portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article oregon & cascadia | portland metro

actions & protests | labor | media criticism

indymedia readers: your help is needed to save portland indymedia

If you appreciate the open and independent nature of portland indymedia, your help is needed to save it. A fiscal sponsorship agreement threatens to put portland indymedia under IRS regulation and a Board of Directors. Content would probably get watered down as well.

It looks like portland indymedia is about to come under the financial umbrella of a non-profit called Media Island. Media Island is a groovy enough organization and I have nothing against them, but I am opposed to portland indymedia coming under their umbrella. Attached below is the agreement that some people in portland indymedia want to sign that would make this financial arrangement a reality.

This document and the relationship it represents runs exactly counter to the independent and anti-authoritarian nature that indymedia espouses and embraces. It would essentially make portland indymedia owned by a group of people. No indymedia should be owned by any individual or group or board of directors. Indymedia belongs to everyone and to no one. I am afraid that this document will be used as an excuse to water down indymedia content and make the organization into a stale bureaucracy.

Keep indymedia free.
Keep it open.
Keep it independent.

Come to the portland indymedia general collective meeting on Sunday, April 28, at 6:00 p.m. at the CFA office on 16th and Clinton SE, and save portland indymedia from this proposal.

If you can't make it to the meeting, write to the portland indymedia general collective and register your disapproval of this proposal:

Basically, this proposal represents a fork in the road for portland indymedia.

One road -- accepting this financial sponsorship -- leads to:
* losing independence -- being answerable to another organization
* paying monetary dues to another organization
* follow IRS guidelines
* becoming more conservative in our editorial choices
* further bureaucraticization -- which is the last thing we need
* naming individuals as de facto representatives, which goes against a prior consensus forbidding just that. no one can represent indymedia. indymedia is more things and viewpoints and people than any one person could ever represent.

Here's a choice phrase from the document below: the MII Board of Directors is "the only body that legally retains overall authority over project activities." "project activities" here is "portland indymedia activities". Say what? The only body that legally retains overall authority over portland indymedia is a non-profit in Washington? This is ridiculous.

How this agreement could make portland indymedia editorial decisions more conservative:
If portland indymedia is under Media Island, even though we are not a 501(c)3 ourselves, we must abide by the IRS's 501(c)3 rules, which forbid:
* campaigning for a particular candidate or party
* lobbying for or against particular legislation
* not planning or carrying out illegal actions

I have more experience with politically-oriented 501(c)3s than I care to remember, and I have seen the hassle caused by these guidelines. The editorial committee will end up turn itself in knots trying to figure out how to phrase things in the center column so as to avoid the appearance of any of the above three.

Features current and past that would be questionable and have to be watered down or eliminated include: * May Day -- for encouraging an unpermitted march
* Tax Resistance -- for encouraging people not to pay their taxes
* Anti-farmworker Legislative Bill -- for encouraging people to call Kitzhaber to veto the bill
* Green Party or Nader features -- for giving props to particular political parties and candidates
* These are just very recent examples; think of all the features with similar themes or calls to action in them.

Much as some of us in the editorial group might pretend, just for appearances, that features on portland indymedia don't take a stand on the issues, we all know that they do. The features as a whole don't support only one solution or tactic of course, but often speak out quite strongly in favor of particular ones. There are many tactics that the features would never support, so there is no balance. The features are biased. And that's how I believe it should be. As educator Paolo Freire said, "In the struggle between the powerful and the powerless, those who claim to be neutral side with the powerful." portland indymedia is not netural and it shouldn't be. This proposal would encourage neutrality.

