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WBAI Local Station Board Meeting
3-9-05 and Suspension of
LSB member Paul DeRienzo


This page contains several documents relating to the suspension of LSB member Paul DeRienzo. Click on the link to go straight to the document:

Brief notes of the 3/9/05 meeting, where the suspension took place
Text of the resolution to suspend Paul DeRienzo and vote count
Gregory Wonderwheel's analysis of the suspension
Justice and Unity Campaign's announcement of the suspension
Mitchel Cohen's letter condemning the suspension

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Notes of 3/9/05 meeting

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

Audio Archive at www.kpftx.org

To find out the exact words, listen to the audio at www.kpftx.org

- courtesy of an anonymous wbai.net contributor

*****

The meeting took place at the Harlem State Office Building on 125th Street.

Absent members were Ghosthorse, Maldonado, and Reimers. The first two were excused.

Carolyn Birden requested to add to the agenda request that GM give report on theft at station, proposed improvements of phones, status of listener questionnaires from the first LSB election, and workplace safety issues. This was added to the end (but not reached).

Patty Heffley moved that 1/5 of the LSB can request a roll call vote. Bob Lederer amended to make it 2/5. The amendment carried. The motion as amended passed.

Chair report: points made were that the merits of the motions should be under debate, not the merits of people.

Lisa Davis made the motion to suspend Paul DeRienzo from the LSB for six months and to require a written apology (below).

Bob Lederer pointed out the Robert's Rules allowed bodies to suspend members as matters of discipline.

The motion passed. there were points of order regarding the legality of the supension, none upheld

There was a motion to establish an election committee to elect a Community Advisory Board (CAB). Patty Heffley moved that all CAB members should be WBAI listener-members in good standing. Another LSB member disagreed, saying that she hoped her son-in-law would be on the CAB, and that she wasn't sure he was a member. Heffley's amendment failed. The main motion passed.

This committee was elected.

GM report: congratulations on starting the CAB process. International Womens's Day was a big success. Ossie Davis event was a big success. No time for questions.

Adjourned.

*****

Resolution to suspend Paul DiRienzo

Motion to Suspend LSB Member Paul DeRienzo for Severe, Persistent Disruption of LSB Meetings and Extreme, Abusive Attacks Against Other LSB Members

Whereas, Robert's Rules of Order, which the Pacifica Bylaws require this board to follow, prohibits board members from engaging in personal attacks on other members during meetings, and further states (10th edition, p. 624, line 7) that "an organization or assembly has the ultimate right to make and enforce its own rules, and to require that its members refrain from conduct injurious to the organization or its purposes. No one should be allowed to remain a member if his retention will do that kind of harm," and further states that allowable penalties for serious disciplinary breaches include mandatory apology, suspension, and expulsion; and

Whereas board members are required to conduct themselves in a manner that maintains order and allows business to be conducted at meetings; and

Whereas consistently disruptive and abusive conduct would not be tolerated in meetings of other non-profit organization boards, unions, community boards, or city councils; and

Whereas LSB member Paul DeRienzo has consistently engaged in conduct over the course of several LSB meetings that has been disruptive, abusive, threatening, and obscene, including repeatedly hurling vicious epithets at the chair and other board members, specifically:

* At the January 5, 2005 public LSB meeting, held at New York Community Church, Mr. DeRienzo repeatedly spoke out of turn with verbal abuse, including launching a five-minute stream of invective at other board members, sometimes getting out of his seat and thrusting himself to within inches of the faces of other board members, and shouting such things as the Nazi salute, "Sieg Heil!", "You are a Fascist!" "Nazi! When are you going to open BAI's ovens?" "Nazi scum! Adolph Vajra!," "Burn the Reichstag!" and "Open the camps and gulags!" and refused to respond to any efforts to call him to order; and

* At the January 25, 2005 public LSB meeting, held at the Harlem State Office Building, Mr. DeRienzo taunted African American board member Father Lawrence Lucas, calling him a "lame ass" and a "loser"; and

