KPFA election report 2010
KPFA 2010 Local Election Supervisor
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. PNB, NES AND THE ELECTION
1. Pacifica National Board (PNB) and Pacifica Management
2. National Election Supervisor (NES) and the PNB
3. NES and Local Election Supervisor (LES)
1. Technical Information
2. Main Obstacles and Recommendations
3. Dealing with the station and election realities
4. Election Process
5. What went well (staff and community support).
1. Technical Information
2. Main Obstacles and Recommendations
3. Dealing with the station and election realities
4. Election Process
5. What went well (staff and community support).
D. BALLOT REISSUING AND RECEIPT PHASE
1. Technical Information
2. Main Obstacles and Recommendations
3. Dealing with the station and election realities
4. Election Process
5. What went well (staff and community support).
E. BALLOT COUNT PHASE
1. Technical Information
F. LES Fair Election Evaluation
3. Sept. 29 and Sept. 30th
4. Election Committee Proposal for FCP Violations
(written by Bob English from the Election Committee).
A. Obstacles to Democracy at KPFA and to Fair Elections
1. Role of the LSB and Programming
2. LSB and Outreach
3. LSB bringing politics to the table
4. LSB and slates
5. LSB and paid KPFA staff
My relationship to Pacifica goes back to January of 2001 when I first moved to California, to Los Angeles, from Florida after graduating college. I was working as a grassroots organizer for Los Angeles’ mayoral race and I saw a flyer that grabed my attention as it was asking people to get involved to save this ‘radio station’ from commercial takeover. I remember sneaking out of my door-to-door canvassing job taking time out of my demanding schedule to attend this radio station’s meeting. At the time, having just moved to Los Angeles, this was all very new to me and it was really exciting to see people coming together involved in the decision making process of an independent media organization. It was only after becoming the local election supervisor and learning about Pacifica’s 1999 struggles that I realized that the meeting I went to in LA was probably a KPFK meeting that had to do with the crisis of 1999.
Most recently, my relationship with KPFA goes back to 2005 when I first moved to the Bay Area. Having graduated college with a degree in Communications and learning about the importance of community media for social justice, I moved to the Bay Area looking to get involved with media activism. I’ve been involved with the public access centers in Berkeley (BCM) and San Francisco (AccesSF) and worked as a labor organizer and facility rep for the United Healthcare workers union, SEIU, for almost 3 years. Soon after leaving my job with s.e.i.u is when I started working as the local election supervisor for KPFA. In the past I have also worked with Los Angeles ACORN as a community organizer and completed workshops in documentary studies at the television and media workshops in Maine.
The best part of having worked as the Local Election Supervisor was getting to know the inside or we can say, “backstage” of KPFA and meeting all the talented, interesting, good people who are connected with the station. Overall, it was just exciting to work for a media institution that in many ways symbolizes the possibilities for social change that exist in the present. It was also great having worked with those in the election committee and some of the board members who are representative of the larger community of KPFA listeners who have been loyal to the station for a long time and who took part in the struggles of 1999. Their commitment to KPFA and to community media was inspirational. I had never been an avid KPFA listener before becoming the LES; the times when I tuned in to KPFA the most was usually during fundrive listening to the archival documentaries and speeches or 10 minutes a day here and there. Right before getting the job as the LES I had started to investigate the KPFA archives listening to Against the Grain. But of course, as a media activist and someone who believes in the importance of free speech, I have always respected Pacifica and KPFA and am passionate for what it stands for and for what it represents historically. In the present, after having worked as the LES, I should clarify that I have become an avid KPFA listener and I am looking forward to being part of the KPFA community.
The most challenging part of the job however, was dealing with the complicated dynamics of the local station board where various slates battle each other, where the KPFA paid staff allies itself with one of the slates, while unpaid staff, which makes 65% of the programming, has no real say or representation. Overall this is something I think hinders KPFA in many ways and doesn’t allow it to breathe and a lot has to do with what happens during the election. I will discuss this dynamic more in depth later but all these made it very difficult for a fair election process which can only develop out of working in a collaborative manner with both the paid and unpaid staff at KPFA. The lack of communication between election officials and KPFA/ Pacifica management and programmers, lead to lack of programming content around the election that prevented listeners from being well informed and the community from being truly involved.
My observations of this campaign below will show and prove the complications that arise out of this situation and I will do my best in writing a balanced report and not coming across as favoring anybody. Because to me as the election supervisor, it is not about who is right or wrong, but more about figuring out ways to work better together where everybody has a say and where communication is transparent while working towards the same goal. And yes, democracy is messy and it is not an end in itself, however the democratic process doesn’t end in elections, it has to continue afterwards. I believe is worth it that an effort be made to try to improve this very valuable democratic process of elected boards for public media institutions.
Community Media and Participatory Democracy
Having an elected board where members of a public media institution have a say by electing those who serve on their board, is the perfect combination of media democracy and organizational participatory democracy. Community media is the essence of media democracy to promote dialogue, civic participation and debate:
“ …community media…embody participatory approaches to programming and to production and are often responses to deep dissatisfaction with the ownership structures and biases of the mainstream media” (What is going on in Community Media Magazine, pg.9). In the same way KPFA’s structure through its elected board and history of unpaid staff programming embodies aspects of participatory democracy that community media brings to the forth.
A. PNB, NES and the Election
1. Pacifica National Board (PNB) and Pacifica Management:
I think that before the election starts, the Pacifica national board together with the ED should coordinate a one time in person meeting with each of the station’s management to avoid misunderstandings regarding the use of air time. They should discuss the resources available to the NES and LES and reach a compromise by developing a basic structure as to the maximum amount of airtime permitted. I think the election process could be a fantastic way to develop better relationships between Pacifica and the stations and can be utilized as a way to discuss long-term strategies and get community involvement at the national level. That is why I also believe that it is so important that there is a NES working throughout the whole year in some capacity figuring out how to better incorporate the election process with the goals of the organization.
2. National Election Supervisor (NES) and PNB:
Before the election starts, I think it is very important to develop a universe of voters and keep track of the people who have voted in past elections and analyze how often they vote. A system could be set in place so that by categorizing listeners’ voting patterns, election officials can better know how to target these various groups and how to inform them about the election. This can help increase voter turnout making sure that people who always vote, vote, and giving those people who have never voted the opportunity to get involved by meeting them where they are at with information.
3. NES and LES’s:
It would have been beneficial to have more time to discuss the whole election process in detail with the NES and the other Local Election Supervisors at the other stations before our jobs began. I remember having a 3 hour conference call the day before the first day of work and that is when we somewhat discussed the whole election process. I think it would have been better to have this discussion in person and more in detail with the NES to discuss campaign goals, tutorial’s message and campaign information, CART rotation goals and going over staff and listener member’s lists. And I know is difficult when LES’s are all over the country but it is something to consider figuring out, as to how the NES can meet with each LES in person for one day. Overall I think it would be good to have the LES start the job earlier and incorporate a pre-production stage in the campaign process. This will allow the LES to get prepared for the campaign, meet with the NES in person to set campaign goals, and develop a working relationship with management at the stations. I think Renee did a superb job building the whole infrastructure for this election by developing and maintaining the national elections website, managing the mailing and reissuing of the ballots, and giving us the tools we needed every step of the way by writing and designing programming and on air and community forum guidelines for all the local election supervisors.
