KPFA Local Station Board majority endorse the Pacifica bylaws amendment

After an extensive investigation, the majority of the KPFA Local Station Board announce their endorsement of the proposed Pacifica Bylaws Amendment. We urge all KPFA listener and staff members to vote YES on the amendment: Christina Huggins, Carol Wolfley, Sharon Adams, Susan da Silva, Andrea Turner, Aki Tanaka, Philip Maldari, Tim Lynch, Darlene Pagano, Shirah Dedman, Don Goldmacher, Ahmad Anderson, and Mark Van Landuyt

We are concerned that the Pacifica network and KPFA are threatened by mismanagement by the Pacifica National Board, which is controlled by multi-millionaires and their allies who undermine democratic processes to maintain control. The network governance system is way too large with the majority of directors and board members having little experience in broadcasting, media, or finances, and with most PNB directors coming from small stations with lower listenership.

Those who control Pacifica’s decision-making have recently authorized the PNB to have direct access to KPFA’s bank accounts. It seems likely that the PNB will use this access in ways that are detrimental to KPFA, and to pay off WBAI’s debts. KPFA’s internationally recognized staff face lay-offs once KPFA’s accounts are depleted.

PNB dysfunction put KPFA’s building at risk for auction for unpaid taxes because Pacifica officers failed to take action to clean up the paperwork to protect KPFA’s charitable trust tax exemption after two corporate name changes. Now finally the network appears to be taking action to resolve that problem with the help of KPFA management.

KPFA has the only fully functioning news department in the network and is the most technologically advanced station with the highest membership and listener support. PNB allies publicly attack KPFA’s diverse award winning management, staff, and quality programming addressing accelerating political chaos, environmental emergency, and social justice issues. A handful of PNB directors and self serving producers from Pacifica stations WBAI and KPFK want to shift broadcasting away from Pacifica’s historic progressive mission to become a high priced vitamin and beauty product shopping premium network as has been done at their own financially unstable stations. There are also efforts that threaten the network’s non-commercial status with proposals for broadcasting professional football and commercial underwriting.

When WBAI failed to pay its transmitter rental fees resulting in a judgment against them, PNB directors orchestrated two loans borrowing $3.7 million without a workable repayment plan. They are using KPFA’s, KPFK’s and KPFT’s buildings as collateral for the loan. They fired Executive Director John Vernile who was in the process of addressing urgently needed programming changes and accounting irregularities at WBAI, and was attempting to stop the on-going $30,000/month operating deficit at WBAI. Vernile was also working on national news and climate emergency coverage for all Pacifica stations.

After a careful review of recent court and financial documents and actions of the Pacifica National Board, the majority of KPFA LSB members are mobilizing to support KPFA’s amazing management and staff. We want to let the listeners know about the urgently needed bylaws amendment that will create a smaller functional Board of Directors with progressive at-large directors and representatives from each station. Local station board members will transition to Community Advisory Boards working on outreach efforts across the signal range and there is a proposal for staff to be represented by a national programming director.

Information about the bylaws amendment is available at rethinkingpacifica.org

Here are some recent articles on the current challenges facing Pacifica and KPFA:

Berkeley-based KPFA radio station building scheduled for auction because of unpaid taxes (Daily Cal)

Crisis at Pacifica, KPFK (Los Angeles Times)

KPFA’s building set to be auctioned off for non-payment of taxes (Berkeleyside)

Can KPFK find its way? (Spark News)

Voting information

Please look for your ballot from the Pacifica Foundation sent February 18 and vote YES in support of the Pacifica Bylaws Amendments.

The “ballots” for the bylaws amendment petition were sent to most Pacifica’s members on Feb 18, 2020. Ballots must be received before 11:59PM EST on March 19th in order to be counted. All members who donated a minimum of $25 or who volunteered a minimum of 3 hours between Jan. 03, 2019 and Jan. 02, 2020 are eligible to vote.

If you did not receive a ballot, you can fill out a request form at this link:

Please make sure to check your SPAM folder and safe-list vote@simplyvoting.com and nes@pacifica.org.

If you need more help you are welcome to write to PacificaRestructuring@gmail.com

Vote YES on Pacifica bylaws amendment

KPFA’s future is on the line. It’s owner, the Pacifica Foundation, is on the brink of financial collapse after years of dysfunctional governance. A group of listeners and staff from all 5 stations petitioned for a vote to change Pacifica’s governance structure. Their complete proposal at Rethinking Pacifica.

All Pacifica members may vote on the bylaws amendment proposal, and ballots are arriving TODAY. Look for your ballot from vote@simplyvoting.com or nes@pacifica.org writing for “The Pacifica Foundation.” KPFA has posted the details of what to do if you don’t receive a ballot. 

A simplified structure + skilled board members
If passed, Rethinking Pacifica ’s proposed changes will do away with Pacifica’s chaotic and costly governance system by creating a new 11-member “transitional” national board. That board would be made up of 6 of these at-large directors and at-large alternative directors , drawn from the ranks of radio professionals and progressive activists. The remaining 5 directors would be elected by each station’s listeners and staff. 

