Towards a Democratic Pacifica - Framing the Debate
After a very long struggle to democratize the entire process at Pacifica and
its local stations, the Listeners Movement has won a tremendous victory,
with elections to the WBAI Station Board (formerly known as the LAB) to be
held by the end of the year! Now we have to ensure that the elections are
run democratically, and that Listeners take part in defining the mission of
the Station Boards and in writing new bylaws for the running of WBAI as well
as the Pacifica National Board.
The basic elements of the Pacifica Mission as provided in the articles of
Elections of Station Board members in 12 months and Pacifica National Board members in 15 months and the establishment of democratic processes within the stations are basic to this new democratic decision-making. We recognize that elections alone do not guarantee a progressive outcome and no structure, however, elegant or clever, substitutes for the political and ideological development of its members. Nevertheless, democratic rather than authoritarian structures and the free flow of ideas can help to mobilize and educate listeners to more effectively defend Pacifica and define a progressive and radical program content.
Here in the WBAI listening area we have already started working on democratizing decision-making. Last year the Elections Committee of Concerned Friends of WBAI worked on draft guidelines for Station Board elections. The Exploratory Committee of the WBAI Local Advisory Board is working to revise the Station Board bylaws and to develop the proposed structure for the election of station board members at WBAI. We have presented programs on how the election procedures at KPFA worked so successfully in their first two elections of Station Board representatives.
To facilitate continued discussion and debate on the election process we have outlined below the fundamental issues and many other important questions for consideration. You can read more about the different proposals in response by going to www.wbai.net. Your comments are more than welcome; they are vitalif we are going to reinvent our radio station and network on the basis of grassroots democracy.
The purpose of this section is to involve listeners in developing a conceptual basis to assess and evaluate the many ideas and proposals being put forth for a democratic Pacifica. As we shape our responses to the fundamental issues of membership, voting, and the election of station boards and the Pacifica National Board, there are four essential questions that must be considered:
1. How do we sustain the mission of Pacifica in a structure that protects against a hostile takeover from without and the accumulation of power by elite groups from within?
2. How do we foster participation by people of color, women, gay, lesbian transgender, disabled, youth, seniors and working class people historically excluded or underrepresented in corporate media? Along with this how do we strengthen the Pacifica mission to make explicit the network's role as a forum for anti-racist and anti-sexist progressive and radical thought?
3. How do we provide for local station autonomy while ensuring against the balkanization of the Pacifica network? Or alternatively, how do we provide for local autonomy while sustaining an effective national organization?
4. How do we balance the interests of listeners, producers and staff to ensure fair representation at the local and national levels?
A. MEMBERSHIP AND VOTING
Who has the right to be a member of the Pacifica Foundation and vote in elections? The two primary models being considered are the Subscription Model (membership and voting requires only payment of a fee) and the Participation Model (membership and voting requires payment of a fee and participation in defined listener functions or activities). Which model shall we use, or shall we use a model that combines features of both? If so, which features? (An additional fundamental issue to be taken up later is whether membership and voting rules should be the same for all station areas. If not, we must consider how the Pacifica Foundation will be structured to ensure fair representation of all listening areas)
B. MODEL FOR ELECTING STATION BOARDS
Shall we use the KPFA model which allows for preference voting and proportional representation. or some other method?
And, should method of choosing Station Boards be standardized across the network?
C. ELECTION OF PACIFICA NATIONAL BOARD
Shall election of Pacifica National Board members be by direct vote of the listeners (locally and/or nationally) or by vote of Station Board representatives?
ISSUES FOR CONSIDERATION IN PLANNING LOCAL ELECTIONS
A. PURPOSE OF STATION BOARD
B. STATION BOARD MEMBERS: RESPONSIBILITIES & OBLIGATIONS
C. COMPOSITION OF STATION BOARD
D. WHO MAY VOTE?
E. WHO MAY RUN?
F. GETTING THE MESSAGE OUT
G. BYLAWS ISSUES
H. PROGRAM ISSUES
I. CAMPAIGN SCHEDULE & RULES
Please find these and other questions posted on www.wbai.net. You can answer them there, read other responses, and download material to distribute to your neighbors and friends.
This outline is written by Howard Brandstein and Mitchel Cohen with assistance from Carolyn Birden, Eve Moser, Rob Dickey, Andrea Fishman, Patty Hefley, Sonia Rosen, Larry Romsted, Stephen Brown, Steve Salchow, Bryan Williams, Bert Reimers, Steffie Brooks, Annette Averette and others on the Elections Committee of Concerned Friends of WBAI. It is intended as a guide to facilitate discussion about the democratization of Pacifica. Much of this has been culled from documents provided by the Elections Committee of Concerned Friends of WBAI, who you can write to at:
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