WBAI Election Roundup and Stalemate Board
Tune into Progressive Community Media on Monday February 8th at 6:30pm to hear about how the Indy Caucus, after losing seats on the board tried to install one of their runner ups to fill a staff seat that was already filled. You can see the show on Manhattan cable' network MNN Time Warner channel 34 or RCN channel 82 or www.mnn.org (Community channel 1). Or you can see the following segment posted above.
Intro to the show follows:
WBAI, the noncommercial radio station that airs diverse and progressive programs serving a wide range of communities and movements, has a local governing board that's elected by its staff and listener-supporters. Three-quarters of the seats are held by listeners, one quarter by staff, including the program hosts who are considered unpaid staff.
For most of the last 8 years Justice and Unity has been a minority, with 11 seats to the Independents, now known as the Indy Caucus’s 13. But even with the majority Indy Caucus blocked action by boycotting meetings. Outside the May 2014 Local Station Board meeting they did it again, however that time, one of their number, LSB and Pacifica Board member Manijeh Saba pointedly disagreed with the tactic saying they should go in and talk with Justice and Unity. She was speaking with R. Paul Martin. At the end you’ll hear my voice urging them to come in. Here’s a clip of the conversation.
The elections are always contentious. During this year’s election which began in July 2015, the Justice & Unity Campaign, a multi-racial coalition dedicated to diversity on all sides of the microphone, as well as a thorough program for station sustainability, competed against a predominantly white grouping calling itself the Indy Caucus. The latter group has held the board majority for more than 7 years. Over that time, the station went into extreme crisis, with the membership dropping by 50%, listenership reduced greatly, and fund drives soaring to almost half the year. While controlling the board, the Indy Caucus repeatedly failed to conduct the required yearly evaluation of the General Manager or any Program Directors as mandated by Pacifica by-laws. In 2013, three fourths of the paid staff was laid off because of the disastrous state of the finances.
Last year, half of the Local Station Board's 24 seats were up for election. Results of the election were (click on READ MORE)
In the recently completed station elections, Justice & Unity won 62% of the listener vote, which resulted in a 50-50 tie on the Board between J&U and the Indy-ACE people.
Some folks are so accustomed to calling the shots that a tied board and the possibility of having to spend a minute in the minority have caused them significant distress. They’re acting as if they’ve lost their minds.
Last Thursday evening, the 2016 Pacifica National Board held its first meeting - or tried to. It was disrupted by WBAI local board members pretending they’d been elected to the national board, and by WBAI’s 2015 national board members. After much shouting, name-calling, cussing, playing music to drown out the voices of others, etc., the PNB meeting was adjourned.
That teleconference took place via a toll-free service for which we listeners pay.
And listeners pay in other ways.
- We pay for board elections. Our elections are costly, and while no one has ever been completely happy with the process, absent fraud folks should live with the results and work to improve the next cycle.
- The bylaws are flawed, but when the language is clear, folks should read, not spin. There is an underutilized mechanism for amending them, BUT THERE IS A PROCESS.
- When the work of a governing board is prevented, the function of the entire institution is impaired. Our station and network face numerous, significant challenges. We don’t need more internal blockage.
When the PNB meets this evening, Thurs., Feb. 4, at 8:30 pm, it needs to be allowed to handle its business. And next Wed., Feb. 10, at 7pm, when the people you elected meet in NY, show up and demand that they handle ours.
Here’s how to listen:
Go to https://kpftx.org/; click on “Listen” under this listing:
If you cannot listen live, in a day or so, look for the meeting on the archive: https://kpftx.org/archive.php
See Read More below for:
- Pacifica Governance Structure
- Term Inheritance
- The Bogus Delegates’ Meeting
Thanks to your support, we did it!!
But the machinations of the Indy/ACE crew are not over.
Justice and Unity listener candidates won 5 of 9 listener seats with your Lynne Stewart receiving 482 of Justice & Unity (J&U)’s 548 first-place (write-in) votes vs. Indy/ACE highest vote-getter’s 189 of their 329 first place votes. J&U got a total of 62% of the first-ranked votes, a clear rejection of 7 years of Indy/ACE’s disastrous control of the Local Board that produced the crisis in which the station finds itself.
Joining Lynne on the Local Station Board (LSB) are new listener members King Downing, Pauline Park, and Ralph Poynter. Re-elected was Plainfield NJ’s listener (and current LSB Chair) John Brinkley. In the staff elections, J&U ally Bob Lederer also won re-election (1 of the 3 staff seats at stake). So overall, the election resulted in an even split of open seats: 6 & 6.
The combination of continuing & new LSB members means a 12-12 tie between J&U and the Indy/ACE group for 2016.
To watch interviews by Bernard White with Justice & Unity candidates and board members, click HERE
A LETTER FROM BERNARD WHITE, former WBAI Program Director, and LYNNE STEWART, People's Attorney
Dear WBAI family member,
We know you care deeply about WBAI being an unmuzzled voice of the truth-tellers and challengers to the unjust status quo – especially when the dangerous shouts of the backwards and often racist right are dominating radio and television airways. We also know you’re deeply concerned that WBAI may not make it through its current period of financial decline, with constant on-air appeals and increasing reliance on commercial, consumable products.
The current local board majority (“Indy Caucus” / “ACE”) has been in power for the past 7 years. They supervised this downward slide. They have dragged their feet on setting up a search committee for a permanent Program Director, delayed in evaluating management, and held only one of the dozen mandated town hall meetings that should have occurred in recent years.
The Justice & Unity Campaign, by contrast, has been working hard not just to keep the station alive, but to put it back on a strong, anti-racist, community-involved course:
· When the station was forced to leave its pricey Wall Street studios, Justice & Unity made the connection at City College that allowed WBAI to broadcast for over two years at 1/4 of the cost.
· When WBAI faced possible eviction from our Empire State Building transmitter room, J&U successfully pushed to create a special fund and a phone bank to encourage lapsed donors to contribute.
· Last year we worked with others to forge an in-depth plan to make the station sustainable.
· Our persistent advocacy for bringing local voices into the morning and afternoon lineup after the 2013 layoffs was finally heeded during the short-lived tenure of interim program director Mario Murillo.
Now we’re on the eve of a crucial WBAI election, where control of the local board – and indeed of all of the Pacifica Network – is at stake. Those who have failed to sustain the station, worked to narrow the range of voices heard (while praising stations with “homogenous” racial composition), and used racial stereotypes to denounce leaders of color whom they found insufficiently compliant are trying to consolidate their dominance. They are floating new lies and seeking to blame others for their failures. We need to reveal the truth to all the members, and we need you to help us do this.
Justice & Unity has assembled a stellar slate of 7 candidates, headed by one of the two of us, Lynne Stewart (see list below) for the Local Station Board, rich in political experience and practical skills in running non-profit organizations. We are committed to working toward implementation of our proposed sustainability plan, appointment of a knowledgeable, progressive Program Director, a full evaluation of the station manager, and real and constant contact with the station’s members.