* At the February 16, 2005 public LSB meeting, held at the AFSCME District Council 1707 offices, Mr. DeRienzo passed all bounds of egregious and abusive conduct by loudly shouting five times at the chair the profanity "F--K YOU!", making such red-baiting attacks as "Stalin curse!" and "Phony sell-out communists!" and continually engaging (when not recognized to speak) in loud, baiting, taunting and insulting attacks on African American male board members, such as demanding of attorney Michael Tarif Warren: "Did you pass the bar in New York state"?; and of Omowale Clay: "Did you demonstrate against 'The Color Purple'?"; and making derisive comments to Father Lawrence Lucas about his role as a prison chaplain; and

Whereas Mr. DeRienzo was repeatedly called out of order by the Chair for these and other violations of the rules, and refused all reasonable efforts by the Chair to persuade him to follow the basic norms of mutual respect necessary on any board, again as evidenced by his behavior today; and

Whereas hate language is universally condemned because it can be a predecessor to and create the climate for violent action; and

Whereas no one in a progressive organization should enable or tolerate such conduct; and

Whereas it is vital that the LSB protect the rights of its members not to be the targets of racist, sexist, anti-semitic, and other hateful and abusive conduct by LSB members and that the LSB insure its ability to conduct its business without persistent disruption from its own members;

Therefore be it resolved that LSB member Paul DeRienzo be suspended from membership on the WBAI Local Station Board for a period of six months, effective immediately upon adoption of this motion; and

Be it further resolved that before Paul DeRienzo is allowed to return to the LSB, he must apologize in writing to the LSB for his racist, sexist, anti-semitic and personal attacks, and pledge to conduct himself in an orderly manner in future meetings; and

Be it further resolved, that the Secretary shall forthwith publish the text of this motion and the results of the vote on the LSB section of the WBAI website and arrange for printed copies to be made available at the station and at future LSB meetings for the duration of the suspension.

************

Roll Call vote on Suspending DeRienzo for six months

Birden - No
Borenstein - Yes
Brown - No
Clay - Yes
Cohen - No
Davis - Yes
DeRienzo - No
Flounders - Yes
Gaston - Yes
Griffin - Yes
Heffley - No
Laforest - Yes
Lederer - Yes
Lucas - Yes
Martin - No
Rhodes - Abstain
Roberts - Yes
Surovell - No
Tobias - Yes
Warren - Yes

Vote: 12 - 7 - 1 Passes

*****

Gregory Wonderwheel's analysis of the suspension of Paul DiRienzo by the WBAI LSB

Question 1: While Robert's Rules of Order allows suspensions does that comply with Pacifica bylaws?

Short response: Yes.

Question 2: Does it violate the California Corporate Code?

Short response: No, because the Calif. Corp. Code only directly relates to suspension of "members" not of delegates, directors, or officers. However, it may be argued by analogy that the fair process standard of the giving of 15 days prior notice of the suspension of members under Section 5341 should apply also to suspension proceedings of LSB members or Delegates in order for them to be considered fair. Question 5: Does this constitute a sort of constructive expulsion from membership, which would otherwise require a two thirds vote of the entire membership of the LSB?

Short answer: This is a core question because it highlights the difference between the two types of disciplinary actions: suspension and removal. (The Pacifica Bylaws uses the term "removal" in Article 4, Section 9, while Robert's Rules uses the term "expulsion"; the two terms are synonymous.) Also note that the removal process in the Bylaws is for "removal of delegates" not for suspension of LSB members, so the disciplinary situation can become clouded. Basically, a suspension is not a removal or expulsion since it is always clear by the terms of the suspension that it is time limited or limited otherwise. However, it can be argued that an extended suspension is a constructive removal if it were to extend too long. What would be the over-long extension? That would be in the eye of the beholder, but I would suggest that the circumstances could make one suspension too long or not. --

*********************

LONG RESPONSE:

There are several issues raised by this post and the action itself. Primarily based on the information in the question, which states that the suspension motion was heard without prior notice, it appears to be illegal and constitutes a continuing breach of a member's rights.

(See message 106 for an outline on continuing breaches. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pacificaparl/message/106

See message 320 for a previous discussion of the proper disciplinary process in the context of a Chair's reprimand. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pacificaparl/message/320

And in the file section of the PacficaParl webpages there is a file discussing the Discipline process in the folder labeled "Robert's Rules Materials" http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pacificaparl/files/Robert%27s%20Rules%20Materi als/ This file is attached at the end of this message as "Attachment 2".)

