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Documents responding to the proposed constituency model of elections at WBAI/Pacifica

The following was presented to the WBAI LAB on 11-5-02 prior to the straw poll vote taken regarding the constituency and KPFA proposals for Pacifica local station board election procedures. [ Part of this collection of documents previously posted 10-14-02 at wbai.net ]

From: paul_surovell
Date: Tue Nov 5, 2002 12:42 am
Subject: Documents Presented to WBAI LAB

Documents Accompanying Petitions
To be Presented to the WBAI Local Advisory Board

by the WBAI Committee for a Unified Membership
Manijeh Saba, Paul Surovell, coordinators
November 3, 20002

(1) Critique of the Unity Caucus Elections Model by the WBAI Committee for a Unified Membership
- The Petition: Principles We Support
- A Uniform National Elections Model vs Local Elections Models
Critique of the UC Elections Model
Part 1: Issues of Principle
Part 2: Issues of Practicality

(2) Personal Statements
-- Let's Keep it Simple and Real by Janet Coleman, producer of Cat Radio Cafe and the Christmas Coup Comedy Players
-- The Unity Caucus Proposal by Hetty Rosenstein, Labor organizer
-- Statement by Beresford Jones, Writer and educator
-- Critique of the UC Proposal by Jamie Ross, Laboratory researcher
-- Why I Oppose the UC Proposal by Bob Owens, Trade union worker

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


by the WBAI Committee for a Unified Membership
Coordinators: Manijeh Saba and Paul Surovell
(973) 763-9493


The Committee for a Unified Membership has been formed by WBAI activists listeners and staff of all backgrounds: African Ancestry, Asian, European American, Latino, lesbian, immigrant, formerly incarcerated, male and female. We are committed to making Pacifica and WBAI inclusive, but we differ with the approach advocated by the Unity Caucus, in spite of the fact that some of us are founding members of the UC.

We have approached our differences with the UC as a disagreement among friends and allies who share common goals for WBAI and Pacifica. In fact, we share and applaud most of the goals of the Unity Caucus, especially its emphasis on outreach and inclusion. But in the final analysis, we cannot support the UC proposal because it:

-- places more importance on identity than commitment;
-- requires listeners to vote for candidates based on identity rather than issues;
-- proposes an experiment in inclusion that excludes voters from most of the candidate pool;
-- requires outreach and resources that are far beyond what WBAI can provide in the near term.

We are convinced that inclusion and outreach in the elections process can be best achieved by following the principles that are advocated in our petition. These principles have already been successfully tried and tested in two elections in KPFA. There is no need to engage in experimentation when a working model is available to us.

THE PETITION: Principles We Support

We will submit to you signatures of more than 400 WBAI listeners and staff on a petition that asks the Pacifica Interim Board and the WBAI Local Advisory Board to approve Bylaws provisions that would:

(1) Require racial / ethnic and gender equity on local Pacifica station boards

(2) Define Pacifica members as those individuals who demonstrate support for the Pacifica mission as listener donors, volunteers and staff.

(3) Enable the membership to vote in local station board elections as a unified body and prohibit any method that divides member voters along racial, ethnic, gender, age, abilities and other identity criteria.

The petition campaign is motivated by our concern over provisions of the Unity Caucus bylaws proposal that conflict with principles two and three of the petition.

We want the WBAI LAB to be aware that there is widespread opposition to the Unity Caucus proposal in the WBAI listening area, and the signatures we will submit to you on Tuesday are only a small manifestation of that widespread opposition among listeners and staff.


We strongly believe that Pacifica should have one set of rules for elections and membership, throughout the network. As we learned from bitter experience, the mission at WBAI can survive only if the mission is upheld at the national, as well as local level.

One of our greatest concerns is that the Unity Caucus proposed in Houston a one-year "EXPERIMENT" in which New York would adopt its own elections model, rather than following a uniform national elections model.

We need to remember the iPNB along with three of five LABs must approve the new Pacifica bylaws pertaining to the manner of election of the local and national boards. THE LEADERSHIP OF THE WBAI LAB IS INDISPENSABLE FOR WINNING APPROVAL AMONG THE LABS FOR A NATIONAL, MISSION-DRIVEN, INCLUSIVE ELECTIONS MODEL.

