Protect local control. In 2014, SaveKPFA led the effort that put KPFA back under the control of locally-hired management for the first time in 5 years — resulting in the recruitment of a talented General Manager, and a permanent Program Director hired by, and accountable to, KPFA’s elected local board.
Ensure high-quality, progressive programming . In 2010, SaveKPFA campaigned to reverse Pacifica’s cancellation of KPFA’s most listened-to local program, The Morning Show; in 2012, we supported the launch of UpFront, restoring local programming to KPFA’s morning lineup
Support staff and volunteers. SaveKPFA led the successful fight to reverse Pacifica’s 2011 hiring of the nation’s top union-busting law firm; SaveKPFA members have also raised money to update aging equipment in KPFA’s studios, and established a training fund for volunteer staff in KPFA’s budget.
Transparency and accountability from Pacifica . SaveKPFA’s representatives on the Pacifica National Board are part of a new majority that has begun issuing regular financial statements for the first time in nearly three years, dramatically shrunk Pacifica’s deficit (from -$2.8 million in 2013 to a small surplus in the 12 months ending in June 2015), and rationalized (and lowered) the dues that stations like KPFA pay to Pacifica’s National Office.
Experiment with new shows; expand into new platforms. Under SaveKPFA leadership, KPFA budgeted for, and carried out, a re-design of its website that makes it more accessible on mobile devices–which is where more and more radio listeners are turning to get their favority shows. KPFA has also started using its second signal, KPFB, to pilot 20 hours of programming per week from new, energetic producers.
Reform Pacifica’s Byzantine Governance System. We believe Pacifica’s acrimonious boards have generated many of its problems. SaveKPFA participated in cross-factional dialogue talks this year, and now endorses the Pacifica Unity Pledge, which commits us to participating in a network-wide consensus-building process with the goal of making Pacifica’s governance system simpler, effective, smaller, and calmer.
These Candidates are endorsed by SaveKPFA in 2015:
Click on each name to read their Candidate Statement
Margy Wilkinson served as Chair of KPFA’s Local Station Board from 2011-2012, Chair of the Pacifica National Board in 2014 and 2015, and as Pacifica’s volunteer Interim Executive Director for nearly a year. She is a lifelong activist and organizer, and served as the chief rank-and-file bargainer for a union representing over 17,000 employees in the University of California system.
Sasha Futran is a community activist who served on KPFA’s local board from 2006-12, serving as Chair in 2010. In the past, she’s worked as a journalist in print and broadcasting, mostly for alternative newspapers and public radio and TV.
Barbara Whippperman has served as Treasurer of KPFA’s Local Station Board from 2011-2015, fighting for local control over KPFA’s finances — and eventually winning!
William Campisi is an attorney who represents injured patients in claims against doctors and hospitals; he was also a volunteer at KPFA in the 1970s.
David Lynch is a software engineer, compulsive podcast listener, and staunch supporter of the KPFA news team.
Leland Thompson is an Oakland native, a professional leadership coach, and a black independent business owner committed to improving KPFA’s fundraising and growing its audience.
Yuri Gottesman worked in the labor movement for more than 8 years, first as an organizer, then as an attorney. He now operates a small business in Berkeley teaching test preparation to adults.
Hilmon Sorey has spent the last 15 years as a consultant building non-profits and businesses in the Bay Area, including leading advertising, events and circulation at what was (at the time) the fastest-growing newspaper in the Bay Area. He also serves as Chair of Oakland’s Museum of Children’s Arts.
But to get them elected, we’ll need your vote, and that means you’ll need a ballot.
To be eligible to vote, you have to have given at least $25 to KPFA in the year ending this Tuesday, July 14.
Not sure whether your last donation was recent enough? The best way to make sure you get a ballot is to donate right now at https://secure.kpfa.org/support/
We’ve made great progress, but we need your help to keep it up
SaveKPFA came together as an organization devoted to supporting KPFA’s paid and unpaid staff, securing local control of our radio station, winning accountability and transparency from Pacifica (the nonprofit corporation that owns KPFA), and getting terrific programming onto the air.
We won control of KPFA’s Local Board the same year that Pacifica’s then-leadership sidelined KPFA’s listeners and local management by canceling KPFA’s much-loved Morning Show, and attempting to purge its staff.
Since then, we’ve changed the leadership at Pacifica, helped repair KPFA’s morning lineup, recruited permanent, stable management for KPFA, and started to stabilize Pacifica’s financial problems. Check out our history at saveKPFA.org.
