Berkeley – As the world faces a global pandemic on a scale that hasn’t been seen since 1918, Pacifica also faces recovering from a divisive bylaws battle that ended with an overwhelming 2-1 victory for the democratic reforms implemented in 2002.
With a severe economic depression looming, it is important that all sides come together after the listeners and workers had their say at the ballot box. A start on that was made with the seating of the 2020 Pacifica National Board, which occurred on Thursday night. And pandemic stimulus relief may be available to aid Pacifica through the significant financial challenges to come.
The costs of the special election demanded by the Pacifica Restructuring Project could not have come at a worse time. $100,000 will have to be yanked out of the operating costs of the 5 stations to pay for the election contractors, secure voting vendors, and the legal costs of responding to 4 different court actions in Alameda Superior Court. We hope the 1,000 people who signed the replacement bylaws petition will take seriously the $100.00 bill that each of them created, and to the extent possible, make an attempt to pay for it. Donations can be submitted here.
Pacifica in Exile hopes, as soon as everyone has had a time to rest, to help jumpstart a process for a sensible bylaws amendment that will streamline without gutting democratic protections. Stay tuned as we will likely put out an open source document for vetting potential new bylaws amendments that would appear on the 2021 delegate ballot.
Local and national boards continue to be populated by some members who advocated for the eradication of their own and their colleague’s seats. Without a great deal of good will, this can pose some problems. Early indicators are not that promising, as the few public statements from Pacifica Restructuring Project members lacked good will and were full of complaints, accusations and dark predictions.
Only one of the PRP members remains on the Pacifica National Board, (Akio Tanaka is a KPFA listener representative), but several remain scattered on local boards including Donald Goldmacher and Susan Da Silva on the KPFA local station board, Mansoor Sabbagh on the KPFK local station board, and Bill Crosier on the KPFT local station board. We suggest these folks issue statements about their willingness to accept the voter’s verdict on their proposal, to abide by the current bylaws and to work in good faith with those they disagree with, or consider vacating their positions in governance.
We remain frustrated by their reckless use of $100,000 in listener donations to expedite an election on their proposal rather than waiting for the next regularly scheduled delegate election when a bylaws referendum could have been held at no additional cost. Their actions were irresponsible. Elections supervisor Renee Penaloza put out a call for bylaws proposals that could be put on the 2019 ballot in July of 2019. The PRP sent their petition out only 6 weeks later. That timing ensured that a) Pacifica would have to run a special election and b) that a lawsuit would be filed to extend the annual deadline to amend the bylaws.
Another group of delegates voted no on the replacement bylaws when presented to the local station boards in January and then issued a switcheroo and later endorsed them. In our view, this is a misunderstanding of the process of representation where elected delegates use their positions on behalf of the people that voted for them. We have no problem with honest disagreement, but to say one thing as an elected representative and then to do another, is a slippery slope. It suggests an overly individualistic approach and a belief that accountability is only to oneself. We don’t believe that is the case for elected delegates. At KPFK, listener delegate and PNB member Jan Goodman did the switcheroo. Here is Goodman declaring her opposition to the replacement bylaws in January at the KPFK local station board. A few weeks later, after running for re-election to the Pacifica National Board and being re-elected, Goodman started sending out emails titled “Jan Goodman Changes Her Mind: She Now Suggests Vote Yes On The Proposed Pacifica Bylaws”. Similarly, 8 members of KPFA’s local station board did not vote yes at their noticed public meeting to formally register their opinion as delegates, but insisted later on they “endorsed” the replacement bylaws, including two members Carol Wolfley and Sharon Adams, who were recorded forcefully objecting to them only weeks earlier. (The full list of the indecisive 8, besides Wolfley and Adams is Christina Huggins, Andrea Turner, Darlene Pagano, Shirah Dedman, Ahmad Anderson, and Mark Van Landuyt). Again, we think it is incumbent on these folks to acknowledge the 2-1 vote in opposition, and to affirm their willingness to serve under the bylaws and their accountability to the majority of the members.
It is to be hoped that teleconference meetings of the KPFA local station board will be resumed soon. The March 21st meeting has been cancelled, the local board has not met since January 11, and is now in violation of the bylaws which require local board meetings no less than every 60 days.
As a quick update on the KPFA property tax situation, since we know it has been anxiety-provoking, the 16 past due annual filings for the studio and antenna site have now been filed and the state welfare exemption certificate is being updated. The properties were removed from the auction list, prior to Alameda County’s freeze on auctions due to unpaid property taxes, which is still in effect. Once the new assessment is complete, an amount of money that will total at least $100,000 for the now eight years of unpaid taxes plus penalties and interest, will need to be paid. It isn’t clear how much of the $486,000 bill will be credited back, hopefully about 75% of it, but no guarantee. This, of course, is another big financial hit.
There is a lot of healing to be done, and a lot of work to do. Thank you for your support of Pacifica Radio. Stay well, stay safe, and stay home.
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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 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.