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Indybay Feature
Dual Elections at Pacifica in June Reveal Dueling Futures for Pacifica
by Michael Novick
Sunday May 30th, 2021 4:09 PM
Democracy, diversity, accountability and community radio are at stake if the New Day Pacifica Bylaws revision passes, and the likely outcome is triage of assets and narrowing of the range of political and cultural expression on Pacifica's airwaves.
June 1 opens the regularly scheduled election process for listener and staff delegates to the Local Station Boards (LSB), under the Bylaws that make Pacifica radio a unique democratically governed national media institution. June 7, a separate special costly election process begins on a revision of those Bylaws which, if it passes, would eliminate the election of LSB delegates and take away any power of locally elected representatives of the station's listeners and staff to oversee management, budgeting or programming fairness, or to recommend or evaluate the station manager and program director. This choice is critical to the future of community-oriented radio and an anti-racist platform at Pacifica.

Mumia's side -- the side of democracy, diversity, and community radio at Pacifica -- is the side urging a NO! vote on the New Day Bylaws revision.

The two separate elections, the second of which would cancel the first, represent two diametrically opposed views on the future of KPFK and Pacifica. The LSB elections are predicated on the idea that the listeners whose hard-earned dollars who support the station, and the paid and unpaid staff whose hard work and creativity provide the content and technical capacity, are in the best position to assure that the station and foundation remain true to the Pacifica mission statement and continue to serve the community. The people pushing the New Day bylaws -- the second attempt in as many years to eliminate local governance and restrict or eliminate democracy and diversity at Pacifica -- believe that so-called "professionalism" and top-down centralization of authority is required.

Following from that theory, the New Day bylaws revision splits the staff in two, creating a new third class of membership, and segregating the unpaid staff in discriminatory fashion, with less representation. It creates a hierarchical chain of command, in which a new Executive Director (ED) names all station managers without local or national board input. It strips the local boards of all oversight and any involvement with national board committees, such as the Committee of Inclusion at each station, which is supposed to work with management to ensure that previously underserved communities are involved in all aspects of the station, such as management, governance, programming and staffing.

The New Day proposal tries to scapegoat governance for long-developing weaknesses that so-called "professionals" did nothing to correct or overcome, and in fact contributed to. Its solution to what it terms "factionalism" is to consciously reduce representation and diversity on the Pacifica National Board (PNB) by setting up a collection of sing-seat elections designed to assure that a single faction, perhaps from a single station, can dominate the board and the selection of the powerful new ED. Without any check or balance, there is a good chance, based on the track record and repeated statements of many of the backers of the Bylaws change, that they will seek to monetize assets, such as via a signal sale or swap.

Harry Belafonte, Johanna Fernandez, Lydia Ponce, Sharonne Salaam (mother of Yusuf, one of the exonerated Central Park Five, pictured) and Sheila Hamanaka are among the many anti-racist activists, scholars, artists, radio programmers or producers, and listeners who say it is vital to vote NO on the New Day Pacifica Bylaws package.

Don't buy a pig in a poke!

Most of the new national officers who would be appointed, not elected, if the NDP Bylaws revision passes, supported the shutdown and takeover of the NY station, WBAI, in the middle of a fund drive, substituting "Pacifica Across America" -- piped in from KPFA and KPFK -- for the locally produced news, information and cultural coverage their listeners expected. $80,000 of KPFA money was taken to defend that illegal shutdown. Now they have sought to prevent staff, particularly at WBAI and WPFW, to even have a separate vote in a "demand letter" to the NES. This blatant effort at voter suppression goes along with their repeated red-baiting of opponents of their Bylaws proposal, with false claims they are "sleeper agents" for Workers World Party and/or the Green Party!

It's no coincidence that the two stations with the strongest identification with the Black community are in their cross-hairs. WBAI's licensed frequency, 99.5 FM is in the center of the commercial dial in the #1 media market in the US. Backers of New Day have repeatedly sought a signal sale or swap as a potential cash windfall for the foundation and the remaining stations. But they also want to marginalize or eliminate those grassroots voices opposing anti-Black racism even within "progressive" movements.

It's not as if that "Pacifica Across America" programming and so-called professionalism has a great track record at KPFK itself, where the last General Manager (GM) again shut down the local news department, piping in the KPFA news instead, and subjecting listeners to more than half the year in fund drive to try to cover the growing payroll, which he refused to cut, while listenership and membership -- the main source of revenue -- steadily dropped.