We must keep the open publishing newswire "open"
And that's only the features section. What about the very heart of Indymedia -- the open publishing newswire? Can it stay *open* if we have to abide by IRS guidelines? Or will we have to begin hiding more posts for fear of repercussions? Those in favor of this financial sponsorship proposal would assure you that such a thing could never happen. But one of the supporters already spoke in favor of a new editorial guideline (to hide advertising from the newswire if the editorial group decides to do so) because such a guideline would be looked upon favorably by a financial sponsor. No, I don't trust the people who say this arrangement won't affect editorial policy. I believe it will, and the results will be very un-indy. This is a very slippery slope, folks. Too slippery. It isn't worth it. There's not even any portland indymedia money to speak of to put under this 501(c)3 umbrella.

people who care for portland indymedia should be spending their creative and energetic resources on other things:
* encouraging people to post
* reporting news
* expanding beyond the internet
* raising cash to pay for a server to host portland and other indy sites

If all the time spent preparing and pushing this proposal had been spent doing the above, portland indymedia would be in a better place already, with a bigger audience, more participants, and more money. The other fork in this road leaves portland indymedia with the potential to become a more powerful tool for the oppressed, a better adversary to the powers that be, and a louder voice of independence.

I encourage everyone who appreciates the independent and anti-authoritarian nature of indymedia to attend the general collective meeting on Sunday and save portland indymedia from this proposal. The meeting is at the CFA office on 16th & Clinton SE at 6:00 p.m.

text of Media Island - portland indymedia agreement, with comments:

----- Original Message ----- From:

To: imc-portland@indymedia.org, imc-portland-editorial@indymedia.org;
Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2002 4:53 PM
Subject: [PDX IMC editorial] Media Island Int'l Fiscal sponsorship agreement
> >
> hey all, here is what Jimmy and I worked out to try and address the needs of our working relationship with Media Island International. This is open for discussion, both here on the listserves and at the collective meeting sunday, where we can hammer out any further details. If there are issues now though, I have arranged to talk with Jimmy again Friday noonish, so post your concerns if there are any. the percentage amount is left blank, as is the date for the meeting where we would agree to the signers of the contract and again hopefully we can agree on the check signers for the bank account. The percentage would ideally be 7% as I understand it.
> Media Island International (MII) & Portland Indymedia April 2002

I am against this 7%. I am against ANY % going to another organization. Will this be yet another item that comes out of fundraising money before cash is set aside for indymedia centers in the global south? Who needs the money more? Media Island? Or IMC Argentina, where they went through a near-rEvolution with only one digital camera?

