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Response to board members' accusations against us

Board members accuse us of spreading lies and deceit. We say the same thing about them. Looks like we're both about the same on the surface, doesn't it? But there's one crucial difference: We have meticulously detailed our grievances against the board on this website, providing a plethora of specific examples, and we offer public explanations for the charges which have been made against us. The board and their supporters have not done the same. And actually, there's another difference: we have the support of both Austin Chronicle and Austin American-Statesman columnists, as well as a large number of community activists.

We know it's hard to know whom to trust when charges are being bandied about back and forth. All we can say is that we've documented exactly what we feel is wrong with the board, and defended their false statements about US. We hope this website provides a better perspective than you've been able to get from brief mailings from both sides, short letters to the editor, and random articles in the newspapers. Now on to the accusations against us:

"Friends of KOOP are racist, sexist, homophobes."
(Board member Mac McKaskle made this statement on the air, with support from Eduardo Vera; Paul Odekirk in emails; Board members Carol Hayman and Teresa Taylor in a letter to the Austin Chronicle)

This is absolutely untrue. Friends of KOOP members represent a diversity of races, genders, and sexual/social preferences. What's more, many of us have a long history of involvement with progressive politics and community advocacy. We could list our collective resumé here, but it would be pointless. The board is simply trying to discredit us by calling our politics into question. We're not falling for it. We are FIRMLY committed to diversity and that's as much as we're going to say about it.

Don't want to take our word for it? Then how about the Austin Chronicle's? Here's what Lee Nichols said in the Chron: "As has been thoroughly documented in this column and elsewhere, Odekirk and his allies are either delusional or unrepentant liars who use accusations of homophobia as a divisive tactic to vilify their enemies and divert attention from KOOP's real issues. I would expect nothing less from him." (read the rest of this article)

"Friends of KOOP is trying to take over the station so they can purge it of diversity." (Board member Mac McKaskle & Community Board chair Eduardo Vera made this statement on the air; Board members Carol Hayman and Teresa Taylor in a letter to the Austin Chronicle.)

First, we consider our work an effort to take BACK the station to re-establish it as a co-op, not a move to take OVER the station. If anyone has taken OVER the station, it's the current board. The current Board of Trustees was NOT elected by the membership! It was elected by the Community Board, which elected three of its own members to the Board of Trustees. Second, our effort in taking back the station is to restore democracy: by seating a board that is committed to cooperative and democratic ideals, which does not work against the wishes of its membership, and which will act responsibly and legally. Finally, as we've stated before, we SUPPORT diversity, rather than oppose it.

"Friends of KOOP wants to eliminate Spanish-language programming."
(Mac McKaskle & Eduardo Vera made this statement on the air, 10-21-98.)

This is absurd. How many times do we have to say it? We SUPPORT Spanish-language programming. Period.

"Friends of KOOP is a for-profit moneymaking organization."
(Mac McKaskle & Eduardo Vera made this statement on the air, 10-21-98.)

The claims just get more and more bizarre. No Friends of KOOP member has made a dime from Friends of KOOP -- we're a 100% volunteer organization, devoting our limited time on a volunteer basis only because we care about the future of the station. The money we've raised has gone directly to pay for renting the Unitarian Church for the special membership meeting, and for three mailings: the first to ask members to sign a petition calling for a special membership meeting, the second to announce that the special membership meeting had been scheduled, and a third, much more limited mailing to announce our endorsement of candidates for the Community Board election. After this last mailing, we donated most of what we had left to KOOP to help pay for the Community Board Election and Pledge Drive mailouts.

Friends of KOOP has also held some underwriting money in escrow from a local business who felt that KOOP's board of trustees would mismanage it. This money was used to directly pay for specific KOOP expenses, such as wages for KOOP's sole paid staffperson, and for the official Community Board Election mailout.

Once we have replaced the board of trustees, any and all money we have left over -- both donations and escrow money -- will go directly to KOOP to pay for station expenses.

