WBAI LSB Meeting — May 31, 2007
The sixtieth WBAI Local Station Board (LSB) meeting was held on Thursday, May 31, 2007, at 7:00 PM at Local 1199's cafeteria, 310 W. 43rd St. in Manhattan. This is not an official Web page of the LSB.
This meeting began 22 minutes late.
We met in the basement cafeteria of Local 1199. It's a room with a fairly subdued lighting scheme. It also has quite an echo in it. There must be quite a din when that cafeteria is filled with people eating and talking with one another.
I made a minor correction to the agenda just as the meeting began; the faction hadn't gotten the date of the minutes that we were supposed to correct right.
Some members wanted to continue from where the previous meeting had left off. They wanted to get to the committee reports, which the faction is sort of embarrassed by because the committees are largely dysfunctional and some are moribund.
I noted to the LSB that the agenda item on getting a report from the Waivers Committee, passing a motion for a new Waivers Committee and electing members to that committee was way too far down on the agenda and that we'd never get to it. The faction currently in charge didn't care, so it stayed where it was. And we didn't get to it.
The Chair announced the interim General Manager (iGM) Robert Scott Adams would not be at this meeting but that he had sent a written report which she would read. You can read it too, click here for the iGM's report to this meeting.
The Chair suggested that we take 5 minutes for her to read the iGM's report. A fellow faction operative of hers suggested striking the item entirely and just handing out the written report.
Knowing how the Chair will try to read aloud faster than she can enunciate I suggested 10 minutes, and that got accepted.
A motion to add an agenda item to go into a committee of the whole to discuss the Haiti Collective at WBAI regarding the criteria for removing Staff from the air didn't get accepted. As we debated this motion Vice Chair Nia Bediako tried to say that we only had 3 minutes left when we had 10 minutes left. Yeah, the faction didn't want this item discussed at all.
The Haiti Collective at WBAI is composed entirely of faction operatives, and LSB listener member Ray Laforest is even involved with it. They had recently purged one of their members, who also happens to be the “Assistant Secretary” on the LSB. Ray Laforest said that he questioned the credentials of LSB members to look at this issue because they didn't know enough about Haiti. James Ross said that he found it hard to believe that LSB members didn't want to hear about how programming decisions are being made. Various faction operatives just said that the LSB shouldn't be discussing this, and they voted the proposal down.
When I got recognized to speak the Chair said that time was up when there was still 3 minutes left for this item. And then Nia Bediako started saying that I was speaking too loudly. I wasn't even using the microphone and P.A. system! The Chair started telling me not to speak loudly, I said that I'd speak as I pleased and besides the amplification made everyone else's voice louder than mine and Ms. Bediako hadn't complained about them. The Chair had to relent on there being 3 minutes left, but then said that we'd used that time up in Nia Bediako's complaint that I was speaking too loudly. These are the sorts of exchanges that so endear faction operatives to other people.
So after the agenda was accepted we excused the absent LSB members and then it was time for the public comment session.
A certain faction sycophant announced that in his antiques shop in Tarrytown he had about 1,000 hours of audio tapes of Gary Null programs and some other program tapes as well. He said that he'd offered them to the station and to Gary Null but neither wanted them so he was seeking someone to take them off his hands. He gave the name of a faction operative through whom he could be reached. He then said that he had no problem with Gary Null's information, only with Gary Null.
A guy with a cable show announced that he had run for Senate and that WBAI had censored him by not reporting on his candidacy. He then went on to slander a number of people and promote his cable show.
A guy from Long Island said that he looked forward to the time when a majority on the WBAI LSB entertained discussion about things related to the radio station. He talked about getting E-mails from faction operatives full of nasty stuff. He said that the “Justice and Unity Campaign” LSB members were foolish because they made enemies where they didn't have to. “Justice and Unity Campaign” is the name of the slate that the faction currently in charge runs under.
A former Staff member said that WBAI is failing and that this was depressing. She said that it was the same stuff over and over. She wanted the LSB to look into the issue of collectives with air time at the station terminating people.
After the public comment session one member of the LSB noted that another member had said that the Haiti Collective issue was in mediation, but someone else in a position to know had said that it wasn't. He began to make a point about the problems caused when somebody lies to the group like that, but the Chair and other faction operatives jumped on his use of the word "lies," and insulted him and that was the end of that statement.
The Chair read the iGM's report. You can read it yourself here.
After it was read one member said that she had a problem with the iGM not being at the LSB meetings to answer questions about his report. She outlined a couple of questions she had, as did others of us and then the time for this item as over.
A motion was made to meet on July 14, somewhere not in Manhattan. That passed. Later on a motion was made to adjourn this meeting to June 26. So we really set two future meeting dates at this meeting.
