Pacifica board votes 11-5 to censure Gray and Uzzell for role in secret contract

gotethicsThe Pacifica National Board (PNB) voted 11-5 on August 14 to censure members Heather Gray (affiliates rep) and Richard Uzzell (KPFT) “for the illegal, unauthorized, and irresponsible act of signing a secret contract with the former Interim Executive Director Summer Reese, which they dated January 30, 2014 and in which they made promises that exceeded the terms approved by the PNB, and which a judge has affirmed is invalid. Their action, the ill will and controversy it caused, and the continuing costs to defend against a lawsuit in which the false contract was used have caused serious damage to the Foundation.” | BACKGROUND on the secret contract here

During discussion of the motion made by board member Adriana Casenave (KPFT), SaveKPFA member and elected Pacifica financial chair Brian Edwards-Tiekert (KPFA) called their actions “an astonishing abdication of any commitment to the well-being” of Pacifica. The five members who voted against the censure motion were Heather Gray (affiliates), Richard Uzzell (KPFT), Janet Coleman (WBAI), Janet Kobren (KPFA) and Kim Kaufman (KPFK). | LISTEN to audio of Edwards-Tiekert (1:30 min); the entire board discussion is near the end this recording.

Uzzell is currently facing an effort to recall him from the Pacifica National Board at his home station of KPFT in Houston. Gray will face re-election in December, when the same board that voted to censure her will decide whether she can continue to represent Pacifica’s affiliate stations.

RELATED STORIES:  Pacifica: putting the pieces back together (includes financial report) | Lawyer representing board minority jumps ship | Finally, local control at KPFA

Local board elects SaveKPFA reps to nearly all leadership positions

Return KPFA to us nowWhile Pacifica’s old guard is desperately clinging to its power at the national level, KPFA’s local board is moving forward.

The first new Local Station Board (LSB) in more than two years took office at its January 12 meeting. In December, SaveKPFA‘s candidates won a landslide in elections – a majority that was reflected in the local election of board officers and delegates to the Pacifica National Board (PNB).

Burton White was elected chair of the local board, and Carole Travis, vice-chair. Craig Alderson was elected secretary. Barbara Whipperman continued as the appointed treasurer. Margy Wilkinson, Dan Siegel, and Brian Edwards-Tiekert were elected as delegates to the Pacifica National Board. All 7 are SaveKPFA activists.

The proportional voting system gave local board members aligned with United for Community Radio the ability to elect a single delegate, and they did so by voting  Tracy Rosenberg into the fourth KPFA delegate position to the Pacifica board. Last fall, Rosenberg sued over a technicality to prevent votes in the recall against her from being counted. Her allies on the Pacifica board majority failed to remedy Pacifica’s error, so the ballots remain uncounted.

Last month’s election was the first held since Pacifica’s former executive director Arlene Engelhardt overrode KPFA’s local management, purged the station’s popular Morning Show, replaced it with an all-volunteer lineup, and then put notorious union-busting law firm Jackson Lewis on retainer to deal with the backlash. In 2012, the PNB decided to let Engelhardt’s employment contract expire. The board is currently considering how to move forward to find a new executive director.

Audio of the LSB meeting is available here: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4 | part 5 | part 6

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)

Why this vote matters

Dan Siegel“The result of these elections could determine whether Pacifica survives or continues its slide into bankruptcy,” writes Pacifica National Board member and SaveKPFA activist Dan Siegel in Counterpunch.

“Pacifica has always been fractious, back to when KPFA was founded as its first station in 1949,” he continues, going on to describe the network’s current leadership as “inept and politically sectarian.” That leadership, he writes, “has brought the Foundation to its knees. It has spent down all its reserves, incurring cumulative deficits of $5.7 million in the last four fiscal years, according to its 2012 audit report.” | READ Siegel’s article and this overview of Pacifica’s audit

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!

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.

For real change, vote for all 9 SaveKPFA candidates in KPFA’s local board election

KPFA on the air

Art by Bob Baldock for the film "KPFA on the Air"

[UPDATE: Ballots in the KPFA election mailed Nov 6 from New York. If you don’t get yours by Nov 13, email election@kpfa.org and request a duplicate ballot. Votes are due Dec 11.] Check out the 9 wonderful activists running as SaveKPFA candidates in this fall’s KPFA Local Station Board Election: Craig Alderson, Paula Errkila, Jose Luis Fuentes-Roman, Kate Gowen, Mark Hernandez, Dan Siegel, Carole Travis, Barbara Whipperman and Burton White.

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

Read SaveKPFA‘s election platform, What We Stand For, which includes: • Restore local control at KPFA • Ensure high quality, progressive programming • Respect KPFA’s listeners • Support KPFA’s staff • Require transparency and accountability from Pacifica.

Please distribute widely — let your friends and neighbors know that this vote will be crucial for KPFA’s future. Let’s elect all 9 SaveKPFA candidates and get KPFA and the Pacifica network back on track!

We welcome endorsements from all members of the KPFA community – listeners, staff, writers, artists, community and labor activists, etc.  Click here to add your name.