some back and forth
These are just some of the many recent posts on various discussion lists regarding the constituency/inclusion model of determining members of governing boards within Pacifica. There is also some discussion of the intention to keep the "Unity Causus's" (a WBAI area group) meetings (for working on the constituency/inclusion model) closed.
This website, wbai.net, is the site of Coalition for a Democratic Pacifica - NY,
which is, while entirely in agreement with the constituency/inclusion models' call
for greater diversity and outreach, opposed to there being any appointed seats.
To examine the constituency/inclusion models and other proposals go to the
- Roger M
Does the fact that someone is not a white male make them progressive? This is getting ridiculous. Determining whether or not Republicans like something or not means nothing to whether or not we elect or appoint our LAB. Whether the system ends up being one of where a few people determine who ends up on the LAB or whether a large number of people decide this.
Since most of the leaders of the Republican Party these days support the idea that Democracy means that people get to vote for who you allow them to vote for does not mean that the proposals of the Unity Caucus are also necessarily bad. Or does it?
The news from the morning show is most disturbing. It certainly makes the results look preordained here. If
this committee does not produce a result which allows certain individuals to remain on the LAB and to control
who is appointed to the new LAB then the committee will be ignored. You may call it inclusive if you like, but I
call it something other than democratic or even representative.
----- Original Message -----
You REALLY THINK that right-wing would support a ballot giving people of color at least 18 of 30 seats, at least 15 seats to women, with 12 filled by various movement activists, disabled and artists?
Let me address the question as to whether candidates of color, women and other categories would be progressive, for the ump-teenth time.
All inclusion models speak of the recruitment of progressive people of color and women, and other categories. Not just external criteria.
My model of inclusion requires the creation of a Nominations Committee, made up of LAB members and a representative group of Pacifica activists, similar to the GM Search Committee.
This Committee would recruit and nominate candidates deemed committeed in word and deed to the Pacifica Mission. Those candidates would receive the Committee nomination as a means of informing the electorate which candidates are progressive, and which are not (more candidates could be nominated than the number of seats).
--- In WBAIBylaws@y..., Steve@G... wrote:
The way you describe the selection (please not the word, "selection" as opposed to election) of candidates in the constituency model is the very way that the Democratic and Republican parties select their candidates and then ask us to vote for them--take it or leave it... People who are on the inside, who are very ambitious (for better or worse, usually for worse, since ambition trumps altruism every time), people who have charmed or persuaded or bulldozered or lackeyed their way to be chosen by a some local, powerful organization--then rise up in a very tightly controlled (from the top) party organization that admits of no deviance or opposition--thus effectively eliminating the space and air needed for freedom and creativity to breathe. The Party Line is towed or you are tossed out. Now, even if there were some way that people could truly agree and then set up to judge others on what the mission is--whch I find doubtful, it is still a small group of controlling people of a certain cast or ideology that will SELECT candidates-- from which pre-approved and sanitized and beholding candidates, the great mass of assumedly unenlightened voters will choose the final winners.
Paul, I really believe, as I have said before, that this system is favored only by people who want to remain in power themselves and/or to make sure that a certain ideology is followed without any slack or disagreement--no matter how benign these people may think their ideology is. This is operating out of a kind of concious or unconscious insecurity. Just one instance of something I'm talking about... All due respect for the great contributions of Mimi and Errol, but a great many of the producers at WBAI do not understand why they are still on the LAB, way after their terms have expired.
The basic point is this: To have real equality in any organization or movement, you must trust the basic instincts and intelligence of the single unit member or voter. You must give every voter (however we finally decide that is to be defined) one vote and abide by their final decision. Filtering and selection and choosing the most "correct" candidates is a serious perversion of the principle of government of the people, by the people and for the people.
If the constituency or "Inclusion" model (which I see as Ex-clusionary) is ultimately followed, we will have nothing less than a kind of politically correct and vindictive politburo running our station (there are strong currents of that already, and that has happened because everything is done in closed meetings and with endless calculation). And this politiburo will find the most natural thing in the world to throw people out of the station or off the air who don't follow the wishes and beliefs of the politburo.
Now, you don't work at the station, Paul, but let me tell you that there are several people there (as there are on various listener group boards and on various lists on-line) who would have no difficulty in banning and firing people who didn't conform to their idea of what the "mission is"--thus effectively destroying thought and creativity and ruining our radio station--just the way it was almost ruined last year.
From: recluserecluse - glennhoward@y...
