Monday, March 31, 2014

KPFA's New Domain Awareness Center and a Monday Discussion with the CPB Inspector General


Berkeley-Executive Director Summer Reese has a Monday morning telephone conference with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Inspector General where she will be discussing the current state of Pacifica with the agency, which is holding over a million dollars in community service grants from 2013. Another 3/4 million in 2014 grants is on the line, endangered by the inability of auditor Armanino McKenna to go forward with an audit of the foundation's books on March 27th.

Alleged board chair Wilkinson announced to the Pacifica Board she had unilaterally engaged the services of attorney Hunter Pyle to pursue legal action against Reese, after corporate counsel Terry Gross refused and then resigned. Pyle worked for Dan Siegel at Siegel and Yee from 1997-2003 and was replaced by Jose Luis Fuentes, current Pacifica board member and another Siegel and Yee employee. Fuentes, who replaced Siegel on the national board in January of 2014, and then made repeated motions to breach Reese's contract, also attempted to gain control of network bank accounts last week, although he was not successful in doing so. No authorization was sought or provided from the board to direct organizational funds to Pyle. 

Coincidentally, Siegel himself announced the initiation of a lawsuit against the City of Oakland while embarking on a campaign to become the mayor of the East Bay city.

Several current members of the board are expected to move ahead with legal action to reverse the breach of the Executive Director's contract and rein in the rogue board majority.

A new expensive surveillance camera was installed on KPFA's 2nd floor with 24/7 video. The camera, which records the image of every person who enters the occupied national headquarters and feeds that information to the ad-hoc chair's office inside KPFA, was paid for with funds donated by KPFA listeners as Wilkinson has no access to national funds or other station bank accounts yet. 

Terminated CFO Raul Salvador has ties to former CFO Lonnie Hicks (Salvador applied to work at Pacifica in 2008 when Hicks was still employed and was recommended by former controller Lynn Magno. Magno was dispatched by Reese in 2012 after she found out Magno had been convicted of embezzling $90,000 from a former employer. The amount was incorrectly reported earlier as $19,000). Reese acted after Magno was found to be charging personal items on Pacifica's credit cards. Hicks sued Pacifica for wrongful termination and won a large settlement from the nonprofit radio network, largely due to Dan Siegel's testimony under oath attesting Hicks was fired by Pacifica because he was black.

The motion reinstating Salvador, despite a poor performance evaluation and 5 workplace complaints, was passed by the 2014 board less than a week after seating. The motion stated  "Director Fuentes moves that the Pacifica Radio Foundation Board of Directors reinstate the Foundation's (interim) CFO Raul Salvador effective February 7, 2014 under the same terms and conditions in existence on November 13th, 2013". On November 13, 2013, Salvador was on administrative leave due to a workplace investigation. The report issued by the certified workplace investigator was snatched by Wilkinson and has not been made available to the full Board of Directors. 

The legendary Roy of Hollywood joined programmer Eben Rey and Executive Director Summer Reese on KPFK's air where they talked at length about the current turmoil. 

A copy of a complaint filed with the CA Attorney General by 8 former members of the national board can be found here.

An open letter to the Board objecting to the breach of the Executive Director's contract signed by hundreds of staffers, volunteers and listeners across the country can be found here

Disputed chair Margy Wilkinson is reported to have said with regard to Reese's attempted firing; "it isn't illegal until someone says it is".

Reese has continued to report to work at the national headquarters since March 17th. 


Richard Uzzell, a national board member from KPFT-FM in Houston offered the following motion to end the standoff between the Board and the Executive Director: The motion was ruled to be out of order at the March 27th board meeting. 

Whereas, Pacifica has been thrown into chaos by the actions of the board; and we are facing a complaint with the attorney general, possible multiple lawsuits and are perceived to be self-destructing in public, and;

Whereas, this will not help our upcoming fund drives.
Whereas, the board needs to put the organization above our factional fights, as just about everyone has told us, and make it clear that we will proceed in the future deliberately and with caution, following sound personnel procedures and with sufficient independent legal guidance.

Therefore be it Resolved, that in the interests of the welfare of Pacifica and our five stations,180 programming affiliates and our archival collections, the Pacifica National Board declares that the motion to fire Summer Reese as executive director is declared null and void; due to the lack of notice, lack of legal and HR consultation, no provision for continuing operations, increased financial risk to the network and confusion for network staff and volunteers.

And be it further Resolved, that the Pacifica National Board agrees to proceed with a system-wide performance evaluation for the executive director per the contract terms and agrees that duly-retained corporate counsel and independent human resources professionals shall be present for all executive personnel discussions going forward.

Started in 1946 by conscientious objector Lew Hill, Pacifica's storied history includes impounded program tapes for a 1954 on-air discussion of marijuana, broadcasting the Seymour Hersh revelations of the My Lai massacre, bombings by the Ku Klux Klan, going to jail rather than turning over the Patty Hearst tapes to the FBI, and Supreme Court cases including the 1984 decision that noncommercial broadcasters have the constitutional right to editorialize, and the Seven Dirty Words ruling following George Carlin's incendiary performances on WBAI. Pacifica Foundation Radio operates noncommercial radio stations in New York, Washington, Houston, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and syndicates content to over 180 affiliates. It invented listener-supported radio.

Tracy Rosenberg
Executive Director
Media Alliance
1904 Franklin Street # 818
Oakland CA 94612
510-832-9000 x303
510-684-6853 Cell

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