The March 9, 2005, disciplinary resolution is attached below as "Attachment 1" [ed. note -- this is theresolution to suspend, above]. It appears from the face of the motion that the LSB acknowledges that Robert's Rules applies, so I must note the irony that the motion invokes the disciplinary procedures of Robert's Rules by referencing page 624 of RONR 10th Edition and then seems to ignore the letter and spirit of those same disciplinary procedures. Also note that Article 4, Section 9, of the Bylaws refers only to "Removal of Delegates." There are no disciplinary procedures in the Bylaws, so Pacifica boards and committees must use the disciplinary procedures in Robert's Rules of Order, Chapter XX.

There is some confusion in the allegations over whether each of the alleged offenses occurred during a meeting or in the before, after, or break periods.

Be that as it may, a member may be disciplined by suspension if due process is followed. As a general principle, discipline should be graduated. or what is known as "progressive discipline." (See Attachment 2 below.) For example, Robert's Rules demonstrates progressive discipline during a meeting on pages 626-628. The chair should first "warn" the member, then call the member to order (RONR p. 626, l. 20-26) and then "name the member" (RONR p. 627, l. 3-25), But "before" naming the member the Chair should direct the Secretary to take down the offensive words used by the member (RONR p. 627, l. 7-10.)

If the progressive discipline procedure is followed, then if the member continues the abusive or objectionable behavior, the chair or another member may ask the LSB if the member should be penalized, such as being expelled from the hall for the remainder of the meeting. (RONR p. 627, l. 28-34.) Remember, the chair may only call a member to order and may not penalize a member unilaterally, only the LSB may actually discipline by imposing a penalty. (RONR 627, l. 10-12.)

So what the resolution itself chronicles is the lack of progressive discipline. The resolution states that there were multiple breaches of decorum at previous meetings for which there was no discipline requested, only a call to order by the Chair (which is not a disciplinary penalty). By refusing to use the progressive discipline process it is no wonder that the breaches of decorum apparently continued. For example, if the chair had followed Robert's Rules, then at the first instance the chair would have called the member to order. Then at the next breach the chair would have directed the secretary to take down the offensive words for the record. thus putting the member on notice that his words could be used in a future discipline proceeding. Then at the next offense the Chair should have directed the secretary to take down the words and told the member that it is time for a penalty and asked the LSB "What penalty shall be imposed on the member?" (RONR p. 627, l 33-34.) At that point the appropriate penalty could have been to be expelled from the meeting for the remainder of the meeting. Thus the member would be given notice that the conduct is serious and would not be tolerated by the LSB. At the next meeting the member is on notice that he may be expelled again or receive an even stiffer penalty.

In this case, there was no progressive discipline so the member was not adequately notified that the offense was considered serious by the LSB and the LSB itself appears to be taking out its failure to understand and use progressive discipline on the member by imposing a first time excessive penalty of six months suspension rather than expelling from the remainder of the meeting.

Also for the instance of this resolution, an important question of whether due process occurred is determined by whether the alleged breaches occurred "in a meeting" or "elsewhere than at a meeting." It is clear that if the offense occurs during the meeting at which the disciplinary resolution is made, then there is "no need for a formal trial" (RONR p 627, l. 15.) And it is clear that if the offense occurred outside of a meeting that a formal investigation and trial procedure is required. (RONR p. 630, l. 8-15.) But there is some ambiguity whether the formal procedures are required for an offense that occurred in "previous" meetings.

The rationale for no formal trial needed when the offense occurs in the same meeting is that all the members who will be imposing the penalty were present and witnesses to the alleged offense and it is fresh for everyone. The rationale for a formal trial when the offense is outside the meeting is that not all of the members voting will have been witnesses with first hand knowledge. (RONR p. 630, l. 9-10.) So if the alleged offences occurred at a previous meeting there may be members considering the resolution who were not present at the previous meeting. Under this rationale, there should be formal trial procedures of due process.

Also, there is a question of whether the members at the meetings in which the previous offenses occurred have waived any opportunity to object at the later meeting by not seeking discipline during the meeting at which the alleged offense occurred. This is a variation of the "you snooze, you lose" rule in which a breach may not be complained of at a later meeting unless it is a continuing breach. Since the offensive language allegedly occurred in a meeting and in that meeting no penalty was requested, there is a strong argument that it was out of order to introduce a resolution at a later meeting.

