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)

Surprising developments at the PNB meeting in Berkeley

PNB meeting audienceKPFA listeners and staff filled the July 20-23 meeting of the Pacifica National Board (PNB) in Berkeley past capacity, spilling into the hallway during public portions of the meeting. Listeners came from all over the broadcast area — Santa Rosa, Petaluma, San Jose, Oakland, and even Fresno and Los Angeles.

Dozens spoke up eloquently during public comment, opposing more cuts at KPFA, criticizing Pacifica’s current leadership, and challenging Pacifica Treasurer Tracy Rosenberg on her unproven budget claims.

“We need quality programming in order to keep listeners and subscribers,” long-time listener Ellen Jennings told the board. “I don’t believe KPFA can survive without quality programming such as UpFront, Letters & Politics, Against the Grain and the KPFA News team.”

6-10AM weekday fundraising averagesKPFA staff passed out this flyer explaining how further cuts to KPFA would hurt the entire network. One of several unpaid programmers who spoke, Glenn Reeder, said that austerity measures like the layoffs Pacifica was proposing “don’t improve institutions in the red — investing in people does.” Many of those present had already read the recent independent audits of Pacifica, showing a healthy KPFA, but massive financial problems in the mismanaged Pacifica National Office and at WBAI, the network’s New York station.

Listener Kate Gowen said that the conflict around the station had “laid bare two very different visions of what KPFA should be, and how the role of the National Board is to be defined.” Programmer Sasha Lilley told the board it would not solve Pacifica’s financial woes by cutting paid staff, because that would result in a loss of income and listenership, as happened the last time.

For many on the national board, it was the first time they’d seen KPFA’s listeners or staff face-to-face. And what a difference it made! Here are some major developments from the weekend’s meeting.

Victory: layoffs less likely at KPFA

Pacifica management had been trying to impose $1 million of cuts on its stations, and had been pressuring KPFA to reduce staffing by $300,000 – which could cost the station 7 to 8 positions, enough to take several programs off the air. Sasha Lilley at PNBPacifica management was insisting on the cuts even though KPFA is on track to have a six-figure budget surplus this year.

On the first day of its four-day meeting, the PNB took up a resolution by KPFA staff rep Laura Prives that called on Pacifica’s executives to disclose how much they wanted each station manager to cut, and to explain the rationale for demanding those cuts. Incredibly, Tracy Rosenberg and her board allies voted against this straightforward, sensible resolution, and as a 10 to 10 tie, it failed. The next morning, a lengthy resolution from Rosenberg that gave a free hand to Pacifica to cut wherever it wanted, also failed by a 10 to 10 vote

But then, things changed. During public discussions, it became clear that Pacifica’s executives — Arlene Engelhardt, the executive director, and LaVarn Williams, the CFO — couldn’t explain why they decided the stations should take $1 million in cuts. They had done no analysis on how layoffs might hurt fundraising efforts, and couldn’t articulate any plan for financial recovery. Public testimony from KPFA’s listeners and staff against further cuts was compelling and seemed to sway some board members.

On Monday, the PNB overwhelmingly passed a resolution by KPFA representative Dan Siegel calling on station managers to assess their individual financial situations, and submit financial plans for timely payments of all their bills. This is an important step forward for local control.

Siegel says the resolution commits Pacifica to a budget process that relies on “station management to monitor and control their budgets. This is just the first step. Somehow the National Office allowed $2 million in unpaid bills, including about $1.5 million to Democracy Now!, to accumulate,” said Siegel. “We have to figure out a way to pay off these bills without undermining the functioning of our stations. The third priority is to finally deal with WBAI’s $800,000 in annual rent, which has weighed down the entire network for years. I am pushing for a quick solution that involves moving to a cheaper location in New Jersey, Queens or Brooklyn, and use of a different broadcast tower,” Siegel added.

So long, Arlene Engelhardt?

Mitch Jeserich at PNBSaveKPFA readers will remember Arlene Engelhardt: she’s the heavy-handed Pacifica manager who killed the Morning Show — at the time, KPFA’s most popular program and the station’s biggest fundraiser — and then refused pledges of over $60,000 from KPFA listeners who wanted to help. LaVarn Williams is the network’s CFO.

After a long, closed-door session, PNB chair Summer Reese read this statement: “At its meeting on July 22, the Pacifica National Board decided to open searches for the positions of Foundation Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer. The contractual terms of the incumbents, Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt and Chief Financial Officer LaVarn Williams, conclude on November 30, 2012. The Board invited Ms. Engelhardt and Ms. Williams to apply for new terms in their positions.”

margy with crowdKPFA’s local board chair Margy Wilkinson commented after the meeting: “We’ll need to talk about what this means, but I’d like to think that a majority of the PNB recognize that Pacifica is in terrible shape and these two executives cannot provide the leadership to begin to solve the problem. We’ll have to keep talking but I’m feeling better about Pacifica than I have in a long time.”

