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LAB exploratory committee minutes and notes

LAB exploratory notes index

Minutes of the Exploratory Committee of the WBAI Local
Advisory Board (LAB). 

What follows is an account of the meeting that took
place this Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2002, 6:45 to 9 pm.  I
volunteered for the job of typing up the official
account of this brainstorming session.  I have been
given permission by the chair of the committee to post
these minutes to the Internet.  These minutes have not
yet been approved by the Committee, but I expect that
they will serve as the official record of the

The numbered list of ideas is my account of the
meeting.  But in the interest of accuracy, I have also
transcribed all the flip charts that were created by
the facilitator during the meeting and included this
information as an appendix at the end.

The names "Local Advisory Board" and "Station Board"
are the old and newly proposed names, respectively, of
the official local boards of each of the 5 member
stations of the Pacifica Network.  Most people at the
meeting used the term "Local Advisory
Board";therefore, for simplicity's sake, I have used
that term throughout the document, where appropriate,
abbreviating it as "LAB."

Tom Gregg
Thurs, Feb. 14, 2002

In attendance and facilitating the meeting:
Lee Kronick (Exploratory Committee Member)
Marian Bornstein (LAB Member)
Sheila Hamanaka (Facilitator, flip chart writer)

Special Guest: Ray Laforest, member of interim
Pacifica National Board.

Others in attendance (a total of about 14 people):  
Members of Exploratory Committee,
and Listeners.

I.  Meeting was called to order.

II.  Announcements:  Monday, February 25, at 6:30
there will be a meeting at WBAI radio station
sponsored by the Exploratory Committee; Valerie Van
Isler will be the speaker.

III. It was explained that this meeting is intended to
be a brainstorming session, to think of suggestions
for the WBAI LAB about proposed bylaws.  The WBAI LAB
is supposed to cooperate with the interim Pacifica
National Board to write and approve new bylaws for the
Pacifica Foundation, as mandated by the recent court
settlement.  The theme for this brainstorming sesssion
is "Role of the Station Board." 

IV.  The chair gives the floor to the moderator.
A.  Explanation that elections of new LABs are
supposed to take place by December 29, 2002 and we
must work quickly.
B.  The deadline for Exploratory Committee
recommendations to the WBAI LAB is in May 2002.
C. Announcement by Marian Bornstein:  Everyone who
comes to the Exploratory Committee meeting is expected
to bring a copy of the Pacifica Bylaws and a copy of
Carol Spooner's recommendation.
D.  Next there was a facilitated brainstorming session
about the functions of the LAB.  What follows is the
list of suggestions offered by participants in the
discussion, roughly in chronological order.  Some
items were controversial, and inclusion on this list
does not imply endorsement by the WBAI LAB or by the
Exploratory Committee.  These are just the ideas that
were stated in the brainstorming session on Feb 13. 
We do not all agree on them. (Note that some people at
the meeting have said they will email me other
suggestions that they had.  I will include those in a
separate document or an appendix.  The body of this
document will be confined to the meeting of Wednesday,
Feb 13.)


1. The Station Board, i.e., Local Advisory Board (LAB)
should safeguard the FCC license, to prevent WBAI from
being sold, hijacked, mainstreamed, or taken over by
conservatives, and to ensure that the mission of
Pacifica is maintained.  The facilitator illustrated
the mission of Pacifica with a picture of a dove.

2. It was noted that over the past few years, the
Pacifica National Board (PNB) voted to disenfranchise
the LABs, resulting in a self-selecting National Board
which took actions that were bad for the Pacifica
Network.  Suggestion:  the LAB needs to make sure that
the PNB cannot take any actions that the listeners
disagree with.

3. LAB should participate in fundraising.

4.  LAB should participate in oversight of finances. 
Later, this suggestion was expanded with the
suggestion that the LAB should act as a watchdog for
both the PNB and the local station, watching over any
matters that need attending, not just financial ones.

5.  LAB should function as a place where people within
the station (producers, staff, volunteers) can bring
issues, for example, in a case where there is some
conflict between people (conflict over ideas,
per\sonalities, etc.) within the station.  One person
offered the descriptive term "steam valve" for this
function. And LAB should act as a liaison between
producers and listeners. 