B. NOMINATION- (June 1st to July 19).
1. Technical Information
Number of Candidates Recruited:
-27 listener candidates recruited (10 from Independents for Community Radio slate (ICR), 10 from Concerned Listeners-Save KPFA, 4 from Voices for Justice, 3 Running on their own- no slate).
-I recruited Ivar Diehl to run and he ran with no slate. I met Ivar a week before starting my job with KPFA at an FCC workshop meeting.
-A total of 7 STAFF candidates ran: 2 paid staff and 5 from unpaid staff.
-There were 6 core people who attended Election Committee meetings every week (Thursdays at 7pm at KPFA) and who worked on the election by organizing signature gathering events, community forums and assisting with the on air forum productions. Those people were: Sally Sommer, Stan Woods, Bob English, Virginia Browning, Perrine Kelley, Brian Shiratsuki.
-There were 4 more people who were active on the election committee email list who came to the meetings once in a while but who participated mostly by email. Those 4 were Mara Rivera, John Sheridan, Andrea Turner, Judith Gips.
Outreach “Signature Gathering” events:
-We had 3 signature events: two were at KPFA and one was at the Expressions Gallery in Berkeley.
-Together with the election committee we organized these events so we had refreshments at every one of them and used some of the election budget funds to pay for this food. Restaurant “Bacheeso's” in North Berkeley donated really nice salads and pasta at 3 of the events.
On air promotion:
-CARTs ( PSA’s ): we had about 6 Carts per day average on rotation encouraging people to run for the board or announcing the signature gathering events. At a maximum we had 10 Carts rotated per day.
-Tutorials: staff was required to air a minimum of 5 minutes of tutorials. They had the option to air either prerecorded carts, live reads, or live announcements. Mostly everyone chose to air the prerecorded carts and the few shows that aired tutorials did it by providing basic information such as deadlines and event announcements but not like a whole program dedicated to board elections or on the importance of elected boards in public media institutions.
2. Main Obstacles / Recommendations-
One of the main challenges was being able to increase the number of CARTs rotated per day. On the one hand there was Vini, programming coordinator in charge of CART rotation, saying that there were a total of maximum about 13 CART slots per day in the traffic log and that it was difficult to air more than 6 election carts per day as he also had to schedule community announcements and other station related event carts. Renee, the NES, on the other hand thought this was extremely low and that it was possible to schedule more than 13 on average per day. For me this was a tough situation to deal with since Vini kept insisting that airing more than that was impossible and Renee, in her role as the NES, kept pressuring for more. In the meantime, no one was inquiring about running for the board and even worse, no tutorials were being aired. My recommendation would be for the programming coordinator in charge of CARTs, to meet with the election supervisor on a weekly basis to discuss CART rotation and procedures. Overall it was difficult to work in a collaborative manner with Vini so that the election supervisor could ask questions and have more of a say in the cart rotation process.
Cart vs. tutorial
I think the reason most programmers decided to air carts rather than air tutorials and why they are so resistant to airing election material is because the LES is not given the opportunity to work with them in a collaborative manner. In an ideal situation the LES can help those shows produce a show on the elections and actually work closely with the programmers.
Programmers who aired carts
It was difficult to keep track of programmers who had aired election material. Renee and I typed up a list with all the shows and posted it outside the main studio, by the reception, so that people could initial. I also encouraged people to email me back confirming the fulfillment of the requirement or with any questions. As the nomination deadline came, I started sending out emails with shows that had not aired material, either because they had not signed the list or had not emailed me back. At the moment there are still about 10 shows that I never heard back from. If the LES were to be working in a collaborative manner with programmers this situation would not be happening. We need to create a good network within the station between the LES and program directors so that there can be good communication flow between programmers and the LES; this is the only solution I see.
Only candidates from either ICR or VFJ and those running alone came to these events, not so much candidates from Save KPFA. Not many people outside of the core group of people that are familiar with KPFA attended these events. This goes back to issues in the nomination phase with respect to lack of election airtime and recruitment methods used. I will discuss this more in depth later on my methodological suggestions for improvement.
Candidate Signature Vetting
In order to qualify for nomination, candidates need to get 15 signatures from current KPFA members. As the LES, I did not know that I had to check every single signature to make sure that those people who had signed were members. Since I had the power to add anyone to the membership list, I thought that this is something that was done by somebody who had more control over the membership list than I did. Towards the end of the campaign this became a problem and only then Chris, from membership, started checking all the signatures. I think for the future this is something that Chris or KPFA needs to do, and not the LES. I think it is important for the LES to work closely with Chris every step of the way reviewing the membership list.
3. Dealing with station and election realities-
During the first two weeks of the election the main task is to push for airtime for CARTs (PSA) rotation per day and to push for what is called a tutorial, which is an opportunity for programmers to inform their listeners about what is going on with voting, deadlines, discuss the importance of voting and what the LSB is about. One of the main challenges is that the election supervisor is expected, due to time limitations, to start enforcing tutorials and election airtime requirements during the first week. It is hard to establish this negotiating relationship with management and to get the programmers to do tutorials when you have not built any kind of relationship and when one is not familiar with the staff and the power structures of the organization.. Even more difficult is the fact that unpaid staff produces 65% of programming and sometimes their contact information is not updated; and getting hold of them can be really hard as everyone is spread out and don’t come together for a staff meeting once a month or anything like that. I would say that the lack of communication between the LES and programmers and management at KPFA in the beginning was one of the main issues and it was only after a month of various staff meetings that Ahmad, the iGM, for the first time agreed to send an all-staff first email announcing the elections and tutorial requirements.
I met with Ahmad-iGM, Amelia iAM, Phil from subscriptions, Vini programming coordinator, Luis Medina music director, and Maria Negret office manager, for the first time during the second week of the campaign. I told them about the 15 minute daily per hour show tutorial requirement and they all thought it was an exaggeration. I told them that it did not have to be that way necessarily, that it made sense for me to first understand their needs and go from there. We agreed that Vini was going to print out a programming outline and then discuss it together to go over programming and tutorial needs. I thought this was the agreement and that we were all going to have a second meeting and discuss a timeline for election airtime. It turned out that the outline Vini was preparing was just a list with syndicated shows that could not be preempted for tutorials. There was no opportunity to discuss this list with the group--Vini just gave me the list without much explanation. I then asked Ahmad for a meeting with all programmers to discuss tutorials and he said that elections were not an inclusive process and that this was not possible.
Challenges in communication with the staff:
It didn’t help that Amelia, interim Assistant Manager, was on vacations for most of the month of June making it even harder to establish good communication between KPFA management and me as the LES. I then met with Sasha Lilley, since Amelia was on vacations she had asked Sasha to meet with me. Sasha agreed to air a tutorial with me about the election for the show Living Room, since she was going to be hosting Living Room for that day. The tutorial however never happened, as it turned out she was not actually hosting; it had been an arrangement misunderstanding. In some way though I have to say that she was the only one from the paid staff who during those tough weeks at least agreed to meet with me and tried to set up this interview. Even though it did not happen I still appreciated the intention.
