The sixty fifth WBAI Local Station Board (LSB) meeting was held on Tuesday, September 18, 2007, at the National Action Network Center at 106 West 145th Street, corner of Malcolm X Blvd., in Manhattan. This is not an official Web page of the LSB.
There were actually two meetings scheduled for this night, a Delegates' Assembly and a continued LSB meeting.
This meeting began 39 minutes late.
We started out with a Delegates' Assembly, which had been scheduled in order to vote on the bylaws amendments that had been passed by the Pacifica National Board earlier in the month.
Faction operatives were particularly insulting towards those of us not in the faction before the start of this meeting. It set the tone of things to come.
A draft agenda was handed out which called for these bylaws amendments to be voted on. But no sooner had the motion to approve the agenda been made when Vice Chair Nia Bediako moved to add a motion to the agenda to remove Steve Brown from the LSB!
It was a surprise attack, and a cynical one. It takes a vote of two thirds of the 24 delegates to remove a member. There was no way that the faction was going to get the 16 votes required to remove him. This motion was just another maneuver by the faction to smear Steve Brown as the elections were beginning. The motion, which took up more than 9 pages of small type, called for a Delegates' Assembly at a date in October for the sole purpose of putting Steve Brown on trial. The ballots for the WBAI elections were supposed to be sent out on October 15. There were appendices to this motion which included all of the faction's previous attacks on Mr. Brown.
Interestingly, WBAI Program Director Bernard White was at this meeting. He shows up at them when he thinks he can get revenge on people whom he doesn't like, and he dislikes Steve Brown.
Of course I immediately pointed out that this entire procedure was out of order. I also pointed out that disciplinary matters, and this would be a disciplinary matter even though it was a bogus one, were supposed to be done in executive session.
Well, the faction would have none of that! Their sole reason for bringing this phony motion to remove Steve Brown was in order to smear him, and you can't smear someone all that well if the procedure takes place in executive session. The faction leader said that KPFT had done a similar thing and they hadn't done it in executive session. Well, if KPFT did it that way then either the person being accused wanted it to be public or they did it wrong! The faction decided that doing it publicly was just fine and dandy.
When Steve Brown was allowed to speak he said that he'd be delighted to have this trial in executive session and he'd like to be able to attend. He pointed out that the last time the faction had done something like this, at the March 16, 2006, LSB meeting, they'd waited until he'd had family business and had said that he couldn't attend the meeting and they had held a faction bund rally smearing him all night long.
And although they had decided that they could do this in a public session they were unable to get past the part of the bylaws which I'd cited which required at least 30 days' notice for something like this, and required that the target of the removal motion be allowed to attend and defend him/herself at the “trial.”
So the faction had to settle for giving notice at this meeting, and then they read out all of their “charges” against Brown. The “charges” were nothing but a big smear.
There followed arguments about the impropriety of this motion, the illegality of trying to foist it on a Delegates' Assembly which had been called with a fixed agenda, to vote on bylaws changes, and whether there were actually any charges being brought.
An appeal of the Chair's ruling that her faction could do this was made, and of course the faction won that vote by 10 of them in favor and 8 of us opposed.
So they put the smear campaign against Steve Brown on the agenda.
They'd had to modify their original motion because of the 30 days' notice requirement and agreed that this kangaroo court would convene later than they'd hoped, at a Delegates' Assembly specifically for that purpose. NOTE: The faction's “trial” of Steve Brown never happened. They had gotten enough of what they'd wanted with John Riley's video of their accusations and they never dared to schedule a Delegates' Assembly to put him on trial.
So we only got to the proposed bylaws amendments at 8:34 PM. We were told that we had to leave the premises by 9:30 PM. The timing already wasn't looking good for the LSB meeting scheduled for right after the Delegates' Assembly.
The 3 bylaws amendments concerned 1) changes in the election year calendar for Pacifica elections making them start and end earlier; 2) increasing the terms of the delegates from the current 3 years to 4 years along with holding elections in odd numbered years, and 3) a sneaky attempt by some on the PNB to eliminate term limits. This last bit was supposed to offer the voters a choice of several term limits or no term limits. The real thrust here was to either get various people longer terms on the LSBs or else to allow some to stay on those boards for as long as they could manage by hook or by crook if term limits could be eliminated entirely.
The changes in the election year calendar would move the elections to the Summer, which would generally favor those groups that had a political machine ready to mobilize and disadvantage ordinary members of the Pacifica Foundation who might not even realize that elections for a LSB that would start in December were being held during the Summer.
So the faction leader then made a motion to have Casey Peters, the National Elections Supervisor for Pacifica, speak to the Delegates' Assembly by cell phone. Peters had already started to foul up the 2007, election by this time and he would be fired before the elections were over. The faction voted to have him give his speech in favor of these bad changes to the bylaws.
And we even had to fight to have the motions that we were supposed to be voting on read for the assembly. This is a very basic thing. I suspect that the faction operatives just didn't want anyone attending to realize that they were trying to circumvent term limits entirely.
And then we had a big fight over being able to actually discuss and debate the bylaws amendments we were about to vote on. This took time too but we eventually appear to have shamed the faction operatives into allowing debate.
During the debate National Elections Supervisor Casey Peters spoke in favor of the bylaws amendments and noted that his wife had made 400 phone calls to people eligible to vote in the Pacifica elections telling them to vote. I found this a little shocking because Mr. Peters is associated with one of the factions out in California and I wonder if his wife was drumming up the votes for someone whom he favored?