During a meeting, if a member thinks that the rules of the assembly are being violated, then a member may make a point of order. (RONR p. 240, l. 3-4.) Since the chair called the offending member to order and no other point of order was made, no additional point of order could be made at the following meeting. On the same principle it can be argued that to make a motion for a penalty at a subsequent meeting requires the trial procedure because there was no motion at the time for a disciplinary hearing without a trial. In other words, if Robert's Rules is read to mean that no trial is needed when the offense occurs in the meeting at which the discipline is imposed, then the phrase "offenses by members outside a meeting" (RONR p. 625, l. 4-6) refers to offenses outside a meeting at which the discipline is considered. This is my interpretation of what the phrase means.

In the case of the March 9 resolution, the suspension resolution makes only a cursory claim that some disruption occurred during the meeting but does not state what it is. Obliviously the resolution was prepared ahead of time and included allegations from previous meetings. Were all of the members voting on the resolution present at the previous statements and thus first-hand witnesses to the alleged incidents? Since it appears that the secretary was never asked to record the words contemporaneously, there should have been a discussion and vote on whether those were the words stated by the member before the vote on the penalty itself (RONR p. 628, l. 9-0.)

There is also the issue of what is called "substantive" due process which means basically that even if the procedure was technically valid that the severity of the penalty offends the due process required by progressive discipline. The fact that the member was suspended for six months as a first penalty rather than for one meeting indicates that this resolution is not just responding in order to draw the line but is in fact overly punitive for some other reasons. Again, the fact that the alleged offenses were repeated is balanced by the fact that the LSB did nothing on the prior occasions to give notice that a penalty would be forthcoming for continuing conduct. That is the very purpose of progressive discipline. The LSB's own failure to apply a lesser penalty at an earlier time should not be taken out on the offender when the LSB has finally "had enough" due to a cumulative effect. In my view the six month suspension is overly punitive and is a violation of substantive due process since there was no progressive discipline.

Since all of the written allegations occurred in previous meetings, since there was no previous progressive discipline or penalties, and since the resolution was prepared ahead of time, I conclude that prior notice of the resolution, due process investigation, and charges with a formal "trial" should be required. before a penalty may be imposed. Thus in my view the resolution was out of order for consideration without prior notice and the penalty is invalid and is a continuing breach against the fundamental due process rights of the member.

Lastly, there is the significant issue of potential liability for Pacifica in the publication of the resolution. The resolution states, "Be it further resolved, that the Secretary shall forthwith publish the text of this motion and the results of the vote on the LSB section of the WBAI website and arrange for printed copies to be made available at the station and at future LSB meetings for the duration of the suspension." This is directly contraindicated by Robert's Rules of Order for the explicit recognition that even when there is a trial (and here there was not one), the findings are not those of a court of law. Consider these words of Robert's Rules:

"If (after trial) a member is expelled, the society has the right to disclose the fact that he is no longer a member-circulating it only to the extent required for the protection of the society or, possibly, of other organizations. Neither the society nor any of its members has the right to make public the charge of which an expelled member has been found guilty, or to reveal any other details connected with the case. To make any of the facts public may constitute libel. A trial by the society cannot legally establish the guilt of the accused, as understood in a court of law; it can only establish his guilt as affecting the society's judgment of his fitness for membership." (RONR, p. 630-631.)

Gregory Wonderwheel

(Attachment #1 is the resolution above)

ATTACHMENT #2:

In the file section of the PacficaParl webpages there is a file discussing the Discipline process in the folder labeled "Robert's Rules Materials" http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pacificaparl/files/Robert%27s%20Rules%20Materi als/

Notes on The Handling of Discipline for Breaches of Decorum By Gregory Wonderwheel, J.D.

