happen to 4CCR when this green dichotomous collective takes over the station. They're all signing up to get their grubby hands on public funds apparently.

·Jasse Walton, beaches resident association committee
·Ross Parisi, Former Mulgrave councillor
·Donn Corcoran, former secretary cairns committee radio
·Terrance Spackman, environmental activist
·Diane Forsyth, Cairns Regional Councillor
·Linda Cooper, Cairns Regional Councillor
·Bryan Law, peace by peace activist
·Gerry Pyne, Bendigo community radio and Tablelands technician
·Judi Corcoran, former presenter
·Tony Hillier, former presenter and station manager, local musician and writer
·Denis Walls, past president community radio
·Richie Bates, president of Cairns cycling
·Dave Slatyer, concerned local resident
·....and CairnsBlog editor Michael Moore

KitchenFool more like!

hieronymus bosch said...

welcome to old school cairns, judy and don!

Mark said...

Maybe these people don't see the world in the same fiscally exploitative way as you dendo. They may actually feel passionate enough to want to revive a much needed community organisation that has been in recent years exploited by individuals very much.... like yourself perhaps?

Tommy said...

I guess Cr Blake is enjoying being out of the CB limelight

Clifton Beach Ratbag said...

Say KSlut,

You're right on. All the talk about "new media" evaporates when a gravy train of federal bucks appears to be misused by "people we don't like". First the blog publishes an hit-piece on a group in Kuranda, minding their own business. Then we organise a bunch of yobbos to storm their meeting.

And then we complain when the yobbo attack is unsuccessful.

These being the same people who claim "old media is dead".

I guess not when there is still free money for the taking.

Kelly said...

The satire has obviously been lost on you Mark. Dendo was clearly taking the mickey out of KitchenSlut's post.

Grona said...

And Paul Peabody Tommy! I saw Alan Snake and Peabody giving each other high fives down at Mondo's just now.

Mark said...

Oh *slapping head* How silly of me.

Monty said...

Yeah Mark, Check out the Kslut blog. It won't take long to work out 'their' hive like mentality.

Michael P Moore said...

hey Tommy, not for long ;-)

with all bullshit aside *90* said...

is this the same don corcron who baracaded himself into the station office yelling "I've got all the power!" which caused him to be escorted out of the building by police???? Hmmm quite a conundrem isnt it?
funny how you think that you can write things down which are the complete opposite from the truth..

next time mike you decide to write somthing about Mr Coutts please make sure that what you hear is compete truth and not the word of a scorned man.

and i have known Mr Coutts for fourty nine years and troughout those years i have never heard him say "fuck off or fucken" or anything to do with that word. He frowns apon it so i do not know why you would say that he has.

Michael P Moore said...

well ["with all bullshit aside *90*" weird dodgy fake name] I have Statatory Declarations and numberous people that know first-hand the language that Coutts has been using and the plan he had to get rid of anyone that spoke out "against the constitionally-elected president")his words.

The guy is a nut of the first order and has no place in a community organisation. Ever.

If you've known Rod for 49 years, you must have visited him up at Arona at Sunday sermons with Marcus et all over the years.


Shane Wilson, 4CCR Member and former technician said...

Lets have your real name ,"with all bullshit aside *90* said..." you gutless wonder, then we shall compare the facts!

Mr Coutts never uses the "F" word??? I beg to differ!!

Interesting how you people have turned the attack onto Mike that all you have left?

Donn Corcoran said...

Replying to "with all bullshit aside *90*" who claims to be reporting on a conversation between Rodney Coutts and myself.

I am happy to speak for myself and not hide behind third persons or 'bullshit' blog names.

Your claims about my statement are wrong. I did point out to Mr Coutts, and in response to highly provocative comments and behaviour from him that, as Secretary, I had more legal rights and powers than he did in relation to the operations of Cairns Community Broadcasters.

There is a very long booklet called the Secretary's Handbook which set these out. There is no such document for Presidents.

