Monday, June 23, 2008

A PNN REPORT: KKCR’S STRATEGIC PLANNING- A FACILITATED CHANCE FOR REFORM OR ANOTHER COMMUNITY SNUB?

A PNN REPORT: KKCR’S STRATEGIC PLANNING- A FACILITATED CHANCE FOR REFORM OR ANOTHER COMMUNITY SNUB?

As this article is published- at 5 p.m. on June 23, 2008- the second “illegal” secretive meeting of “Kaua`i Community Radio” KKCR-FM’s “Strategic Planning Committee”(SPC) is convening.

As PNN reported the first of two planned secret-agenda meetings took place in mid-May with an insular group of members of the Board, staff and the Community Advisory Board (CAB) that excluded members the community from either membership or participation.

What is KKCR’s Strategic Planning Committee? Well we know now what it’s not .

It’s not a response to the events we detailed in our April 27 investigative report, “ KKCR: A Study in Brown and White”.

PNN’s investigation was presented after the failure of the Kekahu Foundations (the governing board of KKCR) and its Personnel Committee to follow through on their promise to address the issues of "institutional" racism made last January after the previously detailed arbitrary and capricious decision making of staff and the Board of Directors (BOD) during the incidents surrounding the firing and reinstatement of “the KKCR 3”.

Nor was it originally designed to deal with the long-standing repercussions of the theft of the voting rights of the members in 1996 and the institution of the LA music industry’s just about all-music format with no local public affairs programming except for a couple of hand selected programmers taking calls for a few hours a week in a decidedly and directedly non-controversial format.

As a matter of fact, word leaked out of the first SPC meeting that governance issues were “off the table” for the SPC and that they were even considering trying to create and support “other projects” than KKCR.

Most people think the SPC is all a show or worse, an effort to consolidate power and dismiss any attempt to turn KKCR back into the real community voice and free speech platform it was originally founded to be.

Katy Rose, one of the fired programmers who has since been reinstated says she tried, along with many other members of the public, to be allowed onto the SPC without success.

(Clarification/Correction: During Board and CAB meetings Katy rose learned that no members of the public were permitted on the SPC and so did never requested membership.)

She says that “rather than making the deep, structural changes necessary to open up the station to the broader community of local, working-class people and their everyday concerns, we'll end up with window-dressing and token gestures”. from the SPC

And Rose isn’t alone. Literally hundreds of people we’ve spoken to in the community just don’t care to bang their heads against the wall anymore. And though the third SPC meeting is going to be “open to the public” most people have heard that there will be at best token public input and they assume that, as usual at KKCR Board of Directors’ (BOD) meetings, their testimony will be brief and ignored.

Rose says perhaps the strategic planning process should have been based on “participation and concerns of the great many people on Kaua`i who do not see themselves reflected in the programming and structure of the station as it is.

“Without the vigorous participation in decision-making by the very people left out of the process now - and out of KKCR generally - ideas for change will more than likely
reflect the interests of the current gate-keepers”, says Rose “and we can generally expect ’more of the same’."

It’s hard to say what will happen his evening.. But there’s one person who says she is going to make sure full public participation and the discussion of governance issues will be on the table at tonight’s meeting.

And fortunately for anyone who cares about KKCR reclaiming the community radio mantle the paid convener and organizer of the “project” will be Roxanne MacDougall the top organizational consultant and “facilitator” on Kaua`i.

MacDougall, whose responsibilities have included facilitating everything from the Kaua`i General Plan to strategic-planning and group-goal-seeking sessions for both for profit and not-for-profit corporations, has a plan... if the honchos and the dissidents don’t mess it up.

MacDougal has told PNN that the process- which she describes in an essay accompanying this article- will have the SPC establish subcommittees called “strategic groups” each dealing with a specific area of strategic planning. And, although the SPC will determine the set up in secret, at the next meeting which will be open to the public any member of the public can actually join one of these sub-groups as “full participatory members”.

And, she told PNN, issues of governance will in fact be “on the table”.

In the statement MacDougall prepared exclusively for PNN she attempts to address many of the question we asked regarding the SPC and to justify secret agenda and closed nature of the meetings and the reasons for the insularity of the group.

