WBAI LSB Meeting — June 26, 2007

The sixty first WBAI Local Station Board (LSB) meeting was held on Tuesday, June 26, 2007, at 7:00 PM at the Harlem State Office Building, 163 W. 125th St. in Manhattan. This is not an official Web page of the LSB.

This meeting began 40 minutes late.

The prelude to this meeting was somewhat amusing. Several LSB members had arrived pretty much at the same time, and we all went through the security checks one after the other. The two groups rode up in separate elevators.

When we got to the 8th floor we found that our usual room was locked. Someone said that we'd been assigned another room. So I went looking for it while the Chair and some other faction operatives had something to eat on a bench.

We found that the room we'd been assigned was very tiny, “L” shaped and about two thirds of the lights in it didn't work, making for a rather dismal looking meeting place.

There was only one small object that kind of resembled a table in the room. Well, I make a lot of notes during a meeting and I really prefer to have a table to sit at. So I went looking around. I found another room that was unlocked and it had a card table in it and some of those desk chairs such as students use in high school and college. So I dragged the card table and some of the desk chairs into our meeting room.

The Chair and the Secretary were on a cell phone and said that the folks bringing in the P.A. system for the meeting were not being allowed into the building with it. Apparently there's a new rule at the Harlem State Office Building that no one knew about: you have to get permission beforehand to bring something like that P.A. system into the building. In the end they did get to bring it upstairs.

Others showed up and more desk chairs began to be brought into the tiny room. I suggested that maybe we could ask some other folks who were having a meeting if we could go through their room to try and get to the larger room and open that up from the inside. The Chair and Vice-Chair left to do that but then came right back saying that they'd decided that we were in the tiny room and that was good enough.

We'd actually achieved a quorum more than 20 minutes before the meeting started but everything got delayed by the P.A. system getting up late, and people having to pull desk chairs from the other room. A number of LSB members had to sit in the unlit part of the room.

One particularly bossy faction operative decided that all of the chairs in the room should be facing towards the window, which meant that they'd be facing her. Owing to the small size of the room we were seated around three of the four walls, with the officers and some of the rest of us sitting under the one third of the room that had working lights. The bossy faction operative sat in what became an increasingly dark part of the room as the Sun set. This meant that anyone sitting in the audience had the Chair and other officers off to their left instead of in front of them.

It didn't matter that much through, only about 5 or 6 people showed up to watch the meeting. Once again the LSB members outnumbered the people who'd come to see the meeting.

The Chair started the meeting with an announcement that the interim General Manager would not be attending the meeting because he was feeling unwell.

Since this was a continuation of the previous meeting we began where we'd left off on May 31. We started with the General Manager Search Sub-committee (GMSS).

Immediately Vice-Chair Nia Bediako made a motion to rearrange the agenda to make the ad hoc LSB Radio Show Committee report the next item of business. She said that the ad hoc committee had taken 4 meetings to do 4 paragraphs of the motion that it was charged to bring to the LSB and she wanted to make sure that we completed it tonight. But the evening was young and it was obvious that we'd get to the ad hoc committee's report before long. So this motion to amend the agenda failed.

The bossy faction operative who'd insisted on rearranging the chairs so that they were facing the side of the room away from the Chair reported for the GMSS. She said that only 4 members had shown up for the last meeting of the GMSS and that this was not a quorum. She made a motion that the LSB authorize the GMSS to meet on either July 10th or 19th. A complicating factor was that the Chair of the GMSS had resigned. In all likelihood the bossy one was setting things up so that she would be the one setting the meeting date. The motion passed.

Some questions elicited the information that the GMSS had not met for the past 2 or 3 months. It hadn't met more than a couple of times all year. The GMSS is supposed to be conducting a search for a new General Manager for WBAI.

Next we got to the Committee of Inclusion (COI). This is a committee that is mandated in the Pacifica bylaws. It's in there because the faction currently in charge in New York had insisted that such a committee was vitally important in order to be sure that each Pacifica radio station was adequately diverse. They'd made sure that their fellow faction operative Ray Laforest was the Chair of not only the WBAI COI but the national one as well.

Last year some questions revealed that Mr. Laforest hadn't been able to get the COI to meet after a year and a half of being in charge of it.

