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Some notes regarding WBAI local advisory board meeting

[ I usually don't post anonymous notes or documents, but I attended this meeting and find these notes posted on the message board at goodlight.net/wbai to be reasonably accurate and worth posting
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snippets from the Tuesday LAB meeting
Thu Dec 5 15:55:07 2002

A few fragments from notes taken

Videotaping confrontation
Marian Borenstein raised the issue (and other LAB members agreed) that they did not want to be videotaped.

Ray Laforest : This is a public meeting. I don't care, I have no problem with it at all.

Miguel Maldonado: I have no problem. It's Patty's right to videotape a public meeting.

Fred N.: (who is audiotaping himself) The voice is ok but the face no. It may be used on the internet.

Chris Z: Fred took my picture once.

Muntu: I'm a lawyer, and you must ask permission. Anyone in this audience could sue you.

Sylvia: (trying to prevent) this is dangerous. You are setting a bad precedent.

Patty: I want to videotape it because this is a momentous meeting where the board members are going to decide on the manner of elections at BAI.

A vote is taken for videotaping: 5 against, 2 in favor, 3 abstentions

Marian: (walks over and confronts Patty) We voted against it.

Patty ignores Marian and puts the camera on the tripod, where it remains for the duration.

Voting ----------------- Leslie Cagan: This is not a final vote. What we want is by this weekend we want to hear reports from all 5 local boards on what they want.

Anthony Mackall: Please fill me in on how the IPNB voted on uniformity of elections. Was this a uniform mechanism that would allow for some differentiation?

Leslie: No. The same election procedure would be uniform for all stations.

Was it finalized?

Leslie: No. It was unanimous but not finalized. Nothing in the bylaws is finalized at this point. With the extreme differences that still exist at the various signal areas, we need to understand how to proceed locally.

(on the elections issue) the Board was deadlocked. Since this is one issue the LABs will vote on, the recommendation was to go back to the 5 areas for some discussion. A compromise position may still emerge.

Janice K. Bryant: You're right, the environments are different in every signal area. But one thing people were feeling was a need for unity across the network, and if we keep pushing for different methods that just reinforces the differences.

Gail Golden: I'm concerned that the geographic constituency was dropped. We have a hard time in the suburbs making our voices heard. I would like to have it put back.

Mitchel Cohen: Have all the LAB members read all the different proposals before them?

(Donna Gould starts passing out copies of the latest revised Hybrid model)

Marian: IPNB members voted against the Constituency Model in Texas. Does that prohibit us from voting for it now?

Leslie: No. We urged the boards to look at those two and discuss them but if there are other ideas we'd like to hear about them too. There are at least 11 groupings whose ideas we're trying to pull together: 5 LABs, 5 Bylaws committees, and the iPNB. All those ideas are in the mix - the challenge is to take all the ideas and form a unified bylaws draft.

It's somewhat surprising to me that this (elections) is the most sticky issue - as opposed to so many other issues, such as the proposed powers of the new local boards.

Also, remember that there will be a bylaws review in the future, which will allow for revisions.

Joe Kaye: So there's nothing to prevent people from voting for any model, including the Constituency model.

Patty: At the last Bylaws meeting it was voted that we implore the LAB members to explain their positions. We would like to hear the LAB's reasoning for how they'll vote, before any straw polls are taken.

Errol Maitland: Why I support the Constituency Model. (because of 500 yrs of slavery). I'll continue to push for it because it comes closest, I believe, to continuing the selection process as it has been done in the past (presumably with good results).

Ann Emerman: I'm in favor of the Constituency Model, because we want a seat at the table for all the constituency groups.

Mimi: It should be called the "Model of Inclusion". It's an affirmative model based on race and class. I just came from court and my client was evicted for $45.20 after living in a place for 20 years. She then didn't have the car fare to travel back to my office. Peoples' unemployment is running out. They do not even have money for car fare. A baby dies from an overdose from consuming breast milk. These are the realities - the reality of the impoverished - the impoverished class defined as such mostly by color. People talk about a 3-hour commitment, but who will pay for the day care? I plead with folks to support the Inclusion Model, which is ideologically based to transform our station. It's NOT about 50% women or people of color. It's not some computational model a la Lanie Guinier, but an alternative for social transformation.

Gail: Ann already referred to my very strong feelings (in favor of the CM) - if we want folks from various specific communities at the table then we must reserve a place for them! A 50% requirement will not ensure diversity on our boards. And I will NEVER support waivers. It's humiliating, and echoes what our institutions already do to poor people - making them beg, sit up and do tricks. That part is just abhorrent to me.

Madelyn Hoffmann: Apparently I'm a minority voice on this board. To characterize those not in favor of the Constituency Model to be insensitive to the issues of race and class is not accurate, not relevant and not helpful. I really resent that you (fellow board members) look at me like I'm a person you just want to shun. I happen to believe there are too many divisions (in the CM), I think it's too complicated, and I think people will stay home and not vote. I vote that we support the KPFA model.