> MII Fiscal Sponsorship Policy
> 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Umbrella provided to sponsored projects and organizations.
> & Agreement between Media Island International and
> >
> 1. MII Organizational Purpose
> 2. Structure of MII / about Fiscal Sponsorship
> 3. MII's Rights & Responsibilities
> 4. Requesting MII's Umbrella
> 5. Project / Organization obligations/Requirements
> a. Banking
> b. Donations / Solicitation/Acknowledgement-Receipts
> c. Fundraising: Grant seeking, Foundations & Individuals
> d. Accountability / Accounting of funds / Reporting
> 6. Administrative Costs
> 7. Evaluation
> 8. Agreement
> >
> > 1. MII Organizational Purpose
> Media Island International (MII) is a resource and networking center for individuals, organizations and movements working on social justice, economic democracy, ecological sustainability and peace. We gather, evaluate and distribute under-published information on critical issues at strategic times. We see that the eyes of the world are watching, and truth is getting harder and harder to hide. We are here to help provide tools for change, and to increase hope & understanding among people in all sectors of society about these issues.
> >
> 2. Structure of MII / about Fiscal Sponsorship
> MII is a nonprofit corporation under the laws of the State of Washington, and is recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to which contributions made are tax-deductible. MII receives grants and contributions from foundations as well as individuals & others to support the operations of the organization to carry out its mission. From time to time, MII helps an existing or new project or organization by using the tax exempt status to allow grants from foundations and tax-deductible donations to support the work of the sponsored project. Projects are virtually autonomous on a day-to-day basis, because we have great confidence in the capabilities of individuals and groups to develop their own work. MII gives creative, results-oriented people the freedom to develop program ideas with a minimum of bureaucracy.
> > ( 2. Structure of MII / about Fiscal Sponsorship, continuedS )
> > Foundations can only grant money to organizations which have 501(c)(3) status. The IRS holds that a 501(c)(3) organization can distribute funds to organizations which have not, themselves, received IRS recognition of 501(c)(3) status, if certain steps are taken to insure that the funds are used only for charitable, educational or other 501(c)(3) purposes.
> > A few guidelines are set forth by the IRS:
> . * funds must be used for specific projects in furtherance of the sponsor's own exempt purposes;
> . * the sponsoring organizational must retain control and discretion as to the use of the funds;
> . * the sponsoring organization must maintain records establishing that the funds were used for section 501(c)(3) purposes.
> > Basically, the few activities restricted by the IRS for a 501(c)(3) are:
> . Not allowed to campaign for or against any candidate for political office;
> . Not able to lobby for or against specific legislation pending before legislative bodies;
> . No assets of a 501(c)(3) may be used for the direct profit or benefit of a private individual, corporation, or other party, except in reasonable compensation for services or goods supplied.
> > Accordingly, there are some requirements and an understanding which must be entered into to ensure appropriate knowledge and communication is shared between MII and the supported project/organization.
> >
> 3. Requesting MII's Umbrella
> Organizations or individuals representing projects which support MII's mission may request fiscal sponsorship. Approval is granted or denied by the Board of Directors of MII. A request is made in writing, a presentation may be made describing the project/organization by the proponents or contact people, and questions are discussed with the Board or its designates. Notification of the decision will be given as soon as readily possible directly to the contact person.
> > 4. MII's rights & responsibilities
> MII wants to foster and stimulate good projects which also fulfill our mission. MII is bound by some easy to understand rules by the State of Washington and laws of the United States, most pertinently for this relationship, those of the IRS as reviewed above.
> MII has a responsibility to review and discuss the project overview and particulars with the contact people so each develop a mutual understanding of requirements and limitations of the financial and legal relationship both before and during the duration of the sponsorship. MII will do its best to maintain in good standing its 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. MII is ultimately responsible legally and financially for the work of its projects. In the event that a project engages in actions that threaten the viability of MII, MII may suspend a project until the matter is considered by the Board of Directors. MII has the right to revoke the fiscal sponsorship for good reason after due consideration and review of pertinent circumstances.

Did you catch that last bit there? "MII will do its best to maintain in good standing its 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. MII is ultimately responsible legally and financially for the work of its projects. In the event that a project engages in actions that threaten the viability of MII, MII may suspend a project until the matter is considered by the Board of Directors." So, portland indymedia would then take down features or even hide newswire items that might endanger the relationship with MII. Or worse yet, be like corporate media people, and not upload "questionable" features at all for fear of offending "the boss".

> >
> >
> > 5. Project/Organization Obligations / Requirements
> . Groups or individuals must be, for all general purposes, non-profit, educational, charitable, or scientific.
> . Projects must identify a single director as the responsible party with whom EINS communicates about routine business matters. MII recognizes the original person applying for project status as project director unless the director informs MII in writing of any change in responsibility.

Indymedia has grown into a global network of over 80 sites while at the same time being stongly anti-authoritarian. There is no leadership of Indymedia. Nobody owns it. I am against anyone being called a "project director" even if it is only a title with no authority. Titles have ways of creating their own authority and hierarchy, and we must avoid this.

>Also, projects may not shift its own goals significantly or take on subprojects that are significantly beyond the nature of its original goals without approval of the MII.

Whoah, whoah, whoah !! So how big of a change is significant enough that portland indymedia needs approval from MII? This sounds like a great way for skittish people within portland indymedia to stifle creativity, shoot down new ideas, and make portland indymedia into an overly-cautious, conservative organization.

