Friday, April 11, 2014

Rogue Board Swapping Out ED's Again?

Berkeley-Confusion reigned at the national Pacifica Radio network when board member Hank Lamb from Houston (one of the 12 directors being sued for breaching the executive director's contract) sent a muddled email to network employees.

Lamb's April 10th email assured staff the "legal" executive director was *not* Bernard Duncan, but was instead alleg...ed chair of the board, Margy Wilkinson. Lamb's email stated; "Until a court says otherwise, if they ever do, you are an employee of the Foundation and there is a direct heirarchy {sic} to be followed. You follow the bylaws and job description and wants and needs of the iED, Margy Wilkinson. She is the legal IED".

Whether Lamb was unaware of the decision to hire Duncan (who supposedly started on April 7th) or was communicating Duncan is to be removed from the position of interim executive director after 3 days, is unclear. Lamb's entire email can be found here. Duncan has been sending repeated emails and making numerous phone calls to staff asserting he is the interim executive director.

Lamb had previously penned emails suggesting that employees who filed harassment complaints should be "dealt with" and does not appear to understand it is illegal to retaliate against employees for filing workplace grievances.

Meanwhile, as national staffers work to cover payroll shortfalls at at least 2 of the network's 7 divisons, board member Jose Luis Fuentes sent emails offering to immediately replace any employee who does not want to work under the "new management". Fuentes, who attempted at the end of March to have Pacifica payroll data routed through the office of his employer, Oakland law firm Siegel and Yee, ( see does not have supervisory or hire/fire capacity over any network employees. The firm's partner Alan Yee represented disputed board chair/IED Wilkinson as her personal lawyer at Wednesday's Alameda Superior Court hearing. Partner Dan Siegel co-wrote the November 11th offer letter to Reese for 3 years of employment.

A new interview with Reese on Monday April 7th aired on the "Just Peace" program at WRFG-FM, Radio Free Georgia in Atlanta and can be found here.

Los Angeles public interest attorney Eric Jacobson wrote this detailed piece on the crisis precipitated by the abrupt attempted firing of Reese 6 weeks into the 2014 board's term.

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

The ongoing description of Wilkinson as "disputed" or "alleged" board chair is due to Wilkinson's receipt of only 11 votes out of 22. The explanation for the use of a spoiled ballot to break the tie in Wilkinson's favor is caught on tape here. In a race with only two candidates, a "5th place vote" is not considered a countable vote as there are only first and second positions in a two-person race. Longer clips are available here and here. ( and "Losing" candidate George Reiter, a physics professor at UT-Houston, can be heard explaining the proper procedure on one of the longer clips.

"If the first place votes are a tie, then we count the second place votes. If the second place votes are tied, then we flip a coin".

Except they didn't.

The rogue board has still not released minutes from any open session meeting all year and has not released closed session minutes from meetings onFebruary 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 20th, March 6th and 27th, or April 3rd. The fiscal 2013 audit has been delayed for more than 7 months after the end of the fiscal year. $1.5 million dollars in Corporation for Public Broadcasting Funding is being held back. Houston station KPFT's license expired in August of 2013. WBAI's license expires in June of 2014.

KPFK staffers have requested the opportunity to vote on whether to recall their staff representative on the national board, Rodrigo Argueta. Their petition alleging "hasty and reckless actions taken with no consultation with those he claims to represent" 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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