Two letters from Carol Spooner
(of the listeners' lawsuit) 7-29-01
From: Carol Spooner
Date: Sat Jul 28, 2001 5:49 pm
Subject: Re: [NewPacifica] Re: the crux of the matter: point of clarification
I think thoughtful people of good will have differing opinions on some of these issues and that many, many listeners (due to gag rule & lack of on-air discussion) are unaware of the election issues & subtleties of how to successfully structure LAB elections.
I think the compromises we made in the KPFA LAB elections were good ones and were the result of many people listening to each other over time -- particularly those who strongly wanted elections and those with reservations about the elections -- and coming up with something that met most peoples' concerns and objectives. We may refine & improve it over time -- but we do have an elected LAB made up of a fine representation of our listening community and station staff.
I also think it would be presumptuous of me to comment on what might work and what compromises would be appropriate at WBAI.
I do strongly believe that an electoral system is the only safeguard against "unassailable corruption" taking over from the top and from political pressures from the CPB & "market" pressures from the changing broadcast environment. I think that is what happened over the past 10 years. The electoral process will require open discussion of issues facing the WBAI & Pacifica nationally -- things like the execrable "Strategic 5-year Plan" that is the basis of the PNB board majority's actions at all 5 stations since about 1992. Due to lack of real critique from the radical listener base, this piece of excrement passed without much opposition for a "Vision" for Pacifica for many years -- even among people who should have known better, and who now do know better.
Mostly, I see people who passionately care about the survival, protection and betterment of WBAI on this list (when I have time to read it), yes, even among those with reservations about elections. Passionate commitment is rare, something to treasure, and a great resource for the coming years -- and a reflection of what WBAI has meant to so many and what it has accomplished even with its flaws.
P.S. I should also have said that making "global statements" about what will work at other stations ignores the serious implementation problems that will occur at WPFW (Washington) and KPFT (Houston) where the true Pacifica listeners were "fired and banned" long ago. For that reason, I think a great deal of thought and care will have to be given to this issue on a national level, perhaps with different approaches or "phase in" periods for elections at the different stations.
From: Carol Spooner
[Open letter to James Ferguson] [ed: JF is a prospective Pacifca national board selectie]
Dear Mr. Ferguson:
Mr. Freedkin reported that you said you support "more music and less public affairs" at WPFW because "that's what the community wants." While there are many reasons why I urge you not to accept any appointment to the Pacifica Board at this time, not the least of which is that the appointment would be illegal and would embroil you in the ongoing litigation to declare such appointments illegal, I am writing mainly because your statement troubles me.
It appears that you do not place much value on the mission of the Pacifica Foundation. I would put it to you as an analogy. I understand you are a Baptist. If your church could gain more members by preaching the Catholic liturgy "because that's what the community wants" would you support that change in "mission." Probably not. You would probably argue that yours was a Baptist church and that, regardless of how many Catholics there were in the neighborhood, the church was there to preach the Baptist religious view to those who wanted and needed to hear it.
Of course Pacifica is not a church, but I think the analogy holds up pretty well. I understand that you served on the WPFW Local Advisory Board at one time. I would imagine that you have read the Pacifica Foundation statement of purpose at some point. Pacifica is a California non-profit public benefit corporation. Under California law, such corporations are deemed to be impressed with a "charitable trust" to carry out the express purposes stated in the articles of incorporation. While I love music and these purposes certainly include broadcasting music, I do believe there is a strong emphasis on "public affairs", and that the founders, who were pacifists, did have a good reason for that.
I've pasted the statement of purpose from the Pacifica Articles of Incorporation below. While the wording is more than 50 years old, and not "trendy" -- many people believe this mission has served well and is needed now as much as ever, even if it is not "what the community" in Washington DC wants. (I wonder which part of the community?) It may well be what the community, or a significant minority of them, really needs in these times.
I do ask you not to join the Pacifica board at this time. At some time in the future when the current legal dispute is concluded and Pacifica is operating under legal bylaws, you may be able to bring an important perspective to Pacifica. But, now, I believe the addition of any new board members would only serve to prolong the strife that is tearing Pacifica apart.
Thank you for your consideration of these matters.
That the purposes of this corporation shall be:
(a) To establish a Foundation organized and operated exclusively for educational purposes no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any member of the Foundation.
(b) To establish and operate for educational purposes, in such manner that the facilities involved shall be as nearly self-sustaining as possible, one or more radio broadcasting stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission and subject in their operation to the regulatory actions of the Commission under the Communications Act of 1934, As Amended.
(c) In radio broadcasting operations to encourage and provide outlets for the creative skills and energies of the community; to conduct classes and workshops in the writing and producing of drama; to establish awards and scholarships for creative writing; to offer performance facilities to amateur instrumentalists, choral groups, orchestral groups and music students; and to promote and aid other creative activities which will serve the cultural welfare of the community.
(d) In radio broadcasting operations to engage in any activity that shall contribute to a lasting understanding between nations and between the individuals of all nations, races, creeds and colors; to gather and disseminate information on the causes of conflict between any and all of such groups; and through any and all means compatible with the purposes of this corporation to promote the study of political and economic problems and of the causes of religious, philosophical and racial antagonisms.
(e) In radio broadcasting operations to promote the full distribution of public information; to obtain access to sources of news not commonly brought together in the same medium; and to employ such varied sources in the public presentation of accurate, objective, comprehensive news on all matters vitally affecting the community.
*1 Original Articles filed on august 24, 1946, as amended through the last amendment filed with the Secretary of State on February 2, 1976. Certified copies of the Articles of Incorporation and subsequent Certificates of Amendment may be obtained directly from the Secretary of State of the State of California.
*2 Article II was amended in whole on August 19, 1948.
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