Robert's Rules of Order - Disciplinary Procedures (RRO 61, beginning at page 624)

Offences Occurring At Meetings:

It is understood in most societies that members are required to be of honorable character and reputation. In balancing the rights of a society and its members, a society has the right to determine who is present at meetings, while a member has the right to be present at meetings. All persons, members and nonmembers, present at a meeting have the obligation to obey the legitimate orders of the presiding officer regarding decorum. Members can appeal from the ruling of the chair, but non-members may not, though a member may appeal on their behalf. When the chair makes a ruling, a ruling, such as "the member does not have the floor and is out of order and will be quiet", is not considered a "penalty" because it refers to the rules of debate and not the member's rights. A penalty, such as being removed form the hall, is discipline restricting the rights of a member as a result of the chair's ruling. The assembly, not the chair, has the right to impose a penalty as discipline for specific offenses. The question of penalty is debatable and members should fully debate any proposed penalty. The discipline against a non-member, such as being ejected from the room, is not a "penalty" since the non-member has no membership right being infringed. Therefore the chair may directly impose the discipline against a non-member for bad behavior without a vote of the assembly, but subject to appeal moved and seconded by members. When the offense occurs in a meeting, those present at the meeting are witnesses and there is no need for a formal trial to be held at a later time with notice.

Progressive Discipline:

Since discipline is a drastic step in any society or board, discipline should be "progressive," that is, imposed in increasing degree according to the degree of the offense. It is usually best to make the first attempts of correction informal. If the breach of decorum must be addressed in the open, the presiding officer should always remain calm and use a deliberate tone of voice. Any member may call the situation to the attention of the chair with a point of order asking the chair to call a member to order. In a meeting, the first level of correction should be a warning calling a member to order. The simplest warning is done by a request such as "Please come to order" not directed toward any specific person. The next level of firmness is to address the disorderly member in the third person such as "will the member come to order?" The chair may be more direct by saying "The member is out of order and will be silent until given the floor." If a member continues to be disorderly, the chair may direct the secretary to take down the words of the offending member. The chair may also direct comments to the offending member by name stating that repeated attempts have been made at correction. The chair should never attempt independently to order a penalty beyond a ruling that the member is our of order. For example, if the disorderly member has the floor but will neither correct his or her conduct nor give up the floor, the chair should address the assembly and ask, "What penalty should be imposed on the member?" Any member may make a motion to impose a penalty.

Examples of Penalties:

Penalties for breaches of decorum, or other rules of order, should be determined by the board or assembly that is meeting. By having the group address the penalty issue rather then the chair, the chair may maintain the decorum of neutrality and impartiality. Penalties may range from:

1) the offender being required to give up the floor and stop speaking,
2) the offender being ordered to apologize,
3) a fine if the bylaws allow it,
4) removal from the meeting room (can be conditional, such as until an apology or for the rest of the meeting),
5) removal from office,
6) suspension of membership rights, or
7) expulsion from membership.

For the latter two penalties, if the offense occurs at a meeting of the full membership, a separate trial for the offending member is not necessary unless required by the bylaws. But if the offense occurred at a board meeting, then the suspension of membership rights (such as voting rights) or termination of membership must be done by trial with due process as provided in the bylaws or in Robert's Rules of Order.

*****

Report from WBAI Justice and Unity Campaign

WBAI Board Member Suspended For Abusive Attacks on Other Members

(New York City, March 11) The WBAI Local Station Board voted 12-7 Wednesday to suspend member Paul DeRienzo for six months and demand that he apologize "for his racist, sexist, anti-semitic and personal attacks" before returning to the board. DeRienzo, elected by listeners to a three-year term in January 2004, had become increasingly disruptive and vitriolic in recent meetings since last December, when a diverse slate of anti-racist community activists won a board majority in the second round of elections. DeRienzo has frequently denounced the policies of that slate -- the WBAI Justice and Unity Campaign -- and has publicly called for the firing of the station's General Manager and Program Director, both prominent African American community advocates.

Lisa Davis, chair of the Reparations Committee of the New Jersey-based People's Organization for Progress, and the WBAI board member who introduced the suspension motion (copy below), said, "I commend the board majority for sending a clear message that abusive behavior will not be tolerated. Turning a deaf ear to such conduct would be tantamount to condoning it."

