Due to the two-minute rule on public presentations enforced by Board
Chair Mary Frances Berry, Bensky was not able
to deliver the major portion of his prepared presentation:
I want to first of all thank you for the time and attention you've given
to Pacifica matters. I know that you all have rich and full existences,
and that there are more pleasant and rewarding ways to spend a weekend
in Northern California than what you've
Let me assure you first of all that I am not here to speak primarily about my own situation with Pacifica, with which most of you are familiar. Although I do believe that what I am going to talk about has a direct relationship to the abusive and insulting process to which I was subjected in having my program canceled without consultation or negotiation, and then being fired without cause or notice.
To an alarming degree, Pacifica has grown apart from its stated purposes
and its origins and ideals over the past ten years, especially over the
past five years. This is exemplified by the presence of a large,
unresponsive, and unnecessary bureaucracy
that has grown unchecked and unsupervised, funded through ever larger extractions of money from the stations. [He refers to Figure 1, a pie chart reflecting the increasing percentages of national programming and money taken from the stations by
Pacifica since 1977.] The national administrative structure is filled with unnecessary positions, some of them held by people out of touch with our work and our mission.
I would remind you that as recently as ten years ago, the Pacifica National
Office consisted of three full time and one half time person. It
now has no fewer than THIRTEEN employees. Moreover, the longest term
of employment of anyone in this office
is a year and a half. Everyone else is new, or there are vacant positions waiting to be hired. [He refers to Figure 2, a graph representing the upswing in Pacifica hires since 1977.]
At the same time, while Pacifica national programming has gone from half an hour a day to the present hour and three quarters (counting my weekly program), we now have ten national programming employees, where ten years ago we had three and a half. But you can judge the work of the ten of us who work on national programming from our programs, which audience measurement, listener response in editorial feedback and donations show to be successful.
For the Pacifica national programming staff, our product is our justification.
But what is the justification for the proliferation of Pacifica's expensive, secretive, administrative bureaucracy? Aside from empire building, there is none.
Moreover, this useless administrative structure is organized in a top-down one-way manner (Figure 4 ) completely inappropriate for a progressive organization founded on anti-authoritarian ideals.
I therefore recommend strongly that you:
a) Institute an immediate hiring freeze on all national office
positions, including consultants;
b) Institute an immediate review of all personnel currently employed in the national office;
c) Consider restructuring of our administrative entity along the lines of what I have outlined in Figure 3, where the executive director is responsible to the stations, and their managers, program directors, and operations directors, and not-vice-versa. And finance and programming decisions come from the stations and are not dictated TO the stations;
d) Open the books completely, including all revenue and expenses, so that staff and listeners may have complete knowledge of what is being done with their money.
A Note on Elections
It has been suggested by some of the critics of Pacifica's local and national board structure that elections for both might be a more democratic way of structuring Pacifica.
To my mind, it is dangerous and hypocritical to see elections as a panacea.
Dangerous because a small, organized faction might well abuse a seemingly
open process, if safeguards are not built in to the process (such as minimal
voting qualifications -
perhaps one year as a subscriber and minimal subscriber participation - at least one-fourth of those eligible must vote, etc.). Hypocritical because we spend a lot of time on our air denouncing the results of manipulated elections to such diverse
organizations as the US Congress or the KQED-TV board of directors. It ill-behooves us to replicate the structures we condemn.
There is also the problem of concentrating too much of the limited time
and energy inside stations to the structures of the stations themselves,
rather than the programs which the stations are there to broadcast.
And of allowing the air to be used for
damaging, factionalized, error-filled polemics by candidates.
Despite all of these potential problems, I believe it is nevertheless worth considering some means of election to local and national boards. Elections don't automatically mean democracy, but it hard to have democracy without elections. There is much creative thinking to be done in this area.
Therefore I urge the board to appoint a committee to explore the option
of electing some members to the local and national boards, and to report
back as soon as possible. I would be happy to contribute my expertise
in this area.