In the meantime, as I was trying to work with the daytime paid staff to gain a 15-minute tutorial and insisting on airing a tutorial on the Morning Show, nobody from unpaid staff knew that an election was happening and no one was airing tutorials. All these plus dealing with the CART rotation situation and lack of CARTs that were being played per day, average of 6 per day, while Renee, the NES, kept questioning the lack of CART rotation and election tutorials. Finally Renee had to set up a meeting where Ahmad, Aileen Alfandary news dept director, Vini and Luis attended but nothing much was accomplished. My proposal to them was to have three 15-min slots during 3 one-hour shows until the end of the nomination period, so total of 45 minutes of solid tutorials in the am and pm, but no one acknowledged this proposal. After the meeting Renee ended up creating an email with a list of all the shows requesting a 5-minute tutorial for each show. Ahmad then forwarded that email to all the staff and only at this point did I start to get emails from unpaid staff asking questions about the tutorials. And this is one week or so before the June 30th nomination deadline. Also, one thing to note is that the responses I got from some of the programmers in reaction to that email were really rude and didn’t make me want to continue the job. Those emails showed me that some KPFA programmers have a real animosity towards the election and instead of making things better and proposing solutions they just complain, and their solution is not to get involved or even engage with the LES in any way.
On air candidate recruitment
One of the biggest challenges during the nomination period was getting people to nominate themselves as candidates. When the June 30th deadline came, only 9 people had applied for candidacy and most all were from one slate, no one from the community without a slate had gotten involved. We extended the election a few weeks and by then the rest of the candidates came through but they were all from one of the 3 slates. Only 3 independents ran on this election and they got involved not so much because of the tutorials on the air but because they had been involved with KPFA in the past or because they were recruited by someone at the station.
The truth is that the only way to have people running who are not on slates is to have solid tutorials every day, as first stated by the NES, of 15 minutes per show per hour every day. If this is not going to be the case with the tutorials then the nomination period should be extended and grassroots efforts need to become part of the LES tasks. During this election mostly CARTs were aired and not so much the tutorials. Most shows did the 5 min max tutorial but I don’t think this is enough to develop a coordinated election message and to really educate and inform listeners on the importance of elected boards for public media organizations and the benefits these can bring to KPFA. If an agreement to air more tutorials and have better communication is not reached on the next election, then I don’t see the point of spending so much time and energy pushing for air time during the nomination phase when only people from slates, or those who have been involved with KPFA for a long time, will be the same ones getting involved over and over again.
4. Recommendations for improvement of election process
General Manager and the LES
The first weeks are critical for establishing the guidelines that would define the communication between KPFA staff, management and the local election supervisor. The general manager I believe needs to act as a mentor to the LES and assist the LES communicate with staff as challenges arise in the process. The following are the things that I would recommend the GM to do to help the LES throughout the election:
1. Station Procedures at KPFA:
It would have been great to go through some kind of orientation with Michael Yoshida and Dev Ross technical engineers, on the basic functioning of station procedures such as familiarity with the temps folders, DAD, studio, live reads, CART rotation and overall programming and to have had a better working relationship with the program coordinator in charge of arranging CART rotation and community announcements.
2. Programmers: It would have been very beneficial, during the first few weeks of the election, to have set up a meeting with the main programmers of paid and unpaid staff and the webmaster to go over the tutorial requirements in order to coordinate a real campaign that would benefit programmers at KPFA and at the same time facilitate voter participation in the election. I would even suggest implementing a once a month meeting between programmers and LES throughout the election.
3. Program Director: It is very important also during the first two weeks to have a meeting with KPFA’s program director and department directors to discuss a timeline from the beginning to the end of the election with a calendar in hand as to when tutorials can take place taking into consideration fund drives or other special programming planned. It should be noted too that at the time of the election KPFA did not have a Program Director or GM, making the situation even more challenging.
4. Unpaid Staff Organization (UPSO): Having better communication with the Unpaid Staff Organization. The UPSO just recently got reestablished at KPFA so I understand it makes it a little more difficult, however for future elections I think it is very important that the UPSO’s reps work directly with the LES to help facilitate the communication with a lot of the unpaid staff programmers. I suggest meeting with the UPSO reps during the first weeks and especially going over the unpaid staff list as soon as the job begins and also as an opportunity to become familiar with some of the unpaid staff programmers.
5. Local Station Board (LSB): Set up a system where the LES has a slot in the monthly local station board meeting agenda to discuss updates on the campaign.
Local Election Supervisor
If I were to do the job again, I would immediately ask the GM to send out an all staff email outlining the airtime election requirements. I never asked Ahmad to send out an email. Instead I was trying to get him to help me establish a working relationship with the staff, which would have been ideal, but things would have been easier if I had pushed for an all staff email from the start. Overall I think that establishing a collaborative relationship is better than using the more top-down approach of sending an email with a mandate on tutorials. I was also spending a lot of time and energy talking to paid staff programmers individually to push for a 15-minute tutorial and did not focus that much on the unpaid staff and the shows after 7pm. I could have tried to set up a plan, shift change (to use union terminology), with the UPSO rep or the election committee to make it a goal to meet every single programmer that has a show from 7pm-12am, and a plan to visit the weekend music shows and obtain their contact information. I did this briefly but not as often as I should have.
Candidate Recruitment Methods:
During the nomination I took it upon myself to do candidate outreach and contacted some nonprofit organizations and people I knew who I thought could make good candidates due to their political and activist affiliations. But this did not work since to be able to recruit you first have to develop some kind of relationship with the individual or with the organization. Later on I met with some KPFA programmers and they questioned my outreach efforts saying that it could become a conflict of interest. I thought about this and I see how it could become a conflict of interest due to the fact that to do outreach I’ll be contacting people or organizations that I choose according to my principles. The way I see it though, is that if those organizations are in line with the mission of Pacifica and KPFA, of peace and social justice, then I don’t think it becomes a conflict of interest. Candidates will still have to be elected by the listeners. I would recommend considering the following recruitment methods:
1. Election by category: (grassroots efforts vs. airtime)
- LES to recruit 5 people from nonprofit world
- LES to recruit other 5 people from the academic, union world
- Recruit 3 from artistic and music community
- Allocate some slots for individual listeners
- Allocate slots for slates
- Extend the membership deadline for those who are running. Give them the option to become members as they get involved to run.
2. No Election-Only slates
-Slates each choose 5 representatives and each conduct their own recruitment and lead their own qualification processes.
I think staff candidates should be required to perform a number of tasks to help mobilize the vote within the station. Throughout the election I had this idea of developing a staff survey with the staff running and have them distribute the survey among their colleagues at the station. They could divide the staff list and be in charge of a certain group of people to talk to and to get them to vote.
5. What went well (support from staff, NES, LSB, etc).
Staff, NES, LSB, etc:
I would say that the most support I got from KPFA was being able to work with technical engineer Deverol (Dev) Ross and his assistance with CART production and instructions on station procedures as related to the task at hand. Also, I think something that went very well was that the CARTs produced were aired very shortly, two days after being dropped on DAD’s, and I thank Vini Beachman program coordinator for his assistance with this task. Overall the KPFA staff was all very respectful and very pleasant and I did not have any problems setting up an office, the computer, and gaining access to the keys, printing codes and door code. Renee, the NES, did a very good job producing quality CARTs with voices of political and cultural figures such as Lila Downs and Mumia Abu Jamal. Renee diligently also designed and provided postcards for local election supervisors to distribute. Would like to thank Esther Manilla, Morning Show producer, for voice recording my first Cart, the one you are expected to produce on your first week, and Sabrina Jacobs for lending her beautiful voice for some election announcement recordings.
C. CAMPAIGN (July 19-August 5th ballots sent).
1. Technical Information
On Air Forums-
- We had 18 hours of on air forums allocated out of which 16 hours were used for that purpose.
- Forums were divided into 3 rounds and each round was made up of six hours of one-hour forum per round for a total of 18 hours, 18 shows.