6.  Roger Manning distributed and very briefly
presented his proposal for a General Board, and noted
that Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding
guidelines require the existence of an Advisory Board
that has no real power.  See his proposal for further

7. WBAI LAB should liaison with the other 4 LABs and
with Pacifica affiliate stations.

8.  LAB or listeners should elect the Station Manager
of WBAI and Program Director.

9.  LAB is required by the terms of the lawsuit
settlement to participate in the process of creating
new bylaws for the Pacifica Foundation.

10.  LAB should facilitate the placing of interns and
many, many volunteers into the station, modeled on
stations such as WORT and KGNU.  These volunteers
should be trained, and should have a very active role.

11.  LAB should inform the listeners about what is
going on at the station, This can be done by mail. The
Folio is another way to foster communication between
the station and listeners.

12. LAB should ensure broad representation and
diversity. It should reach out to many different types
of people, and should ensure that groups are not
neglected.  For example, perhaps a WBAI program should
address the issues of the disabled.  Perhaps there
should be more Asian programming.

13.  LAB should recruit candidates for LAB; it should
actively reach out and encourage people to come
forward and stand for election for LAB.

14.  LAB needs to set up a structure to carry out
elections for LAB. 

15.  LAB should protect the producers from anything
that would interfere with their doing their jobs-- it
should protect them from the listeners, from the
National Board, from the FBI, etc.

16.  LAB should protect paid and unpaid staff when the
union fails to protect them.

17.  LAB should protect program independence and
freedom of speech of programmers, as long as their
programs help fulfill the mission of Pacifica.

18.  The lawsuit settlement requires that new LABs be
elected.  LAB should interview candidates for these

19.  LAB should participate in recruitment and vetting
of candidates for the LAB elections.

20.  LAB should not be able to prevent anyone from
becoming a candidate for LAB.  (Note that 18 and 19
may be opposing viewpoints.  This was an area of

21.  LAB should help set up an organized volunteer

22.  We should have independent elections for LAB,
either run by LAB or run by a third party.  LAB should
not be self-selecting.

23.  LAB should protect and enhance the station.

24.  LAB should be empowered to have a judicial
function, so that it can adjudicate disagreements
among station personnel when attempts at conflict
resolution have failed.  For cases of real or alleged
physical violence, racism, sexual harrassment, etc.

25.  LAB can act as an "Ethics Committee."

26.  There should be a process so that a referendum
can be held by the LAB for community input.

27.  Question: should LAB be independent of PNB?  If
so, how independent should it be?

28.  LAB should allow listeners to have direct access
to WBAI.  (Note, I believe that the core idea here is
to allow listeners to have control over what happens
at WBAI, not simply to allow listeners into the

29. Elaboration of Roger Manning's "General Board"
idea- everyone would be able to be on the General
Board, it might be somewhat similar to the
organization of Concerned Friends of WBAI. 
Referendums, direct access, meetings.

30. LAB should accept proposals from listeners for
referendums, which would operate as follows: A
listener would gather enough signatures to put a
proposition on the ballot, and all listeners would be
given the opportunity to vote for or against this
proposition by checking a box marked "yes" or "no",
and the results of this referendum would be officially
reported by the LAB to the Pacfica National Board.

31. Amendment to the above proposal, offered by
another person: the results of such referendums should
be binding, so that the Pacifica National Board and/or
the local station would be forced to obey them.

32. In response to the proposal (listed above) stating
that the LAB should vet candidates, someone proposed
that listeners should vet candidates in a democratic

33. There should be interdependence and a positive,
dynamic relationship between the LAB and National

34. LAB should provide access to information about the
structure of the organization and issues within the

35. If the LAB is given the authority to select
candidates for seats on the LAB, then there also needs
to be a way for independent candidates (i.e.,
candidates who are not picked by the LAB) to run for
places on the LAB.

36. If LAB elects a PNB member, and it turns out that
this PNB member is not doing his or her job properly,
then LAB should be able to remove that person from the
PNB and elect someone else.  This process is called

37.  LAB should meet with the community in the 5
boroughs of New York City and in the other listening
areas.  LAB should set up community meetings in all
these areas, with guest speakers and time for open
discussion from the community.  LAB should do a
"community needs assessment".

