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The WBAI LAB and proposed elections policies

Point by point comments on the constituency model:

Some responses to this editorial are posted lower on this page


This past Tuesday, Nov. 5th, the WBAI Local Advisory Board heard brief presentations supporting the KPFA and constituency models for local station board elections.

- The constituency model:
- Overview of proportional representation (used at KPFA):
- The KPFA model as revised in KPFA bylaws draft:
- The KPFA model:

The LAB then conducted a straw poll with the results being:

- 8 for the constituency model (Mimi Rosenberg, Errol Maitland, Rashida Ismiali AbuBakr, Lee Kronik, Cecilia Caruso, Panama Alba, Anthony Mackall, Marion Borenstein)
- 3 for the KPFA/choice voting model (Miguel Maldonado, Andy Norris, Madelyn Hoffman)
- 1 abstain (Ray Laforest)

This vote reflects the fact that a large number of people on the WBAI LAB are also part of, or support the "Unity Caucus" who developed the constituency model and that other LAB members have not taken the time to actually read or absorb the constituency and KPFA election models.

The main aim of promoters of the constituency model is to convince the interim Pacifica national board to take the easy way out and leave it up to each of the station areas to determine their individual elections policy and then to impose this model, or perhaps some other policy, on the WBAI community. The working body of the interim Pacifica national board, the 5 LABs and Pacifica community at large is much more likely to achieve a fair and effective local station board elections policy.

The key selling points of the constituency model are its claim to guarantee seats on the local station board for representatives of 18 constituencies (delineated by race, ethnicity, geographical areas,etc.) and that it promotes wider community involvement because people voting need not be listeners to the station(s). The claim is that this untried system is better than the KPFA model which "doesn't work" with regard to achieving community participation and a diverse board. But there are thousands of people in Berkeley, and so far 417 in the WBAI area, who disagree.
[ Recent WBAI area petition:
http//:www.wbai.net/bylaws_revise_petition_uni_elec11-8-02.html ]

The "Unity Caucus" focus on the flaws of the KPFA model is not a demonstration of concern regarding the issues of greater involvement and diversity. It is an effort to make a case for an unproven, somewhat divisive (breaking the voting body into mandated groups and limiting choices), underdeveloped elections procedure mainly by people who, before elections were mandated by the lawsuits settlement, were opposed to elections of the local station board at WBAI. In reality the constituency model's primary feature is that it provides the authors with greater control over processes at WBAI.

The majority of support in the WBAI area for the constituency model comes from people who are currently in control of the station/LAB and their friends. People currently in control feel they are closer to the facts and that they know best. In many respects this is true. But in a situation where many people draw money from Pacifica and there is a widespread sense of entitlement, conflict of interests and cronyism are common. The quality of policy making, programming, organization, and cooperation at WBAI suffer as a result.

Another main consideration is practicality. The KPFA model with its choice voting and diversity requirements, while certainly having room for improvement, is a working system that has produced two actual station board elections. Anyone who has been to, or at least have closely followed the meetings of the interim Pacifica national board knows of the tremendous workload that the national and local boards and staff are under. Instead of further burdening the Pacifica/WBAI community with an unnecessarily complex array of elections policies, let's improve on an admirable system that's already working. The constituency proposal has much to offer such as its mechanisms for outreach and the KPFA method can be improved by bringing in some of these items.

In a world of flawed processes, a universal local station board elections policy at Pacifica can best produce the essential openness, fairness, diversity and accountability desperately needed to operate and protect the foundation and the stations.

Roger Manning, NYC


Some Responses to the above editorial:

From: Jim Krivo
Sent: Sunday, November 10, 2002 8:35 AM
Subject: How about a model with the good features of both proposed models

Hello Roger,

The KPFA model has its advantages and the constituency model has its advantages. What about considering a model that incorporates some of the good ideas of both. How about a bicameral model with half the delegates being chosen at large and half being chosen on the basis of geography. Geography would be a simple relatively non arbitrary way to select people with closer connections with local community organizations. This model would connect different local peace and ethnic groups with the station more tightly and encourage them to participate more.

Jim Krivo, Long Island Friends of WBAI and WBIX


From: Patty [ Heffley - CdPNY ]
Date: Mon Nov 11, 2002 12:41 am
Subject: Re: [NewPacifica] How about a model with the good features of both proposed models


ah "bicameral" i see you have been reading mimi rosenberg's proposals.

we already have selected people and they only represent themselves.

the unelected, selected lab filled with good hearted peace and ethnic groups was presented with a petition of 417 names opposing the constituency model, and you know what they did? Except for 3 people, they ignored it!! 8 voted for this model, of course most of them are in the Unity caucus. They have the power to ignore the listeners. but if they were elected and recallable, maybe they wouldn't be so arrogant.

