FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions about the Proposed new Pacifica Bylaws
Q: What if I think the new Bylaws aren’t perfect?
A: The new Bylaws may not be perfect! But they can be amended if necessary, and the Members have the right to do that as well as the Board (See Article XII of the proposed new Bylaws here https://app.box.com/s/scpjw0ejfmxy7fbu9ut1qg5il14n0i5e )
The old Bylaws are almost impossible for Members to amend. We even had to go to Court to get an Order forcing the Pacifica Board majority to allow you to vote on the proposed new Bylaws! (See Article Seventeen of the old Bylaws, here https://pacifica.org/documents/bylaws_160721/Pacifica_Bylaws_Jan-1-2016.pdf )
It’s a miracle we got this far!
Q: Is this bylaw shift a disguised manipulative effort to sell WBAI?
A: Absolutely not. We think New York’s signal is imperative to keep and reestablish as the beacon it once was. Further we are convinced if the status quo continues and the bylaws are defeated, WBAI’s dysfunction and financial losses will continue unabated and bring itself and the rest of Pacifica down. We are making this effort to try to allow Pacifica to play the roll it potentially can in this critical historic moment of looming fascism and climate collapse.
Q: What happens to people on the Local Station Boards?
A: They are encouraged to join the Community Advisory Board for their station, and of course may volunteer at their station.
Q: If Pacifica’s boards and governance have so many problems, should we continue donating to our favorite station?
A: Yes, absolutely! Your station needs your financial support, as well as volunteer hours, to continue bringing programming that you can’t hear anywhere else. Our stations are doing important work for peace and justice, for the community, for people whose stories don’t get adequate attention by other broadcasters. Go to your station’s web site to donate today or do it in the next fund drive. And vote!
Q: Why are there At-Large Directors on the new national Board, as well as station representative Directors?
A: The At-Large Directors will bring additional skills and experience, professional contacts, non-profit experience, and national perspective that the station representative Directors may not have.
Q: Why the need for change to the current Bylaws?
Q: Isn’t this effort really designed to target individuals seen as impediments to some agenda?
A: The people who drafted these Bylaws are not necessarily in agreement about all issues and problems around Pacifica. What brought us together are the current, unambiguous realities. Our current governance structure is not leading the organization toward greater strength and stability, rather it has failed to meet the changing nature of the media environment, and it has failed to deal effectively with financial realities. This is not about individuals, programs, or management choices. The Pacifica Restructuring Project represents a diversity of views, some conflicting. This is about being honest with ourselves about Pacifica Radio’s long-term viability unless it is restructured.
Q: Do the new Bylaws eliminate the Members’ right to vote on the sale of the Foundation’s assets; or any of the Foundation’s broadcast licenses; or any merger; or any election to dissolve the Foundation?
A: No. The rights of the Members to vote on those things is unchanged from the previous Bylaws. See Article III, section 4, of the proposed new Bylaws here
Frequently Asked Questions – General
Q: We’ve been running deficits for a number of years and all our stations are still operating. Why should we worry now?
A: Our growing debt has put all our stations at serious risk. The lawsuit that Empire State Realty Trust filed, because of unpaid tower rent, put all our stations at risk. ESRT even got a summary judgment that would have allowed them to seize assets (including equipment, transmitters, buildings) at any or all our locations and put them up for auction to pay the judgment. We managed to settle with ESRT, but only by selling the National Office building and borrowing over $3 million. But that loan uses all our remaining buildings as collateral. If we fail to pay back that loan with interest, our buildings will again be put at risk and some or all will probably be sold. We are also vulnerable to lawsuits from other creditors at any time and should not continue to assume that those creditors will wait indefinitely. Some others to whom we owe money have already sued and/or demanded payment plans. We are even under investigation by the US Department of Labor for money that Pacifica owes to our employee Retirement Plan – money that should have been put in over the last 6+ years but which has not been.
Q: Is the financial situation really that serious? Can’t we wait until we can figure out how to get more revenue?
A: Yes, it’s very serious. Yet our boards are paralyzed with indecision – what to do about it (other than blaming others, and saying someone else should raise more money), and how to make things happen. Management at every station have confirmed that dysfunction on our boards has scared off major donors, and the refusal of many board members to help with fund raising (despite a Bylaws requirement for them to do so) has made it worse. We have to start getting the revenue up, and/or expenses reduced, as soon as possible, so that we can fully fund our employee Retirement Plan, pay back that $3.2 million loan, pay the $1 million (approx.) in expenses for that loan, and pay back the debt we owe to other creditors, before we have to do so by the courts. Our boards have been talking for years about doing better financially the next year, but it has not happened. All we’ve been able to do, some years, is to slow (but not reverse) the deficit spending. So, the longer we wait, the worse it gets.
Q: If those of you organizing this effort are on our boards, why can’t you fix the problems with our governance?
A: We have tried – repeatedly. But we’ve found that too many board members don’t want to change (especially how our boards are constituted and how board members are chosen), do not want to accept responsibility, and won’t support removing disruptive board members or ones who refuse to help with station fund raising. Regarding Bylaws reform — the only Bylaws amendments we’ve managed to get approved are ones with relatively minor changes. Amendments with more major changes either don’t get voted on at all (as happened last year) or are not approved by our boards.
Q: Is it time to give up?
A: Definitely not! Pacifica, and our stations and programming, are needed more than ever. We have hundreds of dedicated volunteers at each station doing wonderful work. The Pacifica mission must survive. We need to make sure that Pacifica will be there for future generations. But our current governance does not have to stay the same, especially as it’s interfering so much with our mission. It’s time for change, not for giving up!