“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.