On Listener Empowerment 7-2-01
off the newpacifica list
From: Mark Hernandez <markh@r...>
On Mon, 2 Jul 2001 Renteria22@a... wrote:
> If you're serious about listener empowerment in Pacifica, and if you're
It's a group, formed to sit around and talk. "Discussion Group", correct? Why do we need to sit around (again) and discuss (again) in yet another group (again)?
The fact that it was _Pacifica_ that called for the settlement conference is telling; it's a signal, now, that the time for action has indeed come to pass, and that we need to be in place to take advantage of this.
The time for a "national steering group" was _last_ year, while everything was stagnant and stalled...and Juan Gonzales finally got things going by setting up the Pacifica Campaign, while all the listener groups squabbled over wanting to be "in charge" and "getting credit" for doing it themselves.
> The job of the NSCDG is this - for elected reps from _all_ listener groups to
All this time, the listener groups couldn't agree to work together, outside of Berkeley.
And now we are to expect them to work _between_ communities, and without full input from those communities through a democratic process.
I'm sorry, but no matter how you slice it, it still comes up as a well-meaning but nonetheless elitist organization, whether it is the FPIOC, the NSCDG or the NSC itself, if it does not submit itself to a vote of the individual listener.
> Those gathered named a committee to contact listener groups to ask them to
I'm sorry, but what do you mean by "most listener groups have elected reps to the Discussion Group"?
From the information on the FPIOC pages, only about five people have actually been "elected".
All the rest are apparently rollovers from the ad hoc setup group.
Who has been "elected" to this "Steering Committee"? If there are no secrets, then who is on this group and what affiliations do they have?
Do they, in fact, represent "most listener groups"?
> No one is trying to get anything over on anyone. The people in Houston,
Fair? Not in the least.
This whole movement is predicated on the principles of free speech and democracy. It has generally been agreed that this will be achieved through listener-empowerment and, in fact, that is one of the most pressing issues in the court battle, as shown in at least the Spooner suit, as well as in the LAB and dissident PNB member suits. Both the latter are in essence a demand to an accountable PNB, while the Spooner suit in essence states that the whole is subject to the masses, not the elite.
This "national steering committee" is little more than an act which will once again disenfranchise the listener/subscribers, even though you may not realize it now.
> Our movement has suffered deeply from localism, and Pacifica itself has
Were it not for "localism" as you call it, KPFA would never have drawn over 15,000 protesters into the streets.
Were it not for "localism" as you call it, Camp KPFA would never have formed, and those protests never would have happened.
Were it not for "localism" as you call it, literally hundreds of people would not have swarmed KPFA upon hearing Dennis Bernstein being assaulted and KPFA abruptly going to music.
Were it not for "localism", we would not be seeing these numerous local groups, all supporting a different facet of what was lost at each of the stations, rallying in support of those ideals and working towards restoring..._local_ programs.
It is because of that alone the idea of a "national group" will likely not work...too many local areas have committed to their stations, and trying to overlay a "national group" to tell them how things are going to be from now on?
To paraphrase your subject line...Are You Serious?
> For what its worth, and for whoever cares, I have no plans to sit on either
Okay, but if asked, will you refuse?
> There are other questions that pertain to the relationship between the
Given some of the mischaracterizations of how the civil process works, I'll be very interested in seeing your analysis, as opposed to a lecture on what is right/wrong with the lawsuits from your perspective.
Keep in mind, however, that interference in the legal process is a 'bad thing'...whether it is demanding the plaintiffs do something that their attornies have advised against, or trying to impose/mandate how the case is to be prosecuted.
I'd much rather not see our best chance for a peaceful resolution be destroyed for a short-term political gain that only benefits a small few.
Mark Hernandez markh@r...
On Mon, 2 Jul 2001 Renteria22@a... wrote:
> If you're serious about listener empowerment in Pacifica, and if you're
From: Debbie Speer <satrngrl@p...>
I am serious about listener empowerment in Pacifica. I am still highly skeptical about the need for this rather bureaucratic-sounding entity, and am confident that if it is all that is advertised someone will answer my many questions that I don't have time at this very moment to spell out. I have to leave for work in a few minutes. However, you do open a few doors here for a couple of quick ones (please see below).
>>Our movement has suffered deeply from localism, and Pacifica itself has sufffered many losses due to the PNB's ability to take over and isolate stations like KPFT, KPFK, and WPFW, one by one. Ours is s national struggle, and we whould have a national body that represents all the localities, because of that.<<
Here I have to disagree. It sounds like something Pat Scott would say. The very localism that forced PNB to attempt to take stations one by one also prevented Berry from taking them all down together. The ability of individual stations and their supporters to remain to fight is very likely what will save Pacifica in the end. Station autonomy and listener empowerment at the station level - and from the ground UP - is what I thought we were struggling for. Not for yet another top-down bureaucracy.
