Pacifica National Board Members
Agree to Resign
Amidst Protest, Pacifica National Board Members Agree to Resign
New Accord May Open Way for Democratization of Network
Ratification Vote Slated for Later this Week
WASHINGTON, DC (Nov. 18, 2001) -- The Pacifica National Board agreed today to voluntarily dissolve, reconstitute itself as an interim board with new members, and then to implement a democratization process for the five-station network.
Dissidents and majority factions on Pacifica's embattled 15-member board agreed to each appoint five of their members to a new interim board. In addition, five entirely new members would be appointed by the chairs of Pacifica's five Local Advisory Boards (LABs).
While the formula would effectively place majority control of the board in the hands of the Pacifica reform movement (four out of the five LABs are dominated by reformers), all decisions of the interim board must be agreed upon by two-thirds vote or 10 out of the 15 members.
The interim board would be tasked with organizing listener elections at each of the five LABs. These elections would be modeled after KPFA's elected LAB, which just last week sent out 30,000 ballots to qualified voters. Each elected LAB would appoint one member to a new permanent Pacifica national board, which would then operate like a majority-rules nonprofit board.
The new interim board could be constituted as early as Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, Pacifica board member Tomas Moran told a packed conference room at the Doubletree Hotel in northern Virginia.
Moran also said that board was committed to returning Democracy Now! to the air at all five Pacifica stations. KPFA in Berkeley has been airing and distributing the program since Amy Goodman and the Democracy Now! team were forced out of WBAI as part of a purge of some 26 staffers at the New York station.
The new accord is subject to review by attorney's for majority and minority factions on the board. It also needs to be ratified by the five board members who could not attend this weekend's meeting (Marion Barry, Dick Gregory, Valrie Chambers, Rabbi Aaron Kriegel, and Krishna Roy).
If approved, the new deal will not necessarily end the litigation by LAB members and listeners that is now before Alameda Superior Court. In settlement negotiations just two weeks ago, an agreement had been reached that would essentially transfer a majority of the board over to the control of reformers. But it appears that today's announcement supercedes that settlement.
The new accord was made after a dramatic weekend board meeting where more than a hundred listener-activists converged on the Doubletree Hotel just outside of Washington, DC. Activists demanded - among other things -- the resignation of the board majority, the democratization of the network's governance, and the return of fired and banned programmers at New York station WBAI 99.5 FM.
The most conservative forces at this weekend's meeting were the station General Managers, the National Program Director, and the Pacifica Network News (PNN) staff. They have been the most militant advocates of carrying the battle forward. Board member John Murdock also seemed eager for confrontation.
But the fact remains that the network is functionally insolvent and incapable of sustaining any more damage. New reports this weekend say network executives have spent $3 million -- or 30 percent of the organization's annual budget - on the battle. Public Relations firm Westhill Partners is reported to have charged $230,000 alone.
Pacifica Board member Tomas Moran said the new interim board would immediately focus on number of "hot issues." He listed the following:
1) Democracy Now!, saying it will to return as soon as possible to all
2) The Pacifica Network News (PNN) stringers strike;
3) Audit of the finances of the network;
4) Appointing a new executive director;
5) Appointing a comptroller to deal with financial crisis;
6) Review of National Program Director Utrice Leid;
7) Severance package of outgoing Executive Director Bessie Wash;
8) Formation of a Board committee to review the situation at WBAI;
9) Formation of an oversight committee of the Board to evaluate and work with General Managers;
10) Deal with the lawsuits against the network;
11) Dropping of all outstanding charges against members of the Pacifica community;
12) No new major expenditures;
Moran also said there will be no executive committee under the plan. A Chair and Treasurer will exist in name only. Instead, the entire board has committed to working together, through conference calls, to resolve the outstanding issues affecting the network.
Wbix.org will replay their coverage of events this week. Errol Maitland twice asked Board Chairman Bob Farrell for permission to webcast the proceedings, and was denied. Nevertheless, wbix.org, in conjunction with the DC Independent Media Center, managed to transmit the events with commentary, via cell phone. In addition, the webstream carried live reports from major protests at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia and at the IMF/World Bank protests in Ottawa. Hear their coverage at http://www.wbix.org
Editor's note: In the first (Winter, 2001) edition of True Democracy there is a demand to close the School of the Americas. The reason why it is still open, albeit under a "new" name is because of the vast majority of the public schools who like the status quo.
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