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.