wbai.net Pacifica/WBAI history   events   links   archive   bylaws etc   gov. proposals
PNB   LSB   elections   contact info   opinion   search

Proposed bylaws to prevent takeover through elections

Safeguarding the Mission -- Three Proposed Lines of Defense

Pacifica survived as a progressive institution without elections (except by staffs) for about 45 years. The mission remained intact through a structure of local boards of progressive activists that appointed new members and representatives to the national board. However, this structure eventually proved inadequate to protect against a hostile takeover from within.

We are about to initiate a new structure of power based on elections (and recall) by listeners and staffs that protects Pacifica against a possible replay of the hijacking of the foundation by a small number of directors at the top.

However, the elections process creates new opportunities for a hostile takeover that were not available under the old system of self-appointment. Fortunately, we can protect the foundation against these threats through the bylaws.

There are two main circumstances that arise out of the elections process that need to be addressed by protective bylaws:

A. The former hijackers successfully mainstreamed programming for many years at three of the five Pacifica stations. The staffs and listenerships were developed and shaped accordingly. The process of restoring the mission at these stations has begun, but the transition process is from complete. Elections held under these conditions would not be mission-based but would be based in large part on the legacy of the hijackers.

B. After the mission has been restored at all five stations, the foundation remains vulnerable to a takeover by the intervention of skilled and well-funded organizations or individuals hostile to the Pacifica mission who could "buy" control of the network by funding enough memberships to win an election. Such an effort would be legal, inexpensive and relatively easy for many organizations that would like to silence Pacifica's voice for peace and social justice.

A Bylaws Proposal to Safeguard the Mission through Three Lines of Defense:

This proposal is based on two KPFA elections guidelines: C.6 (grandfathering) and D.14 (board approval of elections).

(1) The First Line of Defense.

To address circumstance "A" -- the absence of mission-based conditions in three of Pacifica's five stations, Dave Fertig's proposal to grandfather current LABs should be adopted:

" Retention of up to sixteen current LAB members, thereby "grandfathered" into twenty-four member-max locally elected LABs, 3-year terms, next election in one year, these must be staggered in some fashion to be determined."

I would suggest consideration of the following language as well:

"Current LAB members will be grandfathered for one-to-three-year terms, such that in the first election, one-third to one-half of the seats on the new local boards will be elected by the membership. The newly-elected members will also serve in one-to-three-year terms.

"In each election after the first, one-third of the board members will be retired and one-third of the board will be newly-elected. If the proportions of grandfathered vs elected board members makes it numerically impossible to retire one-third of the LAB in the second election, additional grandfathered board members will be retired until the one-third number is reached."

(2) The Second Line of Defense.

[This proposal, as well as #3 address circumstance "B" -- the intervention in the elections process by hostile forces.]

A two-thirds vote of The Local Board must ultimately approve any election of its Board, subject to the approval of two-thirds of the National Board (see below). The Local Board may decide not to approve an election if it determines that violations or abuses of the elections process have occurred, including (but not limited) to the following

(a) The minimum voter turnout was not reached.

(b) Widespread acts of fraudulent voter registration.

(c) A determination that an individual(s) or organization(s) acted to influence the outcome of the election by funding voting memberships.

(d) A determination that the conditions for free and fair discussion during the elections process was undermined by a campaign by media or governmental agencies to discredit certain candidates or slates and/or to promote other candidates or slates.

(3) The Third Line of Defense.

The Pacifica National Board (the Interim Board in the first election) must approve by two-thirds vote the decision by any Local Board to approve or not to approve an election. The National Board decision can override the Local Board decision.

If the National Board does not approve a Local Board election by a two-thirds vote, the incumbent Local Board remains in place until the conditions underlying the disapproval are resolved and new local elections are held.

Paul Surovell

top of page | governance proposals | bylaws etc | home