This is the first of two letters from the CPB that provided cover for the Pacifica hierarchy to alter the Foundation by-laws so they could sieze permanent control of Pacifica. This was the second attempt to accomplish this. The first attempt in 1997, which presented the same outcome with an entirely different set of reasons for the supposed necessity of the by-laws change, failed as a result of public pressure and threat of legal action.
Please notice that this letter was a response to a solicitation initiated by then ED and champion of centralization Pat Scott. It was a set-up. Notice, the letter gives no timeline, and makes no specific threat. Pacifica's governance structure predated the CPB itself and had never been questioned by the CPB, even during Pacifica's prominent clashes with various government entities in the 1980's and 90's.
If the Pacifica hierarchy had wanted to keep their structure of governance unchanged, they would have had ample grounds to contest the CPB on this issue. They did not attempt to do so because the impetus came from within Pacifica's directorate.Take a look at the previous attempt to seize power in 1997. The excuse was totally different, but the outcome would have been the same - the ability of the National Board to directly select a supermajority of its delegates, in other words a guaranteed rubber stamp to whatever it might wish to do.
September 14, 1998
1929 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
A few weeks ago, CPB mailed to stations a revised Communications Act and Certification Requirements for CPB Station Grant Recipients. You telephoned to ask what, if any, effect this might have for Pacifica. After giving it some thought, I write you today because I believe the Pacifica Foundation's and CPB's interpretations about the definition and operation of Community Advisory Boards may differ in important ways. I wanted you and your Board to be aware of our concerns.
Specifically, the Communications Act provides that the Community Advisory Board "shall be solely advisory in nature." The law adds that the Community Advisory Board shall "in no case have any authority to exercise any control over the daily management or operation of the station."
As CPB's guidelines say, "The law segregates the management and operational functions of the governing board from the advisory board's functions to assure a clear demarcation between the governing board and the advisory board." A more detailed outline of the requirements may be found on pages 11-13 of the booklet.
Based on my understanding, Pacifica Foundation's current governance structure appears to be at variance with both the law and our guidelines. If it is true that a majority of members making up Pacifica's Governing Board are also members of Pacifica station Community Advisory Boards, that makes it impossible for the two to remain distinct and independent.
As you may be aware, compliance with this portion of the law gives little wiggle room [sic] for CPB in it its interpretation. Failure to comply risks future CPB funding for any station.
Should you need more information about the Communications Act and CPB Guidelines in this matter, do not hesitate to contact my office. Thank you, in advance, for your cooperation.
Robert T. Coonrod
President and Executive Officer