38.  LAB should get the list of WBAI members, and,
without violating anyone's privacy, analyze the Zip
codes on the list to figure out where our biggest
listener-subscriber base is.  Use of Zip codes to
"monitor" members.

39.  If LAB analyzes the Zip codes as described above,
LAB should be sure to take into account that some
people are avid listeners but cannot afford to donate
to WBAI (poor people's Zip codes would be
underrepresented on such a list.)  These people's
ideas need to be solicited.

40.  If LAB elects one or more PNB members, those PNB
members should be required to report back to the LAB.

41. LAB should ensure that money is earmarked for the
purpose of preserving the WBAI archives of old radio
shows (Note:  this is relevant because this morning
Amy Goodman mentioned on the air at WBAI that some
archival program tapes had been re-used within the
past year or so, destroying whatever was on them).

42. LAB should assist and aid the formation of a
Program Council.

43. LAB should establish mechanisms to accept or
appeal national programming mandates, so that if , for
example, the Pacifica Foundation mandates that a
certain program must be run during certain times, this
mandate can be challenged.

44. LAB should develop a policy about hate speech and
establish a committee to handle this issue.

45. Someone proposed that the policy about hate speech
should apply to hate speech that occurs either on or
off the air.

46. LAB should develop a WBAI Folio.

47. Some producers receive money from outside
organizations to help them develop their programs. 
The LAB should establish a mechanism to review all of
this "outside" funding.  This process should be
"transparent."  That is, it should be done openly.

48. LAB should develop a process by which fired staff
can appeal to get their jobs back, if the union cannot
protect them.  It is unclear whether this proposal
refers to unpaid staff as well as paid staff.

49. LAB should implement an annual programming
referendum, with power to change programming.  The
plan would work like this:  every year, the listeners
would vote on whether they were satisfied with the
programming.  If the results of the referendum showed
that the listeners were dissatisfied with the
programming, then the LAB would be required to act to
remedy the situation within 45 days or a similar

50. LAB should select a member of the LAB to become a
Pacifica National Board member, as was done with Ray
Laforest.  But if the person does a poor job, then the
LAB should be able to take that person off the PNB

51. There are a number of people who are WBAI
listeners but not members, because they cannot afford
the expense.  LAB should encourage these people's

52. LAB could call an annual General Listener Meeting,
where all listeners could come together and

53. LAB should make a weekly report to the listeners
over the radio, with free speech and no gag rule-- it
should be allowed to say what it needs to say.

54. It was suggested that, because this brainstormed
list of proposals is so long, the LAB would need a
paid staff and a budget in order to accomplish all
these goals.

55. LAB should work to minimize conflict between paid
and unpaid staff, because paid staff might be afraid
that unpaid staff is taking their jobs away from them.
 We need non-competition for jobs.  LAB should also
address the issue of who is volunteering.  Perhaps
many volunteers are middle-class or rich people who
can afford to take the time to volunteer, and poor
people need to be considered too.

56. Another comment on Roger Manning's General Board
idea:  there can be more than one general board.  This
could result in dispersed representation, managed
through the LAB.

57. There should be more local control over the
General Manager of WBAI.  The General Manager (GM)
should be required to report to the LAB.  Perhaps the
LAB should be allowed to hire and fire the GM.  The
Executive Director should not be allowed to make such
decisions, and the Executive Director position should
be either eliminated or greatly reduced in power, so
as to make it something like an ombudsman.

58. LAB should perform Youth Outreach.  This outreach
should include training in radio techniques.  Air time
should also be allotted to cover youth issues.

59. LAB meetings and subcommittee meetings should be
run democratically.

60. LAB representatives should follow LAB mandates
(note: I believe that this proposal referred to LAB
relations with the National Board).

61. LABs should instruct the PNB members as to their
duties, and recall them if they do not follow these

62. LAB should have the power to approve or reject the
budget of the Pacifica National Board.

63. One person expressed his "deep concern" over
whether the current LAB will allow listeners to
participate in decisions over bylaws.

