Banning dissent at Pacifica?

Before votes in KPFA’s local board election are even counted, Tracy Rosenberg and her allies at the national level continue to do damage to Pacifica’s structure and mission. Earlier this week, the Pacifica National Board, which is dominated by Rosenberg and her allies, passed a measure that prohibits those who dissent from Rosenberg’s agenda from serving on local or national boards.

“The resolution banning those deemed ‘disloyal’ which was presented to the board by Tracy is pure McCarthy era,” noted Sasha Futran, KPFA’s former Local Station Board vice chair. “The appeal process is a sham, as any appeals would go to the very people who took after them for political reasons in the first place. This is the kind of divisiveness that is tearing Pacifica apart. Tracy has a big hand, perhaps the biggest, in that process,” added Futran, who was a member of Rosenberg’s slate at one time, before leaving it to join SaveKPFA.

Listeners pledging for KPFA Morning Show

A few of the hundreds of KPFA listeners who pledged to help bring back the Morning Show in 2011.

The measure is aimed squarely at 4 SaveKPFA members — Margy Wilkinson, Dan Siegel, Mal Burnstein and Conn Hallinan — for their role in collecting over $60,000 in pledges to restore the KPFA Morning Show and rehire its laid off co-hosts back in 2010-2011. They raised only pledges of support, not actual money. Nevertheless, the “Morning Show 4” were slapped with a lawsuit by Rosenberg allies Richard Phelps and Daniel Borgstrom, who allege such fundraising activity was “disloyal” to Pacifica. Phelps and Borgstrom are demanding these four listeners pay Pacifica “damages” of $800,000.

The proposal from Pacifica’s governance committee would ban anyone whose actions have been declared by a court of law to be breaches of “loyalty,” “fiduciary duty,” or “duty of care” from holding any office in Pacifica. Rosenberg has been publicly predicting victory in the Morning Show 4 case, and it’s transparent her intent is to get rid of her political opponents.

“Do you have any conscience?” wrote one KFPA listener to Rosenberg recently when the lawsuit came up for public discussion recently. “You’re supporting a horrendous attack on 4 KPFA listeners who were simply trying, like generations before them, to support KPFA in a time of crisis.”

Rosenberg’s allies have been issuing gag rules against KPFA’s unpaid and paid staff; now they are going after listeners too. “Banning people, gag rules, anti-union law firms eating up the station’s cash — where have we heard this before?” asked KPFA listener Alison Davis. “In 1999, the last time the network was taken over.”

ACTION ALERT: IT’S TIME TO SPEAK UP! Please take a minute to send an email to Pacifica’s board members demanding they rescind this “loyalty” measure immediately. CLICK HERE to send a sample email (or write your own): “Branding dedicated KPFA members as ‘disloyal’ because they asked for pledges of support for KPFA programming is truly appalling. For the 10 PNB members who opposed this measure: thank you for upholding the spirit of Pacifica. For those who voted for it: I demand that you rescind this McCarthyite loyalty measure immediately and stop trying to punish dedicated members simply because you disagree with them.”

This is about KPFA’s foundational principles of free speech and political dissent. “If a measure like this actually ends up being adopted, Pacifica’s founder Lew Hill would not even recognize the radio network he created,” added Futran.

KPFA’s Tracy Rosenberg promoted and voted for the “disloyalty” measure, which was written by WBAI delegates Kathy Davis and Alex Steinberg and KPFT delegate Bill Crosier.

It’s not too late! You can still vote in the KPFA election…

This year, KPFA ballots have to make their way to a central counting facility in New York by December 11. If you haven’t yet mailed your ballot, your only option at this point is overnight it to the collection facility so it arrives 12/11. [UPDATE: results are due this week, and we’ll post ’em as soon as we get them!]

Here are the 9 SaveKPFA candidates: Jose Luis Fuentes-Roman, Carole Travis, Craig Alderson, Paula Erkkila, Kate Gowen, Mark Hernandez, Barbara Whipperman, Burton White and Dan Siegel. Please vote for all 9 , ranking them from 1 to 9, or if you’d rather not rank them, give a “1.”