MacDougall wrote:

As of today, June 17, we have completed the formation of the planning team, which consists of 6 board members, the former board president who had been very involved in initiating strategic planning, 4 staff, 2 CAB representatives and 2 programmer/volunteer representatives. In my 20 years’ experience as a consultant, I have found that 15 is an
optimal size for a planning team.

Typically, non-profit strategic planning is done by the board of directors, who are required to approve the plan as part of their governance duties, and the executive director/manager. Usually, input from constituents is solicited in various ways. By having the CAB and programmers/volunteer representatives on our planning team, we have direct input from these groups, while their representatives are charged with keeping them informed and relaying their input. Having as many board members participate as are available to make the commitment to the planning process, which is quite a commitment of time and energy, assists in having the majority of the board present for key discussions and decisions, to directly hear non-board representatives’ points of view, etc. Some have expressed concern that the Planning Team is dominated by the board, but the reality is that the more they know about how the plan was crafted, the more they participate in consensus, the better informed the board is when they review the plan for approval.

But it was unclear whether theses strategic groups would include interested members of the public as full participatory members or whether the public would just be relegated to the peanut gallery to “give input” at some point.

MacDougall wrote

Once the Strategy Groups get started, the Planning Team will hold three sessions in which each Strategy Group reports on its progress. These meetings will be open to the public and there will be time on the agenda, after all reports are heard, for public comment and questions. A draft plan will then be created, and presented to all the board members, CAB and programmer/volunteers. Feedback will be received and
the draft fine tuned. A public meeting will then be held where additional input will be received before a final plan is submitted to the board for approval.


The essay lays out the process in detail but what distressed many like Rose- and even member of the SPC like BOD member Marj Dente and her husband CAB President Fred who were founders of the Kekahu foundation and KKCR and have fought to reclaim the station for 12 years- was the ambiguous nature and possible obfuscation of the point of whether the public will be excluded entirely except for the token ignored “testimony”, which is usually used to protect insularly-formed groups of privileged people to allow them to consolidate their power and actually ignore those giving input.

We’ve seen this kind of imprecision of words lead to false assumptions before so we twice asked about whether, after all the secrecy was over and the SPC’s secret agenda meetings identified goals and formed the groups around them- no matter how unscrupulous and illegal the process to get to that point was- would the public be able to be full participatory members of those subcommittees which are to prepare reports for the SPC?

As previously reported, according to KKCR’s bylaws the meeting of the SPC is required to be open to the public and non-profit organization are required by law to adhere to their own by-laws.

Surprisingly our suspicions that the answer would be “no” to public participation were not borne out. In a supplement to her essay MacDougall told PNN:

The interested public, who can attend the meetings, will be full participating members of the groups. The groups will work together to determine which are the priority goals to support each key strategy. They will then work together on objectives and action plans. So, everybody gets to work on coming to agreement on goals, as well as really thinking through what it is going to take to achieve that goal. The Strategy Groups present their findings and recommendations to the Planning Team. There will likely be a couple of Planning Team members in each group, so they will have been privy to the discussions. The Planning Team pulls together the draft plan, gets various levels of feedback, as I described before, and the plan is submitted to the board of directors for approval. That is the governance process.

Everything one could possibly want to know about the process from MacDougall’s perspective is laid out in the essay, the good the bad and the ugly.

What has been remarkable is MacDougall’s tenacity and apparent integrity in putting together the project, which is financed through a $5000 grant from something called the Hawaii Community Foundation a Honolulu philanthropic non profit run by skeins of Henry P. Baldwin of “Alexander And” fame.

MacDougall has told PNN that if she feels the SPC members are just going through the motions and have a preconceived outcome she will not sign off on the results.

The grant, according to the Dentes, was to pay for MacDougall’s services and was recently finalized through the efforts of one of the more crooked BOD members, Ex- President Harvey Cohen.

Cohen has been the top defender of the realm for many years and along with Station Manager Gwen Palagi conspired to promote Palagi’s bar at the Princeville Airport over the KKCR airwaves with Cohen acting as both her business agent and head of the BOD which promoted policies to allow the same blatant commercialization of KKCR that the so-called dissidents have been trying to eliminate.

Palagi is reportedly leaving her position as Station Manager in December and a search is on for a successor. It is unknown whether the new manager will be promoted from within or whether a true experienced community radio professional will get the job but Fred Dente says he is hoping to expand the search to the mainland to find someone who knows what Community Radio is all about.

