Category Archives: Pacifica in Exile Newsletters

Back To Court

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Berkeley – When we last wrote, the Pacifica National Board had voted yes on the anti-democratic bylaws proposal so that the local station boards at the five stations would have the opportunity to debate, discuss and issue their referendums on the proposal to replace the network’s bylaws and revert to a self-appointing board majority. The national board’s statement regarding the bylaws proposal submitted by the Pacifica Restructuring Project can be found here. 

Since that time, three of the five local boards have discussed the proposal. On January 8, the local board of WPFW-Washington DC issued a unanimous no vote. On January 8, the local station board of WBAI-New York issued a unanimous no vote. On January 11, the local station board of KPFA – Berkeley, the spiritual home of the Pacifica Restructuring Project and the home base of seven of the nine proponents, voted no by a 4 (yes) – 13 (no) – 4 (abstain) margin. The four yes votes were from PRP members Aki Tanaka and Susan Da Silva, and two station staff members, Phillip Maldari, host of Sunday Show and Tim Lynch, co-host of Dead To The World (a Grateful Dead music show). The local board of KPFK-Los Angeles will vote on January 19. The local board of KPFT-Houston was supposed to vote on January 8, but ended up postponing to a meeting on January 22. 

The decision by the national board to let the local stations boards discuss the matter did not meet with much enthusiasm from the proposal’s proponents. Before any of the local station boards even had a chance to weigh in, they were back in court requesting not only an additional extension of time beyond the extension already granted, but also to ask the court to prevent the seating of 2020 directors on the National Board. The Pacifica Restructuring Project had earlier asked the court to prevent the seating of 2020 elected delegates on the local boards, but the court declined to do so. Pacifica is vigorously opposing this new motion which seeks to obstruct foundation operations. The Pacifica Restructuring Project submitted their petition too late in the year for it to be properly processed and heard. A prompt bylaws petition could have been sent to the members during the 2019 election balloting, but the lateness of the proposal would now necessitate an extra election, the third in a years time, and an outlay of another $50,000 to $100,000 that would have to be borne by the five stations. Former Pacifica president Peter Franck removed himself from the Pacifica Restructuring Project’s lawsuit against the Pacifica Foundation on December 11th. Two of the six individuals proposed to be placed on the national board as the new 6-person permanent self-selecting board majority have already withdrawn their names from the effort: University of Illinois history professor Barbara Ransby and A.J. Muste Foundation director and Law and Disorder host Heidi Boghosian. 

You can read Pacifica’s response to the Pacifica Restructuring Project’s latest legal action here, and read the new PRP motion here. The court hearing will be in Alameda Superior Court at 3:30pm on January 23 in Department 17. Pacifica members are welcome to attend the public hearing. 

The 2020 directors the Restructuring Project is seeking to prevent from being seated have been selected at two stations. From WPFW-Washington DC, Ron Pinchback, Eileen Rosin and Nancy Sorden will be returning, with Vanessa Dixon-Briggs replacing Martha Peterson. From KPFA-Berkeley, Tom Voorhees, Chris Cory and Sabrina Jacobs will be returning with Aki Tanaka replacing Donald Goldmacher. Tanaka is currently a plaintiff suing in court to prevent himself from serving as a director after running for the seat. We will update you on the PNB elections at the other 3 stations as soon as the results are announced. 

In other news, KPFA, which has been engaged in a rapid set of programming adjustments which have been announced as fait accompli with no consultation with the local board, CAB or listening community, terminated another locally-produced show, Work Week, which focused on the radical labor movement. You can check out the show’s last broadcast on Google podcasts here. Previously removed shows included Guns and Butter, and Twit Wit Radio, all of which shared the feature of the producers being noticeable critics of some aspects of station management. Another show recently removed, Counterspin, the media deconstruction program of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, has been tagged to replace Work Week, after earlier being removed to make way for a Friday afternoon re-run of the KALW public affairs program Your Call, which airs in the Bay Area at 10am daily on a different radio station. 

The juggling around forces Counterspin to develop a new audience on Wednesdays after abandoning its Friday audience, and to do so in a much less logical spot, given that Friday afternoon is devoted to public affairs with a strong lead-off from the Project Censored Show and Wednesday afternoons feature herbs and physics, neither a particularly sensible lead-in to media deconstruction. It also breaks the 2000-era agreement that KPFA’s airwaves are too valuable to dedicate to re-runs, a consensus that led to the creation of Hard Knock Radio in 2000. The loss of the only inside-the-radical-labor-movement media production in the Bay Area is a sizable one and correcting the earlier mistake of the removal of Counterspin seems like an insufficient rationale. 

As KPFA and all the Pacifica stations try to move forward into the 21st century, one thing that seems abundantly missing is programming policies that articulate why we put what we put on the air, what data gets relied on to develop decisions, and what role the listening community plays in creating the community radio station they want to have and sustain.

