Mar 24, 2011

Former KNME associate g.m. files suit alleging her firing was tied to whistleblowing

Joanne Bachmann, former associate general manager at KNME in Albuquerque, N.M., has filed suit against the University of New Mexico, claiming she was fired for complaining that the university took more than $2 million that should have gone to the station. Co-defendant in the suit is Polly Anderson, current station g.m., who allegedly told Bachmann to "drop the matter," according to Bachmann's March 14 filing in Bernalillo County Court.

The suit says that Bachmann was hired at KNME in February 2001 for digital transition fundraising. She was promoted to associate g.m. in 2005. Anderson came on as general manager in September 2008. Bachmann was told her position was eliminated in October 2009 for budgetary reasons, according to the filing.

Among Bachmann's allegations:

— That the university had kept interest earned on KMNE's community service grants from CPB for about 10 years and although it discontinued the practice in 2004, the university never reimbursed the station;

— That a $2.3 million bond award in November 2004 to KNME for digital upgrades was "redistributed" by the university in 2006 for the "political benefit of UNM," forcing the university to dip into a KNME endowment to cover digital equipment purchases the station already made;

— That when Bachmann and station board members protested, the university removed three KNME board members.

Bachmann is claiming breach of contract as well as violation of the New Mexico Whistleblower Protection Act. She's asking for damages, court costs and reinstatement to her position.

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