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Pacifica Radio: Regeneration or Sinking Into the Mire?

Arlene Engelhardt is the Executive Director of the Pacifica Foundation. Following my last post on labor relations at the five station listener supported radio network, I invited Arlene to offer her own perspective. She has sent us this commentary, which I reproduce unedited here. —Matthew Lasar

Arlene Engelhardt

Arlene Engelhardt

Pacifica respects our workers’ rights to union representation and we deplore “union busting” wherever it occurs—and it WILL NOT occur at Pacifica on my watch.

We also expect Pacifica’s KPFA staff to act, speak and report with integrity and professionalism when they have disputes with management.  In that expectation I have been deeply disappointed since I came to Pacifica in December 2009.

For the past 18 months “KPFAWorker” and “SaveKPFA” have put out a relentless barrage of distortions, half-truths and outright falsehoods intended to whip up a frenzy—with no middle ground, no nuance, no room for exploring and resolving the multi-faceted problems facing KPFA and Pacifica.

Their most recent blast is that Pacifica’s hiring the Jackson Lewis law firm is “a declaration of war on the unions that represent Pacifica workers.”  This is an incendiary falsehood.  Pacifica has amicable relations with all our employees’ unions except CWA local 9415 at KPFA.

Jackson Lewis was first hired in 2010 to handle only litigation and is not involved in union relations at Pacifica at all.

After several seriously mishandled lawsuits, Pacifica desperately needed a competent employment litigation defense firm.  Jackson Lewis was hired from a list of firms approved by our insurance carrier. They have provided legal defense in five lawsuits around the network, including four brought by former management employees, and have handled two arbitrations at WBAI.  Three cases are still pending including one at KPFA.   Our insurance deductible for each case is $125k—more than 2 employees’ salaries and benefits for one year at KPFA.

In every case, Jackson Lewis has saved us money by working at reduced rates and handling matters efficiently while looking for reasonable early settlements.  In addition, they recently agreed to a retainer for 4 hours/month at greatly reduced rates to assist us with non-litigation matters. The amount of litigation around Pacifica is a disgrace that comes from years of extremely destructive factionalism.

It’s up to the Pacifica National Board, but I have advised them that terminating Jackson Lewis would be reckless and expensive. Changing lawyers in mid-litigation is dangerous.  The stations would have to pay new lawyers to get up to speed. Our insurance company may penalize us for it.  They have done an exemplary job.  And they are NOT engaged in “union busting” for Pacifica.

Concerning Other Recent “KPFAWorker/SaveKPFA” Charges — Context Matters

Ten years ago, through extraordinary efforts by Pacifica’s listeners, Pacifica was saved from a “corporatizing” board of directors. Their intent was to “NPR-ize” Pacifica and tone down its more radical programming.

When the new board of directors took over in January 2002 Pacifica was bankrupt. The former Executive Director had drained all five stations’ bank accounts—including about $1.4 million from KPFA—to pay lawyers, PR firms & private investigators to fight the “Free Pacifica” movement. Pacifica was over $4 million in debt and had no cash.

Through the extraordinary generosity of our listeners, Pacifica recovered and paid off its outside creditors between 2002-2005.

For the first few years there was an air of excitement & victory that enlivened Pacifica.  New programs were brought to the air.  Elected local and national boards and program councils including listeners were established for the first time.  But for some these were unsettling intrusions.

The tide turned around 2006-2007.  Faction fighting at all five stations took its toll.  The spirit of collaboration and openness faded and programming became stagnant. Media activism on the internet began to displace Pacifica, as we were not keeping pace with innovations.

Pacifica‘s overall listener support dropped 23%—from $13.8 million for fiscal year ending (FYE) September 30, 2006 to $10.6 million for FYE 2010.  KPFA’s listener support dropped 27%—from $4.0 million for FYE 2005 to $2.9 million FYE 2010.