It appears to me that the constituency model, in all its forms, is only an attempt to make elections safe for autocracy. In democracy, the people who make the decisions are accountable to the people on whose behalf they are making them. Procedures which interfere with this accountability only benefit the supposed representatives, to the detriment of those allegedly represented.
More specifically, how can people who don't listen to WBAI govern it? Also, how can people be adequately represented by those whose claim to represent them rests merely on a shared race, gender or other such characteristic? This is a neat dodge to avoid having to be chosen by those you claim to speak for. Whatever one's race, gender, disability or other such characteristic may entitle one to, surely it is still the one being spoken for to decide who best represents him or her. Let him or her decide what weight to give the shared identity characteristic in choosing the best person to represent him or her. It is not right for the electoral process to short-circuit the autonomy of the oppressed themselves; or anyone else's, either.
In a message dated 7/10/02 12:37:05 AM Eastern Daylight Time, email@example.com writes:
I saw the info for monday's "WBAI RADIO IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM" meeting and posted in on wbai.net and on some of the lists because the word didn't seem to getting out.
I was told at the meeting that it was and invitation only meeting, though confusion was understandable because this was not mentioned in the announcement.
After the meeting I emailed the moderator
Anthony Mackall, but couldn't get it to go
through, so I'll post it here as an open letter:
From: jaydub16@a... [Anthony Mackall]
While we don't know each other well, I appreciate and have respected your internet reporting and posting services the WBAI/Pacifica community.
However, your so called "open" email to me on the 'Bylaws listserv is inappropriate.
[You should have tried a little harder to communicate directly with me. Your email arrived over 26 hours after the meeting about which you wrote. During that same period I received -- apparently without difficulty-- several dozen direct emails and numerous phone calls. How convenient... that you were somehow unable to get a direct email "to go through" to me. It's also too bad that you didn't get my tel. # (over the 26 hrs) and give me a call. AIthough many use our list servs inappropriately, I would have expected you, as one who maintains an important and respected Web site in our struggle, to know better. I thought that you were a "netizen" ( one who uses the internet in a progressive, principled manner) and mindful of basic netizen ethics/protocol.]
More importantly, your very public email had some inaccuracies that are misleading and potentially divisive. I neither felt nor expressed any "worry" before or during the meeting about excluding people.
Before the meeting, a few attendees did ask me if I had a clue as to why our planning meeting was on various list servs. I suggested that they touch base with you for clarification. I then brought you folks together and left after a minute or two. I was amicable and every one else seemed quite civil as well. I thought you had all resolved any confusion within a few more minutes. One or two people were also concerned before the meeting about the intentions of a few other attendees that have been consistent critics of the "constituency approach". I believed they civilly and directly raised and resolved their concerns in a couple of minutes. I am not aware of any thing else. ...Or why you chose to comment "at me" or about the meeting as you have. Personally, I was mildly yet pleasantly surprised to see you at a planning meeting of constituency proponents. I find your comments counter-productive. Maybe those who were wary, had good reason.
At the beginning of the meeting, I stated its purpose and encouraged all the attendees to move into a closer configuation that would facilitate communication.
The meeting was called by activists to better figure out how we can work together to reach and mobilize more oppressed, exploited and underrepresented sectors of the WBAI/Pacifica listening community. Our purpose is to help ensure greater inclusion and involvement of listeners from these sectors in the station/network's "rebirth". These sectors are often called constituencies. People were there to sum up where this issue of broader listener inclusion is, and to try to effectively go forward. This was the consistent theme--the only theme.
Well, it is said that as the contradictions in a struggle sharpen/heighten, we can gain clearer
understanding/analysis of that struggle (including the roles and functions of its participants). This contradiction
has helped me gain more clarity about you. Thanks.
From: anita dutt - ard1626@h...
Roger and all,
Thanks for the thoughtful note; also
adding to the confusion I think was the
location and time (both regular time
and place of many past open meetings
Anthony, my responses to your posts are interspersed below:
At 2:08 AM -0400 7/11/02, jaydub16@a...
