Waivers Committee Minority Report by Shawn Rhodes



As someone who has served on both the 2004 Waivers Committee and the 2006 Waivers Committee, I can say without fear of contradiction, the 2006 configuration consistently operated in a highly irregular manner. For example, at our first meeting on June 29, 2006, despite my ruling as pro-temp Chair (it was overturned by the other two committee members), two listeners who attended for the first time were allowed to participate in some votes. The other two committee members declared that similar to the (then) ad hoc LSB Radio Committee, anyone who attends a meeting, could vote. But when other listeners attended the second meeting of the committee on July 20, 2006 expecting to vote, they were told by these same two committee members that this committee is, in fact, similar to the GM Search Committee which allows only elected members of the committee to vote.

Some other irregularities, as mentioned in the final committee report, include one meeting being called with less than 24 hours notice, and the granting of a waiver to an applicant who told us that she was available to volunteer on weekends but was unaware of weekend volunteering opportunities. By the way, granting this waiver contravened the motion that empowered this committee specifically charging it to grant waivers based “only on the criteria” stated in the motion.

Even the writing of the committee's final report reflects the prevalent irregularities that marked the committee's existence. Although the committee last met on Friday, October 27, 2006 (in Executive Session), the idea of writing a report wasn't even raised until the May 31, 2007 LSB meeting at which an LSB member asked if the committee had written its report. It was only after that meeting that another committee member approached me to finally discuss writing a committee report and offered to write a draft that would be sent to me for my input. It was not until the night before the June 26, 2007 LSB meeting that I was emailed that draft and asked to contribute to that report - which, again, I was only seeing for the first time that night. I was given a deadline of 3 PM on June 26 by which to submit my contributions. However, after meeting the deadline, I never received the final version of the report so I went to the June 26 meeting not knowing exactly what was in the report. As it turned out, the report was not distributed at the June 26 meeting, due to time constraints. It was only after the meeting, and just by chance, that I happened to finally see a copy of the report. And that's because it had been given to another board member who was not going to be present at the following LSB meeting taking place on July 14 at which the committee's final report would be distributed.

Now, in terms of the points raised in the committee's final report, there are two that I want to clarify: 1) While seven listeners were granted waivers out of a total of thirteen, the folks who did not receive waivers were not declined. The committee simply never met to finish its work and determine the disposition of those remaining six applicants. 2) While the personal tragedies of the other two committee members may have compounded the delays in the committee's work, the delays were not caused by those personal tragedies. In fact, this committee was late in doing its work long before the personal tragedies ever took place. For example, one of the other committee members had the responsibility for the Waivers cart which was to have been completed by Saturday, August 5th but was not completed and put into rotation until Saturday, August 19, 2006. And this particular committee member's personal tragedy took place in September. Consequently, the committee had to receive various extensions throughout its existence.

One could also argue that if the other two members of this then three person committee had completed their work instead of getting involved in other activities, more applicants could have been granted membership to WBAI. Additionally, this committee may have fared much better if there were more members on the committee to pick up the slack - as was the case with the 20004 Committee. Therefore, in terms of expanding the size of this committee, I fully agree. In fact, in 2006, when the committee was being reconstituted, I introduced a motion to have it, once again, be a 7 person committee, but the JUC board majority voted it down in favor of a 3 person committee. Personally, I would prefer a 7 person committee, again, as was the 2004 Committee. The benefit of a 7 person committee is that, if or when some members slack off in their duties, others will be available to pick up the work load. Also, with a 7 person committee, the minority members will have some support for their positions. On the 2006 Waivers Committee, I was always in the minority and always outvoted.

Now, in terms of process, whereas the 2004 Committee was quite meticulous about establishing checks and balances to ensure that the work of the committee was seen as fair, credible and above reproach, the 2006 Committee seemed more concerned with personal convenience and expediency. My efforts to establish checks and balances were generally met with resistance, dismissal and/or outvoting 2-1. At our first meeting, again, on June 29, 2006, I pointed out that the previous Local Elections Supervisor retrieved telephone requests for Waivers Applications at a dedicated phone number and that those requests were also recorded. When I suggested that the same thing be done this time around, I was told that I was being overly suspicious and that the person who volunteered to retrieve the messages from the LSB voicemail for this round was trustworthy. But the issue is not about someone's trustworthiness; it's about making sure that the work of the committee is seen as credible and above reproach. Furthermore, we're establishing procedures that will be in place regardless of the individuals in the positions. If someone can make the argument that bias or tampering existed at any phase, then the work of this committee has been compromised. One could ask, “Why shouldn't there be a written and an audio record of the requests?” What's so unreasonable about that?! When I made an amendment at our second meeting on July 20, to record the phone requests, I was outvoted by the other two members.

Also at that first meeting, I informed the other two members that the previous Local Elections Supervisor went with one or more members of the committee to our Post Office Box to retrieve the Waivers mail and that if there was any money returned with the Application forms, that money would be immediately turned over to the Business Manager during her office hours. One committee member suggested that if she couldn't retrieve the mail during business hours and if money mistakenly came in with the returned forms this time around, she would turn in the money when she could and would ask for a receipt from the Business Manager. The idea that it would be questionable for committee members to be holding on to money never occurred to her. And when we were finalizing the wording on the documents that were to be part of the mailing to the $10.00 - $24.99 contributors, this same member suggested that we change the address on the donation form from the stations PO Box to the Waivers PO Box, so that we could track how much money came in as a result of the mailing. Now, fortunately, the other committee member and I were able to talk the committee member in question out of making such a change, but the idea that she would even make such a suggestion, I find to be very alarming. We're a Waivers Committee, we're not supposed to be handling money at all. The fact that money will come in with some of these applications by mistake is one thing - and that money should be turned over immediately to the Business Manager - but to actually suggest that money be sent to us at our PO Box just so that *we* can see how effective our solicitation is - without any regard to how it might appear - just underscores my contention that the 2006 committee appears to be more concerned with personal convenience and expediency than with establishing checks and balances, and credibility.

Given the irregularities, the lack of concern about checks and balances, and the tardiness of the committee's work when it was an ad hoc committee, I have no reason to believe it will operate any faster or better in 2007 as a standing committee. Furthermore, the benefits of membership other than the right to run or vote in LSB elections or on ballot issues, are miniscule at best. Therefore, I am not in favor of making this a standing committee.

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