Save KPFA's Grover Norquist Solution

Today's financial crisis at KPFA-Pacifica has been many years in the making. This essay looks at the downhill slide from 2005 onwards as the network went from being financially sound to cliff-hanging disaster.

by Daniel Borgström

If Grover Norquist had been consulting for the gatekeeper group of paid staff that seems to run things at KPFA, he might've recommended something like: "You should reduce Pacifica Radio down to a size where you can
drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

As it turned out, Grover Norquist wasn't needed, at least not in flesh and blood. The members and supporters of the station's power clique did it without him—they "starved the beast." By 2010 KPFA and Pacifica were on the edge of

The financial crisis didn't start in the fall of 2010, or that summer either. It was the result of years of living beyond the station's means. Warnings were sounded at least as far back as in 2005 when several board members expressed concern that there were too many FTEs. It came up during one of the first board meetings I attended, and I remember asking the person next to me what an FTE was. "A full-time equivalent," I was told, and it was afterwards explained to me that the station was acquiring more paid staff than it could afford in the long run. That was detailed in the Local Station Board's
Minority Report of September 17, 2005.

In those days the station was doing reasonably well financially. But, according to several board members,
LaVarn Williams, Max Blanchet and Marnie Tattersall (all with solid backgrounds in finance), the cost of so much paid staff was not sustainable. KPFA needed to slow down on the hiring, look ahead, and plan accordingly.

Nevertheless, year after year, the warnings were ignored, dismissed, disregarded. Persons expressing them were disparaged, even yelled at. The unsustainable budgets were promoted by "
Save KPFA," the slate of board members who represented the station's power clique.

(That group has used several names over the years, first it was "KPFA Forward," later "Concerned Listeners," and eventually "SaveKPFA." For the sake of simplicity, I'll refer to it by its present name.)

Although SaveKPFA refused to acknowledge publicly what was clearly going to happen, they seem to have been anticipating it and preparing to put the blame on others. An intriguing email from that same month of September 2005 turned up as sort of a one-email Wikileak. It's the email which infamously suggested "
dismantling the LSB." An even more foreboding line in that same email read: "How do we make our enemies own the problems that are to come?" The author was Brian Edwards-Tiekert, who appeared to be SaveKPFA's chief strategist.

It wasn't just the bloated budgets at KPFA itself that caused the eventual crisis. There was also
Save KPFA's unholy alliance with the JUC, the New York group which was then running WBAI into the ground, generating another financial drain on the Pacifica network. Interestingly, those two groups, SaveKPFA and the JUC, seemed to thoroughly dislike each other. Their alliance appears to have been one of convenience, a mutual non-aggression pact, one of shielding each other from oversight. Mismanagement at both stations bled the network—that was the result. At the time it looked like insanity and opportunism, but looking back on it, I do wonder if some of the players had even more sinister motives for letting that happen.

Several years passed in this irresponsible fashion, but by 2008 the inevitable financial crisis was no longer deniable. Even SaveKPFA's Brian Edwards-Tiekert was expressing concern and called for
layoffs throughout the network. These very necessary cutbacks were carried out at the rest of Pacifica's five stations, but not at KPFA, as we were to see.

It was always difficult, often impossible, to get accurate, detailed information from the SaveKPFA dominated management. In 2005, board members LaVarn Williams and Richard Phelps spent over a year fighting for access to financial records of the foundation. They won that battle, but the war went on. In 2008 Dan Siegel illegally stopped an inspection. The power clique did not willingly allow access to information; board members outside the inner circle continued to be denied it.

The station's then manager,
Lemlem Rijio, (whose job it was to implement layoffs, and who never did) was also supposed to attend every LSB meeting and give a report, but she seldom did this either. On one of the rare occasions when she did attend, on March 14, 2009, opposition board members plied her with questions about the station's finances, and she answered evasively. When Staff Rep Shahram Aghamir asked, "How much is being spent on the consultants?" the manager at first tried to avoid the question, then said, "I will send you a confidential email." The confidential email never arrived. Actually, there was no reason for such information to have been confidential.

For most of the decade up till 2009, the Pacifica National Board (PNB) was dominated by SaveKPFA and its allies, but in that year they were voted out and the new Executive Director and CFO were chosen from the opposition. SaveKPFA then launched a disinformation campaign against the Pacifica foundation. On August 6, 2009 there was a front page article in the Berkeley Daily Planet
accusing Pacifica of improperly taking $100K from KPFA. That news leak came from Brian Edwards-Tiekert, the treasurer. But on investigation it was found that no such "raid" on KPFA's money had occurred. The newspaper printed a retraction the following week, but SaveKPFA continued to spread the story, despite its having been exposed as false. Later, Conn Hallinan, who certainly must have known better, since he was the LSB chair, wrote an email accusing Pacifica of "an old fashioned smash and grab" on KPFA's funds.

That was the beginning of an internal swiftboating campaign against Pacifica, in which SaveKPFA worked to conjure up images of 1999, portraying Pacifica as the bad guy, the oppressor and exploiter of KPFA, the beast which must be starved. It was during the 2010 board election that the group took the name SaveKPFA, stealing it from an opposition group of the early 1990s. Members of the
original 1993 Save KPFA group were outraged and objected strenuously. But the new "SaveKPFA" continued to use its ill-gotten name.

At the end of 2009 it was discovered that a
$375,000 check had been left in a drawer till it expired. KPFA's then General Manager, Lemlem Rijio, took the fall for that. But it seems highly unlikely that she was the only one who knew about that "forgotten" check.

"How could anyone forget a six-figure check!" KPFA activists asked. Some began connecting dots, wondering if it were intentional—that perhaps the SaveKPFA folks were deliberately working to bankrupt Pacifica in order to somehow acquire KPFA. Till then, the likelihood of SaveKPFA deliberately acting in such a reckless manner had seemed so far-fetched that few openly expressed such suspicions. It seemed to us that if SaveKPFA were not actually planning some such scenario, then it can only be surmised that they were destroying both KPFA and Pacifica out of sheer stupidity.

That was 2010. Fast-forward to 2014: SaveKPFA and its allies are back in charge of KPFA-Pacifica, again pushing the network towards financial extinction. It appears that they intend to dismantle the network by selling off some of the five stations — WBAI, WPFW, and KPFT are the most likely to go — cannibalizing the network and drastically reducing community programming and completing the transformation of KPFA into an NPR-lite station.

updated June 18, 2014

financial graphs & articles

10 Years of KPFA Finances in TABLE FORMAT

and, presented as a GRAPH, the same data:
10 Years of KPFA Finances

Why are CWA and the "left" trying to take down KPFA? by Carol Spooner

Minority Report Re KPFA Budget Approved By LSB Sat. Sept.17, 2005

A Few Comments on the Financial Crisis at Pacifica by Max Blanchet, January 10, 2011

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Updates, reports & essays about KPFA & the Pacifica Foundation Radio at

KPFA 94.1 FM is one of five stations of the Pacifica radio network which are located in major cities across the country. The other stations are WBAI 99.5 in New York, WPFW 89.3 in Washington DC, KPFT 90.1 in Houston, and KPFK 90.7 in Los Angeles. There are also about 160 affiliate stations.

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Siegel stuff

Unkind words from Board Member Siegel
by Daniel Borgström

After the January 13th LSB meeting, as I was gathering up my stuff to leave, Dan Siegel, who had just been elected as a KPFA representative to the Pacifica National Board, approached me and said, "You are a chickenshit coward!" and "a fucking bag of shit!" he added as an afterthought. He proceeded to speak in depth and at some length about how I was a "fucking'" this and a "fucking" that, making liberal use of vocabulary that's excluded from the FCC's lexicon.

A person who overheard the tirade told me afterwards that she thought I must've stepped on Siegel's foot to have earned such invective. "No, no, nothing like that," I told her and explained that I'm the plaintiff in a lawsuit, and that what she heard was Attorney Siegel's refined version of legal jargon.

This was not the first time this sort of thing has happened. At the LSB meeting last March Siegel hassled me and then tried to
pick a fist fight with Richard Phelps. Well, I guess that's Attorney Dan Siegel in action--a kid who's spent 65 years of his life perfecting the age of 15.

