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The Real Truth Behind the Berkeley Honda Workers Resolution
by Mark Hernandez
Sunday Oct 22nd, 2006 3:23 AM
Want the truth? Read on and learn about democratic process...
I was recently made aware of the post regarding my alleged actions about the
Berkeley Honda Workers strike, and I must say that it varies widely against my
recollection of events.

I represent the Central Valley of California and, to be quite blunt, knew nothing
about the Berkeley Honda Workers strike.

So when a resolution came up in the KPFA Local Station Board "consent calendar",
I objected to it.

Why? Because I did not wish to disrespect any labor action by treating it as
trivial or unimportant.

The "consent calendar" is where a group places mundane, trivial or "no-brainer"
items; most governing bodies (city councils, boards of supervisors, non-profit
groups) use the "consent calendar" to avoid wasting time on such matters.

Prior to this, and following this, the KPFA LSB has had open discussions on the
issues of Haiti, of the poor governance at sister Pacifica station WBAI, on the
situation in New Orleans, and several others, where people got to make
presentations, speak out, and inform the audience present and on the internet of
the issues involved.

So why was the Berkeley Honda Workers strike resolution presented in a way
that nothing could or would be said?

Since I didn't know anything about the issues, I objected to it being on the
consent calendar. I needed more information on the issue before I voted on it,
and normally, the meeting process allows that information to come forward.

By objecting to any item in the consent calendar, that item IMMEDIATELY
becomes an item for discussion under "New Business", where the facts can be
presented, where information can be made public, and where comments and
consideration are given before a vote is taken.

In "Consent Calendar", there is no discussion, debate or even a vote. Under
"New Business", there is the vigorous exercise of democracy through the
democratic process.

There was no "veto" of the resolution; no one on the LSB has a "veto" power,
not even the Chair.

Contrary to the statements being made by others, there was no effort to "inform",
there was no effort to even find out why I objected.

Instead, the motion was removed from the agenda by the maker of the motion.
Several times. And over several months, with other LSB members objecting to
this trivialization of a labor action against unfair labor practices.

Additionally, on nearly every occassion, the agenda was "front loaded" with items
that were claimed to be "time sensitive" or "urgent"...and have now been on the
agenda for nearly a year.

Each time the motion came up, it was objected to in order to make the strikers'
comments and issues a part of the public process...and each time, it was pushed
further and further back in the agenda.

It was not until the last week before the settlement that those who had been
clogging the agenda with "time sensitive" and "urgent" items suddenly allowed
the Berkeley Honda Workers resolution to be pushed to the top of the agenda,
and only then did these people allow a vote.

I am not a rubber stamp voter; I do not vote without knowledge or awareness of
the issues, and I am not a 'herd animal' that votes the way "everyone else" votes.

As a former Union steward and member, I am also aware that labor actions should
never be trivialized as the Berkeley Honda Workers resolution was being presented...
without comment, without discussion, and without a real vote of numbers, on the
record, and in a public, open meeting.

I also realize that anyone can type anything, but I also notice that the linked article
presents no real facts or information...but I can.

Please go to http://www.kpfalsb.org and
go to the meeting archives.

You will find the agendas, the minutes, and most of the audio recordings of
the KPFA LSB meetings.

Read or listen to the events for yourself, and find out who is telling the truth,
and who is smearing who.

The listeners deserve candidates who are honest in their votes and reasons,
and who have the interests of the entire membership in mind when voting.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you will consider me for election to the
KPFA Local Station Board.

Mark Hernandez
Member, KPFA Local Station Board
Former Member, KPFA Local Advisory Board
Director, Fresno Free College Foundation/KFCF


Comments  (Hide Comments)

WELLSTONE MEMBERS and others, WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT WHO YOU HAVE ENDORSED FOR THE KPFA LOCAL STATION BOARD?

About three months ago, I and two other LSB members met with John Katz, Kathleen Lilley and Matthew Hallinan to discuss KPFA. We had heard that Sasha Lilley and others had come to you to build a slate to support some of the staff against the listener activists. During the discussion it became clear that much they had been told was not true. Our main concern was with your support of Sarv Randhawa and Mark Hernandez. We don’t know your other candidates.

