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Proposed diversity requirements and the law

From: "Carol Spooner"
Sent: Thursday, January 09, 2003 11:32 AM Subject:
Proposed Diversity Requirements in Pacifica Bylaws

(Please Forward to All interested groups, discussion lists, etc ....)


TO: IPNB, PACIFICA LABS, and All Concerned FROM: Carol Spooner, Chair, Bylaws Revisions Committee RE: Legal Opinion from our Lawyer re Diversity Requirements in Pacifica Bylaws

At the December iPNB meeting the board authorized hiring an attorney to review and advise concerning our bylaws revisions. This proposal had previously been made at a bylaws committee meeting last summer, but was deemed premature by the committee at that time.

The board hired Kevin Finck, a specialist in advising California nonprofits on bylaws and other legal matters, who had been recommended by Rob Robinson. Mr. Finck works with and is familiar with more "radical" nonprofit organizations, and has previously advised such organizations on their bylaws.

Because Mr. Finck was on vacation right after the meeting, and because of the holidays, we did not receive a preliminary verbal assessment of our bylaws draft from his office until yesterday. However, yesterday I was informed that "quotas" or "set asides" or minimum diversity "requirements" for our local and national boards based on race, creed, national origin, gender, etc., are illegal under both California state and federal anti-discrimination laws. I was informed that Pacifica would not be eligible for any state or federal funding or grants (which we do receive for our archives, the KPFA apprenticeship program (I believe), certain broadcast tower repairs, CPB money, etc.), and further that putting such quotas, set-asides or requirements in our bylaws would also subject us to an IRS audit that would result in our losing our 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable institution tax deductible status.

We will be receiving a formal written memo about this, and other legal issues concerning the bylaws, on January 17th, along with suggestions about how other organizations have addressed their diversity concerns through goals and policies encouraging diversity, but not requirements.

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