Ralph Nader and Amy Goodman urge support for Pacifica network

KPFA graphic

New KPFA web graphics.

Thanks to all who donated so generously to the station’s winter fund drive, which ended today with $335,000 pledged. That’s only $25,000 short of the goal.

Please consider making an end-of-the-year, tax deductible gift to help put KPFA over the top. You can pledge securely online at KPFA.org, and while you are there, have a look at the colorful new graphics that are enlivening the station’s webspace.

Meanwhile, supporters of all five Pacifica stations are receiving this letter from Ralph Nader urging them to help the network “remain a vibrant and sustainable source of information that serves the public interest and our diverse communities.”  Among other things, Nader cites Pacifica’s “eclectic mix of programming that educates and empowers for change.”

Also endorsing the call for support is Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, who is quoted on the letter’s envelope: “The Pacifica Network is a vital cornerstone of our independent media landscape that depends on your financial support. Please donate today to safeguard the future of listener-powered community radio.”

 

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

KPFA’s new general manager: Quincy McCoy

Quincy McCoy

Quincy McCoy

After years of interim management, KPFA will finally have a permanent general manager: Quincy McCoy, a radio veteran with 30 years of experience in a diverse range of positions.

Pacifica issued this press release with the news, noting that McCoy currently serves as executive director of the Museum of Children’s Arts in Oakland, having previously worked as chief of operations for Salon Studio at Salon.com and vice president of Radio for MTV Networks and Rhapsody America. McCoy was also on the board of Youth Radio International, and published No Static: A Guide to Creative Radio Programming (2002).

Pacifica’s interim executive director Bernard Duncan chose McCoy from a pool of candidates put forward by KPFA’s Local Station Board (LSB), as per Pacifica’s bylaws. Duncan said McCoy’s “combination of experience and personal attributes is rare, and we are pleased to see him move KPFA through the next successful phase of its development as a key component in the Bay Area’s media landscape.”

Duncan announced late last week he will be moving back to his native New Zealand; Pacifica will begin a search to replace him. Interim KPFA general manager Richard Pirodsky will continue to serve as iGM of KPFK in Los Angeles.

Pacifica moving forward, as injunction against fired executive issued

silvergavelPacifica’s National Office next door to KPFA is functioning once again, three weeks after an Alameda County court granted the network a temporary injunction against former executive  Summer Reese, who along with her mother and a small band of supporters, were obstructing the network’s operations. UPDATE: The court issued a preliminary injunction reiterating its ruling against Reese 6/2.

Judge Ioana Petrou’s 17-page decision on May 12 demolished every single argument of the plaintiffs, the so-called “Pacifica Directors for Good Governance,” who filed a lawsuit on Reese’s behalf. Evidence raised during the hearing confirmed that Reese’s allies on the national board had prepared and signed a separate, secret contract with her that would have made Reese essentially unaccountable and unfireable — and given her a huge pay increase to $105,000 a year — all without the knowledge of the rest of the board.

For these reasons, the judge issued an injunction upholding the validity of the board majority’s action and ordering Reese to leave the national office immediately. But that injunction was temporary, and now the court will rule on whether to make the injunction permanent. While the issues are the same, Reese and her supporters are now challenging the right of Pacifica’s lawyers to represent Pacifica – a move clearly borne of desperation on their part.

Moving forward: new executive director for Pacifica

duncanWhen Pacifica National Board chair (and SaveKPFA activist) Margy Wilkinson assumed executive powers after the termination of Summer Reese, she promised listeners and staff that she didn’t want the job, wouldn’t accept pay, and would work to get a qualified professional in as soon as possible. This week, she delivered. Pacifica has announced that KPFK former station manager Bernard Duncan has been hired as interim executive director while a search in under way for a permanent replacement.

Duncan has extensive experience in radio and television broadcasting, including years in management positions, according to Pacifica’s website. “Bernard Duncan knows his way around this organization, cares about Pacifica’s Mission, and he’s worked everywhere from behind a microphone to inside the executive offices,” said Wilkinson. “What Pacifica needs right now is a skilled manager who can hit the ground running, and I’m very pleased Bernard’s taken us on.”

Progress: Pacifica going multimedia

Sonali Kolhatkar, a contributor to KPFA’s UpFront and host of Uprising at KPFK in Los Angeles, is fundraising for an ambitious new multimedia project that could have her following in the footsteps of Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman. She has secured a deal to distribute her program nationally via the satellite channel Free Speech TV. This will raise Pacifica’s profile in areas where its combined signals currently do not reach, and could create a multimedia production model for other stations in the network to follow.

uprisingCurrently, KPFK is running an online fundraising campaign for the money needed to install professional-quality video equipment, which will then be available to any KPFK programmers who want to make use of it. If successful, the campaign will turn KPFK’s studios into a multimedia production facility right in the middle of Los Angeles — a place with access to filmmakers, celebrities, and grassroots organizers on the cutting edge of struggles for immigrants’ rights and environmental justice. The best part of this online fundraising campaign is that it will not intrude on KPFK’s normal programming, like a pledge drive. The donation page is here. The campaign has already raised $5,000 online in its first few days — if you can, help out!

Meanwhile, KPFK’s Alan Minsky published this thought-provoking piece about how Pacifica can become the “media we need.”