January 13, 2011


A previous incident is at
Siegel: "You're suing me!"

And the time when
Siegel barged into the Peters home, illegally. "We seriously considered pressing trespass and assault charges," Casey Peters wrote in the Pacifica 2007 Elections Report.


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Dan Siegel and WBAI

Dan Siegel is running for mayor of Oakland, and he looks like a progressive. However, his history with the Pacifica Radio network (which include KPFA & WBAI) shows that he can be destructive to progressive organizations.

An employee of the Siegel & Yee law firm, Jose Luis Fuentes, now represents Dan Siegel on KPFA's Local Station Board and is player in the the attempt to fire Pacifica's Executive Director Summer Reese.

Siegel does not begin his account of WBAI's travails until 2009 -- I wonder why?

(WBAI is KPFA's Pacifica sister-station in New York)

by Mitchel Cohen, Chair, WBAI Local Station Board
November 14, 2012

Dan Siegel should be proposing positive ways to expand KPFA's membership -- which has greatly diminished during his faction's control of the local board -- and stop scapegoating WBAI.

Siegel does not begin his account of WBAI's travails until 2009 -- I wonder why? It was, after all, WBAI's mismanagement up until the middle of 2009 that was the problem, and it was Siegel and his faction on the Pacifica National Board and national office who hired the destroyers and promoted their policies that were and still are undermining the network.

We at WBAI are still digging ourselves out from under an amazing amount of mis-management, terrible "planning", very real physical violence, and theft at WBAI that had been hammering us while Siegel was Chief Counsel and interim Executive Director at Pacifica.

In 2009, we succeeded, finally, in replacing the old Siegel-backed crew at WBAI that had caused so much damage to Pacifica. The following year, the new management was able to begin reversing the serious problems they'd inherited.

They'd inherited the following:

- at least $65,000 in essential equipment that WBAI had purchased had been "diverted" to private individuals, one of whom was a relative of the former Siegel-supported management. That was covered-up by one of the very officials Siegel continues to defend in his letter! Please recall that until 2009, Siegel's faction controlled the Pacifica National Board. He personally -- with the support of his Board -- pulled every trick in the book to block the Directors' inspections from looking into the $65,000 in stolen equipment, after which the PNB decided to sweep the whole matter under the carpet.

- more than 7,000 listeners had ordered and PAID FOR premiums over 2007 and 2008, but those orders had never been fulfilled (though the station accepted their money).

- the premiums department at WBAI was a wreck. When I personally went to investigate, I found literally thousands of CDs strewn, unlabeled, all over the floors, desks, and radiators! WBAI lost thousands of members as a result.

- there was more than $800,000 in pledges at WBAI each year that were left "sitting on the table" and never collected. Instead of pushing his managers to collect those funds, Siegel made excuses for their incompetence. Since we installed the new management, we have at long last increased the fulfillment rate income by over 10 percent (around $200,000 per year).

- thousands of dollars in cash had been appropriated and "misused" by a sticky-fingered manager supported by Siegel, and awarded to management's friends.

- violence at the station was rampant; reports of physical abuse occurred on a daily basis.

- Management purchased premiums from its friends, as a kickback operation to its faction's supporters.

- Management allotted prime office space for no rent to its friends doing private business from WBAI's studios.

- it was Dan Siegel's faction on the National Board that imposed the renewal of the onerous rental lease on WBAI, and which many of us opposed -- a lease that Siegel now incredibly blames on us! (Studio rent is $380,000 per year; antenna rent atop the Empire State Building is approaching $500,000 this year.)

All of these and a lot more occurred prior to 2009, when Siegel and his faction ruled Pacifica, which is why he begins his "analysis" only after that date. It was only when we finally were able to put into place new management at WBAI (not solidified until 2010-11) that each of these problems began to be seriously addressed and rectified.

Let me give one more example. Hundreds of WBAI listener-members and staff did not receive ballots in the 2007 election, when Dan Siegel was Chief Counsel for Pacifica and its interim Executive Director. We brought this repeatedly to Siegel's attention. Instead of simply ordering Pacifica to send us ballots, Siegel and the Board he controlled at the time refused to send them. We had to go to Court; we won a Temporary Restraining Order that, among other things, directed Pacifica to send us ballots.

Instead of following the Court's order, however, Siegel and Pacifica continued to play games with members' right to vote. He mired the Network deeper and deeper into an expense of more than $175,000 to Pacifica's attorneys, just to justify not sending us ballots! He lost, but Pacifica was left holding the bill.

Why were Siegel and Pacifica at the time acting so viciously, incurring huge expenses that the network had to pay? At the same time Pacifica and KPFA were pleading poverty, the management Siegel and his faction controlled at KPFA and supervised by KPFA's then-treasurer Brian Edwards-Tiekert (BET for short) "forgot" to deposit a $375,000 check, while claiming "there's no money!" (In fact, BET, Siegel and the KPFA GM met with the donor when the check was given to KPFA. Do you think they really just "forgot" about such a large sum?)

The new management teams at WBAI and Pacifica inherited that huge mess from the previous administration; it has taken several years to clean it up, and we're still not fully out of it yet. But we're way ahead of where we used to be. WBAI management has been excellent in addressing (and improving) at least that much.

But, no thanks go to Brian Edwards-Tiekert -- a KPFA paid programmer -- who proposed a few years ago that WBAI and the other Pacifica stations drastically cut staff. The National Board -- at that time controlled by Siegel and his faction -- voted to implement Brian Edwards-Tiekert's proposal. WBAI was forced to cut 35%(!) of its staff, bringing it down to around 1/2 the salaries of KPFA and crippling the station.

The very cuts Brian proposed were the cuts that he went to the barricades over when they affected his own job, instead of other people's.

So it is very strange that, all of a sudden, Dan Siegel "discovers" that WBAI is in trouble and "draining the network". It was the mismanagement of those supported by Siegel's faction that set those wheels in motion and that the new management is trying to reverse. We are slowly succeeding in doing so.

OF COURSE WBAI has to move to cheaper studios -- I've been one of those most vociferous about that. Still .... If WBAI had the same very low costs for studio space as KPFA or KPFK, we'd be swimming in funds. WBAI now takes in around the same in contributions as KPFA. Looked at another way, why is it that KPFA is in such serious straits under the Siegel faction, since it has around $900,000 less in overhead expenses than WBAI?

I believe that the best chance for improving KPFA lies in saving -- not breaking up -- the Pacifica network. And so I urge you to reject Siegel's blame-game, and vote for the United for Community Radio slate in the elections to the local station board.

Chair, WBAI Local Station Board (for ID only)

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Updates, reports & essays about KPFA & Pacifica Foundation Radio at

KPFA 94.1 FM is one of five stations of the Pacifica radio network which are located in major cities across the country. The other stations are WBAI 99.5 in New York, WPFW 89.3 in Washington DC, KPFT 90.1 in Houston, and KPFK 90.7 in Los Angeles. There are also about 160 affiliate stations.

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Our Last Day at the Pacifica HQ

by Daniel Borgström

In the 9th week of our occupation of the Pacifica HQ, on May 12th, the judge ruled against us, issuing a temporary restraining order against Executive Director Summer Reese's continued presence at the national office. We'd already decided that in case of such an event, we'd evacuate, withdraw from the building. So about a dozen of us went to the Pacifica HQ and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening packing up, eating pizza, and discussing details of how we were going to move on.

This was a disaster, and nobody could deny it. I guess we were all in shock, though doing our best to not to show it. Some were consulting computers. Virginia Browning was improving a salad. Richard Uzzell was on the phone, presumably discussing this with other Pacifica National Board (PNB) members. I was taking brief notes, keeping a timeline as always. At one end of the table, Barbara Deutsch had placed a bouquet of lush green leaves; among them was perched a magnificent caterpillar, munching its way towards becoming a butterfly -- a blue-winged Swallowtail.

Evacuations aren't easy, and after most of us had gone home for the night, Summer Reese and her mother, Geneva, with the help of Richard Uzzell, and Barbara Deutsch spent the night packing, hauling stuff away, and putting the place in order. Everything we'd brought in during the last eight weeks had to be taken out -- air mattresses, food, even vases of flowers, and the caterpillar too. More of us returned in the morning to help with whatever still needed doing.