We strongly believe that if the WBAI LAB were to seek instead different local elections models at each of the five stations, the prospects for mission-based, inclusive outcomes would be seriously undermined, with unpredictable consequences for the national board and thus ultimately for WBAI itself.


To better understand the implications of uniform national versus local elections models, we asked iPNB member Carol Spooner the following questions:

-- Do you prefer a national bylaws election model or one that allows local differences?

"I think the national bylaws must spell out the manner of elections of all the local boards. If they don't, then the Foundation and its members will have no basis for insuring that elections are fair or carried out properly -- and no basis for invalidating elections improperly held -- and no means of protecting Pacifica from 'rigged' elections."

-- Do you see any risks to the integrity of the mission from elections bylaws that allow for local variations in how elections are carried out?

"The possibility exists that at sometime at some station elections could be 'rigged' for takeover purposes by people hostile to Pacifica's purposes & Pacifica could be defenseless against such things -- because you could not point to the bylaws to say that the election was improperly held. People need to think both long term and about the situation at other stations. Assuming that no one has 'bad' motives now -- which I do assume -- we must be able to imagine that others might potentially have 'bad' motives at some other station or at some time in the future."

We hope the WBAI LAB considers as part of its leadership role, the impact of its decisions on Pacifica as well as on WBAI. Whereas, in the final analysis, there is no difference between the two.

* * * * * * * * * *



We are WBAI listeners, volunteers and staff who believe in, and support racial / ethnic and gender equity requirements for Pacifica's local station boards.

We also believe that Pacifica's local station boards should be elected by those who understand and have shown support for the Pacifica Mission as listener donors, volunteers and station staff (allowing waivers for hardship, disability and incarceration).


We oppose the Unity Caucus's proposal that bestows membership and voting rights in Pacifica to anyone who identifies him/herself as a member of one of 13 constituencies based on racial, ethnic, gender, sexual identity, abilities, age and other criteria.


We also oppose the Unity Caucus's proposal that requires voters in Pacifica local board elections to register in 2 of 18 constituencies and to vote only for candidates who belong to the same two constituencies.

We believe that the vast majority of WBAI listeners, volunteers and staff also opposes these two Unity Caucus proposals.


Every organization must have a defined membership, which has a responsibility to support the organization. It is not enough to identify oneself as merely belonging to a constituency or having an opinion, to be a member, as the Constituency Model proposes. Furthermore, it is self-evident that Pacifica must build its membership if it is to survive and grow. But a model that bestows membership without responsibility does not have a plan to build real membership and therefore cannot be a model to build Pacifica.

There is no doubt that Pacifica can better serve its mission of promoting peace, social justice and racial/ethnic harmony through a growing membership. But the mission is carried out through programming and the connections made with listeners, grass roots organizing efforts, and like minded institutions. And we should not lose sight of the fact that the most important measure of inclusion is whether national and local programming reflects the socio- economic, political and cultural issues effecting the disadvantaged communities of the US and the world.


The Unity Caucus proposal that requires voters to self-identify with two of 18 constituencies and then to vote for only two candidates in those constituencies is exclusionary. Because it limits voters to vote for only the two constituency seats they have identified, rather then voting for all the seats. Furthermore, this identity model contradicts a fundamental basis of the Pacifica network as follows:


Pacifica's members have already identified their constituency. It is the constituency of progressive people who are diverse in every way possible but who are united in their support for the Pacifica mission. This is the PACIFICA MISSION CONSTITUENCY. It is a constituency that has struggled together and that continues to struggle together. And it is a constituency that should vote together as a unified body, as occurs every day in labor unions and other people's organizations.

The need for our unity becomes all the more apparent in the face of the growing attack on our civil, constitutional and human rights, and the impending imperial invasion of Iraq.

The Unity Caucus proposals for open membership and divisions among voters imposes upon Pacifica an ideologically-driven experiment in identity-politics that defies Pacifica values, and has very little support, if any, among listeners, volunteers and staff.

We are a community united in our thirst for variety of information woefully absent in the mainstream media. We are a community united in our support for Pacifica's peace and justice message. We need to cherish and nurture that unity as one of Pacifica's greatest achievements.

We should not make Pacifica, nor any of its stations, the subject of political experiments, especially those that conflict with Pacifica's interests, Pacifica's values, and the views of the listeners, volunteers and staffs.