Anthony, I'm puzzled at your response to Anita: this is the message that Roger posted, but I don't see any criticism, much less cavalier and misleading criticism, in it:
Your response to Roger regarding the meeting Monday July 8, however, was quite hostile, and is full of "groundless--not to mention, public " criticism of him. Your statement about not excluding people (your complete post is below [refering to post above]) is, to put it politely, misleading:
You are probably referring to me, and perhaps to Pam Somers: Pam and I entered the meeting together, sat next to each other, and were approached by Fred Nguyen, who gave us an insulting, patronizing lecture,the gist of which was this: this was a private meeting, the notice for it was posted by mistake. We were not on the list of invitees, but rather than ask us to leave, he would just warn us that this was not about discussing elections issues or voting processes. It was a meeting he, Fred Nguyen, had called, of a group called the Unity Caucus, to discuss the Constituency Model and how to implement it at WBAI, and if we raised any issues about proportional choice voting or elections process he would intervene and ask us to leave. He had not invited us and did not want any "trouble" from us. I understand from your post to Roger that you conferred with Fred before he spoke with us, so I assume he spoke with your approval. We were both very uncomfortable at his tone.
When you called on me to give a brief statement on, if I recall, how I got involved with WBAI, I understood, after Fred's threatening language, that it was a political act designed to deflect criticism of this exclusionary meeting (See? I even called on Carolyn to speak! For 30 seconds! How can you call this a closed meeting?) You will notice that neither Pam nor I voted when you called for votes: we were both intimidated by Fred's hostile opening statement and threats.
I am distressed at several points raised during the meeting, not the least of which is that WBAI, in the person of Bernard White and several producers present, promised air time and support for discussion of this appointed seats model a/k/a the constituency model; that WBIX's Ryme Katkhouda and Erroll Maitland also promised on-air support for this organizing effort. The fact that WBAI and WBIX are using station money and resources not only to deny listeners air time to discuss governance issues but also to support an appointed-seats model of governance in defiance of the settlement terms, the listeners, and the national board resolutions is also disturbing. The station is evidently giving time, money, and resources (listener supplied, need I add?) to promote a policy that, if followed, will return WBAI to the control of a cabal that clearly intends to use it for limited political purposes. This is NOT what we fought for. This use of resources is, I suspect, illegal and should be questioned closely by the listeners and by the National Board, as some LAB members are complicit in this effort, while others are others are unaware and perhaps intimidated at the prospect of raising these issues.
Don't misunderstand me here: I applaud the organizing that your group has done in communities not yet on board at WBAI, and among groups of people who have not supported WBAI or Pacifica in the past. This is organizing that members of the Elections Committee of Concerned Friends was calling on the LAB to do last year but was unable to do itself, and that you have reached out and contacted people heretofore outside of the fold is wonderful. I only hope it continues and that you can broaden your reach even further to include other ethnic and unrepresented groups. But I disagree with the purposes for which you are organizing these activist community leaders: according to Joe Kaye, Mimi Rosenberg, and other spokespeople of the Committee for Progressive Radio (CPR), your intention is to recruit leaders of established community groups to represent members of "the community" and demand that they be seated on the Local Advisory Board WITHOUT RUNNING FOR ELECTION IN THE MANDATED ELECTION PROCESS.
If I understand correctly, your group assumes that people selected by whatever process you decide on, or who are selected by groups of your choosing, have a RIGHT to seats, without having any obligation to be chosen by the listeners of WBAI in the elections process that is mandated for implementation this year. I find this, quite simply, an attack on the elections and democratization that we listeners, and some producers ( thought evidently not all). have fought for for so long.
I find this statement of yours particularly misleading:
To say that "to effectively go forward" was "the only theme" of your meeting belies statements made by documents and speakers. Several things were made clear on Monday: the proponents of the points of view stated at this meeting do not want free and open and fair elections of LAB or Board members, do not intend to educate listeners about the true history of Pacifica, about how appointed seats and unaccountable LAB and Board members helped tale down WBAI , about the long-standing censorship of listeners on the air and off -- successfully implemented by the present management as well as the past. I fear that these efforts of yours and theirs are leading WBAI in a full circle back to the kind of government by cronyism that we fought so hard to get away from.
I am sorry to have to say all of this, because your potential for outreach and your excellent organizing should be put to purposes that will support democratization at WBAI, not facilitate its failure. I hope that, as you come to study elections methods that guarantee a voice to many heretofore poorly represented people, you will realize that selecting, appointing, and allowing leaders to self-select members of WBAI's local governing board is doing a grave disservice to "the community" they profess to represent. Ever since it was introduced, proponents of the appointed seats (constituency model) method have been asked how they could guarantee that leaders chosen would be truly representative of the many subgroups and factions of any one ethnic or political community. The answer, as I heard it on Monday, is that leaders from well-established groups will be chosen as those representatives. Which still leaves the questions of Which groups? and Who chooses them?