Yes, the police were called. I called them first (Cairns Central) as I was concerned about my safety. The police they assured me that they would log the call and you can check with the police if you want the real story. Only later did Mr Coutts call the local police.

They attended and escorted me from the building after receiving advice from Raintrees management that Mr Coutts, as signatory to the lease, had the right to remove anyone he chose. The police made it clear that there were no formal charges or complaints, although Mr Coutts had clearly made some sort of allegations.

I have known Mr Coutts for less than a year and regarded him as a friend for most of that time.
He was a frequent guest in our home and had many meals with us.

It was only when he realised that we might stand in the way in his pursuit of complete power at the station that he turned against us, and others on the Committee. I can provide you with copies of correspondence if you have the courage to identify yourself.

Another 4CCR member from Bayview said...

Hey there to "with all bullshit aside *90*"

It just occurred to me that Rod Coutts has not lived in Australia for anything like 49 years. I think it's about 15-20 as he spent most of his career in the RAF (if that story is to be believed).

"With all bullshit aside *90*" may be a migrant too (no problems with that) or s/he may be just bullshitting.

I think so.

KitchenSlut said...

I apologise for my apostrophe DichotomousCollective and realise how worthless this makes me as a human and renders any view irrelevant. Good to see my cyber-stalking hate team so vigilant!

"Are you a Russian Kulak or what?"

Is that meant to be derogatory abuse or simply adulation for Stalin, one of the great mass murderers of the 20th century?

"It is difficult to determine how many people died because of the "liquidation of the kulaks as a class." The data from the Soviet archives do not tell us exactly how many people escaped and survived, or what number of deaths would have occurred if there had been no deportation. These data do not include people who were executed or died in prisons and gulags rather than dying in labour colonies. Many historians consider the great famine a result of the "liquidation of the kulaks as a class," which complicates the estimation of death tolls. A wide range of death tolls has been suggested, from as many as 60 million suggested by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to as few as 700 thousand by Soviet news sources."

Your abuse is sad, inappropriate and exhibits disturbingly psychopathic inhumanity. It is a reason why people such as you should not be allowed anywhere near the public funds of community radio and only supports my comments on the flaws of collectivism.

Grona said...

God KS, what a crashing bore you are!

KitchenSlut said...

Not half as boring as community radio Grona! But at least that gives me a goal to aim at!

Nothing satisfies me more in my comments than the diversity of the people from all over the political spectrum who seem confused and need to revert to mindless hatred as an excuse for any substantive comment......

Monty said...

Obviously Kitchen Slut's blog, being as boring as batshit is the reason why *they* (remember the hive Captain Picard) feel the need to regularly spray their opinions here on Cairns blog because no one is interested in reading their own.

Nigel Banning said...

Kitchen Slut, it is obvious that your comments are not well received by contributors on this Blog. This is an meduimn for individuals that have positive comments of various aspects of Cairns society and not a tool for the likes of you to self promote through silly, ignorant and outlandish comments your own Blog.
Put simply, you are not welcomed here. Just stick to your own Blog for all comment.

KitchenSlut said...

"an meduimn"?

Is that Latin Nigel? And here I was thinking I was supposed to be the piss headed alcoholic from the comments of my cyber-stalkers?

Ummm .... Nigel mate? Exactly how is it that you believe you are in a position to judge what should be posted on Cairnsblog? You appear to have just totally supported my position on collectivism and media without having the wit to realise it?

How extraordinary .... dichotomous even?! It is Michael Moore's blog and if he chooses to refuse any comment or tell me to f*** off that is his prerogitave? I would respect that!

Where do you think you come in here?

Nigel Banning said...

Kitchen Slut, I am not part of the collectivism that you claim is cyber-stalking you. Nor am I part of the dynamics of dichotomy. Kitchen Slut, Factman and Gavin King would make good bedside partners, coming from the extreme right of the political dial and with chips on their collective shoulders, the reason for their aggravated stoop!
The ego of individualism is what is today recking 4CCR, and what is needed is a new broom sweeping clean. Those seeking to rectify the abuse of position and power have my full support. January the 20th, can not come soon enough.