In 2021, there was a national referendum to both amend Pacifica’s bylaws to make network governance more workable by reducing the size of the board, creating direct election of national directors, and designate four transition Directors/officers of the Pacifica Foundation who could lead the new Board with the reform and saving Pacifica. This was the New Day Pacifica Bylaws reform.
The membership of Pacifica overwhelmingly voted YES for the referendum. The vote in favor of New Day’s reforms was approximately 55% to 45% of the members across all stations. The entrenched management, however, refused to acknowledge the results and instead claimed — on a disputed technicality that we believe is inapplicable to this election — that majorities of both listener-members and staff members had to separately approve.
Pacifica’s leadership claimed that staff members’ rights would somehow be adversely affected, compared with listener members’ rights, but New Day strongly believes that is just plain false.
Why Pacifica’s Claims are Not Valid
Pacifica Counsel argues that the 2021 New Day referendum would materially and adversely affect the staff in a manner different from the listeners because:
(A) it would have split the “Staff Class” into “Paid Staff “ and “Unpaid Staff”, and
(B) reduced the number of guaranteed seats that staff members would have the exclusive right to hold and to elect from 5 to two. Staff would have their guaranteed Board role reduced from 22.72 % to 13.3%. (First Am. Compl. ¶ 18.)
Following are the effect of the proposed Bylaws on the staff.
(A) If the staff voted as one class, the Board can end up with all paid staff Directors or all unpaid staff Directors. To ensure that the staff have fair and democratic representation, there would be one paid staff Director directly elected by the paid staff, and one unpaid staff Director directly elected by the unpaid staff.
Further, neither paid nor unpaid staff (separately or combined) can currently choose their own representatives to the national Board, because they are always outvoted (by 18-6) when Delegates vote for the Directors from their station.
Splitting the staff into paid staff and unpaid staff is “material” and “different” from how listeners would be affected but allowing paid and unpaid staff to elect their own representative actually enhances their voting rights and representation and thus does not affect them “adversely”.
(B) One of the goals of the New Bylaws was to reduce the size of the National Board to help make it more functional. The number of guaranteed staff and listeners seats were both reduced by two-thirds, so listener seats were reduced from 15 to 5, and staff seats were reduced from 5 to 2. Reducing the number of guaranteed seats that staff members would have is both “adverse” and “material”, but it is not “different” from how listeners would be affected.
Pacifica Counsel’s argument, that the Bylaws require separate approval of both staff and listeners, is not valid.
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Messing with the Delegate Election at KPFK
In addition to the national vote, there was an election in Los Angeles for members of the Local Station Board. In this election New Day Pacifica endorsed eight candidates. New Day sent an endorsement postcard to members endorsing these eight candidates on one side and asking on the other for donations to enforce the national election results in court.
After the election results were in, management declared that four candidates endorsed by New Day Pacifica were disqualified because of a donation request in one small part of the endorsement postcard. These candidates were not notified of their disqualification, and member-voters were not notified that the candidates, whose names remained on the ballot during the entire voting period, would simply not be included in the final tallies no matter how many people voted for them — that a vote for them would be wasted. Vacated. Vanished.
It was not until after the election was completed that management announced the disqualification, without any prior notice, hearing, or justification. They simply refused to count the votes for these candidates. Even though members had in good faith voted for them.
It should be noted that the three candidates endorsed by New Day who were not disqualified were #1, #2, and #3 in the vote count. Voting experts have concluded that had management counted the disappeared candidates they would likely have won slots #4, #5, #6, and possibly #7 of nine Listener Station Board spots. Even the official Election Report noted that none of those candidates had violated any of the Fair Campaign Provisions. (The New Day–endorsed staff candidate also came in #1. And in Berkeley and Houston the New Day–endorsed candidates similarly swept their elections.)
Messing with the Bylaws Election at WBAI
There are approximately 40,000 listener members and approximately 1000 staff members of Pacifica. The staff did not approve the officers directors and bylaws, voting approximately 59% “no” and 41% “yes.” But complicating this result is the fact that WBAI New York’s staff voted an eye-catchingly overwhelming 99% “no.” Without this 99% WBAI vote, Pacifica staff members overall would also have approved the changes and election.
A 99% vote is a result that voting experts often cite as evidence of vote/voter fraud and/or manipulation. Evidence of this includes: Management lied repeatedly to the staff about the contents of the bylaws, telling them that the PNB would be terminated and that the New Day Officers alone would be in charge of the network for months (a lie repeated incessantly) & could close down WBAI, telling staff they would be fired (not true) and the station shut down (the opposite of New Day’s mission, which is to restore each station’s financial footing and grow audiences) if the vote were yes.
A motion was filed by your New Day legal team in Superior Court under Corporations Code 5617, which requires the court to determine a corporate election within five days. The court in its wisdom ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to rule on the merits of either election and denied the motions on that technicality. This was after considerable litigation, including the filing of numerous pleadings and a number of hearings.
We believe that the court was in error and are contemplating asking the Second District Court of Appeal for a writ of mandate ordering the Superior Court to rule differently. If we lose we will have to take the issue to trial, which will take years. Sadly, there is serious doubt about whether Pacifica will survive that long.