KPFA, WBAI and WPFW have been running seriously in the red. KPFA lost $1.5 million in the four years from FYE 2007 through FYE 2010, while Pacifica as a whole lost $5.5 million.  Stations have met their payrolls by not paying their share of network-wide expenses (Central Services)—for Democracy Now!, the Pacifica Radio Archives, our insurance, our auditors, etc.  Stations have also used the National Office as a “bank” to advance sums for their expenses—health premiums, legal expenses, pension fund contributions, etc.  As a result, Pacifica national is carrying almost $3.4 million in accounts receivable from the stations, and $1.3 million in debts to outside creditors. This cannot continue.

If KPFA and Pacifica are to survive, then people must work together to solve our problems.  KPFA’s programming must be revitalized.  I’m proud of the work this past year of many people at KPFA in extremely difficult circumstances—especially the volunteers at the “Morning Mix” and the interim Manager and Program Director, Andrew Phillips & Carrie Core. They are bringing in new voices and perspectives and building new audiences for KPFA.

But at the same time “KPFAWorker/SaveKPFA” is driving away listeners and donors with their constant negative campaign.  Many listeners are sick of it and tuning us out and finding more positive things to support.  A media revolution is underway.  The Occupy Movement is demanding and creating it.  KPFA & Pacifica can either open our doors and be a hub for it, or sink in our own mire.

I do believe regeneration is possible.  I call on everyone to put down their swords and find ways to solve our problems together.

Feel free to respond to Arlene Engelhardt’s post. Gratuitous and expletive laden attacks will be cheerfully deleted. Commentaries filled with URL links will sit in our spam queue until we notice them. —Editor

 


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19 Responses to Pacifica Radio: Regeneration or Sinking Into the Mire?

  1. KPFA Unpaid Staffer March 30, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    Once again Arlene Englehardt expresses contempt for the people who produce most of the programming at KPFA as well as the listeners. She wants different listeners and different programmers. It would be better for all concerned of she just went to a different radio network instead.

  2. KPFA Unpaid Staffer March 30, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    The fact that Englehardt and Pacifica would do *any* business, union-related or not, with a firm as sleazy as Jackson-Lewis is outrageous and shameful. It speaks volumes about the character of “leadership” at Pacifica Radio and provides ample reason to call again for Ms. Englehardt’s immediate resignation.

  3. Real kpfaworker March 30, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    The CWA Local 9415 filed 25 grievances, 5 Labor Relations Board complaints and went to an arbitration. Pacifica prevailed on every single case, including 5 consecutive times before the Labor Relations Board. Jackson Lewis did not represent Pacifica in a single one of these matters.

    The contempt is exercised by some (not all) of KPFA’s hosts and producers, who lost 1.2 million dollars in 2 years and refused to trim expenses, catapulting KPFA into a state of emergency by the Fall of 2010.

    Instead of facing up to the fiscal crisis like adults, they continue to bleed funds for frivolous lawsuits, assault the character of the management team and board of directors that saved them from bankruptcy, and petulantly proclaim that no programming changes are needed at KPFA – when a six-year old child can tell that if 25% of your subscribers wander off (as happened at KPFA between 2006-2009 PRECIPITATING the financial crisis), you are doing something very wrong.

    Engelhardt deserves credit for taking a ridiculous amount of abuse from this infantile crew and doing what is necessary to rescue a vitally important and somewhat troubled network.

  4. Barrie Ann Mason March 30, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    Englehardt and her supporters have removed the most popular and profitable programming from KPFA. By cancelling the extremely well produced Morning Show they have driven away listeners. Most people I know who used to listen to KPFA don’t listen anymore.

  5. Real KPFA Worker March 30, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

    KPFA lost more than $550,000 in 2009 and 2010. In 2011 that improved to a much smaller operating deficit of $39,000. As of the end of February 2012, KPFA had an operating surplus for the first five months of the year of $304,000.

    Paid memberships declined by more than 25% between 2006 and 2009. Since then they have declined less than 6%.

