Pacifica Board Majority Backs Off Bylaws Changes
Pacifica board majority backs off by-laws changes, but serious personnel, financial irregularities continue.
UPDATE: REPORT BACK FROM HOUSTON BOARD MEETING
PACIFICA BOARD MAJORITY BACKS OFF BY-LAWS CHANGES
BUT SERIOUS PERSONNEL, FINANCIAL IRREGULARITIES CONTINUE
Pacifica's national board, at its weekend meeting in Houston, tabled controversial proposed by-laws changes, after a nationwide campaign produced thousands of outraged letters, e-mails, FAXes, and phone calls to the board's controlling majority, installed by now departed board chair Mary Frances Berry.
The by-laws changes would have further centralized power in
the hands of a board clique of as few as five self-selecting members, would have allowed board members to be paid for "professional services," might have allowed sale of substantial "assets" (i.e. radio stations) and would have permitted the board to make monetary grants.
Instead, the board has now asked for local meetings to consider revision of the existing by-laws. These meetings, activists promise, will be a forum for considering the democratization, rather than the centralization of board power, and the inclusion of an ironclad "no sale" clause.
CONGRATULATIONS - AND THANK YOU - TO THE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WHO PROTESTED THESE PROPOSED BY-LAWS CHANGES, AND HELPED DEFEAT THEM... AT LEAST FOR THE MOMENT!
The board, under pressure from three lawsuits which are seeking to enjoin them for further damaging Pacifica, also failed to act on nominations which activists feared would have further increased the majority of the Berry-installed directors. And board vice-chair Ken Ford stated that applications from community-responsive potential board members had somehow been misplaced. They were resubmitted at the meeting.
In a potentially very serious development, the board majority and executive director Bessie Wash claimed that no financial figures could be provided to the board for their consideration, one of the key duties of board members. Activists suspect that out-of-control expenditures for legal, public relations, and "security" are close to bankrupting Pacifica. But the board majority claims that financial documents are badly behind in postings, that the computer system being used is not working, and that in any case the financial office is in transition, being moved from Los Angeles to NY (a move that was not authorized by the board, and seems to be in violation of Pacifica's California charter). In addition, long-time controller Sandra Rosas has left the organization, under circumstances that have not been explained. A new financial consulting firm has been hired, at $15,000 a month, to work on the books and records.
Throughout the meeting, Pacifica's board majority was on its best behavior. Advised closely by legal counsel and public relations personnel, the board largely abandoned its hostile attitude towards dissident, community-radio oriented board members and a large audience of people who came from across the country to confront the board. Hundreds of community radio supporters attended the open board sessions, including recently dismissed and "banned" WBAI programmers. In addition, there were well-attended meetings and teach-ins all weekend, hosted by Houston activists.
FOOTNOTE: The day after the board meeting, New York's interim station manager, Utrice Leid, removed a long-time labor programmer, Ken Nash, from the air as he discussed the banning of his co-host, Mimi Rosenberg, who had been at WBAI for 32 years. Leid claimed Nash, and his guests, including New York congressman Major Owens, were not telling the truth about the WBAI situation.
(Obtained by e-mail from the list at www.savepacifica.net)
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