WBAI LAB meeting 3/30/99 - Report
by R. Paul Martin


As was to be expected, there was significant sentiment expressed about how people felt about Samori Marksman.  I missed part of the General Manager's Report, but WBAI General Manager Valerie Van Isler seemed to say that the May 2, 1999, Pacifica 50th anniversary shindig in NYC is going to be largely a memorial to Samori Marksman. {WBAI Program Director who died unexpectedly in March 1990}

The WBAI FY 99 budget is $3,022,011.

A listener asked why Frank Millspaugh was there, and if he was still a member of the WBAI LAB.  The person was asked to be quiet and told that this would come up later.  And it did!


Basically there was confusion and a dawning sense of mistrust among many of the LAB members.  They hadn't realized that Frank Millspaugh and Andrea Cisco would betray them as they had.  These two were the WBAI LAB "representatives" to the 2/28/99, Pacifica National Board meeting; they'd been told by the WBAI LAB that they couldn't vote for the bylaws change, and then they did.  Millspaugh passed out a statement he'd written on
March 20.  I didn't get a copy, anyone who has one is welcome to send it to me though, but he read it aloud.  It was just pure Pacifica party line.

Andrea Cisco, the other WBAI "representative," was out of town, but she was on a speaker phone.  She really had nothing to say other than to second Millspaugh's comments.

Millspaugh and Cisco are now enjoying their new, two year terms on the Pacifica National Board.

There was a sort of communal realization that although the WBAI LAB could nominate people for the Pacifica National Board they could be laughed off.  This took a number of people asking questions and making
statements to each other to evolve.  Staff members, and listeners, told them not to give up during the public comments section of the meeting.

LAB Secretary Ann Emmermann read her notes from a 1997, LAB meting where Samori Marksman publicly reamed out Pacifica for screwing with people and trying to bust the Union and forcing its unworkable ideas on the stations, especially WBAI.

There was a consensus that the WBAI LAB directive to its "representatives" was unambiguous.  If Millspaugh and Cisco had felt they couldn't somehow vote against the bylaw change they could have at least abstained.  Administrative malfeasance on the part of Pacifica was brought up, and the question was asked, "What kind of people are they who do this?"  Millspaugh, in response to a question of why not at least make the vote not unanimous said, "Futile gestures are futile."

Millspaugh also said that the Pacifica National Board and Mary Frances Berry sent a letter to the CPB in early February in order to get the letter they got from the CPB on February 26.  Ah, timing.

One LAB member said that the bylaws change opened up the possibility that Pacifica could appoint people who had nothing to do with the cities the stations were in, or who were bad people from those cities, and that
this would cause "a donnybrook."  Millspaugh replied that only one Pacifica National Board member was not from a listening area and that if Pacifica did something impolitic they'd be in trouble.  He then asked the
LAB members, "Do you think that I would vote for someone bad?" Several non LAB members chorused "Yes!"

Given that he'd already voted for about the worst thing he could have voted for, and that he'd done so against the mandate of the LAB that had sent him there, it was indeed comical to see Millspaugh trying to play
politician to a crowd of people who were really figuring out who and what he is.

The Pacifica National Board will be meeting next in June in Washington, D.C.  When asked if the Pacifica National Board will stay and listen to the public comments Millspaugh said that he'd stayed through them and
couldn't speak for others, although he said that a majority of the Pacifica National Board members sat through all of the public comments.


The WBAI LAB has revamped its evaluation form so that they can listen to us on the air and evaluate us, although who's supposed to listen to them is no longer clear, given their current status.


During public comments it was brought out that WBAI's share of the CPB funding to Pacifica is $450,000, or 15% of WBAI's budget.

Yours truly, in my capacity as Chief Steward of the WBAI Union, told the LAB not to give up and that they should have thrown Millspaugh out when his term on the WBAI LAB expired two years ago.

Some LAB members were shocked when I related that GM Valerie Van Isler routinely denied medical benefits to workers who qualified for them, and that in all Pacifica only WBAI calculated half time workers as 17.5
hours/week instead of 20 hours in order to deny them medical benefits. I named the names of several very prominent people at WBAI for whom the Union has had to fight for the medical benefits they deserved over the
years.  Unfortunately, one of those named had suffered a stroke during the time when she had been illegally denied medical benefits.

The meeting ended at 9:33 PM and I believe some Staff had some harsh words for Valerie Van Isler on the other side of the room over her treatment of Samori Marksman.  Van Isler fled the room in an emotionally
indefinite state.

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