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School administrator accuses broadcaster of electioneering

FALLS VILLAGE — Region One Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves has filed a complaint against Marshall Miles and NPR radio station WHDD (Robin Hood Radio).Miles brought up the matter during public comments at the January meeting of the Region One Board of Education at Housatonic Valley Regional High School, Monday, Jan.9.Goncalves’ letter to the Federal Communications Commission, dated Nov. 8, 2011, alleges that Miles violated Section 399 of the FCC’s statutes during the elections in November.“During the recent election season Mr. Miles, on air and on numerous and repeated occasions, endorsed specific candidates running for political office. He did not make endorsement statements on all the offices running for election but targeted only that area he has been perpetrating a personal agenda against. He, in my opinion, not only violated FCC rules and regulations but has used his position to unfairly and unethically sway an election,” Goncalves wrote.Section 399 of the FCC regulations states: “No noncommercial educational broadcasting station may support or oppose any candidate for public office.” WHDD is an affiliate of National Public Radio and its parent organization, Tri-State Public Communications, is a nonprofit corporation (which also operates local access cable station CATV6).Miles supported Marilyn Yerks of Sharon against incumbent and former Region One board Chairman Judge Manning for the regional board seat. Yerks won easily in the first election for that position. (It had previously been an appointed position.)Miles handed out copies of Goncalves’ complaint and his own letter, addressed to new board Chairman Phil Hart (of Cornwall).In his letter he posed several questions, which he read aloud.First, he asked if this was a complaint from Goncalves, the administration or the board. Hart said the complaint had nothing to do with the board.Miles then asked the board to get answers to another set of questions: Was Goncalves’ complaint on behalf of the Region One administration and if so, who authorized it?And if it is a personal complaint, he continued, why was the letter written on “taxpayer time,” and why did Goncalves use school equipment (computers etc.), use her Region One email and provide the high school address and telephone number as contact information.Miles said he planned to file a formal complaint against Goncalves through Scooter Tedder, the new Region One representative from Salisbury. Later in the meeting Hart appealed to Region One administrators and board members for help in ending what he called the “friction” between the two groups.He read a statement lamenting the “withering array of emails,” and the considerable back-and-forth over requests from board members for copies of documents and legal opinions.Hart said that to the public, “We are one board,” and that transgressions of individual members reflected badly on the group as a whole.He asked board members to think it over and said the matter would be on the agenda for the February meeting, with the board’s attorney present if necessary.He also asked for suggestions from administrators.

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