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WBAI bylaws revisions subcommittee meeting minutes
4-16-02


MINUTES
Of the fourth public meeting of the WBAI area subcommittee of the Bylaws Revision Committee.
Held in Manhattan, 75 Varick St., 14th floor, approx. 7 pm-9:30 pm.
April 23, 2002
by Thomas R. Gregg, notetaker (typed April 27)

[Please note: This is not a verbatim account, except for passages that are enclosed in quotation marks. Please do not quote the non-verbatim parts as if you were quoting people's exact words. Ellipses (...) in verbatim accounts indicate words that I left out of the quotation. I have included a few necessary clarifying comments in square brackets. Speakers are indicated by the name or description of the speaker and a colon. If you have technical problems with this file, please contact me at t_g7@yahoo.com .]

Abbreviations:
PNB- Pacifica National Board
iPNB- interim Pacifica National Board
LAB- Local Advisory Board
LGB- Local Governing Board
SB- Station Board
SGB- Station Governing Board
[Note that LAB, LGB, SGB, and SB are parallel.]
GM- General Manager of the station
CPB- Corporation for Public Broadcasting
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IN ATTENDANCE: Ray Laforest and Janice K. Bryant, members of the interim Pacifica National Board, are the chairs of this subcommittee and were acting as co-chairs of this meeting. Andrew Norris and Lee Kronick, LAB members. Around 25 other listeners attended.

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MEETING IS CALLED TO ORDER.
A page was handed out with the following information:

Proposed Agenda:
1) Selection of note taker
2) Recording of relative support for various membership options taken from discussions of 4/16/02 (20 minutes)
3) LABs: nature, History, Function, Authority
   A) Presentation by Andy Norris (10 min): brief history, outline of range of governance
   B) Presentation by Roger Manning (10 min)
   C) Public participation (20 min)
4) Synthesis of work (20 min)
5) Announcements (5 min)
6) Adjournment

Please see "documents for Bylaws Revision Committee" posted at www.pacifica.org [ and on the bylaws revision page here at wbai.net ] and print copies for your own reference.

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FIRST AGENDA ITEM: Selection of note taker. Ray Laforest selected Thomas Gregg.

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

SECOND AGENDA ITEM: Recording of relative support for various membership options taken from discussions of 4/16/02

A page was handed out, and is reproduced here verbatim: "WHO CAN VOTE IN WBAI ELECTIONS? FOUR OPTIONS

Option 1. Only listener subscribers at the current rate and listener volunteers should be voters.

Option 2. Listeners who make any financial contribution (even at a nominal rate), or who do any volunteer work (including something from their home or in their community) should be voters. In addition, listeners in some categories (on welfare or workfare, prisoners, etc.) would be exempt from either financial contributions or volunteering but would have to register in some way.

Option 3. All listeners can vote-- they only need to indicate their interest by registering to vote and providing some information about themselves

Option 4. In addition to listeners, listener subscribers, volunteers, and those in exempt categories, anyone can vote if they are members in or work with other progressive organizations

It should be noted that any option that includes volunteers will need more work done at a later date to spell out the range of volunteer activities."

Listener (Tom Gregg): I suggest that you create an "Option 5" for "None of the Above". Because Mimi Rosenberg's proposal is not adequately reflected in any of these 4 options. It is not Option 4. She didn't want just anybody in those organizations to be able to vote, but representatives of constituency groups.

Ray: Her suggestion was that there be no conditions placed on ability to vote, but that we reach out to specific organizations.

Janice: Mimi was talking not about who could vote but about us reaching out to get peoople in to become part of the people who decide. Her Task Force would go out to bring people in, to get people to become listener activists.

Listener: She wanted to put ballots in shops, churches, etc., in places where listeners could come across them, and they could then vote, having come in possession of the ballot. This process is too open to exploitation.

Janice: Option #5 will be the constituency model/community model

Listener: I want to suggest that Option 2 be modified to read "...who do any volunteer work for WBAI..."

Janice: Okay.

Ray: One of the proposals says that we should be open to everybody. Mimi's proposal says that yes, we should be open to everybody, but, in addition, unless specific groups are part of this process, it is not legitimate, it is not real. So we need to reach out to people of color, working-class people, the underprivileged etc. So it would be easier if we call it the community/constituency model and we can decide exactly what it means later.