This good news is due to the hard work, persistence and support of the thousands of you who have signed petitions, sent emails, joined protests, and attended meetings. Thank you!

Support KPFA’s fund drive

kpfa logoRight now, the most important thing you can do to fight cuts to the programs you care about is to donate to KPFA’s Summer Mini-Fund Drive currently underway so the station stays in the black.

PLEASE NOTE: this fund drive is the last chance you have to become a KPFA member or renew your membership in time to vote in the upcoming general elections. SaveKPFA will be fielding a set of candidates, and we’ll need your vote. But you can’t vote if you haven’t donated, so please pledge at least $25 now!

KPFA’s local board chair urges YES vote

Original KPFA radio dial, circa 1949

Original KPFA radio dial, circa 1949

“Let me paint a picture of where KPFA is now — because it should concern all of us — no matter which side we’re on,” writes Margy Wilkinson, chair of KPFA’s local board in an open letter to listeners. Wilkinson cites evidence of the dramatic loss of listenership following Pacifica management’s purging of the station’s most listened-to program, the Morning Show, produced by a crew of young, diverse journalists. What follows is a tale of stunningly undemocratic dirty-tricks, financial mismanagement and anti-union maneuvers that have caused KPFA listeners to demand an immediate change in Pacifica’s management — starting with the recall of Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg. | READ WILKINSON’S  ENTIRE LETTER

We endorse YES on the KPFA recall!

Thanks to a grassroots campaign to return local control to KPFA, Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg is facing a recall endorsed by a long list of community activists,  listeners and staff. Ballots must be RECEIVED by AUG. 3 at: KPFA Recall Election, P.O. Box 11708, Berkeley, CA 94712 | Ballot info | BREAKING NEWS: Goodbye Arlene Engelhardt? Great news from the Pacifica National Board meeting in Berkeley | KPFA’s budget surplus and Pacifica’s audit: learn more

We urge you to VOTE YES on the recall!
(this is a partial list, see full list here)