-I used the format provided by Renee (the NES) on the on air forum guidelines which gave each candidate a chance to answer a main questions while others got the chance to reply to that candidate’s answer to that question. The candidate who was being asked the main question had 2 minutes to respond, while the others response was 1 minute each, and 1 more minute for the main candidate to reply to the responses for a total of 6 minute per question segment depending if there were 4 or 5 candidates participating. We accepted calls from listeners during the last 15 min and had a music break in the middle.
Lists of Community Forums: (in chronological order from August 15 to Sept.22h).
1.Berkeley- CdP hosted at the Fellowship of Unitarian Universalist Church.
2.ILWU- labor union in San Francisco
3.West Oakland- Black Dot café
4.Concord-Diablo College Students for a Democratic Society
5.San Rafael- Marin Peace and Justice Center
6.Berkeley Community Media Public Access TV
7.Santa Rosa- Santa Rosa Peace and Justice Center
8.San Jose- San Jose Peace and Justice Center
Election Committee REPORT:
Sally Sommer from Election Committee about CdP forum in Berkeley:
“The Berkeley Candidate forum took place early in the campaign period. It was sponsored by the CdP coordinating committee, Coalition for a democratic Pacifica, which has sponsored forums for all the elections. It was held at the BFUU. Announcements were primarily on line through peoples email lists and listed on the election website. Approximately 19 candidates were present and 50-55 listeners. As I recall, there were 3 CL/SKPFA candidates and the rest were from the 2 other slates and those not affiliated with any slate. After the welcoming, the candidates each had 1 minute to introduce themselves to the whole audience.
The format was 5-6 small groups around the hall with 3-4 candidates moving together from group every 20 minutes or so. There was a facilitator in each group, from the election committee and from CdP. Listeners asked questions of the candidates in the groups and if they directed their question at one candidate other candidates also had an opportunity to answer. This is the format CdP has used for their forums and it seems to work to give listeners the best opportunity to interact with candidates. I know that my voting preferences changed after meeting candidates in this way. At the end there was another 20-30 minutes for listeners and candidates to mingle informally. Food and drink were provided.
One thing the election committee could do to improve attendance is having sufficient lead time before forums and make sure that they will get air play. Email announcements should be sent out at least 2 weeks in advance, and then followed up with a reminder. That probably means the committee would have to be scheduling forums before the nominating period ends. Air play for forums is also problematic, we need to have the station managers facilitating support for the elections on the air or have another person handle the stations election coverage. There were guidelines approved by the PNB last year, that I believe would have the GM suspended for the period. I have not yet known a station manager who required or even promoted on-air programmers signing the FCP.
I thought the signature gathering events at the station were good, people came by specifically to meet some of the candidates in a friendly atmosphere. But it turned out not to be an especially good way to meet and talk to candidates since some people brought multiple petitions for candidates who did not show up. I think the discussions among the listeners and potential candidates were very informative. We also had a signature gathering event at Expressions Gallery which I also thought was quite successful. Maybe in the future multiple events can be set up early, some in the daytime and some evenings with candidates required to bring their own petitions.”
Stan Woods writes on ILWU forum, Diablo College and San Jose forums:
“The KPFA Election committee determined early on in the process that we would hold candidate forums throughout the Listening area. After all while KPFA is physically located in Berkeley it's not a '' Berkeley's station. It has one of the largest listening ranges of any FM station in the country, from Santa Rosa in the North to San Jose in the South and via KFCF Fresno and the Central Valley. With the exception of Fresno (which we did consider) we succeeded. We reached out to groups who benefited from the '' Voice of the Voiceless ''' to assist us in building forums in their respective areas and/or for their constituencies. We had varying degrees of success with that outreach. For example we wanted to have both a San Francisco forum and a event oriented towards Labor. So we contacted Ships Clerk #34 ILWU to see if we could hold the event in their hall (located on the Waterfront next to Willie Mays stadium (AKA '' ATT Park''). They immediately agreed and even waived the usual rental fee. They announced the forum at their membership meeting and urged the Local #34 brothers and sisters to attend.
We also solicited the support of the Bay Area Committee Against the War, SF Bay View (National Black Newspaper) and the Multi-union Transport Workers Solidarity Committee (I'm a active member of the latter organization). The two Labor affiliated committees published the forum via their e-lists and the SF Bay View published a announcement in their paper. The forum was held on Aug. 28. All three slates sent three candidates a piece. Local 34 's former Secretary -Treasurer Russ Miyashiso welcomed the crowd and spoke how important KPFA and Pacifica was to the Labor movement .I also spoke briefly on that theme. Oriana Saportas, the Local Election supervisor talked about the importance of the democratic process and explained the ground rules for the forum. After their opening statements each slate (Voices for Justice, Independents for Community Radio, and Save KPFA) asked the other slates questions. Later on it was opened up to Q and A from the audience followed by closing statements
Overall the event was good with the discussion clearly showing the different perspectives the three slates had regarding the future of the station and the network . The attendance was disappointing. In a hall that can seat three hundred there were no more than twenty five listeners (and not all of them Trade Unionists or SF residents) and most of them over fifty years in age.
Diablo College Forum:
In sharp Contrast was the Sept. 7 forum In Concord. I had contacted both the Students for a Democratic Society of Diablo Valley Community College and Mt. Diablo Peace center, prominent progressive organizations in Contra Costa County, asking them to co-sponsor the forum. The Peace Center never replied but the SDS chapter did with enthusiasms. They distributed hundreds of leaflets both at their campus and elsewhere in the area. When the College administration denied them permission to hold the forum on campus they were undeterred. They contacted a local Round Table Pizza and convinced the manager to allow them to hold the event in their sizable back room (usually used for Kid's Birthday parties ) without charge . Over 40 attended, over half in their twenties, and many Latino, Asian , and Native American. The walls of the corporate franchise's back room were plastered with posters ranging from calling for withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq to Solidarity with the labor Movement . Unfortunately only five candidates attended, all four of the Voices for Justice candidates and one independent. The discussion was far more informal than the SF event and the floor discussion was very lively. The forum also served the dual function as a outreach event for the station. Not all of the students were regular listeners, a few had never tuned in but were excited by a station who reflected their viewpoints and who they hoped would give them a voice, in sharp contrast to the local corporate media who either ignored or slandered them. Those present who were well aware of Pacifica were very appreciative of it being held in their county ( and some wondered what took KPFA so long )
San Jose Peace and Justice Center forum:
On Sept. 23 the San Jose Peace and Justice Center hosted a forum at their office located near the San Jose State University. That proximity to the campus didn't impact the audience, the dozen-to fifteen attending were all Long time South Bay activists.
Only four candidates attended, two from Voices for Justice, one from the Independents for Community Radio and one Independent. The discussion was intense though and it should be noted in this age of multiple e lists one attendee's observations and candidate recommendations can reach dozens or even hundreds via the Internet. Overall while our work was far from flawless taking into consideration the limited (at best ) co-operation from Station mgmt, the tiny treasury , and our limited numbers , we accomplished quite a bit.”
Summary Report on North Bay/Sonoma Community Candidate Forum:
“Sunday Sept 19 at Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County, Santa Rosa
The North Bay area candidate forum was arranged and coordinated by the KPFA Election Committee (EC), working with local KPFA community activists Adrienne Lauby, Attila Nagy and Jim Curtis. The Sonoma Peace and Justice Center provided their facility in Santa Rosa and encouraged members to attend the forum. Adrienne (KPFA volunteer programmer) produced a creative KPFA cart announcement for the event.
