600+ KPFA listeners tell Pacifica: quit stalling on recall vote

As of early December, over 600 listeners have signed a petition demanding that the Pacifica National Board immediately delegate responsibility for running the pending recall election on KPFA board member and Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg to a neutral third party and have the election conducted promptly. On November 1, KPFA management certified that listener-members had submitted more than enough valid signatures for the vote to proceed.

Many who signed the petition added comments. “Pacifica, stop stalling,” wrote  Amy Smith, “KPFA’s listeners want a fair vote!”  The election “must be in the hands of a neutral third party,” wrote Mary B. Skinner, because “current management has clearly shown it is incapable of such trust.”  In addition, fourteen members of KPFA’s Local Station Board have signed a letter urging impartial oversight of the vote. | READ PETITION COMMENTS | READ BOARDMEMBERS’ LETTER

Under Pacifica’s own policy, ballots must go out within 60 days of the certification, and are due back within 35 days after mailing. This puts the balloting period in December and January. So far, there’s been no word from Pacifica on what it will do. SaveKPFA supporters suspect that Pacifica may time the ballots for the holiday season, when they expect attention to be lowest. In fact, the Pacifica National Board decided to move its discussion of the recall into closed session — a clear violation of the open meeting rules in Pacifica’s bylaws.

Rosenberg allies try to squelch elections
Faced with SaveKPFA‘s successful recall petition, some members of Pacifica National Board seem to be thinking that listener participation isn’t such a great thing after all. By-laws amendments drafted by Rosenberg’s allies that are due to be voted on in December would raise the number of signatures needed for a recall from 2% to 10% of the membership, dramatically restrict the time in which signatures can be gathered, and force members filing a petition to bear all costs of the vote.

Donate, endorse to help SaveKPFA get the word out
Given these obviously undemocratic maneuvers, SaveKPFA is concerned that Pacifica may attempt to delay the recall vote indefinitely. If so, we’ll have to go to court to get Pacifica to allow KPFA’s listeners to have their say. To cover potential legal fees — and campaign costs once Pacifica does get a ballot out — we’ve set up an online account for SaveKPFA where you can give a donation of any size. “SaveKPFA is an all-volunteer organization,” said treasurer John Van Eyck. “We appreciate any support you can give for legal costs or election mailings, and we also strongly encourage you to donate to KPFA as well.”

If you’d like to be listed on SaveKPFA materials as endorsing the recall, please email us with your name and how you’d like to identified.

More mismanagement at Pacifica
Continuing developments confirm that the Pacifica National regime for which Rosenberg serves as treasurer is disastrous. As reported earlier this month, KPFA’s union has discovered Pacifica diverted workers’ retirement plan contributions for months. As KPFAWorker reports, while Pacifica claims it has restored the money it took out of workers’ accounts, it “still has not notified affected employees, apologized to them, nor made them whole by paying them interest.”

We now have some indication of where the money’s been going. Starting in July, Pacifica covered the payroll and benefits for WBAI in New York — over $130,000 per month. Publicly, Pacifica had been bragging that WBAI was experiencing a “turnaround” under the management that the network’s executive director, Arlene Engelhardt, installed without the approval of WBAI’s staff or local board.

Management at WPFW in Washington, DC is also on the ropes. Washington’s City Paper reports that more than 80 staff members there have signed a letter of no confidence in their manager, accusing him of lengthening fund drives, imposing steep austerity measures that affect union workers but not managers, and holding such disregard for input from his own staff that he hasn’t called a meeting in 8 months.

Art by Bob Baldock for the film KPFA on the Air

KPFA’s awesome Occupy coverage
As the Occupy movement has erupted, KPFA’s coverage has been stellar, with breaking news updates from protests, live broadcasts, and interviews that bring in-depth analysis to the movement.

Here are just a few recent highlights: Mitch Jeserich‘s anchoring of a live broadcast of former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich addressing a crowd of 10,000 on Sproul Plaza; comprehensive coverage of protests from the Pacifica Evening News; KPFA news anchor John Hamilton‘s report for Democracy Now on the police violence at Occupy Cal; and a fascinating interview on Letters and Politics about the most historic occupation in U.S. politics — the Bonus Army encampment in Washington during the Great Depression.

A big thank you to behind-the-scenes technical staff, like Antonio Ortiz, Frank Sterling, and Dev Ross, who’ve gone above and beyond to get live broadcasts on the air. Thanks to everyone at KPFA — from board ops and engineers, to reporters and music programmers — who’ve participated in this important coverage.

KPFA board member makes news
activist Dan Siegel, who serves on both the KPFA and Pacifica boards, made national headlines when he very publicly resigned as an unpaid advisor to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan because of her decision to forcibly remove the encampment in downtown Oakland. He was interviewed on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show.  (Believe it or not, Pacifica is still spending listeners’ money fighting in court to kick Siegel off the national board.) 

Local board discusses programming, budget
KPFA’s Local Station Board met November 19, and among other things, had a lively discussion about KPFA’s programming.  “We need to talk to a wider audience,” said SaveKPFA-affiliated board member and journalism professor Conn Hallinan. KPFA needs to reach people “who don’t have the same politics as we have,” he said, adding, “for that, we need to be good.” Programming discussed in part 3 of the meeting. | LISTEN to 3 minute clip, or the entire meeting: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4

Support the KPFA Crafts Fair
KPFA’s biggest fundraiser of the year is coming up: the annual KPFA Crafts Fair on December 10 and 11. It’s an amazing event full of artwork, music, and an opportunity to do your holiday shopping in a way that supports local artisans. All proceeds stay with KPFA — Pacifica doesn’t take a cut of event revenue. Check out the Craft Fair’s webpage, or like its Facebook page. See you there!