    KPFA didn’t lose listeners because it cancelled the old Morning Show. It lost listeners and THEN it cancelled the old Morning Show. Because it no longer had enough income coming in to to run as much paid programming as before

    Don’t mess up cause and effect.

  6. KPFAWorker March 31, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    First off, it is stunning to see Pacifica’s Executive Director confirm, in writing that Pacifica voted to put union-buster Jackson-Lewis on a general retainer, and is using it for “non-litigation matters.” Second, it is unfortunate that Arlene Engelhardt takes no personal responsibility for the acrimony or the litigation.

    Pacifica faced arbitrations because she fired staff at KPFA out of seniority order (that’s why Brian Edwards-Tiekert got his job back, with backpay).

    It faced NLRB complaints because Pacifica gagged its workers from discussing what was happening on the air–something that might be legally-defensible, but runs contrary to Pacifica’s very mission statement.

    Pacifica faced grievances — as does any unionized employer — because of legitimate concerns about working conditions. But Arlene Engelhardt is the first manager in Pacifica who has rejected every grievance out of hand, instead of trying to work them out with our union reps. When we go to the NLRB, it is because Pacifica won’t resolve routine disputes through the normal process.

    And Pacifica faces at least one lawsuit because of how badly Engelhardt handled the departure of an employee who had already volunteered to take a severance package — trying to renege on the terms of that package, refusing to deal with her concerns about a co-worker’s harassing conduct, etc.

    The fact is, Pacifica’s facing a high level of legal activity because Engelhardt is a terrible manager who doesn’t know how to deal with workers, and doesn’t know how to deal with unions. And her only solution is to hire a union-busting law firm — not deal with the root causes.

    Under her “leadership,” KPFA has paid over $120,000 — and counting — to anti-union legal consultants. She and her allies have concocted a “budget crisis” to enable them to justify their actions. At the same time, they refused over $63,000 of pledges raised in good faith by SaveKPFA to restore the Morning Show and its excellent paid and unpaid staff.

    Yes, KPFA’s income declined over the last several years for two main reasons: the sharp decline in the economy overall and Pacifica’s own mismanagement, like canceling its most popular show, which raised 3 times what it cost to produce. And, as SaveKPFA writes, “KPFA is in dire financial straits now because Pacifica, as the parent corporation, dipped into KPFA’s bank accounts and took money to pay corporate bills.” Details are here: http://www.savekpfa.org/facts-about-the-kpfa-situation

    Also, on the myths about unpaid staff circulating on the internet: the reason CWA can’t represent unpaid staff at KPFA is because the NLRB has ruled (in a case pushed by Pacifica management in the 1990s) that it’s illegal to include volunteers in a collective bargaining unit. Everyone at the station knows this; anyone attacking KPFA’s union on this front is just spreading lies and innuendo for the sake of dividing our workers. Most unpaid and paid staff work closely together and support each other; it is only a vocal minority, allied with management, that is cynically using the current situation to undermine this solidarity.

    And that seems to be the main tactic of Engelhardt, Tracy Rosenberg (who is facing a listener recall vote), and their allies: divide the staff and use that to divert attention from the real causes of KPFA’s distress. (Gee, sounds like they’ve been getting advice from union-busters, doesn’t it?)

    You can read a short labor history of KPFA here: http://www.kpfaworker.org/kpfa-labor-history.

    It’s also incredible to read Engelhardt attacking KPFA’s unpaid and paid staff’s “integrity and professionalism,” and claiming that the broad alliance of community and labor activists working to save the station have left “no room for exploring and resolving the multi-faceted problems facing KPFA and Pacifica.” This, from the person who refused over a year ago to try mediation with KPFA’s workers, as Berkeley mayor Tom Bates grilled her at a city council meeting? The same person who has ignored thousands of listener calls and emails, stupidly moving ahead with her destruction of KPFA’s programming?