MacDougall did make one thing clear. The time and energy commitment to the strategic groups- and for the SPC as a whole- is of primacy. People who serve on these subcommittees will be expected to attend all meetings and engulf themselves in the work. She assures us though that at least two members of the SPC will serve on each group if a plethora of members of the community do miraculously come to the initial meeting and pledge to participate.

According to MacDougall a big PR push will be done to let people in the community know about the opportunity to participate in the strategy groups. But the question is whether this will be enough to convince those who have stopped banging their heads against the stonewall of racism, classism cliqueism at KKCR to come back and give the all-white bastion one last chance to serve the community.

Many dozens in the community of articulate and experienced activists, journalists and others have told tales of having such a bad experiences when they sought to be able to acquire an on air local public affairs spot on KKCR’s supposed “free speech soap box” that no one bothers to try anymore.

And their stories have spread to all their friends and neighbors. Some people are going to be more resistant to trusting anyone at KKCR than others but almost all will have to be asked- if not begged- to get involved.

This has become the most intractable problem at the station. It is why the staff and BOD have had zero success in trying involving non-whites and others who have been rejected due to the so-called “controversial” nature of their views..

Despite- or perhaps because of- the BOD and staff’s half-hearted, disingenuous and occasional attempts to ask local people to participate many feel that the only way to regain (or gain for the first time) the trust of the community would be to have the BOD and Staff admit to taking the wrong direction until now and promise to reverse the way they have been doing business, if not apologize to the community for excluding them in the past.....and do it over and over and over, every hour on the KKCR airwaves and in newspapers and other media outlets until people believe them.

Then and only people say will anyone even think about trying one more time.

And, of course that would have to go along with an immediate expansion of public affairs programming slots with more to come as people come back.. Right now there are no local public affairs slots and only “music” programs are available and that is linked to volunteering to answer phones and “stuff envelopes” rather than the talent and ability to produce a public affair program.

And many say of course that all that must be accompanied by the re-enfranchisement of the members in voting for all of the Directors, not just “one as an experiment” as was recently implemented by the BOD in order to “deal with” long-time demands for democratic reforms without actually having to change anything substantive.

Recently, even after the charges of racism in January, the BOD ignored the publicly stated availability of now-retired, local commercial talk-radio programmer Jimmy Torio- an outspoken no-nonsense leader in the Anahola Hawaiian Community- to sit on the BOD when a vacancy appeared. But they not only selected another white Princeville business associate of some board members named John Gordon instead, they made him President at his first meeting.

Even worse PNN was able to track a false rumor from multiple independent sources of an imminent indictment for some vague sort of criminal activity by Torio and track it back to board and staff members who apparently tried to slander Torio through this anonymous whispering campaign- all so they wound have an excuse not to chose him for the open BOD position.

What will happen with the SPC or for the matter KKCR in general is anyone’s guess. For that matter it’s anyone’s guess whether those who want to use the SPC to further sweep KKCR’s almost total dearth of local community based public affairs programming under the rug will say “no” to the public actually being able to participate fully in interacting with them without some ring-kissing ceremony.

Other than two or three, all PSC members have a history of trying to perpetuate what may call the PBA-CWG the “Princeville Business Association of Connected White Guys”- aka, the Kekahu BOD and their staff.. Many question what the staff is even doing on the SPC, seeing it as a conflict of interest.

So will the sub-groups be open to the public? MacDougall says yes but this is reportedly news to many PSC members. And if they are will anyone bother to show up to that first meeting and volunteer to participate? That remains to be seen. And will those participatory requirements apply to the public and SPC members equally? %They certainly should according to MacDougall

Maybe we’ll find out soon but for now it all depends on what happens tonight.

Fred Dente, with his wife Marj actually wrote the original democratic bylaws that were fraudulently stolen and replaced by current and perennial BOD member Richard Fernandez and ex- BOD member Jon Scott who established the KKCR self perpetuating “junta"-style governance in 1996 as reported by PNN in 1999 in a “Parxist conspiracy” television report.

And PSC member and CAB President Fred Dente says “basically everything’s up for discussion or I won’t participate”

We’ll see if anyone decides to participate and if they do whether they will get anywhere or just get another whuppin’ from the massahs at what’s known as “da haole radio station in Princeville”.

