In Favor of bylaws draft A
(Diversity Language Committee proposal)
drafts A, B and C side by side
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 12:39:06 -0400
Yesterday the opponents of affirmative action got their wish - the iPNB rejected Ray Laforest's motion to hold open town hall teleconferences in the five signal areas for the bulk of the bylaws and a full meeting of the board in NY in August to debate and vote on diversity. Instead, all the bylaws will be decided next Thursday - in a webcast teleconference, closed to public comment or question.
SUPPORT AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IN PACIFICA
In a few days the interim Pacifica National Board (iPNB) is going to vote on a new set of bylaws in a closed teleconference. Why so shy? Pacifica Radio, the nation's leading alternative media source, might be on the verge of voting down affirmative action.
The iPNB's Diversity Language Committee, chaired by militant Haitian union organizer Ray Laforest, created "Draft A." It has met stiff resistance from Bush-fearing proponents of "Draft B," who predict Pacifica will be sued by whites deprived of a seat on its non-profit boards.
Both Drafts A and B utilize Single Transferable Voting (STV), a form of proportional representation elections, to elect Local Station boards (LSBs). Both claim to support affirmative action. You be the judge:
A third, Draft C calls for B plus extended candidate recruitment periods.
WHAT CAN I DO? SPREAD THE WORD!
BUT DOES PACIFICA NEED AFFIRMATIVE ACTION?
Thus the "electorate" that "B" supporters lionize, when they claim that Proportional Representation is "aggressive affirmative action," is racially and politically skewed. Not to mention the fact that you have to pay at least $25 to become a Pacifica "member" to vote, or donate 3 hours of time. This undemocratic bar also skews the electorate by class and race. Even registering and signing for a waiver rules out undocumented groups. As we all know these populations are vast and suffer discrimination and political persecution under the Patriot Act.
From: David L. Moore
Dear Pacifica National Board and friends,
We all know we’re on the brink of historic decisions in Pacifica, and I’d like to share a few ideas in support of the strongest legal bylaws for diversity.
(In the shadow of various previous accusations that I myself have been A) co-opted by race-baiters in Pacifica; or B) that I’ve become merely the nice face of divisive elements in the network; or C) that I’m being stroked by politicos who themselves are manipulated by CoIntelPro forces -- I can only step into the light of honesty and ask that you read my words as coming from my own convictions and from my own commitment to Pacifica’s mission. We’re working to understand and resolve the causes of conflict in the world. That mission has remained our focus since my parents founded Pacifica, and they knew as well as anyone alive today that Pacificans’ own persistent mutual demonization and dismissal are more destructive than any external efforts to destroy the network.)
In light of Monday’s Supreme Court decision, my sense is that Plan A goes furthest to fulfill Pacifica’s mission. Its diversity goals are indeed "narrowly tailored" to use a key term of the Court toward fulfilling a compelling social interest in diverse governance of broadcasting.
The Opinion of the Court, written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, centers on the phrase "narrowly tailored": "In summary, the Equal Protection Clause does not prohibit the [U of Michigan] Law School’s narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body."
Many questions remain not only about specific definitions of "narrowly tailored" discussed frequently in the Opinion, but also about how or even if this judicial precedent in school admissions policy applies at all to Pacifica’s election policy as a non-profit corporation with a public bandwidth trust. Those questions are for another forum.
Briefly, I believe that "narrowly tailored" applies to Pacifica’s Plan A notion of how Committees of Inclusion would monitor and regulate representation on Pacifica’s governing boards according to each signal area’s and the network’s changing demographics. Race would be only one among many criteria for diversity, further narrowing the "narrowly tailored" process. I suggest (in #6 below) a small modification of Plan A’s language, via a phrase from Plan C, to avoid the Court’s warnings against "mechanistic" procedures, but generally Plan A allows for a "critical mass" toward diversifying leadership, precisely what the Court’s Opinion endorses.
However, having suggested that Plan A is workable, I understand also that political realities of communication in the Pacifica network are polarized (due to many factors in addition to the question of affirmative action), and that the iPNB must strive for a workable compromise. If no plan, A, B, or C, gains the required majority in the iPNB vote on June 26, that "failure" may offer yet another positive opportunity for Pacificans to return to dialogue and mutual respect. Every turn of events can open a door to the real spirit of reconciliation that could propel us forward with positive energy for Pacifica’s urgent mission. It’s always up to us to walk through that door. Peace is never easy, but it always makes things easier.