    And now Pacifica is spending listener dollars to support a legal firm notorious for robbing workers of their rights, which the AFL-CIO calls “the number one union buster in America.” To learn more, check out this article by Professor John Logan, which places Jackson Lewis at the heart of the anti-union movement. : http://www.savekpfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/JohnLogan_TheUnionAvoidanceIndustry.pdf

    Another excellent read for historical perspective is Matthew Lasar’s Radio Survivor column from 2010: http://www.radiosurvivor.com/2010/10/31/how-the-kpfa-morning-show-almost-killed-me-and-why-i-want-it-to-live/

  7. longtime listener March 31, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    There are only two pieces of information that really matter in this discussion about union busting at Pacifica:

    * Did Pacifica choose to do business with union busting law firms?

    The answer is NO: In lawsuits filed against Pacifica, the network is locked into a list of lawyers approved by the insurance company, and all options listed are union busting lawyers. There is no choice.

    * Did Pacifica use union busting law firms against the union that is representing workers at KPFA?

    The answer is NO: The insurance-mandated union busting lawyers have never been used in any conflict with the CWA, and are therefore not involved in any union busting at KPFA.

    There is NO union busting going on at KPFA, and anyone who tells you there is, is either lying or very misinformed.

  8. Real KPFA Worker April 1, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    5 consecutive labor relations board complaints were dismissed. Pacifica was vindicated on every single one.

    Aimee Allison lost an arbitration hearing. The union-approved auditor agreed with Pacifica that her layoff was indicated by financial crisis and in compliance with the union contract.

    Brian Edwards-Tiekert never even went to an arbitration hearing. After declaring he would only accept returning to KPFA as the host of an AM show, he reversed that position immediately prior to arbitration and accepted Pacifica’s longstanding offer to bounce back to his previous position as a part-time news reporter.

    Jackson-Lewis did not participate in a single contract negotiation, union grievance, arbitration or NLRB complaint. Not one.

  9. Fred April 1, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    “Longtime listener” asks:

    1. “Did Pacifica choose to do business with union busting law firms?”

    YES, it is well-documented that Pacifica is using Jackson Lewis on at least four cases that were not under the control of Pacifica’s insurance carrier—in other words, Pacifica has chosen to use the firm, not had the firm imposed on it. You should also question Pacifica’s assertion that firms on the insurance list that must be used when a case tops $125,000 “are all union-busters” -that’s extremely, and no excuse for voting to hire the #1 union-buster in the nation!

    2. “Did Pacifica use union busting law firms against the union that is representing workers at KPFA?”

    YES, Pacifica’s national board voted in late January to put Jackson Lewis on a general retainer for labor and employment issues. Engelhardt not only confirms that above, she says they’ve handled 2 arbitrations for Pacifica. Most of the lawsuits filed against Pacifica, indeed, were brought by management employees who didn’t have union contracts (they only way they can complain is to sue), but the arbitrations are a process under the union contracts at Pacifica’s stations. When an employer hires the country’s top-union buster on retainer for labor issues, YES, they are by definition fighting Pacifica’s workers and the union(s) that represent them.

    However Pacifica got introduced to Jackson Lewis, it is undeniable that Pacifica has repeatedly chosen to expand its use of the nation’s top union-busting firm.

    And please don’t think that the union only “represents” workers in a narrow way, or that the workers themselves don’t care about the network beyond their own working conditions. KPFA’s union workers and their listener allies are fighting this to save the station as a progressive media outlet and a community resource. That Pacifica hires these right-wing firms — for whatever reason — is cause for outrage.

    And it is an outrage to all Pacifica listeners as well. I know of no fellow listener who wants their donations going in the pockets of right-wing union-busters who’ve helped destroy our station or network. Engelhardt and her crew are incompetent, or worse. We should all be calling for their resignations, accompanied by a public apology to workers and listeners.

