Anti-dissent measure on Pacifica’s Jan 10 agenda

Tell Pacifica: Don't Ban Dissent!On less than four days’ notice, the lame-duck Pacifica National Board has scheduled a vote on a resolution designed to prevent people who dissent from the current majority from serving on local or national boards.

After we alerted SaveKPFA supporters to this, hundreds wrote, calling the measure what it is: a political witchhunt.

“I’m stunned that a measure about ‘loyalty’ should even be considered by a Pacifica board,” wrote listener Alan Snitow. “Please stop this measure and repudiate its intent. The loyalty measure is the kind of pseudo-leftwing idea that merges Stalinism and McCarthyism.”

“How can you dare to try to turn Pacifica into a grotesque caricature of the reactionary tendencies KPFA was founded to oppose?” wrote listener Stephanie Reader. “This Orwellian ‘loyalty measure’ is yet more appalling evidence of how far over to the dark side some on the Pacifica board have drifted in their determination to run it without input from those who do the work, and those who pay the bills.”

The Pacifica’s board referred the matter to legal counsel for an opinion. That opinion has not been made public, but the “loyalty” proposal has reappeared on the agenda on the next Pacifica National Board phone meeting this Thursday, January 10, starting at 5:30 PM Pacific time. Anyone may listen to the live web-broadcast of the meeting at this link or this link.

ACTION ALERT: Please take a moment to send an email to Pacifica’s board demanding they reject this “loyalty” measure. Use our sample message, or write your own. | CLICK HERE TO SEND AN EMAIL

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

Although Pacifica’s Bylaws require the incumbent national board be replaced by newly-elected members this month, the incumbent boardmembers have unilaterally extended their own terms by delaying the first meeting of the incoming PNB until February. They may be hoping that buys them time to do more damage: the anti-dissent resolution appears at the top of a 10-page agenda stacked with items that promise to eviscerate local control at Pacifica’s stations and place massive bureaucratic constraints on the work of the network’s rank-and-file staff.

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.

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)