Lawyer representing board minority jumps ship

Members of the Pacifica board minority, who sued over the termination of former executive Summer Reese, have lost on every issue they have brought into Alameda Superior Court before Judge Ioana Petrou. The judge last week also issued a tentative ruling denying the group’s attempt to disqualify SaveKPFA activist and attorney Dan Siegel from defending Pacifica Radio. | READ the legal background, Judge Petrou’s 17-page decision, Siegel’s declaration, list of who’s on which side

Now, the lawyer for the so-called “Pacifica Directors for Good Governance” (PDGG) has asked the court allow her to quit the case, in heavily-redacted public papers filed June 19. Sources close to the case tell SaveKPFA that the attorney is tired of footing the PDGG plaintiff’s growing legal bill, as well as with members of the PDGG group giving her conflicting “instructions” that are illegal.

This is the same group that is circulating a petition falsely accusing the new board majority of “dismantling” the network. “The new Pacifica board majority is working overtime to undo the deep financial damage that Reese and her followers have caused to Pacifica,” said Sasha Futran, a SaveKPFA activist and former KPFA LSB member. “We hope to find a way for us to all work together in rebuilding Pacifica and ensuring a long future for KPFA,” she added.

KPFA election results: a landslide for SaveKPFA

KPFA on the air
Art by Bob Baldock for the film "KPFA on the Air"

The results in KPFA’s 2012 Local Station Board election are in and certified. SaveKPFA candidates took 6 of the 9 listener-elected seats, plus the top alternate position. KPFA’s elections use a proportional representation system, so taking two-thirds of the open seats means SaveKPFA won roughly two-thirds of the vote — a strong mandate from KPFA’s listeners, who had by far the highest turnout rate in the 5-station Pacifica network.

The winning candidates from SaveKPFA are Dan Siegel, Craig Alderson, Mark Hernandez, Jose Luis Fuentes, Carole Travis and Burton White. The first alternative is SaveKPFA‘s Barbara Whipperman.

“This vote was a referendum on Pacifica’s direction,” said Alderson. “KPFA’s listeners spoke loud and clear for local control, high-quality programming, and against Pacifica’s attacks on KPFA’s union.”

The election was the first held at KPFA since Pacifica’s former Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt ran out KPFA’s local management, purged the station’s popular Morning Show, replaced it with an all-volunteer lineup, and then put notorious union-busting law firm Jackson Lewis on retainer to deal with the backlash. In 2012, the Pacifica National Board decided to let Engelhardt’s employment contract expire.

Three listeners from the competing United for Community Radio slate were also elected: Andrea Pritchett, Ramses Teon Nichols and Laurence Shoup.

“Although we have differences of vision, everyone in this campaign ran because they care about KPFA,” said SaveKPFA member Margy Wilkinson, who is currently serving as chair of the Local Station Board. “KPFA’s listeners have made clear which vision they prefer; now it’s up to all of us to find common ground to move forward.”

In the staff portion of the Local Station Board election, former Morning Show co-host (and current UpFront co-host) Brian Edwards-Tiekert took first place, followed by Joy Moore and Frank Sterling.

Thanks, voters, for delivering the strongest mandate possible for local autonomy, respect for listeners and staff, and transparency and accountability! We congratulate those who won, as well as those who ran — including SaveKPFA candidates Paula Erkkila, Kate Gowen and Barbara Whipperman — all of whom dedicated significant time and energy to the process.

What’s next? Elections at other Pacifica stations are still underway — their outcomes will determine whether or not SaveKPFA can join a majority coalition on the Pacifica National Board (PNB), whose members are elected by each of its stations’ local boards. The composition of the incoming PNB will be determined over the next two weeks.

The stakes are high: the departure of Pacifica Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt and Chief Financial Officer LaVarn Williams leaves the network’s top two management positions open, to be filled by the incoming board. We’ll keep you posted once we know what that board looks like.

Another legal victory for SaveKPFA

An appeals court has dismissed an attempt by one-time Local Station Board (LSB) partisan and erstwhile Pacifica attorney Richard Phelps to remove SaveKPFA representative Dan Siegel from the boards of both KPFA and Pacifica. After the court initially barred Pacifica from removing Siegel, Phelps convinced Pacifica’s board to let him pursue an appeal on Pacifica’s behalf. The suit is now dismissed for good.

Phelps has been the attorney behind a series of harassing lawsuits against SaveKPFA members. In 2010, he brought a libel suit against Siegel so frivolous that the judge ordered him to pay Siegel $10,000 in attorneys’ fees. Phelps filed an appeal: it failed to reverse the lower court’s decision, but succeeded in doubling the amount of attorneys’ fees Phelps had to pay Siegel.

Currently, Phelps is pressing a suit against four SaveKPFA-affiliated LSB members — the Morning Show 4 — for alleged “disloyalty” to Pacifica stemming from their efforts to raise pledges to support a return of the Morning Show to KPFA’s airwaves. SaveKPFA‘s campaign raised a little over $60,000 in pledges (not actual money). Phelps’ suit demands $800,000 in damages.