Recall moves ahead, listeners petition for impartial oversight

The campaign by KPFA listeners to recall Pacifica National Board treasurer Tracy Rosenberg has passed an important hurdle. KPFA management certified this week that recall petitions submitted by SaveKPFA activists contained more than enough signatures of KPFA subscribers.

The petitions included more than 800 signatures, and 462 were verified on the first pass as precise matches to KPFA’s subscriber database — more than the number needed for the recall to go forward. Subsequent matching accounting for name variations, address changes, and so forth brought the number of valid signatures up to 583, or 70% of the total submitted.

“We can’t wait any longer to recall Tracy,” said Pamela Drake, a member of KPFA’s Local Station Board.  She added that next week marks the one year anniversary of Pacifica’s purge of KPFA’s popular Morning Show, which Rosenberg was instrumental in engineering.

Running the recall election is expected to cost about $10,000 for printing and postage — or about 50 cents per KPFA subscriber. In the year since Pacifica’s elimination of the Morning Show, the loss in pledges during morning drive time has averaged over $8,000 per weekday.  “That means Rosenberg’s purges have cost KPFA hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Drake, “and more importantly, have deprived Bay Area listeners of consistent, hard-hitting morning programming.”

Recall ballots should arrive in listeners’ mailboxes next month. IMPORTANT: If you haven’t yet signed the listener petition demanding that Pacifica make sure the recall vote has impartial, third-party oversight, please do so now. | SIGN PETITION HERE

Return KPFA to local control: Support the recall!

Original KPFA radio dial, circa 1949
Original KPFA radio dial, circa 1949

You asked for it: during our first-ever SaveKPFA survey, over 87% of respondents said they’d support a recall campaign against incumbent members of the KPFA/Pacifica boards involved in misconduct. Today we are launching a campaign to recall KPFA board member Tracy Rosenberg, who also sits on the Pacifica National Board as its treasurer.

In her partisan quest to eliminate her opponents within KPFA, Rosenberg has destroyed KPFA’s most popular local program, The Morning Show, undermined KPFA’s fundraising, attacked the station’s union, misappropriated subscribers’ emails, and created legal liabilities for the network. | READ THE CHARGES, SIGN THE PETITION (this is a PDF; simply open and print — you must have Adobe Reader (free) on your computer)

Rosenberg has fully backed Pacifica executive director Arlene Engelhardt in her destructive actions at KPFA.

KPFA’s listeners and board members have made it clear they want local control of programming, including reinstatement of The Morning Show. SaveKPFA raised enough in pledges to pay for that reinstatement. But Pacifica rejected those pledges and instead chose to waste listener money on a $400/hour anti-union law firm to fight KPFA’s workers. The cancellation of The Morning Show has already cost the station nearly $300,000. If we don’t break this costly impasse, we may lose KPFA.

Our only path forward is to directly remove supporters of Pacifica’s executive director from Pacifica’s Board. Tracy Rosenberg has been Engelhardt’s most ardent public defender. She drew up the the secret layoff list that got The Morning Show cancelled. She was a driving force behind Pacifica’s illegal moves to keep SaveKPFA representatives from taking the positions to which they were elected on KPFA’s Local Station Board and the Pacifica National Board.

How the recall works

Recall Tracy Rosenberg

To initiate the recall, we’ll need roughly 440 valid signatures from KPFA listener-members. You are a member if you have donated $25 or more to KPFA in the past year.

1) If you aren’t already a KPFA member, become one so your signature counts. Give at least $25 dollars if you’re an individual, $50 if you’re a couple. Make a donation securely at KPFA’s online donation page.

2) Open and print the recall petition HERE.

3) Sign and mail your petition to SaveKPFA, PO Box 3263 Berkeley, CA 94703.

Become a SaveKPFA organizer!

Petitions with a single signature are welcome, but if you’re willing to spend a little time to gather additional signatures from other KPFA members, that’s even better. Can you circulate a petition at a local event, or are you willing to hold a house meeting to talk to your friends about KPFA? Fill out this form, and we’ll do our best to connect you with like-minded supporters in your area.

Questions? Email us or see our Frequently Asked Questions about the recall campaign.

We need to change Pacifica’s board to save KPFA

Now that a judge has ordered the Pacifica National Board to seat all of KPFA’s delegates, we stand a good chance of tipping the balance of power on that board if we can remove Rosenberg from it. (As part of the court settlement, Richard Phelps, who had acted as Pacifica’s lawyer in the case, resigned from KPFA’s board last week.)

Luckily, a recall campaign may actually bring in money for KPFA. In addition to strong support from KPFA members, nearly half the survey respondents who said they aren’t currently KPFA members said they’d be willing to join in order to vote on restoring local control.

So please take a moment to print out the petition, sign it and mail it in. Renew your KPFA membership if necessary. And please ask other KPFA listeners to participate. Together, we can reverse course and make KPFA a beacon of progressive radio broadcasting once again. | MAKE A DIFFERENCE, SIGN THE PETITION!