We have argued thus far that the electoral process of the Unity Caucus model be rejected on matters of principle. However, on a practical level, the UC model is so replete with logistical and structural problems that it should be rejected on these grounds as well.

Here are a number of key logistical and structural problems in the Unity Caucus model:


Only 7 of 30 non-staff seats are designated for people of color. Furthermore, under the assumptions of the UC, people of color will vote within their constituencies, leaving them to cast their one remaining vote among the remaining 23 seats. However, Caucasians will have two votes to cast among the remaining 23 seats, giving them disproportionate influence in 23 of the 30 seats.

Similarly, even more extreme biases could result if all workers cast one of their votes in the Labor Constituency Category and all women cast one of their votes in the Women Constituency Category.

In the case of workers, all management, business owners and self- employed would have two votes for the remaining 29 seats, while workers would have only one vote for the 29 seats. This would constitute a major class bias in the election results.

Likewise, if all women voted in the Women Constituency Category, then women would have only one vote for the remaining 29 seats, while men would have two votes for the remaining 29 seats. This would constitute a major gender bias in the election results.

Such scenarios show the strong potential for biases in the UC structure of constituency voting.

(2) IN-PERSON VOTING AT MULTIPLE POLLING SITES. This requirement would discourage many voters from taking part in the elections, because of the great expenditure of time and possibly money necessary to travel to and from the polling site. This especially would discourage voting by those marginalized and disadvantaged groups that the UC claims it wants to engage in the process.

(3) REGISTRATION IN CONSTITUENCIES. The UC model fails to provide any verification mechanism. Hence, there is no way to verify whether a person is actually part of the constituency s/he claims to be.

Many people will resent having to self-identify and register as a member of two constituencies.

Furthermore, many people will resent having to reduce themselves to pieces and then pick and choose their parts. Some will be discouraged from voting, others may decide to not renew their subscriptions. Besides, why should Pacifica go back to a reductionist model that has long been criticized by holistic thinkers and practitioners for its objectificaion of humans by reducing them to their parts?

The UC registration process also makes Pacifica vulnerable to hostile penetration, in the following manner:

Suppose the Unification Church (Moonies) decided to target the Youth Constituency seat. They would merely have to order 500 of their young followers to register, nominate a candidate from the Church, and then easily elect their candidate to the board. This pattern could be replicated in any of the 13 open-registration constituency categories.

(4) BALLOT COMPLEXITY. The model requires 18 separate ballots to cover each constituency. This is an administrative nightmare in many ways. Some include managing the polling places, the number of persons required to administer voting, transporting and counting the ballots, to name a few.

(5) MINIMUM VOTES TO VALIDATE A CONSTITUENCY ELECTION. The provision of a minimum of 50 votes to validate a constituency election reveals the hollowness of the model's claims to achieve "self- determination." Clearly no community in any of the Pacifica signal area will be represented by 50 votes (It should also be noted that the UC mechanism to achieve 50% people of color and women involves candidates in the At-Large Constituency, which is not a constituency restricted to people of color or women-- see also below #7 ).

(6) SECURITY OF BALLOTS. The UC proposes multiple polling sites with lock boxes throughout the listening areas. This would constitute a major security problem that will require major human power and financial resources that WBAI does not have.

(7) SECURITY OF REGISTRATION LISTS. In-person polling depends on a complete list of registered voters at each site, with the voter being checked off when he/she votes. Security of the lists and the accuracy of the check-off is a huge undertaking. Presumably, the original registration documents will have to be kept in storage, creating an enormous filing and record-keeping operation.

(8) AFFIRMATIVE ACTION THROUGH AT-LARGE CANDIDATES. Only 7 seats of 30 are assured to be people of color, yet the model calls for 50% to be achieved by moving up candidates of color from the At-Large Constituency. But on what basis can it be assumed that enough people of color will be candidates in the At-Large Constituency?

The affirmative action mechanism also contradicts the model's claim that constituencies will elect their own candidates. The At-Large constituency will likely be fully mixed body of voters.

(9) ON-AIR DEBATES. The Unity Caucus model calls for only 1 on-air debate for each constituency. This becomes necessary because there will be 18 separate elections. There will be 18 separate on-air debates and so it will be difficult for the voter to determine when her/his constituent candidates will be on the air. This undermines the ability to use airtime as the primary tool of voter education.

