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Trying to fair in defining membership qualifications

From: BTaylor013@a...
Date: Thu Apr 18, 2002 4:41 pm
Subject: membership

This is what I was thinking after the meeting the other night. While I totally agree that it's central to the mission (as I perceive it) of the network to broaden its constituency (especially into under-served or disenfranchised communities) and that this imperative should be directly connected to "membership" (as in votership), I also think I should be sensitive to what Tuesday night seemed like the "other side" of the question. And I agree with them, anyway, to some extent. I think it sounds/feels right that voters on substantive issues, candidacies, etc. in the network or station should be people with some kind of tangible investment in the network/station. I also agree that while subscribers (people paying money to support the station) are an obvious membership base, there should be no inflexible monetary obstacles to becoming a member (and I think, incidentally, that volunteering should afford one membership). So I think that some compromise between these two purposes is likely the best design we might come up with.

Mightn't it work for there to be two (at least) sectors of the electorate: one comprised of members through subscription and volunteerism and the other coming from new memberships stemming from outreach efforts, with safeguards built in for screening or credibility checks of the incoming members (against destructive attempts)? I picture it to be fair and progressive for the proportion of these two sectors to be like 3 to 1, so that, say, up to a quarter of the electorate in each election could be just-joining-members. (How or whether these new members would be asked to contribute in order to join would still be a question, but maybe it could be something like they join for one year only as a non-paying member and then are required to contribute in coming years in order to renew. Definitely there need to be some kinds of mechanisms for affording membership to people like prisoners or people with various kinds of hardship.) I also think it would be a good idea for some kind of an ombudsman to be engaged (paid?, elected?) by the station to oversee all of this, keep it current, well-organized, etc. and also see to matters of fairness and access and such.

Anyway, it appears that this or some other scheme to utilize the best aspects of these disparate priorities is needed here. Maybe this would work, but I'm sure that some merger of these purposes is available to us and it will probably turn out to be better (more useful) overall than either end of a polarity.

Brad Taylor [NYC]

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