Possible Directions for Compromise: There is room for adjustments to all three drafts, and it is entirely possible by Robert’s Rules to vote paragraph-by-paragraph separately on the controversial passages. If necessary, tomorrow’s meeting could establish compromise language toward further decisions after the seven-day notification requirement. For starters, here are three specific directions for compromise in the diversity bylaws, if the iPNB agrees to take that opportunity. I thank various internet conversations for some of these suggestions: 1. Accountability of the COIs. Reinforce democratic installation and oversight of the COIs by the Local Station Boards. 2. Thresholds for added diversity seats. Consider higher election percentages to register more community support. 3. Limits on demographic categories. Establish reasonable statistical criteria to avoid slippery slopes.
A couple of more points comparing parts of the draft Plans: 4. In Plan A (Article Eight, Section 4), there is a greater chance for Pacifica’s diversity mission to be fulfilled under the provision that "Station management and the LSB committees shall take all steps reasonably necessary to achieve inclusion of these communities," referring to underrepresented groups. Such language is clearly more efficacious in establishing diversity than in Plans B & C (Article Eight, Section 4) where administrators and governance "shall be expected to consider" diverse communities in their decision. Such passive language as in Plans B & C simply might not get it done. 5. Plan B does not establish a COI process at the national level, thus neglecting to ensure diversity on the Pacifica National Board, a board which would have oversight over local diversity processes. Plan C does provide for a national COI, but it lacks any procedure to remedy a non-diverse National Board, as does both Plan A and, interestingly, Teresa Allen's amendment. Both of these texts mandate an additional election by the LSB of an additional National Board member if the first election results in a PNB that lacks adequate diversity. This seems to be a reasonable, individualized remedy that runs no legal risk and does not involve "skipping" any candidates with higher vote totals. (However, I don't think it's wise to follow Teresa's idea of reducing the size of the PNB, given the large amount of work assigned to it, nor her suggestion to not guarantee a seat for staff from each station.) 6. Plan A’s language (Article 4, Section 5) might prove problematic compared to Plan C’s language in the comparable spot. In the section on "Diversity of Delegate Nominee Pools," Plan A calls for "a set minimal percentage of the goal" via demographics, whereas Plan C calls for the pool to "reasonably reflect the demographics." Since the Court wants to avoid "mechanical" remedies in favor of "narrowly tailored" ones, this instance of the language in Plan C might more smoothly pass legal muster. (Plan B unfortunately lacks a comparable section addressing specifically this issue of diversity in the nominee pool.) 7. Plan A calls for training in anti-racism and anti-sexism for Pacificans in governance positions. Such training seems crucial toward actively, affirmatively building a more focused Pacifica culture that can work together toward the Pacifica mission.
Again, there is room for adjustment in each Plan.
Institutional racism requires institutional remedies. To pretend that Pacifica is somehow immune from racism, sexism, classism, and other oppressive patterns seems naïve at best. Institutional remedies require more than the good intentions of the majority. They mean, as I’ve suggested before, more than "hard work and good will" on the part of liberals outreaching and inreaching toward peoples of underrepresented groups. Real remedies require systemic change, and that change right now in Pacifica means bylaws. Now’s our chance.
A further point regarding the larger and more abstract principles here, principles with such practical effects through bylaws structures: democratic processes alone do not ensure fair representation. Majorities can ignore minorities, and democratic elections can be prone to popular prejudices. Again, Pacifica is not an oasis separate from America’s ongoing histories of colonialism, racism, sexism, etc. We have to work through such issues. Checks and balances to ensure Pacifica’s mission are possible at this legislative level of establishing bylaws to ensure diversity beyond the shortcomings of democratic processes. Thus strong diversity language is only a first step, but it is a necessary step.
Whatever happens in tomorrow’s meeting, I pray that Pacificans can deal with each other toward our mission through the power of peace. We’re building something here with tremendous potential for change. In a brutal and militarized world, many activists have lost faith in peace, and we need to renew that power and vision in ourselves and in the world.
Peace in the struggle for peace,
Sent: 6/16/2003 6:02:41 PM
Another critical moment is upon us. It is time to write to the Pacifica National Board again, and there's a sample letter at the end of this post.
The interim Pacifica National Board probably will decide by Wednesday afternoon whether to hold the vote on the Bylaws by teleconference, eliminating any chance for listener input. Reliable sources report that two Board members will vote against remedial affirmative action (Plan A) if they can vote by telephone, but they will stand up for meaningful diversity if they must vote in public. Those two votes could be critical.
And, the opposition has a large e-mail campaign going to support Plan B, the plan with no remedy if Pacifica elections fall short of our diversity goals.
The good news is that we have a solid version of Plan A, due to the hard work of the Board's Diversity Language Committee and Jonathan Lubell, the attorney who oversaw their work for legal compliance. Plan A now calls for local committees to determine the demographic make-up of the local signal area (with provisions for U.S. Census undercount), and provisions to add up to 5 seats to the local boards (for a total of 29 members) if the demographic goals aren't met. Five seats only guarantees 17% diversity, and we're shooting for 8 seats, or 25%. If we can get the Board behind Plan A, we have a shot at getting all eight seats.