(10) BIG TENT CONVENTION. This provision by emphasizing a single event ends up discriminating against those who can't attend. It is ironic that Unity Caucus documents criticize the subscriber model for providing the volunteer option as an alternative to a monetary donation. But the volunteer option of 3 hours involves far less time than the Big Tent convention and the travel time to in-person polling sites.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Critique of the Unity Caucus Proposal Part 2


-- Let's Keep it Simple and Real by Janet Coleman, producer of Cat Radio Cafe and the Christmas Coup Comedy Players
-- The Unity Caucus Proposal by Hetty Rosenstein, Labor organizer
-- Statement by Beresford Jones, Writer and educator
-- Critique of the UC Proposal by Jamie Ross, Laboratory researcher
-- Why I Oppose the UC Proposal by Bob Owens, Trade union worker

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --


by Janet Coleman, producer Cat Radio Cafe and Christmas Coup Comedy Players.

I want to urge support for the principles expressed in the Petition by the WBAI Committee for a Unified Membership.

Lew Hill's profound insight in founding Pacifica was in trusting the unvarnished medium of radio to connect with its unseen listeners in a way so binding and transformative they would become invested in Pacifica and seek to support it. This transformation of devoted listeners into a bonded and energized community is the bonus - and part of the genius -- of listener sponsorship.

What a violation of that bond to seek voters without dedication or audio ties to the station to determine its fate.

The strength of the radio programming is what impels a lasting and serious political community, not the shenanigans backstage. Does anyone care what we will hear to connect us to WBAI -- what art, what information, while all the Unity Caucus model proponents are racing around the tri-state area overseeing a contrived process requiring voters to divide themselves twice, then register in constituencies and to vote only for candidates in those constituencies? What a house of splinters is that!

Remember, WBAI is a station already so adorably disorganized that replacing a turntable stylus is a major accomplishment. We don't have a functional telephone answering system at lunchtime. Or a central bulletin board. Or a desperately needed and desired Folio -- a program guide. Four times a year - almost nine weeks -- we suspend programming in a frenzy of fundraising for which it takes many days to prepare and many days to recuperate. We have dozens of new programs that need work. Every internal institution - from Program Council to union shops to the LAB itself- is in a state of reorganization. It's hard to fathom how we could add to this mix an election whose procedures are so fairytale-ishly complicated and willful they could be sold to Parker Brothers and packaged as a board game.

Please don't us let WBAI become the errant unscrewed spoke on the wheel of radio communities that move Pacifica forward and advance its mission. Let's keep it simple and real -- Janet Coleman



by Hetty Rosenstein, Labor Organizer

I continue to be concerned about proposals which allow people to vote just by saying that they want to. We need to require that voters are listener supporters of Pacifica. There are a number of reasons for this:

First, we should be encouraging people to be responsible for their local station. It isn't enough to have an opinion and want to direct the network's policies and politics. Listeners should not only be heard - they should be responsible and maintain their stations and networks. If one does not care enough to make a contribution, financial or as a volunteer, one should not be able to direct the network by voting.

Secondly, if there is recognition that the station or network has a responsibility toward a given group and it is that which makes that group a constituency, then there must also be recognition that the constituency has a return responsibility to the station and/or network -that the consituency is a patron and a sponsor of the station and/or network. The very word constituency implies mutuality.

Third - We cheapen the contribution of those who will pay for the stations and will fight for them, if all one need do is state that one is a member of some constituency and then they can vote. The cost of membership could be relatively low, for the purposes of voting - $15 or $25 and volunteering in lieu of payment should still be available - and scholarships could be made available to those in need who for other reasons cannot volunteer. But if we want people to care enough about these stations, we must say that they are worth supporting - they are worth giving $15 or $25 or $100 to a year, or they are worth giving 4 hours of volunteer time to.

Anyone who thinks that right wing constituencies would not gather up their members to claim constituencies in Pacifica in order to take over stations is naive. Fundamentalists are very organized and extremely committed. If all one need do is identify oneself as a member of a given constituency in order to vote, we tempt fate and our enemies.

I want to be part of something that represents political power. I think we want a Pacifica that represents the politically silenced, that represents the voice of the fight for social and economic justice and the voice of peace. One way to do that is to have 500,000 members across the country. If we have a membership base, as well as a place on the airways, our voice is much louder, clearer and powerful. A model that does not provide for membership, as opposed to self-identification as a member of a constituency, does not have a plan to build membershiip, grow and build political power.