That work has finally resulted in real progress at KPFA: our station launched a spiffy new website this spring that’s optimized for use on mobile devices (where larger and larger numbers of people are getting their media). Management freed up space for new voices by piloting 20 hours of new programming on its second signal, KPFB. And, finally, KPFA has started to shrink the length of its fund drives. (Just last week, KPFA General Manager Quincy McCoy announced we’re able to cancel KPFA’s Summer Fund Drive–for the first time in 15 years!)
Everything we’ve achieved over the past several years has been made possible by thousands of mobilized listeners like you: who turned out at demonstrations to win back control of KPFA, who dug deep during fund drives when KPFA was on the brink, and who delivered landslide victories to SaveKPFA in successive listener elections.
If you support that progress — and you’d like to see more — show your support and secure your ballot by donating NOW at https://secure.kpfa.org/support.
The Pacifica Foundation has asked the Alameda County Superior Court for a Temporary Restraining Order to remove former executive Summer Reese and her supporters from the Pacifica National Office in Berkeley, next door to KPFA. [Update: the court has continued this case to May 6 at 10am]
After a new majority took control at the Pacifica National Board this spring and terminated her employment, a disgruntled Reese broke into the office with bolt cutters and began sleeping there with her mother and a handful of supporters, illegally blocking the network’s elected directors from access, making wild accusations, and preventing the network from conducting business.
The case will be heard by Judge Ioana Petrou on Monday, April 28 at 9:00 AM in Dept 15 of the County Administration Bldg, 1221 Oak Street (3rd floor), downtown Oakland. SaveKPFA supporters are encouraged to attend.
“The Board and the public are suffering irreparable damage,” notes the legal case filed by the Pacifica Foundation on Friday, causing a “loss of good will, donations, and work hours.” It states that Reese’s actions “unquestionably violate state law and local ordinances,” and that Pacifica’s board sought the assistance of the Berkeley Police Department, which “after weeks of considering the matter, requested that [Pacifica] obtain a Court order to abate the nuisance.” |LEGAL DOCUMENTS: Memorandum for TRO, Yee declaration, Wilkinson declaration, Verified cross-complaint, Application for TRO, Order to show cause
The complaint also notes that Reese and her supporters have prevented Pacifica’s elected chair, Margy Wilkinson, and its CFO, Raul Salvador, “from having access to the accounts payable and financial data to begin the Foundation’s audit….”
“The havoc caused by Reese and her supporters could very well bring this financially-fragile network down,” said Donald Goldmacher, a member of KPFA’s Local Station Board, and producer of the film Heist: Who Stole the American Dream?
Pacifica responds to lawsuit from 9 Reese supporters, says case has no merit
Pacifica’s board has also filed a response to a rambling lawsuit from 9 Reese supporters, who last month slapped the network with the suit in an attempt to force it to rehire Reese. Those 9 Reese supporters lost the first round, when Superior Court Judge Ioana Petrou denied them a TRO on April 9.
The Pacifica board’s response starts with a clear statement of facts about Reese’s employment and why she was terminated. It states Reese was not in possession of a valid contract because several preconditions were not met. The contract she has publicly released, Pacifica’s response states, signed by two of her supporters, was not authorized by the national board, and when presented to the full board for a vote, was rejected.
Pacifica’s response also points out many logical inconsistencies in the Reese supporters’ case. For instance, that they failed to follow basic procedures set out in the organization’s bylaws for remedying disagreements, which are supposed to be taken up by the board itself before landing in a court of law. And that in suing Pacifica, the 9 Reese supporters are effectively suing themselves since they sit on the Pacifica board. | LEGAL DOCUMENT: Response to pro-Reese lawsuit
As Pacifica National Board chair Margy Wilkinson has said, she hopes the judge’s initial ruling against the 9 pro-Reese directors would encourage them “to express dissent with their voices and their votes, not litigation. Pacifica is in a fragile state, and can’t afford the time or expense of this lawsuit.”
