Sunday, April 6, 2014

Hearing Date Is April 9th And An Interesting First Day Of Work

Berkeley-The date has been set for a hearing on the Pacifica Directors for Good Governance lawsuit, which is requesting an immediate restraining order to enjoin the Pacifica Board of Directors from moving ahead with their attempted termination of executive director Summer Reese. The hearing will be on Wednesday April 9th at 9:00am in Department 15... of the Alameda County Superior Court. The request for an immediate hearing was granted by the court on recognition of potential irreperable harm resulting from the board's actions. The TRO request was approved by the court with a waiver of service and confirmation that the defendants had no legal representation at the time. 

The restraining order paperwork can be found here.

The complete text of the legal complaint 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.

The board appears to be struggling to find leadership who is willing to work with them. More than two weeks after the attempted firing, they finally announced the appointment of Bernard Duncan to be the disputed interim Executive Director. Board members report he was the only candidate and they did not interview him prior to the board vote. Some members of the board have never spoken to the person they "voted" to appoint.

 Duncan was the general manager of Pacifica station KPFK for two years. During this time, KPFK lost its Community Service grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and ran quarter million dollar deficits each year. One employee was found to be running a side business out of a KPFK office doing income tax returns, while using station equipment and facilities.  That employee was terminated after a new interim GM took charge after Duncan's resignation a few months ago.

What Duncan will be able to do on his first day of work on Monday is a question. The national office remains inaccessible and all bank accounts and vendor contracts remain under Reese's authorization. It is assumed he will occupy the KPFA program director's office where Wilkinson set up camp two weeks ago.

When Reese left the national headquarters on April 3rd to assist with the legal initiative, some board and staff members attempted to obstruct the national office, but 22 community members responded to a call for assistance. Reese re-entered her workplace at 3:30 in the afternoon without incident. Berkeley songwriter Vic Sadot penned a tune for the occasion, sung to the melody of "We Shall Not Be Moved".  A recording of the impromptu sidewalk serenade is here.

KPFA local station board treasurer Barbara Whipperman confirmed that KPFA's accounts were not reconciled nor ready for audit at this time, a situation that resulted in the delay of the audit from March (6 months after the close of the fiscal year) to June (9 months after the close of the fiscal year). Her public statement began ""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". KPFA has 17,000 members who donate 1-4 times per year. More than half of all donations are via credit card during fund drive telethons. An annual financial filing is required for the disbursal of Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) funds. More than a million dollars is allocated to the Pacifica stations annually.

In a heartfelt appeal, KPFA local station board member Samsarah Morgan, elected in 2012, wrote: "We, the community, are the burnt out parents. And the danger here is that we are tempted to shut down and turn away; and if we do this we risk losing a vital resource. We must not turn our backs – we must not allow the other side’s noise to cause us to turn away from the injustices taking place in our back yard and across our country. This is not a case of two factions who need to “learn how to get along.”  This is a call to community action".  The full text of Morgan's essay was published in the Fog City Journal.

Rumors continue to fly regarding the possible sale of one or more of Pacifica's radio licenses as the network continues to face expenses largely in excess of revenues.

Satires of the chaotic situation appeared on-air at KPFA (by the Twit Wits troupe produced by playwright George Coates) - and slightly remixed- rebroadcasted on KPFT in Houston.

A community meeting hosted by the Berkeley station's Community Advisory Board will be held at the South Berkeley Center Center at 2939 Ellis Street in Berkeley on Sundat April 6th at 4:00pm.

A video interview with Reese shot on March 31, 2014 at the Pacifica headquarters can be seen here. Reese was also interviewed on WBAI's Off The Hook on April 2nd.

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


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.

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