There is another part of this plan that deeply disturbs me. The idea that one identifies oneself as part of up to two constituencies and then can only vote for candidates of the same constituency is a bad idea and is contrary to the fundamental basis of Pacifica radio.

We want a board that is diverse and that represents the broad range of listeners and brings a variety of perspectives to governance. For that reason, there is legitimacy to having affirmative action requirements on the board and to having clear representation from particular areas of the population. But to identify members only in terms of which of the groups they belong to and to only permit them to vote for members of their groups is nothing less than identity politics run wild. If there are to be 30 seats for listeners, to limit a member to voting only for 2 makes their voice meaningless. And to think that one only has an interest in who represents listeners only based upon their own pre-defined constituency is simplistic at best.

I am interested in having my political voice heard in the governance of Pacifica. I want to make my choice based upon who represents my politics, not who represents my gender or race. The Board as a whole needs to represents a variety of types of people, but I don't need to make my individual choices based upon two narrowly defined groupings. I want to make my choice based upon politics. This system doesn't allow me to do so.

It is also entirely contradictory to put people into constituencies, require that they run and vote within those constituencies, and then suggest that someone could legitimately be seated as a representative of that constituency with fewer than 50 votes. Who do they represent? What base of support do they have? They don't even have 50 votes.

None of these models is perfect and none of them ever will be. More important than the model, I think, is the building of membership and the opportunity of members to take responsibility for and have a voice at the station. The reason that we need that voice is not polemical - it is practical. It is because we want to be able to use that voice to build political power in fighting for the cause of social and economic justice and world peace. In determining the right course of action, we should consider three things - does this proposal divide us or unify us? Does this proposal strengthen Pacifica or weaken it? Does this proposal help us build political power to advance our greater goals of social and economic justice and world peace? This proposals divides us rather than unifies us. It does not build membership and does not broaden the base of real support. it does not help us to build political power or to represent real constituencies of power so that we might advance our greater goals.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

By Beresford Jones
WBAI Committee for a Unified Membership

This paper focuses upon the Unity Caucus Proposal which was prepared by a New York based group. It is presented to the Pacifica Interim National Board at the October 13th, 2002 Meeting in Washington, D.C. for its consideration, and for the use of LAB members and other interested parties.

I am a retired university professor and administrator residing in New Jersey. I am a member of New Jersey Peace Action, American Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause, Amnesty International, The United Nations Association of USA, and numerous other social action, justice and environmental organizations.

As to my credentials for making the following analysis, I bring to bear a wealth of experience in organizational management over the past forty years, in which I have had to deal with rules and regulations, as well as the creation of bylaws, in one case, as chairman of the Program Committee of the Board of Trustees of a nonprofit foundation, and in another, as President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of a city wide organization that was writing a new constitution and bylaws.

It is because of my background and experience in this area that I was asked to present this statement.

The future of Pacifica will be affected by what we do regarding the new Pacifica bylaws. It bears upon the structure of the national organization and the relationship to the member stations. It relates to the purpose and the functions of the Foundation and the local station boards. And it may well affect the survival of the Foundation in a form that will enable it to perform effectively and pursue its stated mission.

There are several bylaws proposals on the grid from different parts of the country. I am focusing my comments mainly on the proposal from New York because I believe it poses a threat to the Pacifica Foundation and its local stations if it, or certain of its key provisions, are adopted. In my opinion, the Unity Caucus Proposal is a seriously flawed document which would create problems instead of achieving a positive result. It will open the Foundation to abuses as well as negative external influence.

I refer first to the section under the heading, "CONSTITUENCIES."

"The Pacifica Foundation has three basic constituencies:

(1) The broad category of exploited, oppressed and marginalized peoples, communities and nations, those whom Pacifica's mission supports.
(2) Its listeners: those who connect with one or more of the programs, and support the existence of the station,
(3) Its workers (staff), paid and unpaid, those who daily operate each station. . ."

The next paragraph reads:

"Collectively, these constituencies are Pacifica. . .they are each entitled to membership and representation in the Foundation. They each must play an active role in all aspects of the new, more democratic Pacifica."

