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ISSUE No. 11 - Fall 2013


Winds Of Change blow through the board

The Case of the

Background. According to Doug McKenty there were no functioning committees (except the budget committee) for the entire two years that he served on the board. This seemed bazaar to me, because during my 2 years on the board, nearly 10 years before, committees were part of our work, and we were concerned with who would be selected as chair, and what was going to be done. Doug also said he could recall only one committee and one vote, and that was the budget committee and the vote was for the annual budget.

The October 2013 Board Meeting. As reported elsewhere, this meeting was unusually well attended, primarily because there was a lot of talk going around about the recent suspension of Doug McKenty and Open Lines. In response to the public interest and perhaps because Mendocino-TV was there, the procedure was much different that the usual. This time there was a formal introduction each of the members and much pomp and circumstance.

The most interesting part of course was the public comment. Our heroic editor spoke briefly about he history of the board. and the reign of two of its presidents. There was the "Honest Abe" Mike Grady board which put in place an honest structure made up of several committees. And these committees were open to the members. But then later, there came Magic Bob Page and his Magic Board. It was magic because under his reign, the committees completely disappeared.

In response, Bob Page who still sits on the board, said that he was not the magician who disappeared the Committees. "They were already gone when I took over."

"Not my fault" says Bob Page, former board president. "the Committees were already gone when I took over."

Okay Bob, then when and how did those committees disappear? Our investigators are looking into that...

Bob has been on a lot of boards, right? And presumably they work in a similar way. That similarity makes this situation more significant. It is not only a concern at KZYX, but probably in many other community organizations and nonprofits.

Bob Page is nice guy and a smart business man, I presume, and much more. But obviously he is not familiar with the basic process of running a democratic organization. And this lack of familiarity is common to a lot of people in leadership positions in this community.

Alicia Littletree once said that when it comes to the basics of how to organize... "people are just clueless about those things."

...Our culture is at a very strange place where collective values are really absent at the moment. The pendulum swing is totally toward individualism. That was what was up-and-coming in the 80s, and now we’re at the apex of individualism. We don’t even know how to work together and don’t have any idea about basic collective and communal skills that are part of movement building. Those skills are forgotten, and even the instinct for it.
In the 60s and 70s there was kind of a cultural basis for collectivism. Maybe it was because computers hadn’t centralized so much information. We just had to be kind of organized and reach out to people. Now everybody sits in front of their computer in their own little bubble and I don’t see people really doing things together.

Well, maybe I’m not seeing it, but my feeling is that we have to start from scratch. I have this recurring fantasy of starting a work group to look at how you do the basic stuff: How do you do outreach? How do you have a meeting? How do you work together? Because people are just clueless about those things. Not that I’m so smart but I do have this memory of this experience where I’ve actually done it. Thousands of actions, civil disobedience and arrests and people working together and doing their best.

Like I said before, there’s something satisfying about pulling something off, you know. Really doing it. It changes you.

Alicia Littletree Bales
2007 interview

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