Berkeley – At a court hearing in the Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday March 11, the New Day Pacifica countersuit was struck in its entirety. The judge’s ruling was procedural in nature. The countersuit filing listed as “plaintiffs” a number of individuals in the Los Angeles area who were not defendants in the initial lawsuit and therefore ineligible to file a countersuit. It’s a rookie mistake and does not speak well to the New Day legal team, but the upshot is that their suit is stricken from the record, along with a “demurrer” or attempt to have the countersuit dismissed by the Pacifica Foundation. At the same hearing, a request from Pacifica for an ex parte proceeding to freeze New Day’s emails to the members was denied. This brings New Day’s attempt to get a legal ruling that the staff and listener votes in the 2021 bylaw referendum be “combined” or the WBAI staff vote thrown out (both scenarios were requested in various legal filings) back to zero. While it may be inevitable that they will re-file without the incorrect plaintiffs, we would take a moment to reflect on the vast waste of money this effort has become and hope that saner minds will prevail. Virtually any use of listener donated funds would be more constructive than this. We estimate the total from the referendum and the associated legal fees from both sides (New Day has been raising funds for their legal costs from Pacifica members) must total more than $400,000 by now, and this is money that would have helped out struggling KPFK-FM in Los Angeles a whole lot. The judge’s ruling is here.
In other lawsuit news, the Donald Goldmacher, Christina Huggins and Andrea Turner lawsuit filed by current and former members of the KPFA local station board stalled at the California Appeals Court, after being dismissed with prejudice in the Superior Court, after the plaintiffs screwed up. The appeal was filed in August of 2021, but no opening brief has yet been filed by the plaintiffs. The Court of Appeals attempted to dismiss the case altogether, was persuaded to give them one more chance to actually present a case, and on 3/9/22, issued another notice regarding failure to file timely as the fourth extended deadline passed on 2/22/22. The Appeals Court docket is here. The seven month long failure to file suggests the primary purpose of the appeal was not to argue a specific point of law, but to cause a nuisance and drain funds from KPFA, which has already paid out over six figures in legal fees. The alterna-nonprofit established by Goldmacher and Sherry Gendleman (Pacifica Safety Net) continues to have problems with basic nonprofit compliance with the Attorney General complaining that their filing was incomplete with neither payment of the filing fee nor the required tax return (in this case a CTR postcard).
The last legal update is that a settlement was finally negotiated in the termination case filed by Leslie Radford, former KPFK manager. Pacifica in Exile was no fan of Radford’s tenure at KPFK, which was marked by labor troubles with SAG-AFTRA and some bizarre late night program experiments, but continued litigation was probably at least or more expensive and the matter is now concluded. Radford was hired as KPFK’s manager by KPFA’s Margy Wilkinson in 2015, and she was terminated by KPFT’s Bill Crosier in 2017.
In other news, Pacifica successfully completed their EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster) loan process and received two million dollars in a long-term, low-interest relief loan. The EIDL loans from the Small Business Administration come with interest rates of no more than 4% and up to a thirty year repayment schedule. Pacifica initially applied for the funding in 2020 and experienced numerous delays, but persistence finally paid off. Pacifica’s unaudited financial statements for the year ending 9/30/21 lists $11.764M in revenues, $11.456M in expenses and a modest surplus of $308K, with the financial audit underway this spring.
At the Pacifica National Board, we’ll start off by saying that while for many years it was part of Pacifica in Exile’s mission to listen to PNB meetings so you would not have to, this year’s board is holding very civil and somewhat listenable meetings under chair Julie Hewitt from WPFW. So if you have some time, don’t be afraid. The recordings are available on kpftx.org. The March 10 meeting focused on the effort to restore eligibility for Community Service Grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which is making good progress but is likely more doable for next year than for this year. CSG grants would likely add about a million or a million and a half dollars to the station’s annual coffers (combined). Among other things, all 5 stations need to have functional community advisory boards meeting quarterly and performing an annual assessment of how the station is meeting the needs of the surrounding community.
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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.