Hello friends who are KPFA / Pacifica members:
You should have just received ballots on a bylaws reform. I’m recommending a “YES” vote. [if you need a replacement ballot, request it here].
WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO ME
I spent a total of 10 grueling years serving as an elected worker-representative on KPFA’s and Pacifica’s boards. Those years convinced me that any chance to change our governance structure is a chance we have to take.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE STATUS QUO
Pacifica’s current governance system was set up with the best of intentions. But it has proven a byzantine, institutionally-paralyzing mess:
-It bifurcates authority between two tiers of boards (five local boards with at least 24 members each, and one national board with at least 22 members).
-The boards are too large for collaborative decision-making, and usually devolve into factions and infighting
-National board members in particular stand for re-election every year, and never have enough downtime between elections to build the mutual trust required to tackle hard decisions.
THE RESULTS OF THE STATUS QUO:
-constant churn in upper management (Pacifica’s averaging more than one Executive Director per year)
-institutional paralysis (our managers and board members have all learned that the safest course of action, under the current system, is to avoid any difficult decisions and just let circumstances make the decisions for us).
-steady financial decline
Now, we’ve reached the limits of deferring hard choices: to forestall asset seizure over unpaid rent in New York last year, Pacifica had to mortgage all its real estate, including KPFA’s studios, and has a large balloon payment coming due next year that will make us homeless if we don’t commit to a plan of action.
WHAT THE PROPOSED CHANGES DO
The proposed bylaw changes would:
-Shrink us from six feuding boards to one
-Cut the size of that national board in half, to 11 people
-Make board elections less frequent (and less expensive and destabilizing)
-Give Pacifica members a direct say in choosing our national board (currently, Pacifica’s national board is chosen indirectly, by the members of local boards)
Hopefully, the changes deliver a competent board that can weigh hard choices, then act decisively, with unity, and — lord willing — raise some money to help smooth transitions. Of course, they may not. But our current system spells certain doom, so it seems worth giving the only alternative on the table a try.
co-host of KPFA’s Upfront and former worker representative on the KPFA and Pacifica boards