Community TV That's Answerable to the Community A Call For an Elected CAN TV Board
To achieve a new start, those of us who support and work with CAN TV – the CAN TV community -- must call for the replacement of the current Board of Directors, which was not elected by CAN TV members. The Board, who also elected and re-elected Barbara Popovic as Executive Director, stood in the way of the CAN TV community having any say. Fresh elections to the Board, including participation by current members if they so choose, will allow a new Board to exercise a mandate that is earned, rather than based on who-knows-who.
The next Executive Director replacing Popovic must also be elected. If the next Executive Director is not democratically elected by the CAN TV community, s/he will effectively inherit the previous methods and outlook of the retiring director.
At present, CAN TV members may not nominate themselves or other members as candidates for the Board of Directors. Only current Board members may nominate a Board candidate and this only via the Board's Nominating Committee; finally, only current Board members may vote for candidates for Board membership. This means that CAN TV community members are excluded from democratically participating in the nomination and vote for Board members. And, since only Board members may vote for the Executive Director, CAN TV members are also excluded from democratically selecting the Executive Director. These bylaws must be changed.
Community TV works best when it is intimately connected to and reflecting the community. CAN TV was created precisely to serve, democratically, the parts of Chicago’s communities that are disenfranchised from media access because of economic limitations. The overwhelming majority of Chicagoans are working class, making modest wages, if that. Popovic, however, was paid $180,000 a year, making for an inherent disconnect between herself and the overwhelming majority of the community she was supposed to serve.
Thus we need to change not only individual personalities, but also the grossly unequal compensation structure and undemocratic methods by which leaders are chosen, which entrenched the current leadership and made it so at odds with those it ostensibly served.
We need change that reflects the ideals of democracy and freedom of speech. We need a media institution that recognizes the inalienable value of each person, their background, language and experience. Such ideals must be reflected in media production that is created by Chicago's communities and individuals speaking for themselves to the greater community about the issues not often covered in the corporate media.
We therefore call for the following:
1. Retire the system of only allowing current Board members to nominate and elect new members and the Executive Director;
2. Revise the bylaws so that Board members and Executive Director shall be directly and democratically elected by the CAN TV community; and
3. Insure that the next permanent Executive Director will be installed under these new provisions, insuring that the CAN TV community is given direct, democratic input in the selection of any new, permanent Executive Director.
If the current, appointed Board of Directors remains before such a democratic, CAN TV community-based election of a new Director can be carried out, then the current Board shall be tasked with selecting an interim, probationary Executive Director. The probationary Executive Director and existing board must implement the following:
1. Organize, with community input, a procedure and timetable for the democratic election of a new Board by the CAN TV community; and,
2. Insure that the new interim/probationary Executive Director and the existing Board during this transition period would not be able to bring on any new Board members.
Once a new, CAN TV community-elected Board is installed, it will have the power to finally vet and approve any candidate for Executive Director, including the interim/probationary Director.
In a world where community voices are increasingly shunted aside by wealth and unaccountable power, we have a valuable opportunity to return a valuable institution back to the community. Let's seize this opportunity to make CAN TV an even more integral part of making our city a better place to live.
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