The court had ordered Summer out, but didn't specify the rest of us. So we probably wouldn't have to rush out the door, and the staff might want us to be there that morning because with us present, disputed PNB chair Margy Wilkinson and whoever came with her would be less likely to act badly. So half a dozen of us stayed in the HQ, including Richard Uzzell (from KPFT in Houston), Sally Sommer, Steve Gilmartin, Virginia Browning, Aki Tanaka, and me.

Margy and Barbara Whipperman, the Local Station Board treasurer, came knocking on the door at 9 a.m. "Open the door!" Margy demanded, "Just open the door!"

We didn't argue with them, we just let them wait outside for half an hour while we phoned the staff, who were considering quitting, but had consented to a meeting with Margy. The staff asked us to stay and witness the meeting. We calmly waited for them in the reception area by the door. I was glad to have Richard Uzzell, a Pacifica National Board director, here with us; he seemed to know or sense exactly what to do, how to handle each thing as it came up, inspiring confidence in the rest of us. Yes, we had lost, but it's possible to lose with dignity, just as it's also possible to win without much dignity.

The staff arrived at 9:35 a.m. and we opened the door, let everyone in, went to the luncheonette/conference room where Margy, Barbara and five of the staff took seats at the table while the six of us sat behind, witnessing the meeting which lasted about 20 minutes.

"I'm Margy Wilkinson, Chair of the National Board," Margy introduced herself. Perhaps some of the staff had not before met her face to face, though they certainly knew who she was, as she had been bombarding them with emails and phone calls for the last eight weeks, from the day the occupation began. Margy and her group had also attempted several times to forcibly push their way into the building -- which is why we'd installed a bolt across the entrance to back up the lock. Her ostensible purpose in this meeting was to persuade the staff to remain at their jobs and complete the financial audit which they were working on. Or it might have been just to get them to stay until they found their own replacements.

The staff diplomatically replied to Margy that they didn't have any problem with her or anyone else, except for one person. "The only person we have an issue with is Raul Salvador. We want nothing to do with him."

Raul Salvador is the CFO who was let go by the Pacifica National Board last year for incompetence and abusiveness. This year the new PNB which fired Summer Reese, had rehired Raul.

The staff told Margy that Raul was abusive and incompetent. A staff member had testified in court on May 6th that staff had to redo IRS forms filed incorrectly by Raul Salvador, and that he didn't seem to understand basic financial information. She had also stated in court that in addition to their previous bad experiences with him, he'd been harassing them with emails and phone calls, threatening retaliation. Summer Reese had protected them, the staff person had told the judge. Unfortunately, the judge had now ordered Summer out, thus leaving them vulnerable.

Another source of information available to Margy was a report from an HR workplace investigation into allegations of Raul's bad behavior. Actually, Margy was the only one who had access to the report since she'd seized it back in March, allowing nobody else to see it, not even PNB members. Nevertheless, Margy expressed surprise at the staff's extremely negative reaction to Raul.

"We don't know if you don't understand, or don't care," they said to Margy.

"I do understand," Margy insisted. "I do understand."

"Raul is the elephant in the room. Until we address Raul [ . . . ]"

"He will not be coming in the door," Margy promised them. "He'll be working out of his home." She explained that he'd only communicate with them through emails and phone calls. "Until things are resolved [regarding Raul]," she added.

The staff were less than reassured and they told her so. They were also unhappy that Margy's new interim Executive Director, Bernard Duncan wasn't there to speak for himself. "I don't know what I came here for," said one of the staff. Margy told them that on the following day, there'd be a meeting with Bernard. Unlike Raul, Bernard is reportedly easy to get along with, but is apparently not a capable manager. He was previously the general manager of KPFK, the Pacifica station in Los Angeles, where he acquired a reputation for being ineffectual and conflict-averse. For example, on one occasion when it was brought to Bernard's attention that the station business manager was running a business of his own on station time and with the use of the station's computers, Bernard famously said, "I don't want to know about it."

Margy wanted to know how soon the audit would be done. "When are you going to give us the financial data?" she asked.

"It's KPFA that's holding it up," the staff told her -- as if she needed to be reminded. It had come out at the April 12th Local Station Board meeting (with Margy present) that the financial people at KPFA had not even reconciled their books for well over a year.

The meeting ended at 9:59 a.m., and the staff then held a private meeting of their own. The six of us wondered if perhaps we'd fulfilled our task, and that we might leave now. But the staff asked us to stay a while longer.

We sat around talking or not talking, thinking about the peculiar scene we'd just witnessed, commenting on how at one time or another during the morning, each of the women had been in tears at the very idea that Margy would try to force them to work under Raul Salvador again.

Why would Margy and her group hire someone for such an important position whose competence and managerial abilities are so clearly called into question?

A courier would be arriving with the payroll checks, and the staff wanted us to be there and make sure that the courier's package was delivered straight to them, not to anyone else who might be in this office. The staff seemed to fear that Margy might remove their paychecks from the package in retaliation. As per the staff's request, we sat by the door, intending to intercept the courier. Actually, staff member Weiling was right there to receive the package as soon as the guy showed up, and after that most of us left. Richard and Aki stayed till both Margy and the staff left at 2 p.m. Several of us will have to return to the HQ on Wednesday to witness the next meeting, the one between the staff and Bernard, Margy's new temporary Executive Director.

Margy & Co are proclaiming it a major triumph that the court has handed them control of Pacifica Foundation Radio. To win a court action or even a court case is one thing, but to run a foundation is quite another matter, and I seriously doubt that they're up to it. Some of us are wondering if they even want to.

daniel41 [at] trip [dot] net

May 17, 2014

videos & essays

VIDEO of Summer Reese on March 17, 2014 using a bolt clipper to break the padlock installed at Pacifica HQ to keep her and the entire Pacifica staff from going back to work.

VIDEO interview with Summer Reese

SaveKPFA's Grover Norquist Solution -- The current situation at KPFA/Pacifica has been over a decade in the making. This essay from three years ago shows how the crisis developed.

updates & more news about KPFA & Pacifica Foundation Radio at

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The Pacifica Radio Network consists of five stations in major cities across the country: KPFA 94.1, plus WBAI 99.5, WPFW 89.3, KPFT 90.1, and KPFK 90.7. There are also about 160 affiliate stations.

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The Patronage Culture at KPFA

. . . . they seem to be willing to play chicken with the fate of the entire Pacifica network
by Curt Gray

I am writing as a long time union member as well as a long time Berkeley resident. I am a member of local 510 Sign and Display, a union of workers who set up and dismantle tradeshows at the convention centers. I have been my union's past representative to the Alameda Central Labor Council.

I also speak as someone with long experience in local radio, and with a much varied experience in and around KPFA over several years. I was a volunteer programmer at KALX here in Berkeley for 15 years, creating different types of programming, as well as doing multiple other tasks that help keep a station running. I have been involved with KPFA as a listener activist since 1993, and was instrumental in the struggle that gave subscribers and staff membership rights in Pacifica, with voting and representation on a real local station board, where formerly there had been only a self-appointed advisory board.

I helped write the first election rules that allowed subscribers and staff to elect KPFA's local board for the first time. I was elected to and served on the local station board, and had a hand in changing the Pacifica bylaws to give the grassroots programmers and supporters of the 5 Pacifica stations rights as members of the Foundation. I organized a Labor Programming Collective within KPFA to try to expand Labor programming and get more labor activists involved in creating pro-labor programming.

What I am here to say is that the charge of 'unionbusting' is a smoke screen, a PR sales job. Nor is this a repeat of the events of 1999, another misrepresentation. Pacifica is not responsible for taking the Morning Show off the air, the removal of the Morning Show is being played as a pawn in an internal corporate campaign and coordinated job action that is a calculated violation of the union contract. Who is doing this and why?

For decades KPFA has been effectively owned and run by a culture of patronage and exclusivity that has resisted any 'outside' oversight. The patronage has to do with who gets or keeps a show, who gets a job, and who has easy access to the air. A particular clique of people both inside the station as well as influential people in the community benefit from and support and protect this patronage culture. The 'insider' clique that control the division of the spoils extends beyond the union membership, and puts it aims and interests above those 'outside' the clique, including union members. This 'ownership' clique that includes some but not all of the paid staff, some but not all of the unpaid staff, as well as well placed and influential supporters in the community, has had a disproportionate and unhealthy power over KPFA, and has viewed any other organizational form of authority within the station, including the elected station board, the station manager, the foundation board, the executive director, the Program Council, the unpaid staff organization, etc. as a threat that must be outmaneuvered or neutralized unless they are clearly in the back pocket of the clique.

