The ASCAP Board Election: Less Selection, More Election Please

By • February 5, 2011

The ASCAP elections are upon us once again, and once again we’re faced with the absolute joke that is ASCAP’s shameful election policy these days. A policy whose apparent goal: the re-election of every incumbent who runs, has been 100% successful since these new policies were created by the ASCAP board in 2002. From the organization that prides itself on the “Tin Pan Alley” tradition, some of these policies look more like those of tin-pot dictators. It might be humorous except for the fact that this board is responsible for handling almost a billion dollars of other people’s money every year, has a lousy record in the courts lately, and makes decisions in almost total secrecy. Let’s take a look:

Handpicked “opponents” selected by a Nominating Committee appointed by an incumbent, working in secret.
It’s amazing that the words “handpicked in secret” and “election” are anything close to compatible, since they represent polar opposites in terms of how people should be chosen for leadership, but somehow ASCAP has managed to integrate these seemingly contradictory methods into their current “keep the incumbents in” election policy. So much for transparency and individual accountability. And who elects the Nominating Committee? Nobody. They are appointed by an incumbent board member (the ASCAP President). Yes, you read that right… at ASCAP you have an unelected committee appointed by an incumbent whose job it is to choose opponents to run against the incumbents. Is that the only way to get on the ballot at ASCAP? Technically, no, but practically, yes. Read on…

ASCAP’s virtual elimination of the ability of members to get on the ballot by petition, as Doug Wood did in 1999 with only 25 signatures.
Since the advent of the new Board policy requiring over 1,500 signatures of voting members to get a spot on the board by petition in 2002, not a single member has been able to gather this number of signatures, leaving the handpicked “opponents” as the only challenge to the incumbents. A policy with a very clear result…

Since 2002, incumbent ASCAP board members who run for re-election always win!
Since the introduction of these new policies in 2002, unless an an incumbent chooses not to run for re-election, the handpicked “opponents” always lose! Funny how that works… Ironic that arguably the board’s most effective and knowledgeable member – Doug Wood – got on the ballot using a process that the board then quickly proceeded to make virtually impossible for any other member to use again.

No time for campaigning, at least for the handpicked “opponents”
A recent twist in ASCAP’s routine is to announce the handpicked “opponents” within days of the election ballots being sent out, thus preventing any meaningful campaigning by the “opponents”. Of course the incumbents have lots of time to do this before the election, since they know they’re running for re-election. This latest move also prevents any real scrutiny of the “opponents” since voting commences within days of their announcement. We’re left with the ASCAP election brochure, containing platitudes and promises of “hard work”, but very little in terms of their specific expertise and abilities to oversee and manage the complex legal and financial issues involved with distributing almost a billion dollars of other people’s money each year.

The creation by the ASCAP Board of “Instant Incumbents” in the case of vacancies rather than honoring the most recent election results

This troubling practice occurs when an incumbent resigns from the ASCAP board close to an election. In several cases, rather than letting the membership decide who should replace the resigning board member or respecting the results of the most recent election, the board instead decides in secret and appoints an “instant incumbent” who, like themselves, runs as an incumbent with the special (*) next to their name on the ballots, and just like the board themselves, has always been re-elected since 2002. This practice is especially troubling in cases where there isn’t even a board meeting between the resignation and the election, stretching the credibility of the term “incumbent” even more.

ASCAP refuses to release vote counts released after the election
This policy stinks to high heaven, for obvious reasons, and puts ASCAP in the same election policy category as third-world tin-pot dictators who don’t trust the voters and retain their “power” by withholding basic truths about the election from the very people who cast votes.

ASCAP refuses to release the number of voting members
Ditto.

ASCAP refuses to release the attendance records of incumbent board members
Sadly, we aren’t even allowed to know which of these folks even bothers to show up for board meetings.

ASCAP refuses to release the voting records of incumbent board members
The message here for members is clear: you don’t deserve to know how your elected leaders voted, and therefore should just sit back and “trust us.”

The next time you read ASCAP crowing about how “the entire board was re-elected”, take a moment to consider how they were re-elected and how many draconian, third-world election policies it took to create this result. And yes, as I expect one of our regular ASCAP incumbent board member readers will undoubtedly point out, I realize that BMI doesn’t have an elected board. But given what’s been done to ASCAP election policy, it would seem that in the ASCAP election process, “selected,” not “elected” would be a more appropriate description of elections that in many ways seem more like coronations of the incumbents than fair, open and transparent elections in the democratic tradition.

Comments

By Brian Lee Corber on March 3rd, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Talk talk talk.

No one cares. No one is motivated to do anything asbout it. Your audience is a bunch of pussies.

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