We had quite a bit of discussion about this July 14, meeting. I noted that since the location was still unknown that the folks choosing it had to be careful about not having us meet someplace that people couldn't get to, as had been done in the past. At this point a certain viper tongued faction operative started shouting that it was out of order for me to be speaking, and she asked the Chair to chastise me and tell me that people have to be called on to speak. I replied that I had been called on by the Chair. And the Chair had to agree.
Discussion continued with Lawrence Lucas saying that he wanted to have the July 14, meeting start at 6:00 PM. No one agreed with that idea.
A motion was made that if the iGM showed up for the June 26, meeting that he'd give his report, and that passed. He didn't show up.
We then went over the minutes of the March 30, 2006, LSB meeting. This set of minutes was a hoot. The Chair had previously explained that she, the Secretary, the Assistant Secretary and the former Secretary had spent a lot of time working on these minutes to get them right. Well, these minutes were so bollixed up that it was amazing to me that anyone had spent any time working on them!
They got the agenda of the meeting wrong, which is amazing because they had presented it in writing and one would think that they'd have kept a copy. And then they presented entire segments of the meeting in the wrong order. That stuff took a bit of explaining to them. These minutes were even more screwed up than the minutes usually are. But they got corrected and approved in the end.
There was a motion to approve the minutes of the December 27, 2006, LSB meeting. I gave my usual bunch of corrections and those minutes got approved. They were only screwed up to the usual degree.
And then it was time for another public comment session. The faction sycophant got up and denounced a lot of the overnight radio programs, including the one I'm on, and called for us all to be taken off the air.
Pat Logan noted that the station wasn't attracting enough volunteers to answer the phones. She's heard that there were problems getting the premiums out, she'd volunteered to help pack them but had had a hard time getting in touch with anybody who'd let her help. She also noted that most of the premiums offered by WBAI during the 'thons are videos. She said that WBAI should be promoting radio! She said that we should oppose the trend that only visual stuff is valuable. Ms. Logan is a blind woman and so she's sensitive to this issue. And I agree with her.
One listener noted that there were problems with finding out what was happening with the budget, the members of the Finance Committee weren't getting enough information.
After this the Treasurer gave a report for the Finance Committee.
The Treasurer noted that WBAI is supposed to be reviewing its finances on a quarterly basis. WBAI is in a “recovery plan” and that's why we're supposed to be getting monitored by the Pacifica CFO. Well, the Treasurer reported that the committee had just gotten to the information for the quarter that ended on December 31, 2006. He said that the station was only $12,000 short of its income projections, which wasn't bad. He said that the Business Manager was looking at getting some grants for the station. He also said that WBAI's expenses for the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2007 were over budget by about $33,000, mostly due to salaries and benefits.
There were some questions and answers about this information from 2006. One question was about legal expenses. It was noted that WBAI had just been fined $500 by a judge for not filing a reply in time in the lawsuit that Gary Null had brought against the station for having purged him from the air and then reneging on an agreement about letting him come back to say goodbye to his listeners. It was noted that the cost to depose people in that case could be as high as $300,000. The member asked how this would be paid. The Treasurer said that the Pacifica Foundation's National Office would pay it and bill WBAI.
It was pointed out that this particular lawsuit could be settled for very little money.
The Treasurer said that the National Office was reconsidering the way it handles these things.
I don't see what else Pacifica can do in these sorts of situations. WBAI can't pay large legal fees up front. And the lawsuits are mounting!
The Treasurer noted that at the last Finance Committee meeting there had been a discussion of a grant taken out in WBAI's name that the WBAI Business Manager had not seen. Having been at that meeting I can say that the Program Director had gotten his then personal assistant to apply for a grant and when WBAI applied for a grant from the same place WBAI was told that we'd already gotten it! This is a serious issue and Pacifica and WBAI need to get to the bottom of it. People getting grants in WBAI's name without authorization is not at all a good thing.
One faction operative who's a Director of Pacifica started going on about how what some people say about lawsuits isn't necessarily accurate. The Treasurer chimed in that the Directors knew the most about all of this.
I know that WBAI has gotten nailed for six figure legal fees in the past that were passed on from the National Office. We mere LSB members are not told what the legal fees are about, but from the size of them they must be settlements in lawsuits. And we know that there are a number of lawsuits pending right now.
At the end of the report I asked about the Finance Committee's membership list. We'd been promised it repeatedly since last November, and we still didn't have it by the time of this meeting. I got the usual assurances from the Treasurer that it'd be done.
This meeting ended at 9:49 PM.
Here's the page showing the attendance at the LSB meetings.
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