Janice: This is a straw poll.

Listener: We have not discussed this adequately enough to take a straw poll. I want to add another option to the list. I think the votership should be 2/3 or 3/4 subscription-based and 1/4 constituency-based.

Janice: And how in Sam Hill would we tell that?

Listeners: Its not very difficult. A certain percentage of the votership in each election would be generated in a constituency-model kind of way. Mimi was talking about outreach to communities to gather new members to vote. Because I understand where she's going with that, and I think a meaningful and important idea is the basis for her proposal, I think we should make that applicable for part of the electorate, but not for a predominant chunk. My proposal is conciliatory. It would allow for some meaning for both ends of the dialogue [the consituency model and the Listener-Subscriber/Volunteer model], and that is what we need right now: compromise.

Janice: We are not trying to reach a complete decision tonight. You are saying that your proposal is a compromise, but people are just liking what they like. And what you're saying, I think, is not workable. I think we need to do things that can happen. I really do.

Listener: I don't think that any of these options we have here is a very good voting model--

Ray (interrupting): We have not discussed this at all really. It would not be fair for us to take an opinion poll based on just what you say. I wish you had mentioned it earlier and we would have included you in the presentation--

Listener (interrupting): I did mention it earlier, and that's exactly why I don't like the fact that we are doing this straw poll--

Ray: Okay, so maybe we can find some other corrective way-- so I would be-- by the way, to me, Carol told me that the meeting at KPFA was 30 people. The meeting at KPFK was 20 people. Tonight we have 29. So I wouldn't worry about the numbers. We can still have a vote and decide how people lean. So one of the things we have to do is that at a later point we can introduce this, rather than tonight.

Listener: Well, then I support Tom's idea that there should be an abstention option.

Ray: This is not a vote--

Listener (Paul Surovell): I would like to amend Option 1. I think that if prisoners cannot subscribe or volunteer, they should be allowed to vote upon request of a ballot. But this would not apply to people on welfare or workfare.

Janice/Ray: We will make that Option 1a. "Only listener subscribers at the current rate and listener volunteers and listener prisoners should be voters"

Listener: I think people should keep in mind the desirability of verifying anything but subscribers, and the problems involved in verifying anything but subscribers

Janice: We are all aware of that.

Listener: In option 1, what does "current rate" mean?

Janice: Current rate means "prevailing rate". If you are a senior or unemployed, you get a lower rate. It's the same way we handle memberships now, the same as we do things now.

Janice: Let's go to the straw poll. Option 1 is, "Only listener subscribers at the prevailing rate and listener volunteers should be voters."

Listener: We can vote for more than one proposal, right?

Janice: Yes.

Janice: Option 1a is the same as Option 1, but it includes listener-prisoners. Option 5 is the community/constituency hybrid.

Ray: Option 5 is the Mimi Rosenberg option.

Janice: [She takes the poll and counts hands. The results are:
Option 1: 10 (ten)
Option 1a: 11 (eleven)
Option 2: 9 (nine)
Option 3: 5 (five)
Option 4: 3 (three)
Option 5: 0 (zero)
There were around 30 (thirty) people in the room. The numbers add to more than 30 because people were allowed to vote more than once.]

THIRD AGENDA ITEM: LABs: nature, History, Function, Authority A) Presentation by Andy Norris: brief history, outline of range of governance

Structure of the presentation:
I. Introduction
II. Two possible models for the role of the Local Governing Board/LAB
  A. strong LGB/LAB
    1. Pros of adopting this model
    2. Cons of adopting this model
  B. weak LGB/LAB
    1. Pros of adopting this model
    2. Cons of adopting this model
III. LGB/LAB Functions and Responsibilities
  A. General functions and responsibilities
  B. Functions and responsibilities concerning the station
  C. Functions and responsibilities concerning the relationship of the station and LAB to the PNB
IV. An example of proposed bylaws: The Gregory Wonderwheel bylaws

Andy:

I. Introduction. The LABs started out with KPFA, and evolved to the current idea of a current advisory board, and it was also the governing board of KPFA, and of all of Pacifica, in the early days. Then, when the stations became independent, like WBAI, it had its own governing board in the 60s and 70s and was very autonomous. In fact, In 1977, the board had a much stronger influence on the crisis that they had then. It had much greater powers. Essentially, the national board didn't really care too much. In the 80s and 90s the structure evolved so the natl board became more prominent and it was a natural growth, as there was a realization that Pacifica is a network, that is a positive thing. The intent was good. But it became quite unstable with the 1991 national bylaws and 1997 and the end-of-the-line 1999 bylaws of the National Board. But in 1999 there was a quasi-stable pattern that had evolved, where LABs nominated or selected or elected people to the PNB. It was working, somewhat, for at least 10 years. It was sort of a nurturing structure, but in retrospect, sometimes the people who became PNB members were not the best. I myself voted to put 2 people on the PNB who, in retrospect, shouldn't have gone. The structure became unstable in 1998, when the PNB imposed local policies and bylaws on the LABs, which we [the LABs] resisted strongly, and then in 1999 the PNB shut us out completely.

Why do we need a LAB in the first place? Because the LAB can act as a safeguard against a takeover. One of the first actions taken was that 4 out of 5 LABS put a lawsuit in motion in 1999, which fed the other lawsuits and led to the final victory that we recently had. But there are much more mundane reasons for having a LAB, which we will get into now. I will talk about the role of the LAB.

II. Two possible models for the role of the Local Governing Board/LAB. We will be looking at 2 options for governing boards. One is a weak view, where the LABs are responsible for strategic planning and long-term issues, and the other would be where the local governing board (LGB) is responsible for day-to-day operations, a strong governance role. These ideas were put together by the Mid-Peninsula Committee to Free Pacifica Options for Local Governing Board, which I think is in the KPFA signal area (see http://snow.prohosting.com/wbailab/ for the full document).

[Note: Andy then made a presentation using a special computerized "overhead projector," (laptop computer linked to projector) and he made his "transparencies" (file) available, which I have used to write these minutes. The complete text of the transparencies is included in an Appendix.]

A. The first model is: Local Governing Board (LGB) is responsible for determining the long-term strategies of the station, but not involved in day-to-day operations.

1. PROS:
  a. LGB provides vision to the station management/staff/producers
  b. Model permits station management/staff to focus on day-to-day issues without having to determine the vision of the station.
  c. This governance model is common in other companies/ organizations-- a detached body that looks at the long-term structure

2. CONS:
  a. Lack of oversight of station management/staff could permit another situation such as has arisen in the past. Does not provide strong oversight of the station.
  b. Lack of transparency
  c. Lack of involvement of the community

B. The second, stronger version of the governing board is: Local Governing Board is involved in day-to-day operations of the station, does not become involved in long-term vision. Day-to-day operations would include personnel issues, management/staff issues.

1. PROS:
  a. Oversight of station management/staff could avoid another situation such as has arisen in the past where management loses touch with the vision of the station and Pacifica and runs amok.
  b. Board members provide a more impartial perspective on internal matters, as well as expertise which is not present within the station.
  c. Improves transparency and response to the community.

2. CONS:
  a. Local Governing Board members are not necessarily knowledgeable about day-to-day station operations.
  b. Requires a terrific commitment of time and effort from the Board members so they can understand all the issues and do things well. This would require that LAB members devote themselves almost full-time to the LAB.

I'd like to note that the first model of LGB involvement (the minimal model), is what is required by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in order to get funding from them. In fact, an even more minimal model is required by them.

III. LGB/LAB Functions and Responsibilities

A. General things that a governing body should do are:


- Regular election of their own officers (chair, vice chair, Sec, etc.)- annually
- Clear-cut definition of role of officers
- Formalization of meeting procedures and schedule, to the benefit of everyone involved (bi-monthly)
- There should be a clear schedule of events - Fund raising, meetings
- Subcommittees are very important, they do the hard work. The meetings should merely summarize the work done by the subcommittees. these subcommittees will be more or less important depending on whether the strong or weak model of the LGB is adopted.

4 subcommittees:
- Finance - with a strong model of LGB governance, the responsibilities of this subcommittee would become more serious, requiring a subcommittee with people with skills in fiscal matters who can understand budgets, deficits, etc.
- Outreach
- Assessment- assessing how well the station is in compliance with the Pacifica Mission, and how well it meets the community needs for the local community
- Personnel- LAB doesn't have a personnel subcommittee now, because it was mandated that we are not to get involved in day-to-day operations at the station. But if we adopted the stronger model of LGB governance, we would have to have a personnel subcommittee which would be professional and serious.