SaveKPFA‘s endorsers include KPFA stalwarts like Mitch Jeserich, Aileen Alfandary, and Brian Edwards-Tiekert, Sasha Lilley, and John Hamilton; as well as incredible community leaders like Rashidah Grinage, Sal Roselli, Raj Patel, Carlos Munoz, Jr., and Al Young. See the full list of endorsers here.

sasha_lilley_and_noam_chomsky

KPFA's Sasha Lilley with Noam Chomsky

Need a little inspiration? Sasha Lilly, co-host of KPFA’s Against the Grain, and co-author of Catastrophism: The Apocalyptic Politics of Collapse and Rebirth, endorses SaveKPFA. “While Pacifica’s governance system is clearly broken,” Lilley says, “it’s still important that people vote in this election — and vote SaveKPFA. If you think that Pacifica should not call the shots at KPFA, and if you support the work of skilled reporters and broadcasters — paid and unpaid — then please vote for all the candidates on the SaveKPFA slate.”

SaveKPFA‘s candidates are campaigning to support KPFA’s workers, deliver strong programming, grow KPFA, and defend the local control and network accountability we need to make those things happen. | READ What We Stand For

Incumbents from the opposing slate have made very clear where they stand: they backed Pacifica’s top-down purge of KPFA’s Morning Show, counter-demonstrated at union pickets, made excuses for Pacifica’s decision to hire Jackson Lewis (which the AFL-CIO calls “the nation’s #1 union-busting law firm”) and as recently as this summer, they pushed for hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary layoffs at KPFA — even as the station was running a surplus. For more on the stakes, read this detailed endorsement essay by Brian Edwards-Tiekert.

Elections at KPFA are generally low-turnout affairs that are decided by relatively small margins. Every vote makes a big difference, so tell any KPFA members you know to look for their ballots and vote for the 9 SaveKPFA candidates. You can also forward this election flyer (PDF) and/or election postcard (JPG) to friends, and urge them to vote. Or ask friends to visit www.SaveKPFA.org or call us at (510) 969-9373 to learn more.

LSB supports bylaws changes to make boards smaller; rejects censorship

Good news from KPFA’s local board meeting on December 1: members voted to support Pacifica bylaws reforms which would reduce the size of the Local Station Boards from 24 to 16, and Pacifica National Board from 22 to 17. These changes, if accepted by a majority of the other local boards, will save the network money and begin to streamline governance.

Board members also discussed the initiating role of KPFA staff in the highly successful fundraiser for Pacifica’s WBAI, hit hard by Superstorm Sandy. In a tremendous show of solidarity, all five Pacifica stations pitched in for a national day of fundraising November 15, raising over $180,000 to keep WBAI from going off the air.

“It was really beautiful,” said Pacifica/KPFA board member and Letters & Politics producer Laura Prives. “We can survive if we do good radio.” | LISTEN to Prives audio, followed by interim manager Andrew Phillips thanking KPFA’s staff (2 min)

The meeting’s last hour wasn’t quite as inspirational. Board member Andrea Prichett of the United for Community Radio (UCR) slate brought a resolution targeting the staff website, KPFAWorker.org. Prichett, backed by Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg and staff rep Anthony Fest, has been conducting what some have called a “witch hunt” against the website for months.

“They don’t seem to understand either the First Amendment or labor law, under which such worker organizing is protected concerted activity,” according to one KPFA staffer, who preferred to remain anonymous, given the station’s history of firing outspoken workers.

Board member Dan Siegel, a civil rights attorney affiliated with SaveKPFA, eloquently laid out the movement history that Prichett and her allies were missing, respectfully asking her to withdraw the motion. SaveKPFA-affiliated board member Conn Hallinan, who ran the journalism program at UC Santa Cruz for two decades, said Rosenberg’s and Prichett’s lack of understanding of free speech and differences of opinion was “stunning” as well as “scary — since we’re talking about KPFA.”

The resolution went down to defeat, though every UCR-affiliated board member continued to support it.

LISTEN to Siegel on organizing history (2 min audio) &  Hallinan on free speech (1:30 min). You can also listen to the entire LSB meeting here: part 1 (public comment, iGM report, treasurer’s report) | part 2 (Pacifica bylaws) | part 3 (free speech and workers’ rights)