But they've met since then. Mr. Laforest reported that the COI had not had a quorum at its last attempted meeting. Sounds like a pattern. Mr. Laforest said that there had been a gap in the functioning of the COI but that maybe the next time they met they'd try to elect officers of that committee and again ask the public to join. He said that he'd asked the previous Elections Supervisor and the interim General Manager to give him a list of candidates for the COI but he never got the list. He said that he wanted to see what other Pacifica stations were doing with their COIs.

The local COI is supposed to have 15 members on it. After starting to try to put the committee together in 2006, the COI posted a notice on WBAI's Web site saying that they were leaving the membership open to anyone who wanted to apply, in the attempt to get 15 members. At this meeting I asked Mr. Laforest how many new members they'd gotten for the COI in 2007. He said that there had been no new members in 2007. And indeed the notice asking people to join is still up on the WBAI Web site as of the posting of this Web page.

In response to a question Mr. Laforest said that the COI had to look at some other groups' numbers regarding diversity, he said that the government's numbers “fell short,” and that the COI would see who's running for the LSB.

It sounds like the faction currently in charge may try to make some sort of claim regarding who'll be allowed to run for the LSB in the future based on their determination of a candidate's ethnicity. The LSB Chair has already voiced the opinion at another meeting that candidates for the LSB should be “filtered” so that only proper people can run for election. Yeah, they'd like to prevent others from running so that they can maintain the cronyism and corruption they've been perpetrating for the last several years.

After some more questions time was up and we started to nominate and elect LSB members to the COI for 2007.

In the end the faction re-elected Mr. Laforest to be the Director on the COI, and since LSB members Berta Silva, Marian Borenstein and Kathy Davis were the only nominees who accepted nomination they were elected to it.

And then we got to the ad hoc LSB Radio Show Committee report.

Andrea Fishman handed out the motion that the ad hoc LSB Radio Show Committee had been hammering out for the past few months. There had been a lot of meetings and a larger than usual number of people, for a WBAI LSB committee, had spent many hours working out the wording of this motion.

No sooner had the motion been presented than the bossy faction operative who'd made sure that all of the chairs faced in her direction brought up her own version of a motion to enable the committee. She'd been at all of the meetings of the ad hoc committee, and in fact had been censured by the committee for having hijacked the April 26, 2007, LSB Radio Show for her faction. But here she was presenting her own substitute motion.

The Chair tried to steer all debate onto this substitute motion, but I pointed out that the rules require that in such a case the original motion be finalized with any amendments before the substitute is considered. The Chair insisted that this was not the case, and I appealed her ruling. She asked her faction leader to look this up for her and continued with the substitute motion. It took quite a while before I was able to get the Chair to come back to this issue of the appeal and when she did her faction leader had to tell her that I was correct and that the motion introduced by the committee had to have all of its amendments dealt with before the substitute motion could be debated or amended.

In previous meetings the faction has used the tactic of raising a substitute motion and just completely quashing all debate on an issue. They got stopped this time. A small victory over the bullies but we take what victories we can get.

The bossy faction operative had presented her substitute motion in a very confusing way. It referenced different parts of her motion with different colors; one color referred to text from a motion passed some years ago, another color referred to the motion that the ad hoc committee was presenting and another color referred to the text that was her proposal. Unfortunately, what was handed out at the meeting was in black and white which made it a little hard to follow. If you want to see that motion, it's right here.

This enormous substitute motion was read out over quite a few minutes. It was hard to follow the details of the motion as she read it aloud. It was full of details that no one had ever seen before. And the faction currently in charge knew that it came from one of their own so they all voted for it.

But before that final vote some amendments to the ad hoc committee's motion were proposed. All were voted down.

As we came to the point of voting on replacing the committee's months of work with the faction operative's own motion it was found that this substitute motion said that the LSB Radio Show Committee would become a standing committee of the WBAI LSB!

It was pointed out that a motion to create a standing committee requires previous notice and a two-thirds vote in order to be passed. The Chair ruled that it only required a simple majority. I appealed that ruling and we debated it. The faction leader declared that according to Robert's Rules of Order the motion only needed a simple majority to pass because it was so detailed that it didn't need to come back to the LSB for any reason. That wasn't the case, but that was the faction's position. I read out the same passages from Robert's Rules of Order and showed how the committee would have to come back to the LSB, and how the motion did require previous notice and a two-thirds vote to pass. Of course in the end the faction upheld the ruling of the Chair by a vote of 9 in favor of the Chair's ruling and 8 against, and the substitute motion itself passed by a vote of 10 for and 8 against.