Do you know community organizations in Long Island? go to them. ask them to run for the lab. or give the names to the LAB and get them to get candidates. if these people care enough about pacifica and wbai, they will say yes and if people like them, they will be seated. What is wrong with that? In fact, Why don't you run? everyone knows you. you could run.

No one is saying that people from long island can't get together and elect these same people that you think should be selected and placed there. If the people are good and bernard white opens up the airwaves to discussion and debate and to the voices of these candidates, then what is the problem?

is running for the board beneath people? should they be honored with a gift of a seat? You know what? There are people on the wbai lab now like that now, asked because of their credentials and guess what? THEY DON'T EVEN COME TO THE LAB MEETINGS (and forget about the bylaws meetings. only about 6 of the 16 came to those and they will be voting on them) !!! One woman didn't know about the democracy now! contract!!! after a talk with her she was just a little more informed and maybe wouldn't have voted for the constituency model. She was just going along not thinking.

No appointed seats- NO WHERE!!! Let em' run. if they are good, they'll win.



[ From the message board at:goodlight.net/wbai ]

stigmatised classes guaranteed equity, from 2...
Why not "improve" KPFA Model by enlarging its list of
Sun Nov 10 10:04:31 2002

... to all of them?


The KPFA Model incorporates the M.F. Berry version of equity, which is to say only in two criteria, race and gender; in that women and people of color cannot end up with less than half the seats (though they could end up with more if the votes go that way).

Of course Berry didn't bother to break race / ethnicity down in a fair manner, so that POC turned out to mean people all of her coclor... in the hijacker board. For example, Berry pretended that she had never heard of the fact the world's biggest continent, Asia, exists.


The M. F. Berry-approved version of election rules for KPFA, was realpolitil or "POWER-BASED", not equity-based. Only the groups with the biggest numbers in the listening area (women), and / or biggest political power within the non-elected structures of the network, got any equity guaranttees. Compared with, say, New York City's or Berkeley's local Human Rights Law, which covers many other stigmatised and discriminated-against classes.... the Berry-approved KPFA model was NOT at all progressive, but was in fact extremely conservative.

Ironically, considering how Berry had bashed WBAI for being supposedly "stuck in the sixties."... the Berry/Berkeley model was, itself, literally stuck in the 1960's popular understanding of what civil rights meant - race and gender, perdiod. Other civil rights and minority liberation movements (like the lesbian and gay movement which later expanded to "LGBT", and the disabled rights movement) did not come to the gneral public's attention until at least the end of the sixties or the early seventies. The "youth movement" by the late 60's was bought off by federal funding, and the elderly rigts movement was essentially bought by a huge org. AARP that was founded as a front for selling insurance (which it was eventually ordered by the courts to stop doing). The Berry version is a "modern" version of diversity; I am advocating a "post-modern" version, which should appeal to people who didn't close their minds and stop learning about diversity and human rights - way back in the year 1968.

The M. F. Berry version of equity was POWER-BASED -- "Them that has (power, already in this org.); gets".

A network making an honest effort to be "progressive", would NOT have a power-based definition of who gets equity and who doesn't in the rules... but would have a "REALITY-BASED EQUITY MODEL", based on the much more multidimensional diversity that exists in the real world of the 5 listening areas. A pretty good source for a list to use as a starting point, would be the list of classes protected in the human rights laws of relatively progressive cities. Like New York and Berkeley.

In a "reality-based equity - board composition model".... Race and ethnicity would be broken down at least a little into 3 or 4 groups, and other factors like disability (1/6 of the country, and growing as teh country ages, folks), sexual orientation, youth / elderly, and yes-- class -- SHOULD be added, to make the "short list" into a "LONG LIST". (Of course there is a limit to how complex a system can be for example interms of how much each category is broken down, because when a LAB gets over 20 (25? 30?) in size, meetings become too awkward to manage, and each person's fair share of speaking time dwindles down to almost nothing).

Will Pacifica's new board-composition diversity rules be cynicaly based on just raw political power, a "Them that has, gets" system?

Or will it be based on reality and the progressive ideals and values, of fairness for all?

I would assert that this is not just a symbolic issue, but that it also impacts on the ability of boards to get their overall scope of work done. The less diverse a board is, the more it will tehd to neglect parts of its responsibilies.


Add REALITY-BASED multidimensional diversity of guaranteed board composition (including seriously inclusive "long list" outreach; one system for all 5 signal areas, and a centralized mailing & counting of ballots by an independent accounting firm) to the KPFA Model --- and we'll then have a compromise elections proposal that is worthy of approval. For both the board-composition rules of LABs, and for the elected PNB, too.

Jim 2
(WBAI listening area)

(Permission given to reprint this whole, unedited, message.)


From: Dante Toza [ recent KPFT volunteer]
Sent: Sunday, November 10, 2002 6:53 PM
Subject: Re: wbai.net Editorial re: constituency model

[ referring to the result of WBAI LAB vote ]

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