  10. Real KPFA Worker April 1, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    “YES, it is well-documented that Pacifica is using Jackson Lewis on at least four cases that were not under the control of Pacifica’s insurance carrier—in other words.

    No. It is not well-documented. Nor is it true.

    “Pacifica’s national board voted in late January to put Jackson Lewis on a general retainer for labor and employment issues”

    No, they didn’t.

    There are only two pieces of information that really matter in this discussion about union busting at Pacifica:

    * Did Pacifica choose to do business with union busting law firms?

    The answer is NO: In lawsuits filed against Pacifica, the network is locked into a list of lawyers approved by the insurance company, and all options listed are union busting lawyers. There is no choice.

    * Did Pacifica use union busting law firms against the union that is representing workers at KPFA?

    The answer is NO: The insurance-mandated union busting lawyers have never been used in any conflict with the CWA, and are therefore not involved in any union busting at KPFA.

    There is NO union busting going on at KPFA, and anyone who tells you there is, is either lying or very misinformed.

  11. Kevin White April 2, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    It seems extremely fair to the rest of the network if Pacifica were to sell KPFA before they drag the rest of the network down to the sewer with them. The staff in Berkeley would rather destroy Pacifica than risk losing their ego driven radio shows. It’s shameful. Truly sad that there are such selfish and self righteous employees so willing to lie to stay stagnate.

  12. Sandy S. April 2, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

    Arlene – You are the one driving away KPFA listeners. You and your policies. It is telling that the only things you praise here are the arrogant interim GM and the program he backs that has lost listeners big time.

    The morning drive time on KPFA is now the massive sucking sound of the station going down the drain. Won’t it be fun to have “community radio” once you can’t pay the electric bill?

    Have you no idea that the “extremely destructive factionalism” you refer comes comes straight from your office?

    Do you think it is good management style for an ED to attack her staff’s “integrity and professionalism” on a public forum such as this?

    As for Jackson Lewis, it is unbelievable that you write glowingly of the nation’s top union-busting law firm because it “saves us money,” handles “matters efficiently” and has done “an exemplary job.”

    KPFA has already been charged $115,000 for anti-union lawyers (a different firm) in just the past 16 months. Now you are adding to that total by spending more listener donations on an even worse firm?

    Arlene, have you any idea what this firm, Jackson Lewis, has done to working people, disabled people, and others Pacifica is supposed to support?

    And not a word to listeners about the violation of Pacifica’s bylaws by delaying the recall vote, now 4 months overdue? More listeners have written to you about that, by far, than any other topic in the last year.

    You need to resign now, before you crash the network and embarrass Pacifica even further.

  13. Real KPFA Worker April 3, 2012 at 6:32 am #

    Sandy,

    You are drinking a bunch of koolaid.

    KPFA’s finances are better after the AM changes to the tune of half a million dollars a year. You aren’t losing listeners. You already lost over 1/4 of the subscriber base because the programming WASN’T changed and people were bored with it. That is what PRECIPITATED the financial crisis and caused the inability to pay the electric bill. Now you can pay the electric bill. At least at KPFA.

    Don’t put “community radio” in quotes. KPFA is community radio and some people believe in it. Lew Hill was one of them.

    KQED, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the SF Jewish Community Center use the same “anti-union” lawyer as KPFA did to handle the KPFA labor complaints. Folger Levin won every single of them on Pacifica’s behalf because Pacifica was right and the “kpfaworkers” were wrong.

    This campaign to destabilize Pacifica and prevent change is simply wrong. Let go and hand it over to a new generation. You kill the things you love if you can’t let them go when it is time.

  14. Jack VanAken April 3, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    Good heavens, what have we stumbled onto here? Could this be a thread about the current state of Pacifica Radio?