At various meetings in the past two months, all of them videotaped, DeRienzo repeatedly shouted the Nazi salute, "Sieg Heil!", "When are you going to open BAI's ovens?" "Nazi scum!" and "Adolph Vajra!" (referring to board chair and housing activist Vajra Kilgour); screamed "F--K YOU!" five times at Kilgour; and insulted three African American male board members, calling prominent Black anti-police-brutality activist Father Lawrence Lucas a "lame ass" and a "loser," demanding of respected defense attorney Michael Tarif Warren, "Did you pass the bar in New York state?," and of human rights activist Omowale Clay: "Did you demonstrate against 'The Color Purple'?" DeRienzo at times left his seat and thrust himself within inches of other board members' faces while shouting at them, and on Wednesday stalked up and down the aisles shouting for a full five minutes. "Freedom of speech does not give people the right to degrade and defile people," Davis said. "Furthermore, this type of bullying behavior effectively silences others, denying them their free speech rights," she added.

Board members from Justice and Unity maintained that DeRienzo's repeated yelling on Wednesday of "Anti-semites!" at the board majority is part of an ongoing effort by some signal area residents to stigmatize WBAI as "anti-semitic hate radio." "For 35 years, this has been the mantra of those seeking to silence WBAI's airing of the voices of Palestinian people struggling against the Israeli occupation, and of people of color here struggling for community control and affirmative action," said Father Lucas. "Like others before him, Paul DeRienzo is trying to exploit tensions between progressive Jews and African Americans to drive a wedge between these historic allies," said Bob Lederer, a staff representative on the board and a gay anti-racist activist. Lederer, whose Austrian Jewish great-grandmother was murdered by the Nazis, added, "Shouting Nazi epithets at one's political opponents in a progressive organization adds insult to injury, trivializing the suffering by Jews and others in the European Holocaust."

Only Justice and Unity Campaign board members and independent staff representative Cerene Roberts voted for the suspension; no one else on the board had previously spoken out against the conduct that led to the motion. After the board's vote, DeRienzo issued a press release falsely accusing the board of "banning" him in violation of the bylaws of the parent Pacifica Network, and claiming an infringement on his free speech rights. Attorney Warren responded, "We simply took absolutely necessary steps, after several warnings and tremendous patience, to stop abusive and threatening conduct that no board would tolerate, and to preserve the integrity of board meetings so we can continue upholding the station's peace-and-justice mission." Warren added, "The Pacifica Bylaws mandate that board meetings follow Robert's Rules of Order, which authorizes suspension of members by majority vote 'in cases of obstinate or grave breach of order.'" Warren noted that following DeRienzo's suspension, he was permitted to speak from the audience along with other members of the public.

DeRienzo is a former WBAI programmer who became prominent in 2001 for his vocal defense of what many have called the "Christmas Coup" at the station, in which Pacifica installed talk-show host Utrice Leid as station manager in violation of network rules. Leid proceeded to fire numerous activist-oriented hosts, setting off a huge movement by listeners and staff that ultimately won the restoration of the station's and network's progressive orientation.

In June 2001, at the height of this campaign, NYC Independent Media Center reporter Kevin Pritchard filed criminal charges of third-degree assault against DeRienzo for an incident in which Pritchard sought station staff comment on a nonviolent protest by listener activists. Pritchard's attorneys charged in a public statement that "Pritchard was physically and verbally assaulted," sustaining "a badly sprained or broken finger, a cut lip and multiple abrasions" and $300 in damage to his audio equipment. According to reports, Pritchard's finger was later determined to be broken.

Note on documentation: A 28-minute video showing some of DeRienzo's misconduct and the LSB's actions, along with context and history of the underlying struggles, will soon be posted at www.justiceunity.org.

More written background information on DeRienzo's history at WBAI will soon be available at www.justiceunity.org.

*****

Mitchel Cohen's letter to the PNB condemning the suspension

Dear Pacifica National Board,

The expulsion of Paul DiRienzo from the WBAI LSB -- termed a "suspension" by the Justice and Unity board majority -- is a despicable and illegal display of authoritarianism. The majority claims that it could "suspend" a board member by a majority vote -- not the 2/3rds required by Roberts Rules and almost all directorates. Whether you like Paul DiRienzo or not is NOT THE POINT. The point is, a majority is attempting to expel someone with no due process, just by fiat at a meeting. Who's to say who is next? So long as the PNB does not intervene, it allows a majority to continue to think it has that power lawfully. Maybe I'll be expelled next, maye Patty Heffley. Reasons can be invented easily enough: "He went to the bathroom without permission"; "He spoke without raising his hand"; "She used foul language not suitable for a woman" -- whatever the majority wants.