But even if they try by participating in the groups and fail to get the reforms they seek to be implemented by the PCS and BOD they will have a platform and someone paid to take notes and will be able to submit a report that will record and officially document for and through KKCR what’s required before KKCR can be called a true community radio station..


---------------------------

The following is the essay from consultant and facilitator Roxanne MacDougall referred to in the article above.

..
Kekahu Foundation/KKCR Community Radio Strategic Plan

Update from Roxanne MacDougall, consultant

In September of 2007, I was approached by the Kekahu Foundation Board of Directors to submit a proposal for strategic planning. My proposal was accepted and application was made for grant funding to support my work. The grant was not approved. Later in the Fall, I decided to go ahead and begin the work after the first of the year. In January, I worked with the board and station manager to clarify the planning process we would use, which is fully described on the KKCR website, http://www.kkcr.com/. I attended a Community Advisory Board meeting where I presented the planning process and responded to questions and comments.

A second grant application was submitted and the Board received notice that it was approved a few weeks ago. The scope of work has turned out to be more complex than I anticipated, but I am honored to be able to lead this process and contribute to the foundation, station and community. At the 10th anniversary of the Kekahu Foundation and KKCR, it is clearly time for a shared vision and clear direction to bring the board, staff programmers/volunteers, Community Advisory Board, underwriters, members, listeners and greater Kaua`i Community together, working toward common goals and outcomes.

In December, the suspension of three programmers occurred. While the timing made it appear that the strategic plan was in response to this situation, in fact it was not.

Additionally, since the strategic planning won’t be completed until this fall and will be focused on longer term strategies and action plans, it is not the best vehicle for resolving an immediate issue. However, planning involves assessment of current reality. We just completed a planning survey process which reached out to all the constituents described above, and I am currently compiling the results of the surveys. Any feedback regarding issues and potential improvements that come to light as a result of the situation with the three programmers will be included with all the other feedback in the report and will help to guide the content of the vision and plan.

As of today, June 17, we have completed the formation of the planning team, which consists of 6 board members, the former board president who had been very involved in initiating strategic planning, 4 staff, 2 CAB representatives and 2 programmer/volunteer representatives. In my 20 years’ experience as a consultant, I have found that 15 is an
optimal size for a planning team.

Typically, non-profit strategic planning is done by the board of directors, who are required to approve the plan as part of their governance duties, and the executive director/manager. Usually, input from constituents is solicited in various ways. By having the CAB and programmers/volunteer representatives on our planning team, we have direct input from these groups, while their representatives are charged with keeping them informed and relaying their input. Having as many board members participate as are available to make the commitment to the planning process, which is quite a commitment of time and energy, assists in having the majority of the board present for key discussions and decisions, to directly hear non-board representatives’ points of view, etc. Some have expressed concern that the Planning Team is dominated by the board, but the reality is that the more they know about how the plan was crafted, the more they participate in consensus, the better informed the board is when they review the plan for approval.

The Planning Team held an evening pre-planning session to establish how they could best work together. Plan content was not discussed. They will soon be having two back-to-back sessions to begin the formation of a vision and key strategies, that will serve as starting points for input from all constituents. I have found that this is the most efficient way to launch discussion and input from a large constituent base.

These sessions will also begin the process of setting up the Strategy Groups. Each key strategy will be addressed by a group of people, open to all who are interested, who will meet several times to determine the key goals, objectives and action plans that will be components of the overall plan. Much of this session will deal with the logistics of forming the Strategy Groups. Invitations to participate will be disseminated via KKCR, email lists and other media, not the least of which will be word of mouth.

Once the Strategy Groups get started, the Planning Team will hold three sessions in which each Strategy Group reports on its progress. These meetings will be open to the public and there will be time on the agenda, after all reports are heard, for public comment and questions. A draft plan will then be created, and presented to all the board members, CAB and programmer/volunteers. Feedback will be received and the draft fine tuned. A public meeting will then be held where additional input will be received before a final plan is submitted to the board for approval.