    No doubt a thread like this must contain some of the most engaging, respectful and nuanced commentary one is likely ever to encounter…

    I think I’ll pull up a footstool, wrap myself in a hand knitted shawl, and sip at these thoughts and observations like they were a draught of rare brandy on a chill spring evening…

    LOL

  15. it's really very simple April 3, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    A management regime at Pacifica decided to make changes at KPFA, largely to further their own political agenda, under the guise of a budget crisis. They believe their ideas are so right that they should not need to follow seniority and grievance provisions in the union contract, nor deal in good faith with the staff union.

    The Morning Show cancellation and a slew of other unpopular programming changes driven by Pacifica management have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in listener donations — and the station continues to ignore listener pleas for change.

    Pacifica has wasted tens of thousands of dollars on expensive law firms to defend its questionable choices, and even to handle routine union grievances. By all accounts, Pacifica chose to hire Jackson Lewis, a notorious law firm which the AFL-CIO calls “America’s number one union-buster.”

    And Pacifica is awash in fiscal mismanagement. Foundation staff have bounced workers’ paychecks (a crime) and illegally dipped into workers retirement accounts.

    Pacifica has yet to mail ballots for a listener-prompted recall of the Pacifica National Board treasurer, despite certifying back in November that the signatures on the petitions were valid. By the board’s own timeline, ballots should have been mailed before the end of 2011.

    Pacifica’s pattern of retaliation against critics of the current regime has had a chilling effect on staff, who now must fear disciplinary action and discharge. In violation of longstanding station tradition, Pacifica is trying to establish a gag rule, barring workers from talking about station politics on the air.

    Labor councils throughout Northern California have urged Pacifica to end their hostile tactics and resume decent labor relations with their workers.

    Listeners, donors and all KPFA staff, paid and unpaid, have a right to expect better.

  16. Real KPFA Worker April 4, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    Losing $1.2 million dollars in 2 years is a “guise of a budget crisis” like falling 20 stories to the ground is a “guise of tripping”.

    In case anyone is wondering why the changes at KPFA were not gentler, the above poster makes it very clear. The inability to read financial statements, the inability to respond to problems like adults and on-going fantasies that everything is about internal politics and nothing is about facts: like losing 25% of the subscribers between 2006-2009.

    Pacifica won five consecutive times at the Labor Relations Board because it did follow the contract and all labor laws. Paaicifca was right and the CWA was wrong. Period.

    There is nothing routine about filing huge numbers of frivolous grievances and wasting the hard-earned money defending against absurdities like reverse discrimination against white people. (Yep, that was filed). Everything but the kitchen sink.

    Pacifica filed a comprehensive pension correction on problems that dated back to 2005 (way before the current executive director started). Layoffs happen because there are financial problems. When you run big deficits, it shouldn’t be rocket science that things will get paid late because of cash shortages. That is why you can’t operate indefinitely with a half a million dollar plus annual operating deficit.

    Pacifica has reasonably good relations with AFTRA and NABET. It is only at KPFA that the CA acts like their job is to get rid of all the managers and run the station themselves (albeit into the ground). It’s very strange.

    I wish the kpfaworkers would work on revitalizing their station, not recalling one of their board members.

    And I’m positive the other 21,000 subscribers agree.

  17. So where's are the recall ballots? April 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    If you’re so sure, Tracy, that KPFA’s subscribers agree with you, where are the recall ballots?

    Those ballots should have mailed by December 30, 2011, according to Pacifica’s own rules. Instead, Tracy’s friends on the board have sat on the matter for over 3 months. Democracy in action, eh?

  18. Real KPFA Worker April 4, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    And in the end, that is all the [gratuitous insult deleted] have to say. Fire another manager. Recall a board member.

    Nothing about *why* KPFA lost 25% of its membership in three years. Nothing about how KPFA lost 1.2 million dollars the following two years by mindlessly predicting subscriber growth in the middle of an economic apocalypse. Nothing about how to meet the challenge of a fierce attack on the new social justice movements, a fractured media landscape and a rapidly-changing technology sector in which KPFA is badly lacking.

    Grow up.

