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The listener's lawsuit and negotiations 10-28-01

From: Rfbhome@a...
Date: Sun Oct 28, 2001 7:15 am
Subject: Re: Mediate this!

Dear Jim,

I defer to the commentaries by Mark and Roger M. on the mediation, but on the subject of the listeners' lawsuit I have a few observations I'd like to share.

I have recently been reading the exchange of posts in which you bitterly castigate the listeners (including, no doubt, the 7,500 who have signed declarations supporting the listeners' lawsuit) for being sheep in following the "leaders" who are plaintiffs in the three or four suits. You seem to insist that these suits - especially the so-called listeners' suit - do not represent you because you (and we) were not able to vote on what claims should be made.

I hasten to point out to you that when Carol Spooner initiated this suit in 1999, it was the action of one principled individual born of desperation following the KPFA firings and station lockout. Carol had the prescience to understand that listener protest was worth nothing to the Board usurpers, and that they would just continue to hijack Pacifica in a variety of offensive (and I mean this in both senses) moves.

We were all supposed to vote on this??? Hello. Wake up and smell the manure that was being shoveled on the New York listeners by the WBAI team. Most - like the proverbial mushrooms - accepted without question the denials pouring out of the radio when anyone like Patty and other early stalwarts phoned in to question Pacifica's policies.

I don't know what was going on in Los Angeles in 1999, in terms of listener outrage, but I can tell you what wasn't going on here in what was truly "la-la land" for most listeners.

We are goddam lucky that Carol had the strength of her convictions and the tenacity to put this suit together, get it funded and persist in the face of overwhelming odds. Because, by god, WBAI listeners were for the most part sitting in ignorance their collective asses here in the NY metro region - lulled into a false sense of security by -YES - the famous fired and banned!! Can you imagine if she'd tried to marshall a bunch of listeners who didn't know zip and waited for a collective to vote on how to proceed. Naivete, thy name is Jim!

About the lawsuits: I am wondering what precisely you, as a listener, object to in the following, or where you see your interests might have been more perfectly represented.

The California Attorney General, who has oversight responsibility for Pacifica because it is chartered in the State of California as a "nonprofit public benefit corporation", has appointed 12 listeners from its five radio stations across the country to bring suit in the public interest to remove the majority of the Pacifica Board of Directors.

The "listeners'" attorneys specialize in public interest law. The suit includes claims for:
(1) Breach of a charitable trust by Pacifica's Board of Directors over the past decade by diverting Pacifica from its founding purposes of independence and vigorous free speech.
(2) Gross abuse of their authority and discretion and usurpation of office by the majority of the Pacifica board.
(3) Self-dealing by directors, as well as damages for waste of Pacifica trust funds and money spent on activities not authorized under Pacifica's charter.
(4) Illegal bylaws amendments in 1997 and 1999 stripping local station community boards of their right to elect and remove directors.
(5) Failure by Pacifica to meet legal requirements for fair, reasonable and consistent democratic processes for nomination and election of both Local Station Boards and Pacifica Foundation directors.

You have stated that "the current set of lawsuits will not decide the future of Pacifica except for some very small items (like going back to the pre-1997 bylaws...) Where we go from there is up in the air."

I beg to disagree.

In addition to the five claims above, the listeners' suit seeks court orders requiring the remaining directors to amend the bylaws to provide listener-sponsors with legal "membership" status and voting rights and to hold democratic elections of local boards and directors within one year. As of right now the listeners are not "members" of the Pacifica Foundation and have no rights; the assets are held by the Foundation which has the right, under California nonprofit corporation law, to dispose of them in whatever manner they deem appropriate - short of enriching themselves in the process.

I understood from Carol, in her talk to the Concerned Friends in Rockland, that the charter cannot be changed - only the bylaws can be changed. The suits seek to return the bylaws to their legal status and then to legally amend them to include provisions for democratic governance of the Foundation.

Since the listeners' suit seeks court appointed elections within one year, it seems to me, that the real concern about democracy will center on the creation of mechanisms for democratic elections - which, for my money, has always been the concern.

So, my question to you is this: Where exactly in these causes of action are the "leaders" consolidating power at the expense of "some" listeners like yourself?

I hope that you specifically address the points covered above.

Ruth "Supporter of the listeners' lawsuit since its inception in 1999" Benson


--- In NewPacifica@y..., Jim DeMaegt wrote:
> If the mediations do not settle the lawsuits a kind and wise judge will solve
> all of our problems in keeping with the American system of justice. Our
> "leaders" will litigate our case for us. We just need to sit back and
> observe. Cool.
> Things are in great shape. With the "leaders" and the mediator and the
> judge all involved in this I think that things will work out fine. If there
> are still problems don't forget that we have the "dissident" PNB members and
> the "liberals" (like Bob Farrell) to set them straight. All of the foregoing
> groups seem to work together very well. Personally I am waiting for Dick
> Gregory to chim in on this. He was sure very good in the civil right movment
> so I for one woudl not hesitate a bit to put the entire future of Pacific
> ain his trustworthy hands. (In cooperation with the other "leaders" ,
> mediators, judges and liberals of course)
> So the listeners are well "represented" in the "listeners" lawsuit which
> is what we should be concentrating on an not all of this other stuff. Some
> of the listeners (like myself) do not qualify to be "represented" in the
> "listeners" lawsuit because they are not cooperative enough, they did not
> get in on it from the beginning and well they just are not "legit". But
> most of the (sheep like) listeners are very satisfied.
> So do nothing at this time. We are in good hands and the situation is
> well under control.
> Jim "It is getting harder and harder to cause serious trouble in this day
> and age" " DeMaegt

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