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Pacifica’s Current Board Structure is Destroying the Network

by Concerned Pacifican Tuesday, Sep. 29, 2009 at 9:19 PM

Carol Spooner's finger-wagging review of the current state of Planet Pacifica ignores the crushing impact of the new 122-member National Board structure. Top-heavy, hugely expensive, conflict-ridden and racially polarized, this five-year old Board system was instituted to assure greater democracy and prevent the corporatization of Pacifica. But instead of protecting Pacifica, the new governance structure is destroying Pacifica. Itʼs bred factionalism, dysfunction, self-dealing, a plethora of litigation and staff purges network-wide.

Pacifica’s Current Board Structure is Destroying the Network – Carol Spooner’s Long-Sought Purge Now Well Underway

Carol Spooner's finger-wagging review of the current state of Planet Pacifica ignores the crushing impact of the new 122-member National Board structure. Top-heavy, hugely expensive, conflict-ridden and racially polarized, this five-year old Board system was instituted to assure greater democracy and prevent the corporatization of Pacifica.

But instead of protecting Pacifica, the new governance structure is destroying Pacifica. Itʼs bred factionalism, dysfunction, self-dealing, a plethora of litigation and staff purges network-wide.

The sad fact is that under this Board system Pacifica has become a pariah organization and the miserable object of universal pity and contempt. Until the governance structure is thrown out, Pacifica Radio will never be able to stabilize and focus on its historic mission.

But for Spooner and her faction, entrenched staff and false cries of racism are the problem.

Spooner says that the termination or removal earlier this year of seven males of color, including CFO Lonnie Hicks and WPFW GM Ron Pinchback, was necessary to restore financial stability.

But the reality is that since 2003, Spooner has demanded the summary dismissal of many of those same individuals on purely factional grounds.

In early 2004, then Board member Spooner made illegal and strident demands for the immediate termination of the entire network management, including CFO Lonnie Hicks and WPFW GM Ron Pinchback. Those demands earned a formal censure by then Board chair Leslie Cagan.

Later that year, Spooner physically assaulted a female staff member in a pique of anger after failing to get the Board to summarily fire the then Executive Director. The staff member, a single mother, demanded that Spooner resign.

Spoonerʼs statement that simply because you replaced fired people of color with people of color means you can't be, or be called, racist is shocking. The fact is it does not matter what the color of the person is you replace a fired person of color with. The firing itself for racially motivated reasons is illegal irrespective of any subsequent actions.

Spooner ignores the fact that Pacificaʼs attorney at the time of the firings warned the Pacifica Board against those summary firings precisely on the basis that it exposed the network to possible charges of racial discrimination. As a result of recommending against the terminations, the network attorney was then forced out.

The fact is that Spooner and the faction she represents have been openly seeking the summary dismissal of many paid staff around the network for years. Financial mismanagement is a convenient excuse. And once removed, the very Board members who had openly demanded their removal end up replacing those paid staff members.

In fact, naked self-dealing by current and past Board members is common in the new Pacifica.

In her latest email, for instance, Spooner does not reveal that for the last several years she has been working for Free Speech Radio News (FSRN), an independent entity funded almost entirely by Pacifica. FSRN has received some two million dollars from the network without any strings attached. Unlike Pacifica staff members, or Democracy Now!, FSRN is not required to fundraise and, in fact, raises functionally nothing for the network.

But while Pacifica staff members are laid off due to "economic reasons," or fired supposedly because of financial mismanagement, Spoonerʼs FSRN outfit still receives hundreds of thousands of dollars every year from the network.

This fact should be a wake-up call to the entire Pacifica community and media reform movement. Pacifica is threatened not by entrenched staff or false claims of racism. But like in the late 1990s, the National Board itself is the problem -- unjust firings, gagging dissident producers, self-dealing, running up legal bills, deepening racial divisions and putting at risk the entire organization for narrow personal or factional gain. The solution is clear -- the current Board structure must go, the sooner the better.

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Racism screams but has little to say call me what you want by now Thursday, Oct. 01, 2009 at 12:03 AM
Re: Pacifica’s Current Board Structure is Destroying the Network Terry Goodman Thursday, Oct. 01, 2009 at 8:05 PM
"Concern" or AgitProp? Frank LeFever Monday, Oct. 12, 2009 at 5:13 PM

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