> . Groups or individuals must provide to MII their by-laws or an equivalent statement of purpose with their request for fiscal sponsorship or soon thereafter.
> . Activities funded must fit within the IRS guidelines for non-profit activities; i.e., they must be educational, charitable, or scientific. No activities funded through tax-deductible sources may plan or carry out illegal actions.

There it is. portland indymedia activities "must fit within the IRS guidelines for non-profit activities". So, we are going to let the U.S. Government set the standard of behavior that portland indymedia has to live up to? No thanks. Is anyone actually in favor of this?

> . Sponsored organizations/projects will submit a basic budget as their plans develop.
> . Projects are encouraged to form an advisory board to assist project activities. Such advisory committees should not be confused with the MII Board of Directors, which is the only body that legally retains overall authority over project activities.
> "Advisory board". Great. That's all we need at portland indymedia. More bureaucracy. And people with titles raised up above other people. My answer to this is: NO. And worse yet -- the MII Board of Directors is "the only body that legally retains overall authority over project activities."
> > 5a. Banking
> MII & Portland Indymedia have agreed to have a bank account in Portland Indymedia's name sponsored by MII as the fiscal sponsor of the project and of the bank account. This account will bear the tax-identification number of MII (91-1514384), and will have signers from Portland Indymedia.
> A single checking account is recommended for simplicity and funds tracking.
> Conducting the day to day business of the project is the responsibility of the project coordinators and workers, including responsible handling of the funds in the project account. This includes maintaining good files and records. MII will not remove or disturb monies in the account of Portland Indymedia. Should the fiscal sponsorship agreement be dissolved, any monies owed to either party shall be paid upon dissolution of the bank account.
> >
> 5b. Donations / Solicitation / Acknowledgement-Receipts
> In some instances a cover letter from MII, stating that Portland Indymedia is a project fiscally sponsored by MII, is in order. Those instances may include requests to foundations for large grants, etc. Portland Indymedia is required to give receipts to donors for any donated items (goods & services. Receipts for financial contributions, especially for those donors who request a tax-deduction, are also the responsibility of Portland Indymedia. Copies are to go to the donor, kept on file with Portland Indymedia, and another kept for reporting to MII.
> Receipts should have a note of thanks, listing the date, any check number, item/s or amounts donated, condition of, estimated fair-market value of any goods listed in dollars, the project's contact information, Media Island's name and tax ID #, and the donor's name and contact information.
> > 5c. Fundraising: Grant seeking, Foundations & Individuals
> MII has several projects underway. Some may be applying for grants from a foundation we are already involved with, and there is usually a limit on the number of grants a 501(c)(3) can apply for to a foundation in any year. The sponsored org/project will provide MII with a list of potential funding sources when identified, and before the grant application is submitted. The MII Board or designated committee will review the list of potential funders and approve a final list available for approach by the sponsored entity. All proposals must be must be reviewed and approved by the MII Board of Directors and a letter confirming fiscal sponsorship will be attached to each sponsored proposal. It is not anticipated that this review will impede the ability or speed of getting support, but to coordinate well with activities of MII.
> >
> 5d. Accountability / Accounting of funds / Reporting
> Sponsored entities are accountable to MII and must submit bi-annual (2x/yr) reports to MII, short narrative and basic financial, and must maintain for review receipts of all expenses under the sponsored monies. Financial reports can be simple, yet need to be detailed and provided to MII in paper &/or digital format (Excel &/or Quicken are adequate.) Track money in, money out- and have records reflecting to whom, for what, and keep receipts for expenditures, track reimbursements made to individuals, and get any letters, verifications, acknowledgements, &/or contracts with any individuals who receive MII/project funds.
> >
> 6. Administrative Costs
> MII charges a sliding scale percentage fee as an overhead charge on project revenue received each month, which helps to cover costs in supporting MII's varied work. Typically the range is %5-%15.
> In this case, the percentage amount agreed to is ___ %. This amount is ___ % of the gross donation monies received into the Portland Indymedia bank account, and is to be paid out to MII quarterly.