Both of them vetoed a resolution on the consent calendar supporting the Berkeley Honda Strikers more than once. This was communicated to the trio we met with. Did they tell you this when they asked you to endorse them? At our meeting we were told in no uncertain terms that we would be allowed to speak to your organization prior to any endorsement. We never got a call? Seems more like DNC politics than Paul Wellstone or Pacifica, “Free Speech Radio”. Were they afraid of the facts, wouldn't get the endorsement if they heard from us?

Sarv Randhawa has a history of voting on the Pacifica National Board against transparency. Randhawa consistently voted to support the former Executive Director’s fight to stop Director’s Inspections, which is an “Absolute right” per the Bylaws and State law, Corporations Code section 6334. He was joined in these obstructions by the Justice & Unity faction that has control of the WBAI LSB and has almost destroyed WBAI, they need 90+ days of fund drive and they still don’t make their budget. After stalling for two years and threats of lawsuits to stop the obstruction, the former ED resigned and inspections discovered that over $65,000 worth of radio equipment was missing from WBAI. Democratic process and transparency or patronage and cronyism? Which side are you on? Randhawa consistently voted to delay Director’s Inspections. What “progressive” is against transparency?

On three separate occasions Randhawa has literally gotten in other board members faces at the end of meetings, nose to nose, and wouldn’t back off until several people yelled at him. The first was with La Varn Williams, a slender African-American, then I, and recently Max Blanchet. Max is from Haiti and during his response to Randhawa’s provocation the boy friend of one of Randhawa’s and Hernandez’s allies, Debbie Speer, KFCF Representative, yelled out at Max “are you Ton-Ton Macoute”, the secret police of Papa Doc. Max has lost relatives to them. The man who said it was white. Randhawa has never apologized for any of these provocations nor for the racist comment by his ally’s friend. Is this who progressive democrats want to support?

Randhawa and Hernandez both objected to having “one” listener activist, African-American Joe Wanzala, speak at a KPFA LSB Town Hall Meeting along with several entrenched staff (the people that came to you for help in forming a slate). How Pacifica is this. And apparently that is ok with the Wellstone Club since you didn’t want to hear the other side either before endorsing? Hernandez red baited me during that struggle: below is the e-mail copy from Hernandez. I have the original if anyone wants to see it. He also terrorist baited an Iranian-American during his first year on the LSB. This is not the only time Hernandez has red baited. Hernandez has never self-described as a “progressive”. Did anyone from your group talk to him about his Libertarian politics? The red baiting was reported to the trio we met with. Did they report this before you were asked to endorse?

“What's next? "Busloads of Commies" to keep regular listeners from
attending?” -mh-

Both Hernandez and Randhawa voted to excuse several absences of a staff LSB member long after he stopped working and they knew it. They did this to keep off a progressive Mexican-American activist who was entitled to the seat on the board and supports democratic process and transparency in opposition to them. When the absent member finally announced his resignation his attendance was 41%. He hadn’t been to a meeting since early January.

Hernandez, LSB Secretary, even went so far to protect that seat that he changed the minutes to give the missing member an excused absence when it was not excused. The altered minutes were discovered and changed back at a recent meeting. There is a motion pending before the LSB to remove Hernandez for this violation of trust and his duties as Secretary.


DO THE KPFA STAFF THAT CAME TO YOU WANT A DEMOCRATIC PROCESS?

The e-mail below was found at the station. It has been acknowledged as real by the author. I have contacted in person or by e-mail everyone but one on that strategy group to ask them if they were just recipients of an e-mail that discussed “dismantling the LSB” and other interesting topics or were they active participants and none of them have denied active involvement.