    There are 22 national board board members and every last one of them voted for the layoffs at KPFA in October of 2010 . Every last one of them. Unanimous.

  19. Alex Steinberg (repost) April 5, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    Statement from Pacifica National Board member Alex Steinberg re KPFA:

    Defeat the recall and smear campaign against Elected KPFA and Pacifica Board Member Tracy Rosenberg

    Statement from Alex Steinberg — Pacifica National Board Member from WBAI-N.Y.C., and National Finance Committee Member

    I would like to say something about the vicious smear campaign against Media Alliance Executive Director, KPFA Local Station Board and Pacifica National Board member Tracy Rosenberg orchestrated by the so-called “SaveKPFA” faction.

    The “SaveKPFA” group, which is closely affiliated with Democratic Party insiders in the Bay Area and a self-serving group of entrenched paid staff at KPFA, have been waging war against the Pacifica Foundation for the past two years. They have filed about a dozen frivolous law suits and complaints with the National Labor Relations Board against Pacifica and KPFA management. While all their NLRB complaints were dismissed as without merit, Pacifica was forced to spend over $80,000 in legal fees defending itself.

    This is the same group that initiated the campaign to recall Tracy Rosenberg from KPFA Local Station Board, which would also remove her from the National Board, with a series of trumped up charges and outright lies. Estimates of how much in listener contributions Pacifica will be forced to spend to bankroll the recall election range anywhere from $15K–$45K. Let’s say for the sake of simplicity that between the frivolous NLRB complaints and the recall election, well over $100K of listener contributions is being wasted.

    Could the barrage of frivolous lawsuits and recall campaigns be part of a well thought out strategy on the part of the SaveKPFA group to cripple Pacifica and KPFA in an election year?

    It is not difficult to see that a group with close associations to pro-Obama forces in the Democratic Party would be fearful of any movement developing to the left of Obama and the Republicans. And what other independent media exists in this country that could potentially become a nationwide forum for the airing of alternative views in this election year other than Pacifica?

    Is there a worked out pro-Democratic Party political agenda behind the reckless behavior of the SaveKPFA group whose goal seems to be to keep Pacifica constantly fighting off frivolous law suits and expensive recall elections that have no merit? This group thinks so little of the KPFA listeners that they would happily see this money spent in this destructive manner instead of using it to develop programming and expand our listener base. Think of just a few ways that these funds could have been put to better use throughout the Pacifica network.

    Pacifica could expand its coverage of the conventions of the Green Party and possibly other alternative political movements farther to the left. We could have more extensive coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement that has done so much to reframe the political dialogue in this country. It is an open secret that Democratic Party operatives have been working very hard to try to co-opt and anesthetize the Occupy Wall Street movement and channel it into another cheering squad for the Obama 2012 re-election campaign.

    The SaveKPFA group that is behind the present recall campaign is the same group, who, when they ran KPFA up till a couple of years ago, thanks to what was then a compliant Pacifica National Board and ineffective management at the local and national level, drove KPFA and with it Pacifica to the very edge of insolvency. The previous management of KPFA — supported by the “SaveKPFA” faction — turned a surplus of a million dollars into a huge deficit in just three short years.

    Finally, why has SaveKPFA targeted Tracy Rosenberg in particular? The charges enunciated in the recall petition are simply a pretext for a Karl Rove type political smear operation against Ms. Rosenberg and her allies who have tried to rescue KPFA and Pacifica from the crisis created by the SaveKPFA group. This is obvious enough to anyone who bothers to actually read what the SaveKPFA group writes. Their web site and printed material feature a host of libelous statements so extreme that they give new meaning to the term “Orwellian.” They should be rebuffed by anyone with an ounce of integrity.

    According to the SaveKPFA propagandists, Ms. Rosenberg was responsible for layoffs at KPFA and drew up a “hit list” of those who were to be laid off. That is of course an absurd charge on the face of it since Ms. Rosenberg is not and has never been part of KPFA management and all decisions about layoffs are made by management in consultation with the union and in compliance with seniority rules in the union contracts. The layoffs that did occur followed the guidelines of the union contract and were in fact precipitated by the policies of the previous management that was supported by the SaveKPFA group.