Some who are opposed to enforceable diversity are arguing that we need elections now. Many of us agree and would support elections for local advisory board members now, with guarantees of 50% people of color and 50% women, as interim boards to complete work on the Bylaws.
To view the two Plans, go to http://www.wbai.net/bylaws_revise/br_divers_cmte_ab6-10-03.html , and ignore the biased summaries in the first blocks.
If you'd like to be involved in an ongoing discussion about Diversity for Pacifica, join teh Diversity4Pacifica list at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Diversity4Pacifica/join
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
E-mail the PNB at the following addresses:
Carol Spooner <wildrose@p...>, Charles Smith <zebop@p...>, David Fertig <dfertig@w...>, George Barnstone <gbarnstone@p...>, Jabari Zakiya <jzakiya@h...>, James Ferguson <voterparticipate@n...>, "Janice K. Bryant" <jkaybryant@a...>, Leslie Cagan <lesliecagan@i...>, Marion Barry <RWLC@a...>, Pete Bramsom <prbram@a...>, Ray LaForest <raylaforest@m...>, Rob Robinson <robrobin@e...>, Theresa Allen <reall@w...>, iPNB@p...
Drafting your own note will have more impact, but you can paste in something like the following text.
To the iPNB:
What is Pacifica without diversity and democracy?
The iPNB MUST vote for the new Bylaws in a public forum, with ample time allowed for listener input. Too many people have worked too hard to be left out of the process at the eleventh hour. Pacifica must make a commitment to transparency, openness, and participation. Don't let Pacifica resort to last-minute back-room deals even as it votes on whether or not to allow listener-subscribers to participate in the governance of the Foundation. Hold the vote for the Bylaws in public at a properly noticed meeting with time allotted for the listener-subscribers to be heard.
And PASS PLAN A. It is the recommendation of the National Board's own Diversity Language Committee, to whom you turned over responsibility for creating the language for Pacifica's diversity. It has been reviewed and deemed lawful by an attorney approved by the Board. The time has come to stand up for affirmative action with remedy and support Plan A. In fact, let's do better! Approve Plan A with eight added seats, so that if the electorate fails to choose representative local board members, we can be assured that at least 25% of the local boards will represent women and people of color.
It is not my intent to delay the passage of Bylaws, and I would support local elections with mandatory 50% diversity for people of color and 50% women now, as an interim measure.
Pacifica is moving to a new level, of a commitment to democracy and diversity. You have my support for a public, accountable vote for both.
***END SAMPLE TEXT****
From: Mimi Rosenberg [WBAI, DLC]
The affirmative action issues that confront Pacifica, at this time are fundamentally political rather than legal in nature. In fact, at this juncture the over analysis, mechanical, manipulation of legal precepts have reached obsessive proportions. Actually, it is axiomatic that there is nothing conclusive about any legal position, such that another view or position cannot be argued.
While best efforts have been employed by myself and a number of legal practicioners to assure Pacifica that affirmative action is the law of the land and a panoply of questions related thereto have been responded to that has not proven satisfactory. The discussion has become a bottomless pit. There are those who are obsessive and insatiable. The process and habitual seeking after more and more "legal" opinions with ever greater "legal questions," somewhat like the sorcerer's apprentice has become a distraction, whether by deliberacy or inadvertence.
The real issue is the ideological direction of Pacifica and who becomes empowered to direct it. The battle that has ensued, allegedly over affirmative action can be described as a question of who will be empowered to shape the culture, the ideological sensitivities and operational direction of Pacifica in the years to come. The real questions that are being obscured are the redress of all forms of discrimination, in governance, hiring, operation and programming. The real battle lies in whether this network continues to refuse to address issues of self-determination and empowerment; whether this network continues to centralize authority such that it primarily extracts tribute from local stations absent services, vitiates decentralization and dominates.
I must admit, given the innuendos that have swirled in the diversity language committee and the malicious/disortive emails that have circulated from a prominent iPNB member and too many others who merely follow the leader regarding Mr. Lubell, and myself as well I think that your "thank you" sounds rather hollow. In any event whatever your concerns are you should communicate directly with Mr. Lubell.
>>> susanwa@n... 06/03/03 06:18PM >>>
Please thank Mr. Lubell for us.
Here are my initial thoughts: I hope we will still get answers to questions submitted and an evaluation of the relative legality of version B to the version he reviewed. We still don't know how any of these versions fares under the California Unruh Civil Rights Act.
Susan [DeSilva, KPFA LAB,DLC]
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