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by Edwin Johnston
Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2003 at 12:02 PM
If it's good enough for the Republicans, it's good enough for Pacifica.
The purported adoption of Draft B, en toto, as Pacifica's new bylaws is a strikingly obvious case of chicanery and outright fraud.
Here are the basics:
Instead of meeting in public to work on passing new bylaws, Leslie Cagan hid her national board away from the listeners and held various teleconference meetings for the iPNB over a period of nearly six months. This served to prevent direct listener scrutiny and direct challenge of the process to adopt bylaws, and also prevented adequate face to face discussion amongst the iPNB members themselves to effectively deal with this issue.
Cagan ran one teleconference (the most recent one) to vote on the bylaws. Several members of the iPNB were not present either completely or partially during this call. In any case, it was clear that during this call that Draft B was not going to pass. Cagan did her best to pass Draft B that day, by allowing it to be voted on a dozen or so different ways, all aimed at arriving at her preconceived notion that Draft B would pass. Opponents of Draft B on the iPNB effectively blocked passage the entire time, notably by an overwhelming majority of African-American members of the iPNB.
At the end of that teleconference, Dave Fertig made a motion to approach the judge overseeing the settlement and ask him if a balanced majority would suffice to pass Draft B, rather than the 2/3rds majority that is required for under the settlement agreement. The motion was adopted by a majority of white members of the iPNB. Carol Spooner used this entry into the court to independently motion for the judge to throw out the previously accepted votes by three African-American iPNB members who opposed Draft B. In a throwback to Jim Crow laws, the judge granted Spooner her wish and declared that Draft B had passed on the level of the iPNB, even though only 7 of the 15 members on the iPNB voted to support Draft B, in a haphazard manner that appeared at best to be some sort of straw poll.
The judge then ordered the LABs to vote on Draft B as well, before complete passage and he gave them a deadline to do so. The LABs then voted to oppose Draft B by a 3/5 majority just prior to the judge's deadline. Unhappy with this result, Carol Spooner's husband, Gregory Wonderwheel, prodded the KPFK LAB to immediately revote the issue, since this LAB had the closest vote. The KPFK LAB didn't revote prior to the deadline as Wonderwheel had hoped. The KPFK LAB had another rush LAB meeting not long afterwards, but a revote on Draft B did not occur. Pacifica was in a stalemate regarding the Draft B bylaws.
Then Leslie Cagan acted unilaterally and illegally to cancel the NYC national board meeting and foisted upon everyone a "mediation" conference in Chicago. Now, while mediation as a way to get to bylaws had long been a popular issue with many people interested in developing a set of compromises to overcome the bylaws impasse and in favor of diversity remedies in elections, they had no say at all over the manner of the mediation that Cagan forced them into. Many things were problematic about this so-called mediation, including a boycott by those iPNB members who were declared non-persons by the court due to Spooner's insistence, as well as several other MIAs from WPFW, including the chair of the LAB. The people who did attend from WPFW had no mandate to do so from their own LAB, which astonishingly included a person who was not even on the WPFW LAB, thus violating the eligibility requirements for attendees. However, the process of discussion in Chicago revealed overwhelming support for mandated diversity requirements in Pacifica elections that shined a new optimistic light on the issue. But that light would shortly be extinguished.
Due to severe political pressure from the Draft B proponents, the KPFK LAB was asked once again (oh so cynically) to revote on Draft B, even after they failed to pass it prior to deadline as demanded by the judge, and after they failed to revote it prior to the mediation, and ironically so just after the mediation occurred. It was a full court press in Los Angeles for this revote, with Berkeley sending down people from their area and dragging out people from the east coast as well, to argue for Draft B. The KPFK LAB vote was an exercise in hypocrisy to the nth degree, since a number of people sitting on that LAB who voted in favor of Draft B that night had also attended the Chicago mediation, where it was clear that there was overwhelming support to create diversity in election outcomes. The masks that they wore in Chicago for convenience when they were confronted face to face with minorities were completely removed at the KPFK LAB meeting.
That is how it was done, an elementary example of dirty pool. The Draft B crowd is busy congratulating themselves and claiming that we have new bylaws, rushing around now to arrange how they will run elections. But the fat lady hasn't sung yet. The matter of whether 7/15 iPNB members effectively passed Draft B could still face a legal challenge. And the judge must be contacted in regards to the revote, after the deadline passed over the LABs' votes on Draft B to decide whether he will accept the revote. Then there is the political fallout from the issues brought forward in Chicago. Victory declared is premature once again.
But what we witnessed here is a very naked form of deceit, trickery, duplicity and outright oppression. And it is nothing new. These very same people have been involved in creating this dictatorship since the settlement agreement was reached, and even before, during the struggle to liberate Pacifica. The modus operandi has not changed significantly: create an insular elitist base of suck-ups who will do your dirty work to exclude and chase away all dissenters and perceived opponents in order to clear the deck and secure your agenda. If and when your agenda fails to succeed, simply escalate your attacks and increase the measure of your frauds. This campaign has only led to a lot of bad blood and deep animosity, with massive resignations by design and many others removing themselves from the process out of sheer disgust. And over the issue of diversity we have witnessed expressions of deep racial hostility and open hatred that has served to alienate complete sectors of Pacifica supporters throughout the country. This is how you take control of an organization by a tiny minority.
This is a rocky road, though. It's a time tested scheme to seize power, but the longer term results trend against its efficacy. The main thing is that the support for the seizure is only paper thin and additionally that since the means have been so underhanded, that the ends themselves are entirely unstable. It's just a house of cards, which we will all come to recognize shortly.
As an active student of this process over time, I cannot help but compare it to what the Republicans have been doing nationally over the past five or so years to gain their own dictatorship. It's only a difference in scale between what the Republicans and the Spoonerites are up to. See if you don't recognize the parallels between what has been going on at Pacifica and what the Republicans have done:
1. Clinton impeachment fraud
2. Elian Gonzales kidnapping
3. 2000 Florida election manipulations
4. Afghanistan and Iraq war lies
5. California recall vote extortion
6. Texas and Colorado redistricting ploys
But the most striking thing about the comparison is that the most fascistic layers of the Republican Party are the ones perpetrating these deeds, which is easily recognized, while at Pacifica, the bullies travel under a mantle of alleged progressivism. Both the Republicans and the Spoonerites have gained their successes through basically the same means -- through lies, threats, manipulations and propaganda. And their ends are similar as well -- to prevent an emergence of democratic expression that would challenge their world views and undermine their positions. We have fully arrived at the Thermidorian Reaction.
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