The next section is headed, "MEMBERSHIP AND VOTER REGISTRATION."

"Membership in the Pacifica Foundation and voter eligibility is granted to anyone who falls into one of Pacifica's three categories of constituencies and registers to vote."

The first of the three categories is a broad category that is tantamount to the groups the Pacifica Foundation and its stations serve. This category is problematic for a number of reasons, especially in view of the empowerment factor.

The groups the Foundation seeks to serve, inform or educate is one thing. Surely the "exploited, oppressed and marginalized peoples" are Pacifica's concern. But this is not grounds to say those in this category, along with the other two mentioned categories, are Pacifica. There is no valid reason to bring in members of category one (1) to be participants in the electoral process of the local Pacifica stations without some other qualification, like making a contribution to a member station in some form, such as monetary or volunteering.

The second of the three groups, "Listeners," is less problematic, but nonetheless, not completely clear. Does the paragraph mean, the listeners who connect with a program in some way constitute the constituency, or those who connect and support the existence of the station? But what does support of the existence of the station mean? Speaking in favor of a station? Or does it mean supporting by donating money?

The third constituency group, which consists of paid staff and volunteers presents no problem. It is clear.

Let me explain wherein the problem exists in the constituency theory or model, structurally, and then outline the dangers or threats inherent.

The last paragraph under CONSTITUENCIES reads:

"Collectively, these constituencies are Pacifica ...they are each entitled to membership and representation in the Foundation. They each must also play an active role in all aspects of the new, more democratic Pacifica."

Let me examine this in detail:

"Collectively, these constituencies are Pacifica."

This is a rhetorical statement, not a factual one. It might represent an ideal of the framers of the Unity Caucus Model, but it does not identify concrete entities as part of a concrete organization. People who work for the radio stations or volunteers, Constituency (3), is concrete. People who donate money, to the extent they are included under those who "support the existence of the station" in Constituency (2) is concrete and only to that extent.

Constituency category (1) is not and cannot be made concrete by any stretch of the imagination. Hence, it is logically of a different kind than category (3) and than category (2) as delimited herein. Category one is an amorphous, unspecified group that includes who knows what or whom.

To say that "each must also play an active role in all aspects" of the new Pacifica is also nonsensical. An amorphous group must play an active role? Members of this group should be given an opportunity to play an active role, but to mandate it? Rationally, there should be a means to determine who should play an active role. Those who Pacifica ostensibly supports and serves are not sufficient criteria.

We can explore this further when we examine the section MEMBERSHIP AND VOTER REGISTRATION, which will help to clarify the issues and prove why this proposal is seriously flawed.

The opening paragraph reads:

"Membership in the Pacifica Foundation and voter eligibility is granted to anyone who falls into one of Pacifica's three categories of constituencies and registers to vote."

First of all, those in category (1) are not of the same logical type as category (2) or (3), and hence are not eligible for the reasons those in category (2) and (3) are eligible.

Secondly, members of category (1) may never have listened to a Pacifica station, or even heard of Pacifica or any of its stations but they must be granted membership if they register to vote. So if they learn of elections in some way, not necessarily through listening to one of the radio stations, and manage to register to vote, that person from category (1) who knows nothing of Pacifica or its mission must be granted membership and furthermore (from the last sentence under CONSTITUENCIES) ... "must also play an active role in all aspects of the new, more democratic, Pacifica." The flaws in the model and the fallacies should now be clearer.

Any group of people who never listened to the station (and may care less about its programming, its message or "mission" - such as super patriotic, flag-waving supporters of the Bush war machine) could be collected off the street by someone who seeks to get elected, or who wishes to insure that a particular person gets elected or gets defeated, brought in to register, become members and be able to vote.

This scenario clearly indicates that the constituency and membership model opens the electoral process to wide abuses. This type of electoral abuse is neither imaginary nor speculative since it has occurred in the national electoral process numerous times.

Furthermore, it must be considered that there are those who are opposed to the mission, and indeed, to the very existence of Pacifica radio. Exposing government and corporate corruption, and support of peace activism and environmental programs places Pacifica on the enemy list of many, such as the war mongers, the polluters, the corruptors and the exploiters of every ilk. These people play hardball. Karen Silkwood did not die accidentally, she was murdered to silence her. The enemies of peace and justice will do anything to maintain their positions of power and to undermine, destroy and in any way render ineffective those they consider enemies. Pacifica has undoubtedly been a target for decades. Free speech radio is an anathema in a nation dominated by corporate media. Ultra conservative groups, like the religious right and hate groups, all have reasons to want Pacifica closed down.