When the Pacifica stations, including KPFA, made the subscribers and workers members of the foundation and started letting these broad constituencies elect station boards with powers of oversight for their stations there was resistance from the start, especially at KPFA. The new, elected station boards were no longer just advisory, but are real station boards, approving the station budget, evaluating and helping to select the station General Manager and Programming Director, and provide community input into station policy. It was inevitable that there would be conflict with the pre-existing patronage culture that had formally ruled the station for so long with only a self-selected advisory body with no real power but to act as a rubberstamp.

This is the real context of the current teapot rebellion of the Morning Show. The clique-that-calls-itself-KPFA is sick of dealing with elections and all the other reforms that came out of the struggles in the years after 1999. When you give people membership rights and elections that leads naturally to a change where subscribers and unpaid programmers on the station board start demanding accountability, transparency, and more community participation. And such basic progressive demands are a fatal threat to even the strongest patronage culture.

Using their control of the air and the good will of the majority of listeners who know nothing of the goings-on behind the scenes, the patronage protectors have managed to maintain a majority on the station board most years since the board became elected. So even after elections started they have kept control of the station, keeping the board from performing its oversight function, forcing out managers that were too independent and handpicking their own to run the station so as to not interfere with their prerogatives.

For the first forty years of its existence KPFA had very few paid staff. This began to change in the Eighties and the Nineties. In 1995 the unaccountable clique that was running Pacifica purged hundreds of unpaid programmers from several stations, and started a switch from a community based programming philosophy to a more, professional public radio style format that depended on many more paid programmers. Paid staff grew while the number of community members involved in creating programming was cut by half. The union that had represented both the paid and unpaid workers was dropped, the majority of paid staff voted to go with CWA, and the unpaid staff lost the representation and recognition they had had for decades. The patronage culture thought what Pacifica was doing was good for them and they were on-board as KPFA left its grassroots behind and grasped for the brass ring of public radio style careerism. Until the tables turned and Pacifica turned on them and kicked them to the curb just like the unpaid and the grassroots activists before them. It was only when members of the clique's charmed circle were losing their jobs that the clique sounded the alarm and that led to the lock-out and the events of the Summer of 1999.

To win the battle with the unaccountable Pacifica board in 1999 the Powers-That-Be at KPFA needed the community activists and unpaid staff on their side. And what the community wanted was democratic reform and membership status so that no unaccountable group could ever steal KPFA away from the community again. After a long struggle the Bad Old Pacifica board was defeated, and the bylaws were changed to give the stakeholders who supported KPFA a voice in the station. But the patronage clique saw the new reforms as just another enemy, and started fighting the reforms from day one.

After the struggle to save Pacifica and reform it, the number of paid staff started climbing again, as it had before the lock-out. The Powers-That-Be at KPFA managed to keep a majority on the local station board and the Pacifica board. The patronage culture kept swelling the number of paid staff, but the Afghan and Iraq wars kept the subscriber support up for a few years. As the peace movement started to lose traction, and more folks started getting their information from other sources on the internet, subscriber support started falling. But staffing numbers kept trending upward. In the last two years many public stations have had to cut their staffs, the other Pacifica stations have cut their staffs, and the Pacifica foundation has cut its staff. The patronage clique at KPFA has blocked mandated cuts, burned through the station reserves, and tried to encourage Pacifica to lay-off some less favored union members out of seniority order.

Now they seem to be willing to play chicken with the fate of the entire Pacifica network to draw a line in the sand about who 'owns' KPFA. This confrontation over the Morning Show has been cleverly orchestrated. They knew what they were doing when they burned through the reserve and placed two people with the lowest seniority in one of the most popular shows. They are being reckless, and putting their own interests above the whole community that depends on KPFA. The tail is wagging the dog, the clique has too much influence over KPFA and over the CWA local. It has fed the whole community, including the labor community, a false, self-serving line of BS, calling it 'unionbusting' The KPFA union contract calls for no job actions. By using so much time on the air to plead for their personal jobs, they were not doing their job of providing programming. They forced the hand of Pacifica with their on-air job actions. And they have used the union to keep the show off the air, by mandating that no union member would accept transfer to work on the program to get it back on the air. So Pacifica did not take the Morning Show off the air, the patronage clique did, using the union in violation of its own contract.

Don't drink the Kool-Aid, don't fall for the con. There are KPFA workers, both union and unpaid, who are against what the clique is doing but are afraid to speak up. They are endangering both the whole Pacifica network, and KPFA itself to protect a level of staffing that the station can not support. I don't know why these people are dragging KPFA to the brink of bankruptcy for their own narrow self-interest, but I ask, as a Berkeley resident and union member that the Labor commission and the City Council not let themselves be fooled by this false campaign.

December 1, 2010

Staying friends with the Crocodile by Curt Gray

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was a founding member of the original 1993 Save KPFA which fought for listener democracy at KPFA/Pacifica. The name "Save KPFA" was recently appropriated by a very different group, the "Concerned Listeners" (CL'ers), who represent the patronage clique.

Save KPFA at

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financial data

10 Years of KPFA Finances in TABLE FORMAT

and, presented as a GRAPH, the same data:
10 Years of KPFA Finances GRAPH

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Updates, reports & essays about KPFA & Pacifica Foundation Radio at

KPFA 94.1 FM is one of five stations of the Pacifica radio network which are located in major cities across the country. The other stations are WBAI 99.5 in New York, WPFW 89.3 in Washington DC, KPFT 90.1 in Houston, and KPFK 90.7 in Los Angeles. There are also about 160 affiliate stations.


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Open Letter from the Committee on Fair Elections

Bylaws & Rules Violated in KPFA Board Election of 2007

KPFA's recent Local Station Board (LSB) election was not the example of media democracy it was designed to be. This LSB election:

  • Was not conducted in conformance with the Pacifica Bylaws;
  • Was corrupted by KPFA and Pacifica management and some staff intentionally violating rules to get votes for their allies' slate;
  • Did not provide adequate information about the candidates to enable voters to make educated choices;
  • Did not provide ballots to many eligible voters in a timely manner.

New bylaws were adopted after the 1999 "hijacking" attempt was defeated by mass listener activity to protect and preserve KPFA and Pacifica. These Bylaws incorporated fair elections of governing boards for each station to eliminate the prior practice of self-appointing boards, which led to the crisis in the 1990s.

Every subscriber and staffer, whatever their views on the issues and candidates, has a right to expect that the process by which we select our governing board will be fair, open, and orderly, in accordance with the Fair Campaign Provisions established by Pacifica's bylaws and election supervisors; that the information voters need to make an informed choice will be available in a timely way; and that all candidates will be afforded an equal opportunity to present their views and their qualifications to the voters.

In reality, the process has fallen far short of these standards:

Management influence and improper use of station resources:

The 2007 Fair Campaign Provisions, which every staff member, including managers, was required to read and sign, state that "No Foundation or radio station management or staff (paid or unpaid) or any other person may use or permit the use of radio station air time, website space, email lists, or other resources to endorse, campaign for or against, promote or disparage, or recommend in favor of or against any candidate for election as a Local Station Board." Yet on October 24, just over a week after ballots were mailed to listener-sponsors, KPFA and the other Pacifica stations posted on their websites an open letter from Dan Siegel, then Interim Executive Director of the Pacifica Foundation, with the admitted objective of influencing voters' choices: the letter directly disparaged one easily identifiable group of KPFA candidates, denouncing their strongly stated but clearly political free speech criticisms of some station personnel and management-allied LSB members, as "abusive," "hateful," "personal attacks." This letter remained prominently featured on the KPFA website for more than a week, and was never removed from the National Elections Web page, to which KPFA's was linked.

Siegel's was not the only serious violation of the Fair Campaign Provision quoted above. On October 30 veteran programmer Larry Bensky used a KPFA e-mail list and server to send out to an as yet unknown number of voters a message endorsing one slate of candidates and attacking the incumbent board.

