Berkeley-The resistance to the attempt to fire executive director Summer Reese by a newly-elected board of directors despite her binding employment contract has entered it's second week with no signs of slowing down. This morning, support volunteers were turned away due to a lack of space in the teensy office to accommodate them all.
A statement in opposition to the board's hasty and reckless actions can be found here (http://2014.supportkpfa.org/?p=91) and is gathering signatures from KPFA's board members and listeners.
The Pacifica National Board released an obscure statement that the unavailable position of interim executive director was offered to “a specific individual”, but numerous board members confirm that recently-resigned KPFK manager Bernard Duncan was the only candidate. Duncan's interest in trying to replace his former boss was presented to the board a directors a mere two hours before the board meeting.
Duncan remains under contract with Pacifica from his previous position and is on salary until April 15th with KPFK and scheduled for a lump severance pay-out in April. It is not clear to board members if the intent is to pay Duncan additional funds, if the previous employment contract is now “void” or what arrangements have been made by the woman who claims to be the chair of the board and made the motion for Duncan's hire by the board.
During Duncan's tenure, he was notified by several staff members of questionable activites in KPFK's business office where the bookkeeper was filling out tax returns for H&R Block during working hours using KPFK's computer equipment. The bookkeeper was terminated after Duncan's resignation by incoming general manager Richard Pirodsky shortly after he arrived at the Los Angeles radio station to take over operational responsibility. Board members indicate they attempted to discuss this matter, as well as the loss of the station's entire Community Service Grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting during the meeting, but were not heard by the board officers. Requests for legal guidance, as well as a background check for the candidate, were denied.
The corporation counsel, Terry Gross of Gross, Belsky and Alonzo, does not appear to have been present for a board meeting in more than a month and the board has released no minutes of record since January 23, 2014, the last meeting of the previous board of directors before the new term began. The board has met for approximately 50 hours of meetings since the turnover.
This video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvnV2no1Qs0 ) describes some of the recent events that have destabilized the independent radio network.
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.