Monday, April 7, 2014

Who's On First? Finding The Next Pacifica Board Meeting

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Who's On First? Finding The Next Pacifica Board Meeting
Berkeley-On her seeming last day as Pacifica's acting/interim/disputed executive director, Margy Wilkinson sent out a stream of confusing emails to national board members attempting to unilaterally schedule board meetings on 3 of the next 10 days. 2 of of the dates were for closed session meetings and only the last one on April 17th included a session that could be heard by the public. After the flood of emails ended, the upshot was that an "emergency" meeting Wilkinson tried to schedule on the evening of Monday April 7th was cancelled, a closed meeting was scheduled for Monday April 14th, with another meeting 3 days later on Thursday April 17th. Every national board meeting since the beginning of March, has been scheduled unilaterally by Wilkinson, usually with minimal or inadequate notice. The purpose of the Monday April 14th closed meeting is described as "retaining legal counsel and authorizing legal action". 
The radio network and 12 of its board members have a date in court for a hearing on a temporary injunction requested by 9 board members, as "Pacifica Directors for Good Governance" on Wednesday, April 9th. The lawsuit, which was paid for by independent fundraising (more than 40 community members have donated to the legal fund) is non-financial and asks the court to enjoin actions by the board majority due to the financial risk they represent. to Pacifica Radio. 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 needs to retain legal representation for Pacifica due to the resignation of company lawyer Terry Gross, who had previously been Pacifica's counsel. Gross resigned after being asked and refusing to represent the board majority in legal proceedings related to Reese's termination.

At the board's meeting on April 3rd, Wilkinson presented only one attorney, Hunter Pyle, an associate at Siegel and Yee from 1997-2003, where Pyle was replaced by current Siegel and Yee associate Jose Luis-Fuentes in 2003. Fuentes is a current Pacifica board member who offered repeated motions to terminate Reese shortly after joining the national board. Pyle last sued Pacifica Radio in December of 2007 to force election supervisor Casey Peters to certify a KPFA election. Peters made the following statement in his report to Pacifica in March of 2008:
"Nicole Sawaya had resigned -- at least temporarily -- and Dan Siegel was put back into place as interim ED [Executive Director]. At that point, the power really seemed to go to Siegel's head and he started ordering me about in how to fulfill my duties. He applied intimidation regarding the still-pending certification of KPFA results, telling me that I would be fired if I did not do so promptly. The problem was that criteria for certification had not been met due to irregularities in the campaign. Regardless of my desire to maintain absolute integrity in each of the local elections throughout the cycle, I was forced to capitulate in order to continue my work in administering the elections at the remaining radio stations. I realize now that this was an unforgivable error on my part and that I should have publicized the fact that the Interim Executive Director [Siegel] was using extortion to intimidate the National Elections Supervisor and wrongly influence the outcome of the elections to the detriment of members of the Pacifica Foundation. Essentially Dan Siegel in his dual roles as corporate counsel and Interim Executive Director engaged in threats and manipulation to unlawfully control the outcome of Pacifica elections. This constitutes the highjacking of the vote count". 
A community meeting hosted by the Berkeley station's Community Advisory Board was held at the South Berkeley Center Center at 2939 Ellis Street in Berkeley on Sunday April 6th and attended by about a hundred people. The vast majority expressed great concern about the abrupt attempted firing of the executive director and the prospect of the network breaking up via the sale of one or more radio licenses. 

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.
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.

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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