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Policies Governing Local Advisory Boards

From: Andy Norris
Date: Wed May 1, 2002 9:44 am
Subject: Policies Governing Local Advisory Boards

At last night's Bylaws Revision Committee (BRC) meeting Mary Delano and others asked about the existing "Bylaws" for LABs. The relevant document is called "Policies Governing Local Advisory Boards" and is on the WBAI BRC page http://snow.prohosting.com/wbailab/ The direct link to the "policies" is http://pacifica.org/board/docs/lab.html

A short history: implementation of this set of "Policies" was one of the first acts of then PNB Chair Mary Berry. Prior to 3/1/98 each station had its own set of policies or bylaws for its own LAB. The PNB, through its Governance Committee, proposed that a uniform set of policies should replace the existing ones - an idea that certainly has merits, if al parties are acting in good faith. The problem was the way it was implemented: with virtually no input from the LABs themselves. Members from WBAI and KPFA and perhaps other LABs requested many times that the drafting of the new policies should originate with the LABs, or at the least allow for input and feedback from the LABs. WBAI and KPFA LAB members volunteered to set up a network wide committee for this purpose, and submit a draft to the PNB Governance Committee. The LABs were willing and eager to work with the PNB. Every request was rebuffed by the Governance Committee, which was chaired by David Acosta for most of the time involved.

I specifically recall an air of optimism after Mary Berry became Chair of the PNB, an atmosphere of energy and hope for network-wide communication, consultation, and cooperation. Of course, the necessary ingredient was a cooperative and communicative PNB, and many of us learned to our dismay that the PNB was not that. For whatever reasons, and this could be debated at length, the PNB gave the unambiguous message that they were not interested in discussion. This was in early 1998, and was an ominous precursor of the PNB of 1999 and later, which had no time for any discourse.

The "Policies" document http://pacifica.org/board/docs/lab.html of the PNB Governance Committee was rsuhed through the Governance COmmittee and approved by the PNB on 3/1/98. If one compares this document with the "Community Advisory Board Requirements for CPB Grant Recipients" which is also on http://snow.prohosting.com/wbailab/ you will notice that the PNB came up with "Policies" that adhere to the letter of the CPB law, but with almost nothing beyond that. In other words, they used the CPB boilerplate to define the LABs, essentially telling the LABs they are of little use to the PNB except for CPB purposes. That was the message I and others got anyway. This "vision" of the LABs as mere tokens which the PNB would tolerate but not respect, was completed in March 1999 when the PNB illegally removed from the LABs the right to elect PNB members.

Returning to the issue of LAB or Station Board bylaws: it is natural to start off with the existing ones. However, in this case, the "Policies Governing Local Advisory Boards" are so irrelevant - they are basically equivalent to the CPB requirements, and one could just as well start there.

A better starting point might be some of the other LAB bylaws, from 1997 or better still 1991. They are all available on http://wbai.net/labs.html (despite all my efforts to improve http://snow.prohosting.com/wbailab/ I keep finding that wbai.net has it all!)

Andy Norris

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