The path to financial stability and growth at KPFK and the other Pacifica stations lies in more democracy and greater diversity, including in the political perspectives and cultural expressions heard on our airwaves. A commitment to anti-racism is vital. The New Day proponents and the managers they support want to limit the views you hear to what is acceptable within the limits of the corporate political parties, instead of providing voice to communities that are setting the agenda for social, political and economic transformation, and devising their own solutions to the problems they face.

That's why the KPFK Local Station Board, along with the LSBs at WBAI and WPFW in DC (the two stations with the highest percentage of Black listeners) and the Pacifica National Board have all voted "No" on the New Day Bylaws revision. Even the KPFT LSB, dominated by the Bill Crosier faction that set up the WBAI shutdown, and focuses on country music programming in the fastest growing, youngest and most diverse big city in the US, couldn't muster the majority needed to vote yes on the NDP revision. The irreversible changes they propose would make it almost impossible to defend and extend community oriented radio, restore local news, create a morning magazine show that taps into the enormous creativity, passion and intelligence of southern California communities in struggle.

If you want to be part of the solution at Pacifica, there are two or three things you can do this month. First, if you are currently a member (as of April 7), vote NO on the New Day Pacifica Bylaws revision when you get your ballot information by email or postcard on June 7. If you haven't received it by June 14, use the ballot request form on elections.pacifica.org to get one, with some proof of your membership (credit card or cancelled check or record of volunteer service).

Second, consider running for the LSB yourself, especially if you have financial, fundraising, marketing or community engagement skills that can help the station. You can download the forms needed from https://elections.pacifica.org (where there is also information about the Bylaws measure).

Third, you can join the Pacifica Fightback virtual national town hall on the deadly consequences of the NDP Bylaws revision - Saturday, June 5, 2 pm Pacific. Here's the zoom information: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89037964625?pwd=VjdVUjN6SUsvWTlLS1RxOWgrdjlWZz09
Meeting ID: 890 3796 4625 Passcode: 076434

And of course, please donate and urge your friends to do so as generously as possible, to give KPFK and Pacifica the opportunity to grow and regain the impact demanded by the times we are in and the new generation of people struggling for peace and racial, social and economic justice.

Check out https://pacificafightback.org to see who else endorses the "Vote NO for Democracy & Diversity at Pacifica" campaign, including Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Oscar Lopez Rivera, Cindy Sheehan, Verna Avery Brown, Jim Lafferty, Fernando Velazquez, Lydia Ponce, Polina Vasiliev, Vinisha Patel-Adams, Grace Aaron, Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, Abby Martin, Perri McCary, Clarence Thomas of the ILWU and other labor leaders.

This is NOT a communication from, nor represent the views of, the Pacifica Foundation or any of its stations or boards.
by Akio Tanaka
Sunday May 30th, 2021 8:01 PM
Authors of the current Bylaws thought that the best way to protect Pacifica from any type of political or corporate interference was to write by-laws that incorporated the ideas of a Foundation run by super democracy. The exact opposite has occurred.

Authors mistakenly believed that by including the element of single transferable voting in electing local and national Board members that the resulting Board would be able to resolve the differing interests of various factions through dialogue and mutual commitment to the best interests of the membership and the Foundation.

However, what has happened instead is that the entire governance system has been hijacked by competing factions consisting of some self-interested individuals,, who have gamed the system to ensure that they control portions of the local station boards. The 4 directors elected by each local station board are not elected on basis of their merit or qualification, but are elected as part of factional slates, and bring the local factional battles onto the national board.

Members can change the current broken governance.
by Marina Delgado
Tuesday Jun 1st, 2021 10:34 AM
I'm trying to make sense of Tanaka's incessant posts on here (way too many if you ask me). It's hard. Basically, his argument seems to be that too much democracy has been the problem in the Pacifica system. He has been a participant for most of the last decade and a half, and accordingly he feels qualified to condemn "the system" as broken, and ask for support to end direct democracy and appoint him to a leadership role for the next few years.

Have I got that right?

So here's the thing. The system is broken, according to his account, because the people in it are acting badly.

This admission is not accompanied by any statement that *he* has been acting badly and dysfunctionally as a part of this system for about 10 of the last 15 years. It's all "other people" and "the system".