- Arbitrate/monitor quality of programs with listeners (CPB role +)

B. Station issues (things the LAB should do for the station):


- Do outreach to listeners
- Actively initiate and participate in fundraising for the station
- Hire and evaluate the General Manager and Program Director in consultation with staff and listener groups
- Participate with staff and listeners in the smooth operation of the Program Council
- Make reports to listeners, some of which should be done in cooperation with station management, and some of which should be done independently of station management
- Perform fiscal oversight - oversee budget planning, implementation, revision. The way the process works now is, over several months, a proposed budget is developed, then it is approved at the National level and implemented, and revised as the year prorgesses, depending on the outcome of the fund drives. In the past the station management has controlled this process, and it has been a large part of management's job, but the LAB could be involved in it. Again, it would require specific financial skills on the part of the LAB members.
- Assist GM in preparing Reports for the PNB and listeners, particularly fiscal aspects, because the PNB doesn't have a very clear idea of what is happening at all the stations. Each PNB member is familiar with one station, but not the other four. So it is very crucial that the PNB receive coherent reports on the welfare of the station, especially financial affairs.
- Be involved with conducting the election process
- Be involved with evaluation of the election process and outcome
- Be involved with the redesign and conducting of the second election

C. Interaction of LAB/SGB/LGB with PNB and Pacifica.
- Elect two (?) reps to the PNB
- Monitor PNB. This has especially become important in the last 10 years, when we have had a renegade PNB. PNB needs feedback so they don't operate "in a vacuum".
- Evaluate the station's achievement as related to the Pacifica original mission:
  - Meeting the programming needs of the community
  - Assess the needs of the community and make recommendations to program director - annually
- Assist in the expansion of the listenership
- Liaison between WBAI and other signal areas
- Represent the station to the world and the communities. The management doesn't have much time to do that.
- Receive and consider public input into planning and decision-making in developing programming which meets the needs and interests of the community
- Contribute expertise i.e. Law, accounting, organizing, etc. Legal aspects have turned out to be especially important in the last two years, so legal expertise is needed. Also radio skills are needed. And a familiarity with community radio around the country. A technical committee would be great to have.

IV. Extracts from the Gregory Wonderwheel bylaws. (See http://snow.prohosting.com/wbailab/ for the full document.) This would be an example of the kind of bylaws that we're trying to come up with. [Andy then gave a brief synopsis, as follows.]

"ARTICLE X: STATION GOVERNING BOARDS

SECTION 1: Each Pacifica station shall have a Station Governing Board whose members collectively shall also comprise the Executive Membership of the Foundation ...

SECTION 2: Each Station Governing Board shall have a bylaws adopted by the Listener-members of the station. The station bylaws may govern any activity of the station not in conflict with the Articles of Incorporation, these By-laws, or any Foundation policies ...

SECTION 3; Each Station Governing Board shall have such elected or appointed committees as authorized by its station bylaws ...

SECTION 4: The number of members of a Station Governing Board shall be at least 10 and not greater than 24.

SECTION 5: The members of each station governing board shall be elected on staggered schedules of two, three, or four years as determined by the station's bylaws so that no more than one-half (1/2) and no less than one-fourth (1/4) of the Executive Members are elected to a station governing board at any one election, not counting the filling of vacancies. [Rolling membership, so you don't have all new members at the same time.]

SECTION 6: Elections for members of the Station Governing Boards shall be conducted so that at least three-fifths (3/5) of the seats open for regular election at any one time shall be elected by means of multiple candidate proportional representation voting ..."

Janice K. Bryant opens the floor for questions.

Listener: Is there a conflict of interest if the station boards run their own elections?

Andy: [no answer].

Listener: I have two questions about this model. First, the strong governance model that you have presented suggests that the LAB would be very involved in the station. But what if the LAB members do not have the radio skills necessary to govern well? And why should the station staff have a twofold boss? Second, the strong governance model would require that the LAB members spend all their time on LAB business, so they would have to quit their jobs in order to spend time on the LAB. How is this possible? Currently, there are 5 LAB members who don't even show up to the meetings.

