Insights & Experiences on the KPFA board

---- a letter from Sasha Futran to a person who had endorsed the Concerned Listeners/Save KPFA slate.

by Sasha Futran
September 1, 2010

Here are a few of my insights and experiences on the KPFA board where I am now serving my fourth year.

Concerned Listeners cum Save KPFA had the board majority for THREE of those years. During that time, they put into place incompetent management, oversaw the budget and allowed deficits that ran through the entire cash reserve, did away with the Unpaid Staff Organization as well as the Program Council. Somehow management "forgot" that there was a $375, 000 check, a donation from an estate that sat undeposited for over a year. It wasn't that forgotten, though, because it was reported to the board as deposited to a very specific bank account.

With the last election, Independents for Community Radio became the majority voice on the board by one vote. When we wanted to hold the manager accountable for the lack of depositing the check, they -- Concerned Listeners now calling themselves Save KPFA -- protested mightily and loudly.

In the short period of time that ICR has held a majority (a total of seven board meetings) we have managed to get that $375K check replaced. That took almost eight months of negotiating with the executor of the estate. We have reinstated the Program Council, which, by the way, is a requirement of our bylaws; the unpaid staff organization is once again a recognized unit at KPFA.

In addition, for the first time on the board, with a new treasurer who is a volunteer in the position and the CFO of a Bay Area software company, we are finally getting a clear picture of the true state of the station's finances.

No one on the board from ICR, or any of our candidates as far as I know, are calling for no paid staff. This is a false argument, and one of many, put up by CL/SaveKPFA. Certainly, some of the cash reserve would have been used by us to pay staff if we were the majority and IF WE HAD KNOWN, which we did not, the true state of the station's finances. However, I know that I would have been in favor of looking at the budget and ways of cutting costs before, rather than after, we totally ran out of money. During that same time frame, staff members of the ruling cabal were given new jobs and new programs with paid programmers were created. One two-hour program that had an unpaid host turned into a 22 hour paid job for one of their members as well. I could go on with how costs were added and the selective manner in which that was done.

My problem with your endorsement of CL cum Save is that you did not educate yourself on any of this before making an endorsement. You did not come to us with some of the issues to hear what we had to say. Your endorsement included false advertising of an event that slate was putting on as a fundraiser for themselves but billing it as for KPFA. It smacks a little of the "oops, silly me" mistake of the undeposited check. In a word, disingenuous.

Now let's get to your favorite slate's ***new*** name. SAVE KPFA was a group that stood for the very opposite of what your slate stands for. I was on the steering committee when it existed before and during the staff lookout of 1999. Changing the name is another disingenuous act and one that is misleading to voters.

Finally, let's get to how pleasant you find these charming people. At just one board meeting this year, one of the members from your peaceful Wellstone friends and a KPFA board member as well, advanced on me yelling and shaking his finger during a meeting I was chairing. I thought he was going to hit me. Another of your peace-loving Concerned Listener/Save KPFA board members stood up with a raised hand over an elderly member of the audience. I thought he was going to hit the poor man and called an immediate break. During the break, three of your benign Concerned Listener/Wellstone/Save KPFA board members went over to another member of the public and invited him outside to fight. Another of your Concerned Listener/Wellstone/Save KPFA board members chimed in and she invited him to "be a man." This is all captured on video, by the way.

I'm glad your experience of them when they are at Humanist Hall meeting as Wellstone Democrats is that they are pleasant, friendly, and jocular. It has not been mine, however. Perhaps they are accustomed to being in charge of meetings and don't do so well when they aren't.

While on the subject of the Wellstone Democratic Club, I find it totally inappropriate, not to mention dangerous, for a political party to attempt to take over a radio station. It doesn't matter if you, I, or anyone else agrees with their politics. KPFA should not be owned and operated by a political party.

--- --- ---
SASHA FUTRAN is a member of Independents for Community Radio (ICR). The ICR candidates in the 2010 KPFA board election are:

Tracy Rosenberg
Hyun-Mi Kim
Stephen Astourian
Monadel Herzallah
Janet Kobren
Cynthia Johnson
Kate Tanaka
Gina Szeto
Naeem Deskins
Georgia Frazier

September 1, 2010