  • Judy Graboyes, accounting manager for affordable housing and community development lending, musician/activist
  • Bob King, retired UAW president, social justice activist, lecturer at Univ. of Michigan, former researcher at UC Berkeley.
  • Walter Riley, civil rights lawyer, past work with NAACP, CORE, SDS, Black Panther Party, BlackLivesMatter, Global Exchange, Haiti Emergency Fund 
  • Norman Stockwell, publisher of The Progressive, former coordinator at WORT (Madison, WI), work with Free Speech Radio News and Democracy Now!, and member, National Federation of Community Broadcasters and the GrassRoots Radio Coalition
  • Terri Burke (alternative) has been executive director of the ACLU of Texas, and served on boards of Planned Parenthood of West Texas, Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, and Nonprofit Management Center of West Texas.
  • Louis Vandenberg (alternative) is a former KPFK producer, and manager of Pacifica affiliate KUCR (Riverside, CA) 

Who endorses the bylaws change? 
Nearly a thousand listeners and staff from Pacifica’s 5 stations (KPFA, KPFK, KPFT, WPFW & WBAI) are publicly supporting the bylaws change. Some of them are Larry Bensky , former national Pacifica correspondent | Mitch Jeserich & Diana Martinez , KPFA’s Letters & Politics | Heidi Boghosian , executive director, The Muste Foundation; co-host of WBAI’s Law & Disorder Radio   William Fletcher, Jr., writer/activist, host of WPFW’s Arise! Sonali Kolhatkhar, KPFK’s Rising Up with Sonali | Matthew Lasar , Pacifica historian, author of  Pacifica Radio: The Rise of an Alternative Network  Carol Spooner , former PNB member (2002-2004) and a drafter of the original bylaws | Sasha Lilly, KPFA’s Against the Grain | Peter Franck , past president, Pacifica Foundation (1980-1984) | Brian Edwards-Tiekert, KPFA’s Upfront | James & Coleen Nagel , KPFT’s Howlin the Blues | Philip Maldari, KPFA’sSunday Show | Aileen Alfandary , KPFA News co-director | Ian Masters, KPFK’s Background Briefing , and many others |  SEE endorsers list  

Can we finally fix Pacifica? 
Rethinking Pacifica argues that a smaller, more skilled board will be able to take on the challenges confronting Pacifica, such as paying off the $3.25 million dollar loan that the national board took out on KPFA’s building and other properties to pay off a lawsuit against WBAI. 

The bylaws change will succeed only if at least 10% of listener members and 25% of staff members participate, and if a majority of those vote yes. Please share this widely and encourage those who are members of all five Pacifica stations to vote.

For background on Pacifica’s crisis, please see our last newsletter , as well as articles earlier this month in The Los Angeles Times and Berkeleyside. 

QUESTIONS? Please email us at votesavekpfa@gmail.com 

Changes on the horizon at Pacifica, as a financial crisis threatens KPFA and the rest of the network

KPFA listeners and staff are deeply concerned about the worsening financial and governance crisis at the 5-station Pacifica network, including the mortgaging of KPFA’s building in Berkeley to pay off the debts of New York station WBAI.

The Los Angeles Times has just published an investigative article by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Hiltzik, which looks into Pacifica’s financial and governance problems.

A recent audit shows Pacifica with an operating deficit of $4.6 million, writes Hiltzik, who adds that “the chief drain on Pacifica’s resources has been WBAI,” including a $1.8 million debt for its unpaid antenna rent.

The national board has refused to deal with WBAI’s financial problems, instead voting in 2018 to mortgage KPFA’s building and other property for an ill-advised $3.25 million loan.

KPFA’s studios were built by donations from Bay Area members, who did not intend them to bail out a failing New York station. Payments on that $3.25 million loan are now coming due, and threaten to tank station budgets. A balloon payment for the balance is due in April 2021.

When WBAI could not meet its payroll multiple times last fall, Pacifica’s then-interim executive director John Vernile sounded the alarm. But after making changes at the station to reach more listeners and save money, a dysfunctional Pacifica National Board ousted him and put WBAI back into the hands of those who have mismanaged it for years.

Structural change? Court orders Pacifica bylaws vote

An Alameda County Superior Court judge ordered Pacifica to put bylaws changes proposed by a group of KPFA & KPFT members to a network-wide vote.

Details are at RethinkingPacifica.org, including a news blog about developments. The proposal is endorsed by Larry Bensky, former national Pacifica correspondent | Heidi Boghosian, executive director, The Muste Foundation; co-host of Law & Disorder Radio | William Fletcher, Jr., writer/activist, host of WBAI’s “Arise!” | Peter Franck, past president, Pacifica Foundation (1980-1984) | Matthew Lasar, Pacifica historian, author of Pacifica Radio: The Rise of an Alternative Network | Carol Spooner, former PNB member (2002-2004) | and hundreds of others

If approved, the bylaws would create an 11-member board, 5 directors elected by station listeners and staff, and 6 directors who are well-known radio professionals and community leaders, among other changes. You can read their biographies here.

KPFA has posted a timeline of the vote. Ballots are due to be sent on February 18 to all members. Stay tuned for more information.

Support KPFA’s work

The staff at KPFA came together for live coverage of the historic impeachment hearings last week. Please take a moment to thank them by renewing your membership or making a donation.

Or attend an upcoming KPFA benefit talk, such as journalist E.J. Dionne (February 27), economist Richard Wolff (February 28), and SUNY professor Gretchen Sorin (March 11). See all upcoming events at KPFA’s website.