Pacifica News Update

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Berkeley – This is the first of two emailsThis initial one will focus on Pacifica Foundation news and the next one will contain endorsements for upcoming local station board elections. Your ballots are being sent today and you have until October 15 to vote. 

The KPFA Protectors – Safety Net lawsuit from Don Goldmacher and company seemed to have gone away after last week’s scathing denuniciation and dismissal of the case from LA Superior Court judge Michael Stern. But, apparently not discouraged by the judge’s sharp words, the Safety Net – Protectors filed an appeal, making sure that the flow of member dollars out of KPFA will continue for some time. At last count, the LSB member’s lawsuit has cost KPFA $71,000, more than 10% of the fund drive goal. The KPFA LSB Protectors majority under board chair Christina Huggins (a plaintiff) has not engaged in fundraising to offset the costs of their lawsuit to the station, instead raising funds independently on a Go Fund Me to cover their own costs. The Go Fund Me has raised about $9,500, only a fraction of the costs with the majority coming from just a few wealthy funders including celebrity divorce lawyer Harold Mayerson. 

The appeal is unlikely to succeed in anything other than wasting more money, as the dismissal was based on the faulty construction of the lawsuit, including the lack of a clear demand, a misunderstanding of the business judgment rule and as the judge stated: “a lack of facts to substantiate the bald conclusions”. The last time this crew sued KPFA and then appealed a loss was Campisi vs. Pacifica, a lawsuit to overturn the results of a KPFA director election after Bill Campisi resigned 9 seconds after being elected as a maneuver to force a second election. The Court of Appeals sat on the request for a year and then dismissed it without comment. The jurisdiction of the Appeals Court is only to overturn the lower court on a clear error in the application of the law and there is no such error apparent in Judge Stern’s ruling. For those sick of seeing their membership dollars sucked up to pay for futile litigation, we encourage you not to vote for LSB members who engage in, and sanction, bogus lawsuits. That would seem to include the entire KPFA Protectors slate of candidates. 

Meanwhile, New Day Pacifica, a group which has significant overlap with the KPFA Protectors group, told Pacifica to take them to court in a July 16 email written by Beth Kean. Kean stated that “a judicial remedy is appropriate”. Anticipating the inevitable litigation, Pacifica’s corporate counsel took the proactive approach and (apparently to New Day’s pretended surprise), and filed for a restraining order to uphold the referendum results. It was his understanding that New Day intended to file in the County of Alameda, which would require additional costs to move the case to the LA County Court, where Pacifica’s headquarters are now located, so the lawsuit was filed in LA County to prevent those avoidable costs. 

This lawsuit seems likely to succeed and quickly, since despite New Day’s constant emails with “stop the steal” language, they have no stronger base for their allegations than our past President did for his “stop the steal” campaign. In addition to signing an agreement with Pacifica in December of 2020 agreeing that the New Day referendum would be carried out with the same rules as the 2020 Restructuring Project referendum, which required a majority vote from both classes of members, the CA Corporations Code is not on their side. The code contains the exact same language as that contained in the Pacifica bylaws, and Section 7813 defines when the requirement for approval by class of members is relevant. Clause F (the creation of a new class of membership) is applicable to the New Day proposal which created a membership class of “paid staff” that did not previously exist. There is basically no question under law that majority approval by each class of members was required under law and that the referendum failed. 

In an email sent out by a few members of KPFK’s local station board who supported the New Day effort, they more or less concede the legal point by saying that the Pacifica National Board should have “voluntarily” stepped down despite the referendum failure. The argument seems to be that the staff are “apparent” i.e. that some unpaid staff aren’t real staff whose votes should be counted, and that the votes from WBAI should be disallowed. What this argument leaves out is that 37,236 of Pacifica’s 44,018 listener members (84.5%) did not vote in support of the New Day bylaws proposal and 853 of Pacifica’s 1,032 staff members (82.6%) did not vote in support of the New Day bylaws proposal. More than 80% of Pacifica’s members did not think changing the bylaws was important enough to click a box in favor. They want radio news, information and entertainment, not bylaws. Hopefully, the remaining 20% will align their priorities with the 80% going forward.

If you value being kept up to speed on Pacifica Radio news via this newsletter, you can make a little contribution to keep Pacifica in Exile publishing . Donations are secure, but not tax-deductible.

To subscribe to this newsletter, please visit our website at www.pacificainexile.org

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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-sponsored radio.

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