Andy: I won't address the second question, because the answer is self-evident. But about the radio skills: a couple years ago, Nan Rubin, a LAB member, discovered the NTIAC federal proposals and we got $50,000 of equipment, and that has evolved into the grant for the KPFK antenna, where the PNB stole $400,000 from that money. The point is that an LAB member discovered it, whereas a member of the station staff would not necessarily have been able to discover it, unless there was a very large staff that knew about all the grants.

Listener: But my question is about the day-to-day oversight.

Andy: There are existing stations that have boards like this. They don't interfere with day-to-day operations, but they are more oriented towards oversight than the current WBAI LAB is.

Listener (Tom Gregg): 1) Andy, you said your first model conforms with Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) requirements. But in fact, CPB requires that, in order for the station to get funding from CPB, stations have Community Advisory Boards that merely take input from the public, and these boards are powerless. But as Roger Manning has proposed, a station could have two boards, one that would merely take input, and another that would have some power over the governance of the station. 2) I agree that the second model would require a great deal of work on the part of LAB members. 3) In your model, would LAB members be able to recall PNB members who they are dissatisfied with? 4) maybe a hybrid of your two models would be good, so that the LAB would not be required to be involved with the day-to-day operations of the station, but they should be able to intrevene if there is a problem.

Listener (Jim Dingemann): 1) The election process should be handled by a neutral body. 2) I was on the lab a long time ago. Traditionally, the LABS had the power to informally sign off on the GM's contract. You can't get into the day-to-day operations-- that's really ridiculous. The LABs at that time were subordinating themselves to the vision of the national board. You have to have a mechanism by which you have a report from the LAB on the air, a report from the listeners on air, and you have discussions of these policy decisions as they are being developed by the PNB. The listeners need to be informed about things like a "5-year strategic plan" or a "healthy station project" Also, we can't have a constant drain of talent from the LABs to the PNB. Next, there is the community needs assessment issue. Community needs assessment is a CPB requirement, as well as a legislative, statutory requirement, in the 1978 Telecommunications Act. That has never been done, and it needs to be done. Lastly, our whole meeting tonight, as well as the results of the straw poll, needs to be on the air.

Listener (Phil): First, I'd like to see organizational charts with little boxes and lines which illustrate the different structures of the various governance models. Second, we ought to have a Code of Ethics in the new Pacifica Foundation bylaws described in this handout. [He hands out a sheet.] This model for a code of ethics can be found at http://www.texascbar.org/resources/docs/mbylaws.doc , under Article VI.

Listener (Eve Moser): Listeners must have input into the LAB, in the decision process. Decisions should not be made without input from listeners. We want a situation where the listeners are not left out or cut out. The LABS are supposed to represent the listeners; they are not supposed to substitute for them.

Listener (a frequent speaker): We need more listeners. The two functions that will increase the power of the LAB are the selection of the GM and the financial oversight. There is a proposal by an ex-treasurer of Pacifica to separate the financial function at Pacifica away from the station and bring in a comptroller and a parallel thing to the executive branch, and that's being worked out now in detail. The Board would prepare budgets and they would meet two days ahead of the annual meeting and work out a Pacifica budget. The second aspect is the naming of the GM. I think there should be veto power, so that the LAB or Station Board could have veto power if a GM were named and the LAB was not favorable to him. So that the LAB could play a role in the renewal of that contract.

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THIRD AGENDA ITEM, PART B

Roger Manning's proposal.

Roger: I would like to formally present this proposal, to be handed in with the rest of this committee's suggestions. We need this bylaw in writing, so that in case a new posse of hijackers take over, listener meetings would still have to take place. The general meetings would be like Town Hall meetings, a lot like what we experienced at Concerned Friends of WBAI (at least the postitive aspects of that). Currently, the only time for listener input is at LAB meetings, where there is no formal obligation to have a public comment period. My proposal would provide a mandated and separate time for listener input, so the LAB meetings could be devoted to the usual business of the LAB.

This bylaw was designed with inclusiveness in mind, so that anybody could show up and vote on non-binding items. Like the resolutions we used to do at Concerned Friends of WBAI. For example, someone could propose to send a letter to the PNB stating disapproval of some particular PNB policy, and that letter could be written and sent, after a vote. This would encourage people to be brought in, and more people would get involved and become listener-members and voting members. Lastly, this would be a meeting where the LAB, PNB, and station management could come to recruit people into committees, to get things done like outreach, fundraising, etc. There needs to be a place for this to happen, and it needs to be in writing to make sure it *does* happen. People can contact me via email at webmaster@wbai.net or rogermanning@yahoo.com. Also, if anyone has a governance proposal, send it to me at that address and I will post it.