This e-mail was sent shortly after the LSB voted down a staff motion to fire the GM for sexual harassment. It was voted down 15-5. Four of the five votes for it were in this e-mail group. There was NO evidence of sexual harassment found after two separate investigations. It was a racist attempt to fire an African-American GM that wouldn’t toe their line. You will also notice that Brian Edwards-Tiekert, Bonnie Simmons, Rain Geesler and Sherry Gendelman are in this e-list. They are all endorsing the same slate you are endorsing! Their pushing for this unjust firing caused them to lose the majority on the LSB, thus the need for a strategic retreat. This e-mail gives one a view of what these folks really believe in and it isn’t democratic process. Sort of like a Pentagon Paper! Their view is “if we can’t run it let’s ruin it”


From:"Brian Edwards-Tiekert" <lsb.brian [at] gmail.com>
Yahoo! DomainKeys has confirmed that this message was sent by gmail.com. Learn more
To:"Lemlem Tekle" <lemvta [at] yahoo.com>, "Bonnie Simmons" <bon [at] bonzilla.com>,
LisaRothman [at] kpfa.org
CC:"Sasha Lilley" <sashalilley [at] yahoo.com>, "Lemlem Tekle" <lemyta [at] yahoo.com>,
mawu_mama37 [at] yahoo.com, "Amelia Gonzalez-Garcia" <ameliagg [at] yahoo.com>, Rain
Geesler" <rainjita [at] yahoo.com>, "Sherry Gendelman" <sherrygendelman [at] aol.com>, "Gary
Niederhoff" <lisangary [at] gmail.com>
Subject:Re: budget
Date:Thu, 1 Sep 2005 20:58:28 -0700

I'm up for coffee Saturday—Lisa and I can still meet Tuesday afternoon. Also, we need a general strategy session. How about Tuesday night?

Issues include:

How should we be handling the expiration of the union contract—is a strike in order, or is it a really terrible idea?

What's the best way to deal with these layoffs?

Coming up with, and presenting, an alternative budget.

Getting the Roy issue to the national board.

Propping up staff morale.

Strategic retreat on the LSB—how do we make our enemies own the problems that are to come? Alternatively, should we be recalling LSB members/dismantling the LSB?

Dealing with the grievances underway.

Building community support—formation of a labor-community coalition.



--
Brian Edwards-Tiekert
Staff Representative, Local Station Board
KPFA 94.1FM
1929 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Berkeley CA 94704



I challenge any of your candidates or supporters to a public debate on these issues, for your members, or the general public.



Richard Phelps, Chair KPFA LSB (for identification only), 9-21-06, labor donated.
by Mark Hernandez
Sunday Oct 22nd, 2006 11:06 PM
If an item is objected to in the "Consent Calendar", it automatically becomes the first item to go under "New Business".

This is one of the fundamental rules of parliamentary procedure.

You cannot discuss or debate in "Consent Calendar"; you can in "New Business".

I've yet to see any explanation as to why, out of all the various resolutions presented to the LSB, the Berkeley Honda Workers resolution was the *ONLY* resolution presented in such a way as to obscure any mention, discussion, facts or other information about what the purpose and aim of the strike was about.

The record, however, is very clear; anyone can go to http://www.kpfalsb.org as see the agenda and minutes.

These will show the original draft agenda, presented to the LSB for choice and approval.

These will show the actions, and by who, the agenda was "front loaded" in order to prevent the "New Business" from ever being reached.

It will also show who, at the last possible moment, decided to finally allow the motion to be brought forward, rather than continue to "front load" the agenda again.

The recordings of the meetings are also at http://www.kpfalsb.org so that members of KPFA can hear who said what, and in what manner.

I stand by the record, and not the biased and self-serving rhetoric presented.

As there is no such thing as a "veto" on the LSB or in Pacifica, the first false statement is made.

The record, at http://www.kpfalsb.org, demonstrates and shows the other false statements.

Mark Hernandez
Member/Secretary/Candidate, KPFA Local Station Board

by Richard Phelps
Sunday Oct 22nd, 2006 11:28 PM
While it is true that there in not a veto per se on the LSB, in practical terms any member can object to an item on the consent calendar and that puts it into New Business. Given the fillibustering and other tactics designed to "dismantle the LSB" by Hernandez and his voting block, sending a consent calendar item to New Business is like a veto for that meeting and many more.

