Wednesday 1 September 2010

Another member terminated from community radio, days before AGM

In a string of membership terminations and resignations from the besieged Cairns community radio 89.1 FM, the latest casualty is former Mulgrave Shire councillor and long-time community advocate, Ross Parisi, who headed 'Friends of 4CCR' to reform the troubled organisation.
On the 4th August, president Rod Coutts called a special meeting to expel another member who has been seeking transparency and openness in the $300,000 government-funded community organisation.
The emergency meeting was called to bar Parisi from participating in the forthcoming AGM.

Coutts often cites an infamous clause used many times previously, that dissenting members should not challenge the "constitutionally-elected president."
In Parisi's case, he was charged with "associating with those that appose the management committee," in his position as chair of Friends of 4CCR.
Parisi says he will appeal the decision, and has reapplied for membership.
"I am asking that it be given urgent attention in considering my membership application as I will be attending annual general meeting [on September 13th]," Ross Parisi said.
Parisi says he took personal offence to the contents in the letter from Rod Coutts.
"I consider its contents to be prejudicial, discriminatory and defamatory in the circumstances," he told Rod Coutts in a letter today. "I have reserved my legal rights to take legal action. It does concern me that you and your management committee have chosen to take perceptive action notwithstanding my community involvement, record and good will."

Rod Coutts, who is the only person ever to write on behalf of the community radio, responded by saying that Ross Parisi was banned from attending the AGM, as it is for "members only."

"As you are aware your previous membership was terminated," Rod Coutts said. "The application form you forwarded to us cannot be processed until the next committee meeting... held in the latter part of September 2010, after the AGM."

"The AGM of Cairns Community Broadcasters Inc is a members only meeting and non-members will not be allowed to attend," Rod Coutts said.
Ross Parisi helped form Friends of 4CCR in February to advocate change and move the station forward for anyone in the wider community, however Coutts has consistency discounted the group a "bunch of troublemakers."
Following a series of letters to the station's membership from Ross Parisi outlining "serious concerns", Coutts was determined to terminate his membership.

The special committee meeting refused to process numerous other membership applications, that, under the rules, must be considered.
Over the last 12 months since being elected as president of Cairns community radio, Rod Coutts has not allowed any new memberships. He has also refused to disclose committee minutes or financial records, following numerous requests by Cairns Regional Councillor Linda Cooper.
Six of the committee elected last year resigned in disgust at Coutts' management amid serious allegations that he wasn't being transparent about using station funds. Proposed changes to the constitution confirm that Rod Coutts plans to pay himself up to $60,000 per year as manager and remain as president, a serious conflict of interests. He has also put a paid technician contractor on the committee, who, along with Coutts' girlfriend and treasurer, aim to be paid many thousands.
The ACMA has dished out no less than four formal investigations about mismanagement, with another two expected in coming weeks. The ACMA have outlined a set of agreed measures and with just four months to go, not one has been attended to.

On top of the refusal to allow any scrutiny or public accountability, the on-air programming has deteriorated to become something of a laughing stock, with technical failures, poorly-run shows, 90% of which are ethnic, leaving no room for broader community participation from youth or other interest groups. This is done as ethnic programming provides a valuable source of funding.

As a matter of public openness and reporting to the wider community, anyone interested in seeking a review of the first 12 months of Rodney Coutts' leadership of Cairns Community Radio, should come along to the AGM.
  • Cairns Community Radio - AGM 2010
    Brother's League Club
    7pm ~ Monday 13th September
    Upstairs meeting room.
    Everyone most welcome. Really.


Moving Right Along said...

Obviously, Jim Turnour was unsuccessful in getting any effective action out of the toothless tiger ACMA. So, what is Big W going to do about it? Has he made any comments about 4CCR?

Jimmy eat world said...

Entsch is no different to any other politican; he will only react to Community disquite when he can hear it from the rafters

Then again he could prove us all wrong and have ACMA withdraw Cairns FM radio license and call for expressions of interest, with the proviso that the current 'snouts in the till' are excluded from the process!!

Tony Hillier said...

4CCR AGMs in the past were always open to the general public, whether they had voting rights (i.e. they were ratified members) or not. That is the very essence of community or public radio. The sector is funded by taxpayers' money. Mr Coutts is playing a very dangerous game, especially if, as reported, he intends remaining as president and as paid manager. His days are clearly numbered.

I recall a particularly robust meeting in the late '80s when the incumbents were attempting to impose a closed shop. Needlesstosay, the status quo was changed. Mind you, back then public radio was a valued asset and community-minded citizens were thicker on the ground.

Southerner said...

