BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
The lawyer for a Wall Street-backed firm that subsidized KCSM-TV to keep it running contends the owner, the San Mateo County Community College District, kept a proposal to sell it from both the firm and the public. The dispute is tied to the college district’s botched sale of the station’s spectrum in an FCC auction last November, in which it could have collected $114 million.
LocusPoint and the district reached an agreement last year before the FCC auction to sell the station in which LocusPoint would pay the district $900,000 a year until the station was sold.
That effort failed. So tonight (Sept. 13), the district board may ratify the purchase of KCSM-TV by KRCB, a PBS-affiliate based in Sonoma County, for $12 million.
The district’s process for the recent effort to sell KCSM-TV “was little more than a charade to conceal a predetermined outcome,” says LocusPoint Network’s lawyer, Andrew Bednark, in a letter to the district.
Bednark’s letter, sent Monday, contends that the agreement between KRCB and KCSM-TV, may have been in the works since March.
According to an article on Current, a broadcasting news site, the CEO for KRCB, Nancy Dobbs, reached out to other stations who participated in the FCC auction, and discovered that KCSM-TV was not sold. This backs up the statement made in the district’s lawsuit against LocusPoint, saying the district was approached about a sale by an unnamed station after the auction.
Bednark says that the district’s proposal process was not transparent, as there is no record of the KCSM request for proposals to be found either on the district’s website or through a Google search, “calling into question how anyone could find it unless they knew to ask the district specifically for it.”
The request for proposals was first issued on June 13, and closed on July 21, according to a report from college district Vice Chancellor Eugene Whitlock. The report also says that the district was not fully satisfied with KRCB’s offer of $12 million, a far cry from the $114 million the district could have gotten in the auction.
Bednark’s letter stresses Locus-Point’s argument — that the district has been concealing the sale and blunders surrounding the attempted sale of KCSM-TV.
In LocusPoint’s April lawsuit, it claims that there were two cover-ups — one when college vice president Jan Roecks signed a document saying she had bid when she didn’t, and two, when Chancellor Ron Galatolo failed to disclose that KCSM had been dropped from the FCC auction. Roecks failed to enter a bid on the FCC website at the appropriate time.
As a result, KCSM was dropped from the auction. Roecks told her boss, Galatolo, about the blunder, but for months Galatolo apparently kept the news from the college district’s board and Locus-Point. LocusPoint has sued the district over the botched sale and the district has countersued LocusPoint.
Bednark requests in his letter up to 11 types of documents regarding the sale of KCSM-TV. Bednark said yesterday that he had not received a response.
The Post has attempted to contact district spokesman Mitch Bailey numerous times regarding the letter and the sale of KCSM-TV since the board voted to sell the station last week. Bailey has not returned any of the Post’s messages.
The district board meets tonight at 7 p.m. at the College of San Mateo, 3401 CSM Drive.