PROPOSED BYLAW:

ARTICLE [ ]: STATION GOVERNING BOARDS [a proposed article]

SECTION [ ] GENERAL MEETINGS Each Station Governing Board shall conduct General Meetings of Pacifica listeners, staff, and management four (4) or more times a year in their station area.

A. These meetings will be 1) held at a date approximately two (2) weeks prior to the 4 national board meetings, 2) publicly announced over the airwaves and the internet at least seven (7) days in advance and 3) broadcast on their respective Pacifica radio stations.

B. General meetings: 1) shall open with a period for members of the attending public to add items to the meeting's agenda including proposals for non-binding items (resolutions, requests, or suggestions to national and local boards and management or other entities) to be discussed and voted on later during that meeting. This period shall not exceed 30 minutes. 2) Time given for reports from various Pacifica board members, management and corresponding question and answer periods shall not exceed one third of the time allotted for the General Meeting. General Meetings shall also include, but are not limited to 3) organizing of committees of listeners/staff as a station resource (for input, fundraising, outreach etc), 4)providing a platform for station board candidates prior to elections, 5) facilitation of the procedure of recall of local or national board members [defined in Article __ Section __ ], 6) facilitation of the procedure for binding Listener-member directives [ defined in Article __ Section __ ], 7) educational presentations on Pacifica governance and history.

C. General Meetings will be open to the public and any person present may participate in discussion and simple majority votes conducted regarding non-binding items.

D. General Meetings shall be chaired by rotating Local Station Board members. Robert's Rules of Order (revised edition) shall apply.

[Janice opens the floor for listener input.]

Listener: I think it's a good idea to bring together listeners on a regular basis, but I don't think it's a good idea for that body to make decisions on the basis of a simple majority. It wouild be better for them to be passed on the basis of consensus. That would avoid factionalism and a situation in which people would bring a large number of supporters to the meeting, only to vote in their favor. Also, please explain the part about the binding listener-member directives.

Roger: Someone has proposed a bylaw that would create a process for listener-member-initiated binding proposals. My proposed bylaw would merely serve to facilitate the initiation and carrying-out of the procedure of making such directives. Also, you may be right about the consensus vs. majority votes. But remember, these votes are non-binding.

Listener: Is it possible for the members to get a meeting to occur by a certain number of people requesting a meeting?

Roger: That is not a part of my proposal at this time.

Listener (Jim Dingemann): This is a great idea. But first, it wouldn't replace a Needs Assessment Board. Second, we have to ask, who has the power to initiate these meetings? Because in the past, we had meetings that were even written in to union contracts, that weren't called for years!

Roger: The LABs will be forced to call the meetings, because if they do not, they will be in violation of the bylaws. But I welcome your input, if you would like to revise this proposal and send it to me.

Listener (a frequent speaker): I have three things to say. First, can listeners make direct proposals about programming at the meetings in your proposal?

Roger: Sure. You can propose anything you want at the meetings.

Listener: Okay. Second, in response to Andy, since the LAB has so much work to do, we should devote some money from the budget to the LAB, as well as some staff. Third, the LAB has to be concerned about its diversity all the time.

Listener (A frequent speaker): Roger's proposal might be problematic because as the station improves, more people will be satisfied with the programming and they won't want to come to the general meetings. There will only be a large turnout when people are angry or upset. When the station is running smoothly, such meetings might only attract a "disgruntled fan" group. It opens the door to a small, self-selectd group to turn the station in directions that most people would not want to see it go. The meetings [i.e. Concerned Friends meetings, Bylaws Committee meetings, etc.] have not been very representative of the diversity of listeners. While it may be a good idea to have a statement in the bylaws requiring an increase in listener input in emergencies, I don't like this idea, because there may be people who would make it their business to come to such meetings to have more leverage over programming than the rest of us would like.