On the other hand, proportional choice voting method was selected and used successfully by KPFA in two elections precisely because it gives small groups a large voice: in a slate with 20 candidates, for instance, it takes only 5% of the electorate to elect a candidate. Your method of appointing "established leaders" of community groups would deny listeners of WBAI the right to that selection, so I must oppose that model of self-selection being promoted by the Unity Caucus, CPR, and by members of WBIX and WBAI staff and supporters. I hope that you will look again at the elections process, and realize that, if you really want members of the under-served to have a voice at Pacifica and WBAI, everyone concerned should be educating them on the air about the issues. Appointed seats/constituency model promises a few people a lot of power, without having the bother of standing for election.
My further question is, what are these prospective appointed LAB members afraid of, that they do not want to stand for election in the communities they purport to represent? If as has been said, people have had such terrible experiences with American democracy, perhaps it is our job to educate the listening public about how at least one voting method can work to ensure their representation in the election results. The "method" that operates in American government today is nothing like the voting method being proposed for Pacifica's elections, local and national.
How can we educate the listeners to, instead of accepting another round of self-appointed leaders, vote for their own choices intelligently? Perhaps that is the issue your meeting on July 22nd should address. I hope you will open the floor to an honest appraisal of the actual choices open to all the listeners.
I'm sending this email to you and cc'ing to Paul Surovell, but feel free to post it anywhere. I'm hoping you'll have the time to read it carefully.
First, I want to say that I like you and always enjoy and appreciate the way you treat me in our conversations etc. I didn't feel good about how you characterized my open letter on the bylaws list, but we all often respond harshly and perhaps inaccurately when our buttons are pushed. I'm determined to not let that exchange cause me to dislike you or anyone.
I guess the issue involving my posting last Monday's meeting announcement and, then later, my open letter is whether or not I acting properly with regard to type of information. As I said in a post to Paul Surovell, I made a judgement call and decided that it was it was public information. We disagree on that point.
As anyone that visits wbai.net regularly can see, there is a lot of stuff circulating on the net that I could, but don't post. I try to avoid muck raking (don't post any of the confusion from Houston) and things that fuel in-fighting. Admittedly, the site is biased in favor of democracy at Pacifica (it is the site of Coalition for a Democratic Pacifica -NY after all), as well as transparency and accountability. The more information, the better. I'm particularly interested in posting proposals etc that are controversial so that people can get a good clear look at them and make up their own mind. I, for one, believe that people in the Pacifica community will make good decisions when they are thoroughly informed.
One of the main reasons I go to meetings is to get a truer feel for what is really going on. I started maintaining wbai.net around Jan. 2001, and for months avoided going to meetings as a sort of an effort to remain somewhat neutral and avoid burnout. But when a lot of the second hand accounts I heard of what was going on were filtered through anger, I started going to as many meetings as possible in order to get a clearer picture. I slowly got to know people on various sides of issues who had been demonized by their counterparts and found that it was possible to get along with, and even like just about everyone.
Needless to say, people considered to be connected with the "elections cabal"
have a heavy distrust of the "constituency" cabal and vise versa.
My opinion so far regarding the constituency/inclusion model is that it is around 90% right-on. Diversity is essential. But there's no clear procedure outlined as to who picks the constituencies and who picks the appointees. In any case, the number of groups chosen and people that end up on the board would be extremely limited as would the number of people doing the choosing. It's really not very practical and there's little chance of real fairness. And what if we (you, me, or even a majority of the local Pacifica community) feel very strongly against an appointee? Tough luck? I say put together a solid program for recruiting these candidates and getting their constituencies involved and I, as will many others, will vote for the most disenfranchised progressive candidates qualified for the position. And if the only thing holding the candidate back is knowledge of Pacifica, I personally volunteer to help train or whatever.
The thing is though, that it seems that people may be cloaking a desire for control behind the highly moral issue of diversity. In all honesty, the selection portion of the constituency/inclusion model does very little towards guaranteeing real diversity. If one comes to a true understanding of proportional representation, they will see that it's one of the closest systems to date for achieving diversity, provided it's coupled with a rigorous outreach and recruitment effort.
The best solution to achieving an honest effort towards diversity at Pacifica/wbai is a combination of the constituency/inclusion concepts and the proportional representation method.
Thanks for your work.
See you soon,
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