Memo Regarding Staff Conduct During Pacifica Elections
TO: Staff at all Pacifica Foundation Radio Stations
FROM: Kenny Mostern, National Election Supervisor
THROUGH: Dan Coughlin, Executive Director
RE: Several issues related to staff behavior in the Pacifica Elections:
DATE: September 13, 2004
The following memo clarifies several issues related to what staff are and are not allowed to do in the Pacifica Election, and responds to one point in the Pacifica National Board June 2004 resolution #12 pertaining to the National Elections.
1. Staff Campaigning in the Listener Election
All staff at Pacifica Foundation Radio Stations have been asked to sign the Fair Campaign Provisions, a document with 11 rules related to the national board election. This document was distributed as part of the 2004 Elections Packets in July and all staff have now received those provisions.
A significant portion of the Fair Campaign Provisions, both those stated in the bylaws and the additional Provisions adopted, concerns the behavior of staff members of the various radio stations with regard to listener elections. In particular, the bylaws draw a curtain between the staff and the listener elections such that "No Foundation or radio station management or staff (paid or unpaid) may give any on-air endorsements to any candidate(s) for Listener- Sponsor Delegate."
I have been asked for the following clarifications of the operation of this curtain:
a. Staff can make endorsements of listener candidates. Nothing in the Bylaws, or in the Fair Campaign Provisions, requires staff to remain silent about the listener elections.
b. Staff may not use any station resources available to them as staff members for publicizing their opinions about listener candidates. While it is permitted to staff to have, and to share, opinions about listener candidates, they cannot use their special access to radio station resources to do so. The bylaws clearly apply this to "on- air" time, but it has been the consistent policy of both the previous election supervisor, Terry Boricius, and of myself to extend this prohibition to the use station websites, email addresses, production facilities, and all resources available to staff members only because they are staff members.
Having said this, it permissible for staff members to use private websites (unlined to any station website) or private email accounts for promoting their preferred candidates. It is also permissible for staff to use station resources to promote candidates, as long as such resources are equally available to all members of the Foundation whether or not they are staff.
For example, if a public forum is being held at which listener phone calls are being taken, a staff member has the same right as any other member of the public to call and make positive or negative statements about a particular candidate. The test here is access to resources.
When a staff member is using resources that are available to all
members of the public, such as phone-in access to a public forum,
they are not using special access available to them only as staff.
2. Status of Management
According to the bylaws, management does not vote in the staff elections, but rather in the listener elections (assuming they have contributed $25 or otherwise fulfilled the qualifications for membership in the Foundation). However, the above-quoted bylaws provision , the on-air endorsements clause, specifically includes management in the group of people who are not allowed to use station resources to make endorsements in the listener elections. Therefore, all considerations in regard to staff in section 1 of this memo are extended to also include management.
3. The National Election Supervisor and Sanctions on Staff Members
The bylaws, Article 4, Section 6, state:
In the event of any violation of these provisions for fair campaigning, the local elections supervisor and the national elections supervisor shall determine, in good faith and at their sole discretion, an appropriate remedy, up to and including disqualification of the candidate(s) and/or suspension from the air of the offending staff person(s) (paid or unpaid) for the remainder of the elections period.
Further, the Pacifica National Board, as part of its June resolutions on the National Election, passed the following resolution:
12. [T]he Local and National Elections Supervisors shall develop policies, in consultation with the Executive Director and station managers, for approval by the National Board at the September Board meeting, setting forth detailed expectations of staff and management behavior with regard to the elections and setting forth disciplinary procedures that may be utilized by the elections supervisors to enforce the fair campaign provisions of the bylaws. This policy shall require staff and management to maintain a "hands-off" attitude towards the listener elections, including not mentioning the names of any candidates (or slates of candidates) except in a neutral manner as part of an election supervisor approved candidate program, and shall also prohibit any listener candidate from appearing or being mentioned on the air on any program at any station where s/he is a candidate following the close of nominations, except as part of an election supervisor approved candidate program.
Fair Campaign Provisions number 1, 3, 7, and 8, and Parts 1 and 2 of this memo are the policies that the National Election Supervisor has promulgated in response to this resolution of the Board. Board approval of these rules is now duly requested.
Inasmuch as the bylaws clearly state that in my role as National Election Supervisor I have the right to suspend a staff person from the air in the event of the violation of these rules, I add the following:
If, between September 25, 2004 and November 15, 2004 (the election period) a staff member should violate the Fair Campaign Provisions on-air, they will be suspended from being on-air until the close of the election period.
Unless I am otherwise instructed by an additional resolution of the National Board, this is the only sanction the National Election Supervisor shall impose on any staff member. Other possible sanctions, such as placement of a letter in the staff member's file, suspension from pay, or termination, appear to me to be clearly outside the purview of the Election Supervisor, and are only to be imposed only by Station or Foundation Management.
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