Diversity bylaw committee: Some notes
Diversity bylaw committee documents
From: Larry Romsted [ WBAI area listener/activist ]
I listened to the entire Webcast of the Diversity Committee meeting last (Sunday, March 23) night. The discussion was complex and impossible to summarize without many words. So, I only want to comment (with less, but still many words) on some aspects from what I considered a listener-activist perspective, in this case, a listener-activist who cares about the outcome of the bylaws, strong diversity, improved programming, listener involvement in programming planning and outreach, elections, and the need to move on. But, a listener-activist, who is also without voting rights and only power is to speak at meetings and on the lists and complain.
What follows are both summary comments and a deep concern about one of the remedies discussed, appointed seats on station boards.
A. Appointed Seats.
Appointed seats negate the decision of the electorate, the vote of the listener-members after an election is over. If people are appointed by the current members of the station boards, that is, if the currently self-appointed LAB members at all stations except KPFA, then the current majority on the boards and majorities on all future boards have the power to enhance the size of their majority by selected people with whom they agree. That act defeats the purpose of holding election and holding the station board members responsible to the electorate.
NO APPOINTED SEATS! NO APPOINTED SEATS! NO APPOINTED SEATS!
B. Summary comments on the diversity committee meeting. All members checked in at one time or another. Some could not participate for the whole meeting.
1. The diversity committee is to meet again on Tuesday evening, 7:00 PM EST, I believe.
2. I think it is possible that the diversity committee may reach agreement on language relatively quickly, but I think appointed seats is one of the serious dangers in what they may draft (see below).
3. Their first disagreement was on the production of written proposals for this meeting. One person, have forgotten her name, my apologies, said that they had agreed at the previous meeting (the one that was not Webcast and for which no minutes were produced) that they would only considered written documents. Mimi Rosenberg disagreed strongly that that was the agreement. (Mimi did not have her proposal, which were characterized as "Enhancement Points" to Diallo's Committees of Inclusion proposal ready in writing. It is suppose to be ready and distributed to the lists today.) The issue was not resolved formally and passed by in the discussion.
4. There was no summary of what happened at the previously meeting at the beginning of this meeting. No one took notes at the previous meeting.
5. Ray Laforest asked for a note taker for this meeting. No one volunteered. They agreed to not have one and to only report motions on which they voted. Because they passed no formal motions at the meeting (only took some straw polls), I suspect that there will be no report. I could be surprised, but I feel that the necessity of transparency for operating democratically is still not fully understood in Pacifica meetings.
6. Ray: A suggestion. Find a note taker who is not a participate to write reports, minutes, whatever, but those who are participating in this struggle and care deserved to know what is going on.
7. The diversity committee agreed to let Diallo Kantambu and Mimi Rosenberg try to draft a joint bylaw based on Diallo's Committees of Inclusion proposal and Mimi's proposal (for which the "Enhancement" points were listed verbally, but not available in writing) and also anyone else who wanted to try, e.g., representatives from the KPFA LAB. This understanding came after much discussion about how specific the language about Affirmative-Action should be in the bylaws.
D. Deep Concern
1. The primary focus of the discussion was about the need for Affirmative Action throughout Pacifica. This discussion was good and there is underlying basic agreement that Pacifica needs strong Affirmative-Action guidelines and some were ready to risk lawsuits to have strong language, e.g., 50% minima for women and people of color.
2. What was not clear in the discussion was what remedies would be taken for failure to meet the guidelines and how those remedies would be applied to station personnel and to elections.
3. Susan DiSilva (sp?, sorry Susan) opposed the remedies in Diallo's proposal, initially (but agreed to compromise later) because they included appointed seats for station boards if they do not meet the guidelines. I could not find this language in Diallo's document on WBAI.net, but appointed seats are a real problem as a remedy in any election.
4. Here is the problem. Some people are calling for diversity requirements based on the demographics of each listening area. What "constituencies" would be included is not clear, but many were named. In the constituency model developed here in WBAI Land the number of constituencies are greater than the number of seats that would be available for any board election. Currently the bylaws call for 24 person station boards with 3 year terms, 2 elections of 12 people for two years and one year rest with no election. If the total number of diversity seats are written into the bylaws as "must be filled" to meet Affirmative Action guidelines and the number of seats available in any election is less than that total, then appointed seats will always be necessary. However, even without specific diversity requirements that force the expansion of the size of a board, appointed seats always create the problem of the majority on a board being permitted to increase the size of their majority via appointments.
I think it is time for anyone who opposes appointed seats in general and as a remedy for Affirmative-Action requirements should speak up now! The diversity committee meets again tomorrow evening and they need to hear from us.
NO APPOINTED SEATS! NO APPOINTED SEATS! NO APPOINTED SEATS!
From: Andrew Norris [ WBAI LAB ]
A few days ago I requested the Diversity Language committee to make available whatever documents they are considering. My request was granted: the archives for the committee listserve are open to inspection: see
Thanks to Ray, Sheila, Diallo and other members of the committee for maintaining transparency to the best of their ability.
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