VICTORY: KPFK board votes against Jackson Lewis

get out of bed with scott walkerThe elected Local Station Board at Pacifica station KPFK in Los Angeles has just joined KPFA’s board in passing a resolution calling on Pacifica to drop Jackson Lewis. As at KPFA, the resolution passed by an overwhelming majority. This steps up pressure on the Pacifica National Board to act now to cancel Jackson Lewis’ retainer agreement.

Got a minute to make a difference? Last time the national board met, it spent its time discussing how to block messages from listeners. This time, let’s be sure they hear the substance of our message loud and clear: fire Jackson Lewis NOW! Send your message to the Pacifica National Board by clicking here.

Lively picket at Pacifica’s National Office demands firing of anti-union lawyers

KPFA’s paid and unpaid staff turned out for a picket on a sunny afternoon last week in front of Pacifica’s national office to show their outrage with the network’s hiring of Jackson Lewis, the nation’s premiere union-busting lawyers.

Labor journalist Steve Early addressed the crowd, describing how Jackson Lewis operates to undermine unions and predicting that both the political and financial costs to KPFA could be devastating. Unpaid staffer Tina Bachemin brought a statement of solidarity, noting that Pacifica is part of the “bitter struggle that’s going on now across America to smash unionism and wage war against workers.” Listeners, many of them union members, also showed up in force, angry that their donations are going to anti-union consultants.| SEE PHOTOS here, and LISTEN TO KPFA News report

Meanwhile, KPFA itself is struggling, as every fund drive in the past year has come in below target. And last week, a lightning strike knocked Pacifica station KPFT in Houston off the air for two days. Repair to the station’s transmitter will be expensive. You can help with a donation here.

Recall ballots coming soon, according to election supervisor

After repeated inquiries, Pacifica election supervisor Matt Ward has written SaveKPFA‘s Margy Wilkinson with a tentative timeline for getting out ballots in the recall of Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg — which are now almost four months overdue. Ward writes: “I suspect we will likely see ballots mailed between May 10 and May 15.” If you’re a KPFA listener-member, look for yours, and help us monitor the fairness of this election by emailing us at votesavekpfa@gmail.com when you receive it.

FACT CHECK: Tracy Rosenberg’s real record

As the date of Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg‘s recall nears, her defenders are hailing her purported financial acumen and leadership at the nonprofit she heads, Media AllianceSo, how’s it actually doing?

We’ve charted the financial data Media Alliance reports on the publicly-available IRS form 990. The numbers begin in 2006, the year before Rosenberg took over the once-vibrant media organization. Since then, revenues at Media Alliance have dropped by a whopping 76%, and the amount of cash in the organization’s bank account has dropped to just over $21,000 — suggesting Rosenberg’s spent down 83% of the organization’s cash.

The backstory: Media Alliance was for many years a strong progressive institution in the San Francisco Bay Area — supporting freelance journalists with a health care plan (since discontinued), running regular skill trainings for media workers (there are none currently posted on its website), and helping to organize public FCC hearings on the effects of de-regulation and consolidation (none lately). Today, pretty much all that’s left is an electronic newsletter sent out by Rosenberg. | SEE BIGGER CHART

Time to renew your KPFA membership?

SaveKPFA will be asking for your vote in the next general election for KPFA’s Local Station Board this fall, but you have to be a KPFA member in order to vote. Here’s how it works:

  • It takes just $25 to become a voting member of KPFA. Donate at www.kpfa.org/support.
  • You have to give in the year ending June 30, 2012 in order to vote in the next Local Station Board election — so if your last donation was before July 1, 2011, you have to give again to maintain your eligibility.
  • There’s a bonus for giving now: gifts that KPFA receives outside of regular fund drives don’t get levied 20% by Pacifica National. KPFA’s Spring Fund drive starts next week, but if you give now at www.kpfa.org/support, more of your money will stay with KPFA.

KPFA’s board calls on Pacifica to drop union busters, picket scheduled Apr. 18

Jackson Lewis picket at KPFACOME TO A PICKET: KPFA’s workers have called a picket to protest Pacifica’s hire of union-busters Jackson Lewis and invite listeners to attend. It’s on Wednesday, April 18, noon-1pm, in front of KPFA. Be there, bring friends!