Roger: I understand your concern, but there is nothing in my proposal that gives the listeners any real power at these meetings, so we do not have to worry about the scenario you are talking about. Now, I would like the listeners to have more input than this proposal describes, but I think this is a pragmatic way to do it. In fact, I used to be a program director at a station a long time ago. And it was very handy to have meetings like this to let people blow off steam and get off my back. In a way, you are throwing the public a bone. You can speculate whether people could take over the station via these meetings. That I don't know. But I do know that you need to have these meetings. And they need to be in writing.

Listener (a frequent speaker): I agree that we need to have listener meetings. The Concerned Friends meetings were for the most part adversarial, not collaborative. Also, your proposal gives power to a new body that was not part of the existing bodies. But we already have an elected LAB. This new body would be in conflict with the LAB and not allow it to get any work done.

Roger: This is not creating a new body. The body, of listeners, volunteers, and producers, already exists-- they just don't have a place to meet. This body does not tell the LAB what to do.

Listener (frequent speaker): 1) Amending the agenda on the fly can lead to chaos. Changes to the agenda should be made at the end of the prior meeting. 2) People should not be allowed to vote jsut because they are present at a meeting. They need to do something in exchange for that privilege.

Roger: But at these meetings, you are not voting on things that make a real change at the station. You are voting on non-binding things.

Listener (frequent speaker): Many people have an interest in silencing Pacifica. With every proposal we consider, we should think about how these people might take advantage of the situation to take over Pacifica.

Listener: This is a good proposal because it is a way for listeners to get together. What I like best is that it is as mechanism for educating and involving the listeners. I am concerned that we keep listeners actively involved in the station. Also, most of what goes on at the station should be transparent, so we do not keep secrets from the listeners. We should broadcast the Town Hall Meetings on the Internet and broadcast on the stations. Listeners need to be educated and know what's going on, so we don't repeat what happened.

Listener: It is a good idea to time these meetings prior to PNB meetings. Also, I would like to ask the LAB members in this room whether they want to run again.

Listener: We should get the business stuff on the air, and in addition, we should have parties. Also, are we going to bar politicians, people in political office, from running for LAB elections?

Other Listener: It's a 501(c)3. There's no way they can. It would be illegal probably.

Listener (Tom Gregg): In the rules that govern these bylaws committee meetings, they are supposed to be announced 3 days in advance on the air. But I think this meeting was not announced. So is this a legitimate meeting or not?

Ray: These are informal meetings, and there is flexibility. There is no penalty for not having it. But I see your point.

Janice: It has been announced on the Internet and at a prior meeting. But you are right.

Listener: we should also have a way that people can "call in" to Roger's proposed meetings, on the telephone or on the Internet.

Roger: I'd like to summarize that my proposal calls for meetings that would facilitate a lot of things that need to get done, to increase access for listeners, to allow listeners to voice concerns and offer input, without threatening the integrity of the station and overburdening the other board meetings.

[ a revised version of the proposed General Meeting bylaw incorporating some of the suggestions above - Proposed bylaw for General Meetings - version 3.0]

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FOURTH AGENDA ITEM: Synthesis of work.

Listener: We're going nowhere fast. We got these bylaws, we have to do SOMETHING to get moving on this stuff. We're not gettting anywhere just sitting here talking about who's going to vote, blah blah blah, all that, philosophies and so on... We've got all these bylaws to look at and decide on.

Listener: I recommend that the next meeting in New York be a time when people bring in some concrete suggestions, write them down, make concrete suggestions and present them. But at next week's meeting, in New Jersey, we will have to take some time to educate listeners, because there will be new people from New Jersey there.

Listener: Each LAB needs to have a New Media committee. All 5 stations now are analog, not digital stations. We need people to work to bring the stations into the digital and Internet age.

Ray: Here are the proposed topics for the New Jersey meeting next week:national board of directors, role and function of national board, number of directors, how many from each LAB, at-large or appointed members.

Listener: I like the idea of doing straw polls like we did tonight. We could do the same thing with bylaws suggestions.

Listener: Leslie Cagan suggested that what we are going to do is to compile all our suggestions, and maybe put in the results of a straw poll, and submit that to the National Bylaws Committee. I think it would be productive at the New Jersey meeting to go through Gregory Wonderwheel's bylaws.