E. The Facilitator drew a graphic, during the course
of the conversation, that can be summarized as

Mission of LAB
I. Safeguard FCC license
II. Elect Pacifica National Board
III. Elections for LAB
IV.  Fundraising and oversight of fundraising- also a
general watchdog        function over the station and
National Board
V. Programming
A. Review programming
B. Do this in consulation with listeners
VI. Volunteer Network
VII. Liaisons with various groups
A. Listeners
1. Interns
2. Listeners can be contacted by many means,
including by mail
B. Staff
1. Paid
2. Unpaid
3. Union issues
C. Producers
D. Management
E. LABs of other stations
F. Pacifica affiliate stations
G. National Board
H. Ethics Committee/Conflict Resolution

V.  Closing announcements.
Next week's meeting will be a similar brainstorming
session, addressing the structure of the LAB (for
example, how many members should the LAB have?Should
there be requirements or criteria imposed on LAB
The next meeting will take place Wednesday, Feb 20, at
75 Varick Street, 4th floor, at the District Council
office of the union located there.  These meetings are
open to all WBAI listeners.

VI.  Meeting Adjourned.

What follows is a literal transcription of the flip
charts that the facilitator wrote during the meeting.
I include it here for completeness's sake.

Flip Chart 1.
1                1              2w           8/15     
    9/18           1/9
[Note: a calendar-table was next on the flip chart,
which I have transcribed the best I could.]
M     LAB
D     D/L  elections.  Dec 29, 2002  LAB

Flip Chart 2.
Graphic drawn by facilitator.  I have added an outline
structure to make it easier to read.

Mission [picture of dove]
III. Elections
IV.  $ Fundraising + oversight  - [picture of dog's
V. Programming
A. Review 
B. listeners
VI. Volunteer Network
VII. Liaison
A. Listeners
1. Interns
2. mail
B. Staff
1. Paid
2. Unpaid
C. Producers
D. Mgt
E. Other LAB's
F. Affil
H. Ethics/Conf. Res.

Flip Chart 3.
-FCC license
change mission
-Producers- problems in station
-CPB funding problem
-Elect SM + PD
-Approval of By-laws (Nat'l) 
-Board Rep/Diversity
-Protect paid + unpaid staff
-Program Independence/Mission!

Flip Chart 4.
-_Interview_ process
Recruitment- Vetting- of candidates
-Volunteer Network- _organized_!
-Independent elections (Not self-selecting
-Protect + Enhance stations
-Judicial (Conflict resolution). Ethics
[note: the word "conflict resolution" is crossed out,
and was not intended to be included in the official
record of the meeting.]
-Watchdog over PNB + WBAI
-Q: Independence from PNB
-Direct Access Listeners to WBAI

Flip Chart 5.
- General Board - Everyone
direct access
-Referendums - Voters  _ Yes   _  No
- Listeners vet candidates
- Binding referenda
- Interdependence POSITIVE _DYNAMIC_ relationship
- Access to information about structure, issues
-Independent candidates not picked by LAB can run

Flip Chart 6.
- Meet w/ Community NY + Burbs
Solicite ideas from underrepresented
[Note: graphic: double-headed arrow between these two
- Analyze + monitor Members base - zip codes
[note: this originally read "analyze listener base"
then the word "listener" was crossed out.]
- PNB reps should report back to LAB
- Preserve $ for local archives
- Assist + Aid form. of Program Council
- Estab. Mechanism for accept + appeal N' programming
- Dev _Hate_ _Speech_ Policy + estab. comm
on + off air
- Folio

Flip Chart 7.
-Mech to review all program funding [grants] -
-Fired Staff Appeal Process
-Annual Programming Referendum w/ power to cure
-LAB elects LAB member to go to PNB w/ right to recall
- Listeners vs. members: Encourage involvement of
those who can't afford $
-Budget + Perm. staff
- On Air reports Weekly- Free speech

Flip Chart 8
-Volunteers-rich, poor/Paid staff/unpaid staff ---
non-competition for jobs
-More than one general Board
dispersed representation managed thru LAB
-More local control over GM/Exec Dir shd be Ombudsman
-Monday Feb 25th- mtg at WBAI 6:30 pm
-Outreach to Youth
-LAB mtgs + subcommittees run democratically
-LAB reps follow LAB mandates
-Approve National Budget

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