About 15-20 local listeners (including above activists), three EC members and LES Oriana Saportas participated in the forum with 9 candidates including: 4 ICR slate candidates, 3 VFJR , one SKPFA and one unaffiliated candidate.
Local and candidate attendance was probably affected by the first rainy day of the season. The forum date was toward the end of the campaign period and weeks after ballots were mailed; obviously attendance would have benefited from an earlier scheduled date, inclusion in the Peace and Justice Center monthly publication and earlier, more frequent cart announcements. Also, additional local progressive groups and activists could be involved in forum organizing and publicity.
EC member Bob English chaired the forum; he and Adrienne spoke about the role of North Bay listeners in the 1999 Pacifica/KPFA crisis and the listener democracy movement. The candidate forum consisted of: a) short opening and closing candidate statements; b) candidate responses to an EC question on the nature of the "KPFA community or communities," community outreach and program needs; c) candidate responses to several audience questions, the primary forum content, including some lively listener-candidate exchanges.”
END of Election Committee Report
-7 x day rotated over a month and half
-Each candidate statement CART played about 18 times total.
-Each CART was 1 minute and included 2, 30-second statements from
candidates representing two different slates.
-Candidates got to pick their music background.
-There were 2 staff forums. One in the evening and one during lunch
- Most of the paid staff attended the daytime staff forum.
-Only a few people such as Adrienne Lobby from Pushing Limits, Sharon Sobotta, volunteer news reporter, and Lisa Dettmer and Yvette Hochberg from Women’s Magazine from unpaid staff came to the night forum. Brian Edwards-Tiekert and Dennis Bernstein from paid staff attended the meeting.
-The format of the forums was open so that staff can ask questions directly
to the candidates.
2. Main Obstacle / Recommendations-
Candidate On Air Forum Participation
-Ideally each slate is represented in each hour of forums but sometimes this is difficult due to the lack of participation of some of the candidates. Many of the candidates from Save KPFA slate did not participate in the forums. My recommendation would be to either make it obligatory for candidates to show up at a minimum number of these forums, or change the on air forum methodology a bit to adjust it more to the election needs at the time and maybe have less on air forums and more one on one interview with candidates.
-It was still very challenging to get a good turn out to these events. We produced CARTs for every one of them but still that was not enough. The reality is that outreach takes a lot of time and energy and there was no time to do that especially when we scheduled 8 community forums over a one- month period. I would advise to organize no more than 3 of these forums in SF, Oakland, 1 in Berkeley, and 1 in Santa Rosa and take more time to develop turnout strategies for each location such as doing some phone banking. I was also difficult to get candidates to show up at all the forums. My recommendation would be to either have fewer forums or make it obligatory for each slate to send two or three representatives to each forum, or give candidates a certain minimum of forums to attend.
- As instructed by the NES, we were to record 30 second statements so that each one minute CART included two candidate statements. The reasoning for this was so for each candidate to be paired with another candidate from a different slate to prevent some of the partisan staff from airing certain carts over others and to avoid blames of favoritism. Though Cart rotation went well, in regards to equality of airtime for each cart (candidate) and number of rotations, the LES did not have any control of the rotation schedule. Renee and I had proposed to the iGM and Vini, the programming coordinator, that the LES could develop and manage a cart rotation schedule. The iGM did not cooperate to enable a conversation between me and Vini and Vini refused to accept this offer stating that CART rotation was part of his job and that taking this task away from him should involve the staff union. Had this system (having 2 slates in each one-minute cart) not been used, then not having control of the cart rotation would have become problematic for obvious reasons.
3. Dealing with station and election realities
On Air Violations and Save KPFA name:
It was difficult to deal with the complaints received from listeners and from the election committee regarding the use of the Save KPFA name without a disclaimer plus dealing with the pressure to get airtime to counteract the declarations made on the two shows that aired during the nomination period against the election. Not sure what the proposed penalty could have been if asking for more primetime airtime was definitely not an option.
Personal Attacks during On Air and Community Forums
It was inevitable preventing candidates from name-calling and personal attacks during a lot of the on air and community forums. It was part of the on air moderators script to make it very clear that name-calling was not allowed and moderators were instructed to interrupt candidates who were doing it.
Even though improvements were made during the last round of forums, it was still very difficult to ask candidates to refrain from personal attacks when they claim they are talking from personal experience and are discussing what they consider to be facts.
On-Air Forum Questionnaire
Some staff had issues with the questions I developed for the on air forums. They criticized the fact that I was stating things in an opposing way and that it came across as favoring one of the slates. I don’t think this was my intention, more than that I just wanted to highlight the differences that exist within the slates with the hope that understanding those differences will help slates work better together and give listeners a good foundation for voting.
4. Recommendations for improvement of election process
-Radio forums should have started very soon after the nomination period. A majority of votes came during the first ballot pick up so it is important to inform voters sooner than later. We did not have the first forum until one month into the campaign phase after ballots were sent.
- Also, not sure if it is better to keep all the on air forums during the same time slot instead of making it different for each round. We had on air forums from 2-4pm weekdays during the first round and I think that was the time when we got the most callers. It could help keeping forums consistent so listeners know when to tune in to get election content and those who can not tune in at the time can go to the archives.
- Having 18 hours of on air forums I think may also be too much of the same. I would suggest for the next election to divide up the time and structure it a little bit more so as to produce a variety of shows. As for example having 6 hours to air conversations with slate representatives and board members who are not running, or with others connected with KPFA, to discuss what elections are about and the vision of community and independent media. The other 6 hours could be used in combination with the hours allocated for candidate statements rotation and therefore have longer candidate statements. This time we had two, 30-second candidate statements per 1 minute CART in rotation. I think it would be better to have 2-minute candidate statements so that listeners can get a better picture of each candidate since it is the only time they get to listen to each one individually. The final remaining 6 hours could be used as a one-time candidate radio debate with 4 candidates per each hour of debate. Ideally I think it should be up to the election supervisor in collaboration with staff management to decide what works best for the election in regards to the use of airtime during the campaign phase, of course as long as there are already some parameters negotiated between the ED or PNB and management.
5. Went well (KPFA Staff, NES, LSB, Community Support).
Things got much better during the campaign period and even the staff that is not supportive of the elections was somewhat supportive. I remember calling a meeting with some of the programmers to discuss the on air forums and Aileen Alfandary, Laura Prives, and Mitch showed up. At some point I had this idea of recording questions from the staff and have them aired as part of the on air forums and Mitch said that he would participate and even gave me some feedback on how to go about doing the recordings; Laura Prives lent me the “KPFA On the Air” DVD which was helpful. Overall, I felt more comfortable with the staff and some form of communication had been established with management now that Amelia Gonzales, iAM was back. I was also more familiar with station procedures and use of live reads, and had learned to use the studio for basic recording. I was also in constant communication with the person in charge of website updates, Miguel Guerrero, updating the website on-air forum information and election deadlines. Dennis Bernstein host of Flashpoints agreed to record a CART encouraging people to vote and it worked pretty well. Esther Manilla, producer of the Morning Show, was also helping with online outreach through the Morning Show’s Facebook page. Amelia Gonzales was also very helpful and easy to work with during the scheduling of the 18 hours of on air forums. Sharon Sobotta, volunteer news reporter, helped with the recording of the staff candidate forums. Micki Mayzes, director of the Apprenticeship program, helped me produce the community forum at Berkeley Community Media and helped put a crew together for the show that took place in the big studio at BCM. Renee, the NES, did a great job by providing candidate statement recording guidelines and community forum and on air forum guidelines which included samples of last year’s scripts, run sheet for board op, on air ground rules for candidates and an explanation of various forum formats that we could choose from.
