A plan for getting things done in 2002
[ A timeline for completing bylaw revisions and elections by the Lawsuits Settlement deadline
by Bernie Eisenberg, Los Angeles ]
THE SETTLEMENT TIME LINE
12-29-01 is the first iPNB meeting which defines both the 12 month (12/29/02) and the 15 month (3/29/03) deadlines as specified in the settlement agreement.
12/29/02 is the date by which the 12 month deadline for "LAB elections pursuant to new bylaws..." is to take place.
3/29/03 is the date by which the 15 month deadline for seating of "directors elected pursuant to the new bylaws..." The settlement says: "based on revisions in the bylaws and completion of the LAB elections, as described in Paragraphs 2 and 3(b)-3(c), a new board of directors will be elected within fifteen months of the first meeting of the Interim Board, and the Interim Board will be dissolved."
The settlement agreement says that the interim board (iPNB) "... will fully review and revise the Pacifica Foundation bylaws to conform with legal requirements." It also says that any change in makeup or manner of election of any director and/or LAB member would require that 3 of the 5 LABs must ratify. (Remember that any change to the by-laws requires iPNB approval by a 2/3 vote.)
The iPNB must create a By-Laws Committee to define a methodology for consultation as mandated in the settlement agreement for all relevant issues. Since the issues surrounding LAB elections are significant, it would probably make sense to have a sub-committee of the By-Laws committee or a separate committee devoted solely to elections issues. In either case, I will call it the Elections Committee. The Elections Committee will define the general elections procedures for both SB members and PNB directors.
03/10/02 create the iPNB By-Laws Committee
THE CONSULTATIVE PROCESS
The settlement also says of the iPNB review of the by-laws that "This review will be done in consultation with the LABs and the listening community in all five station areas."
The determination of how the LABs and the community will consult on reviewing and revising the by-laws is not defined in the settlement agreement. I don't think that it would be in the best interests of the settlement agreement to leave this determination up to the individual LABs in each signal area. There should be some oversight by the iPNB to try to achieve a fair distribution of signal area input in this process. The iPNB should define the consultative process for both general by-laws and election by-laws with implementation of the process to begin as soon as possible thereafter.
3/10/02 define the consultative process or create the iPNB Consultative Committee to define and oversee consultation with LABs and community.
ELECTIONS - LOCAL ADVISORY BOARD (LAB) MEMBERS
In the settlement agreement, the by-laws must first be approved before a comprehensive plan for LAB elections can be developed because the election process is to be "pursuant to new by-laws." I think it is fair to say that the desire of the reformist listener community is that the new by-laws redefine the LABs to be Station Boards (SBs) with more than mere advisory power. Using this assumption, I will use the term SB instead of LAB hereafter.
The settlement says: "... which elections will be held at the end of one year following the first meeting at which the Interim Board is seated and conducts business. The KPFA model will be the starting point for the new bylaws concerning election of LAB members, and will be modified as needed. Guidelines will be issued to ensure access to air and to avoid any abuses that would prevent fair elections."
TIME LINE REVISITED
The implication of having elections on 12/29/2002 is that the new by-laws must have been approved prior to the start of the election process, that specific election procedures must be defined, that candidate qualification must take place, and that campaigning and voter registration must take place prior to a voting period that begins on 2/29/02 and would probably continue for two weeks with two weeks for enumeration and seating of a new SB (or three weeks with one week for seating the new SB). In either case, the new SB would be seated by 1/29/03. If the new by-laws define the election of directors by the SBs, this would give each SB two months to "elect" their PNB directors.
03/10/02 create the iPNB By-Laws Committee
ELECTIONS - PACIFICA NATIONAL BOARD DIRECTORS
One big question is whether the PNB directors will be directly elected or elected by a representative body. How this happens depends on how the new by-laws are written. The new by-laws could mandate that a representative model (SB elected) or direct democracy model (listener elected) be used for the election of PNB directors.
The way the settlement agreement is written, it appears that no one, especially not judge Sabraw, considered a direct democracy model for the election of PNB directors. This is clear in the way that the election time line is laid out. If the SB members are seated by 1/29/03, there would be no time to hold a direct election for the PNB. The voting paradigm is already skewed towards having SBs elections rather than direct listener elections for the PNB directors.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE DIRECT LISTENER ELECTIONS FOR PNB DIRECTORS?
With the assumptions that the reformist listener community prefers direct listener elections for PNB directors and that the by-laws are written so as to define director elections in that way, another election model comes to mind that would solve two problems simultaneously. What if the qualified voters in each signal area voted simultaneously for both SB members and PNB directors? Such a model would solve the time line problem and it would also greatly reduce costs by having a single election procedure. There would be problems to be ironed out, for example, should the directors be elected nationwide or by signal area? And if by signal area, how would affiliates and web listeners be handled? But these are not insurmountable problems. It could work.
However, the new by-laws may very well revert to the representative model in which the SBs elect the directors of the PNB, the same model that got Pacifica into the dire situation that it now finds itself. But there are many who believe that the SB should elect the directors. If the by-laws mandate PNB elections by the SB's, there must be a process in which the reformist listener community could participate in the review process for candidate directors. Of course, the power to elect (or as some would put it "select") any director would still be in the hands of the signal area's SB. There must also be procedures put into place that clearly define recall procedures, not just for malfeasant SB members, but also direct recall by the listener community for malfeasant national directors. Perhaps the director recall procedures would be restricted to the listener community of the signal area whose SB elected that director. That would make each elected director ultimately accountable to the listener base that elected the SB that elected the director.
In either scenario, voter qualification and candidate qualification matters are issues to be resolved.
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