I have sent the following statement to the Pacifica National Board, the WBAI Local Station Board and various public mailing lists and bulletin boards including the ones at the blue board and WBAI's official Web site.
On the Constructive Removal of a Local Station Board Member
On March 9, 2005, a majority of the WBAI LSB voted to “suspend” an LSB member for 6 months. I believe that this action was illegal in that it constitutes the constructive removal of the member by a mere majority vote, in a regular meeting and without any trial, instead of following the rules for removal laid down by Article 4, Section 9D of the Pacifica Foundation bylaws. I also believe that this action will cause a crisis for the Pacifica Foundation if it's allowed to stand by the PNB.
Disclosure: the member in question and I have had a number of disagreements going back for some years. I am coming forward with this statement not out of any affinity with the member in question but out of my conviction that he has been treated in a grossly unfair manner by the majority on the WBAI LSB, and by my belief that such illegal actions could result in grave consequences for, and possibly the destruction of, the Pacifica Foundation and its radio stations.
The member in question is accused of disrupting WBAI LSB meetings, and indeed he has. However, what is not mentioned is that the member has reacted to the actions of a biased LSB Chair who has denied him the basic right of making motions which were in order at that time that he attempted to make them. It should also be noted that before the March 9, meeting several members of the LSB majority appeared on the air during WBAI's morning drive time program and spoke of this member, by name, in derogatory terms. The member was given no opportunity to reply. While the member's actions in response to these violations of his rights are not the ones that I would choose, he certainly had a valid reason to feel unfairly treated.
WBAI LSB meetings are not known for their quiet and decorous nature. Indeed, a number of the members who voted to suspend the member in question had themselves participated in the disruption of WBAI LSB meetings, as well as of some iPNB meetings in the past. One of those voting to suspend the member had to be restrained by security guards from assaulting an LSB member after the November 30, 2004, LSB meeting. Another of those who voted to suspend the member actually assaulted him at an LSB meeting on July 7, 2004.
The member was treated unfairly; he was not given any prior notice of any actions to be taken against him as is required by both the bylaws and Robert's Rules of Order. He, and everyone else not in on the planning of this action, was surprised when at the March 9, meeting the agenda that was handed out had an item naming him and saying that the LSB would consider “possible remedies” against him. This was one of several clear violations of the member's rights under Robert's rules of Order. The faction currently in charge, knowing that they had a majority on the LSB, simply used their majority status to declare that what they were doing was legal and then they did it.
Removing a member for six months because of disruptive behavior that was not violent, as the faction's has been in the past, is absurd and obviously meant as revenge in the guise of discipline. This was a purge.
That this is an attempt to remove a member without needing two thirds of the LSB to agree is shown by the Chair's ruling that the member would be required to be excused from meetings as per Article 4, Section 9C of the bylaws. Of course being excused requires a majority vote in the affirmative. The majority that voted to suspend the member would simply have to vote against excusing his absences, which they have imposed, to remove him permanently from the LSB.
The faction currently in charge at WBAI has also published their charges against this member, along with the motion to suspend him, and the results of the roll call vote, all in violation of the member's rights under Robert's Rules of Order. Clearly these actions are taken in a spirit of revenge in order to publicly humiliate the member.
The member's several minutes of disruption are nothing compared to the potential damage done to Pacifica by the motion to punish him and the public humiliation visited upon him using Pacifica airwaves and official Web sites.
If this action is allowed to stand what is to prevent the faction currently in charge from purging other LSB members with whom they disagree?
If this action is not repudiated and reversed by the PNB then it will be possible for any majority on any LSB to suspend any member for any reason.
If purges by a mere majority are permitted then we can expect to see them perpetrated throughout Pacifica as people take revenge or seek to gain a greater voting advantage for their faction. This would cause chaos in Pacifica. Would such chaos long be ignored by the F.C.C?
The PNB must reverse the illegal action of “suspending” the member and must declare that such actions are illegal and not to be tolerated in Pacifica.
R. Paul Martin
Article Four, Section 9D
Any Delegate shall be removed from the position of Delegate, and cease to be a Delegate, upon the occurrence of any of the following: .... (D) upon the fair and reasonable determination, by ... a 2/3 vote of all the Delegates for the same radio station as the Delegate in question, at a meeting on said issue, after a review of the facts, that, in its sole discretion, said Delegate has exhibited conduct that is adverse to the best interests of the Foundation or the radio station .... In the event of a removal proceeding pursuant to this Section 9(D) or 9(E), the Delegate must be afforded reasonable and appropriate due process according to the circumstances, including notice and an opportunity to be heard at the meeting or in writing if a written ballot is submitted to the Members. .... (back)
Article 4, Section 9C
Any Delegate shall be removed from the position of Delegate, and cease to be a Delegate, upon the occurrence of any of the following: .... (C) failure of a Delegate to attend three consecutive Local Station Board meetings, which absences have not been excused by a majority vote of the LSB members present at the meetings in question .... (back)
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