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WBAI Local Station Board Meeting

These meeting notes are unofficial.
Official LSB minutes posted at wbai.org

Audio Archive at www.kpftx.org

These notes paraphrase statements made by attendees at the meeting. There may be some inaccuracies. To find out the exact words, listen to the audio at www.kpftx.org

- Written by James Ross, wbai.net contributor


Summary: Three major motions were passed.
  • The most important was the last one, in which the LSB rescinded motions passed previously by the LSB that called for more transparency in regard to spending on contractors/consultants, fair hiring practices, and no last-minute hires or contracts.
  • The other two important motions set the composition of search committees for general manager at six staff members (not necessarily chosen by the LSB) and five listener-members (chosen by the LSB).
  • All substantive votes were by party line, which Justice and Unity won, as they have a majority.

Attendees: DiRienzo, Brown, Rhodes, Heffley, Martin, Birden, Kilgour (chair), Lederer, Roberts, Borenstein, Laforest, Tobias, Cohen, Clay, Davis, Warren, Lucas, Flounders. Surovell was there earlier but had left by the time I arrived.

Absent: Ghosthorse, Gaston, Griffin, Maldonado, Reimers

The LSB had an executive sesssion first.

I arrived late. As I arrived they were excusing the absent members (all were excused).


The first major item the LSB got into after that was a motion from Bob Lederer regarding the GM search committee:

"Whereas the motion passed by the WBAI LSB on January 25 regarding a General Manager Search Subcommittee (GMSS) included a February 15 deadline for a response by AFTRA to the proposed composition of the body, and

"Whereas the AFTRA local at WBAI was unable to meet by that date,

"Therefore, resolved that the LSB decides that unless the AFTRA local at WBAI notifies the LSB chair by March 1 of its opposition to the proposed composition of the GMSS set forth in the January 5 motion, that composition shall go into effect as of the LSB's next meeting, and

"Further resolved that the election by AFTRA and the Unpaid Staff Organizing Committee of its members to the GMSS shall be concluded no later than March 31st"

[note: the GMSC as constructed by this LSB also includes three reps chosen by AFTRA and three by USOC.]

Bob Lederer pointed out that AFTRA had not met, since its stewards (Jose Santiago and Fred Kuhn) had other family and health issues to deal with recently. So this is a "simple humantarian" motion.

R. Paul Martin made a point of order that elections by staff organizations to the GMSS should be by single-transferable voting (STV), as called for in the bylaws for all governance functions. Vajra Kilgour ruled it out of order, saying that the staff organizations were not part of governance, so they could choose their reps any way they want.

Patty Heffley offered a substitute motion, that the GMSS be reconstructed, with 7 LSB listener members, 2 LSB staff members, 2 AFTRA reps, and 2 USOC reps, all elected by STV.

In support of her substitute motion, Patty Heffley pointed out that the current formulation slighted listener-members and the LSB to the benefit of the staff organizations, contrary to the principle that oversight should be rooted in the people who pay for the station. Also it sets up a conflict -- the LSB would have to oversee a manager it had only a minority role in selecting. And Heffley pointed out that the J&U listener delegates to the LSB were slighting their own constituencies by supporting a GMSC dominated by reps of the staff organizations.

The meeting got a little wild here. Cerene Roberts (in reference to Heffley's comment about J&U listener delegates slighting their constituencies) made a point of order that LSB members should avoid characterizing slates or groups in the aggregate. The chair upheld this. R Paul Martin pointed out that this happens all the time. Paul DiRienzo called the chair biased and cursed at her.

Anyway, Patty Heffley's amendment was voted down. All the members voted no, except Heffley, Birden, Rhodes, Martin, Cohen, Brown, and DiRienzo (not sure about the last person).

And Bob Lederer's motion was passed, with all the J&U voting yes (Lederer, Roberts, Borenstein, Laforest, Tobias, Clay, Davis, Warren, Lucas, and Flounders).


