SUMMARY OF PACIFICA BOARD TELEPHONE MEETING 9/19/2001
Progressive Portal Release
(Partially Abridged by Pacifica Campaign)
* New members appointed, new officers elected
* Emergency meeting on "Democracy Now!" set for 14 days from today
* Ford doesn't allow motion to suspend Utrice Leid
Over the objections of five members as to the process undertaken, the
Pacifica Board in a telephone conference call meeting added new members
Wednesday and elected new officers. Below is a summary of the meeting,
held Wednesday, September 19, starting at 2 p.m. ET (11 a.m. PT).
In an unexpected and unusual process, acting chair Ken Ford gave each
new member immediate voting rights as they were elected, so they could
vote on the subsequent nominations. At the end of the process, the new
members were allowed to vote immediately, including on the election of
a new chair.
The new members:
Marion Barry -- controversial former mayor of Washington, DC
Gregory -- comedian, activist, advocate of unique health practices
James Ferguson -- Director of Research and Planning, Council of
National Black Churches;
Democratic Party activist George Barnstone --
real-estate executive Krishna Roy -- p.r. and marketing executive
If the five can be counted upon to side with the Pacifica majority, and
if their election isn't subsequently overturned by court action or
otherwise, the majority now has 11, versus five in the minority. That
gives the majority the ability to cast two-thirds-majority votes
required to amend the by-laws or oust board members. (They had tried in
court to oust Pete Bramson, arguing that his term had expired. Ford did
not offer to resign given that his term had expired.)
Farrell became chair; Johns became treasurer; no vote held on vice
chair (Ford is now vice chair); Murdock became secretary.
"Dissidents" Nominate Cagan
Tom Moran nominated, and Pete Bramson seconded, nomination of
Leslie Cagan to be chair of the board.
"Usurpers" Nominate Farrell John Murdock nominated Bob Farrell to be
chair. After Ken Ford called for a second, there was a pause. Ford then
said that the "parliamentarian" had advised him that it wasn't
necessary to second nominations. Asked by Cagan who the
"parliamentarian" was, Ford said, "the book, Robert's Rules of Order."
Vote was as follows (Johns had left for another meeting):
Member* Voted for
Barry Farrell (said he's known Farrell 25+ years, good friend)
Chambers Farrell (after speaking to ---'s nomination
saying we need more women on the board, she voted for the male
(Barnstone was added to the call after the vote.)
Bramson nominated Robinson. Moran seconded (Ford: unnecessary). Murdock
nominated Johns; he said Chambers (tax accountant) would be qualified
but she is overworked. She said she would also support Johns. Chambers
endorsed Johns and slammed Robinson as divisive because he has joined
the lawsuit against the majority. Chambers is clearly firmly
entrenched with the majority, except with regard to Utrice Leid, the
former WBAI manager now appointed national Program Director.
Lee nominated Murdock. Chambers was also going to nominate Murdock.
After offering to open Cagan's line, he told the operator to stop, then
he No other nomination.
October 27-28 is next meeting, topics need to go to chair within 7 days
Cagan: Why not voting on vice chair position? Ford said he has not
resigned and his term is not up. Should we discuss topics for agenda
now or just send them in? Ford: now's good.
Cagan: review paid consultants, contracts; must have thorough, honest
discussion of continuing deepening crisis at WBAI -- outrageous that
board hasn't grappled with this since last December. Need evaluation
process of Executive Director; no evaluation in the 1.5 years since she
Murdock: Thanked Ford. Cagan's issues do need to be addressed; he'll
put some issues in writing too. Any suggestions must be put in the form
of a resolution that can be voted on.
Chambers?: Agree with Cagan's call to help WBAI. Need personnel
committee, including more inclusive and community-responsive method of
choosing station general managers.
Bramson: What's process to put issues on the agenda?
Ford: Will address that "real quick." Anyone else?
Moran: Unknown location of meeting, time and date without consulting
board members. Our issues have been put off, and no call-backs received
from Executive Director or Board majority in months.
Ford: Court stipulation says any agenda item SHALL be put on the agenda
if submitted in writing by a board member within 7 days of notice of
meeting (i.e., 7 days from today).
Murdock: In addition to submitting issues and proposals, please
identify information members would like made available, and individuals
it may be useful to ask to attend. Helpful to have a telephonic
non-voting meeting after items submitted and distributed so we can talk
about how to prioritize the agenda, because may be 5 or 6 people
submitting the same item.
Moran: Written submission of agenda item was done (by board minority)
before this meeting, and were not put on agenda. Ford: I have not
received any such correspondence.
Bramson: I'm looking at email submitting those items.
Ford: Stipulated hard copy, not email. Given email volume we're
receiving, a lot are probably lost in transit or filtered out. Do it in
written [i.e., paper] format.
Robinson: New members need to be aware they've come into a polarized
board. The way this meeting is conducted should be chilling. Governance
and management has broken down, network collapsing. Mediating,
negotiating cannot be done if we continue to use these means to deal
with the present crisis.