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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Bylaws-Palooza

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Berkeley– On December 20, the Pacifica National Board considered the new set of bylaws initiated by the Pacifica Restructuring Project to gut the democratic reforms introduced in 2003. The new set of proposed bylaws, which were written by a small group of people primarily in Berkeley, with a few helpers in Texas and LA, would return the Pacifica network to a majority of self-selected individuals on the board of directors.

Supported by a membership petition signed by 1% of Pacifica’s overall contributing membership, the Pacifica Restructuring Project went to court to force this vote. Their lawsuit (technically an alternative writ of mandate) was filed in Alameda County Superior Court on the auspicious date of October 7th, the same day that former Pacifica IED John Vernile and two directors from Texas, Adrienne LaViolette (who just resigned from the Pacifica National Board) and Bill Crosier, swept into New York City and took WBAI off the air, setting up a month of legal battles that ended on November 6th, when NY State Supreme Court judge Melissa Crane returned WBAI-FM to the air.

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NY Judge Undoes The Coup

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Berkeley-On November 6, 2019, NY State Supreme Court judge Melissa Crane reinstated in full the October 7 temporary restraining order against the Pacifica Foundation and required the brand new interim ED John Vernile and a portion of the board of directors to stop piping in reruns on WBAI’s transmitter and return the station’s bank accounts, web page and airwaves to the WBAI staff and local board. WBAI began broadcasting at the stroke of midnight this morning. 

Judge Crane also declared the national board meeting of October 20th to be properly noticed and valid and all motions therein passed and binding upon the Foundation per the bylaws. Those motions included:

1. Restoring local control and local content at WBAI-FM

2. Placing interim executive director John Vernile on paid leave

3. Terminating the legal relationship between Foster Garvey and the Pacifica Foundation

4. Terminating the legal relationship between Ford Greene, corporate counsel, and the Pacifica Foundation

5. Removing Sabrina Jacobs as vice chair of the Pacifica National Board

6. Removing Bill Crosier as secretary of the Pacifica National Board

7. Allowing all elected directors to vote on any matters relating to WBAI-FM

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Comrade Goldmacher Wants Your Money

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Berkeley-Apparently distressed by the unwillingness of the federal courts to support the unauthorized shutdown of WBAI, comrade Donald Goldmacher has issued an appeal to the aging Stalinists of Berkeley to dig deep into their land-owner pockets and fund a new lawsuit to take control of the Pacifica Foundation away from board of directors that just won’t vote the way he wants.

The new communist revolution that Goldmacher appeals to his “comrades” to support has a distinctly capitalist tinge. His need to “bring the national board to a standstill” requires a corporate attorney. A corporate attorney with “connections” and a “steep hourly rate“. They need big bucks. NOW.

You can read the full email here.

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Canceled Meetings, Compromises and Data

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Berkeley-To recap, after WBAI was forcibly shut down by Pacifica’s new interim director without board authorization, a temporary restraining order has prevented the termination of WBAI’s staff while allowing program content to be piped in from California. In the after-shutdown vote of the Board of Directors, which was held over two nights on October 12th and 13th, after five board members were prevented from voting on the 12th, the Board voted 12-9-1 to restore WBAI, change their officers and remove attorneys Foster Garvey from the case, but their decisions are frozen pending the federal court. 

The board members who have turned Pacifica over to the federal government after being out-voted are:

Christopher Cory (KPFA), Sabrina Jacobs (KPFA), Jan Goodman (KPFK), Mansoor Sabbagh (KPFK), Bill Crosier (KPFT), Donald Goldmacher (KPFA), Adrienne La Violette (KPFT), Wally James (KPFT), and Gerry Boast (Affiliate).

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Legal Wheels Spin

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Berkeley-The legal wheels are spinning at a rapid speed and it is not easy to keep up. We will try to keep you as informed as we can. 

Unable to accept their 12-9–1 loss at a board vote on 10-13-2019, the 9-person shutdown crew on the Pacifica National Board appealed to the federal courts to strip control of the Pacifica Foundation from the members and their elected representatives and the judge has at least partially complied. The Pacifica Foundation board’s ability to take actions is constrained until October 21st per the United States government

An AM order prevents the restoration of WBAI until a hearing on October 21st, prevents the majority of the Pacifica National Board from changing their officers, and prevents them from restoring WBAI for six days, essentially making the foundation a ward of the court, and stripping democratic control of and autonomous action by the Foundation. Membership donations of $1,000 provided the bond for the suspension of membership rights. 

