Responding to Dan Siegel's intervention in the LSB election

KPFA's board election of 2007

Dan Siegel, who is Pacifica's Interim Executive Director, has intervened in the Local Station Board election with a letter attacking candidates of the People's Radio slate for their collective statement which they published in the KPFA voter pamphlet. Below are responses from two KPFA listener-voters, Virginia Browning and Steve Gilmartin. Both of the following letters were sent to Pacifica election officials.The letter from IED Dan Siegel is at the bottom.

Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2007 17:29:04 -0700 (PDT)
From: Virginia Browning
Subject: Remedy Needed!

Dear Casey Peters and Les Radke,

This "Open Letter to the Pacifica Community '' written by Interim Executive Director Dan Siegel, and posted for at least several days on the KPFA website, describes one slate of candidates' political assertions in the election pamphlet as ''personal attacks '' and later on uses the term ''hateful '' speech in an obvious reference to them. He goes on to strongly imply that voters should not vote for those who, at KPFA, engaged in such ''personal attacks. ''

Siegel's letter has now been widely distributed via numerous email lists, reaching possibly thousands of potential voters. If there is press coverage of this matter even more will read these allegations.

It is a blatant attempt to influence the election against one slate of candidates.

The slate Siegel calls "attackers" resorted to this method of disseminating information because only that candidate or those slates of candidates who could raise over $14,000 for a mailing to all members could widely distribute information. Elections should not be bought. The $14,000 slate also has an even more powerful tool: airtime. Maybe you hear programs you like and say "well, they're good so where's the problem?" Aside from the problem with the same method being used, once it's sanctioned, by other than such wunderkinds, gaining access to the airwaves for even better programs is currently insurmountable for many creative, insightful souls.

Siegel's ''Open Letter'' should immediately be removed from the KPFA website.

There should also be mandated a public apology as widely distributed as the "open letter" was. And, because the many mailing lists used by station staff and ex-station staff are not something that can be monitored (of course!), it seems reasonable to me to call for airing the apology over the air multiple times

Perhaps this could be in concert with even ONE announcement of the current election by the staff – and if announcements are made, referring listeners to an apology that somehow sincerely attempts to de-bias the election.

Some are calling for punitive measures to be taken against Mr. Siegel. I can't imagine how those could help create a fair election, but maybe the prospect of watching Dan Siegel dressed like Peggy Noonan crawling through tar singing show tunes might attract a big enough crowd to hear an actual debate by the candidates, something we'll not get otherwise.

(Dan Siegel's comments are analogous to Peggy Noonan's saying those who don't like George Bush hate America.)

I urge you to consider the mess that you have invited and spare no effort to stop it.

Thank you,
Virginia Browning


Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2007
From: Steve Gilmartin
Subject: Re: KPFA Election Violations

Dear Mr. Peters:

As the National Elections Supervisor, are you not, at minimum, tasked with preventing the election from descending into travesty? I believe your ruling that calls on KPFA to repost the LSB candidates' statements on the KPFA website was the correct one, but of what possible use is it without any enforcement? A listenership already starved for information about the candidates must now be subjected to Dan Siegel's "open letter" and no corresponding statements from the candidates themselves!

It is extremely upsetting and an obvious violation of Pacifica's election laws that Dan Siegel's biased and distorted statement is allowed to stand on the KPFA website. Siegel characterizes as "personal attack" what is legitimate criticism of actions taken by individuals in positions of power within the station, statements entirely germane to the interests of KPFA's listenership in an important election period. (As such, it's unclear to me why you think such speech is, as you stated, a violation of the spirit if not the letter of the bylaws.) In addition, Siegel tars with the same brush the true hate speech of a WBAI candidate and the legitimate political speech of the candidates running as the People's Radio slate.

Siegel's statement is an outrageous interference in an election by a high-ranking Pacifica officer and is in blatant violation of Pacifica's Fair Campaign provisions. That his statement is allowed to remain while the candidates' statements have still not been posted to the KPFA (or Pacifica) website is unbelievable!

I urge you to (1) stipulate a time frame (basically, now) and to *enforce* that time frame for the posting of candidate statements; (2) order removal of Dan Siegel's statement, which has already been disseminated far and wide, from the KPFA and Pacifica websites immediately! And (3) issue a public statement, to all places within the Pacifica network in which the original statement appeared, demonstrating an awareness of Mr Siegel's gross misuse of his position to interfere in the election, in violation of both Pacifica bylaws and California coproration law.

Further, I think you should apologize to the Pacifica community, which after all cares about fairness and justice, for the mistake that was made in allowing Dan Siegel's statement to be officially posted in the first place and then to remain up day after day.

I am afraid that anything short of these actions will result in a contested election at KPFA and, no doubt, a series of lawsuits.

Please act quickly and forcefully to begin to restore the legitimacy of KPFA's election process.

Steve Gilmartin
KPFA listener-sponsor


(from the KPFA voter pamphlet)



An Open Letter to the Pacifica Community
From Dan Siegel, Interim Executive Director
October 24, 2007

Dear Friends,

Pacifica's local station board elections have taken a particularly nasty turn. A group of candidates running for the KPFA local board have issued statements that contain little more than personal attacks on their opponents and station staff. A candidate at WBAI engages in blatant race-baiting.

As a community and a progressive organization we must ask ourselves whether this type of rhetoric is acceptable. Pacifica has important challenges. We live in a nation whose leaders wage unjust and unpopular wars around the globe, attack our civil rights and liberties, oppose efforts to achieve racial justice and equality for all people, and pursue policies that widen the gap between rich and poor. The often toxic debate within Pacifica restricts our ability to respond to these issues, saps the morale of our hard-working and underpaid staff, and discourages people of good will from participating in our organization.

Many people are now calling for administrative and legal responses to abusive candidate speech. We are reviewing our options, but libel laws, difficulties in distinguishing between reasonable criticism and "personal attacks" (as well as deciding who should be empowered to make such judgments), and Pacifica's tradition of support for free speech make such measures problematic.

In the end, Pacifica's members will decide whether hate speech and hateful speech will be tolerated in our community. We need leaders who will work to improve our programming, broaden our listener base, and attract needed financial support. I urge all of you to carefully review the candidate statements and to cast your ballots for candidates who reflect both your views on how this organization should be run and your values on how democratic debate should occur in a progressive organization that reflects the diversity of our society.

Dan Siegel
Interim Executive Director
Pacifica Foundation