ACT UP EAST BAY
AILEEN ALFANDARY, co-director, KPFA News
EMILY ALMA, Chico Peace and Justice Center, Butte Environmental Council, Occupy Chico, Chico Palestine Action Group
DR. NANCY ARVOLD, psychologist, social activist, feminist
L. AYRES-FREDERICK, Artistic Director, Phoenix Arts Association Theatre
TINA BACHEMIN, KPFA reporter
DAVID BACON, labor correspondent, former KPFA Morning Show; TNG/ CWA Local 39521
BOB BALDOCK, KPFA Public Events Producer
VIC BEDOIANPacifica Evening News Central Valley reporter, Fresno
JIM BENNETT, Former Interim General Manager, KPFA, Former Pacifica National Board Member, Former Operations Director, KPFA
LARRY BENSKY, Pacifica National Affairs correspondent (1987-2007)
LAYNA BERMAN, unpaid weekly programmer
IAN BOAL, social historian of the commons
SUMMER BRENNER, author, Richmond Tales, and community activist
MALCOLM BURNSTEIN, KPFA board member and retired civil rights lawyer
SCOTT CAMIL, Activist
CATHY CAMPBELL, president, Berkeley Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1078
CLAIRE CUMMINGS, former Food and Farming editor, KPFA
LAWRENCE DAVIDSON, former co-host of KPFA’s Probabilities
JIM DAVIS, filmmaker, Meeting Room
JANE DICKSON, artist
PAMELA DRAKE, Oakland activist, KPFA Local Station Board member
ELLEN DUBROWIN, listener, former programmer & off-air staff (unpaid)
STEVE EARLY, labor journalist (CounterPunch), TNG/ CWA Local 39521
BRIAN EDWARDS-TIEKERT, KPFA News
BARBARA EPSTEIN, professor, History of Consciousness, UCSC
JAN ETRE, Crafts Fair Coordinator
DANA FRANK, Professor, History, UC Santa Cruz, AFT 1299
JULIANA FREDMAN, public interest attorney and activist
JON FROMER, singer/songwriter, NABET/CWA Local 51 shop steward
GLORIA FRYM, writer
SASHA FUTRAN, member, KPFA local station board
DAVID GANS, music programmer, KPFA board member
SHERRY GENDELMAN, attorney, former chair, KPFA board; former chair, Pacifica National Board
PAUL GEORGE, director, Peninsula Peace and Justice Center
SUZANNE GORDON, journalist and author, NWU/UAW
ANDREJ GRUBACIC, anarchist historian, author of Wobblies and Zapatistas
MIGUEL GUERRERO, KPFA web producer, producer of Rock en Rebelion
CONN HALLINAN, foreign policy analyst, Foreign Policy In Focus, Institute for Policy Study, columnist, LSB member
MATTHEW HALLINAN, listener rep, KPFA Local Station Board
JOHN HAMILTON, KPFA News anchor
WILLIAM HARVEY, Retired Sec/Treas CWA Local 9415, Retired President Alameda County Labor Council AFL-CIO
JANE HEAVEN, KPFA producer/host, field recording engineer
JANE HIRSHFIELD, poet, author, listener-member
JOHN IVERSON, health activist
SHEILA JORDAN, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools
RAMSEY KANAAN, KPFA unpaid staff, founder AK Press and PM Press, co-founder San Francisco Anarchist Bookfair
CHRIS KAVANAGH, former elected Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner (2002-2008), former Green Party of Alameda County Central/County Council member
LARRY KELP, KPFA producer and host, Sing Out!
LISA KERMISH, Vice President, UPTE-CWA Local 9119
SHELLEY KESSLER, Secretary-Treasurer, San Mateo Labor Council
ROSE KETABCHI, KPFA News
ERIC KLEIN, former FSRN tech producer; former KPFA News producer; former tech producer, Flashpoints
HELENE KNOX, poet, editor, KPFA listener & volunteer
JACK KURZWEIL, listener rep, KPFA board
JAMES LAFFERTY, host, The Lawyers Guild Show (KPFK); Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles
JOHN LAVINE, activist, former Berkeley Peace and Justice Commissioner
YING LEE, Asian-Americans for Peace and Justice
SASHA LILLEY, KPFA’s Against the Grain; Shop Steward, CWA Local 9415
LAURA LIVOTI, founder, Justice in Nigeria Now!
ROBERT LONGER, Exec VP, CWA Local 9421
TIM LYNCH, KPFA producer and host, unpaid staff
PHILIP MALDARI, KPFA’s Sunday Show; Shop Steward, CWA Local 9415
JOANNA MANQUEROSMusic of the World, unpaid staff
DAVID MARTINEZ, radical filmmaker
DIANA MARTINEZLetters & Politics, unpaid staff
EMILY MCMILIN, Former KPFA Station Engineer
PETER OLNEY, listener and ILWU organizing director
ZEESE  PAPANIKOLAS, listener, Oakland CA
EDDY PAY, KPFA music programmer
SCOTT PHAMFree Speech Radio News, Technical Producer
SALLY PHILLIPS, KPFA Producer, Host, Engineer
MAX PRINGLEKPFA News Reporter
LAURA PRIVES, former executive producer of the KPFA Morning Show; producer, Letters & Politics, KPFA board member, Pacifica National Board member
GLENN REEDERKPFA News anchor, unpaid staff
BLANCHE RICHARDSON, owner, Marcus Books
DERK RICHARDSON, host of KPFA’s The Hear and Now
FRANCESCA ROSA, member SEIU 1021, delegate, SF Labor Council
SUSAN SACHEN, Campaign Director, California Labor Federation
CHARLOTTE SAENZ, community artist and educator
LYNNE HOLLANDER SAVIO, Mario Savio Memorial Lecture & Young Activist Award
LEWIS SAWYER, producer, Early Morning Music, former KPFA Receptionist
DAN  SIEGEL, civil rights and labor attorney, former Pacifica General Counsel
BONNIE SIMMONS, host, KPFA’s Bonnie Simmons Show; former LSB, Pacifica National Board member
SARA STEFFENS, Newspaper Guild/CWA District 9
SUSAN STONE, Former Director, KPFA’s Drama and Literature Department
VANESSA TAIT, KPFA News; co-founder, FSRN; author Poor Workers’ Unions; TNG/ CWA Local 39521
MARY TILSON, Host, America’s Back 40 (with Bette Beasley)
ANDREA TURNER, cultural and community activist, LSB member
SALLY VENABLE, president, CWA Local 9415
RICHARD  WALKER, professor, radical geographer & author of The Country in the City
KATHLEEN WEAVER, Author of Peruvian Rebel, listener/member
KRIS WELCH, KPFA’s Living Room
JOHN WHITING, KPFA Production Director and Program Producer (1960-1965); London Correspondent, Pacifica Radio (1966-1972)
BARBARA WHIPPERMAN, treasurer, KPFA local station board
MARGY WILKINSON, chair, KPFA Local Station Board
CAL WINSLOW, labor historian, co-author of Rebel Rank and File
RYCHARD WITHERS, Executive Director, Fresno Free College Foundation, General Manager, KFCF (Fresno)
EDDIE YUEN, KPFA’s Against the Grain
(Please note: all titles & organizations for ID only)

SEE the full endorsers’ list here, as well as additional lists of SaveKPFA’s endorsers supporters.