Now to Mark's BS about wanting to know about the Berkeley Honda Strike. Mark is very good with a computer and if he had wanted to know about the strike he could have Googled it and found out much info. He didn't do that or ask any of us about it, he just objected to it on the consent calendar month after month, along with Sarv Randhawa, who lives in the East Bay and is in Berkeley often at the station,(NO FRESNO EXCUSE FOR HIM). And now we get the cover story, if you buy that I have a couple of bridges for sale!! If Mark was progressive, which to my knowledge he has never called himself, what is there to know past the class reality that an employer dumped the union. Let's see "Which side are you on?" "Employer or union members, I will have to investigate and give it some thought" How thin can a cover story be???
by Anonymous
Sunday Oct 22nd, 2006 11:53 PM
The KPFA board of directors had and has nothing to do with the Berkeley Honda strike. You're not the City Council. It doesn't make any difference whether you pass this resolution or not. Spend this energy on doing outreach events for the station. How about one every two months? Or set a goal for each board member to raise $2500 this year. You know, what non-profit boards do.
by Mark Hernandez
Monday Oct 23rd, 2006 1:31 AM
Hey, I've got no problem with doing that; I've worked on fundraising for KFCF now, on air and off air since 1980.

I'd love to bring that experience to KPFA, but the priority seems to be playing politics with a community resource.

Politics is the purview of KPFA programming, not KPFA governance.

Try this exercise:

Go to http://www.kpfalsb.org and look in the Archives.

Open each agenda of the agendas, and count up how many items you feel are irrelevant to keeping KPFA on the air, and note the initials of the persons placing these items on the agenda.

You'll see a very interesting trend on who it is making relevant motions, trying to keep KPFA going, and how many motions are being made that have no relevance to KPFA operations...and who it is that is making them.

Everyone's standard for "relevance" will vary, but the facts will not change.

How many agenda items serve no valid purpose, and how many of these are made by who?

For further calculation, go into the minutes or listen to the audio archives, and count how many relevant/irrelevant motions were given priority over the others, and who made the motions to make these changes.

If you want, feel free to post it here.

Mark Hernandez
Member/Secretary/Candidate, KPFA Local Station Board



I find it amusing to discover that Mark Hernandez was unaware of the issues in the Berkeley Honda strike since he lives in Fresno.
This issue was made clear numerous times by Chandra Hauptman and as the following indicates
she sought to reach out to those who were holding up the endoresement.
What one really has to ask is why the staff of KFPA, the heads of the Alameda Labor Council
Sharon Cornu, and Shelley Kessler of the San Mateo Labor Council and labor reporters
David Bacon and Max Pringle would be urging listeners to support these candidates when
they have taken the positions that they have against the IBT-IAM Berkeley Honda strikers.
We should also be asking why KFPA is sending out election ballots and election information
by a non-union printer. With a station that has a budget of $4.5 million dollars why can't they
afford to have a union printer doing the printing in this election?


THE TRUTH ABOUT THE BERKELEY HONDA RESOLUTION

By Chandra Hauptman
Listener-Member, KPFA Local Station Board

I am the author of the KPFA Local Station Board’s (LSB) resolution in support of the Berkeley Honda workers, who held a 10-month strike against the new Berkeley Honda management. * The resolution was first introduced to the KPFA LSB at its August 2005 meeting. It took the LSB nine months to act on this resolution. The only reason the board was able to approve this resolution is because I threatened to go public, at the April 2006 LSB meeting, by exposing the names of the two people who prevented this resolution from being approved by the LSB for the prior 8 months. Ironically, the April 2006 LSB meeting was held in a San Jose union hall.

A lot of misinformation is being circulated by the two previously unnamed board members, and their allies, about why they prevented this resolution from being approved. So I have decided to go public with their names and to correct their“mis-statements” as well as to answer the questions most people are asking:

Question #1: Why was this resolution drafted?

Answer: I drafted this resolution, after hearing an announcement on KPFA in July 2005, about a rally in support of the then striking Berkeley Honda workers. I attended this rally and was very disturbed to hear about the reasons for the strike including the firing of older workers, reduction of pension benefits and changes to the health insurance plan without union consent. I felt these issues had national implications so I drafted a resolution for the board to support the striking workers.

Question #2: Why did it take nine months for it to be acted upon and approved?

