WBAI LAB Resolution
[ proposed bylaw below ]
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2003 11:10:22 -0500
The following resolution and plea was authorized by a unanimous vote of the WBAI LAB on Wednesday, February 26:
As members of the WBAI Local Advisory Board, we take this opportunity to declare our unwavering support of affirmative action and for its vigorous implementation, both in society at large and especially here at Pacifica. We are determined to struggle for a world in which historically oppressed communities are fully empowered to participate in all economic, political and social institutions without racist and sexist barriers or those physical barriers that impede the disabled. Inequality, discrimination, segregation and condescension based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability stifles human potential and retards our intellectual growth and warps the human spirit. We consider affirmative action to be a key political weapon in the fight to achieve a diverse society of sister and brotherhood where all can develop to their fullest potential. Affirmative action is also the law of the land and needs to be defended as such, rather than retreated from in misguided fear.
Therefore, we unequivocally advocate that the new Pacifica bylaws being considered by the iPNB include a specific institutional commitment to affirmative action that would guarantee the inclusion of underrepresented and the historically disenfranchised in the Foundation's governance and staffing structures. We will provide suggested language for such a bylaw as expeditiously as possible after we have concluded our consultation with colleagues with proven expertise. Neither we nor many of our sisters and brothers in Pacifica will be satisfied with an unenforceable and nebulous system that merely seeks to monitor the state of diversity in the network. The idea that our beloved radio network would seek to safely position itself on the same side of the affirmative action issue as the Bush regime and other retrograde elements of our country is intolerable to us. We urge LABs from other Pacifica stations and all concerned individuals who feel the same to step forward and make themselves heard at this most critical juncture. This is the way to support the integrity and mission of Pacifica.
From: Mimi Rosenberg
Dear Members of the iPNB,
I submit this proposed bylaw on affirmative action in Pacifica's election process for your consideration, based on consultation with such distinguished attorneys as Ted Shaw, Associate General Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Jonathan Lubell, a civil rights attorney and specialist in communications and FCC law. I believe it is vital that the interim Pacifica National Board not pass the draft bylaws absent an affirmative-action component for elections, and of course sufficient time should be provided to further deliberate on this crucial issue. Pacifica must lead by example, not fear. Affirmative action is the law of the land and should be defended as such.
The proposed bylaw has two parts. Please note that I am proposing that the entire text below, not just the implementation section, be included in the bylaws.
The first describes the substantive need and basis for an affirmative-action component of Pacifica's elections. The second part involves implementation of the plan. It does not contain impermissible "quotas."
I hope, that the Pacifica community can take a step forward rather than a fearful retreat from that which we must fight.
Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IN ELECTION OF DELEGATES AND DIRECTORS
"Full minority participation in the ownership and management of broadcast facilities results in a more diverse selection of programming. In addition, an increase in ownership by minorities will inevitably enhance the diversity of control of a limited resource, the spectrum. And, of course, we have long been committed to the concept of diversity of control because diversification ... is a public good in a free society, and is additionally desirable where a government licensing system limits access by the public to the use of radio and television facilities."
(Federal Communications Commission, Statement of Policy on Minority Ownership of Broadcasting Facilities, 68 FCC 2d 979, 981 )
The Pacifica Foundation is a media organization. Its function and purpose is such that diversity in all forms aids in the actualization of the radio network's mission and goals, which include engaging its audience with programming that promotes peace and social justice and the fight against oppression in all forms. Promoting and securing diversity in Pacifica's governance structures will help ensure diversity in its programming and thus in its audience and as such in the realization of the Foundation's mission.
One function of a media outlet is to work constantly to enlarge its audience. The Pacifica Radio Network must do this both to carry out its mission and because it depends on listener contributions for the majority of its funding, and so audience growth is essential for its financial health. In each of the network's five signal areas, the majority of the population consists of people of color, women, and members of other historically underrepresented and disenfranchised communities that are core parts of Pacifica's constituency and mission. The network needs to consistently reach out to such groups and provide programming that draws them in as listener-supporters.
In order to further that end, the governance of Pacifica, which formulates policies and practices to further our core functions, must embody both the principle of and the actuality of diversity in each signal area. The governance structure must therefore mirror the concerns of the demographic makeup of Pacifica's existing and potential audience. Those elected to the Foundation's governing board and its local station boards need to be as diverse as the population in the signal areas that they both serve and depend on for support.