Opponents of the substitute motion noted that it was a slap in the face of everyone who had spent so many hours hammering out the motion brought by the committee.

An interesting point is that the Chair and her faction leader had acknowledged that the creation of a standing committee required previous notice and a two-thirds vote at the April, 30, 2007, LSB meeting.

And Vice-Chair Nia Bediako who had made such a point at the start of the meeting about how the ad hoc committee had spent so many months working on the motion voted for her faction's substitute and against that very motion that the ad hoc committee had spent its time on.

The Chair then forgot that we had to take a final vote on the whole motion, which was now just the substitute motion. I got her to realize this after a while though and the final vote was again 10 to 8.

So since the faction was maintaining that the motion had passed some of us said let's elect the members of the committee right now, since the motion had said that at least two LSB members would be on the committee. In the end three people were nominated, and the LSB agreed that all three could be elected to the LSB Radio Show Committee.

The three LSB members elected to the LSB Radio Show Committee were Kathy Davis, Nia Bediako and Shawn Rhodes.

We then went on to a public comment session. Of the 6 non-LSB members in the room 4 chose to speak during this public comment session.

The best comment came from Pat Logan who, among other things, referenced LSB member Lawrence Lucas' reference to openly lesbian City Council Chair Christine Quinn as “Christopher” while disagreeing with her about her blocking of a motion in the City Council that would have named a street after convicted kidnapper and purveyor of race hate Sonny Carson. Ms. Logan said that Lucas' remark was homophobic. Lucas and some of the other faction operatives chuckled at this.

Ms. Logan also noted that on the LSB Radio Show the night before this meeting that Nia Bediako had called Dr. Frank LeFever a liar when he talked about some names that he'd been called by another member of the Programming Committee, which Nia Bediako chairs. Ms. Logan, who had been at that meeting, said that maybe Ms. Bediako had somehow not heard the disparaging comments, and that in any case Dr. LeFever should not have been called a liar by her.

It was almost nine thirty when we got to the Management Evaluation Committee report. In response to some questions it turned out that Vajra Kilgour, the LSB Chair, is now also the Chair of this committee and that William Heerwagen is the Secretary of it.

The Chair said that she had the super secret survey that was supposed to evaluate the Program Director and that she was going to hand them out to LSB members only. These are the infamous Staff surveys that had been handed in on December 9, 2005, and which had been kept somewhere by the former Chair of that Committee Ayo Harrington, while she was serving as the Program Director's personal assistant.

One LSB member said that the LSB needed to get a report from the Management Evaluation Committee so that the LSB could make the final evaluation. The Chair said that bringing the evaluation to the LSB was not in the committee's charge and that there had been an executive session of the committee about this one night and that was good enough.

A number of us disagreed with the faction about this. Of course they want to avoid any real evaluation of their faction boss because a real evaluation would not be very flattering.

Carolyn Birden gave notice of her intent to bring a motion to rescind the motion creating the Management Evaluation Committee.

And then the faction leader moved to adjourn this meeting to July 14, in Newark, New Jersey. When asked if that meeting would resume with the rest of the Management Evaluation Committee report the Chair said yes, it would.

This meeting ended at 9:39 PM.

And after this meeting Carolyn Birden asked faction leader Bob Lederer how he felt about Lawrence Lucas' homophobic remarks about Christine Quinn. No sooner did she get the question out than Lisa V. Davis started yelling at Birden. Davis, who's about six feet tall, was scowling and yelling at Birden, sticking her finger within a couple of inches of Birden's face. Birden, a little less than five feet tall, was calm and held her position. It was quite a sight. Lisa Davis was yelling at the top of her lungs and her body was shaking as she shoved her finger in Birden's face. Davis was shouting repeatedly about Al Jolson and Christine Quinn. At one point Davis got even closer to Birden, the better to tower over her even more, and kicked Birden's bag. Davis then hollered for Birden to get her bag off Davis' foot!

Yeah, these are sane people. We all left after that.

Here's the page showing the attendance at the LSB meetings.

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