Since news broke that Pacifica has hired notorious anti-union legal firm Jackson Lewis, a petition against union-busting at the network has gotten nearly 1600 signatures.

Bill Berkowitz of Buzzflash at Truthout calls the development “a dramatic and disturbing departure from Pacifica’s progressive origins.” In his Politics in the Zeros blogBob Morris said the news showed that “the national board now directly opposes everything Pacifica used to stand for.” Labor journalist Dick Meister, who does a weekly show at sister station KPFT told the California Federation of Labor that he was “appalled at what seems to be happening.” The news has been covered in the labor press, as well as Matthew Lasar‘s Radio Survivor blog, San Francisco’s Fog City Journal, and Current, a magazine on public broadcasting.

Contrary to Pacifica’s portrayal of Jackson Lewis as being brought in under an “insurance deductible” in which Pacifica had “no choice,” it has been confirmed that Pacifica’s executive director Arlene Engelhardt, strongly recommended the firm to the Pacifica National Board (PNB), which then voted to put it on a general retainer. Engelhardt admitted in an online blog that Jackson Lewis is on retainer and doing “non-litigation” work such as arbitrations. In the same blog, Engelhardt attacked KPFA’s staff, saying she was “deeply disappointed” in their “integrity and professionalism,” while praising the anti-union lawyers, saying they had “saved [Pacifica] money” and done “an exemplary job.”

return kpfa to us NOWMembers of KPFA’s Local Station Board brought a strong resolution against law firm Jackson Lewis at their April 7 meeting. You’d think severing ties with the nation’s top union-busting firm would be a no-brainer, but in the discussion, KPFA board member Tracy Rosenberg (who is also Pacifica’s national board treasurer) defended their hiring. Rosenberg said she voted to hire Jackson Lewis because it was “aggressive” and Pacifica “needed” an aggressive law firm. It is clear that Pacifica National Board members discussed Jackson Lewis’ anti-union reputation before voting to hire it.

KPFA boardmember Conn Hallinan said the signed retainer agreement with Jackson Lewis “refers very specifically to the fact that the firm was hired to deal with ‘general labor issues,’ but I don’t care…what they were hired to do,” he said. “The idea that we would give our members’ money to fuel an anti-democratic, anti-worker, anti-progressive organization like this is just beyond belief,” said Hallinan. | LISTEN to audio of Conn Hallinan (2:30 min)| LISTEN to entire LSB meeting: part 1, part 2part 3 (Jackson Lewis discussion), part 4

You made the difference! Thanks to pressure from the hundreds of listeners who signed petitions and wrote in, even Tracy Rosenberg ultimately voted for the resolution calling on Pacifica to end its relationship with the controversial firm. An amended version of the resolution passed KPFA’s board by a vote of 15-0 with 2 abstentions. The unanimous, cross-factional resolution from KPFA’s Local Station Board will increase pressure on Pacifica.

LET’S KEEP UP THE PRESSURE: click here to send an email demanding the Pacifica National Board terminate all contracts with Jackson Lewis!

Apparently, KPFA listener emails are making an impact

KPFA raises it pacifica spends itAt its recorded phone meeting April 12, the Pacifica National Board (PNB) devoted a full 45 minutes to discussing emails it is receiving from KPFA members opposed to Pacifica’s hire of Jackson Lewis. Sadly, this conversation did not involve any re-thinking of the decision to hire the union-busting lawyers.

Instead, PNB members debated whether or not to block the hundreds of protest emails its getting from listeners supporting SaveKPFA. PNB member Ken Aaron (KPFK/Los Angeles) said he thinks the people writing to the board “are not human” and their communications were “spam” that should be prevented from reaching the board. From SaveKPFA‘s website, people have a choice of sending their email directly to the PNB’s address, or sending it via a web form, which is then forwarded by SaveKPFA‘s web volunteers. | LISTEN to 30 second audio clip of Aaron

Several PNB members said they were appalled at the proposed limitations on listener comments. SaveKPFA member Andrea Turner, who is 1 of 4 KPFA delegates on the PNB, thanked listeners for writing and said she hoped they would continue doing so. Turner pointed out that a member-driven non-profit founded to advance free expression shouldn’t be scared of hearing from its own constituents. | LISTEN to 1 minute audio clip of Turner

Efforts to block or divert emails sent through SaveKPFA‘s webpage failed by a one-vote margin, with these 9 members VOTING NO on the motion: Nia Bediako (WBAI/NYC), Wesley Bethune (KPFT/Houston), Lydia Brazon (KPFK/LA), Revalyn Golde (WPFW/Washington), Campbell Johnson (WPFW, Washington), Laura Prives (KPFA/Berkeley), Marcel Reid (WPFW, Washington), Dan Siegel (KPFA/Berkeley), and Andrea Turner (KPFA/Berkeley).