Hold it right there. This is ridiculous. So, we're paying these people? Forget it. There's much better things to do with portland indymedia money than this.

> 7. Evaluation
> An evaluation of the project and status of sponsorship will be conducted after 90 days. A final evaluation will be conducted at the conclusion of the sponsored project, or annually if the project is ongoing.

Oh cool. There's an out. So those of us who are against this still have time to sabotage the whole thing by putting up features like the ones we've already been uploading. Who do I contact at Media Island to inform them that portland indymedia is not living up to its end of the deal and that we are endangering their non-profit status and they need to drop us like a hot rock?

> > 8. Agreement by project representatives to have project fiscally sponsored by MII
> > The Portland Indymedia group has read the above information on project sponsorship and agreed at a meeting on ________ to follow the above procedures as an MII project. We are satisfied that all of our questions about sponsorship have been answered to date, and that we will consult the staff or Board of MII for further clarification as needed. This agreement may be augmented by further agreements between the parties. This agreement may be dissolved by either party upon consultation with the other. Any such agreement to dissolve this relationship will be made by the groups themselves using decision making processes each group has, and as such cannot be done by individuals without authorization by the group.

Well y'all who are supporting this proposal don't have my authorization for jack shit, but the current decision making process gives me no voice in the process unless I truck up to portland from eugene for this meeting. I can't make it (work the next day), but I've invited some friends to show up.

> Project: Portland Indymedia
> > Organizational Contacts:

> > Signatures: ______________________________________________
> > Date: ______________________________________________
> END> ATTACHMENT part 2 application/mac-binhex40 name=PDX_IMC_Fiscal_Agmt.doc
> >
> ---------------------------------
> Do You Yahoo!?
> Yahoo! Games - play chess, backgammon, pool and more
blow them off 25.Apr.2002 22:58


This is the first time I've come across this site. Am searching for an article here and found this bs. What is the cost here that is driving the indymedia people? Webhosting? That's nothing, maybe 100-120 a year. Go out on the street with a tin can and you ought to be able and raise that amount, easily. Seems like a non-issue to me.

The Sky is Falling, the Sky is Falling! 25.Apr.2002 23:19

Jim Lockhart eagleye@PhilosopherSeed.org

For those of you who have made it to the end of this analysis, I also encourage you to attend the meeting on Sunday. If there is one thing that IMC needs, it is many voices, many voices.
And, I agree that IMC is at an important time in its life, making important decisions about its future, and its ability to facilitate news and discussion for the community.
But, I also encourage you to keep in mind that this analysis above is but one perspective of many possible interpetations of what is, and what could be going on here. There has been much discussion and debate about setting out on this particular path. Perhaps this fiscal sponsorship, under this umbrella will be the right thing to do, and will provide portland indymedia with the tools to grow and serve the community better; perhaps not.
This is a decision we've taken it upon ourselves to make, for various reasons and with specific goals in mind.
Portland Indymedia is part of a planetary network, of other IMC's, but more, a global consciousness rapidly taking shape, and, to a large degree, shaping itself. We can pick and choose the structures we will use to achieve our goals. It is then up to us to insure that they will serve our ends, rather than, as this analysis seems to fear, allow ourselves to be directed and imprisoned by the forms we select to assist us in our efforts.
As with many decisions, whether they are right or wrong depends at least as much on how we conduct ourselves after that point of decision. One must sometimes sacrifice a little independence in order to access a larger, or at least, a different arena of freedom. Here we are talking about freeing up the global server by establishing a portland server, which could host other IMC's, existing or coming on line. This takes money, this takes organization, this takes committment to each other and to the group.
How we go about making these decisions is as important as actually achieving these goals. They must be made democratically and in the full light of day, with respect for all perspectives. The sky is not falling; there are some choices to be made, by people who have conflicting and sometimes opposing visions of IMC.
This is what Democracy looks like.

wtf 25.Apr.2002 23:22

dude dj8956@yahoo.com

1. what is the current busines entity of portland indymedia?

