The battle for a democratic Pacifica and KPFA

Categories: Announcements, Front Page

There is an ongoing struggle over control at listener sponsored Pacifica radio right now, including an ongoing occupation of the national headquarters by supporters of the Pacifica Executive Director of Pacifica, Summer Reese that has been going on for the last week. The issues are very complicated, and came to a head when the Pacifica National Board (PNB) voted to fire Summer Reese despite the fact that she has a 3 year contract. Supporters of the PNG then padlocked the door to the Pacifica offices on March 14th. Summer Reese and her supporters cut off the padlock and went back to work.freespeech

You can read the positions of the PNB supporters here:

The occupiers and supporters of the Executive Director Reese have a web site here:

Also see:

Anywho, after reading both sides I’m personally very disturbed by the actions of the Pacifica National Board, though I admit to not being particularly personally knowledgeable about the disputes involved.

Yet more info:

From a March 18th email from Steve Martinot:

As many of you may know, there is a tremendous dispute going on at Pacifica right now. The last Pacifica National Board meeting voted without warning to fire Summer Reese as Executive Director, and elected Margy Wilkerson as chair of the Pacifica National Board (PNB). She then announced that she was running for interim Executive Director. It was, as some people have termed it, a coup, or usurpation by a faction in the PNB.
The problem is that Summer Reese has a three year contract signed by Pacifica, of which only 6 months have expired. So she can’t be fired without breach of contract. And it is against the by-laws for someone who is an officer in the PNB to apply for an administrative post in Pacifica.
As if to admit that the firing of Summer Reese was not legitimate, a number of members of the PNB placed a padlock on the door to the Pacifica offices last Friday. This morning, when Summer got back to town, she and a number of supporters broke the lock and took possession of the offices. They are staying there night and day, against any further attempts to dislodge Summer. They are there right now.
It is unknown what tomorrow may bring, but we are asking friends and compatriots to come down to the Pacifica offices tomorrow (Tuesday, March 18) to hold the fort. No one knows what the people who padlocked the offices may do next, but the odds are it will be as illegitimate as the firing of Summer and the padlocking of the offices.
If you have the time, come down there some time during the day. There will be people gathering starting around 8 am, and going all day. It would also be the best way to get the details about what has been happening. They are too contorted and complicated to put in an email like this. But it includes financial malfeasances over the last year and a half, possible embezzlement, and election fraud.
What is at stake? The entirety of Pacifica. Those who fired Summer have hinted that they are interested in selling the assets of the stations. The FM frequencies alone would bring $100 million a piece. This was the plan back in the 1990s, under Pat Scott’s corporatization scheme. Apparently, there is still an undercurrent of corporatization in the station, which stands in the way of the station being a real voice of the people and the communities. So all that is what is at stake (again) with these latest events.
The upshot seems to be that folks should consider going down to the KPFA headquarters at 1925 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley and find out what is happening. People have been camped out there for a week.  Please post any updates or insights you have in the comments section below.
For more information see:
Cynthia Johnson 510-495-5132
Janet Kobren (Pacifica National board member director  510-435-8169
As of yesterday morning several KPFA listeners and staff began camping out at the Pacifica National Office, next door to KPFA in Berkeley, to defend the Pacifica Network from a coup that is attempting to break the employment contract of the Executive Director Summer Reese, and threatening to sell Pacifica assets amidst financial irregularities.Please come out to support Pacifica and spread the word! Details below.

Come help defend Pacifica Network

We call for honoring the Executive Director’s contract, no selling of any Pacifica stations and fiscal accountability.

Help resist the coup.

Come down to Pacifica, 1925 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, near University Ave. Any time.

——————- Two press releases with more details below:

March 17, 2014
For Immediate Release
Contact: Summer Reese  Email: Phone: (510) 333-1965
Standoff In Berkeley: Executive Director Tries To Return To Work, Berkeley
This morning, the padlock on the door of 1925 Berkeley Way, the home of the national progressive radio network, Pacifica, was removed so that locked out workers could return to work. Executive Director Summer Reese, who was offered and signed a three year employment contract in January of 2014, returned to her duties this morning despite a highly-contested board vote to fire her for no provided reason at a secretive late-night board meeting.
As events unfold, it appears a confrontation is building at the 60-year old radio network as Reese reports disputed chair of the board Margy Wilkinson who grasped control of the chairmanship via a mis-marked ballot) and less than a month afterwards proclaimed herself the new executive director, has brought her husband to the network’s headquarters and is confroting Reese and the network’s national staff as they try to resume network operations.
About a dozen people are present.
Reese is reported to have said that listener-sponsored station KPFA next door, has refused to release their books which are in a state of disarray, unreconciled since October of 2012 and with tens of thousands of dollars in event income unaccounted for.
One of the bones of contention between Reese and the board has been a chief financial officer hired by the board, who Reese believed to be concealing information, and who was “rehired” by the rogue board after his dismissal on January 2.
Another bone of contention is the stated desire of several board members associated with the coup to sell the license of New York station WBAI. There are unconfirmed rumors of unofficial negotiations between the officers of the new board and a corporate media outlet, although the full board has not been informed.
Former board vice-chair Bill Crosier (and current chair of Houston Peace and Justice Center) commented: “My biggest question is: With the mad rush to ignore the Pacifica Bylaws and California law, and to terminate the ED with no notice and no reasons given, and with talk from some Directors about sacrificing WBAI to keep from having to sell the buildings and other property of Pacifica stations and to allow deficit spending at those other stations, what’s next? It’s pretty scary to think about”
Reese sent the following memorandum this morning from her embattled office:
Memorandum — Please distribute to staff lists immediately

To: Pacifica station managers, staffers and programmers

From: Summer Reese, Executive Director, Pacifica Foundation Radio

Subject: Rumors

I want to thank all of you for the work that you do everyday to keep Pacifica running.

Recently, we have experienced internal conflict between the board of directors and the executive director. I know that when these conflicts are expressed publicly, it creates a lot of organizational stress and makes it hard to concentrate on your work.

I want to assure you that I am in possession of a signed and valid contract for three years of employment from the Board of Directors and that I fully intend to complete that contract and work with all of you to make Pacifica bright and strong again.

The illegitimate actions of board members have, over the years, created a great deal of turmoil and financial stress on all of our stations and workplaces. It is time for that to come to an end.

The charges that I am going to seek hundreds of thousands dollars are ridiculous. What I am going to do is go back to work immediately and you will join me in doing so.

I deeply regret that the infighting on the board was not kept in the boardroom where it belongs.

I look forward to getting back to operating five precious and much-loved community radio stations. Thank you.

— Summer Reese Executive Director Pacifica Foundation Radio 1925 Martin Luther King Jr Way Berkeley, CA 94704   Ph: (510) 849-2590 ext 208 Cell: (510) 333-1965

Started in 1946 by conscientious objector Lew Hill, Pacifica’s storied history includes impounded program tapes for a 1954 0n-air discussion of marijuana, broadcasting the Seymour Hersh revelations of the My Lai massacre, bombings by the Ku Klux Klan, going to jail rather than turning over the Patty Hearst tapes to the FBI, and Supreme Court cases including the 1984 decision that noncommercial broadcasters have the constitutional right to editorialize, and the Seven Dirty Words ruling following George Carlin’s incendiary performances on WBAI.
Pacifica Foundation Radio operates noncommercial radio stations in New York, Washington, Houston, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and syndicates content to over 180 affiliates. It invented listener-supported radio.

From an email from Greg Jan March 24th:

This morning was okay (both Sandy and I were there), but some nasty stuff happened this afternoon. The group that illegally fired Summer Reese tried to freeze the Pacifica national bank accounts and they also contacted the alarm company to change the codes at the Pacifica national office in Berkeley that we have been defending for the past 8 or 9 days.  And they also told the police that they thought there were guns inside the Pacifica office, but fortunately the police didn’t take their bait!

So obviously we need to be prepared for the possibility of more “dirty tricks”, including needing to have more people there tonight, overnight, and tomorrow morning (starting at 8:00 am)!  If you can help, please call Sally Sommer (of Occupy the Farm) at: 517-3651.  (If you haven’t been there before, let Sally know that you are a friend of Mike, Carol, Sandy, Dave, and/or myself, etc.!).  The address is:  1925 Martin Luther King, Berkeley — one door North of the KPFA entrance — and about 3 blocks Northwest of the downtown Berkeley BART station.  I’ll get over there within a few hours — hopefully I’ll see you then!


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