So far, over 800 of Pacifica’s listeners and staff have signed an open letter essentially saying the same thing. Signers include Sasha Lilly, co-host, Against the Grain, former Pacifica National Affairs correspondent Larry Bensky, UC faculty Candace Falk and John Hurst, free speech activist Lynne Hollander Savio, community activist Ying Lee, UpFront’s Brian Edwards-Tiekert, former Pacifica board chair Sherry Gendelman, KPFA’s Aileen Alfandary, labor journalist David Bacon, PM Press founder Ramsey Kanaan, Alameda County School superintendent Sheila Jordan, KPFA’s Philip Maldari, former KPFA GM Jim Bennett and former KPFA iGM Andrew Phillips, KPFK’s Jim Lafferty of the Lawyer’s Guild Show and Ian Masters of Background Briefing, KPFA programmers Sandy Miranda, Derk Richardson, Saadia Malik, David Gans, Tim Lynch, Vanessa Tait, Judith Scherr, Richard Wolinsky and many, many others.
Many have added comments, like KFCF listener Richard Stone. “KPFA has been a broadcasting treasure, Pacifica its caretaker,” Stone writes to the pro-Reese group. “Do not destroy this bastion of radio sanity by selfish action.”
The plaintiffs are Janet Coleman (WBAI), Carolyn Birden (WBAI), Manijeh Saba (WBAI), Luzette King (WPFW), Richard Uzzell (KPFT), Kim Kaufman (KPFK), Janet Kobren (KPFA), Heather Grey (Affiliates) and Janis Lane-Ewert (Affiliates). They were out-voted when the new Pacifica majority began making changes last month, such as renewing its programming and listener base, and terminating interim executive director Summer Reese, who reacted by breaking into Pacifica’s offices with bolt cutters and refusing to leave. Coverage appeared in the San Jose Mercury News and Reuters, among other places.
Those suing had gone to court without following basic due process requirements: they didn’t communicate their intent to file a lawsuit beforehand; they didn’t even serve notice on the board members they are suing.
They had so badly mangled the procedural part of filing the lawsuit, that Judge Ioana Petrou didn’t even get into the merits of their argument. She denied their motion for a Temporary Restraining Order, and scheduled the next phase of the lawsuit — a preliminary injunction hearing — for May 6.
At one point, the plaintiffs’ attorney, Amy Sommer Anderson, asked for more time. “On very short notice, you put this on my calendar” the judge chastised her.
Pacifica National Board chair Margy Wilkinson said, “I hope today’s decision will encourage the plaintiffs to express dissent with their voices and their votes, not litigation. Pacifica is in a fragile state, and can’t afford the time or expense of this lawsuit.”
[UPDATE 4/9/14 @10:05 am: The national board minority’s attempt to get a Temporary Restraining Order to allow Reese to keep her job has been DENIED by the Alameda County Superior Court. More news as we have it.]
Pacifica’s former interim executive director, Summer Reese, remains barricaded in her former office, which she broke into with bolt cutters four days after the elected Pacifica National Board voted 11-7 to end her employment. In violation of California law, she’s still illegally blocking elected members of Pacifica’s Board of Directors from entering the premises to look at financial records.
Over the past week, Reese made moves to sabotage Pacifica’s funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting by complaining to the organization’s Inspector General about financial problems that either took place while she was running the organization, or that she failed to fix during her tenure. Reese has also signed a lengthy declaration as part of vague, rambling lawsuit against Pacifica brought by her supporters on the national board (Carolyn Birden, Janet Coleman, Heather Gray, Kim Kaufman, Luzette King, Janet Kobren, Janis Lane-Ewart, Manijeh Saba and Richard Uzzell).
Not coincidentally, on the day those board members filed suit against Pacifica, they also filibustered a meeting of the Pacifica National Board that was intended to retain counsel for the foundation — an apparent attempt to sabotage the foundation’s ability to defend itself. National board members reported that the litigants were so disruptive in the closed portion of the meeting that they prevented the board from even approving its agenda before its mandatory adjournment time.
Terminated interim executive Summer Reese and her supporters have been generating prodigious amounts of misinformation, from wild allegations of corruption that she never raised before her termination, to breathless reports of police interventions that never actually occurred. The treasurer of the KPFA local station board has released a statement rebutting Reese’s charges of financial improprieties. All of KPFA’s financial information is publicly available.
SaveKPFA has prepared a concise Q&A that cuts through the smoke and deliberate obfuscation that seem to be a standard part of Reese’s game plan. The Q&A is also available as a PDF flyer you can download and distribute.