One example of how the government has dealt with an undesirable organization is the case of the destruction of the Panther organization. The FBI had sought to get rid of the Black Panthers in the 1960s. How did they go about doing it? The leaders of the Panther organization had been careful not to provoke the Justice Department, or give the local police cause to come down on them. The government strategy was relatively simple. The FBI infiltrated local chapters and committees, to the extent that some chapters and committees had more than fifty percent of the members being government agents. This meant, in practice, that the government agents had a voting majority in some of the democratically run local organizations. All of this came out in the Panther trials before the Supreme Court. The trials also revealed that it was the government infiltrators, the agents provocateur, who came up with the ideas to bomb public buildings, bridges and tunnels, etc., not the true Panthers. In those units in which the government agents held a voting majority, agents could recommend and carry by majority vote illegal and deadly proposals that would give the government legal grounds to raid the organizations national offices, and local organizations, and jail all the members. Those they didn't want to go to trial, for whatever reason, they got rid of them, like in the Hampton and Clark case in Chicago some years ago, where the two Panther leaders were drugged and shot to death in their beds.

The government does not want Pacifica educating the public, or informing the world of corruption and nefarious deeds. It doesn't want its improper dealings exposed. It wants the masses to remain blind. It will do everything in its power to achieve this end.

This is not a farfetched scenario. The government can collect a group of people from anywhere, homeless people, middle class types, give the one bread or a few bucks, bribe the other in a different way, register them, and get them to vote for the government's candidate, whose job, before and after the election, is to undermine Pacifica and help destroy it from within.

Any number of extremist or power structure organizations can do the same thing.

Enough! I believe the point is made. The Constituency Model is not only flawed and illogical, it puts Pacifica and its mission at risk. It behooves us, the organization and those alert enough to the threats, to protect Pacifica and to develop safeguards against possible and potential abuses and attacks.

* * * * * * * * * *


by Jamie Ross, Lab (Laboratory) Researcher

The Unity Caucus (UC) proposal starts from the excellent position that Pacifica needs to include disenfranchised peoples, which I believe most of us support. Their elections model is problematic, however, both in underlying principles and in the details. This response points out weaknesses on both levels. Although the intent is not to be negative without cause, or to disparage the work UC has done, I believe that the weaknesses in UC's approach make the proposal unworkable.

Three of UC proposal's underlying principles:

Principle: That Pacifica's governing boards should include a substantial number of representatives of "the broad category of oppressed and marginalized peoples, communities and nations; those whom Pacifica's mission supports and serves." In other words, the boards should not be accountable solely to listeners and staff, as in other elections models.

  • The "broad category of oppressed and marginalized peoples" by definition includes non-listeners. It is a mistake to have board members selected by non-listeners-they probably won't be knowledgeable or care about Pacifica, and so will can be easily misled.

  • The best avenue to include disenfranchised peoples who are not currently Pacifica listeners is through programming.

  • It is an omission for UC to pull out "the broad category of oppressed and marginalized peoples" for special representation on Pacifica's boards, but not to give special representation for peace organizations, whom Pacifica's mission also supports and serves.
Principle: For purposes of selecting Pacifica's boards, it is appropriate to divide Pacifica's listeners and selected non-listeners into "constituencies" along ethnic, geographic, and other lines.
  • This approach could encourage divisiveness by minimizing the things we have in common.

  • Pacifica's listeners may well naturally divide along lines other than what UC prescribes, e.g., those who like local v. national programming, people concerned about public education, anti-war activists, health enthusiasts, etc. Proportional representation allows people to break out into constituencies in whatever manner they choose.
Principle: The local governing boards must include one or more of each of the constituencies as defined by UC. o Programming needs of all groups can be addressed without guaranteeing seats on the governing board. o This is a weak form of accountability--especially if voters in constituencies are not listeners.

