Endorsements pour in for SaveKPFA’s candidates

A few of SaveKPFA's endorsers The endorsers’ list for the 9 SaveKPFA activists running for KPFA’s local board this November is getting longer daily.

SaveKPFAs endorsers include Larry Bensky, Pacifica’s National Affairs Correspondent for two decades; Raj Patel, the author of The Value of Nothing, and Stuffed and Starved; Sasha Lilley, host of KPFA’s Against the Grain; Al Young, writer, teacher and California Poet Laureate emeritus; Mitch Jeserich, host of Pacifica’s Letters & Politics; Max Anderson, Berkeley City Councilmember; Lynne Hollander Savio, chair, Mario Savio Memorial Lecture & Young Activist Award; Shelley Kessler, Secretary-Treasurer, San Mateo Labor Council, and hundreds of others. (IDs for identification only)

SaveKPFA‘s candidates have pledged to restore local control; strengthen Pacifica’s accountability, financial stability, and transparency; advocate for continuing quality programming; and make the boards smaller, less expensive, and (hopefully) less fractious. | READ the platform & candidates’ statements.

Between them, the candidates have a wealth of background in radio, nonprofit administration, fundraising, labor, and grassroots social and economic justice movements. They come from around the Bay Area and beyond, all enthusiastic KPFA listeners who want to make a positive difference.

Check out SaveKPFA‘s endorsers and add your name too. Then watch for your mail ballot, scheduled to mail November 6.

(Photo: a few of SaveKPFA’s endorsers, top to bottom: Al Young, Bonnie Simmons, John Hamilton, Raj Patel, Shelley Kessler, Larry Bensky and Lewis Sawyer.)

Recall response: we called it!

Return KPFA to us nowSIGN THE PETITION HERE
In our last newsletter we pointed out that, when Tracy Rosenberg used a lawsuit to scuttle the count of recall ballots, her own court filings argued that it would cost KPFA very little money to fix the recall’s procedural problems by sending out a new ballot in the same envelope as the general election ballots due to be mailed on November 6.

Here’s what Rosenberg’s legal filing says: “It is understood that that PACIFICA has incurred expenses in conducting the present recall….However, the cost to Pacifica of a new election can be mitigated since it is about to begin a general election, and it is possible that a recall election can be conducted in tandem therewith, thereby avoiding some duplication in cost.”

We also predicted that, having won an injunction from the court, Rosenberg would make a 180-degree turn and try to prevent KPFA from doing just that — conducting a quick, cheap re-vote by stuffing an extra piece of paper in each ballot package.

True to form, Rosenberg delivered, arguing during the last meeting of KPFA’s Local Station Board that it would be too expensive to include a re-done recall ballot on November 6. (You can listen to the October 6 meeting here: part a, part b, part c, part d, part e. The recall discussion occurs in part d.)  And she wonders why KPFA listeners want her out of Pacifica?

It’s time for listeners to once again speak up. TAKE A MOMENT TO SIGN THIS PETITION, asking Pacifica’s election supervisors and national board allow all KPFA listeners to have a vote on the recall as part of this fall’s general election.

And after you’ve done that, please help us spread the word by forwarding this newsletter to friends who may be KPFA listeners. Thank you!

KPFA’s Fall Fund Drive ends early, short

Music programmer David Gans and Luis Medina, KPFA's music director.

Music programmer David Gans and Luis Medina, KPFA's music director.

In an encouraging sign that KPFA’s management is serious about trying to rein in the length of fund drives, KPFA’s Fall Fund Drive ended last Friday, after 19 days of fundraising — five days shorter than the previous year’s. It also ended short of its goal by roughly $140,000.

KPFA is trying to make up some of the difference through online pledges — so we encourage you to contribute at kpfa.org.

Some context: KPFA was forced to lengthen its fund drives dramatically over the past two years to compensate for the drop in pledging after now-ousted Pacifica executive director Arlene Engelhardt axed KPFA’s Morning Show.

One of the greatest challenges facing KPFA is to find a way to shorten its fund drives before it’s trapped in a downward spiral of diminishing returns and dropping listenership from too much airtime devoted to asking for support.

KPFA’s interim manager took a step in the right direction when he returned former Morning Show co-host Brian Edwards-Tiekert to morning drive time, with the introduction of UpFront weekdays at 7 AM. On its first day, the program delivered KPFA’s top fundraising totals — and has ever since. The money raised during UpFront in KPFA’s Summer Fund Drive helped make that drive the first in years to both end on schedule and beat its goal.

