New Boss Same As The Old Boss and Back To Court Again With Oakland Mayoral Candidate
Berkeley-Disputed IED Bernard Duncan instructed California station manager Richard Pirodsky to transfer $85,000 from Berkeley station KPFA on Monday to assist with network bills. Approximately $40,000 of the transfer is shared services income due from KPFA for the months of March and April and the other $45,000 constitutes an additional levy to support the month-end payrolls at WBAI and WPFW and United Health Care benefits for workers at the Houston, DC and New York stations, as well as the national office, who all use the same benefit package. WPFW was unable to fund their portion of the benefits package at month-end. The funds transfer averts a catastrophic loss of benefits, where SAG/AFTRA has already hauled Pacifica in front of the National Labor Relations Board for April staff changes at WPFW claimed to be in violation of the bargaining unit's contract.
KPFA's financial statements, when mathematical errors were corrected, showed a $50,000 loss at the end of January and an immediate post-fund-drive surplus of $93,000 at the end of February. The station will be starting its May fund drive effort in a week and a half from a tight cash flow position. Monthly operating expenses are $240,000. The budgetary goal for the May fund drive was set at $745,000. The two previous fund drives topped out at $690,000 in October and $643,000 in February.
A FAQ about the events of the last 75 days can be found here.
The law firm of Siegel and Yee, headed up by Oakland mayoral candidate Dan Siegel, engaged in a flurry of legal activity on behalf of the rogue board majority today. The board is hauling Pacifica into court Monday morning to try to get Judge Petrou to issue the board majority a temporary restraining order. According to their filing, the Berkeley Police Department refused to accede to a request to assist with a forcible removal from the national office of the foundation's executive director without a restraining order issued by Alameda Superior Court. The filing contains notable falsities including an assertion that the annual audit was delayed by the national office occupation, rather than by KPFA's inability to provide reconciled books, as emails between the national office and auditing firm Armanino Mckenna published in PIE demonstrated. There is a similarly bizarre assertion that Pacifica cannot process donations due to the occupation of the national office, although all 5 stations have processed hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations since March 17th, including a network-wide national fundraiser for the Pacifica Archives on April 15th. So despite Siegel and Yee's assertions, interstate commerce appears to be unimpeded.
Siegel's firm was apparently retained by the rogue board majority during a secret conference call by half the board on April 14th on a number they refused to give to 45% of the board. The rogue majority reported that they discussed "conflicts of interest" during the illegal meeting. Siegel and Yee also filed a response to the PDGG vs Pacifica board of directors lawsuit. Siegel and Yee assert Ms, Reese was in fact never hired as the permanent executive director of the Pacifica Foundation (it is unclear why the board acted to fire Reese in March if they believe the previous board did not hire her). The filing also asserts that the PDGG board members may not sue the foundation due to lack of standing, a very odd claim since Siegel himself sued the foundation as a board member and his firm has represented Pacifica board members suing the foundation numerous times in the past 15 years.
Siegel and his firm made a third filing, countersuing Reese specifically for monetary damages of an unspecified amount for continuing to abide by her employment contract after the board breached it.
All three filings are available for download and review. Request for Temporary Restraining Order,Response to PDGG vs Pacifica, Cross-Complaint for Monetary Damages.
An open letter signed by hundreds of the network's staffers and supporters objecting to the breach of Reese's contract can be found here.
KPFA listener-sponsor Daniel Borgstrom published a report from the last KPFA local station board meeting where he documented that the entire public comment session consisted of speakers opposed to the actions of the rogue board majority, despite claims to the contrary by the Save KPFA campaign slate.
The 9 PDGG directors have called a special board meeting for April 27th to address falsified minutes and the on-going lack of corporate counsel, but are not sure their colleagues in the majority will attend the meeting. The amended PDGG vs. Pacifica complaint can be found here in a 137-page full complaint and a 24-page Memorandum of Points and Authorities.
A public town hall meeting is being held in Berkeley by the local Unitarian congregation the same day. The Sunday afternoon forum will be from 2pm-4pm on April 27th at the Berkeley Federation of Unitarian Universalists 1924 Cedar Street in North Berkeley. More information about the event is available here. A video archive should be available after the event.
All 5 Pacifica stations go into fundraising mode in May and Pacifica-In-Exile readers are strongly encouraged to donate to their local stations. If the May 6th preliminary injunction request is granted, there will be a need to settle out the new lawsuits and labor grievances, meet equipment needs, and repair the havoc of the past few months. All 5 station websites (wbai.org, kpfk.org, wpfw.org, kpft.org, kpfa.org) as well as pacifica.org, can process online donations 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Your support will help to avert a threatened break-up of the network and keep all 5 radio major-market licenses non-commercial and non-corporate for the long run.
In Reese's 20 months in the ED position, Pacifica reduced litigation by 70% and had only one new lawsuit filed (a dispute between members of the DC local station board who sued each other.) Members of the current board majority are both plaintiffs (Benito Diaz) and defendants (Tony Norman) in that lawsuit. In the 5 weeks since the attempted termination, the Wilkinson/Duncan acting/interim combo and the 2014 board majority has acquired three new lawsuits and an NLRB action.
A complaint filed by 8 former national board members with the CA Attorney General can be found here.
A satirical look at the chaos at the radio stations and what the future holds amid rumors of a network breakup by the Twit Wits comedy troupe (produced by noted theatrical producer George Coates) can be found here.
A March 31st interview with Reese at the occupied Pacifica national headquarters can be viewed here.
KPFA local station board member and Oakland community activist Samsarah Morgan sized up the situation 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.