PNB treasurer Tracy Rosenberg, who is facing a recall from her constituents at KPFA, VOTED YES to blocking incoming listener messages. She was joined by 7 other PNB members: Ivon Alcime (WPFW/Washington), Teresa Allen (KPFT/Houston), Ken Aaron (KPFK/LA), Carolyn Birden (WBAI/NYC), Bill Crosier (KPFT/Houston), Ali Lexa (KPFK/LA), and George Reiter (KPFT/Houston).


Keep on making “noise”

Earlier in the same meeting, PNB chair Summer Reese complained about KPFA listeners making “a lot of noise” regarding the election supervisor she hired for the Tracy Rosenberg recall vote. Hundreds of listeners have been writing the PNB to ask why recall ballots had still not been mailed nearly four months after Pacifica’s own deadline for that to happen.

Over 1200 listeners have signed a petition demanding Pacifica appoint an impartial election supervisor from the American Association of Arbitrators or a similar organization. As we reported in our last issue, Reese recently hired a person named Matt Ward to supervise the recall, but gave no information about him. Multiple efforts by SaveKPFA activists to ask both Reese and Ward himself about his experience, or his timeline for the election, did not produce answers. Reese told the PNB that because Pacifica had previously hired election supervisors who she said “don’t appear to have had any qualifications to be election supervisors,” it was therefore “inappropriate” for KPFA listeners to ask about the qualifications of the person she hired to oversee the Rosenberg recall. | LISTEN TO 2 min audio clip of Reese

You can hear the entire PNB meeting in this three-part public recording: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3. (The discussion of the recall and KPFA’s listener emails begins about 8 minutes into part 2 and continues through the vote at the end of part 3).

“KPFA listeners and staff have the right to know how the radio network they support is run and what our donations are paying for,” said KPFA board chair Margy Wilkinson. “Let’s keep speaking up loudly and clearly, until we get our station and network back on the right track.”

Take a look at today’s posts from San Francisco’s Fog City Journal and the California Federation of Labor‘s website. Reader comments are welcome at both, and that’s another way you can add your voice.

Recall supervisor hired, but Pacifica silent on his qualifications

Pacifica has finally hired a supervisor for the recall vote against Tracy Rosenberg, according to this email from Pacifica’s chair, Summer Reese. But in response to questions from SaveKPFA reps, Reese has refused to give any information about his qualifications or experience. She has only told us his name (Matt Ward), that he lives in Los Angeles, and an email address (kpfarecall@gmail.com).

Ward also hasn’t responded to basic questions about when he will mail ballots, or how he will conduct the election. Margy Wilkinson, chair of KPFA’s Local Station Board, submitted these questions on March 20. Ward promised answers, but three weeks later he still hasn’t delivered. “Just trust me” doesn’t quite work with Pacifica: during the last election at KPFA, Pacifica violated the secrecy of the ballot, and threw out three staff votes in order to change the outcome of the election — an action that was overturned by an injunction from the Alameda County Superior Court.

“After months of delay, we’re glad the recall appears to be getting underway,” added Wilkinson. “But for listeners to have any confidence in the result, the process needs to be more transparent on every level. And it is unfortunate that Pacifica chose an election supervisor in Los Angeles. KPFA’s listeners are mostly in Northern California and having a supervisor in LA promises big problems with balloting and observation issues.”

Why killing the Morning Show made no financial sense

The Morning Show was KPFA’s biggest fundraiser — raising three times what it cost to produce. Killing the show in November  2010 made no sense financially.

Pacifica knew this: KPFA had sent charts detailing the financial contributions of the Morning Show to the entire Pacifica National Board five weeks prior to the layoffs. The truth is, Pacifica used KPFA’s finances as a pretext to eliminate its political enemies. | READ THE STORY HERE