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Pacifica: Nicole has left the building
by Truthseeker
Friday Dec 14th, 2007 1:14 PM
Pacifica historian Matthew Lasar reports that Nicole Sawaya, selected as ED for Pacifica Radio two months ago, is already gone. Repost from Lasar's Letter on the FCC (LLFCC)
Nicole Sawaya quits [sigh]

by Matthew Lasar Dec 13 2007

LLFCC is dismayed and embarrassed to report that Nicole Sawaya has resigned, following a very brief tenure as Executive Director of the Pacifica radio network.

What happened? Without going into all the details, Sawaya found the level of internecine dysfunction at Pacifica overwhelming, and fled her job.

LLFCC will not conceal its chagrin at this development. The author of this blog had high hopes for Sawaya, but they were obviously too high. Her quick departure reminds us that there are no saviors, no simple solutions to complex problems. And Pacifica radio is always a complex problem.

LLFCC also regrets not acknowledging something important when Sawaya accepted the position: despite the unfortunate denouement, the Pacifica National Board (PNB) deserves great credit for having unanimously approved her hiring. Sawaya made it clear during her interviews that she wanted to do radio, not spend her days putting out office politics fires. That the board responded favorably to this stance gives LLFCC hope, even now.

Pacifica remains in a perilous situation, however. It is pursuing an ambitious experiment in media democracy in a hostile external environment, with inadequate resources, and without the help of significant forces that rhetorically supported the Pacifica Revolution of 2001 but are now nowhere to be found.

And the organization is besieged by zealots whose vision of Pacifica boils down to a public access network that doles out air time to whoever screams the loudest at a four hour meeting.

But there are new voices entering into this debate at the various Pacifica stations; tough, smart people, not afraid of the mob. And somewhere out there is a creative, young someone, a leader who sees this merry mess as a opportunity. Without holding out for yet another savior, LLFCC hopes that person arrives soon.


Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Stan Woods
Friday Dec 14th, 2007 9:45 PM
Lasar sounds the alarm about ''zealots '' and the ''mob'' at the gates of Pacifica ! What reactionary language ! He sounds more like a 18th century British Tory Lord moaning about the American and French revolutions than anyone remotely connected to the 21 st century Left .
by Joe Wanzala
Saturday Dec 15th, 2007 8:52 AM
Lasar certainly has a strange way of putting things. He is using this 'announcement' as a pretext to grind his own axe. As far as I know Lasar, as a journalist/historian has conducted no empirical investigation on the current state of Pacifica or at least KPFA and seems to be relying on second hand reports. His audience has no idea who he is referring to as 'zealots', and his statement that [their] "vision of Pacifica boils down to a public access network that doles out air time to whoever screams the loudest at a four hour meeting." is pure fanstasy, absolutely lacking in context and clearly an effort to obfuscate real anf ongoing debates about how to share Pacifica's airtime - he has not even been to an LSB meeting at KPFA in recent memory and seems to think his long-distance impression of what actually goes on carries more weight than reality.

I don't know where he has been the last two elections but 'new' people have been entering and leaving the fray on a regular basis so why should this election be any different? I can only assume he is referring to the special 'new' crop of Concerned Listeners at KPFA who he endorsed. Fine if he thinks he can predict the future, but their role remains to be seen.

As to the 'creative young someone' (I suppose old people need not apply of course) perhaps he has one in mind.... even though he starts out saying that 'their are no saviours' he ends by clearly hoping for one -

Joe Wanzala, KPFA LSB, (current term expires 12/07)
by Tony
Sunday Dec 16th, 2007 9:48 AM
I read Professor Lasar's first book . I found it a excellent history of the U.S.'s foremost alternative media resource .
i heard the first poster Stan Woods comment once during a campaign talk a couple of elections ago that '' Pacifica reaches more people than all the ""Nations ''. '' Socialist Workers'', '' The Progressives'', and probably (in terms of those workers that actually read them ) the National Union newspapers combined .
That may be a exagerration but it's not too far off the mark .
But while Lasar deserves kudos for his books his shrill, uninformed , (if Wanzala is correct ) denunication of those in Peoplesradio and other critics is really dissapointing . Lasar teaches at UC Santa Cruz . i would hate to see how he would treat any student anarachist that challenges him . So much for any academic detachment by Prof. Lasar !
by ZiggyP
Monday Dec 17th, 2007 10:59 AM
as a former KPFA person who is proud to tell people I cut my radio teeth, was given a chance to blossom in what was then a heady environment (mid/late 1980s), it is sadly obvious that the institution is lost until and only IF the next generation can stomach and deal with the dark side of the organization. I know it's heresy to say so, but Pat Scott in my opinion has been all these years unfairly demonized. Isn't it obvious by now, that there is a greater, darker sickness at work? I'm glad that Mr. Lasar mentions that it's become like a bad joke and relatively highly funded public access situation. I was never fond of Ms. Chadwick, but I think it's been pretty obvious that she obviously wasn't the only problem. Those who clamored loudest to "take back" pacifica have their run and I still can barely stand to listen to the once great 94.1. I've only been on the sidelines all these years as the battles got more intense, and to anyone who purports to care about the organization, it has got to be known that listeners (remember them?), listeners who SHOULD be supporting the station because they are progressive caring people who appreciate radio, stopped listening years ago. And that's death... I truly hope someday the place that gave me my start will be once again able to provide a launching pad for others who want to do RADIO (not fluff their egos, agendas, or have a stump platform to further their twisted narrow politics).. How very disappointing. Those of us now in our mid/late 40s simply have no reason to be more involved. Even in the 1980s/early 90s, Pacifica wasn't completely healthy, but there used to be alot of amazing radio to hear. It's become the easily lampooned laughingstock to the very people who should be the bread and butter of support... I have felt that the hermeticism of righteous progressiveness which is so easy to fall into has blinded those who purport now to care most about Pacifica. Sigh indeed. However, hope does spring eternal.
by repost
Monday Dec 17th, 2007 1:49 PM
1
This is my response to Matthew Lasar's blog, posted at
http://www.lasarletter.net/drupal/node/525

