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Is there anything wrong with appointed seats?

NOTE: I have recently received legitimate criticism for publishing so many contributions from Carol Spooner (iPNB secretary, chair of the bylaws revision committee, key organizer of the Listeners Lawsuits against the former PNB, KPFA LAB member ). The thing is, she knows what she's talking about, doesn't attack or race bait and effectively explains essential issues that people in the Pacifica community need to understand. She has made many sacrifices and is clearly dedicated to Pacifica. For this she's received much abuse from people within the Pacifica community who see her and the new bylaws/upcoming elections as the main threat to their entrenchment at the stations. I wish there was more that I could post from people in disagreement with Spooner, but the actual authors of opposing proposals almost never put their opinions in writing (aside from formal proposals which are all posted on this site). The material of their followers rarely offer any tangible information and are thick with manipulation of the facts, race-baiting and generally avoid the actual issues.


From: Carol Spooner
Date: Thu Apr 24, 2003 12:17 pm
Subject: ANTI-representation Proposal

Under "DRAFT A" [ bylaws drafts ]of the bylaws, it is possible that a woman or person of color could run for the LSB, not get many votes (or any), and be appointed to the LSB anyway.

We are told this is necessary in order to make sure we have 50% women and people of color on the board.

But, let's think about that for a moment. If the woman or person of color

was NOT elected, it means that s/he did not get 1/19th of the vote (in the first election where the listeners are electing 18 Delegates) or couldn't get 1/10th of the vote (in all subsequent elections where the listeners will be electing 9 Delegates). Using Single Transferable Voting method ... every substantial constituency should be able to elect representatives to the boards .. if they put forth candidates.

So, it is possible, even likely, that this person has NO "constituency". It is possible that the voters of his/her racial/ethnic/gender identity didn't vote for him/her because very few (or none) of them agree with what the candidate says or want him/her on the LSB.

Now, you might say that is because there are not enough Asian voters, for instance, to get him/her elected. Really? There are roughly 20-25% Asian subscribers to KPFA (based on an informal scan of the surnames awhile back). So, if Asians want Asian representatives based on their race, alone, and NO other criteria (such as what they believe, the future of the station should be) ... then they should be able to win 4 seats on the KPFA LAB, even without the votes of anyone other than Asian voters.

But, suppose that the Asian voters reject an Asian candidates and no one else (or very few) vote for them either ... because they don't like what s/he stands for.

Maybe a candidate will run who says who s/he wants to bring back the "good old days" of Utrice, or Shubb, or Ganter, or Hankins back to the station ... and that candidate is REJECTED by the voters, not because of his/her race or gender, but because very few voters support that position. Still, it's possible that person would be seated if s/he were Asian, Latino, Black or a woman -- but not if he were were a white man. Nalini could be appointed, not elected, because she is a woman, not because the voters want to bring back the good old Shubb days. (Sorry, Nalini, nothing personal -- but you came to mind because of your support for Mark Shubb.)

Is that what we want?

I don't think so. I think we fought for democratic process so that we could have boards that reflect our hopes and visions for these stations .. and so we could hold them accountable to that.

Of course, there are even worse proposals being put forward by the powerful Unity Caucus and Leslie Radford's recent proposal contingent (who represents very few people, but have driven most people away from participating in this process in NY). One is that the "Committee of Inclusion" be able to pick which candidates are seated to meet more specific diversity criteria (and other factors) ... so, it could turn out that known Unity Caucus candidates win one or two seats in the election (representing their "faction" at WBAI) ... but the Committee of Inclusion (that will certainly be made up ONLY of UC folks at BAI, since the current LAB will choose them). They will then be able to choose 5-8-12? more of their UC comrads based on race/ethnicity/gender (and other factors) and appoint them to the LSB, whether or not they were at the top of the list of unelected candidates.

One thing we fought for years was appointed seats -- where a few people chose for us who should govern the future of the stations and Pacifica.

It is BOGUS that this proposal will guarantee "representation" for women and people of color

This is a proposal to TAKE AWAY OUR VOTES ... not just white people's votes, but EVERYONE's votes. If your "faction" is not in control of the COI, then your vote doesn't count for much, because the COI can stack the boards with people who agree with them. Plain and simple. Do people of color want to give up their votes to a small group of people who will choose for them who will "represent them." This is called "guaranteed diversity" ... but it's not guaranteed diversity of viewpoint. And does anyone think all people of color think alike? That's totally insulting. Of course they don't. So why would they or anyone want a small group of people choosing their "representatives" on the boards?

Suppose the election produces MORE than 50% people of color, but doesn't meet the diversity goals of the COI -- under the Radford Plan (which is also the Unity Caucus plan) ... the COI could still appoint more people to the LSB based on sub-categories of ethnicity ... the potential, the near certainty, that this power of appointment will be abused by cronyism and to insure control of a majority of the LSB, is so glaring I really don't see how anyone can put it forward with a straight face as a way to get "representation" for people of color or subcategories of people of color ... or women.




From: Carol Spooner
Date: Thu Apr 24, 2003 1:54 pm
Subject: About the SIZE of the boards -- and a potential solution

The iPNB in its straw polls agreed that the MAXIMUM workable size for a board would be 24 members.

There was a reason for that -- larger boards cannot coherently meet, or communicate, or discuss or debate anything. They function very poorly and can get little accomplished.

The solution to making large boards function is through committees. A smaller committee is set up to study the issue and make a recommendation to the full board for approval. The board meetings generally consist of receiving the committee reports and voting to accept or reject them. It "works" if the full board "rubber stamps" the committee reports -- this is how the ACLU boards work. It doesn't work if the full board starts reinventing the wheel every time. What do you think would happen at Pacifica?