Here's our complete accounting as of Fall 1998. We have nothing to hide:

  =============================    ====================================
         I N C O M E                          E X P E N S E S
  -----------------------------    ------------------------------------
  Waterloo Cycles escrow   $849   *Wages for KOOP's Asst. GM.......$500
  Continental Club benefit  495   *KOOP Com. Board Election mailout 300
  Other Donations          1554   *KOOP Pledge Drive mailout........400
  -----------------------------    Unitarian Church rental for
  Total Income            $2898      KOOP membership meeting........460
  =============================    Friends of KOOP mailouts.........920
                                   Banking Fees..................... 27
  =============================    ------------------------------------
  Bank Balance             $291    Total Expenses                 $2607
  =============================    ====================================

   *Marked items are money we donated to KOOP to directly pay for
    station expenses.

"Friends of KOOP solicited donations for itself as though the donations were for KOOP itself." (Accusation made in a postcard that the board sent out to the membership.)

We have never implied that any money donated to Friends is actually for station expenses (except for the escrow money we mentioned above). That money was for our work in trying to restore democracy at the station, and that's why people gave it to us. And in fact, we have donated some of our contributions directly to KOOP to pay for station expenses.

"Friends of KOOP used the KOOP logo to deceive people into thinking they represented KOOP." (Accusation made in a postcard that the board sent out to the membership.)

This was more implied than stated directly. ("Recently, you may have received mailings from a group called 'Friends of KOOP.' This group does NOT have permission to use KOOP's name or logo.") In any event, we have never used the KOOP logo -- not in our mailings, or on this website, or anywhere else.

"Friends of KOOP has made false statements about the Board of Trustees." (In a postcard that the board sent out to the membership.)

We'd love to see some examples of exactly what they're talking about. We stand behind every claim we've made, and they're all documented here on this website.

"Friends of KOOP is anonymous and consists of 'unknown persons'." (In a postcard that the board sent out to the membership, and by Eduardo Vera at a Board meeting.)

This one is inexplicable, since we're about as public as you can get. Here's a complete list of Friends of KOOP contacts, as well as a number of supporters.

"Friends of KOOP is trying to change KOOP's Mission Statement." (In an email sent out by Paul Odekirk and Eduardo Vera, and by Eduardo at a Board meeting, and by board members Carol Hayman and Teresa Taylor in a letter to the Austin Chronicle.)

Changing the Mission Statement is absolutely not a part of our agenda. Our only goal is to restore democracy at KOOP, by electing new station leadership. The Mission Statement is not the problem, it's a board of trustees which opposes its membership. (Note: After repeating our position on this ad nauseum, board supporters finally acknowledged that we've clearly stated that we don't intend to change the Mission Statement, but then claimed that we're intentionally lying when we say so!)

"Friends of KOOP is a small faction." (By Mac McKaskle on the air and at Board meetings, and by other board members at various times.)

In fact, we represent the overwhelming majority of active volunteer members. At a board meeting in July at which the board ultimately decided to cancel General Manager Jenny Wong's contract, 42 people attended to show support for Jenny, while only three people spoke against (two of those three being Paul Odekirk and Eduardo Vera). At a station meeting earlier this year, 95% of the attendees who were not current or former members of the board voted on a resolution expressing their objection to the board's action. (Even counting current and former board members in the total, 82% of the attendees voted to express their objection.)

"Friends of KOOP does not represent the membership of KOOP."

We can't speak for everybody, but we do know that there is widespread disappointment with the current board of trustees, and significant grassroots support to replace them with more responsible board members. A massive number of KOOP members signed our petition to call for a special meeting of the membership for the purpose of considering how to recall the trustees, and hundreds of KOOP members signed their votes over to us (proxies) for that meeting. We feel this means that those members have placed their faith in us and that they support our goals. The board of trustees, on the other hand, barely has any support at all from the membership.

