Below is Beth Lyons' letter of resignation from the Pacifica National Board.
Subject:PNB Member Beth Lyons' Resignation Letter
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 16:31:25 -0500
To: David Acosta, Chairperson, Pacifica National Board (PNB)
From: Beth S. Lyons, PNB Member
Date: 26 March 2001
CC: Andrea Cisco, Secretary, PNB; PNB Members; Miguel Maldonado, Chairperson, WBAI LAB
Since I was seated in June 2000, I have witnessed a conjuncture of crises resulting from management decisions, which have been executed at many levels. These crises include, but are not restricted to, the still unresolved concerns at KPFA; the treatment of Amy Goodman, the sole remaining host of Democracy Now!; the terminations of the Station Manager at WBAI, Valerie Van Isler, Program Director, Bernard White and producer, Sharan Louise Harper; the banning of long-term volunteers, including thirty-year veteran producers Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash; the resignations of Juan Gonzalez and Mario Murillo (from Wake Up Call); and, most recently, the on-the-air interruption and severance of an interview with Congressman Major Owens, a senior ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a Board member, I do not categorize these situations as “day-to-day management” decisions outside of my purview. Each has risen to the level of policy, due to the lacunae in the prudent, sound judgment and democratic decison-making processes, which are consistent with the mission of Pacifica, as described in its Articles of Incorporation and demonstrated during more than five decades of broadcasting.
The continuing failures of governance and management (which start with, but are certainly not limited to, the national level) are eroding Pacifica. This situation demands that a PNB Member exercise constant vigilance and diligence to fulfill her fiduciary responsibilities, and her accountability to the listeners, supporters, communities and unpaid and paid staffpersons who have kept Pacifica on the air for more than half a century. I can no longer, for personal reasons, carry out these obligations and responsibilities. Therefore, I am submitting my resignation, pursuant to the Pacifica Foundation By-Laws, Article Eight, Section One, effective March 25, 2001.
My brief tenure on the PNB has affirmed my conviction that Pacifica is uniquely positioned on the cutting edge as one of the few remaining media venues for people, ideas, struggles - both domestically and internationally - which can not be voiced and can not be heard in the increasing corporatized, conglomeratized and globalized media. Contrary to those who contend that Pacifica is an anachronism in need of radical alteration in its form and substance, Pacifica Foundation and its networks, defined by and committed to the original mission, are a vital necessity in this 21st Century.
As Frederick Douglass stated, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” Make no mistake, the fundamental struggle here is one of power, Who controls Pacifica and how will that control be exercised? As I stated in Houston, the PNB was presented with a window of opportunity to re-affirm Pacifica's original objectives, and I urge the PNB to exercise its leadership and accountability affirmatively and constructively to that end. The Board's responsibilities to the mission of Pacifica demand no less.
Lastly, I want to thank the WBAI LAB which nominated me for the privilege to serve as a Board member. I especially want to express my deepest respect and admiration for Pete Bramson, Leslie Cagan, Rabbi Aaron Kriegal, Tomas Moran and Rob Robinson, who enabled my individual work to become a contribution to a larger whole.
Beth S. Lyons
I want to make it absolutely clear that as a National Board Member, I was not consulted about nor did I authorize the issuance of the Press Release, “Protesters Attack Pacifica Foundation Employees,” which was faxed to me this morning, 26 March. The press release, labeled FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE and dated Sunday, March 25, 2001, had apparently been issued prior to sending me the faxed copy. Its cover sheet, dated 26 March, under Notes/Comments, states “Please review,” but this request was made after the statement was issued. On the threshold question of process, I cannot support this press release.
This press release contains serious allegations, but as a Board member, I was not provided with the full, factual predicates for these allegations. As a PNB member, I was entitled to full, factual disclosure from the Board's leadership and its Executive Director. Failure to do so is an abuse of democratic process on the Board, and places the National Board in potential legal jeopardy. Based on my experiences on the PNB, I cannot accept the representations in this Press Release “on faith.” I, therefore, cannot join in these representations nor in any actions of the Foundation based on these representations.
I do not advocate, support or condone violent conduct, nor the use of constitutional provisions to shield conduct such as racist speech. I do not make assumptions and draw conclusions about these grave issues on less than full, factual disclosure and democratic process from the PNB leadership. I would hope that the members of the PNB would act in a similar manner.
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