Listener (frequent speaker): We have a program coming up this Friday evening on the air, on the bylaws and elections process. The reason that we are concerned about bylaws is because the bylaws will determine what goes out over the air. And we should make a connection between the programming, the bylaws, the station, and the mission. We have to do that. And that will determine which people we have to put in place to protect the values that we want to express over the air. We need to find out how to avoid getting certain people in power, to avoid what happened over the last few years. How do we stop this, in the bylaws? So we should discuss two things: how bylaws relate to programming, and how the bylaws related to the takeover. If we would discuss those two things, then people would understand how important bylaws are.

Listener (Jim Dingemann): For all 5 areas there should be a LAB subcommittee that deals with the politics of communications. Because if you recall, when Pat Scott went down to be the governmental liaison to Pacifica, that's when she got cozy with the FCC and the Chairmen of the Senate and House Committees on Telecommunications. And all that was totally out of touch with the listeners. And when they went to that CPB conference and decided to raise the Arbitron levels for CPB funding, that caused all those stations to lose their licenses, that's the kind of thing that should have right away been alerted to the listeners. So every local LAB needs a group to monitor the Congressional and State legislatives initiatives that affect broadcasting communications law. And they need to just keep on top of that, because there was no way to announce that information to the public back in 95 and 96, except the teach-ins. We have to keep people educated on how these legislative issues can affect what's going on. We should reach out to the arts and humanities communities as allies, because they get attacked in the same way that CPB gets attacked, in the whole "Culture Wars" phenomenon. And that is a disgrace, what happened in 1995 and 96.

Listener: The best way to organize a discussion of the Wonderwheel bylaws would be to have someone stand up and give a presentation of them.

Listener (Phil): We could also go over the current Pacifica bylaws, one by one, and see what changes we would like to make. We could also look at KPFA's and see if we agree with that.

Listener (Dave): We are going to have to have some proposals to turn in soon, so my suggestion is that we start working on the final form of some proposals now. The proposals could follow a standard format: Statement of the proposal, purpose, pros and cons, how to implement it, ease of use by hijackers if there is a takeover, preventive mesasures against a takeover, etc. And how are we going to act if someone violates the bylaws?

Ray: My feeling is that we cannot start writing the rough draft until we have a few more meetings. Hopefully we can have a big Town Meeting with many listeners soon.

Listener (Tom Gregg): The only people in this room who are really going to make decisions are the people in the LAB and PNB, like Ray, Janice and Andy, and the rest of us only have an advisory role. We are here to give them advice. It's not our role to make concrete proposals that they have to act on. We do not have the power to force them to do anything. Second, the KPFA model relates to local LAB elections, while the Wonderwheel bylaws are a model for the National bylaws.

Ray: What I'd like to do in New Jersey is to look specifically at the role and function of the National Board, not necessarily at all the bylaws.

Listener: So you guys in the front have been charged with making the rough draft and giving it to the National Board. Don't ask us how you want to do it. Do it.

Janice (interrupting): --You'd run us out of town on a rail if we did that--

Listener:--we're here to give you ideas. You guys have a duty to perform. Figure out how you want to do it, and proceed. We are here to give you feedback, we are your feedback mechanism. Go ahead and control your feedback mechanism to get what you want from it. Also, why is the Wonderwheel proposal so great?

Listener: Because it's the only one we've got.

Listener (Bob Lederer): We ought to have a bill of rights or statement of principles, that we shouldn't leave to the whims of a future Board. This is, in essence, our constitution. So we ought to make it very difficult to go back on. So we should have an overall statement against discrimination on race, gender, etc. And a statment about Affirmative Action at all levels. Another one would be the total rejection of commercial underwriting. That is a standard policy, but it's not enshrined in the bylaws. Another one would be protection of the rights of workers at all Pacifica stations. Another one that's important, because the Pacifica Foundation has often violated it, would be that all meetings and events must be held at wheelchair-accessible places to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Listener: In the meeting on May 7th, we could bring in specific bylaws proposals, written out. And they could be written in the form that Dave suggested.

Ray: We need to talk about the relationship of power between the Executive Director and the National Board.

Janice: On May 7th, bring in concrete proposals if you have them. If not, we are going to bring in an easel, go through the bylaws and write down some concrete options.

Listener (Fred Nguyen): I would like to present the results of my questionnaires at the next meeting.

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MEETING ADJOURNED

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Appendix:
Andy Norris's presentation notes on Local Advisory Boards role and function


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