What you can do: Join the over 600 Pacifica network staff and listeners who have signed this open letter demanding Summer Reese leave peacefully. Signatories include former Pacifica National Affairs correspondent Larry Bensky, community activist Ying Lee, KPFA’s UpFront’s Brian Edwards-Tiekert, former Pacifica board chair Sherry Gendelman, KPFA’s Aileen Alfandary, labor journalist David Bacon, Alameda County School superintendent Sheila Jordan, KPFA’s Philip Maldari, former KPFA GM Jim Bennett and former KPFA iGM Andrew Phillips.
Comments by petition signers have been pointed. Listener Benjamin Balthaser wrote, “I am embarrassed by the actions of Reese and hope the station returns to its mission of providing critical and informative programming.” Lee Block wrote, “Pretty selfish of you to bring down the whole network because you feel dissed. You’re as bad as a Koch Brother.”
“This destructive behavior serves no purpose,” noted listener Saraswathi Devi. Listener and Free Speech Movement activist Lynne Hollander Savio captured the conclusion many observers have reached: “Unbelievable behavior, which just confirms the wisdom of the Board’s decision.” You can add your own name and comments here. | DOWNLOAD PDF FLYER OF OPEN LETTER
“This action reaches new levels of absurdity,” writes KPFA listener Catherine Bell to terminated exec Summer Reese, on a petition that has gathered over 500 signatures — and counting — in less than 72 hours. Listener Sandra Douglas writes to Pacifica’s fired executive: “Please, Please, Please stop your willful intent of the destruction of Pacifica.” And another listener, Sarah Kulberg, says: “Please, for the sake of Free Speech Radio, honor the process, and remove yourself from the office.” | ADD YOUR NAME
“What are you accomplishing by locking yourself in the Pacifica office? You need to leave peacefully NOW,” writes listener Jane Kelsberg. “The shredding van pulling up to Pacifica office looks rather suspicious indeed,” says Bruce Campell, another signatory.
Meanwhile, local board members and staff are circulating this letter, saying Reese’s actions have been “unethical” and “improper,” and calling on her to allow an open and honest discussion of her claims.
“The Pacifica Radio network is as fragile as it is important — it cannot afford this protracted disruption,” reads a petition launched by the network’s listeners and staff, addressed to terminated executive Summer Reese, who has barricaded herself in the national office next door to KPFA with her mother and a handful of supporters.
“Please respect the decision by the majority of the elected Pacifica National Board, stop blocking elected board members’ access to financial records, leave Pacifica’s offices peacefully, and help make Pacifica’s leadership transition a smooth one,” the petition continues.
Early signatories include former Pacifica National Affairs correspondent Larry Bensky, long-time community activist Ying Lee, KPFA’s UpFront co-host Brian Edwards-Tiekert, and former Pacifica board chair Sherry Gendelman, who called Reese’s actions a “breach of trust of the listeners.” | JOIN THEM BY SIGNING HERE (and please circulate to your lists)
Since Reese broke into Pacifica Offices with bolt cutters on March 17, four days after being terminated, newly-elected Pacifica National Board chair Margy Wilkinson has responded with restraint — attempting to meet, and asking that she vacate the office and that all keys, codes, digital equipment and cell phone be returned. Wilkinson is a former union negotiator and long-time community activist in Berkeley.
Pacifica staff attempt to shred documents, attract police attention
Media were drawn to the scene this past Monday, after an industrial shredding van pulled up outside the Pacifica office and KPFA’s workers began to ask questions, according to the SF Weekly.
The San Jose Mercury News reports that a Berkeley police officer stopped to investigate the scene after a Reese supporter began yelling at observers on the sidewalk.
“When the van driver for the shredding service emerged with Pacifica’s office manager,” said Pacifica chair Margy Wilkinson, “I asked her for a list of the items to be shredded, as required by Pacifica policy, and even offered to make such a list myself if it would help.”
The request for the shredding equipment was made March 21, five days into the illegal lock-out. Wilkinson had already asked staff to refrain from destroying any records, notes the SF Weekly. In her short time on the job, Wilkinson has discovered many large unpaid bills that were not previously reported to the national board or the public. Pacifica’s documents were returned to the office.
“Who knows what mischief Reese and her supporters are up to in the Pacifica National Office?” said volunteer KPFA music programmer Tim Lynch. “They are denying entry to elected national board members, which is strictly forbidden by the California Corporations Code.”
Not the attention Pacifica needs
Reuters confirms that Reese was fired by the Pacifica National Board on March 13 by a vote of 11 to 7. The board has declined to comment on the matter, citing employment confidentiality concerns, but PNB chair Wilkinson told Reuters, “I think [Reese’s] response since she has been terminated totally validates the decision to terminate her,” adding that the board “took an action that was appropriate and necessary.” Wilkinson said the board was carefully considering legal options, and met tonight to consider how to move forward.
