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Frank (of the Goodlight message board)
reports on 7-31-01 LAB meeting

From: Frank Fitzgerald
Date: Wed Aug 1, 2001 5:12 pm
Subject: WBAI Local Advisory Board Meeting at the Dominican Club

Local Advisory Board Meeting at the Dominican Club

(Note: Pleased be advised of the severe limits of my note taking (and attention) skills. Statements might be misattributed or out of sequence. Verify all info before hanging any individuals, please.)


Where to begin? Lively and unusual meeting... some would say quite contentious. Probably all would agree that the final few minutes were a definite display of fireworks.

The meeting was scheduled to start at "approximately 6:30PM." I arrived at 7:30. The room was simple white florescent lit square. The LAB members sat at one end, what appeared to be a Dominican-Cuba solidarity banner on the wall behind them. There were 9 LAB members in attendance. Audience: maybe 40 - 50 people. Did not look to me that the effort to move the meeting to the "community" brought in many local folks.

Miguel Maldonado (Chair)
Marian Borenstein (vice chair)
Andrew Norris
Mimi Rosenberg (Unpaid Staff)
Jon Cohen
Lee Kronick
Ray Laforest
Anthony Mackall
Madelyn Hoffmann (acting as Secretary)

I took a seat in the back, had a quick look at a Xerox of a hand written agenda that had been passed around (send a scan to frank@g... and I will post)... and started being confused. My experience with past meetings had always been that listener comments were only taken at the end. At this meeting they were being interspersed with LAB discussions. I wasn't the only one confused. Jon Cohen, who raised a number of procedural questions during the night, tried to determine if this was "a real LAB meeting" or something else. Mimi arrived late and also seemed bemused (? confused?) by what was going on. Miguel said that this was an experiment to add more public participation. It was never addressed directly, but seemed that this experiment was instituted without consultation with the rest of the LAB. Perhaps the structure can be set by the chair. Whatever the case, there were no complaints from the audience; however, doubtless few would argue it added to the length of the meeting (ended at 10:30 or 11PM).

Miguel stated his belief that the crisis might end soon and that some sort of plan should be developed to be "ready to move in." He spoke of the need to initiate some sort of search for a replacement for Utrice. People he talked to want this. He suggested that groups (such as CF, CdPNY, CPR, Pacifica Campaign, etc.) work with the LAB on this.

Mimi said the struggle "will not end soon" and mentioned obvious difficulties (Pacifica rules allow Exec Director, not local folk, to pick station managers) She brought up a new problem: union problems inside the station. Mimi reported on a recent union meeting (paid staff only?) at which the upcoming end of the UE contract in the 2nd week in Sept. was discussed. The paid workers don't care about unpaid and want to go to AFTRA. (please verify) AFTRA will not take unpaid workers. UE doesn't want them anymore either.(?) Amy was only one at meeting defending unpaid staff. She was, essentially, told to shut up.

Andy Norris spoke in favor of a committee, have a process in place, re selecting station manager. He said such searches typically take 6 months.

Ray Laforest explained that the desire to add 4 new members was not some negative plot, but an attempt by the LAB to start moving and gain the initiative in this crisis. LAB bylaws do not require public input on seating new members, but they were trying it at this meeting. He supports the recommendation to include listener groups in the Leid replacement search.

Miguel spoke of the problem of LAB limited resources and lack of full attendance at meetings, of hope to remedy immobility of LAB, need to project... desire to include Asians on LAB.

At various points in the meeting statements were made by audience folk regarding priorities. Some stating that LAB elections now are a diversion, others saying they are complimentary to the actions to unseat the PNB and will invigorate that struggle. One man pointed out that groups calling for elections do not have elections. Steffi read a CF statement questioning the need for 4 new LAB members. (Can someone post?)

Marian Borenstein addressed the issue of the 4 candidates, announcing their names and a few brief facts about them. (I probably got none of these names right.) Two were present: Rashida - long time activist, writer Bokeen - long time activist, "you've seen him around" (? I haven't.)

Two were not present:
Damon - a 20 year old (this got a favorable response from audience) who "had so many irons in the fire" he couldn't make it Walker (?)

Andy Norris asked that a decision be put off until the meetings end, when the LAB could go into executive session to interview the candidates. (Andy mentioned after the meeting that no resumes had been circulated to LAB members.) Considerable discussion, including audience, ensued about this and the appropriateness of seating any new members. At one point, Andy, acknowledging that the candidates had not been forewarned that they might be asked to make a public statement, asked if they might like to stand and do so re their candidacy. Both declined, essentially stating that because of the give-and-take they had witnessed so far they might be too "emotional." Rashida did say that she saw "hatred in the faces" of some in the audience who had been making statements and that "this dissension must stop." Needless to say, having a discussion which, up until that point, had not been particularly acrimonious, described as hateful disturbed more than a few. Rashida said a number of other things, including that she thought LAB members were elected. Her mistake was pointed out to her. Though this may have been a mix-up in her mind regarding LAB members "voting" to seat new members and actual elections, Rashida did not seem to know much about the LAB - and did not (in me) inspire confidence by her responses.

Nothing was said about what impression might be given regarding an LAB that wanted more members at meetings, and arguably under siege, choosing two candidates would not make a public presentation, and two others who did not even show up.

A motion was passed to postpone seating the 4 until the next meeting on August 28th (in New Jersey). I believe, the motion included some sort of attempt to include listener groups in the review of these nominations, but I am unclear how that is to be done - especially if even LAB members do not get to see resumes. Despite the already passed motion, Marian Borenstein returned to the subject, complaining that her (membership? outreach?) committee had "spent hours" interviewing the candidates, that they are "very careful who we give applications (for LAB membership) to," and that not voting on them now was "a slap in the face" to her committee and its members. She was pretty intense about this. At one point, Rashida stood to say she was still interested in being seated.

The end of the meeting did get heated. Bryan, from the back of the room, said the LAB had been repeatedly invited to participate, but got little or no response. He ended up yelling at (? Miguel, ? Lee Kronick, ? the entire LAB) them and leaving the room in a huff. Lee raised his voice a few decibels to state that Bryan had emailed him that he was coming to the meeting "to confront" him. The meeting broke up and Marian Borenstein started yelling about how disturbed she was. She was quite agitated and folks were trying to calm her down when I got the hell out of there and grabbed a bus going in the wrong direction.

Can't wait to go to New Jersey.

Frank Fitzgerald

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