UC elections procedures:

In order to effect the above principles in Pacifica's governance, UC has developed a very complicated elections procedure. So that prescribed numbers of each constituency can be seated, there are many small winner-take-all elections. One-person-one-vote is abandoned. The following points address the non-staff elections only,

  • Voters in small constituencies get more representation per person. E.g., if 500 women vote in women's category, and 50 Native Americans in that category, the women's vote is worth 10 times less than the Native Americans. Or another example, NJ area election votes will likely be worth less than from LI or upstate, since NJ has more people. There is no good reason for some voters to have more power than others.

  • Some voters may try to game the system by voting in the smallest possible constituency. This lessens the integrity of the process.

  • Winning candidates in small constituencies need only very few votes. "Non-mission" candidates in these constituencies would only need to muster a few voters to capture the election.

  • Since there are many discrete elections, voters will not be able to vote for their favorite candidates that happen to be in a different constituency.

  • Since most of these elections are winner-take-all, minority views within constituencies are not represented

  • Since the board is so large, and there are so many constituencies, a lot of candidates need to be found--at least 48 to ensure that all listener seats are contested.
The outreach effort, which calls for a paid organizer spend several months soliciting members, has its own problems:
  • It will be difficult to carry out this effort in a way that seems fair to all. There is a potential for the outreach effort to be designed so as to bring about a pre-determined election result, by only organizing via selected groups. Further, there is potential for organizers in a certain constituency to stop looking for voters once a threshhold has been in order to ensure control of the process.

  • Candidates need to know other voters in their constituency in order to get their petition together. This is not accounted for.

  • Non-listener voting is very problematic. It is possible for unscrupulous candidates to ensure pre-selected non-listeners, who will vote for them, are registered.

Other issues:

  • In-person voting can be difficult and will reduce turnout.

  • It is possible for voters to cheat by voting in a constituency they do not belong to, e.g. artist, LGBT, others.

  • Only the constituency can recall a board member. Hence it is possible that "non-mission" people could hold onto a seat even if most voters find them unsatisfactory.

  • Equalizing the board by gender is more difficult than in the KPFA model and may not be possible at all. The procedure calls equalization to be done in the at-large election only, which has nine seats. If there is a substantial excess of men elected in the other categories, it will be necessary to completely overturn the at-large election.

The complex, arbitrary and unfair nature of this system will lessen people's faith in it and hence their participation. Apathy is not good for Pacifica. On the contrary--informed, active listeners are perhaps Pacifica's best protection.

Many of the weaknesses of the UC model regarding listener elections can eliminated by holding one large election only, in which listeners are the only participants.

My hope is that Unity Caucus will see that the problems in their approach make it unsuitable, and that they instead pursue the goal of diverse boards in a more straightforward elections process.

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by Bob Owens, Trade Union Worker

I believe that the Unity Caucus elections model would leave the Pcifica network open to many possible abuses.

Under the UC model people can be rounded up and registered to vote until a majority of votes are had for a particular candidate or issue. This leaves us open for takeover of local boards or even the national board.

Allowing people to vote just because they belong to a constituency, is no way to increase membership.

New membership is better assured by what we in New York are trying to do through an outreach committee to gain new members of people who understand and agree with Pacifica principles and who are willing to contribute in some way by donations or time and energy to help Pacifica grow.

Furthermore, for the people who do donate-- who donate money, who donate time, who come into fund raisers and answer phones - if we allow anyone to vote, what does that say to the people who do contribute? Don't we have to show the volunteers and contributors that they are eligible to vote because they have earned the right to vote, that they are appreciated for helping to build the membership, for contributing funds, for being there when we needed them?

I believe the Unity Caucus means well but I also believe that in their approach they make room for hostile forces to invade the Pacifica network.

In terms of constituency representation it seems to me that voters should be allowed to choose the candidate of their choice, inasmuch as they represent the issues of interest to the voters. Voters should not be forced to confine themselves to voting only in constituencies that they belong to. Voters should be allowed to vote for the candidates who represent the issues that are important to them. As long as the UC insists on the voter voting by constituency, they overlook the fact that members want to vote on issues that are important to them regardless of the constituency they may be connected to. Candidates should address issues and constituencies and voters should be allowed to pick candidates on that basis.

Finally, I also feel that a uniform elections model across the network is something that should be set by the interim Pacifica nationa board. A uniform election model will insure a structure for electing board members nationally and locally that can be monitored and in many ways safeguard the integrity of an election and thereby the integrity of the Foundation.

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