2. What does freedom of the press and business entities have to do with each other?

3. Is the press free if somebody owns it?

4. How indy is indy?

Please do not become a 501c3 25.Apr.2002 23:46


Indymedia won't be independent anymore with 501c3 status. it will slowly but very surely turn into a shill. The United States government(specifically, the Justice Department), moniters "not-for-profits",and it's not for Indymedia. Please send out solicitations for more donations and see what happens. My household has donated a couple of times over the past 6 months to Portland Indymedia, and we're good for more.

what are you really afraid of? 26.Apr.2002 07:16

an indy reader

what are you really afraid of???? i understand this issue has been given much thought and was already concensed at a meeting. i think the issue now is to get the contract written in such a way that those that will be voting on it are happy with it. if going with a 501 c3 goes against what indymedia is about, why are there other indymedias that have done this, including global indymedia? and the umbrella org. is media island international, which buy the way has been involved with indymedia since it's beginning and umbrelled seattle imc.

Don't Sign it! 26.Apr.2002 08:33


Don't sign that agreement to let a group rule over Portland Indymedia! Remember what happened to Pacifica! I was involved in the early days of Alternative Radio...it grew because it expressed the views of many not heard in corporate media... Pacifica and Earth News network were swallowed up by businessmen and women who wanted to have access to the people to sell their junk or control the views expressed to the progressives.

Don't sign that agreement! Don't do it. Portland Indymedia will stop being a powerful voice for the working poor and the progressive left. Don't sign it.

I contribute often to this site. I lived in Corvallis up until a month ago (I now live in Portland) and helped to write and promote a Corvallis City council proclamation to stop Fast Track. All through the process I posted to Portland Indymedia because there was a news blackout on anything progressive in Corvallis. Corvallis activists use this site often. This site and KBOO are the only media that we can access that reaches our other community activits.

Don't sign it! Keep Portland Indymedia Free!!!

solidarity needed amongst indy editorial team 26.Apr.2002 11:46


I am dissapointed that the editorial team of pdx indy lacks the solidarity and integrity on an issue so integral to the health of indymedia that they must resort to posting this issue to the newswire to garner support for something so obvious.

Indy is about freeing the media from corporate control! obviously this is an issue of control; it is vital to keep this a newswire free of control. it is control that is responsible for oh so many woes...

It's about who we are... 26.Apr.2002 11:59


You oppose discussion of how Indy media should be run? You think controversial issues should stay behind closed doors? Indy Media is about the people reporting thier own news instead of waiting for corporate shills to rip and read from the corporate/right wing news wire. Discussion of changes should be out in the open. Portland Indy Media is about more than the Portland area...it serves the whole state. It is not unusual to see stories from Ashland, Medford, Eugene, Salem, Corvallis, Bend and the coast. In small towns across Oregon, the only media is severely controlled. We use Portland Indymedia not only to post to Portland...but to communicate with each other. If there was to be any changes it should be to make Portland Indy Media...Oregon.indymedia.org. Also to set up collectives in each local area with local meetings and then a more central meeting for hearing the local area voices.

If you become corporate then I will not be here anymore and I will help to start a Oregon.Indymedia.org

"build it and they will come" is not true 26.Apr.2002 13:16

peace rebel boy

In a comment above, Jim defends the financial sponsorship proposal because portland indymedia needs money for a server.

Setting up a financial structure does not bring in money. Talk to any number of other groups out there who have become 501(c)3s so they could accept tax-deductable donations, and you'll find a lot of organizations that are still broke.

Look at the Green Party in Portland. They have thousands of people registered with them, a much bigger mailing list than portland indymedia, and more people actively involved. The Greens there are some of the hardest working and coolest activists around, god bless 'em, but they are always needing more money too.

Making donations tax deductible does not make donations appear out of thin air. And you can get donations without the deduction. A few thousand people paid non-tax deductible money to see Nader last August, and some bought tee-shirts and made donations on top of that.