Some still clinging to the past

Reese using a bolt cutter to break into Pacifica's offices

Reese using a bolt cutter to break into Pacifica’s offices

[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

 

The truth about KPFA’s financial records, from the station’s treasurer

KPFA-radio-dialThis is a statement released on 4/2/14 by KPFA’s elected Local Station Board treasurer, Barbara Whipperman.

“The business manager at KPFA is working on a complicated reconciliation of the KPFA financial records. The complications center around the records of income from credit card donations, many thousands of records. There are statements from credit card processing companies involved, as well as the monthly bank statements.

“The temporary controller from the national office wanted to take all records out of the KPFA office, saying she would complete the reconciliation in the national office. Neither the business manager nor I (KPFA LSB treasurer) agreed to this. In other words, we refused to turn over this function to the national office.

“There has been no refusal to prepare for the necessary audit, the preparations are under way. As treasurer, with many years experience in this kind of work, I have been assisting the business manager where possible. Any claim that all the other stations are completely ready for the auditors is completely false, and those in the national office who are
saying so, know that it is not true.

“I have personally examined the records in the KPFA business office. All records are complete and in order, in preparation for and up to the reconciliation to the bank statements, which, as I have said is well under way.”

Barbara Whipperman
KPFA LSB listener representative and Treasurer

FLYER: An open letter to Reese | FLYER: What’s happening at KPFA & Pacifica?

Listeners and staff to terminated executive: just leave!

exit“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

shredder2 shredderMedia 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.

Feel free to contact SaveKPFA if you have questions and we’ll clear up what we can. And please, don’t forget to SIGN THE PETITION demanding that Reese leave.

 

Pacifica board takes action on election, WBAI crisis

wbaigraphicIn its new configuration, the board took several notable actions. It passed a motion that will put long-overdue board elections into motion. Pacifica’s bylaws required it to hold elections in 2013, but Pacifica’s executive director Summer Reese failed to hire anyone to run them, and that year’s board ratified her inaction by voting to postpone elections — effectively extending many of their own terms.

National board members also brought more transparency to discussions over what to do about long-suffering Pacifica station WBAI in New York City. After years of running massive deficits, the station was dealt a near-lethal blow when Superstorm Sandy flooded the building it broadcast from, rendering WBAI homeless in the middle of a fund drive. WBAI made sweeping layoffs last year, and has been struggling to catch up on unpaid bills.

The Pacifica National Board held a public discussion with FCC attorney Melodie Virtue about the implications of entering into a Public Service Operating Agreement (PSOA) in which another organization would temporarily take over responsibility for running the station and paying its bills. It also allowed the audience to ask her questions, and make comments. Eventually, the board approved a motion to hold off on entering into negotiations over a PSOA contract while it solicits an alternative plan from WBAI’s elected Local Station Board, and asks Pacifica’s management to come up with more detailed information on the station’s financial performance and prospects for the future. | READ about WBAI: Village Voice, Current, Radio Survivor

Meanwhile, on its 14th anniversary of February 11, Free Speech Radio News has relaunched its website and begun filing stories from around the globe. The independent newscast had gone off the air last fall after Pacifica’s national office failed to pay over $200,000 in fees owed to it.

Pacifica in crisis: WBAI on the brink

wbaigraphicThis week, Pacifica management laid off two-thirds of the staff at KPFA’s sister station WBAI in New York. The station will no longer have a local newscast; it’s unclear whether it will have any paid programmers at all. Pacifica’s interim executive director Summer Reese broke the news over WBAI’s airwaves, reports the Pacifica Evening News (2 min audio).

WBAI has long suffered from poor management, severe deficits, and the high costs of operating in New York City, as shown in Pacifica’s latest audits (to find out how this is connected with KPFA, read the last story in this newsletter).

Former WBAI and current KPFA programmer Doug Henwood delved into WBAI’s history for the New York Observer. Radio historian Matthew Lasar gave his perspective in Radio Survivor. Other coverage included Democracy Now!, the New York Times,  the Village Voice and Fishbowl NY.

Last fall, Superstorm Sandy flooded WBAI’s studios. KPFA’s staff spearheaded a network-wide emergency day of fundraising for the station — clocking over $185,000 in one day — enough to help WBAI move to temporary studios, but not to pull it out of its downward spiral. WBAI slipped further behind on the $50,000-per-month rent payments for its transmitter site on the Empire State Building, and in May began missing payrolls for its workers.

KPFA’s “on leave” interim manager transferred to WBAI 

wbai

Reese has transferred KPFA’s interim general manager Andrew Phillips to WBAI as its new program director, and both spoke for 2 hours on WBAI’s airwaves last Friday, saying the majority of WBAI’s daytime lineup would be replaced by pre-recorded programs. Reese said WBAI was one of four financial units within Pacifica that don’t have the money on hand to make their next payroll. Over the past year, Pacifica has borrowed money from KPFA several times to pay expenses elsewhere in the network.

Appointing Phillips to program WBAI is a turnabout for Reese. In April, she placed Phillips on leave over the objections of KPFA’s local board and staff, pending the outcome of an investigation into unspecified allegations. His new position seems to indicate that either Phillips has been vindicated, or Reese never cared about the allegations in the first place — she just wanted him out of KPFA.

In a revealing interview after Reese removed him, Phillips indicated KPFA should return a Morning Show-like two-hour program — that’s something that would not go over well with Reese’s supporters on Pacifica’s board, like Tracy Rosenberg, the architect the of decision to cut the Morning Show in the first place.