The next order of business was another motion by Bob Lederer:

"The WBAI Local Station Board recommends that the Executive Director create a joint staff-listener Interim General Manager Search Committee (iGMSC) to advise him on candidates for this position and further recommends that such a committee include five listener LSB members to be elected by the LSB."

Mitchel Cohen made an amendment that any search committee be 50% listener and 50% staff.

Cerene Roberts amended (by substitution, I guess) that this be 5 LSB listener-members and 6 staff-members, chosen however the staff wants to.

Cerene's amendment carried and passed as the main motion. Again, all the J&U voted yes (Lisa Davis had left by this time), everyone else no, with the exception of Paul DiRienzo, who voted yes, and then immediately moved to reconsider.

The meeting got a little out of hand here. The chair called the reconsideration out of order, stating that Roberts Rules allows the chair to deny frivolous motions. The chair made a comment to the effect that: "though many of us slight Roberts Rules, it does have a logic to it."

There was yelling here, much by Paul DiRienzo, but also others.

Mitchel Cohen made a point of order, that the LSB should simply appoint the committee it wants, not request the ED to form a search committee in a certain way.


The final matter was the rescinding of transparency and good governance motions passed by the last board.

Ray Laforest moved to rescind the following three motions, originally passed on 11/30/04. The motion to rescind was seconded by Evan Tobias.

1: "Whereas the WBAI FY 05 budget as passed by the PNB contains in the allocations "salaries and related" monies to pay individuals for job functions that were previously performed by independent contractors, and whereas some individuals to be paid as staff under the FY05 budget were paid and independent contractors under the FY04 budget, management shall provide to any interested member of the foundation a list of all individuals who were paid as independent contractors in FY04 who will be paid as employees under the FY05 budget, and no individual who was paid as a contractor in FY04 shall be paid as an employee in FY05 until the position has been posted, reviewed and a hiring from an eligble pool of applicants has been completed."

2: "Whereas the General Manager has announced his intention to resign, be it resolved the LSB recommends that no permanent hires be made unless they are hired by a general manager who will be supervising during the hire's entire probationary period."

3: "The LSB recommends that all union contracts being negotiated must be approved by the PNB after recommendation is provided by the WBAI LSB."

Arguments against rescinding were made by Steve Brown, R. Paul Martin, and others. These included:

--Last-minute hires by an outgoing manager (aka midnight hires, lame-duck hires) have been made in the past, to the detriment of the station's budget.
--last-minute hires and contracts remove accountability, in that if the hire or contract does not work out, the person doing the hiring bears no responsibility, since he will be gone.
--Spending on contractors (aka consultants) in FY 04 was far above budget and was never adequately explained. If these contractors are to be moved to permanent positions it is only right that a real hiring process should take place.

Arguments for rescinding were made by Ray Laforest, Bob Lederer, Lawrence Lucas, and others. These included:

--restrictions on the GM are micromanaging
--the GM may well not leave, so until he leaves, he should not have his hands tied.
--the idea behind motion #1 is good but it was not worded well, and did not come through the finance committee (this was from Bob Lederer).

The motion to rescind passed. All J&U present voted yes (Lederer, Roberts, Borenstein, Laforest, Tobias, Clay, Warren, Lucas, Flounders), all others voted no ( Brown, Rhodes, Heffley, Martin, Birden, Cohen) except DiRienzo, who voted yes and then immediately moved to reconsider, which was not allowed.

Some interesting quotes from the last section:

R. Paul Martin: "The faction currently in charge did not invent patronage at WBAI. That has been going on for years. The problem is that the faction currently in charge does not manage its patronage competently."

Omowale Clay (in response to assertions that by voting to diminish listener-based oversight, transparency, and accountability, he was disenfranchising the listener-members that voted for him): "The reality is that my people, the ones I've been associated with, have received lots of support from listeners." Also he said something to the effect of "the people who oppose us have a problem with blacks in positions of leadership."

There was a lot of yelling by the end.

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