Defiance of supervisors' authority:

In the event of any violation of the Fair Campaign Provisions, the Pacifica bylaws say "the local elections supervisor and the national elections supervisor shall determine, in good faith and at their sole discretion, an appropriate remedy." In response to Bensky's blatant violation of the rules, the election supervisors devised a partial remedy, instructing station management to allow each competing slate to send a 300-word message of their own to the same e-mail list Bensky used. The slates promptly produced their proposed messages, but KPFA's managers simply stonewalled, refusing to take the steps necessary to get these messages sent out on the list. As the national election supervisor eventually ruled - after the ballot deadline - this refusal to comply with the election supervisors' order amounted to nothing less than "obstruction of the governance of the foundation."

Inadequate information:

Without understanding of the issues at stake in LSB elections or of the views of the candidates, listener-sponsors can't make meaningful choices. The candidate statements mailed to listeners-subscribers with their ballots go only a small part of the way toward meeting this need; on-air candidate forums and announcements and in-person events are also essential for informing the electorate. After past elections, there have been both widespread sentiment and reports by election supervisors calling for more such events and publicity, but this year KPFA had less than ever before.

Only one two-part on-air forum was held before ballots were mailed to listener-subscribers, but it was poorly publicized in advance, and afterwards the audio archives were not posted at the station website for weeks. Candidates were required to respond to a detailed questionnaire about their views and experience, but their responses were not posted online until the voting period was almost over. Candidate statements were posted briefly, but then removed from the web for much of the voting period. During the fall fund drive, which ran from Oct. 16 to Nov. 2, the station provided no information whatsoever about the election, on the dubious grounds that election information can't be combined with fund-raising. KPFT in Houston does both. Even after the drive ended, station management did not begin airing candidates' pre-recorded statements until less than a week remained in the voting period, and then there was no transparent system to ensure all candidates' carts got equal treatment. Management even tried to satisfy its obligation to air the carts by playing them all in a bloc -21 in a row - an approach guaranteed to minimize listenership, and one that was particularly unfair to the candidates whose statements were aired last. The management-allied slate's number-one candidate had her statement played first on the list of 21. Only one in-person candidate event was organized, in Berkeley, and it received very little publicity over the air.

The black-out of election information during the fund drive was especially damaging: it left voters with minimal information when they first received their ballots, thus magnifying the advantage of the KPFA management-backed, "Concerned Listeners" slate, that spent thousands of dollars to send its own carefully-timed mailing to arrive with the ballots during the black-out.

Failure to provide ballots to all eligible voters:

While, as in past elections, many listener-sponsors reported not receiving ballot packets, the problem is - still - particularly acute among volunteers voting in the staff elections, because management failed in its duty to provide a timely, accurate, and complete list of the unpaid staff. As recently as Nov. 29, after the elections should have been closed, more than 40 unpaid staff members had not received a ballot; on the other hand, members of management, who were not entitled to vote at all, did receive ballots. The election supervisors have had to extend the election deadline several times, but it still appears that many eligible staffers will not receive ballots before the election finally closes.

KPFA and Pacifica listeners fought hard for the right to elect their governing boards, and for good reasons: to prevent a recurrence of the kind of takeover that occurred in the 1990s; to give the listeners whose support keeps the station and network afloat a way to shape their direction; and to demonstrate that communities can govern themselves. All these reasons remain valid today. We are deeply dismayed that some powerful elements within the KPFA community have shown themselves willing to subvert our hard-won bylaws and abandon basic principles of fairness and democracy.

If you would like to support fair elections at KPFA/Pacifica send contact information to Committee for Fair Elections at fair_elections(at)

Fair Election Committee Endorsers: (in progress)

Richard Phelps**, Henry Norr, Stan Woods, Akio Tanaka, Noelle Hanrahan, Joe Wanzala, Attila Nagy, LaVarn Williams*, Chandra Hauptman * **, Anthony Fest Current Board Members {*also PNB; ** Reelected in preliminary (uncertified) results}

Carol Spooner, Steve Conley. Gerald Sanders, Sepideh Khosrowjah, Willie Ratcliff, Maria Gilardin Former Board Members;

Tracy Rosenberg**, KPFA Local Election Supervisor 2006 & Board Candidate;

Bob English, Dave Heller, Mara Rivera, Steve Zeltzer, Carl Bryant, CC Campbell Rock, 2007 Board Candidates; Tim Modok-Pearson 2003 Board Candidate;

Linda Hewitt, Virginia Browning, Daniel Borgström, Steve Gilmartin, Gregory Wonderwheel, Jim Curtis, Adrienne Lauby, Stephen Kessler, Molly Beyea, Janet Kobren, Chuck O'Neil, CR (Bob) Briscoe, Ann Garrison, Rabea Chaudhary, Dianne Budd, Laura Wells, Karen Engel, Mary Ratcliff, Lou Gold, Peter Broadwell, David Keenan, Bill Carpenter, Barbara Deutsch, Barry Deutsch, Steve Morse, Mishwa Lee, Barbara Ruth, J.T. Rehbock, Vic Saravia, Tony Brasunas, Margaret Browne, Tony Sustak, Michael S. Donaldson, Mark Boynton, Lucienne O'Keefe, Bill Michel listener members

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Dan Siegel, Fiction Writer

2010 - It's election season at KPFA, and Save KPFA's Dan Siegel has written a fictional narrative that, in the words of his political ally Brian Edwards-Tiekert, attempts to "make our enemies own the problems that are to come." Fortunately, Tracy Rosenberg has responded with a corrective, pointing out where the economic problems at Pacifica actually come from. Both articles were on CounterPunch.

by Tracy Rosenberg
November 9, 2012

In his Nov 5th Counterpunch op-ed titled “
The Battle for Pacifica”, Oakland attorney Dan Siegel exhibits a severe case of amnesia. While chronicling a presumed series of deeds he claims occurred since 2009, Mr. Siegel mentions nothing at all that happened prior to 2009.

As if Pacifica were a tabula rasa born shiny and new at the exact moment Mr. Siegel and his cronies lost their 6 year grip on the foundation’s national board of directors.

Siegel was the Pacifica attorney from 2006-2009, and at all times a powerful player in internal affairs and prime financial backer of the Concerned Listeners group that now calls itself Save KPFA. It is disingenuous for Siegel to pretend to a lack of culpability for some of the unfortunate circumstances he presents.

The Internet, at last report, existed well before 2009, so one must ask why in the decade prior no technology upgrades were made by the group Siegel now wishes to return to leadership. Who does he think failed to invest money — when Pacifica had money to invest — in digital technology throughout the 2000's?

Well …. um….. himself?

In fact, his crew didn’t even maintain the radio transmitters, which in 2012, failed in both Houston and Los Angeles.

As the legal adviser to the board of directors in 2006, Siegel had every opportunity to point out the unaffordability of the Empire State building lease for WBAI-FM’s transmitter, which was signed in 2006 for 20 years with rates that increase by 15% a year. Instead, he recommended that the board sign it, and sign it they did.

Or perhaps the WBAI lease at Wall Street which was signed repeatedly by him and his cronies in what the then-minority knew even then was financial insanity? That’s not even mentioning a totally nutty balloon loan proposed in 2008 that would have endangered foundation buildings and licenses and was averted by one solitary vote from the contingent he ridiculously insults.

This kind of raw hypocrisy is the problem.

Siegel fails to mention his role in actively supporting a number of managers in extracting significant legal settlements from Pacifica after termination, greatly exacerbating the financial chickens that came home to roost in 2009-2010. Siegel served as an attorney for fired KPFK manager Eva Georgia and testified on behalf of Lonnie Hicks after he was let go as the CFO. These legal shenanigans are his responsibility and his alone. They’re usually defined as malpractice.

Siegel’s Save KPFA contingent described unpaid workers at KPFA-FM as “clowns” on Michael Krasny’s Forum radio program, needlessly insulting the workers who create 75% of the program content and raise more than 1/2 the operational funds.

The point is, the last thing Pacifica needs is more of the same. Economic pressures are what they are. Like Pacifica, San Francisco’s public radio station KALW-FM also has a going concern alert on their audit. It’s endemic in this age of financial catastrophe. Very few of us besides wealthy lawyers are a going concern these days.