Why Recall Rosenberg?
Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg has been the principal defender of the current management at Pacifica, the corporation that owns KPFA. With Rosenberg’s support, and at her behest, Pacifica has:

Let’s get KPFA back in the hands of local listeners and staff — VOTE YES on the KPFA recall! Questions? Email us. Fill out this form to add your endorsement.

Van Jones to Pacifica: “take your hands off KPFA”

In a recent station fundraiser, long-time supporter Van Jones spoke about the role KPFA played in his early life and work, and sent a strong message to Pacifica about its meddling in KPFA’s affairs: “There’s a reason we’re so passionate about this station,” said Jones, “and there’s a reason the people in Pacifica need to listen to the voice of the people and take their hands off this station and let the voice of the people be heard. We can solve these problems here locally.”

If you missed his talk, here’s the next best thing: a 3 minute clip from the presentation. Jones is president and founder of Rebuild the Dream, an initiative to restore good jobs and economic opportunity. He’s also co-founder of three thriving nonprofit organizations (the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and Green For All). You can also get a CD of his talk as a premium with your donation to KPFA.

KPFA donors file complaint against Pacifica with Attorney General over recall vote

Charging that the Pacifica Foundation has failed to follow its own rules in holding a listener-prompted recall election, a group of KPFA listeners has filed a formal complaint with the state Attorney General‘s office, which oversees California nonprofits.

“It’s ironic and disturbing to see these tactics from a network founded to uphold progressive values of free speech and participatory democracy,” said Ying Lee, a longtime Berkeley activist and KPFA supporter. “Whatever their views on station politics, listeners should be outraged by Pacifica’s flagrant violation of its own bylaws.”

In September, hundreds of KPFA members signed petitions calling for the recall of Tracy Rosenberg, who serves as treasurer of the Pacifica National Board. Among other things, Rosenberg was the architect of Pacifica’s destruction of what was the station’s top fundraiser — the KPFA Morning Show.  She also pushed through measures that denied KPFA’s elected representatives their seats on the Pacifica National Board until they were overturned by court injunction. Read KPFA Local Station Board chair Margy Wilkinson‘s YES on KPFA recall, as delivered to the Marin Peace and Justice Coalition.

KPFA management certified the signatures as valid on November 1, triggering a December 31 deadline — under Pacifica’s own rules — to mail recall ballots to all KPFA listener-members. But no ballots were ever sent.

That may change soon:  SaveKPFA filed its complaint with the Attorney General on Tuesday, February 28. By Wednesday, Pacifica National Board chair Summer Reese indicated she was prepared to hire someone to run the election, and that ballots would be mailed soon — but she did not specify when.

Is there now censorship at KPFA?

David Gans, host of Dead to the World

Station management inflicted another serious wound to KPFA’s goal of honest, free speech radio last week when it dropped a disciplinary letter and gag order on unpaid music programmer David Gans.

Gans made brief comments during his August 10 show that were critical of management, eliciting a written warning from interim program director Carrie Core not to discuss “internal issues.” Gans published his comments and Core’s letter on his blog, calling the incident “another salvo in an ongoing battle for the soul of KPFA,” and urging listeners to sign the recall petition against Tracy Rosenberg, a key supporter of management.

“Managers freely broadcast their own anti-union positions and Pacifica’s,” noted KPFAWorker.org, “but slap ‘disciplinary actions’ or gag rules on KPFA’s workers when they speak their minds about the radio network they have labored to build over decades.” Disciplinary letters have also been sent in recent months by Core to paid staffers Mitch Jeserich, John Hamilton and Mark Mericle for reporting on layoffs at the station.

Sonali Kolkathar, host of Uprising

Core also said she’s going to remove the popular Saturday morning program Uprising, hosted by Sonali Kolhatkar. A veteran Pacifica journalist working out of KPFK in Los Angeles, Kolhatkar has made several on-air statements of solidarity with KPFA’s workers.

What would replace Uprising? A “labor show” by management ally Steve Zeltzer. As KPFAWorker notes, “the same managers who supported paying over $70,000 to fight the station’s union workers” put Zeltzer forward to replace respected KPFA producer David Bacon.” Like most unpaid staff at the station, Bacon has refused to cooperate with management’s replacement of union staffers.