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Ousted Exec Dir Summer Reese’s Pacifica Occupation Comes to an End

Occupy Pacifica comes to end, at least for now. On Monday an Alameda County judge issued a temporary restraining order against fired Pacifica Executive Director Summer Reese [PDF], enjoining her from “entering, blocking ingress into or egress from, or the passage of persons into or out of” Pacifica Foundation’s national office in Berkeley, CA.

Reese had been occupying the Pacifica offices since she was suddenly and unexpectedly terminated from her position in March. Reese claims that the termination is not valid, based upon arguments regarding terms of her employment agreement and other alleged improprieties on the part of the board in executing her firing.

However, in issuing the TRO, Judge Ioanna Petrou determined that Reese and her supporters, “have failed to demonstrate a probability of prevailing on any claim that Reese has a legally enforceable agreement to continue to serve as PFR’s Executive Director.” Therefore she also found that, “[Reese’s] continued occupation of PFR’s National Office constitutes trespass and a nuisance.”

There’s quite a bit to pick apart in Judge Petrou’s 17-page decision for just a TRO. Petrou finds that it is likely that Reese had not fulfilled the terms of her employment agreement because she failed to complete a background check required by her employment contract signed in November of last year. That background check, in turn, apparently was complicated by the fact that Reese does not have a social security number.

Additionally, there was a second different employment contract signed by Reese and two Pacifica board members in January that contained no background check provision. However, Petrou found that Reese presented no “evidence that the board ever authorized or ratified those different terms.”

Although Judge Petrou’s findings don’t seem to bode well for Reese and her supporters, this is not a ruling on Reese’s claims against Pacifica. But if the Judge had determined that Reese had a strong chance of prevailing then that would have argued against issuing the restraining order.

Given the claims and counter-claims revealed in Judge Petrou’s order, it is likely that this fight will go on.

In the meantime an Interim Executive Director has been appointed by the Pacifica National Board. It may be a gross understatement to say he has his work cut out for him.


4 Responses to Ousted Exec Dir Summer Reese’s Pacifica Occupation Comes to an End

  1. Tracy Rosenberg May 14, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the story. Well-done. One teensy correction. You said:

    “Additionally, there was a second different employment contract signed by Reese and two Pacifica board members in January that contained no background check provision”.

    That’s not the case. The employment contract was issued *after* the background check had been completed. Hiring had been stated as contingent on the completion of a background check so it had to be formalized after the background check was successfully completed.


    Tracy Rosenberg
    Former PNB Board of Directors – KPFA

  2. Ann Garrison May 15, 2014 at 12:38 am #

    Thanks from me too. A very fair and factual report.

    Any chance you could also find time to determine whether or not a background check was ever done on former Pacifica CFO Raul Salvador? I believe that Summer Reese fired Raul Salvador after her entire accounting and office management staff, all five of them women, urgently complained to a workplace investigator that Salvador was incompetent and abusive, both in the extreme, and that they absolutely would not work with him.

    The PNB majority nevertheless voted to rehire Raul Salvador shortly after their sudden midnight vote to fire Summer Reese. Why? I was present at the Pacifica National Office yesterday when four of the five staff members, told PNB Chair Margy Wilkinson that they absolutely would not work with Raul Salvador. The fifth PNO staffer was not present and I believe she may have been already out looking for another job.

    Could find out whether the Board ever did a background check on Raul Salvador, whose past and present employment as Pacifica CFO seems central to the conflict?

    Also, could you find out why PNB Chair Margy Wilkinson will not release the workplace investigation of Raul Salvador to the PNB minority? During the last PNB teleconference meeting, a member of the Board minority introduced a motion to require the Chair to release the investigation to the minority, but the majority voted that they couldn’t discuss that until they turned off the webstream and went into secret executive session. Huh? I can’t imagine why. No one was moving that they discuss a confidential workplace investigation, only that the investigation be released to the board minority as well as to the majority.

    I believe that all PNB members have the right to read the investigation, and, unless I’m wrong, I’d like to know why the Chair refuses to release it to the Board minority.

  3. brian brackney May 31, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

    I have been following the problems at pacifica over the years. I grew up on kpfk in los angeles in the early 1970s. In those days pacifica provided a forum for a diversity o voices
    left right off spectrum(e.g libertarian, it also had good cultural programming. The problems began in the early 1980s when pacifica began to become politised to the point where only left wing political views could be heard on it. Iknow there was a conflict between three factions in the 1990s the management that wanted to move it into the mainstream one led by marc cooper that wanted it to become a serious intelligent progressive network.
    the problem is that much of the programming on kpfa here in the bay area is foaming at the mouth anti-intellectual trash that insults the intelligence of listeners. kpfk in Los angeles is
    somewhat better(ian masters background briefing for one. the big issue right now is the cancellation of the morning mix. much of the push for keeping this on the air is coming from Dennis Bernstein on flashpoints. this show is the worst show on pacifica. I once sarcastically asked dennis Bernstein what government agency was paying him to be an agent provactuer
    to destroy pacifica.
    the screams are corporate takeover. the morning mix doesn’t represent the views of the constituency it claims to speak for. flashpoints will probably be cancelled by the end of the summer. it will probably be replaced by background briefing out of kpfk.
    there are legitimate concerns that charges of conspiracy mongering will lead to the silencing of serious discussion of power imbalances in our society.
    ideally pacifica should return to lew hill’s original vision. if not that it should put forward
    a serious progressive politics.
    the fact that pacifica fund drives last for a month is as sign of its declining support and its excuses about not receiving corporate funds will not wash

  4. Paul (not Riismandel) February 19, 2015 at 2:41 pm #

    The “majority” that ousted Reese is not lawful. One member of that ruling faction clings to a seat on the board, despite the Pacifica bylaws (art. 5, § 1, ¶ B) under which he has resigned because he simultaneously serves as a commissioner on Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1B of the District of Columbia.

    Another de facto director, also a member of that faction, has drug convictions. Under the Anti-Drug Abuse (part of the “war on drugs,” like it or not), he clings to a seat on the board, jeopardizing the issuance of all licenses and permits from the FCC to Pacifica, which could not continue broadcasting any full-scale radio without him. And that de facto director has a fiduciary duty to be loyal to Pacifica! (How can he be loyal when his very presence on the board jeopardizes Pacifica’s nonprofit mission?)

    (How can a lawful vote be cast by a director of a corporation who, under its own bylaws, has resigned? Or by a director who defrauds the corporation to which he has a legal duty to be loyal, even jeopardizing its nonprofit mission by his continued presence on the board?)

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