Answer: The reason it took nine months for this resolution to be approved is because two board members, Sarv Randhawa and Mark Hernandez, prevented this item from being heard by the board. Each month, either Sarv or Mark voiced an objection to this item going forward on the LSB’s consent calendar. After a few attempts to get this resolution approved, I started writing emails to all members of the LSB prior to each board meeting. I asked if anyone had objections to this resolution to please make these objections known to me and to the LSB. I also offered to discuss these objections so they could be resolved prior to each board meeting. Month after month my email appeals were met with complete silence. No one said why he/she was objecting. No one came forward to state publicly why he/she continued to prevent this resolution from going forward.

The first and only time this resolution was approved by the KPFA LSB was at the April 2006 meeting, two days before the Berkeley Honda strike was settled!

In solidarity,
Chandra
chcats [at] lmi.net

by Virginia Browning
Monday Oct 23rd, 2006 8:00 PM
Gee, some people might think of it as outreach to support a large group of striking longterm workers who are being laid off and instantly replaced with others. Ever been on strike or known others who were? VERY difficult. Imagine sacrifcing your own income for a greater longterm good. Your livlihood. Strikers are very grateful for any help they can get. This is only part of the story of outreach such as this, but let's let you build your imagination in baby steps.

As for money matters, as mentioned elsewhere here, this listener station board, for all the fillibustering and such, finally got access to Pacifica financial statements for the first time since 1999, maybe the first time ever. (It is extremely a-typical for an a non-profit's board NOT to have this informaiton.) This work was done by LaVarn Williams and others of People's radio. At LEAST $65,000 was saved by this action. I would bet much more was saved in the longrun, partly just by the action of wresting the rightful job of overseeing this from those who obviously had something to hide.

I do understand that some staff members may feel threatened. I don't support threatening staff members' jobs. That is an explananation for their behavior that makes some sense to me. I know I would feel threatened if a board seemed to be lurking around over my shoulder and even threatening my job. I don't think LaVarn was doing this. It seems to me there is such a thing as dialog...
by Virginia Browning
Monday Oct 23rd, 2006 8:20 PM
Maybe cause I titled it the same as Mark's. Here's what it's supposed to say.

To those who say board members should be doing outreach and raising money, not making resolutions:

Gee, some would consider it outreach to support a whole group of longterm workers who've been fired "laid off" and instantly replaced. Ever been on strike or know someone who was? Sacrificing your livihood, your living income for a greater good is not easy. (Yes, this is always a sacrifice to do this rather than to take some other job, etc. Even if you are able to find a temporary job...many many hard things...). Strikers are almost always very grateful for and in need of any support they can get. I don't just mean financial, though of course that too. This is only the beginning of the outrach story this kind of resolution would mean, but let's let people who don't already understand this take baby steps in building their imaginations at first.

As for financial matters, as has been said elsewhere, despite all the fillibustering on the listener board by mostly the Hernandez side in the year-plus I've been watching, LaVarn Williams and others from People's radio finally got Pacifica's financial records for the first time at least since 1999. This saved Pacifica at least $65,000, probably much more in the long run. It is extremely a-typical for a non-profit board NOT to have this information.

If some of the explanation for fighting against this really is staff members' fear of threatened job loss and job pestering, I can appreciate that. No one would want that. I don't think that is LaVarn's way; I don't think that is what she was doing. There is such a thing as dialog..
by Anonymous
Monday Oct 23rd, 2006 11:19 PM
Well gee, I wonder why such labor luminaries would be supporting such a demonic slate myself. Must be because they realize that a KPFA and Pacifica crippled by constant infighting and chaos and endless complaining about every little thing is utterly useless to the labor movement. All this jockeying for position and obsession with getting particular programs on the air ... ain't what it's about.

And KPFA's mailing house is a worker-owned collective. It's not a union shop because there are no bosses. The workers work for themselves and share the profits. Kay?



by Virginia Browning
Tuesday Oct 24th, 2006 10:00 AM
The courageous Anonymous wrote: "Well gee, I wonder why such labor luminaries would be supporting such a demonic slate myself. Must be because they realize that a KPFA and Pacifica crippled by constant infighting and chaos and endless complaining about every little thing is utterly useless to the labor movement. All this jockeying for position and obsession with getting particular programs on the air ... ain't what it's about."