Eventually we got to voting on these amendments. The bylaws require that these amendments had to pass 3 of the 5 LSBs by a majority of all delegates. This means that 13 votes in favor of these motions would be required to pass them. The faction could only get 12 of its 13 members to attend this meeting and so all 3 bylaws amendments failed at this meeting because they could only get 12 votes each. Two of the amendments failed elsewhere as well, but the change in the election timeline was passed by KPFA, KPFK and KPFT and the ruling was that it didn't have to go to the general Pacifica membership for ratification.
And after the votes on the bylaws amendments the discussion about Steve Brown started again. Faction operatives were making a formal motion now to hold a trial of him at a future meeting. They were trying to make it seem as if he had been found guilty already and Brown warned them that they couldn't find him guilty ahead of time because that would be libel and the individual delegates would be liable for that. This got their attention.
There followed a reading of the entire motion. At 9:40 it was pointed out that we'd been told that we had to leave by 9:30. The Chair ruled that since there was no end time on the Delegates' Assembly agenda that had been passed that we could go on. Alex Steinberg pointed out that at this rate we'd never get to the WBAI FY08 budget, which was a major item on the agenda of the LSB meeting which was scheduled to follow the Delegates' Assembly. Vice Chair Nia Bediako announced that we could now stay until 10:00 PM.
Steve Brown had to leave at around this time. And so Nia Bediako started saying that she was sorry that he wasn't here and that she'd tried to find his good will but had found provocative E-mails. She said that Brown had slandered WBAI Program Director Bernard White, and so she went on to actually slander Brown.
Mitchel Cohen made a point of order asking if the assembly was conducting the trial all of a sudden, Nia Bediako was making all sorts of accusations, now that Brown had left the meeting.
In the end the faction voted to hold another Delegates' Assembly to hold a public trial of Steve Brown in November. As noted above,this meeting was never even attempted.
Immediately after the Delegates' Assembly adjourned the Chair convened the LSB meeting. This meeting began at 10:02 PM. I made the point of order that this was an adjourned meeting and that its agenda had already been adopted. That agenda required the meeting to adjourn no later than 9:45 PM.
There was confusion about how late the meeting could go. The guy in charge of the place was asked and he said we could stay as late as we wanted to. The Chair announced that we could go until 10:30 PM.
Andrea Fishman said that we should not rush through the important budget item. So she moved to extend the meeting time by one hour, which would have allowed the LSB meeting to go until 10:45 PM. This motion was voted down.
At this point it was also pointed out that since we now had a LSB meeting going 30 minutes of public comment was required. That made a big difference in the amount of time we'd have for discussing the budget motion.
Subsequent motions to extend the time also failed. In the end Mitchel Cohen made a motion to have public comment and by voting for this motion the LSB seemed to agree to have the public comment session required by the bylaws and let that be it for the LSB meeting. The budget would not be dealt with at this meeting. As it turned out the Treasurer wasn't there anyway!
One woman who turned out to be a candidate on the faction's slate got up during public comment and said that Steve Brown should go to the police about some of this stuff.
And then the Chair started to interrupt the public comment session trying to talk about when we might settle some business. It was as if she didn't understand that we were only going to have public comment, as if she'd forgotten what had just happened.
I made a point of order that the meeting time was up. The Chair was confused about the meeting date, and asked what the deadline for the budget was. She was told that it was the next day!
The Chair proposed that we should set the meeting date for the next LSB meeting and that that would be the same date as the Delegates' Assembly where they would hold the trial of Steve Brown. A motion was made that within ten days Steve Brown would provide the dates at which he'd be available for the kangaroo court and that the four officers would pick a date and let the rest of us know when the meetings would be. This motion deadlocked at 7 for and 7 against so the Chair voted in favor of it and it passed.
Public comment resumed, it was 10:22 PM.
One person commended the LSB Radio Show Committee for doing a fair and intelligent job of setting up a structure for the programs, and castigated the majority on the LSB for shooting it down. He pointed out that for the past 3 years the LSB majority had stifled initiatives, stopping changes that some insiders didn't want. He noted that Steve Brown was just the honest messenger about many of these things, and some faction operatives tried to stop him from speaking. He resumed saying that the station had been run inefficiently for years. He noted that there was no record of his donations to the station and phone volunteering for 3 years, and that he knew of 30 other Long Island residents whose donations were not on the records [if there's no record of your donation you can't vote]. He asked if the faction operatives had gone to WBAI Management in an effort to make sure that this sort of thing didn't continue? He said that Steve Brown had. He said that what Steve Brown did was heroic, and that what they were doing to him was disgraceful.
Another woman agreed with the previous speaker and said that the Chair had really only allowed one side to speak on the Steve Brown trial issue and that this was just a railroading of things. She also had praise for the Radio Committee that the faction had quashed in favor of an unworkable structure from one of their fellow faction operatives.
Another person said that WBAI should go buy its own building.
Someone got up and said some things against Steve Brown, who had long since left the building.
The lover of the faction leader got up and, making sure that his video camera recorded his entire speech, said how awful the meeting was. He attacked me and said that he wanted to see a recall campaign to remove all non-faction operatives from the LSB. He really came off as a bit nuts.
Another faction operative came up and praised the Program Director, saying that he was the only one making money at the station, and that he liked the fact that the Program Director had been appointed to be in charge of the premiums.
After this a motion was passed to adjourn the meeting. It was 10:39 PM.
A video of most of what there was of the sort-of LSB meeting is available.
Here's the page showing the attendance at the LSB meetings.
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