The idea of "build it and they will come" that Jim and others seem to espouse is not true about financial structures, websites, organizations or events. What actually happens in the real world is: "build it, then flyer about it, and put up posters about it, and talk to people on the street about it, and table about it at events, and send out emails about it, and get allies like KBOO and the Alliance to mention it, and do follow-up follow-up follow-up, and then maybe -- *maybe* -- they will come."

This financial sponsorship proposal is another example of foot-dragging administrivia taking the place of the nitty gritty hard work that actually needs to happen to make portland indymedia grow and bring in money for a server. And it sets portland indymedia down a bureaucratic road that a majority of those i've talked to don't want.

Bridget, above, has got it, right on, with her comment. portland indymedia should be expanding its self-definition to include autonomous organizing committees around the state, not setting up a centralized structure in Portland.

Does portland indymedia have an attorney? 26.Apr.2002 13:51


Does Portland Indymedia have legal counsel? I shouldn't think that any lawyer would recommend 501c3 status for indymedia; it just doesn't fit with the goals of the organization. What is going on with this?? I'm definitely in Briget's camp; if indymedia panders to the Justice Dept., I'll support development of a real independent media center. And by the way, we rural Oregonians are not as benighted as some in Portland might imagine. Pick up a copy of THE DAILY ASTORIAN newspaper some time and check out Steve Forrester's editorials. We got TWO front page stories for the recent Helen Caldicott visit, and a front page headline last week screamed, JUDGE TO ASHCROFT: BUTT OUT!! Now I didn't see that in ANY other paper!

Absolutely not 26.Apr.2002 14:25


bridget says:

>You oppose discussion of how Indy media should be run? You think controversial issues should stay behind closed doors?

if you read my post a little closer, or perhaps between the few lines, i simply say that it is a shame that this is even as issue at all. this is an internal issue within the pdx editorial team - i am asking why is it that they are split on an issue like this when it is so obvious. hooray for bringing it out to the readers, but don't you just wish that this was not even an issue in the first place?

but hey, your idea of an oregon.indy is a good one.

comments from MII re: 501c3 26.Apr.2002 23:25

Media Island Int'l mii@olywa.net

Dear readers and Jeremy,

It seems a good idea to interject some information here, as it was just learned this post was up and in action.
Sorry this is long, hopefully it is helpful, but after this input we punt back to Portland Indymedia's group and process.

Media Island Int'l (MII) was asked by people who we have known for years in Portland, who we were under the impression were and are members of the Portland Indymedia (PIMC), to consider becoming the "fiscal sponsor" for the PIMC.
(By way of some context, MII was the original fiscal sponsor for the Seattle IMC in late 1999, before/during/after the WTO hootenany, and handed that responsibility back to the Seattle IMC in March, 2000.)

The notion of group process, collective process, consensus all that - that is core to "who" is PIMC. - those who work together as a team to operate the collective known as Portland Indymedia, those who offer the 'public face' of the website and its editorial content etc., they who meet with and work with each other, whether online or face to face- them are those people who are the collective of PIMC.
Those who are served by PIMC have awesome input and ideas, and the content of the discussion in this newswire piece is important and worthy.

We've been told that anyone who posts to PIMC is a member, and anyone who shows up at a meeting of the collective is a voting member who can block in the consensus-based decision-making process. Go for it.

Apparently months of discussion and decision-making have indeed already occurred regarding this issue of fiscal sponsorship.
There were a lot of pros and cons, but let's go on the record and say a couple of things:

It sounds like it was decided by consensus by the PIMC that indeed they wanted to ask MII to help them with this request.

If the group decides to revisit the whole concept of whether or not to use a 501(c)(3) then so be it- it's your group and that's the nature of consensus and collective decision making.

MII is not pushing PIMC to enter into this relationship.

This draft contract is a proposal, and as such can and probably should be changed. There are several things we and others have already noticed that need amending if this is to be usable.