And KPFA's mailing house is a worker-owned collective. It's not a union shop because there are no bosses. The workers work for themselves and share the profits. Kay?"

First, I'm careful not to come anywhere near implying "demonic." This is important, not funny. There is a lot of demonizing going on, and I'm not doing it.

Maybe all "endorsers" didn't know what they were endorsing. Also, characterizations such as this by often (but not in this case) careful people like Larry Bensky are why partly.

"obsession with getting partic...programs..." Democracy Now would be exactly the kind of program that would inform and draw in new people. Getting it on at primetime is NOT obsessing. I don't have time to go into the care with which that battle was fought. "You" (others if anyone else ever reads these) can find that. "You" certainly already know. If you're talking about the labor collective, what can I say? People's radio is not the labor collective. I am not a Steve Zeltzer fan.


by Speaking of Debates?
Tuesday Oct 24th, 2006 10:47 AM
Have Steve Zeltzer and Sasha Futran taken up your challenges to debate you yet?

I mean, since you obstructed Steve's plans for world domination and Lynn Chadwick collaborator Sasha Futran thinks you are a Cointelpro agent?

Funny bedfellows these elections are making for.
by Mimi
Thursday Oct 26th, 2006 1:39 AM
My postcard from Concerned Listeners for KPFA was printed at a union shop!
by Raymond Barglow
Thursday Oct 26th, 2006 4:33 AM
With regard to the KPFA resolution to support the Honda strike/boycott:

I walked the Honda picket line many hours this past year. We in WDRC, a local progressive Democratic Party club, played an important role in this effort.

Indeed KPFA should have given more attention to the Berkeley-Honda strike and boycott. And of course the "Concerned Listeners" slate of candidates, like the slate the "labor collective" supports, wants the station to adequately cover labor issues.

But should KPFA go beyond reporting on, and actually endorse, a local strike? Llike some (though probably not all) members of WDRC, I think it's sometimes misguided for KPFA to step aside from its role of informing/educating the community to throw
its weight behind a particular cause.

I recognize, though, that this is actually a deep issue. There's something of a distinction between informing/educating on the one hand, and joining a particular struggle on the other. There is a dialectic here, but also an appropriate difference between these two roles. A KPFA endorsement of the Honda strike/boycott might have been inappropriate.

I believe that it's partly because some of the critics of KPFA and its staff do not recognize this distinction that they make a mistake, which consists in wanting to over-politicize the station, to have the station reflect back to them their own views and support the causes they cherish, which they rightly sense receive minimal coverage elsewhere.

Some critics of KPFA (certainly not all -- I don't want to oversimplify here), expressing an extreme left perspective and so marginalized that they have little chance of altering the broader political landscape in this country, undertake instead to change KPFA, and a number of them mange to get on the local station board. (I share much of their cricitique of the political economy of capitalism, but believe that participation in the Dem. Party is the most effective way to build a movement to transform the status quo.) But the actual and potential listenership of the station is not as far left as they are. (My best guess would be that most KPFA listeners are registered Democrats.) Therefore, in the interest of democracy, it seems not quite right for them to determine the political content of KPFA programming.

Raymond Barglow -- member of WDRC, but speaking only for myself
by Sasha Futran
Friday Oct 27th, 2006 6:26 AM
Dear Raymond,

Don't you think a slate for the Local Station Board of KPFA linked to the Democratic Party is politicizing the station? No political party should be that involved in 'ownership' of media.

My ideas for KPFA are quite different. I would like to see lively debates of this nature on the air as well as whether the Democratic Party is salvagable working from the inside. (Weren't we both involved in that 30 years ago together and where are the Demos now? Hardly moving in the direction we had hoped!) But let's put that one on the air as well and not on the board, please.

And I would love to continue this but off indybay -- rather a scandal sheet these days! Hoping to hear from you, fondly, Sasha Futran, LSB Candidate
by Raymond Barglow
Thursday Nov 2nd, 2006 12:10 AM
Hi Sasha,

The Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club supports the Concerned Listeners candidates, but none of our members are running on the slate, and our organization contributed a total of $100 to the campaign.