Candidate statement recordings
To schedule the 27 candidates, I used this automated scheduling system Renee told me about which made it very easy for candidates to schedule themselves. Frank Sterling, technical director in the Apprenticeship program, trained me in basic studio recording and Dev Ross took the lead editing all the candidate statements and music, since each candidate got to pick their own music. Sabrina Jacobs, news reporter volunteer, was also very supportive and helped me record one night of candidate statements.
The on air forums were a lot of fun. The best part was that I got to pick who was going to facilitate the shows and I ended up having some of my friends become the moderators for the show. I also liked taking time to pick the music for the intro, middle and outro of the shows. It was also fun developing the questions for the candidates and engaging with the candidates in this process. It was just great to have access to the live studio and to a board op and to have the election committee to assist during the production of the shows. And I think the coordination of all these went really well. It was great working with Carmen Reed from the Apprenticeship, Jesse Strauss from Flashpoints, Sabrina Jacobs news volunteer, and Joy Moore from KPFA who helped facilitate the forums. Dev Ross, engineer, was very helpful helping me to schedule and get in touch with all the board ops. The board ops this time were Jill from Voices of the Middle East, Sally paid staff, Gary Baca and Rod and they all were great to work with.
Community Support-Election Committee
The election committee took the lead in organizing the community forums. They contacted the host organizations and also helped facilitate the forums. We used various formats for each forum so they were all different depending on the audience participating. Even though turnout was not the best, all of the forums were still successful in their own way, especially because the candidates used this time this to discuss their differences, and similarities, in some cases. Every forum was recorded either in audio or video. The video at the ILWU forum in SF was edited and distributed online. At the Black dot Café in West Oakland we had blockreport.org creator and KPFA host JR Valerie moderating and it felt like a productive intimate conversation with the candidates.
D. Ballot Reissuing and Receipt Phase
1. Technical Info
Total Number of Ballots counted:
P.O Box in Berkeley:
Pick Up Date Number of Envelopes
Sept.8: 1392 6
Sept.10: 216 1
Sept.15: 207 9
Sept.22: 363 7
Sept.29: 694 14
Sept.30th at 1pm: 175 0
Oct.1st: 52 0
Sept.19: 24 14
Sept.22: 4 4
Sept.25: 13 9
Sept.30th at noon 85 33
Sept.30t midnight: 240 32
L 3465 S129
TOTAL Listener envelopes: 3465
TOTAL Staff envelopes: 129
Note that the number of raw listener and staff ballots that were actually counted later on during ballot count is different due to variables such as listeners including two ballots in one envelop or staff ballots placed inside listener envelopes.
Ballots Returned: 30
Ballot Pick Up Witnesses:
-Virginia Browning, Sally Sommer, Stan Woods and Perrine Kelley from the election committee.
-Margy Wilkinson, one of the candidates from Save KPFA slate, came as an observer to most ballot pick ups and John Van Eyck from the community and save KPFA supporter came towards the end, during the last two days and to help out during vote count.
2. Obstacles / Recommendations
-Some people never received a ballot because they were never added to the membership list. The three main reasons for not being on the eligible voters membership list were:
1. People who became members as a result of having volunteered the 3 hours. Volunteers, who qualified as members, never received a ballot unless they contacted me directly to request one.
2. Became members on the last day of the nomination deadline, which is also the deadline to become a member eligible to vote.
3. Pay monthly dues to KPFA.
- I would first recommend the volunteer department at KPFA to make sure to input all the volunteer sign in sheet names into electronic data on an excel sheet and I would recommend Chris from membership to somehow make sure that these people are counted as members and are on the membership list. With the help from Sally, from the election committee, we inputted all the data from sign in sheets that Phil and Maria from membership had given me. Ballots that were sent to them had to be reissued ballots.
- I would recommend that a separate list of members be created for the monthly dues category and for those who became members on the last day.
Ballots at KPFA:
-Some staff and listeners were leaving ballots with the receptionist at KPFA or under my office door. For this reason, a ballot box had to be placed at the reception area at KPFA. The NES and EC thought this was not a good idea and that all ballots should be mailed directly to the PO Box. I did not have any problems with this system and I think it worked well to have the box at the reception.
3. Dealing with Station and Election Realities
Election Committee issuing ballots
During the last day of voting things can get pretty hectic and the LES barely has time to take a lunch break. At some point I left a few members of the election committee in charge of issuing the ballots. This resulted in a lot of chaos within the station when some staff realized that Stan from the election committee was in my office issuing ballots. Staff started questioning the validity of the election saying that Stan, as a partisan, could have modified the list or could have given out pins to anyone he wanted. I understand staff’s concerns and distrust, due to the political situation at KPFA, however, it is written on the bylaws that the LES can choose to work with an election committee to assist her in her tasks. It also should be noted that regardless if EC members are partisan, when they are working as election committee they are neutral and are only performing their tasks in the interest of the democratic process of the election. Aileen Alfandary therefore called a meeting soon after this incident occurred, a few days after the voting deadline, so that I could clarify for the staff what had actually happened. I think the meeting was beneficial, not only because I had the chance to explain myself but also because I had the chance to express some of my frustrations of the election process to most of the paid staff who came to this meeting.
4. Recommendations for improvement of election process
Listener and Staff Lists
I think the LES should be more involved in the ballot mailing and list management process. I think the LES should be the one in charge of making sure there are no duplicates and comparing and contrasting the lists before the mailing.
5. Went well (support).
Overall Chris Stehlik from membership was very helpful when it came to confirming those who qualified as members, always very prompt in his response. The election committee once again was very supportive working really hard coming to every single ballot pick up with me.
E. Ballot Count Phase
1. Technical Information
Listener total ballots counted: 3465
Staff total: 167
The ballot count took place at the Alternative Press location in Berkeley where it has been for the past few years. The voting deadline was on Thursday Sept.30th. We started counting ballots the following week on Friday October 8th at 5pm and ended on Monday October 11th at 9am. Overall the ballot count went really smoothly, no real drama except during the last day when Renee decided to go overnight to finish counting the ballots. Some of the candidates were concerned that they were not going to be able to be present. Other than that the other challenging situation was that it took a long time to scan ballots due to the fact that we only had one scanner. Overall the counting system that Renee set in place worked pretty well. During the first night we opened envelopes and compared the number of ballots on the log with the actual number that we found in the boxes. The second day was mostly inputting the actual ballot code in the counting software and the third and last day we were scanning ballots all day. Overall there were a lot of people willing to help who volunteered with what is somewhat of a tedious task.
2. Obstacles / Recommendations
It would have been beneficial for the LES to take notes of the ballots counted every step of the way. I was paying really close attention to the count but never wrote the numbers down. To obtain the final STV results for this report I had to call the election committee to email me the numbers. So for future LES’s, I recommend that you keep a journal of everything that happens during ballot count.
3. Recommendations for improvement of election process
I would recommend that the NES be very clear on what happens after ballot count, specifically as to the certification process and I would suggest the NES to work with the LES on the certification process going over all the violations and also as a chance to debrief the campaign and get feedback for report.
F. LES Fair Election Evaluation-
-Paid staff aired two tutorials; the Doug Henwood show Saturday mornings, interviewing Pacifica historian Matthew Lasar and another with Sasha Lilley interviewing Ian Boal on Against the Grain. During both shows listeners were persuaded from [meaning discouraged from] voting on the elections.
