WBAI LSB Meeting — February 25, 2010

The ninety ninth WBAI Local Station Board (LSB) meeting was held on Wednesday, February 25, 2010, at The Soho Gallery of Digital Art, 138 Sullivan St. between Prince St. and Houston St. in Manhattan. This is not an official Web page of the LSB.

Everything within a hundred miles of New York City was under a major Winter Storm Warning before, during and after this LSB meeting. As a result of the blizzard the LSB just barely made quorum. And it turned out that the so-called Justice & Unity Campaign, aka “the faction” or just “the FoBs” had a majority at this meeting.

I had a hard time getting there and ended up getting there late. When I arrived, after 8:00 PM, the LSB was still working on the agenda. Because of a special rule passed in 2007, the motion that sets a meeting's agenda has to be voted on after 20 minutes. So this meeting had started very late indeed.

So the FoBs set the agenda for this meeting. Their first priority was a lengthy attack on LSB Chair Mitchel Cohen. Cohen had written about the faction's attempt to make the LSB even more dysfunctional than it already is by bringing a motion that would defer every motion “that would have long-range impact on the station” until the imprisoned Lynne Stewart was briefed on the motion, and then, the motion said, Ms. Stewart would be able to send in her comments and her vote for a future meeting. Of course this would constitute proxy voting and would be illegal under the Pacifica Foundation's bylaws.

Naturally the FoBs would be the ones presenting the issues to her, and everything would take a long time and the LSB would end up arguing about what motions constituted an “important decision”, and any actions taken by the LSB could be challenged owing to the illegal proxy vote allowed. The FoBs really just want to prevent the LSB from doing anything for an entire year. Then they can say that the current majority is not doing things and so tell people to vote for them in the upcoming election. In other words, this is all just their usual dirty politics.

Mitchel Cohen, who's been a Lynne Stewart supporter for years, took the FoBs to task for this. As usual they're saying it's racist to oppose them by speaking out against what they're doing. Since they had a majority they got to make this the first item on the agenda. But removing the Chair requires a two thirds vote, and they knew it, so this was all just another opportunity for them to pose and grandstand.

What I find interesting is that they did not try to put their motion to allow Lynne Stewart to vote by proxy on the agenda at this meeting. They had the majority. They determined the agenda of this meeting by a series of 7 to 4 votes. They could have put their motion on the agenda and passed it. But they didn't even try. This would be very odd behavior indeed if they actually believed that their motion were legal.

Perhaps they realize that if they were to get this motion passed by the WBAI LSB then some higher authority might intervene and rule it illegal and thereby take from them this club which they've been beating the rest of the LSB over the head with for months. Yeah, they're just that cynical.

One ironic thing that happened during this meeting was that this Russell Dale character was calling Mitchel Cohen a racist. This is the same Russell Dale who was banned from WBAI for his insulting behavior towards then interim General Manager Lavarn Williams. Surely Russell Dale's behavior was both racist and sexist and that's why he's banned from entering WBAI's premises.

The motion to remove Mitchel Cohen as Chair failed to achieve a two thirds vote and so failed.

Time was made for the new interim General Manager (iGM) of WBAI Muriel Tillinghast to speak to the LSB for the first time. She gave a speech in which she outlined her life experiences and appealed to people to work together, making Star Trek references that I think some of the faction operatives did not get.

Ms. Tillinghast said that she'd come to New York City in 1971, and had been listening to WBAI ever since. She said that part of the reason why she's stayed in New York City over the years had been because of WBAI.

She noted that she'd started as iGM on February 1st, and that after she'd been there a week “The bombs began to fall.” She said that she had come to the station as iGM with no idea of how dysfunctional things were, and she said that everything was broken at the station. She said that things had started to improve after that. She noted that the station only has a skeleton Staff to deal with things, especially finances. In spite of all this she said that she thinks that WBAI can survive.

She said that there were too many contending viewpoints and complaints at the station, and that her E-mail is overwhelmed with them. She also said that the station should move to new premises. She said that WBAI began in a different social climate and that that social climate is not coming back.

Ms Tillinghast said that she would start the process of evaluating all programming on WBAI shortly. She said that she is going to start with a blank 24 hour grid and have “down and dirty” discussions about programming.

She is also meeting with Paid Staff to define jobs and figure out who's there. She noted that WBAI has had bad finances for ten years.

After this the LSB held the elections for PNB committees.

Results of the LSB elections to PNB committees for 2010

Max Schmid, Russell Dale
James Ross, Betty Dobson
Lisa Davis, Seth Goldberg
Russell Dale, Manijeh Saba
Robert Gold, Vajra Kilgour,
Racism Sexism:
Mitchel Cohen, Lisa Davis
Janet Coleman, Mitchel Cohen
Delphine Blue, Tibby Brooks, Max Schmid, Janet Coleman
Committees of Inclusion:
Tibby Brooks, Manijeh Saba, * (There is a tie for the 3rd spot between Robert Gold and Vajra Kilgour so that spot has not been decided yet.)

By now it was after ten o'clock, the blizzard was raging right outside, and the guy who owned the art gallery where we were meeting had let us know that we could only stay until eleven o'clock. There was then a motion to change the agenda by having the Treasurer's Report next. This was voted down by a 5 to 6 vote.

The meeting ground on.

Next the faction brought a motion to “Reconstitute the Management Search Committee.” It was 10:18 PM when this act started.

The faction had been fighting the Management Search Committee (MSC) since it was formed. They want to bring back their faction boss, former Program Director Bernard White. For most of a year they disrupted meetings to run out the time and make the meetings adjourn before getting to the forming of the MSC, and they had used various parliamentary maneuvers to delay the forming and populating of the MSC.

