WBAI Pacifica Radio 99.5 FM – Elections case

From Kimberly: I am not informed enough to take a position on this case. Though, I think it would be excellent for people who are interested to try and attend in court. The post below is excerpted and includes commentary from one of the plaintiffs.

If you’re interested in witnessing first-hand the arguments around
the WBAI elections and the denouement for yourself (I recommend it,
if you have the time), please come to Court Thursday. I recommend
getting there by 9 a.m., even though the case in the small courtroom
is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

Thursday, January 24, 2008
9:30 a.m.
80 Centre St., Part 23 (Room 320 – 3rd floor),
Judge Braun’s courtroom

Should be interesting, to say the least.

Plaintiffs: Mitchel Cohen, Bob Goldberg, Alex Steinberg, Patty
Heffley, Frank LeFever, James Ross, Gail Blasie, Linda Zises and Sidney Smith.

Defendants: Pacifica Foundation/WBAI Radio, Casey Peters and Dale Ratner

Lawyer for Plaintiffs: Tom Hillgardner

Lawyer for Defendants: Dan Silverman

History: On November 16, 2007, NY State Supreme Court Judge Richard
P. Braun signed a Temporary Restraining Order that Plaintiffs had
submitted. He ordered that WBAI’s returned ballots be impounded as of
November 15th (as per the Pacifica bylaws) and placed in a sealed
box. WBAI’s elections supervisor Dale Ratner ill-advisedly waited
until November 19 to do this.

We (Plaintiffs) initially asked the Court for several reasonable things:

– That those eligible voters who notified the Election Supervisor by
November 15 that they had not received ballots be sent them.
(Hundreds of listeners — particularly recognizable listener
activists — and perhaps 30% of the staff did not receive ballots.)

– That they be given a sufficient amount of time to cast them (one
week after receiving them is fine by us, even less), and that they be
added to the box, but that until such time nothing gets counted.

That was basically all we were asking — no penalties, no money, just
minor legal fees. Pacifica, meanwhile, is spending thousands of
dollars in illegitimately fighting this case, where a settlement was
more than possible and even within reach at one point. Whose interest
does that serve?

The Justice and Unity faction at WBAI, and Pacifica’s attorneys (who
have been acting as though they are J&U’s attorneys, even meeting
with J&U in a court meeting room and not allowing other listeners in
(!) ), are using every trick in the book to delay the election so
that they can retain their narrow majority on the LSB, the Delegate
Assembly, and as Directors on the PNB.

I believe that in doing so their interests have diverged from the
interests of Pacifica and in favor of a particular faction; they
could have settled this case right off the bat…

We now go before Judge Braun this Thursday, January 24 — just in
time for the Paciica National Board meeting that begins in Newark the
following day — and have asked for further relief, including:

– a ruling on who has the right to vote for Directors to the PNB in
the interim, and which Delegates are eligible to be Directors. (Our
claim is that those whose terms have expired cannot legally vote (or
run) for Director seats on the PNB, nor conduct business as
delegates, nor continue to serve on the Local Station Board until the
elections are resolved.

– a disqualification of ballots sent to anyone who was not a member
of WBAI as of Aug. 31, 2007 — the cut-off date stipulated in the bylaws.

For a return to fairness,

Mitchel Cohen

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