-No airtime was allocated on any of the primetime shows for tutorials, encouraging people to vote.
-Most of the election airtime was relegated to CARTs rotation and live reads. No meaningful tutorial was produced by any of the paid staff of programmers. Unpaid staff as well mostly aired Carts to fulfill airtime requirement and very few tutorials.
-I believe staff should be allowed to express their dissatisfaction of the election process as long as there is equal amount of airtime to expose the other more neutral point of view that educates listeners about the role of the LSB and elections.
Use of the KPFA name
-At this stage the slate most commonly known as Concerned Listeners (CL), changed their name to Save KPFA. Immediately listeners who had been involved with the original Save KPFA of 1999 to really save kpfa from commercial takeover submitted complaints on this matter on the basis of two things. First, the fact that the name has been recognized historically to be the name of the struggles of 1999 and that the name should be grandfathered as a historical Pacifica name. Secondly, using the KPFA name on a slate should not be allowed as it would give more advantage to the group using it and it was not allowed in the past when the slate Voices for Justice had tried to use the name.
Fundraiser of slate Save KPFA with no disclaimer
Due to the fact that paid staff is allied with the Save KPFA slate there was confusion during a fundraiser at Humanist Hall announcing a fundraiser to save kpfa without indicating that the name save kpfa was a noun, a slate name, and not a verb, as to the act of saving kpfa.
The Save KPFA slate sent out a colorful mailer that would arrive at the same time when the ballot arrived. The mailer had the names of all the paid staff and notorious labor leaders endorsing those candidates. To me having the paid staff endorse a listener slate is a conflict of interest because this is the core paid staff that most listeners trust and know and they produce primetime shows that air almost every day of the week. Therefore listeners, who are not too familiar with KPFA politics, are going to want to vote for whomever the celebrities they know and trust are supporting.
Using on air debate slot time for an LSB show
Due to the lack of candidate participation in these forums, I made the executive decision that instead of using the 6 hours of time allocated for on air debates, that I was going to use 4 hours. I decided to give one hour back to KPFA and the other hour I offered to the LSB for an LSB show. This created chaos within the station because I did not let anybody know of the change beforehand and because the LSB did not get ahead notice. I thought that I did not have to tell anybody as it was time allocated for elections and having an LSB show was very appropriate in its relation to the election. Also because the show was going to be about community media and had two guest speakers from Chicago Media Action to discuss concepts of community media and elected boards for public media organizations. I agree that the show could have come across as partisan when the interviewees, two community media theorists, discussed in length the subject of professionalism. And since professionalism was a hot topic during the election it made sense that if the guest speakers were against professionalism that the show would become a partisan show. The way I see it is that if the whole professionalism theory is a debated subject within community media and a reality to grapple with, why not then talk about it and let listeners decide for themselves. Since there was not a point person assigned by the Local Station Board to talk to the LES, it was easier for me to contact Sasha Futran, who had moderated these shows in the past and whom I had a relationship as a result of the shows and her involvement with the elections. I think it is important that the LSB assigns someone from each slate to communicate with the LES and that way both slates have an opportunity to build a relationship with the Local Election Supervisor.
3. Sept. 29th and Sept. 30th
On air statements of Sept.29th and Sept. 30th
- A day before the election
voting deadline there were various programs: Letters to Washington, Against the Grain, and the Morning Show, that started a ‘rumor’ that three PNB representatives, out of which two were running, were developing a political hit list to get some paid staff fired. They never mentioned the PNB reps or the election per se but it was a complicated situation to deal with as it happened a day before the deadline and emails kept pouring both from listeners and those supporting the PNB representatives mentioned, expressing outrage of what was said on the air.
1st: Information leaked out of a meeting that was supposed to be confidential in nature. An oath was taken by kpfa management representatives, PNB reps, and Pacifica’s ED who were at this meeting to not divulge anything being proposed at the meeting.
2nd: Programmers who revealed this information were too quick in reporting on this situation without doing research and getting the facts from the other side.
3rd: Attacks were made to Pacifica National Board representatives, where two out of three happened to be candidates running. They both belonged to the same slate.
4th: No equal airtime permitted.
It is understandable, as in any workplace situation, that if one’s job is threatened that one has the right to fight for it and use every strategy to try to retain it. And why not do it through the airwaves if you have access to it and can talk to the people that of course support you since they are listening to you. The only difference here is that the staff that made these announcements is the same staff that has already publicly endorsed one of the slates and is announcing this in the middle of a fundrive, two days before the election deadline to vote. And on top of this, the staff union who represents paid programmers at KPFA, contributes to this situation taking credit for having been the receivers of this alleged misdirected email with a political hit list. So it could have been a fundraiser tactic, an election move to get more people to support Save KPFA, or both, or simple fear of losing the job, but that we don’t know. As the local election supervisor, I thought the best way to make sure this did not interfere with the election was to try to push for airtime so that those who were being attacked had a say on what had happened or at least to try to get the iGM to make an official report quickly enough before the deadline. No airtime was allowed.
4. Election Committee Proposal for FCP Violation Complaint Process
Improvement and Election Committee Volunteer Support by Bob
English from the Election Committee
The National Election Supervisor (NES) is responsible for developing, revising, communicating and enforcing Fair Campaign Practice (FCP) regulations, including review, investigation, remedy and reporting of complaints of FCP violations. As in past elections several FCP violation complaints were submitted by letter or on the complaint form provided on the Pacifica election website. However, in this election we know of only one or two instances of NES follow up and involvement with campaign practice violations in the KPFA election. A number of complaints may've been filed without follow up or response.
From past election experience and conversation with current NES Renee Astoria, it is clear that the NES has nominal responsibility but practically no time, staff (besides local supervisors), resources or support for campaign violation complaint recording, investigation and resolution. The reality is, during and after the campaign/voting period, the election supervisors and resources are geared toward other pressing and priority tasks, processes and objectives. The primary focus is on daily election functions, communications and the primary election operations (e.g. ballot distribution, vote counting) which tend to ignore, obscure and replace official or practical concerns about campaign violations. Almost by practical necessity the NES usually can't prioritize or attend to complaint investigation and resolution even though part of the job description. They simply don't have the staff, resources or support from Pacifica and station management to do much more than manage the daily events, details and minutiae of the election process - including listening, reading and responding to hundreds of voice and e-mail messages, providing ballots, arranging and producing election information and events, meeting with management, staff and volunteer support, etc.
The result is campaign violations and complaints can occur without sufficient NES follow up, corrective action or consequences and may be repeated with impunity before becoming part of the NES election report and recommendations. In order to ensure fair elections the campaign violation complaint process and resources must be augmented and taken seriously.
Obviously with current Pacifica finances additional election staff will not soon be available for the complaint process. So it seems reasonable and practical that the volunteer Election Committee at each station should be considered as a first line resource and be recruited, oriented and structured more as a staff support group to better assist the election supervisors in their many duties and daily tasks, allowing the NES more time to investigate and resolve campaign violation complaints. The EC and LES should also back up and assist the NES in the complaint process, including recording, processing, research and investigation of filed complaints; monitoring and reporting of on-air election commentary and potential FCP violations, and providing input to NES decisions on the validity of complaints and effective remedies.