Without such an outcome, the network will be hindered in its effort to both maintain and expand its listenership among people of color and other "minorities" who in fact collectively make up the majority in each signal area. Giving voice to the problems and issues that confront such communities is crucial to the purposes of Pacifica. It is equally crucial to building the audience that is necessary for the network to grow and secure the financial resources necessary to perform its mission.
Ensuring such diversity is thus a compelling goal that mandates the Foundation to consider the race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, and/or disability of candidates as an essential factor in Pacifica's election process. This affirmative approach treats all participants as individuals while also seeking to achieve a critical mass of candidates (and ultimately elected Delegates and Directors) from groups that have been historically discriminated against and disenfranchised. Such a diverse body of candidates helps ensure that both the election itself and the local and national boards that result from it embody a wide range of opinion, robust exchange of ideas and participation in the network that are the hallmark of Pacifica's mission.
For the Local Station Boards (LSBs) to be reflective of the communities they serve, the pool of nominees for the elections at each station must reflect that signal area's demographic representation of groups who have been historically underrepresented and disenfranchised based on their race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and/or disability. Once the maximal possible effort and time has been invested to include a sufficient number of such people in the nominee pool so as to make the fulfillment of diversity goals possible via proportional representation, the elections can proceed.
Each LSB will establish an Affirmative Action Subcommittee of the Election Committee, composed of listener-sponsors, staff, volunteers, and community members from that station signal area. Each Subcommittee will name a representative to a National Affirmative Action Working Group, which shall identify uniform categories of communities which are historically underrepresented and disenfranchised based on race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and/or disability, as well as uniform sources of data (such as the census and other credible sources) from which to set goals for inclusion in each signal area.
At the start of the elections process, each Affirmative Action Subcommittee will identify those communities within the signal area, and based on the guidelines set by the national working group, will set goals for demographic representation for inclusion in the nominee pool. Each Subcommittee will simultaneously begin an aggressive outreach campaign to compile a registry of potential candidates from the various identified communities. Each Subcommittee will contact activist and other community groups as well as individuals to solicit names of individuals who would either be interested in seeking the signatures to become a nominee immediately or who would be willing to put themselves forward as a candidate later in the process if the nominee pool does not turn out to be sufficiently diverse. Each nominee will be requested to list on her/his nomination form her/his race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and/or disability, as would those persons who consent to having their names placed in the registry of potential nominees.
Throughout the nomination period, each Election Committee will forward to the Affirmative Action Subcommittee, as the information is received, each nominee's self-identifications in terms of race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, and/or disability. Within 48 hours of the close of the nomination period, each Affirmative Action Subcommittee will compare the total list of self-identifications with the goals that have been defined as necessary to insure that the pool of nominees reflects that signal area's demographic representation of historically underrepresented and disenfranchised groups based on race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and/or disability.
If the Subcommittee finds that the list falls short of meeting any of these goals, it shall declare a two-week extension of the nominations period. During that period, the Subcommittee will contact the names compiled in the registry and seek enough additional candidates to obtain a sufficiently diverse pool. If within 48 hours of the close of the extension, the Subcommittee finds that the list still falls short of these goals, it shall declare an additional two-week extension of the nomination period. At the end of the second extension, the election process shall proceed to the next stage.
The National Affirmative Action Working Group will combine the various demographic categories of communities which are historically underrepresented and disenfranchised based on race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and/or disability in all five signal areas to arrive at the approximate percentages that such groups make up in the entire Pacifica Network. The group will then give that information to the five newly elected Local Station Boards and request that they coordinate with each other as they elect directors from their ranks to the National Board so that the resulting makeup of that body will approximately correspond to the diversity of the demographics of Pacifica's five signal areas.
NOTE: Adoption of this Affirmative Action bylaw would necessitate several changes in the current draft by-laws:
1. Removing the section of the establishing "Committees of Inclusion" as the proposed Affirmative Action Subcommittees and the National Affirmative Action Working Group would take their place.
2. Changing some details of the election oversight process: change "Election Supervisor" to "Election Coordinator" and mandate creation of an Election Committee of volunteers who will function collectively with an Affirmative Action Subcommittee which is empowered to make the determinations provided for in this bylaw.
3. Add to the nomination process a request that each nominee list on her/his nomination form her/his race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and/or disability.
4. Changing some dates for the various stages of the election process to allow for flexibility based on possible extensions of the nominations process as outlined above.
5. The final paragraph of the proposed Affirmative Action bylaw would change the section of the current draft relating to how the new Local Station Boards would elect their delegates to the National Board.
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