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Majority of Pacifica Board Votes to Restore WBAI

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Berkeley-On the evening of Sunday October 13th, the majority of the Pacifica Board of Directors voted to restore WBAI-FM to local content and staffing and undo the heist that occurred on October 7th. This vote also occurred on Saturday, October 12th, but on that day the perpetrators decided to “not count” the votes of five members of the national board from three different signal areas and then muted their telephone lines so they could not participate in the board proceedings. 

The twelve directors who met on Sunday night, who represent an absolute majority of the Pacifica National Board and include at least one director from each of the five signal areas, also did the following:

1. Removed the vice chair of the board from the vice chair position

2. Removed the secretary of the board from the secretary position

3. Instructed law firm Foster Garvey to withdraw from all litigation on behalf of Pacifica

All 12 board members, who represent a quorum of the nonprofit’s board of directors formally waived notice requirements for the special meeting and convened on a conference line that did not permit the involuntary muting of participants. 

Continue reading Majority of Pacifica Board Votes to Restore WBAI
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The Turn of the Screw: WBAI’s Elected Directors Prevented From Voting On WBAI Shutdown

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Berkeley-Faced with an imminent loss on an after-the fact and in-secret Pacifica National Board vote to approve the shutdown of WBAI-FM, the perpetrators are changing the voters. During a closed session meeting on Saturday night, a letter was presented proposing to invoke conflict of interest charges against 75% of WBAI’s elected directors, who are charged with being the voice of WBAI’s 8,000 members on the Pacifica Foundation board. The charges of conflict of interest invoked Section 5233 of the CA Corporations Code which is about financial conflicts of interest. The 5233 accusation seeks to prevent three of WBAI”s elected directors from being allowed to vote on all matters affecting WBAI members indefinitely. The three votes being eliminated are unable to vote on whether or not they are eliminated, allowing a minority of the board of directors to “vote” to disenfranchise the majority and therefore win a series of votes they would otherwise have lost.

The vote on the Pacifica National Board is vital because the actions to terminate all of WBAI’s staff and turn the NY community radio station into a repeater can only be legally supported as an action of the licensee, which are the 22 members seated on the national Pacifica board. If the majority of the directors seated on the Pacifica National Board do not support the shutdown of WBAI, the action is not an action of the licensee. 

The removal of voting rights is being applied to WBAI staff representative Shawn Rhodes because is WBAI staff, and WBAI directors Alex Steinberg and James Sagurton because they are plaintiffs in WBAI vs Pacifica, the request to the Supreme Court of New York to issue a temporary restraining order to halt the shutdown of community radio operations in the New York metropolitan area. 

Continue reading The Turn of the Screw: WBAI’s Elected Directors Prevented From Voting On WBAI Shutdown
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Supreme Court of New York Stops Pacifica’s Attack on WBAI

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Update 10-9-2019 WBAI programmer Paul DiRienzo reports that WBAI programmers and staff finally made it back into their facility to discover that all of the computers had been removed, wires were ripped out from the inside of microphones and station’s emergency alert system had been taken. A WBAI programmer purchased a new one on a credit card. DiRienzo also reported that the hotel rooms the Pacifica operatives stayed in had been reserved “months ago”.

Update 10-8-2019. In a day of fast-moving events, SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents WBAI’s employees filed a complaint that Pacifica Foundation had violated Article XVI(a)(1) of the bargaining agreement by failing to provide notification to the union. WBAI plaintiffs then filed a complaint of contempt of court against the Pacifica Foundation for failing to comply with the 10-7 court order issued by the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

Berkeley-In the morning, a crew of Pacifica Foundation board members led by brand new IED John Vernile, locked out the staff at WBAI-FM in New York and then fired them all, told the landlord to rent the space to someone else, and started piping in content from the West Coast over mid-Manhattan. In the night, the Supreme Court of New York told them to stop it and restored WBAI’s facilities, equipment, studio space, employees and control over the airwaves. 

If this feels to you like a flashback, well there’s a reason for that. Two decades ago, the Pacifica Foundation locked out employees at Berkeley’s KPFA and started piping in content from Texas. At that time, the nonprofit’s board was united in their desire to teach KPFA a lesson and extract the millions in license value. Not this time. At least half of Pacifica’s elected board wasn’t informed, had no idea. and never consented. That’s probably why Supreme Court judge Frank Nervo (at home and in his pajamas) called a halt to things. This is what he said. 

The Supreme Court of the State of New York has issued a stay and temporary restraining order enjoining the Pacifica Foundation from 1. Seizing any property files or equipment from WBAI 2. Terminating any employees of WBAI 3. Preventing WBAI from broadcasting it’s regularly scheduled programming. 4. Interfering in the business or orderly administration of WBAI pursuant to Section 1315 of the NYC Not for Profit Code and the Pacifica Foundation bylaws until a hearing to be held on October 18th.

Continue reading Supreme Court of New York Stops Pacifica’s Attack on WBAI
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