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Clarification of Fair Campaign Provisions concerning staff


TO: LSB Staff and listener candidates
WBAI paid and unpaid staff
Don Rojas, Bernard White

FROM: Caleb Kleppner, WBAI Local Election Supervisor

RE: Clarification of Fair Campaign Provisions concerning staff
participation in candidate forums and use of other station resources

DATE: October 28, 2004

This memo attempts to clarify the implications of the Fair Campaign Provisions (FCPs) for staff participation in candidate forums and use of other station resources.

Provision #1, "No Foundation or radio station management or staff (paid or unpaid) may use or permit the use of radio station air time to endorse, campaign or recommend in favor of, or against any candidates for election as a Listener-Sponsor Delegate."

Provision #3 reads, "No foundation or radio station management or staff (paid or unpaid) may give any on-air endorsements to any candidates for Listener-Sponsor Delegate.

Provision #8 reads, "Station Resources: No station resources, including, but not limited to staff services, equipment, and meeting space may be provided unequally to some candidates but not others."

In consultation with National Election Supervisor Kenny Mostern, we have already ruled that:

1. Staff candidates are not permitted to endorse listener candidates and slates in their candidate statements, which are posted on the station's website and printed and mailed to all staff members;
2. Programmers may not support or oppose listener candidates on the air;
3. Staff may not endorse listener candidates in a privately-funded mailing to members.

We wish to clarify how these same principles apply to:

1. Candidate forums that include staff candidates,
2. Other station-publicized events, and
3. On air resources, such as call-ins to shows.

The following guidelines shall apply to staff candidate forums, other station-publicized events and other on air resources:
1. Station staff may not call in to shows to support or oppose listener candidates, whether or not they identify themselves as staff. Such air time is a station resource, and staff can't use station resources to promote or oppose listener candidates.
2. Listener and staff portions of candidate forums should be separate events, which means that staff and listener candidates may not appear on the same panels or groups.
3. Station staff may not participate in the listener portion candidate forums. On the other hand, listeners may participate in the staff portion of candidate forums in the same way staff who are not candidates are able to participate in the staff portion of a candidate forum.
4. During the staff portion of a candidate forum, staff candidates may not support or oppose listener candidates. Because the slates contain listener candidates, staff candidate must refrain from mentioning slate affiliations. Instead, they are free to support or oppose specific staff candidates, and they are free to discuss any station-related issues that do not support or oppose listener candidates.

Violations of these guidelines will generally lead to additional air of the carts of harmed candidates, but repeated or egregious violations will lead to more severe penalties.

I apologize if these guidelines appear to conflict with earlier memoranda about the Fair Campaign Provisions. The FCP make it clear that staff may not support or oppose listener candidate using station resources, and a candidate forum promoted by the station is definitely a station resource.

If you have any questions or concerns about them, please don't hesitate to contact me at 212-561-1525 or elections@wbai.org.

Below you will find a few possible methods for conducting combined listener and staff forums that comply with the FCP and the clarifications and guidelines above. Organizers and moderators of candidate forums are responsible for the format and facilitation of their forums, so the following are merely options:

Ways of structuring the listener and candidate forums:

1. Hold the listener candidate forum first for 90 minutes or so, and then hold the staff candidate forum second, presumably for 45 minutes or so.
2. Hold the listener candidate forum in one room and simultaneously hold the staff candidate forum in another room.

Ways of structuring statements and questions in a forum:

3. Allow all candidates to make short opening statements, then take 60-90 second questions from the audiences, and give every candidate the opportunity to answer each question, with perhaps 60 second responds. Then give each candidate time for a closing statement. The candidate who speaks first should rotate from open statement to each question to closing statements.
4. Divide the candidates into 3 or 4 groups, with each one balanced among the various factions. Then divide the audience into an equal number of groups. Give each audience group an equal amount of time with each candidate group, and let the audience decide how to use that time.
5. Be creative, come up with your own approach, but be ruthlessly equal in your treatment of all candidates.

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