Siegel is so desperate to keep control of Berkeley’s KPFA-FM that he ran a lawyer from his own firm, Siegel and Yee, for the KPFA board in 2010 and now proposes to add a third lawyer from Siegel and Yee, Jose Fuentes Roman, to the local board. This will make more than 10% of the local board his current and former employees. Does Siegel and Yee think KPFA-FM is their personal property?

Reject this nonsense and vote
United for Community Radio with a slate of fresh candidates who are not a part of the Siegel machine:

Dr. Laurence Shoup, Ramsés Teón Nichols, Samsarah Morgan, Karen Pickett, Dave Welsh, Andrea Prichett, Beth Seligman, Oriana Saportas and Virginia Browning.

Pacifica will thank you. Its survival depends on not repeating the mistakes of the past decade.

TRACY ROSENBERG is the executive director of Media Alliance and a current local board member at KPFA-94.1 FM in Berkeley.

The above article by Tracy Rosenberg was originally posted on CounterPunch, with the title Dan Siegel and the Pacifica Foundation: The Battle for Clarity

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Tracy Rosenberg responds

The following is in response to efforts to recall Tracy Rosenberg from the KPFA Station Board and the National Pacifica Board of Directors. Questions were answered first by Tracy herself and secondly by listener-activist, Mara Rivera. (For more on this issue, visit: Stop the KPFA and Support Also, you can listen to an archived audio of the On-Air Live Debate, broadcast Friday, June 29th, at 1 PM, between Tracy Rosenberg and recall proponent Margy Wilkinson. To hear it click here.)

1) Did Tracy Rosenberg draw up a "hit list" targeting KPFA's old Morning Show?

Tracy Rosenberg: The only list I am aware of is the union seniority list, which was not "drawn up" by me, but exists independently of me. The most dozen recent hires would have been the dozen employees on the lower half of the list (that is what seniority means). They are the ones who might have been affected by layoffs as Pacifica struggled to address KPFA's two years of $500,000+ operating deficits for the fiscal years ending 9/30/2009 and 9/30/2010 and return KPFA to solvency. KPFA's financial position as of September 30, 2011 is at least $550,000 improved from the financial position of September 30, 2010.

Mara Rivera: Although the layoffs in the Summer of 2010 were difficult, there was never anything improper about the decisions by Pacifica's Executive Director, Arlene Englehardt. Brian Edwards-Tiekert claims that he and Aimee Allison, the other host of the Morning Show were treated unjustly. Brian has always had the option to "bump" another employee - and finally did so when it became clear union arbitration would not uphold his stated goal to return to an AM host slot.

Pacifica did give Edwards-Tiekert back pay to avoid another round of costly litigation but no guilt was admitted or should be assumed. His colleague Aimee Allison pursued an arbitration hearing and lost, receiving neither restoration to a position at KPFA nor back pay.

2) Did Tracy Rosenberg try to overturn election results?

Rosenberg: The motion referred to was not written by me. It was authored by then-Houston PNB director Richard Uzzell. 2010 PNB chair George Reiter asked me to introduce the motion under the Coordinating Committee report section of the meeting, so I did. His reasoning was the motion was time-sensitive and as an earlier Coordinating committee motion had expired, this motion needed to be dealt with by the board in a timely manner. As with any motion presented to the full board, the motion was subject to a vote by the Pacifica National Board. It passed easily and represents the will of the duly-elected directors at that time.

Mara Rivera: After the 1999 attempt to take over Pacifica by Washington based political figures the new by-laws were written to prohibit political appointees and public office holders from serving on the Pacifica Local and National Boards. (Article Four, Section 2.A, and Article Five, Section 1.B). Dan Siegel implied in nationwide media that he was an important appointee in Mayor Quan's office. It was reasonable to assume that his long collaboration with Mayor Quan and frequent meetings with her could present a conflict-of-interest as a Pacifica National Board member.

* A year ago the National Board determined that under the Bylaws Dan Siegel's acceptance of appointments to the Mayor of Oakland's administration disqualified him from service on the KPFA LSB and the National Board

* The question of Siegel's eligibility was sent to the Pacifica National Board for a determination by the PNB Coordinating Committee, which sets the agenda for the board meetings to insure that time-sensitive matters are considered by the board. As a board officer (Treasurer) Tracy served on the Coordinating Committee and presented the issue on behalf of the committee. This is normal operating procedure for the board.

* Siegel and several KPFA LSB members took the matter to court. In December the court ruled that Pacifica's Bylaws should be narrowly construed to only apply to holders of "public office" as that term is defined in California case law, and that Siegel is eligible to serve.

It is strange that Save KPFA is so concerned about costly lawsuits, when they have filed so many bogus ones themselves. Currently, four complaints to the National Labor Relations Board that originated from the Save KPFA faction have all been dismissed.

3) Did Tracy Rosenberg steal an email list?

Rosenberg: The email was designed and authored by KPFA staff, provided information about upcoming and archived shows on KPFA and directed people to the KPFA website to make donations, which about 20 people did. All I did was loan a Salsa account on request. Had I not done so, the staff involved would probably have accessed mail chimp or another similar free service.

Rivera: . All the other stations and Pacifica National itself went through their own layoffs mandated by Pacifica.
The Concerned Listener/KPFAworker/SaveKPFA faction has been manipulating listeners with disinformation to get them to support its self-serving aims, to the detriment of the station and entire network. They have chosen Tracy Rosenberg as their target, in a situation where they are losing throughout the rest of the network. She, as a member of the National Finance Committee, has an understanding of the true financial picture and the manipulations which they were/are involved in, which almost brought the network down.
This baseless recall action is estimated to cost KPFA Big Bucks!

Tracy Rosenberg is a knowledgeable media professional and a Pacifica financial expert whom we've been lucky to involve in the governance of KPFA and Pacifica.

For history on the email accusations, you can read this older article from May, 2011

Tracy Rosenberg responds to email accusations

May 1, 2011

To make a long story short (or maybe just shorter), the email list in question was sent to me twice. The first time was in January at with regard to lawsuit # RG10549212 in Alameda County Superior Court. I was actually sent two lists, one with about 5,000 emails, the other with about 1,000. They came without my knowledge, accompanied by a request to send unsolicited communications to these lists via electronic messaging or the Pacifica Foundation would face a petition for $33,000 in attorney's fees.

The request was to send an email to 6,000 email addresses relating to a 5 month old staff election, one in which none of these listeners participated in and one which most of them probably knew or cared nothing about. I really couldn't imagine a stupider way to annoy and mystify our subscribers, but of course, KPFA and Pacifica often fail to operate in their own self-interest.

Mass emailing is most easily done with software resources, and like most not for profits (except KPFA apparently), the one I work for and direct has an account. Unlike KPFA, we send out regular newsletters to a large mailing list that includes about 10,000 subscribers and a press list of about 800. From time to time, my nonprofit helps out those with less resources by sharing the software for a press release or communique for a worthwhile cause. In the past, we've done so for the Committee to Free the Sf8, the anti-smart meter folks in the beginning of their movement, the Free Palestine Movement during the last sail to Gaza, Common Frequency, and the Committee to End FBI Repression. I consider that a part of being a community organization that is allied with and supportive of social justice movements in this country. We share resources and help each other. Pacifica was assisted with an Al Jazeera announcement at the end of last year on a similar basis. Obviously, these communiques are not Media Alliance-branded - they belong to our friends and allies and we are simply aiding with distribution.

While happy to do so for causes that are compelling and move forward mobilizations for justice and democracy, it was a bit less compelling to provide assistance for the distribution of largely-unwanted material that served no purpose but internal KPFA turf wars. Being a national board member, I felt uneasy with failing to comply with a direct request, so I consulted an attorney privately as to whether or not it was within my duties as a board member to fulfill this request. I was told (twice) that I was under no obligation to do so and therefore declined to fulfill the request. I did not find it to be in the best interests of KPFA or Pacifica and while I could not stop them from complying with the demand to avoid financial stress, there was no need to be the agent of distribution.

So that was the end of that for a while and of course, the lists I had been unwillingly sent were used for nothing at all.