Working as the local election supervisor was a very positive experience. As the Local Election Supervisor (LES) one does have to wear many hats, however the expectations are very much in line with the understanding that you have to fulfill all these various roles and it is up to the LES to prioritize the tasks at hand. I know that as part of my priorities for example I lacked giving more attention to public relations (PR) to try to get the word out through local newspapers, organization’s newsletters, etc or producing election content outside of KPFA airwaves. But again, there are so many elements as part of a campaign that there is only so much one person can do.
To answer the question if I would do the job again, I don’t think I would do the job again, not so much because of the job itself, but because of where I am at in my life and in my relationship with KPFA, I think it is time for me to move on and do something different. However, if I were to do the job again I would do it if there were a better relationship of collaboration established between Pacifica, the local station management, and the local station boards. I would also like it if there were more space for the LES to develop more of a voice regarding the importance of elected boards for public media organizations. In my job as the LES I found myself spending a lot of time pushing management to air election material or wrapped up in election’s politics, which takes away from time that can be utilized to do other more creative things. What I mean by the LES having more of a voice has to do with the LES having more of a role as a producer of shows working with programmers to develop exciting and radical election shows that would get the community involved and having more of a say during on air and community forum facilitation about the meaning of community media for social change.
Overall I learned that there is a lot of contention within KPFA, the elections, and the local station board (LSB), and therefore the whole station is polarized. I think one of the main problems stems from the fact that some of the paid staff, who also serves on the LSB, supports one of the slates- the “Save KPFA” slate, as a way to keep some form of control over the board and not so much because they genuinely think that Save KPFA has a real vision for community media and on how to engage more listeners through the governance structure. In the first place, by opposing the elections and Pacifica’s governance structure, these staff is preventing the community from truly getting involved in the election process. Secondly, by allying themselves with one of the slates, they are perpetuating the fight within the board, which is what makes the board ungovernable. This dismantles the board’s real potential and makes it very difficult for the LSB to do what they need to be doing, which is bringing more listeners and therefore more money to the station. To me this has to do with the fact that there has not been any real discussion as to the role of the Local Station Board (LSB) in programming.
A. OBSTACLES TO DEMOCRACY at KPFA and to Fair Elections:
1. Role of the LSB in Programming:
To me one of the most important roles of the board of a community media radio station, such as KPFA, is the board’s relationship with programming but at KPFA this role is not clearly defined and neither the staff or the slates on the board seem to want to define it or to even want to elaborate on what the bylaws say in regards to the LSB and programming. The differences of opinion among the slates makes it very difficult for the LSB to be the ideal functional body that I am sure it was intended to be and unless there is a clear definition of the role of the LSB with the staff and the role of the LSB in programming, it is difficult to reach any consensus within KPFA and no peace within its board and the elections. The role of a nonprofit board is to oversee and empower the ED or GM of an organization by developing the overall policies that will guide the staff that is in charge of developing programming. Though the board does not have a direct relationship with programming, it does have a say on the guidelines of the programming, since this has to do with creating policies. On the one hand there is Save KPFA, which advocates for minimum interference of the board in anything related to collaborating with the unpaid staff, or the community, especially in regards to programming. Then there is ICR, which advocates for a more collaborative relationship with the community of listeners and unpaid staff in the overall decision-making process. The reason I think that it is relevant to talk about programming on this report and about the issues that exist within the board, is because these are things that need to be addressed by the LSB in order for the board to be an actual functional board that is really accountable to the KPFA community that depends on a public media institution like KPFA. I really don’t see the point of having board elections unless the LSB becomes the real functional body that it was intended to be by those who created the bylaws in 1999-2001 to save KPFA from commercial takeover.
2. LSB and OUTREACH:
The problem I see with the current board is that they do not see themselves doing outreach in any way to the communities that KPFA should be engaging. Having 25 people on the board is a lot, in the same way they can do a lot. I think having a board with 25 people is an ideal scenario to reach out to the various communities KPFA wants to engage with, which in turn will bring more listeners to the station and therefore more funding. 25 people can do a lot to help mobilize the Bay Area community to become involved in the struggle for media democracy that is so essential for social change. I think that the if we start changing our modes of thinking to a way of thinking that is more enlightening and process oriented rather than product oriented westernized ways of seeing the world, we will be better equipped to discuss this matter on how the board engages with programming. As in any process thinking there is context and content. To me the role of the board in programming has to do with providing context and the staff the actual content. Context is structure, the board serves to physically help the staff connect with the communities that can provide those stories that make for exciting and radical media. The staff (paid or volunteer staff) then is in charge of producing the actual content and transforming life into stories through the creative process of media and journalism. The board connects the staff with communities in grassroots and the staff connects listeners with communities in representation, media. And this is how we transform public discourse, which in turn effects people's actions and influences public policy.
3. LSB bringing politics to the table:
The problem I see with a lot of the board members is that they bring politics and ideology to the table. I believe there is a way for the board to talk about programming without necessarily discussing content per se but context. I believe that by focusing on content, as for example, anti Zionist vs. Zionist programming, we ran into the risk of getting into politics and get trapped in identity politics struggles of isolation. However if we talk about context, we are better able to shift the conversation to what makes sense and what is good for everybody, what makes sense for a better and more sustainable world for everyone. I want to point out to a quote by Eleanor McKinney who was one of the original KPFA’s program directors back in the days: “ Pacifica was not political; it was human…Peace was the real meaning of Pacifica. It meant let us reason together and explore together and even have compassion for each other in the process (Active Radio, Jeff Land, pg.145).” To me this is what real radical pacifism is about, about opening the channels of communication so that all points of view can be heard in the process of negotiating a more sustainable and just society. Now, as to the type of communities that the board should engage with I think are the communities that make up the social justice movement as well as kpfa's and Pacifica's mission of peace and social justice. But after having attended all the candidate community forums and hearing candidates debate, I would say that the board at KPFA really needs to have an honest conversation and revise the mission statement and its significance and really define which communities KPFA and Pacifica should be collaborating with or representing.
4. LSB and slates differences:
One of the main differences among the slates and a reason for its dysfunction has to do with their opposed visions for community media and for KPFA. On the one hand there is Save KPFA who believes the board should have minimal or no influence over any programming decisions. Then there is ICR and VFJ advocating for a Program Council where programming decisions would be made collectively by a coalition of people made up of the board, staff (paid and unpaid) and the community. On the one hand Save KPFA exemplifies a more individualistic approach to media, where the audience is more of a passive consumer of information, and ICR and VFJ represent a more community-oriented approach to media where programming is geared towards audience development for community building. By advocating for professionalism the slate Save KPFA prefers a more top bottom, or linear approach to programming where content decisions are made by a few on the KPFA staff. On the other hand ICR and VFJ believe in a more bottom up approach to programming where programming begins with the community, transitions into media, and back to the community. The challenge I see in having slates with opposing views is not so much about figuring out which one is better, but the fact that these differences, though real, have not been addressed by the PNB, LSB or by management at Pacifica and KPFA. If the reality is that these opposing views represent the views of the community then there needs to be a mandate that indicates the goals of each slate within the board, within KPFA’s programming, and within the community that each represents to be able to structurally deal with these differences. By exposing these differences I don’t want to come across as being partisan for one or the other, they are the reality. As the election supervisor I am just proposing a more democratic way on how to deal with these differences and if the community is the one who elected the people on the board, then the community needs to be made accountable through their participation.
5. KPFA Staff and LSB
The last obstacle I believe which makes the board ungovernable is the fact that paid staff endorses one of the slates, the Save KPFA slate, and unfortunately at the same time that same staff which supports that slate is opposed to the election process.