KPFA Board Election Challenge Enters Unclear Territory By CAROL SPOONER Commentary

Monday January 03, 2005

While I share Brian Edwards-Tiekert’s frustration at KPFA’s messed-up elections (“Democracy Derailed at KPFA,” Daily Planet, Dec. 28-30), he has mischaracterized the issue as factional. I believe the real question is: What should the Local Station Board do under Pacifica’s bylaws in the case of an elections challenge to insure that the election is legally certified and the proper winners are legally seated? 

The LSB was informed that a challenge to the KPFA staff elections had been sent to National Elections Supervisor Kenny Mostern, and that the challenge was brought by enough staff members who did not receive ballots to change the outcome of the staff election. Under Pacifica’s bylaws, the LSB does not have the authority to resolve the challenge. The National Elections Supervisor is the only person who has that authority. So the LSB decided not to seat new staff delegates until learning what the decision of the National Elections Supervisor would be on the challenge to the staff election. 

If the shoe had been on the other foot—which it most likely would have been had Miguel Molina edged out Eric Parks for a staff seat on the LSB by less than two votes since people from both staff “factions” were asking for the staff election to be redone prior to the vote count on the grounds that many staff members did not receive ballots—if the challenge had been brought by Eric Parks rather than Solange Echevarria and Miguel Molina, I believe the LSB would have done the same thing. I really don’t believe the issue is a factional one, but rather one of the principle of determining the legal outcome of an election prior to seating the winner(s). 

There is certainly room to disagree on the principle of waiting for the national elections supervisor to resolve the challenge prior to seating new staff delegates. A principled argument could also be made to seat the new staff delegates and leave it up to the NES to “unseat” them later if he decided the election challenge was well-taken and decided to redo the staff election.  

However, I think it was wisest for the LSB to find out what the NES was going to do before seating new delegates.  

The elections supervisor’s report was subsequently posted at www.pacifica.org—scroll down the right side of the page to the Pacifica Elections section. It’s a 244-page pdf file!  

The LSB did not have this report at the time it was faced with deciding what to do about the elections challenge. According to a memo from Pacifica Executive Director Dan Coughlin to the LSB last week—“The national elections supervisor reports that he has reviewed the concerns and/or appeals of the KPFA staff candidate in relation to the election. I understand that he has spoken to that issue in e-mail form. He tells me that he referred to the specific issue raised by the appeal in Section 5 of his final report entitled, “Design, Production and Mailing of Ballots and Replacement Ballots.” [Note: I have not seen any e-mails from the elections supervisor speaking to the issue.]  

Based on this information, I believe the LSB is required by the bylaws to seat the new staff delegates certified by the National Elections Supervisor at our next meeting—now scheduled for Jan. 9, to elect KPFA’s directors on the Pacifica National Board. The challenging KPFA staff members have the option of taking their election challenge to the court. 


Carol Spooner is a KPFA Local Station Boardmember.