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Who should be a member?

Edwin Johnston
By-laws: An answer to Spooner Q. #3
Thu Apr 11 15:36:44 2002

Spooner question #3:
Who should be eligible to be a "member" of the Pacifica Foundation? (California law defines "member" as "any person who has the right to vote for the election of a director, or the disposition of all or substantially all of the corporate assets or on a merger or dissolution, or any person designated in the articles of incorporation or bylaws as a member and, pursuant to a specific provision of the articles or bylaws, has the right to vote on changes to the articles or bylaws.")

Houston must adopt the following stance so that it has a worthwhile chance of becoming a new bylaw:

"There must be fee/labor waivers for low income people who wish to become voting members."

1/5 to 1/4 of all people living in the KPFT listening area live at or near the poverty line. Many of these types of listeners can simply not afford to give any money or time to become voting members, due to the concrete reality of their condition of living in poverty.

Set up a fee/labor waiver system for people who live in poverty. Many non-profits employ such a system to determine how their services are made available to all those who need them. A basic system would calculate eligibilty based on a certain percentage above the nationally set poverty guidelines. For instance, 125% of the nationally published poverty guidelines. All those who fall below that number, that apply, could receive their membership with a waiver of fees/labor. I had set up something similar with the board of Access TV in Houston, which worked out well.

If we are to preserve KPFT and Pacifica, we will have to empower the low income people of the listening areas. To deprive those low income people of voting membership based on economic or leisure freedoms they simply can't exercise is to discriminate against them, and to act in opposition to the Pacifica mission statement. The higher economic classes have access to money for donations and leisure time for volunteering. Many of those living at or below the poverty line simply do not. This is a fact and my suggestion is the remedy.

I urge this entire group to adopt this suggestion and send it on to the Pacifica National Board, and to urge all other stations to adopt it as well.

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