At the beginning of March, I was contacted by some KPFA staff working on the Morning Mix program who thought it would be a good idea to help along the fund drive process by doing some outreach. As a long-time proponent of outreach and having been long gob-smacked at KPFA's utter failure to engage in any meaningful promotion or communication to its listeners and members about the radio, I was pleased as punch that *someone* was showing a little initiative. They had an email template and text prepared, text that covered a week of upcoming shows, links to an archive from a particularly wonderful show Nora Barrows Friedman had hosted and a request for website donations to KPFA. All constructive, positive and in line with healthy promotional efforts. It seemed way too functional to be a KPFA-originated effort. They just needed a distribution engine, asked me for a partner send, and I said sure. Send me your list of recipients. On receipt, the number of emails looked familiar and lo and behold, it was the same list I had already been sent - with a different file name.

Using the standard that KPFA's lists should be used to promote KPFA programming and solicit donations to KPFA, not to circulate internal politics, this request seemed quite in line with the standards applied consistently to any other partner email distribution done in the past. So I was happy to fulfill this request. I just asked them to maintain their own unsubscribe list to lower the admin demand on me and they set up a gmail account for that purpose. I can only assume that they believed KPFA's email personnel either would not or could not assist them to distribute program announcements.

The good news is that the mails had a bumper response rate of 20%+ opens, got about 20 online donations, lots of click throughs to the archives and an extremely low unsubscribe rate - 3% of recipients asked to be removed, 97% did not. If you know anything about email marketing, that's an extremely positive response rate. Way higher than average.

Which is an excellent argument for the case I have long made which is that promotion of programming and regular communication with members is essential for every community media organization, and KPFA's inability and unwillingness to do this basic thing has cost us dearly in declining audiences (as we have seen from 2007-2010), Pushing internal politics instead of radio is a losing strategy if what we care about is the institution surviving and thriving and I appreciate the Morning Mix staff for being clear on that and having the energy and freshness to take action. I wish more of the station was so enterprising. Maybe in time they will be. Certainly the two weeks of promotions proved that it's a good thing to do.

So a few final thoughts:

The election-related lawsuit is the reason for the "release" of email lists. In addition to being released to Salsalabs, the request when completed, also resulted in the upload of mailing lists to the "Mailchimp" email service. If KPFA is concerned about keeping lists internal to their own servers, then such requests should not be made to support power struggles around elections.

It is really not possible to steal something that is emailed to you by its owner. It is only possible to misuse it against the better interests of those who sent it to you. By choosing not to distribute internal politics and choosing to distribute material that *encouraged* people to listen to the radio station and to donate to it, the unsolicited lists were used to benefit KPFA, not to harm it.

Since I presume the election-related emails will eventually be sent by some other distribution module, (as they were on April 27th) KPFA members are encouraged to ignore the communique.

Finally, I really could care less about Save KPFA and their "censures". In my opinion, they have conclusively demonstrated in their Concerned Listeners guise profound financial irresponsibility towards KPFA and a willingness to damage an institution that I care deeply about if they cannot control it absolutely. In my opinion, they are inimical to everything community radio is supposed to be about

Long live community media.

ED, Media Alliance
Listener Rep, KPFA LSB and Director, Pacifica Foundation

Stop the KPFA

Indybay article

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Updates, reports & essays about KPFA & Pacifica Foundation Radio at

KPFA 94.1 FM is one of five stations of the Pacifica radio network which are located in major cities across the country. The other stations are WBAI 99.5 in New York, WPFW 89.3 in Washington DC, KPFT 90.1 in Houston, and KPFK 90.7 in Los Angeles. There are also about 160 affiliate stations.

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without due process

(Note: " Save KPFA" is the most current name of the group which has also called itself the "Concerned Listeners" (CL) and "KPFA Forward.")

by Richard Phelps, former Chair KPFA Local Station Board
June 21, 2012

Concerned Listener majority on the KPFA Local Station Board practices tyranny of the majority just like the Republican Congress. The CL censured Tracy Rosenberg without due process and when called on their wrongful conduct they continued to defy logic and fair play. (See the entire story below. But first Margy Wilkinson's latest lie to our listeners.)

Then to top it off Margy Wilkinson lied to the listeners during her June 29th debate with Tracy on the air on KPFA regarding the Recall.

Margy stated on the air (I have a recording of it) that the reason she ruled that a censure was NOT discipline was that in Robert's Rules of Order a censure is defined as a "warning". Despite the fact that a "warning" would be the first level of discipline, NOWHERE in RRO is there a statement saying that a censure is a warning. You can find the word censure in RRO at pages 120, 131, 333, 436, and 642. It is discussed as a response to someone doing something improper. Legislatures censure members now and then and everyone KNOWS that it is punishment for wrong doing. The Senate censured Joe McCarthy, something Margy and her father were cheering along with all Americans that believe in due process, which McCarthy denied to many. What happened to Margy such that she is now denying due process? Obviously, her sectarian groups desire for power and control over KPFA/Pacifica have become more important than principles like due process. Thus we should not trust her or her allies.

So Margy Wilkinson lied to KPFA listeners/voter, to cover her and her slim majority's tyrannical denial of simple due process to Tracy Rosenberg. Margy and her group, which included three lawyers and a journalism professor, who all knew the truth and voted for power over due process, were in a hurry to recall Tracy and didn't want to go through the due process procedures to properly censure Tracy, notice and a chance to prepare a defense. Shortly after the May meeting referenced below they issued their recall petition with mention of Tracy Rosenberg being censured. The details follow:

At the April, 2011 LSB meeting I was absent due to a family emergency. The Concerned Listener majority on the LSB passed a motion to censure Tracy Rosenberg for conduct outside of an LSB meeting. The procedural rules that our LSB must follow require any discipline for conduct outside a meeting requires reasonable notice for a hearing/trial where the person charged will be able to produce witnesses and present evidence in her defense. Tracy was not provided with this due process and was ambushed at the meeting.

At the May 2011 LSB meeting I made a Point of Order challenging their censure of Tracy. The first response was Conn Hallinan giving me the finger. After some delay their Chair Margy Wilkinson allowed me to speak. I laid out the rules, even quoting some, and explained that they needed to withdraw the censure and give Tracy a hearing/trial with fair notice so she could prepare her defense. Their Chair ruled that my Point of Order was overruled since a censure is NOT discipline. I was shocked but on reflection not surprised that their chair would do this.

When I was chair of the LSB I went out of my way to be fair to all. LSB meetings should be a level playing field for discussion and debate on how to make things at the station better.

On the vote to uphold the chair's ruling the CLers, in their sectarian tradition, voted in lock step and supported the chair's illogical and self-serving denial of due process. Shortly there after out came the Petition to Recall Tracy Rosenberg which included that Tracy had been censured by the KPFA LSB. I guess the CLers didn't want to delay their recall petition since they knew they would have ignored any actual evidence that Tracy may present as they did the evidence I presented on the due process for Tracy issue.

Perhaps the saddest thing about this was that NONE of the CLers seemed to have any problem (conscience) with this obviously wrong ruling!

What kind of progressive doesn't believe in due process? How are we going to build a movement for a more just society when some among the movement use the same corporate tactics, win at all cost, that they claim to be against? The answer is that we won't succeed unless we demonstrate to the 99% that we have principles like due process, truth being our guide, and fair play in all our disputes. How we win in internal movement disputes is often just as important as winning and sometime more important.

We are what we do, not what we say we believe in. Fighting for justice and fair play in Oakland, Washington DC or anywhere in the world has limited value for building a more just world if we don't practice what we preach with each other!!

RICHARD PHELPS, former Chair KPFA Local Station Board
June 21, 2012

P.S. As some of you know I have some political differences with Tracy Rosenberg regarding KPFA, Pacifica and progressive principles and I am still against the recall because it is dishonest and wrong.

Stop the KPFA

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Updates, reports & essays about KPFA & Pacifica Foundation Radio at

KPFA 94.1 FM is one of five stations of the Pacifica radio network which are located in major cities across the country. The other stations are WBAI 99.5 in New York, WPFW 89.3 in Washington DC, KPFT 90.1 in Houston, and KPFK 90.7 in Los Angeles. There are also about 160 affiliate stations.

