Recall supervisor: not so neutral

Last week, the supervisor Pacifica hired to run KPFA’s election, Matt Ward, threatened SaveKPFA that he would refuse to send out ballots unless we participated in an on-air debate — on two days’ notice. He also declined to give SaveKPFA any details on the ground rules and format for the debate until just before airtime. Once the debate started, he interrupted SaveKPFA‘s debater three times during her opening statement: telling her she couldn’t discuss the layoff notice KPFA’s union has just received, accusing her of hyperbole, and threatening to take away her time.

Then complaints started coming in from listeners who had called the studio to voice pro-recall positions and were rejected after a call screener asked what they wanted to say. We believe this is the first time KPFA has ever screened calls-ins for content during an election debate. When one pro-recall voice did get on-air — and started to explain why she had stopped supporting Tracy Rosenberg — Ward started interrupting her almost immediately. He let all other callers go on at length. Ironically, Ward had published a rule that KPFA staff members could not participate in the debate — then he let two pro-recall unpaid staffers on the air to speak uninterrupted, even after they identified themselves as staff members.

Then ballots hit mailboxes. Ward had modified the text of SaveKPFA‘s recall petition before printing it in the ballot package: contrary to Pacifica’s own recall procedures, he took out three topic sentences summarizing the charges against Rosenberg, as well as the entire concluding paragraph of the petition. Now the ballot language doesn’t match what over 800 KPFA listeners had signed onto (here’s the original recall petition that listeners signed and the actual ballot that mailed). So much for a fairly-run election!

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