Rashida Ismaili Abu-Bakr : I support the Inclusion Model. Years ago I used to listen to the borderline - and even beyond borderline - racist talk in the morning on BAI - it was Larry Josephson I believe, and Steve Post. They said many things that offended me as an African American person. Luckily there were other things on the station that kept me listening. I can't believe (starts crying) that anyone would say to a Black person "you're a racist". Do you know what saying that means to a Black person?

The ultimate highest goal is to be self-defining. For those of you who haven't had a colonial experience, you can't understand this. This is why I vote for the Constituency Model, because it allows people to politically self-define.

Lee Kronick: I've never believed that the people who come here (to the Bylaws meetings) represent the people of WBAI. So I don't consider that any vote in this room - or any applause - is representative of our listeners.

(he then talks about the important points Mimi mentioned about the Inclusion model) You can't do that with the KPFA model. Read the Rafael Renteria post - there is no guarantee of diversity (with the KPFA Model). The poll tax, the workfare, the humiliation of waivers -(all these are not the way to go).

(he then talks about how there is not a single Asian on the KPFA LAB where there is a huge Asian listening community)

Cecilia Caruso: I'm leaning towards the Constituency Model because it seems more inclusive than the KPFA model (but she ends up abstaining because she's been away and doesn't feel qualified to vote).

Gail: I just want to speak for John who is absent, and who has survived 100 days after a life-threatening bone marrow transplant. He is very firmly for the Constituency model.

Ray: For me it's very clear that in our society - we're not in India but close to it - race rises to the level of class. (for that reason) the Constituency model is better. I'm not saying the KPFA model is a bad model, I just think something better can be done. For example, to have a large Asian community and nobody on the board (at KPFA) - we should do better - we HAVE to do better than that.

Marian: I concur with what my colleagues have said. I know how to dig in. I came from a poor family in Philly with the FBI knocking on our door looking for my sister. So we KNOW how to dig (our heels) in. I'm for the Constituency model because it will reach deep into the community and bring forward those people. We have to bring people forward to represent the interests of their communities.

If you think it's not a class question at Pacifica - Pacifica IS America - it has always been a class issue. The KPFA model does not represent this. The KPFA model was around for a year and a half. We came in at the last minute, there are people working around the clock. This is the one chance that we have to dig deep into the communities and let them bring their grievances and needs to the local boards, and to the national board.

Miguel: I oppose the Constituency model. I oppose the tricky way it was brought to the LABs. There are 2 things I'd like to say:

1) It's a power play - an illustration of how people use power when they have it. I don't care who is empowered as long as they give people a chance to be heard on the air (implying this hasn't happened).

2) The issue of democracy. When it comes to democracy, the KPFA model provides a better opportunity for any constituency. I too (like Errol) came from a country that had slavery, but I want you to vote for my ideas - not because I came from an oppressed community! There are many right-wingers in those communities.

I have a problem with the way people use this issue to divide people. To me it's a matter of how we unite people, not divide them.

We can do 1 of 2 things: just dig in our heels deeper and go for victory or find the best way to represent the different dynamics. Are we serious that we want diverse representation? What's the best democratic way to guarantee that?

(also mentions that he wonders whether the outreach everybody keeps talking about will ever be done, says it's hard work and he hasn't seen it happen yet.)

Anthony Mackall: The KPFA model is not so bad but it is not so good either, for developing inclusion. The Constituency model is not a divisive thing - it's to pull people together in the struggle - if we do the kind of outreach that Miguel has rightfully pointed out has not been done.

Paul Surovell makes a plea:
There's a difference between diversity goals and a built-in mechanism to ensure diversity. There's a need for an alliance between New York, KPFA and LA. If these 3 LABs don't come together there will not be sufficient support for a diversity mechanism. If NY doesn't do this, LA and KPFA will probably form an alliance with Texas which will end up being for diversity goals, not a diversity mechanism. If the NY LAB chooses to pursue a model that will not be accepted by the others (this is a mistake). This exercise of supporting the Constituency model at this time is the worst thing that could be done, as it's a losing model, and instead they (NY LAB) should be building an alliance. That's the politics as I see it.

At this point the motion was seconded to include the Constituency Model in the vote, and there was no second for the motion to include the Hybrid Model. The vote proceeded with 1 abstention, 2 against and 9 for the Constituency model.

Mimi made another point: If you have to resign your show in order to sit on the (national) board you're no longer staff! She was against the idea of any prohibition that on-air staff members resign their posts if they are duly elected to sit on the board.

Sheila Hamanaka started reading emails she had received that were all in favor of the Constituency model, and things started getting rowdy at that point and then the meeting ended abruptly.

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