Judge orders contempt hearing after Pacifica ignores injunction

On Friday, June 3, an Alameda County Superior Court judge ordered the Pacifica National Board to seat SaveKPFA-affiliated representatives Laura Prives and Dan Siegel, and scheduled a contempt of court proceeding against Pacifica next month.

Both Siegel and Prives were elected as delegates from KPFA’s Local Station Board to the Pacifica National Board (PNB) last January. But the PNB majority had refused to seat Siegel, claiming his relationship with Oakland Mayor Jean Quan constituted an “appointed political office” (even though it clearly was not), which made him ineligible. The PNB barred Prives on the grounds that Siegel’s vote had tainted her election, while it illegally extended the terms of two other KPFA representatives more friendly to the PNB majority.

Some of the hundreds of listeners who pledged to restore the Morning Show

Superior Court judge Frank Roesch quickly rejected Pacifica’s arguments in March, and issued a preliminary injunction requiring Prives and Siegel to be seated. Bizarrely, Pacifica attorney Richard Phelps (who also serves on KPFA’s Local Station Board) convinced the Pacifica National Board to appeal the ruling, and to defy the injunction pending the appeal’s outcome. On Friday, the judge re-affirmed his original injunction, and ordered PNB Chair Summer Reese (who is from Los Angeles) and PNB Secretary Carolyn Birden (who is from New York) to appear in person to face a contempt proceeding on July 1.

Reese has now sent Dan and Laura notices that they are (finally!) being seated as members of the Pacifica National Board. Their terms were supposed to begin six months ago.

In a separate action, Phelps is suing several SaveKPFA members for their role in collecting $63,000 in financial pledges to restore The Morning Show. (That’s right — he’s suing them for fundraising!) Phelps alleges the fundraising activity was “disloyal” to Pacifica, and he’s demanding $800,000 in damages.

Attorneys at Siegel & Yee sought to have the suit dismissed as a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation), but a Fremont-based judge allowed it to move forward. Phelps filed the lawsuit in Fremont, presumably to avoid landing in the Oakland courtroom of the judge who has repeatedly ruled against him. Phelps already lost one SLAPP motion when he brought a harassing suit against SaveKPFA rep Dan Siegel — the judge in that case ordered Phelps to pay Siegel $10,000 in attorney’s fees.

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