It beggars belief that people constantly moan about government wastage from local, state and federal levels, yet here is a group of individuals who have corrupted the concept of community radio - which has been with us since the seventies- turning it into a private money tree whereby they (allegedly) receive hundreds of thousands of dollars from the taxpayer to do what? And judging by the lack of interest the community of Cairns apparently couldn't give a rat's... about it. Funny old town this Cairns.

Craig Philpot said...

Bad move Mr Coutts. This time you have bitten off more than what you can chew. Your miscalculation may cost you your job but whatsmore is that CairnsFM may have to show cause why its licence should not be revoked. Your crash or crash through mentality may well cause you to crash and burn.

:Kevin-John: Morgan. said...

There were a few other men through history who acted in this very same manner, by slaughtering staff when they also sought some form of transparency in the workings of their leaders' regimes.
Hitler, Stalin and Idi Amin are the first ones who come to mind, and I'm sure you all know many others throughout history.
Seems like Rod Coutts may just make a name for himslef in Cairns local history, for being a person such as this.
What a shame, I really enjoyed my time as a presenter at 4CCR, and it would be a sad state of affairs to see a wonderful community asset such as this facility, fall into foul times because of some petty and egotistical attitudes with political overtones.
This is not what is in the Charter as the attributes of a Community Radio president.
Why the name president?
This word when broken down means Pre-Simulation-Denture, which is certainly NOT the description of a person in charge!

The Godfather said...

Did Italian presenter and committee member Gary Montagner vote with the rest of the committee to expel Ross Parisi?

Would the Lions Business Club of Cairns, of which he is Vice-President approve of the secretive management and business practices of 89.1?

Remember the transparency promise Gary? Or are you under a gag order?

still watching and waiting said...

Has Captain Mainwaring placed an embargo on his illustrious committee? they are all strangely silent on this issue. Where are you Peter Blaaw, Julian Serong,John Fielder,Diane Jensen, etc? (I found your names on your website) Have you nothing to say in your defence?? Funny that.

Gordon of Gordonvale said...

Website says Gary is an optometrist. Can't see through Coutts Gary? Not a good look.

spangled lady said...

Remember Scam 101? Find a government funded community asset,make up your own rules and bleed it to death. Southerner your comments are spot on -Cairns is a great town -it just seems to have a Joh Belke hangover -to do with power and authority not being challenged. we need another Fitzgerald inquiry!

Michael Hyams said...

Thanks for your input Craig. Dont know you but totally agree with your
sentiments. We, that is the "Friends" must be clear as to our course of action with a view to putting the entirety of his new Rules in the bin

Livi Oregano said...

Hey Godfather, Shaduppa you face!! Gary isn't stupid and he wouldn't vote with Coutts on that one. Tell em it ain't so, Gary.

The Godfather said...

Yeah Livi? With Coutts it's my way or the highway. No-one on the committee has the guts to stand up to him, Italian or not.

Roger said...

Why would Parisi want to get involved Isn't it an ethnic station and he was born here?

The Godfather said...

See latest posting 'The committee voted unanimously'. Suck that one up Livi.

Cairns Blog Fan said...

Isn’t it time that Cairns Blog and other Cairns media expose the "other" members of this current 4CCR board, if they agree and support Coutts and his practice, let’s have a detailed look at them and their ideas publicly! Radio is a public game!
Let’s also have a discussion on the programs currently on 4CCR and the relevance, quality and value to Cairns
If Coutts has spent government money on solicitor’s fees for personal issues, or taken money for himself and friends, I am keen to hear the words of support and reasons from other board members and current members of 4CCR.

I find it interesting that Coutts has never spoken publicly either on Cairns Blog or via the radio station he allegedly controls about all this unrest, and misappropriation claims.
Does anyone listen to this radio station? Does Coutts talk and think for everyone involved at 4CCR?
If not lets hear from you.

If there are problems, surely these petty grievances should be handled in house via a disputes resolution committee, a system that ACMA have instructed 4CCR to install, in fact all community radio stations should have in place as part of the license.

The serious misappropriations of government funding maybe should be passed on to the police if true for consideration.

another exmember said...

Sensible words from cairns blog fan. the station has NEVER had any Dispute Resolution procedures in place in spite of the Codes of Practice. All decisions are made unilaterally by the president himself. I cannot understand how the current members of the committee can be taken in by his weasel words. Have they not read the Codes? and seen the conditions set down by the ACMA? if anyone can bear to listen to the station as it is at present with so many bumbling people trying to speak English and playing crap recordings from their own collections you will see how important it is to try to restore some sort of balance and include more members of the wider Cairns community.This station belongs to the community not just the fans of Mr Coutts.