The point is that no majority has the right nor the authority to expel or suspend anyone by simple majority vote; otherwise, any temporary majority could invent reasons and expel all its opponents whenever it feels like it.

The board majority failed to get the 2/3rds votes needed. It failed to

- present the motion in advance of the meeting as required under the law (and yet had elaborate typed-up copies to distribute -- PNB, ask yourselves: Why didn't they announce this ahead of time, if they had the time to print up flyers for all? Clearly, it was an attempt to subvert due process, as well as our established process for placing items on the agenda);

- acknowledge that JUC board members had been shouting out repeatedly, disrupting meetings, and making personal attacks on other board members for the last few meetings;

- concern itself with the fact that Vajra Kilgour -- the JUC chair of the Board -- had gone on radio and publicly disparaged Paul DiRienzo by name, and then prevented him from responding publicly either on the airwaves or at the board meeting, which is what prompted Paul's outbursts;

- provide criteria for various levels of sanctions. Why "six months"? Why not 3-1/2? Why not 1 month? Why not "please, just leave the meeting until you calm down"?

- understand that by preventing Paul from voting for members of the CAB as a result of his illegal "suspension", they may very well have violated federal law and may have subjected the network to further sanctions.

Paul DiRienzo is being vilified for the content of his speech, which is admittedly raw and harsh -- it's also covered by the First Amendment. At no time did Paul physically threaten anyone. At no time did he approach anyone physically.

Meanwhile, the JUC majority says nothing when one of its members BRINGS A GUN to meetings (yes, you read that correctly -- will the PNB ban guns at its NYC national meeting, or will someone have to get shot first before action is taken?). JUC members and supporters, including some JUC Board members, have been involved in honest to goodness real physical attacks on other Board members, as well as a large number of violent incidents at the station itself. The climate of thuggery is rampant, which may be the reason why Dan Coughlin, on his own initiative, engaged a very pricey law firm to investigate the incidents, BYPASSING Don Rojas, the GM, who could have (but didn't) do anything about any of this.

JUC is trying to paint this as a "racial" issue; they point at criticisms that are made about Board members who are Black, but not when they are White (Vajra is a white person. Bob Lederer is white). It is ridiculous. Look at their statement that they are circulating. They claim that Paul DiRienzo's words (not actions, mind you, his WORDS) hurt Bob Lederer, who's family members were in a concentration camp in Austria during WW2. But they don't tell you that Paul DiRienzo lost quite a number of his relatives in the gas chambers in that same period!!! Such duplicity is planned. In reality, JUC members have done everything they can to provoke explosive reactions, and when one member finally lets them have it, he is pilloried without any due process or advance notice and expelled ... um, "suspended."

Among other things, this is an issue of free speech, and the JUC's arbitrary and capricious singling out of one individual on the other side, while THEIR board members get to abuse people to their heart's content.

By their actions they've now thrown the entire station into jeopardy, as Paul has a very solid lawsuit claim against the LSB majority, and against their slandering him by spreading this poppycock, below. WBAI GM Don Rojas was present throughout. He's an ex-officio member of the LSB, and yet said nothing. The entire station is now liable as a result. And as the LSB is a committee of the national board, the network itself may be liable for such wild and crazy actions of the Local Station Board.

Again, you don't have to agree with Paul's statements to appreciate the stupidity of what the JUC board majority has done. But you can sure understand what led him to that point, if you take a look at the history behind the JUC's attacks on the Board minority. The JUC simply cannot accept the fact that people disagree with them, and are willing to speak to those disagreements without allowing themselves to be bullied or intimidated.

I filed a motion during the meeting to call for a re-vote at the next meeting. Hopefully, sane individuals will prevail upon the JUC. I urge the PNB to step in NOW, before it's too late. You could:

- Order the LSB majority's vote "illegal" and reinstate Paul DiRienzo effective immediately.
- Send an impartial investigative team to New York.
- Change the venue of the next PNB meeting, so that it takes place at some other location.

Mitchel Cohen
Board Member, WBAI Local Station Board


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