The original 1993 Save KPFA group were outraged and objected strenuously. But the CL'ers are still using their new ill-gotten name.

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"Please don't ask any more questions about . . ."

Between the Minutes
at KPFA's Local Station Board
on December 1, 2012

by Daniel Borgström

For seven years I've been attending KPFA's Local Station Board meetings and, on occasion, writing Between the Minutes, a series in which I take up some brief incident which might dramatize, bring to life, or even humanize an otherwise tedious and lengthy board meeting.

Dramatic moments can be subtle, but not lacking, since the board consists of two opposing camps. One of these is the grassroots group,
United for Community Radio, which I support. The other is "SaveKPFA," the status quo group with ties to the Democratic Party, and whose membership includes Pamela Drake. Pam is an activist who came to Occupy Oakland last year, then found a job with Mayor Jean Quan who was sending police to attack Occupiers.

Pam's activities looked like a conflict of interest. So I posted an article, "
The Mayor Quan Connection at Occupy Oakland," in which I suggested that Pam's SaveKPFA colleagues might care to investigate her involvement and give us a report. Two weeks passed; so far no response. They didn't seem inclined to talk about it; just the same, I felt it might be worth asking them.

The KPFA Local Station Board seemed a logical place to present such a question, but is it proper to ask someone if she's a point person for the mayor in dealing with Occupy? This was a very delicate matter, and deserved to be presented in a way that would be directly relevant to the KPFA board itself. KPFA/Pacifica bylaws has a rule stating that anyone who's a member of government can't be on the board at the same time.

So I attended the December 1st meeting, placed my name on the list for Public Comments, and took a seat in the audience waiting for the session to start. About 20 board members sat around a conglomeration of tables configured into a U-shape. On the left were eight members of United for Community Radio. And on the right were ten or eleven members of "SaveKPFA." Among them was Pam Drake, only two seats from the end of the table, quite close to the audience section. Another of her SaveKPFA colleagues, Jack Kurzweil, sat at the very end, closest to me. He is a famously disagreeable person who seems to take himself very seriously.

The meeting began, the agenda was approved, and after a couple other preliminaries it was time for Public Comments. I was second to speak, and Margy Wilkinson called my name. Margy was the chair, a member of SaveKPFA. I stepped over to the table and picked up the mic.

"This is uncomfortable," I said, and it really was uncomfortable, but I felt it was important to bring it up. I took a deep breath and began: "I understand that we have some rule about being on the LSB and being in government at the same time. Now I understand that Pamela Drake, on the LSB, also works for the mayor, I would like to know in what capacity, what the particulars are."

Pam was sitting only eight or ten feet away from me. I looked at her. "I read this from your own website, and from various newspapers. That's where I got this information." I paused, glanced around at the others and continued. "I'm at Occupy Oakland and Pam is also at Occupy Oakland. And --"

Jack Kurzweil cut in, "That is a personal attack!" he shouted.

"I --" I tried to speak, but Jack was shouting me down. "The speaker is attacking an LSB member!" he yelled. Margy called for order, but Jack went on. Board members are not supposed to respond to speakers, and certainly not interrupt. But this had happened so often that I'd almost come to expect it. Anyway, I had the mic in my hand while all Jack had was his loud obnoxious voice, so I said, into the mic, "I'm raising a question! I'm raising a question!"

Margy called for order, saying. "I fully intend to allow Pam to respond when Daniel is done. Thank you!"

Momentarily brought into line, Jack went silent, and I continued.

"This is a question I'd like to raise. As I was saying, I'm at Occupy Oakland. I understand that Pam was quite active there, and that her job with the mayor, whatever it may be. . . I'd like to hear what it is. I think it was as a coordinator of a committee which you define as advising the mayor on various local issues. And I wonder if that includes strategies for suppressing Occupy." I paused and added, "I mean that's a personal concern with me."

"Okay!" Margy cut in, "Okay!"

I started to tell about what happened on January 28th, the day police mass arrested 400 of us, myself included. "I had a gun pointed at me! I would like to know --"

"Okay! That's enough," she said. "I understand. Do you have anything else?" She was laughing nervously; she seemed terribly uncomfortable. "I understand," she said again. "Please don't ask any more questions about Pam. I'm going to ask Pam if she wants to respond. But did you have anything else you want to say?"

This was about the first time a chair ever cut a speaker off during Public Comments at a KPFA board meeting. Public Comments is a forum where people get two or three minutes to address the board. Speakers can say anything on any subject, and though it should be about KPFA, it doesn't have to be. It doesn't have to be nice, polite, or laudatory either. In the past, Margy had consistently respected my right to speak. Today was a first. But I had said enough for now, and I said. "Thank you for listening to my question."

I passed the mic to Pam, who said, "Thank you, Daniel." Pam said that very sweetly.

Margy spoke, "I would like to point out that Pam Drake is--" she paused. "Go ahead Pam. You may respond."

"I do not work for the mayor and that's all there is to it," Pam said calmly. "And I do go to Occupy because I've been very involved with that too. And that's it."

Not working for the mayor? Despite what she had said in her own bio
about advising the mayor? Pam's denial surprised me. And her present involvement with Occupy? What could that mean? With all that echoing back and forth in my mind, I hardly listened to the following speaker who spoke for the next three minutes, then lay down the mic, which was retrieved by Jack.

"I have a motion," he said.

"Go ahead Jack," Margy told him.

"I move that Daniel Borgström be prohibited from addressing this KPFA Local Station Board for the next year."

Huh? I sensed a huge collective gasp from the entire room. This was truly a groundbreaking first. During all the seven years I've been attending KPFA's board meetings, I'd never before heard a motion to ban anyone from Public Comments.

"Do I hear a second to that motion?" Margy said.

For a long instant, I held my breath. The SaveKPFA crowd had a majority and could pass it. Too bad. No, not too bad -- it'd be just great! That would really make my point.

Then I heard laughter. The United for Community Radio people across the aisle from Jack were laughing, as was the woman sitting next to me. Tears seemed about to start rolling down her cheeks. I realized that I was laughing too.

"Okay! I'm asking for a second to that motion." It was Margy again. But from the SaveKPFA side of the aisle there was no response, only embarrassed silence.

"The motion dies for the lack of a second," Margy announced. "We're now ready for announcements."

AUDIO of the KPFA Local Station Board meeting of Dec 1, 2012
The above segment is about 20 minutes into the audio.

working for, coordinating for, advising, or what?

It seems beyond dispute that Pamela Drake coordinated a committee which worked on behalf of Mayor Jean Quan. The original purpose of that committee was to oppose an attempt to recall the mayor. If it was a political action committee rather than a part of the mayor's administration, Pam's coordinator role may not have violated the KPFA/Pacifica rule which prohibits a member of government from being on the board.

And while Mayor Jean Quan was not popular, the recall effort against her did not have much traction among progressives. Not even Occupy endorsed the recall. So Pam Drake's opposition to the recall was not the issue.

However, according to Pam's own bio, her job included more than just stopping the recall. So the question is: did the "
many local issues" on which she advised the mayor include Occupy?


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Newspapers & Websites

Numerous articles in the SF Chronicle and the East Bay Express identify Pamela Drake as coordinator of a committee called "Stand with Oakland." Here are a couple of them.

SF Chronicle Sunday, March 18, 2012
Stand With Oakland coordinator Pam Drake

East Bay Express March 19, 2012
Pamela Drake, a coordinator for the group

The "Full Biography for Pamela A. Drake" (6/5/2012) listing her as a candidate to be on the Democratic Party County Central Committee of Alameda County, states that Pamela "
was staff to the effort to elect Jean Quan as Oakland's first woman mayor. She continues to serve as a member of Stand with Oakland, a committee which advises the Mayor on many local issues."

Pam Drake
announced her break with Occupy Oakland in an article she posted on her own website, dated Jan. 26, 2012

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Updates, reports & essays about KPFA & Pacifica Foundation Radio at

KPFA 94.1 FM is one of five stations of the Pacifica radio network which are located in major cities across the country. The other stations are WBAI 99.5 in New York, WPFW 89.3 in Washington DC, KPFT 90.1 in Houston, and KPFK 90.7 in Los Angeles. There are also about 160 affiliate stations.

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