It seems there are two ways to fix a directly democratic system in which people are acting badly. There's the obvious way. The people who are participating stop acting badly and if they can't, they leave and stop participating. This has the advantage of not costing six figures to a charitable institution that is famously hard up for money.

The problem here is that the long-term participants in the "broken" system don't think its them that broke it or that their own behavior just ... might .... be .... part of the problem. Nope, it's other people and "the system".

Because as we know, all of the insitutions that operate horizontally are incapable of functioning.

That delusion would appear to be why thousands of people who just want to listen to their favorite radio programs have to be bothered with all these posts, and if I may dare to speak for the many, we're kinda sick of it. Twice in two years, now hundreds of thousands of our donation dollars being spent so people like Aki can "blame the system" for their own fucked up behavior.

Apparently, Aki can't admit that "the system" isn't making him act badly, he is. So that leaves the only alternative. Kill direct democracy and local control. Elevate him and his friends to positions of authority so "those other people" won't be included anymore. And then all the dysfunctionality caused by the "other people" will be gone.

For God's sake.
2018 Pacifica’s auditors, Regalia and Associate, said:
“It appears Pacifica is unable to map out an effective and safe strategy due to the disjointed nature of its various governance Boards which appear to be working at cross purposes…
As auditors, we strongly recommend an end to the infighting and unproductive arguments which we have witnessed by listening to and reading Board minutes.
The organization’s ability to continue as a going concern is directly related to its ability to follow a rational plan and financially sensible strategy.”

2019 Pacifica’s auditors, Rogers & Company, said:
“As has been communicated by the predecessor independent auditors, we also agree it would be beneficial for the Foundation to review its Bylaws and consider any revisions to simplify them and encourage more productive meetings….”
“…it appears that the Foundation and its several stations would benefit from changes designed to achieve a more productive governance process.”
“We believe that all divisions should restructure their Boards with fewer members, which would hopefully reduce the number of disparate voices and result in more effective governance. Bylaws should be re-written to be more effective, restrict voting participation, and restrict impediments to efficient Board actions and procedures. The current process lends itself to protracted and unproductive discourse between participants....”
by Marina Delgado
Wednesday Jun 2nd, 2021 12:35 PM
It shouldn't be any surprise that corporate accountancy firms would like to see "less disparate voices" and more "efficiency". That is how corporations work. There is a difference between corporations and grassroots organizations. All grassroots organizations are insufficiently efficient for corporate America. I doubt the website you are writing this on would get a ringing endorsement.

Tanaka keeps forgetting the people he is condemning is himself. He was a member of the National boards those words were written about. So were his fellow proposed officers Lynden Foley and Jan Goodman, Goodman for the last five years consecutively from 2015 to 2020.

So the he sanest way to read his words is not to put Tanaka, Goodman, and the other retreads those words were written about back into power for another three years, but to elect new people under the current system and see if they can perform better than Aki and his friends.

Nominations are open until June 30 and new elected delegates will be seated in December, as long as you vote no on the New Day bylaws. Otherwise you are stuck with Aki until 2024.
by Akio Tanaka
Wednesday Jun 2nd, 2021 2:32 PM
I was on the PNB in 2017.
I was the Secretary of both the PNB and the Audit Committee.
Most of my time was spent taking notes.
All the minutes are posted on kpftx.org
by Carolyn Birden
Wednesday Jun 2nd, 2021 3:40 PM
Too many people on the board do what Aki admittedly did: took notes. Actions? Support for actions? Policies? Efficient and effective execution of streamlining proposals? No, just taking notes. That is not a good excuse for having failed to move a board in a positive direction. And he is not alone. "Packs" without leaders or direction do not create policy, much less effect constructive change. Let's not perpetuate the rudderless boards by stocking them with people who know little about radio stations and care less about running a corporation dedicated to Pacifica's principles.
by Akio Tanaka
Wednesday Jun 2nd, 2021 5:07 PM
Carolyn,

2017 we had especially fractious PNB, you can ask Alex Steinberg. We worked closely together and managed to get through the year fairly well.
As for Audit Committee, as the Secretary, I was the point person for researching the firms, handling the RFBs, setting interviews, etc. and we got Regalia who finished the job.

I was just pulling legs..

Aki
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