>>For what its worth, and for whoever cares, I have no plans to sit on either the Discussion Group or its final product, the National Steering Committee.<<
You've already mentioned in other postings - one to Juan Gonzalez and another to Carol Spooner - that you weren't a member of NSC or NSCDG. Obviously that would be true as they apparently haven't been formed yet, if I am understanding this somewhat convoluted process correctly. Why didn't you say so in the first place? I'm seeing the touting of committees that do not yet exist. Please clarify.
From: tecsvcs <tecsvcs@y...>
--- Renteria22@a... wrote:
tell us why this effort isn't redundant, and unnecessary.
tell us how this supports the democratized station boards, and doesn't interfere with them.
> Our movement has suffered deeply from localism, and
i'll respectfully suggest that the efforts of the pnb to destroy the network were enabled, not by "localism," but rather by the cronyism represented by LABs that were appointed, not elected. nothing more complex than that the listeners had no ability to stop the takeover.
> Ours is s national struggle, and we whould have a
we will. it will be called the Pacifica National Board. it will be wholly elected, both directly and indirectly, by the listeners. "appointments" to the PNB will be forbidden in the bylaws. "at large" seats will be directly elected, and the other seats will be comprised of members of station boards who themselves have been directly elected by listeners.
> There are other questions that pertain to the
thanks for writing.
The group in Houston had no power to do anything other than make a proposal to the listener groups across the country. It is not illegitimate to make a proposal.
A clear majority of listener groups throughout the country discussed this proposal in open meetings and approved it, them elected through their own democratic processes their own representatives to the NSC DIscussion Group.
The representatives on the Discussion Group will and can only have the powers that their local organizations give them. Any plan they propose will have to be approved by local groups just as the original proposal was.
That the proposal was taken as approved and presented to the various listener groups around the country for their discussion and approval makes it the single most inclusive and accountable process that has occured in the movement to date.
The arguments being put forth against the National Steering Committee Discussion Group hinge on one central idea: that listener groups are illegitimate and haven't the right to elect members to a body to coordinate themselves nationally.
The first argument is that the listener groups don't represent all the listeners. That's true. The listener groups represent themselves, and together they make up the free Pacifica movement.
I don't imagine for a moment that anyone in the listener groups would claim to represent the fans of Marc Cooper and Mark Schubb in LA, the fans of the English Only country - folk - Public Radio International format of KPFT in Houston, or the overwhelmingly white audience that listens to the jazz format at WPFW - nor, for that matter, would they claim to represent the Utrice Leid supporters in the WBAI audience.
Nor should they. The argument that the listener groups have to represent all the listeners is specious. What the listener groups do represent is those across the country who are most concerned with restoring the Pacifica Mission- that and that alone is what they have to represent. That, combined with their commitment to democracy in Pacifica is the source of their legitimacy.
The listener groups have every right to have excercised their own discretion to elect representatives, and to democratize their movement at a national level.
The second argument against the NSCDG is that its form and the manner of its creation were undemocratic. This is a phenomenal illogic.
The NSCDG was _proposed_ to the listener groups that they might _explore_ a structure for coordinating their activiteis nationally. Some 80 to 100 people made the proposal, and it was thier right to do so.
It was also the right of listner groups around the country to consider that proposal and to vote whether or not to elect representatives to that body, and, on so deciding, to choose those representatives through democratic methods.
Most did exactly that. The fact that an error or two occured in the outreach process does not invalidate the overwhelmingly transparent and democratic process that did occur.
The third argument, and the one that's really at the crux of the matter, is whether or not the organized listeners throughout the country have a right to consider asserting their positions with respect to any settlements in the lawsuits.
If the listener groups don't have that right, then who does, one might ask?
The final argument is that the NSCDG is a PLU "plot."
My own position is this. I felt the PLU could elect reps to this body on three bases.
The first depended on the number of reps elected by the various Concerned Friends groups. This remains unclear.
The second depended on whether the Pacifica Campaign became a listener based organization. Following a proposal in NY that it become just that, and following an in depth debate - the Pacifica Campaigh decided not to become a listener based group.
The third criteria was based on size. The PLU showed tremendous potential as a national organization for a time, but has failed to realize its numeric potential, in my personal view.
I'm not foolish enough to fail to understand the political implications of that, especially the Pacifica Campaign question and the question of the PLU's size on the ground. Speaking only for myself, I haven't pushed for each PLU local to elect a rep. In fact, the only local that's chosen to represent itself on the NSCDG is the Houston group. More power to them.
But in my view, that's where it stops. I want accountable democracy to develop in the movement - on principle - and want it more fundamentally than I want PLU to gain some illusory hegemony.
I don't expect for a moment that this note will cause the arguments being put forth by the somewhat underly- critical critics to cease. To the contrary.
The stakes revolve around power.
As long as the question of power, especially the connection between meaningful democratic power for the organized listeners remains unresolved, and as long as the question of the organized listener's role in any future settlement talks remains open, there will be those who choose to attack democratic structures like the NSCDG and pretend that they are other than what they are.
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