I actually DO believe there is a legal solution to the problem we face of the conflict between democratic elections and diversity guarantees -- it would require both sides to give something up --

Here it is. The LSBs be elected -- 1/4 by staff members, half by listener members, and 1/4 APPOINTED by the elected LSB members. The appointed members would not be required to be from the candidates who were not elected, but could be anyone the majority of the elected LSB felt was qualified and desirable. Now the way to do this legally would be to have nothing REQUIRING that these appointed LSB members be chosen on the basis of race/ethnicity/gender, but making it the stated POLICY of Pacifica to reach out to under-represented groups and to seek to have diverse representation on our boards. That would then be one of the criteria guiding the elected LSB members in choosing who to appoint.

This is actually VERY frequently done. It gives the organization the flexibility it needs to achieve the diversity it wants without running afoul of the "quotas" prohibitions clearly developed by the conservative courts over the years.

The ELECTED LSB members would have this responsibility -- thereby avoiding the pitfalls of unelected, unaccountable COIs making these choices.

I think if 5 LSB members were elected by the staffs, 10 were elected by the listeners and 5 more were appointed by them, for a total 20-member board (or make it 6 elected by the staff, 12 elected by the listeners and 6 more appointed, for a total 24-member board) -- then we might have a solution, and also manageable sized boards.

Under this proposal one side would have to give up their demand for "no appointed seats" and the other side would have to give up their demand for "guarantees" -- both would have to trust the ELECTED board members to choose wisely and to choose diversity -- and of course if they failed in that, they could be voted out of office -- that's what democratic accountablity means.



--- In NewPacifica@yahoogroups.com,
"Leslie Radford" [KPFK area] wrote:

I gather that the proposal I circulated to the LABs and the DLC is picking up steam--I'll post it here in a few minutes.

Carol is presenting a false dilemma couched in a false premise. No one needs to give up anything--we need to elect the COIs. The proposal I'll post addresses this. There's no either/or.

Now the false premise is that the LSBs doing the appointing will choose people who don't enhance the majority opinion of the LSBs. This is a prescription for a supermajority, as Pacifica's history has proven. Carol doesn't believe the LSBs would accept the recommendations of their own committees, so why does she think they would be so responsive as to appoint diverse candidates based on the listeners' insistence or the recommendations of some top- down policy? And if the LSB delegates are chosen by an electorate that can't manage 50% women and 50% people of color, why would those delegates be sympathetic to, or even have a clue about, the representing the losers? Are we really ready to turn diversity over to the "wisdom" of the LSBs?

But these are old arguments. Carol is trying to drive a wedge among the listeners, between those who are opposed to any body appointing its membership and those who want diversity. They aren't mutually exclusive. Carol's suggestion here is designed to, once again, dismantle diversity. What is Carol so worried about?

--Leslie R.


--- In NewPacifica@yahoogroups.com,
"Robert Johnson" [WBAI] wrote:

Immediately on reading Carol's proposition, my devil's advocate had the same thought, Leslie, that there was no guarantee the elected LSBs would follow policy guidelines or that their constituencies would want them to. I only had to scroll down the thread to see that argument in your post.

Predictably, however, you belie your own sincerity by assigning false motive to Carol's work. Character attacks and high- handed and underhanded tactics have become the signature of efforts made by you and your counterparts across the network. In the name of diversity and inclusion, there is constant slander and then special dispensation for post-deadline gambits and end- runs by the slanderers. What's up?

Even your valid points are diminished by this context. Who wants institutional requirements and committees for committees when one sees consistent bad behavior by their advocates?



In NewPacifica@yahoogroups.com
"Leslie Radford" wrote:


I'm not sure what you're getting at here. My observation is that Carol is inconsistent about appointed seats--over a period of less than an hour. It's hard to attribute that to anything but manipulation. What is your take on her flip-flop on appointed seats?

--Leslie R.


From: Robert Johnson
Date: Fri Apr 25, 2003 5:20 pm
Subject: Re: About the SIZE of the boards -- and a potential solution

Leslie R.,

Carol speaks best for herself. My take is this: Carol is probably actually trying to find a compromise position. That's what she does. Often.

Carol even writes, dutifully, language she may not agree with in order to satisfy obligations required by her several roles in the iPNB. She gave form to an opinion not her own and was accused of trying to sabotage Pacifica after giving her own opinion of that opinion. Some may think this kind of flip accusation is hotshot politics; I call it agony in the kindergarten.

Carol makes a pitch to bridge a gap and you say she is "trying to drive a wedge among the listeners," and "once, again, dismantle diversity," and then you ask what she is "so worried about?" If she's like me at all, she's worried about the lowest common denominator of consciousness and purpose ruling Pacifica through sheer force of gravity.

Witness the chair of an iPNB committee allowing selective abuse of some of its participants and slander of an iPNB member -- Carol -- not even present. Or board members at national meetings waffling on their own decisions in favor of the most obstreperous lobbyists.

No wonder perpetrators of incompetence in Pacifica are desperate to guarantee their turf. Even in the name of diversity. Or, easier in the name of diversity. At WBAI, the old gang shouted "racism" at the new gang, and now the new gang and its cohorts shout "racism" at any perceived interlopers.

The new gang, btw, was formerly the gang prior to the old gang. The Gangs of New York. Just like gangs inside the Beltway. And on it goes.

Get what I'm getting at? It's called a handful of name-callers forever wagging the dog.


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