Coverage by Oakland’s KTVU shows very few people in Pacifica’s offices. “You’re going to crush my arm! Don’t break my arm!” exclaims KTVU reporter Patti Lee to Reese’s mother as she tries to enter the almost-empty office through a heavily fortified door for an interview.
Reese’s action, sadly, has become an example for a national employment law firm’s blog, which cited her misconduct to illustrate what can go wrong when firing employees.
Meanwhile, Reese continues to send out a thick daily stream of completely fabricated “information” about the situation. The latest: her claim that water was turned off in the Pacifica office, when in reality it was an outage related to utility work.
Late last week, the Pacifica National Board (PNB), the governing body of the nonprofit that owns KPFA, voted to end the employment of then-interim executive director Summer Reese.
Because the board did not immediately appoint a new interim executive director, the person in charge this week has been, per California law, the new PNB board chair, Margy Wilkinson.
Margy served as KPFA’s Local Station Board chair before becoming a Pacifica board member. She has a long history as a labor, civil rights and anti-war activist, serving on the City of Berkeley’s Labor Commission, and as the chief rank-and-file bargainer for a union representing University of California employees. Wilkinson was elected to chair the Pacifica board last month, after new delegates took their seats and began setting a new direction for Pacifica.
Wilkinson reports that the managers of the five stations Pacifica owns are working with her to straighten out the network’s difficulty getting funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — something that festered for over a year under Reese, delaying nearly $1 million in payments.
Early in the week, Wilkinson told staff that she won’t accept pay, thinks it’s been a bad practice to move board members into management positions (which is how Reese came to power), and asked the PNB to appoint a qualified interim executive director quickly. Last night, the board met in executive session and issued a public report that it will offer the job to a specific individual, but for confidentiality reasons, it did not release the name.
Ex-manager locks out elected board members, KPFA staff
Wilkinson also reports that since Reese broke into Pacifica’s office last week by using bolt cutters to open the front door, she is sleeping in her former office and refusing to leave. Pacifica’s offices are in the KPFA building, provided rent-free to the network by KPFA.
UpFront co-host Brian Edwards-Tiekert, currently serving as a staff rep on the Pacifica National Board, said a handful of supporters of Reese blocked him and Wilkinson from entering the building: “As an elected member of Pacifica’s Board of Directors, I have a right under California law and Pacifica’s bylaws to inspect the premises, and look at financial records.”
In other words: this is a former manager locking out the elected representatives of KPFA’s workers and listeners. That’s consistent with Reese’s heavy-handed tactics when she was a manager: Reese purged more Pacifica employees than any interim executive director in recent memory.
Last spring, over the near-unanimous objections of KPFA’s staff and elected board, she drove out KPFA manager Andrew Phillips, who had won the respect of nearly everyone at KPFA. She also replaced every single member of Pacifica’s national staff, and forced onto the airwaves of some Pacifica stations heavy doses of snake oil from dubious fundraisers like HIV denialist Gary Null (thankfully, she’s not managed to get him onto KPFA.)
Summer Reese came to the Pacifica board via sister station KPFK in Los Angeles. She is a close ally of former Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg, and was appointed by last year’s board as the network’s interim executive director at a salary of $105,000. (That’s higher that former ED Arlene Engelhardt‘s salary, which was $90,000.)
According to a new article in the LA Weekly, Reese’s break-in at the Pacifica office included lawsuit threats. The article charts Reese’s background, which “includes stints working for the lawyer of Sirhan Sirhan, and for a man named Peymon Mottahedeh, a non-lawyer who nevertheless founded the Freedom Law School, which claims to help clients avoid taxes.”
KPFK host Peter Z. Scheer didn’t comment directly on Reese in Truthdig, but notes that “The oldest public radio network in America is in trouble…Get involved, find out what is going on, and make a difference.”
“I’m appalled that a person who has done so much damage to our station and network is now refusing to leave after the board has ended her contract,” wrote KPFA listener Eva Kellen to the board. “Reese and Rosenberg, et al., have practically destroyed the Pacifica network, and the unfounded rumors they are now spreading are outrageous. My deep appreciation to the listeners and staff who are trying to get the network back on course. Pacifica is a treasure that needs to be preserved, now more than ever.”