"Friends of KOOP misquoted people in the letter they sent out." (By Mac McKaskle on the air.)

We didn't misquote anyone. Of all the people quoted in our letter (also listed on our "What people are saying" page), nobody has contacted us to tell us they were misquoted.

Naturally, the board member making this claim against us (Mac McKaskle) failed to mention even one person of the "several" we supposedly misquoted. This is almost funny, because before Mac even made this claim, we stated on this website that we fully expected the board to make exactly these kind of accusations without providing specific examples. (See Judging Credibility.) If Mac knows of specific people who feel they were misquoted, we sure wish he'd tell us.

One person, Susannah Erler, provided us a quote in support of Jenny Wong that we didn't use. However, Ms. Erler didn't wish to be listed as a signer to the letter we sent and we inadvertently listed her. We sincerely apologize for this honest mistake. The inadvertent listing aside, though, Ms. Erler did provide us with a quote which we didn't use -- we didn't misquote her.

Contrast this to what the board's supporters are doing: They've intentionally listed organizations on their own letter without the organizations' permission. Read about that here.

Who said that?

Here are some examples of who's saying what about us.

The Board's Postcard

Here's the full text of the postcard that the trustees sent out in October:


Rumors of our Death have been Greatly Exaggerated!

Recently, you may have received mailings from a group called "Friends of Koop." This group does NOT have permission to use Koop's name or logo. Moneys donated to them do NOT go to KOOP radio and are NOT tax deductible.* We regret these unknown persons were able to access our membership list and in turn used it to distribute false statements and attacks against our Board of Trustees as well as several of our members/volunteers. KOOP has taken immediate action to secure this information and we apologize of the inconvenience and bad atmosphere that it has generated.

KOOP 91.7 F.M.

*Please feel free to call the Attorney General's Office for Consumer Affairs if you feel you gave money to "Friends of KOOP" (either by mail or at a recent fundraiser held at the Continental Club) assuming it was meant for KOOP radio.

Read our response to this postcard (above).

The Board's Letter to the Chronicle

Here's an excerpt from a letter that board members sent to the Austin Chronicle, from the 8-28-98 issue. Our response to these allegations appears above.


...The Board of Trustees and the Community Board have been working to make KOOP more accountable to the Austin community. Unfortunately, some individuals would not like to have the voices of diverse communities in KOOP.... We believe the mission [statement] of KOOP is the final target of the campaign to overthrow the board. Even though the recall campaign includes the mission [statement] in their publicity, we believe this is part of a deception campaign. If you signed a proxy for the recall campaign thinking you were supporting the mission of KOOP, it is very important for you to be present at the meeting so that your proxy is not used to destroy inclusivity at KOOP. The recall campaign, if successful, would be basically saying to people of color, women, the gay and lesbian communities and other underserved communities that we don't belong in KOOP.

The present Community Board was elected last year by the membership, which includes Latinos/Latinas, Women and members of the gay community. The Community Board members have been attacked as outsiders our members have always been a part of KOOP Radio and we have worked hard to build and fund the station. Some members who resent those communities feel they lost the last elections and now want to remove the Board to reassert their control . The Board has also been attacked for believing in professional and efficient management which is welcoming of new communities at KOOP.

The Board Treasurer, Mac McKaskle, has worked hard to establish professional bookkeeping standards and is currently preparing the organization for an audit. The Board has asked Jose Orta to establish an organized office where there are accurate accounting and management systems implemented. Because of the recall campaign which has included homophobic attacks, Jose has recommended to the board to return the $5,000 grant from the Elton John Foundation that he worked so hard for. Jose sees that the funds would not be used for their intended purposes. Jose believes the recall of the board will result in the removal of his community and other communities from KOOP.


Board member Carol Hayman, Board President Teresa Taylor,
Community Board Chair Eduardo Vera

Our response to these allegations appears above.

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