WBAI Board Turnover in Dirty Election
In a demonstration of the corrupting influence of money in elections, WBAI's local governing board shifted hands on April 23 and is no longer a majority-people-of-color and women board but is now 58% male and 63% white. On the new board, the Justice & Unity Campaign -- a multiracial activist coalition that fights to keep WBAI community-connected and anti-racist -- has switched from a 13-11 majority to a 14-10 minority, and has lost two of the three WBAI seats its members held on the Pacifica National Board. (In this election, Justice & Unity won 4 of the 9 listener seats and 1 of the 3 staff seats.)
Under their third name since 2003, the grassroots-sounding Association for Community Elections (ACE) led by multi-millionaire former marketing executive and station board member Stephen Brown produced an expensive mailer sent to WBAI members. This slick, 4-page marketing ploy violated election rules and facilitated the harvesting of the station's mailing list, solicited funds for multiple flashlights in competition with the station's request for election-cost donations while using the station's logo without permission, and featured an outrageous collection of open lies and half-truths about the station's viability.
Brown's racist speech in broadly distributed email attacks against several staff persons caused the previous board to disassociate itself from his conduct. He also urged listeners to send monies to his Upper West Side home rather than the station's banking address.
Continuing Justice & Unity members are listeners Nia Bediako, Tibby Brooks, Omowale Clay, Lisa Davis, Sara Flounders, Ray Laforest, Fr. Lawrence Lucas, and Berta Silva, and staff members Vajra Kilgour and Bob Lederer.
ACE/Independents/List-Prog members are listeners Carolyn Birden, Stephen Brown, Mitchel Cohen, Andrea Fishman, Robert Gold, Seth Goldberg, Jennifer Jager, Bernardo Palombo, James Ross, and Alex Steinberg, and staff members Kathy Davis, R. Paul Martin, Shawn Rhodes, and Max Schmid. Davis and Rhodes violated campaign rules by endorsing the ACE listener slate in an election mailer utilizing the station's mailing list.
Other ACE associates continue their lawsuit which delayed the election -- and is costing Pacifica tens of thousands in legal fees -- seeking to void the ballots of 30+ people who received hardship waivers last year and of many duly-enrolled voters who sent in ballots during the court-ordered extension period.