I gather from my friend Steve Kessler that the election has not been run fairly -- for example, the candidate cards were not played on the air in a timely way as they should have been. But to my knowledge, WDRC is not responsible for that. On the other hand, the sending out of a mailing on behalf of CL seems to me in itself legitimate.

Regarding the Democratic Party -- it's differences from the Rep. Party are greater today than at any times since FDR in the 30s. Having dropped the Dixiecrats, the Dems are better these days than they used to be. Yes, they aren't anywhere near what we would wish them to be. But we in WDRC have found that the Party can be somewhat changed -- we have had a lot of success here in Calif. in getting the Party to support progressive positions.

I notice on your campaign flyer, Sasha, that you've included a photo of Fidel and you. Like yourself, I've been involved in Cuba solidarity work. (And of course I remember our days together in Tecnica.) The Bush regimes have been a disaster for that work. Under Clinton, that work was difficult too – mainly because of the influence of the Florida exile community -- but was able to go forward. And on one occasion, the Clinton administration courageously did the right thing, as when Attorney General Janet Reno fought against the right-wing Cubans in Florida and insisted that Elian Gonzalez be returned to his Cuban family.

My wife organized trips to Cuba for Global Exchange in the 90s, and when I went there with her, I saw first hand what a difference there was between a Democratic and Republican administration when it came to the island. Our work with Global Exchange became immensely more difficult (the entire Cuba program nearly came to a halt) when the Republicans took over. This is the kind of thing that the Nader followers and greens do not clearly see, since for them the differences between Dems and Republicans vanish. Viewing the actual political process from the remote stance of political purity, everything becomes a blur of Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

Cuba politics is only one arena in which the anti-Democratic left has been, it seems to me, wrongly cynical. Have you read Domhoff on this subject? I find illuminating his book, "Changing the Powers That Be: How the Left Can Stop Losing and Win".

Anyway, it's an ongoing conversation and I respect you for wishing to continue it.

raymond barglow
by Sasha Futran
Thursday Nov 2nd, 2006 1:22 AM
The Democratic party is closer now to the Republicans and I don't see how you can say the differences are greater. You compare the Cuba solidarity work with and without Democrats in power, but there is no point of comparison. I've been going to Cuba since 1981 and yes, I was fortunate to get an interview with "Fifo."

We haven't had Democrats in power for a long time, so you have no idea what they would be like in relation to Cuba. Besides, the whole political climate is different. There are now corporations in the U.S. clamoring to have at Cuba again. Were there Democrats in the White House and congress and were they to open relations once again, it might simply be because the corporations want in. Cuba is in much worse shape and more vulnerable than when there was a Soviet Union. Besides, there are all those Cubans in the U.S. that both parties worry about and how they feel about that will change as the old folks who left in 1959 die off. No, there is no difference between the Dems and Reps.

In fact, you are the first person I have encountered in over a decade who thinks the Democrats are any different than the Republicans. They went along with the war on Iraq. .. let's face it, they've gone along with everything the Republicans, or should I say corporations and the military industrial complex, have wanted.

BTW, the Dixiecrats dropped the Democrats and not the other way around. And what differences does it make anyway? We now have San Franciscans like Feinstein to do the Dixie's work.

The idea back in the seventies to work within the Democratic Party has not worked anywhere except in Berkeley. The Democrats are no better than the Republicans and that has been true for a number of years. They are in the pockets of the corporations because they need their money because elections cost a heck of a lot.

Which brings me to the issue of the KPFA mailing. Having money allows one to do mailings. Not having money means no mailings. It makes the campaign for the LSB unequal, just like in the general elections. Some of us have more radical ideas apparently and don't think that elections should be decided on how much money a Party or LSB slate has. If the Wellstone Democratic Club and their slate for the KPFA LSB were more progressive, y'all would see that.

That inequality has no place at KPFA or Pacifica. In fact, I heard a program on KPFA today and just that issue was discussed. Maybe you should listen to KPFA a bit more!

Say hello to Pam for me and my best to you as we continue this dialogue,

Sasha Futran
Alliance for a democratic KPFA
http://www.kpfa.org/elections/2006/candidate_sashafutran.php