MII is not forcing any language not mutually agreeable to PIMC & MII.

MII absolutely agrees with the sentiment that any negative influence on the PIMC from any other entity, MII included, should be refused, including any watering down of PIMC content, etc.

MII has no intention of messing around with your site, group or process- and have no ability or desire to 'shut down the project'. We of course do reserve the right, as does PIMC, to sever the relationship of the fiscal sponsorship- hence the comment by Jeremy after section 4 was right on in pointing out unclear language that needs to be changed- from: "...MII may suspend the project..." to: "...may suspend the fiscal sponsorship of the project..."

We as MII don't have much of an opinion one way or another on whether or not you (PIMC) should use fiscal sponsorship to aid your fundraising options. It is but one more tool.

The next meeting is to occur this coming Sunday (4/28/02) to discuss, among other things, this topic. There's always gonna be new people who come in needing to be brought up to speed on the topics at hand- so hopefully there's a way you have to handle that. If there's issues of representation, deal with those.


So that's where we're coming from- the PIMC has work to do internally in how it handles discussion and collective members etc., and obviously there are new people who are concerned with the same questions (and some new ones perhaps) you undoubtedly discussed at your previous meetings. We've been here to help with any info from experience we have, and will remain available.

The responders to Jeremy's post are concerned and rightly so and for the right reasons- those who attended the meetings where the issue was discussed are concerned too- and have participated directly for a while longer hashing over much of that reasoning.

'MyDD' has a point, but lacks info on PIMC's plans and how much $ they may actually need to do what they propose. hopefully there is another post detailing the plans for webhosting and the costs in doing so that folks can reference.

'Jim''s piece makes sense, but with any luck no one has to sacrifice too much or any independence.

'Dude' asks good questions- answer them at the meeting, and post the responses somewhere handy.

'Jane' is concerned that Indymedia will become a 501(c)(3) itself, or just like one if sponsored by one. reasonable concern in a way, that's why people work out the details at grueling meetings, maintain independence and have escape clauses in any agreements they make. Also, she's right on about asking for $$. Then later she comes in a similar spirit as Bridget, and should also be driven to meetings.

'Indyreader' was slightly dismissive about the concerns at first, but ultimately reminds us of the process and brings clear info the the thread.

'Bridget''s got moxy! somebody drive her to the meetings on a regular basis- all ready to start a new one should this one get trashed by corporate control! way to go actually- but first how about working together on what you already have, which is a good bunch of solid activists working together on PIMC- make that work even more like the next person suggests-

'Control-free' has solid insight, that there's an internal issue of communications within the group that needs addressing. should fiscal sponsorship even be an issue?

'PeaceRebelBoy' has some excellent comments regarding the initial reasoning of whether or not to even have/get a fiscal sponsor, or become a 501(c)(3) in the first place- that is: that it still takes work to raise money to operate one way or another, with or without the 501c3. Many donors don't need a steenkin tax-deduction, and many orgs are indeed broke anyway. It comes back to what your needs are and how you go about meeting them. You- the group.

Let the group decide... again- hey- until you get it right. answer the questions, figure it out- what's tough is when you have to keep getting everyone new up to speed if little or no homework is done by them, having a way for new people to easily access the information (minutes, listserve archives...), especially when there are those who DO know the recent story and might fan the flames with enthusiastic, possibly alarming, emotion- there is a time and place for the internal, and the external is what the world of allies, friends and the rest of everone sees-

The more we can face our issues directly, the less we have to have it out in front of people who aren't really clued into our real concerns and needs. This takes away from our movement when even those of us who DO care and HAVE time and energy STOP coming to meetings because they're too grueling, STOP reading the posts because there's too much fighting without enough direct constructive one on one dealing, and who STOP recommending to others to even be INVOLVED in 'politics' or activism cuz' it's too wierd. Don't let it happen in your town.

Jim Mateson for MII