    Another Orwellian charge in the SaveKPFA bill of particulars is that Ms. Rosenberg and her allies “wasted more than $80,000 of listener money on an anti-union law firm.” In reality, the $80,000 that Pacifica was forced to spend in legal fees came about because of the frivolous law suits filed by the SaveKPFA group and their supporters, all of which have been adjudicated in favor of Pacifica.

    The absurdity of these charges is even more astounding when you realize that while these filthy smears are being circulated by the SaveKPFA publicity machine for the recall of Tracy Rosenberg, not a single one of these charges appears on the actual text of the recall petition. The reason for that is very simple — the recall petition must be able to pass a very minimal legal standard and none of the charges in SaveKPFA’s publicity would be taken seriously by any sane person in a court of law.

    There is not a word of truth in any of the allegations made by the SaveKPFA group. The real reason Ms. Rosenberg is being targeted by the “SaveKPFA” faction is that she has consistently fought to defend the independence of Pacifica against this assault by a group connected to the Democratic Party. And even before the 2012 election became an issue, Tracy Rosenberg fought against the cronyism of a small group of paid staff members at KPFA who nearly drove it into bankruptcy. Under their watch, a donor’s check for $375K was left a in a drawer and “forgotten” for over a year.

    Ms. Rosenberg, as chair of Pacifica’s National Finance Committee, has worked hard to turn Pacifica into a financially solvent institution once again after years of mismanagement. Thanks to the new direction taken by Pacifica management and the Pacifica National Board our financial situation has been improving over the past year. Tracy Rosenberg has played an important role in that turnaround.

    In addition to the political dimension of the SaveKPFA smear campaign; there is of course the personal dimension. I can only imagine the effect this must have on Ms. Rosenberg as she sees her name trampled through the mud on the Internet. The SaveKPFA orchestrated smears are calibrated to ruin Ms. Rosenberg’s career prospects because she would not go along with their agenda. Years from now, someone doing a Google search on the name “Tracy Rosenberg” will find the SaveKPFA garbage still out there and may not ever find that all those lies had been refuted countless times. Even if a search firm considering her does a thorough job and is convinced that the charges are without merit, there will always be a reluctance to employ someone who was the target of such a filthy smear campaign. This is how the Karl Roves of Pacifica operate.

    What then should KPFA listeners do about the recall petition? My suggestion is use it to tell Pacifica that you want the “SaveKPFA” group recalled by voting NO! You can also include a comment with your ballot indicating that the following people who support the SaveKPFA faction on the KPFA LSB should resign their positions on the LSB and PNB as they are not serving the interests of Pacifica:

    Malcolm Burnstein

    Pamela Drake

    David Gans

    Conn Hallinan

    Matthew Hallinan

    Jack Kurzweil

    Laura Prives

    Tanya Russell

    Dan Siegel

    Andrea Turner

    Margy Wilkinson

    Sasha Futran

    You may want to ask this group what plans they have to reimburse you the listeners the $100K of your funds they have wasted with their destructive campaign against Pacifica.

    Defend an independent KPFA and Pacifica as a haven for an alternative culture and politics!

    Send a message to the Democratic Party operatives that KPFA will not go quietly into the night.

    Oppose McCarthyite smear tactics!

    Defeat the slanderous recall campaign!

    And don’t forget to send a message to anyone who would wage this kind of destructive McCarthyite smear campaign in the future by voting the SaveKPFA group out of office in the upcoming 2012 election.

    Alex Steinberg

    PNB member from WBAI

    Member of the National Finance Committee

    and proud colleague of Tracy Rosenberg, who is the 2011 and 2012 Chair of the National Finance Committee of the Pacifica Foundation. (writing in a personal capacity)

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