Chambers: Also want to see review of Program Director. Not witnessed
any set of events that would lead me to give the new person [Utrice
Leid] the benefit of the doubt. Critical issue. Board's viewpoint,
preferably as an action item, needs to be clearly, quickly, and
Cagan: Move for emergency meeting right now on this call or ASAP to
address "Democracy Now!" crisis. Reiterate question re October meeting
location. MUST BE a full, open, public meeting.
Murdock seconded motion to have emergency meeting to deal with
"Democracy Now!" No reason to wait on this, has gone on a long time.
Need to have some people to provide background in writing or at the
meeting start. Policy issue is involved, board needs to address it.
Moran asked if "we are currently open for business."
Ford ruled the motion out of order.
Barnstone: Fully agree we need to address the issues; we need to get
"Democracy Now!" back on the air. "This is just ya-ya land."
Bramson: What will ensure that we will get the requested documents
before the next board meeting?
Ford: You have to ask the new chair, Mr. Farrell. Bramson: Let's ask
Farrell: I'll speak at the close of the AGENDA [emphasis his] today.
I'm getting pressed for time to stay on the line.
Murdock: I insist on an emergency meeting. By-laws Art 4 Sec 2 --
special meetings can be called by majority vote of full board. Board is
on the phone. Nothing forecloses deciding to have an emergency meeting.
Move again to set a date for an emergency phone meeting.
Ford: This was not on the agenda, it's something the chair will have to
Moran: Issues intertwined with that: behavior of interim general
manager [Leid], executive director [Bessie Wash] during that time --
need to address those.
Robinson: Agree with Barnstone. "DN!" needs to be on the air. Some
people want it off the air permanently. We should be clear whether
that's part of the discussion.
Ford: We all want it back on the air, no one more than I. But there are
issues the attorneys and union are working on. This is the Executive
Director's issue. Chair will probably get in touch with you as to how
this will be resolved.
Robinson: This is policy, not operational.
Bramson: Call the question, to vote on calling an emergency meeting.
(Chambers wanted to second, but was not needed.)
Farrell: He mentioned a "peace initiative" that he discussed with all
but two current board issues. Would be emotionally satisfying now to
set a date to discuss "DN!" but to do so without setting context,
seeing nature of what is in place in terms of discussions, suits,
bargaining-unit priorities. Ask the courtesy of the board to let me do
that as one of the first things I do as new chair. Give officers to
look at the range of things put before the board and put them in some
sense of order and priority. Asking for a "no" vote.
Barnstone: Need to have meeting ASAP. Get "DN!" back on the air.
Cagan: Understand Farrell, but this is not a new problem. Setting an
emergency meeting doesn't undercut Farrell's authority to create
context, have other items, etc.
Ferguson: Any legal matters regarding "DN!"? Ford: Yes. Ferguson: Any
labor union input? A formal response? Ford: Grievances, lawyers on both
sides trying to work out this issue, and I'd hate for us to encumber
the process now.
Murdock: Support Cagan's point -- we can schedule the meeting today,
give Farrell time to get organized. (Mentioned 10 days or 2 weeks.)
Everyone on this board should know what's going on with "DN!" and we
have no clear report from anybody. Appalling. I don't know what I would
decide, but all of us need to know what's going on. We all should get a
report in next 4-5 days.
Farrell: Guided by the will of the organization. If majority wants
meeting, we'll have it.
Murdock: Restated question to move to hold emergency meeting 14 days
from today. At least 3 days prior to meeting, receive information
needed to be informed re issues surrounding "DN!" not being on the air.
Murdock yes *Bramson yes Farrell [abstained] Ferguson yes Barry yes?
hard to tell what he said Lee [apparently had left] *Kriegel yes *Moran
yes *Robinson yes (think two weeks is an "extensive" amount of time)
Chambers yes (want to get detailed reports in 1 week from Exec. Dir.
as well as a similar report from "DN!" -- 2 weeks is long) *Cagan yes
Roy yes (but need 2-week deadline; don't see difference 7 days would
make) Barnstone yes (2 weeks is too long) Ford [abstain, "following the
lead of the chair"]
Kriegel had to leave.
Farrell asked for closing statement, but his line had disconnected.
Someone whispered, "Now entertain a motion to adjourn." Ford: "I will
now entertain a motion to adjourn."
Murdock moved to adjourn. Ford seconded. Someone whispered "without
objection." Ford: "And without objection homefully."
Moran: Move that we direct the Executive Director to suspend Utrice
Leid until we have the meeting.
Ford: Motion out of order. Moran: Why? Ford: Not on agenda. Not given
adequate information ahead of time to put on agenda for discussion.
Moran: We moved on another motion that was not on the agenda. Ford:
Motion is out of order and we adjourn. (Didn't give Farrell his
opportunity to make closing statement.)
The Pacifica Campaign is a grass-roots organization representing
listeners and staff alike, fighting to preserve Pacifica's
50-year tradition of progressive, community-based radio.
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