The Pacifica Foundation has asked the Alameda County Superior Court for a Temporary Restraining Order to remove former executive Summer Reese and her supporters from the Pacifica National Office in Berkeley, next door to KPFA. [Update: the court has continued this case to May 6 at 10am]
After a new majority took control at the Pacifica National Board this spring and terminated her employment, a disgruntled Reese broke into the office with bolt cutters and began sleeping there with her mother and a handful of supporters, illegally blocking the network’s elected directors from access, making wild accusations, and preventing the network from conducting business.
The case will be heard by Judge Ioana Petrou on Monday, April 28 at 9:00 AM in Dept 15 of the County Administration Bldg, 1221 Oak Street (3rd floor), downtown Oakland. SaveKPFA supporters are encouraged to attend.
“The Board and the public are suffering irreparable damage,” notes the legal case filed by the Pacifica Foundation on Friday, causing a “loss of good will, donations, and work hours.” It states that Reese’s actions “unquestionably violate state law and local ordinances,” and that Pacifica’s board sought the assistance of the Berkeley Police Department, which “after weeks of considering the matter, requested that [Pacifica] obtain a Court order to abate the nuisance.” |LEGAL DOCUMENTS: Memorandum for TRO, Yee declaration, Wilkinson declaration, Verified cross-complaint, Application for TRO, Order to show cause
The complaint also notes that Reese and her supporters have prevented Pacifica’s elected chair, Margy Wilkinson, and its CFO, Raul Salvador, “from having access to the accounts payable and financial data to begin the Foundation’s audit….”
“The havoc caused by Reese and her supporters could very well bring this financially-fragile network down,” said Donald Goldmacher, a member of KPFA’s Local Station Board, and producer of the film Heist: Who Stole the American Dream?
Pacifica responds to lawsuit from 9 Reese supporters, says case has no merit
Pacifica’s board has also filed a response to a rambling lawsuit from 9 Reese supporters, who last month slapped the network with the suit in an attempt to force it to rehire Reese. Those 9 Reese supporters lost the first round, when Superior Court Judge Ioana Petrou denied them a TRO on April 9.
The Pacifica board’s response starts with a clear statement of facts about Reese’s employment and why she was terminated. It states Reese was not in possession of a valid contract because several preconditions were not met. The contract she has publicly released, Pacifica’s response states, signed by two of her supporters, was not authorized by the national board, and when presented to the full board for a vote, was rejected.
Pacifica’s response also points out many logical inconsistencies in the Reese supporters’ case. For instance, that they failed to follow basic procedures set out in the organization’s bylaws for remedying disagreements, which are supposed to be taken up by the board itself before landing in a court of law. And that in suing Pacifica, the 9 Reese supporters are effectively suing themselves since they sit on the Pacifica board. | LEGAL DOCUMENT: Response to pro-Reese lawsuit
As Pacifica National Board chair Margy Wilkinson has said, she hopes the judge’s initial ruling against the 9 pro-Reese directors would encourage them “to express dissent with their voices and their votes, not litigation. Pacifica is in a fragile state, and can’t afford the time or expense of this lawsuit.”
So far, over 800 of Pacifica’s listeners and staff have signed an open letter essentially saying the same thing. Signers include Sasha Lilly, co-host, Against the Grain, former Pacifica National Affairs correspondent Larry Bensky, UC faculty Candace Falk and John Hurst, free speech activist Lynne Hollander Savio, community activist Ying Lee, UpFront’s Brian Edwards-Tiekert, former Pacifica board chair Sherry Gendelman, KPFA’s Aileen Alfandary, labor journalist David Bacon, PM Press founder Ramsey Kanaan, Alameda County School superintendent Sheila Jordan, KPFA’s Philip Maldari, former KPFA GM Jim Bennett and former KPFA iGM Andrew Phillips, KPFK’s Jim Lafferty of the Lawyer’s Guild Show and Ian Masters of Background Briefing, KPFA programmers Sandy Miranda, Derk Richardson, Saadia Malik, David Gans, Tim Lynch, Vanessa Tait, Judith Scherr, Richard Wolinsky and many, many others.
Many have added comments, like KFCF listener Richard Stone. “KPFA has been a broadcasting treasure, Pacifica its caretaker,” Stone writes to the pro-Reese group. “Do not destroy this bastion of radio sanity by selfish action.”