WBAI LSB Meeting — November 29, 2006

The fifty third WBAI Local Station Board (LSB) meeting was held on Wednesday, November 29, 2006, at 6:30 PM at Local 1199's Bread and Roses Art Gallery, 310 W. 43rd St. in Manhattan. This is not an official Web page of the LSB.

This was the final meeting of the second WBAI LSB. The election results had been announced more than a week earlier and the faction currently in charge remained in charge, but just barely. They would have 13 seats on the third LSB, which would be seated in December. So this was in many ways a lame duck LSB meeting.

This meeting began 59 minutes late. It could have started as much as ten minutes earlier but the Chair refused to count Paul DeRienzo for the quorum.

So the meeting began and the first thing to do was to set the agenda for the meeting. Should be simple enough, no? No.

The usual printed agenda was handed out just as the meeting began. But then there were amendments. A complicating factor was that we had to get a new budget approved at this meeting. On the printed agenda the budget approval was item #10. And so the amendments began.

People started juggling the agenda and just calling out numbers to be moved up or down. Of course each such move changed the number of the other items, which caused some confusion. Added to this was an amendment to have Patty Heffley report on her Director's inspection at WBAI.

Ms. Heffley was a Director of the Pacifica Foundation for 2006, and she had exercised her “absolute right” to inspect some things at WBAI. This absolute right is a matter of law. So some faction operatives had made carping remarks about her inspections and she decided that she'd just let folks know what happened by giving a formal report. It was proposed that this be item #5 on the agenda and that it be given 15 minutes.

Well, the faction does not want to hear this report because it's going to show them in a bad light. So they pushed it all the way down to the “New Business” part of the agenda which everyone was sure we would not get to at this meeting.

This was also the first LSB meeting that the new iGM Robert Scott Adams had attended. He got quite an experience.

The faction leader began re-ordering the agenda to his liking and just reeled off numbers changing one number to another number, etc. Well, this was obviously going to be hopeless. The Chair became lost in the proceeding and I suggested that people read the names of the items instead of just shouting out numbers so that we could all follow what was being proposed. The faction, of course, didn't care if the re-ordering was comprehensible because they didn't have to think about their votes. They just know to vote for whatever their faction leader tells them to and that's it. The rest of us would like to be able to make sense of a proposed motion before we vote on it, however.

Eventually, with the Chair lost in the amendments and the faction leader being unable to really articulate what item was which at this point, they had to adopt my suggestion and start naming the items and saying where the actual items would be. But the whole process just became comical as the faction played musical chairs with the agenda and found that their pet projects kept getting pushed down the agenda as they added other pet projects in front of them. Did I mention that this was the new iGM's first LSB meeting?

After a while we got to the introduction and report by the new iGM. He told us of his interest in radio at an early age in Rochester, New York and brought us through his radio experiences as a DJ and Management at various college and commercial radio stations. He told us that he felt qualified to do the job of iGM at WBAI. In response to a question he said that disagreements are natural and that critics should raise money and help the radio station. His report lasted about five minutes.

And then we got to the revised budget. Of course there were a lot of financial details in this, but I did notice that some of the numbers were just a little bit off. the Treasurer said that this was probably just rounding errors. I'm sort of sensitive to this sort of thing because back when I was Chief Steward at WBAI, of a real Union, former WBAI General Manager Valerie Van Isler used to fake financial reports and type them up to make it look like they were printouts right from a spreadsheet. Oh, one doesn't forget experiences like that.

The Treasurer cleared up for me the question of whether that $200,000 that WBAI is supposed to get from the mass mailing that the National Office is supposed to do will be a gift or a loan. It had been referred to as a loan at one point. It was now officially a gift again.

The Treasurer said that the CFO had found the “major donor” income projection in the original FY07 budget to be too optimistic. And yet the mailing that's to get us $200,000 was all right even though it's only a projection. This mailing attracted a lot of questions during this part of the meeting. The Treasurer and CFO think it's just all going to come in.

The Treasurer said that one issue was that WBAI had to reduce its on-air fund raising time to ten fewer days in FY07. Well, that would make it 83 days' pitching, which is even better than the 85 days I'd proposed for the budget in its previous incarnation.

In response to a statement from Lisa Davis about how she's the representative of most of her community and she wants emphasis on certain issues Robert Scott Adams said that the radio station is not built only on the African American community but that WBAI must reach out, must cultivate people. He said that the radio station should be like a CD, whatever part of it you listen to you should like it. He said that it's a privilege to serve our audience and that we had to serve all of our audience.

This seems to have taken a few of the faction operatives aback. They did not look pleased after he said this.

Then we got into the Pacifica mandated “recovery plan” for WBAI. The iGM had shown up with a printed list of 19 things that should be done for WBAI to get into a better financial position.

The new iGM said that we must “re-brand” WBAI, and that WBAI needed a full time Development Director, as opposed to the half time position we have now.

There were some things in the “recovery plan” that were non-controversial. In fact Berthold Reimers noted that two thirds of what was proposed in this “recovery plan” had been proposed two or three years earlier, but there had been no implementation. He cited the ad campaign in The Nation which had been successful but which had been stopped dead for political reasons by WBAI Management back then.

Looking through the list of things in the “recovery plan” I noted that one of the items was “explore underwriting.” I inveighed against that. I think we could lose WBAI and all of Pacifica to such a policy. I think that we need to have most of our funding come from disparate listeners as opposed to a few businesses which will then want something in return. And this turned out to be a universal sentiment on the LSB. When we voted on these proposals we unanimously voted to take that one off the list!

And then the iGM had to leave in order to get to a previous engagement.

After a public comment session where the Chair again tried to tell people that they couldn't record video at this public meeting we got into the “recovery plan” some more. It got at least as comical as the attempt to deal with the agenda had been. The Chair couldn't figure out how to handle voting on a list of things. Part of the problem was that the Chair again insisted on only referring to the items that made up the “recovery plan”, listed from “a.” to “p.,” by their letters instead of reading out what the item we were to vote on actually was. This was complicated by a couple of letters being used twice. But eventually we were able to get the Chair to just read aloud the whole list one item at a time because doing it that way was much faster than the cherry picking method she had been trying to use.

Among other things the iGM suggested that WBAI make people feel more welcome and make the station sound more friendly as opposed to angry. An attempt by the faction leader to strike the final item on the “recovery plan,” which was to have, “happy hours, wine tasting, art shows, events where non mainstream, up and coming talent can be showcased under WBAI banner,” failed! Looks like some of the faction operatives actually would like some of that stuff. Is there hope for the faction yet? Or did some of them just figure that they could use such events to run some scam for themselves?

The amended “recovery plan” was voted into the budget by a vote of 7 for, 1 against.

When we voted on the entire budget it passed by a vote of 7 for, 5 against, and 2 abstentions. I voted against adopting this budget because no one could answer the question of how come the CFO rejected the previous budget because it was too big and yet approved this budget which was $87,987 bigger! This whole budget process for the FY07 budget was just screwy and this final budget was just too big and based too much on unproven income.

After this we spent a fun time trying to set the date for the next meeting, which would be the first meeting of the third WBAI LSB. We had to do it after the election results were certified and that was scheduled to happen on December 15th. Apparently the Chair had some undisclosed reason for not wanted to meet soon after the 15th, and in the end the faction voted to meet next on December 27th, which was pretty inconvenient for a number of people.

This meeting adjourned at 10:07 PM.

Here's a video of this meeting.

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

Back to the New Pacifica page.

To my home page.