NOTES from KPFA's board mtg of Feb 24, 2007

by Daniel Borgström

The February meeting of KPFA's Local Station Board (LSB) was held on Saturday, the 24th, at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. Twenty three of the twenty five board members were present. It was a pretty busy meeting, and below are a few of the highlights:

Interviewing the IGM (Interim General Manager)

IGM Lemlem Rijio was there for a monthly report and took numerous questions from board members including Richard Phelps, Phoebe Anne Sorgen, Sasha Futran, Mary Berg and Chandra Hauptman.

Richard Phelps asked how KPFA would cover the upcoming March 18th demonstration to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq. KPFA coverage of the previous event in SF (Jan 27) was sadly inadequate, Richard said. The high point of that day was when several thousand people marched out along the waterfront to the Alcatraz ferry terminal and held a rally in support of the fired boatmen who were picketing there. Those boatmen were KPFA listeners, KPFA supporters, and they wondered why KPFA wasn't covering that event. They felt let down.

So, Richard wanted to know, "Will the March 18th demonstration be aired?"

Sasha Futran asked about UPSO (Unpaid Staff Organization), the membership list, a procedure for keeping track of who's on it, etc. It's been an ongoing problem that never seems to get worked out.

Sasha also asked why Youth Radio was canceled.

Lemlem explained that some of the young people on it had used prohibited words that could get the station in trouble with the FCC.

"Why not pre-record the program and bleep out any objectionable language?" Phoebe Anne Sorgen asked.

Lemlem said they're working to make sure Youth Radio will soon return to KPFA's airwaves.

Another issue that got raised was the complaint that "KPFA is reporting off the wire." It was Phoebe who brought that up; she also objected to the inadequate coverage of events in Haiti. Phoebe said that people who'd backed her and helped her get elected to the LSB were asking her those questions--why the lack of Haiti coverage, the off-the-wire reporting. "Where do I go to ask these questions?" she said.

Over the years a good many people have objected to the KPFA news practice of "reading off the wire." Nevertheless, the practice goes on, and people who object always seem to be left asking that same frustrated question of "Where do I go to ask these questions?"

Those were some of the things that board members asked Lemlem Rijio. She's been filling in as KPFA's Interim General Manager for almost a year now, since April 2006, and is holding the position till the station can find a permanent GM.

Meanwhile, the search for a permanent GM is supposed to be going on. The board has a GM Hiring Committee, and there was a motion on the day's agenda to re-elect that committee. That was done and the members of the LSB's GM Hiring Committee will be:

Conn Hallinan
Andrea Turner
LaVarn Williams
Brian Edwards-Tiekert
Louis Sawyer
Sasha Futran
Joe Wanzala

Since 1999 KPFA has had a couple of GMs, neither of whom lasted long. For the most of the last eight years since the hijacking, KPFA has been without a GM.

An unauthorized use of funds

In January the PNB (Pacifica National Board) met in Houston, Texas, and KPFA's LSB sent its four delegates. KPFA/Pacifica pays their airfare and some other itemized expenses. Anyone else who wishes to attend must pay their own way; nevertheless, it turned out that a fifth member of the LSB also flew to Houston at KPFA/Pacifica expense--$609 of listeners' money. The expenditure was not authorized.

The matter was investigated and reported on to the LSB by LaVarn Williams and Richard Phelps. LaVarn, Richard and other LSB members have for years been fighting for financial transparency and accountability in KPFA/Pacifica.

It's hardly a secret that the board is divided into two opposing factions, and one of the major issues has been transparency and accountability, which means access to records. The purchaser of the unauthorized airline ticket is a member of the LSB, and consistently voted with the people who opposed access to records. She was present at this meeting; but sat there in silence when the matter was disclosed. According to the bylaws, she has 30 days to prepare her response.

Looking at KPFA's election process

Tracy Rosenberg and Les Radke had each presented their LSB election reports to the board in January. They returned to the February meeting for a question and answer session with the LSB. One thing that came up was how the KPFA election system has influenced those of the Bay Area. Les Radke reported:

"KPFA has led the way in publicizing proportional representation (Single Transferable Vote) as an alternative to the US winner take all system. KPFA therefore deserves credit for changes in the electoral system in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland and Davis, changes which will allow alternative parties a foothold in challenging the parties of the elites, the Democratic and Republican parties."

Tracy Rosenberg's report
Les Radke is revising his report; apparently it's not yet posted.


Regarding Richard Phelps' question about whether the Sunday, March 18th demonstration would be aired, it was. Two hours of the event were broadcast live from the San Francisco Civic Center Plaza.

Earlier, however, on 3/16 Sasha Lilley (KPFA's Interim Program Director) sent a rather strange notice to the staff. She warned programmers NOT to "actively urge listeners to attend events over KPFA's airwaves because of issues of liability." But it seems there was no liability issue. So why this directive? Maybe we'll hear about it at the upcoming LSB meeting on 3/24.

Next public meeting of the LSB:

Saturday, March 24th
12:30 p.m.
at Cafe De La Paz
1600 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA
(at the corner of Shattuck & Cedar St; half a mile north of the Downtown Berkeley BART station)