New approach to fund drives?

In the current drive, UpFront‘s fundraising has continued to grow, but the station overall was flagging. Fall fundraisers have historically been hard for KPFA in Presidential election years, as the elections tend to siphon off donations, time and attention. Facing daily totals that would have required the station to extend the drive  to four weeks or more to make goal, management decided to end it and make a strong appeal to listeners to support that effort.

It paid off: in the three days after KPFA announced it would end its fund drive early, the station raised more money than in the previous eight days. And while KPFA may need to add a few days of fundraising in December to make up the difference, it will be far fewer days than KPFA would have had to extend its Fall fund drive to actually make its goal.

Now, KPFA is back to producing strong, uninterrupted programming — the kind of work that is especially important in the run-up to a major election. We think it’s a step in the right direction, and SaveKPFA is strongly encouraging KPFA listeners to show their support by pledging online at kpfa.org/support.

There is a second reason it’s important to support KPFA right now: the station’s new fiscal year has begun, Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg has extended her grip on office by tying up the recall vote count in court, and we fully expect her to use the fund drive shortfall as an pretext to push for retaliatory cuts at KPFA in the weeks to come.

Rosenberg blocks recall vote count

kpfa with bannerAn Alameda County judge has granted Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg‘s request to block any counting of the thousands of ballots in the recall election against her cast by KPFA members this summer.

The election was triggered after more than 800 KPFA listeners who signed petitions seeking Rosenberg’s removal from the Pacifica National Board over her role in killing the Morning Show, misappropriating members’ email addresses, and other abuses. At the time, the Morning Show was the most listened-to program produced at KPFA, and the station’s biggest fundraiser.

Rosenberg delays vote, then sues over delay
Shortly before the ballot count was to take place, Rosenberg filed suit against Pacifica, whose national office she effectively ran by proxy during the tenure of the soon-to-depart executive director Arlene Engelhardt. Rosenberg’s suit said there was an illegal delay between the cutoff date for voting eligibility and the date ballots actually hit the mail.

Witnesses watch as supervisor sequesters KPFA ballots.

Pacifica’s filings did not dispute the fact that its conduct of the recall election against her had broken the law — instead, it argued that Rosenberg used her position on the Pacifica National Board to contribute to the delay of sending out recall ballots, and that she knew about the deadlines being used for the election, but waited until the last possible moment to file suit over them.

Pacifica offered to correct its violation by sending out additional ballots to people who would have been eligible to vote if not for the early cutoff — but Rosenberg’s attorney rejected that proposal. That’s not the conduct of someone who wants to fix an election — it’s the conduct of someone who fears she’s lost the vote, and wants to keep it from being counted.

What next?

The judge’s decision does not bar Pacifica from sending out new recall ballots, as long as it uses a new eligibility date. Rosenberg’s own court filings suggested Pacifica could save money by mailing out new ballots in the same package as the general election mailing set to go out in early November. Now that the path is actually cleared to do so, look for Rosenberg to reverse course and try to block or delay the recall, again.

Meanwhile, Rosenberg is currently using her position as Pacifica’s treasurer to try to impose harsh austerity on KPFA. She scuttled a no-cuts budget drafted by KPFA’s local management, and approved by KPFA’s elected Local Station Board (this was after she and her allies walked out of the local board meeting scheduled to discuss the budget.) Despite the fact that KPFA’s currently running a surplus, Rosenberg led the charge to impose line-by-line cuts, including staff cuts, on KPFA. Her legal challenges may have bought her enough time to see that process through to whatever end she has in mind. Rosenberg and her allies have renamed their “Independents for Community Radio” slate as “United for Community Radio” for the 2012 KPFA elections.

The big picture: democracy when?

Rosenberg’s success at delaying her own recall election calls into question the very foundations of Pacifica’s democratic reforms. The recall provisions currently in Pacifica’s bylaws were created as a check on unaccountable boards run amok — like the board that, in 1999, locked out KPFA’s staff and boarded up its studios.

Many KPFA listeners felt similarly betrayed when Rosenberg attacked KPFA’s union, orchestrated the purge of its biggest fundraiser, and hand-picked her own political allies to fill the Morning Show‘s timeslot. But even after KPFA’s listeners gathered more than double the number of signatures needed to trigger a recall, Rosenberg, and Pacifica, have delayed the election for close to a year. Stay tuned for the next step, which we hope to announce soon.