The outcome of the recent Bylaws referendum at Pacifica, allowing the Local Station Board elections of listener and staff delegates to go forward, is a victory for democracy, diversity, accountability and a commitment to mission-driven, community-based radio.
The New Day bylaws change, according to the same rules that governed the previous Bylaws referendum, in accordance not just with Pacifica’s existing Bylaws, but with the California Corporations Code governing non-profit membership organizations, required the separate approval of two classes of members — listener-sponsors and the paid and unpaid staff. This is because one class of members does not have the right or power to disenfranchise or diminish the rights of another class of members.
Pacifica has always been a collaboration between listeners and staff, and since 2003 has been based on a democratic governance system recognizing the interests and contributions of its listener donors, who provide the wherewithal, and the paid and unpaid workers — producers, programmers, technical and support staff — who provide the content, services and expertise that enable the stations to function and to meet the needs of the listeners and the larger community.
The New Day bylaws proposals, despite the propaganda now being blasted by its proponents, would’ve fundamentally damaged this is two ways: 1) it created a new third class of membership, segregating the much more numerous unpaid staff, and actually giving the much smaller paid staff, who are predominantly from a single station, exactly the “staff veto” they are now complaining about: and 2) it would have increased the majority necessary to pass a member-initiated Bylaws change rejected by the appointed board it created.
To quote from their proposed Bylaws: “in the case of an amendment(s) proposed by Member petition … said amendment may be adopted in the absence of an affirmative vote by the Board if said proposed amendment(s) is approved by a 3/4 vote of the Members….” In other words, under the terms of the Bylaws they were trying to impose, we would need a 50% higher super-majority to change them, than was needed to pass them — a high bar demonstrating that their concern for “democracy” was just a mask for their desire for unchallenged control.