There are truly many issues and opportunities for the foundation and the station, as trite as this may sound. Some issues are long-standing and some people feel hopeless about the potential for positive change. I truly believe, and have experienced, that if people focus on the core values they have in common (in this case, a love and passion for KKCR and community radio), start seeing each other as well-intended people with different points of view and not as enemies, and on a shared vision as the beacon to guide them, holding an intent to work together for the highest good of all, seeming miracles can happen. Empowerment lies in being creators, not victims, no matter how a strong a case
can be made by any side for being a victim. It simply is a very dis-empowered stance to take in life, and rarely gets us what we desire.

Author Richard Bach said “Fight for your limitations, and they are yours”. If we focus on what we don’t want, that becomes our vision and that is what is most likely to keep occurring. I advocate forming a vision of a desired future, and being vision-led, not threat driven. Intention is everything. Thought does create. I can’t always explain how, but I have seen many wonderful, positive changes occur for individuals and organizations over the years. This is my wish and intention for the Kekahu Foundation and KKCR.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Rose says perhaps the strategic planning process should have been based on “participation and concerns of the great many people on Kaua`i who do not see themselves reflected in the programming and structure of the station as it is."

You mean Republicans and developers?

Anonymous said...

For more info on the Strategic Plan and to submit your thoughts visit: http://kkcr.org/future.htm

Katy Rose said...

My vision is of a KKCR that reflects in its staff, board, and programmmers, the diverse population of this community in terms of race, gender, class, physical ability, political perspective, skills and interests.

The New-Agey content, which has its place, could be balanced by programs about hunting and fishing, politics, youth issues, and so forth. And music programming could be better balanced with more public affairs programming.

I grew up listening to KPFA, which I believe has as much talk as music, and while it's not perfect, the social diversity reflected on the station is consciously sought after in order to ensure community relevance.

Ultimately, however, I think it's not good enough to just wistfully hope for or even just ask for more diversity - the hinderances to achieving it have to be aggressively analyzed and dismantled. It's really crucial that those who don't think the hinderances exist recognize that that is because they themselves weren't hindered. That's why the participation of "outsiders" is so important, because they are the only ones who can tell you why they are "outside."

I can't tell you how many times I've heard people close to KKCR sigh in defeat after asserting that they tried, but nobody's interested in getting involved.

I hope the strategic planning process uncovers some concrete steps to take to actually open up access and make it attractive.

I believe we all want to build a vibrant, relevant community resource at KKCR.

Andy Parx said...

Clarification/Correction: During Board and CAB meetings Katy rose learned that no members of the public were permitted on the SPC and so did never requested membership.

PNN regrets the error and the on-line article now contains this correction

Andy Parx said...

Yes anonymous 7:04 a.m. There should be a “Developers and Republicans Hour” as well as a “Developers and Republican are Scum Hour”. That’s community radio where all community voices are given air time. People across the country support listener-sponsored, community radio not in spite of the fact that they don’t like some of the programming but because will hear things they don’t like. Because allowing speech you don’t like is the only way to insure you will hear things you do like.

Anonymous said...

So a hippies and socialists are scum hour too? Awesome!

Katy Rose said...

Andy - I'm sorry if my clarification wasn't entirely clear. I didn't mean that NO members of the public were allowed on the SPC (I don't know about that) but that Jimmy, Ka'iulani and I were expressly barred from serving on it. I learned this at a Kekahu board meeting, but I had not even considered trying to be on the committee anyway.

The reason we were barred had to do with the fear that it would create too much tension to have us there. I don't feel personally rejected or hurt of course, but I do think it was a worrisome sign that they were trying to avoid inviting vocal dissidents into the process. Who knows.

Also - yes, get involved and bash socialists all you want! I would be happy to see more diversity of views on KKCR. I'd love to see someone do a "skeptics hour" debunking the New Agey stuff and the conspiracy theories. I'd love to hear a show about fishing and hunting. When I came on, I tried to fill a gap of intelligent, politically radical leftist thought with a focus on grassroots organizing, to round out what I saw as a narrow spectrum of political discussion that went from fairly conservative to fairly liberal. It's great when we can widen the spectrum in either direction. It adds to democracy.

What Andy says is absolutely right about community radio and everyone should be invested in making sure the station starts to show more confidence in the community supporting and participating in a more diverse format.

Support it because you are guaranteed to hear something you disagree with. And it's probably going to make you think!