At this meeting they brought a motion to repopulate the MSC in a manner completely different from what the LSB had already done. This would also erase all of the work done by the MSC over the past few, tortured months.

Their basis for this was the faction's claim that the current Management Search Committee had been dissolved automatically upon the election of the Fifth WBAI LSB in December 2009. They bolstered this position with an argument and some half assed citations from Roberts Rules of Order that Nia Bediako had put together. As usual the citations were not relevant to the actual Management Search Committee but were about other situations. The faction does this a lot: they'll claim that one thing is something else and then they'll hammer the rules about that something else in an effort to get their way. It didn't work this time.

A point of order was raised that this motion was not necessary since the MSC had not automatically dissolved and it had a membership that did not need wholesale replacement. The Chair ruled in favor of this point of order. A faction operative appealed the chair's ruling. The Chair read an argument which showed that the MSC had not in fact been dissolved. The faction operatives were especially bothered that it was pointed out that when they'd had a majority on the LSB they'd had a MSC of their own that had lasted for years!

Meantime one of the faction operatives had left and one of the non-faction members of the LSB had finally gotten through the blizzard to the meeting and so when the appeal was voted on it came out to a 6-6 tie and this meant that the motion was out of order.

Former Chair Vajra Kilgour jumped up and started shouting that the appeal had failed because it was a tie vote. Other faction operatives, including some in the small audience, joined her. So, since everyone was being allowed to shout out, I joined in and noted that Roberts Rules of Order clearly states that a tie vote for an appeal of the ruling of a Chair is in favor of the Chair's ruling. The reason is that the appeal attempts to overturn a ruling and it takes a majority to do so. I'm sure that Kilgour knew that, she'd quoted Roberts Rules of Order enough times in the 3 years and 4 months that she'd been Chair of the LSB and had had many of her rulings appealed, and she had read that section of Roberts Rules of Order enough to quote points from it before.

Well, the ruling that the Management Search Committee was not dissolved and did not need to be repopulated prevailed. The meeting continued.

In this lovely atmosphere, with the blizzard raging outside, we got to the Treasurer's Report. And, being Treasurer, I got to give it. Here's the report as I wrote it:

Treasurer's Report

The NFC finally started to meet again as of last night. Summer Reece is now Chair of the NFC and so Treasurer of Pacifica.

We've had NFC meetings on January 14, and February 24.

At the January 14, NFC meeting all outstanding budgets were approved some with restrictions and additional conditions.

The NFC also passed the Fiscal Accountability Policy, the non-confidential parts of which I've posted to the public LSB and LSB Finance Committee lists. The PNB passed it on January 15.

Also passed at the January 14, NFC meeting was this Motion: (Susan Young) “The NFC recommends that the Pacifica National Board instruct and monitor management's development of strategies and implementation of measures to address deficiencies and material weaknesses identified in management letters in conjunction with the 2008 and 2009 audits; that Board monitoring take the form of such actions as delegating the ongoing monitoring responsibility to the Audit Committee, reports be given to the board at least monthly, and that the board adopt policies and procedures that address these deficiencies as developed by management. These actions need to be initiated immediately.” (Passed without objection)

A check for $375,000 was left uncashed at KPFA for 14 months. The check has long since expired and Pacifica Management is trying to get the issuer to reissue the check. The check may be reissued with conditions this time. The check is one of the Heath Endowment checks and the repayment plan for the $300,000 Heath endowment to Pacifica may help to convince the Heath board that we'll handle it responsibly.

We were told that listener support figures for all of Pacifica generally declined in 2009.

Pacifica is about $570,000 off budget and WBAI about $90,000 off budget.

The LSB Finance Committee met on January 20th. The plan had been to go over the WBAI FY10 draft budget some more, but we never got to that agenda item.

Motion (Mitchel Cohen) “The Treasurer obtain a report out from the NFC on the executive session on the new financial policy and report it to the LSB Finance Committee.” (Passed without objection)

The Business Manager reported that the Martin Luther King Jr. 'thon had a tally of about $34,000. The fulfillment rates are down, partly because invoices, etc. had not been sent out for a while. She said that the Premiums Dept. Needs help and suggested maybe a working group to help it. There has been a problem with the BREs. I checked them and their bar codes are for the wrong P.O. Box. We have about 7,500 of them. So the latest invoices do not have BREs included.

Motion: (Mitchel Cohen) “That we ask Staff and listener members of the Finance Committee to work towards the successful fulfillment of this fund drive.” (Passed 6 for, 5 against)

This motion took up the rest of the meeting and order became difficult to maintain.

So I figured I was done. But there had a been a gap in the text of the report I'd read. I'd wondered about the gap when I'd started to read the report, but there were too many distractions at the meeting to think about it much.

As it turned out the first question was about the rent problem. Oh, that's what I'd left out! I'd put together the report in pieces, working on aspects of it separately and then plugging in the text as I compiled the report. There had been some major distractions while I was putting the report together, with the blizzard worsening, and there had even been a suggestion that the LSB meeting be cancelled. In the midst of this I ran late and closed the word processor in a hurry, letting some unsaved documents just go. Well, one of those unsaved documents that ended up in the bit bucket was the part of the report about the rent problem. Of course the faction operatives were accusatory about this.

So I reported on the WBAI rent arrears at both 120 Wall St. and the Empire State Building and I answered a few other questions.

And then it was 11:00 PM and the meeting ended. It was one of the more bizarre ones. And then we each trudged out into the deepening snow and disappeared into the blizzard.

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

Back to the New Pacifica page.

To my home page.