12/15/07

Sawaya's Leaving Confirms Denial About Mismanagement.

By Gregory Wonderwheel

I appreciate Matthew Lasar's wealth of information and insight into radio, however even Lasar has a degree of denial when it comes to Pacifica that is difficult to fathom. I can only surmise that it is because he feels so very close to Pacifica, since it is our own foibles that are hardest to see.

Lasar praised the PNB for hiring Sawaya and then added: "Sawaya made it clear during her interviews that she wanted to do radio, not spend her days putting out office politics fires. That the board responded favorably to this stance gives LLFCC hope, even now."

I don't see it that way. If Sawaya really "made it clear" that she wanted "to do radio" instead of organizational management, then she was the wrong person for the job from the get-go and should not have been hired. If she wanted to do radio she should have applied for program director or for the KPFA Sunday morning slot.

The failing of the PNB has consistently been denial of the outrageous problems with management at all five stations. The PNB suffers the illusion that the executive director and station managers, but most importantly the ED, should be a radio people. This denial by the PNB has led to the hiring of the wrong people to lead Pacifica beginning with the hiring of Dan Coughlin, who despite his few good points led Pacifica into the badlands of management protecting managers who were accused of theft, sexual harassment, coverups of physical violence at stations, etc.

The EDs and station managers at Pacifica have failed or done poorly in communicating and working with the elected governing bodies. Instead of working collaboratively and educating the PNB and the LABS with the management problems at the stations and the national office, the managers have covered up and glossed over the issues or worked actively together to conceal the issues.

The crappy atmosphere at Pacifica flows from the top. And the ED is the top of management. When the ED protects the station managers instead of telling them to do their jobs fairly and evenhandedly, then nothing can be accomplished to change the atmosphere at the stations. The PNB needed to tell Sawaya, and any new ED, that "you are not being hired 'to do radio', but to clean up the organization's management practices."

But just as importantly, the PNB is the top of governance, and the PNB is so much in denial of the problems at the stations that they are running the foundation into bankruptcy. The PNB's denial is what allowed them to hire Sawaya who, according to Lasar, was full of denial about the need to put out the prairie fires of mismanagement throughout Pacifica.

The directors on the PNB should be ashamed of themselves, first for hiring Sawaya (if she indeed said that she wanted "to do radio" instead of put out fires) but most importantly for their own disorganization and buffoonery in office. You know there is a vein of denial running deep and wide when they would rather argue over the agenda than deal with the mismanagement at the stations where funds and equipment are purloined, staff and volunteers are physically threatened and battered, people are sexually harassed, and there is no accountability with managers being allowed to go unevaluated (just to mention a few of the concerns). As another example, the PNB has allowed the CFO to continue when he should have been fired before his first year was up for failing to provide adequate, useful, and intelligible information about the corporation finances and has misled the PNB about the financial difficulties at WBAI that now threaten to sink the whole Pacifica ship.

In 1999 we saw a Board of Directors who were insulated and self selecting running the foundation into the ground. We saw four constituencies: Governing board, management, staff and listeners. At that time, the listeners were out of the equation except for providing funding. The Board became hostile to staff and the listeners came to the rescue. We created an organizational structure that allows the staff and listeners to democratically elect the governing boards who in turn will select the management. However, now at most stations, there are cliques of management and staff who have allied together to keep out any listener influence that would threaten the status quo of current employment of those staff and managers. This unholy alliance is supported by listeners on all the governing boards, including the PNB, who are jeopardizing the very existence of Pacifica, rather than dealing with the real problems of management and staff at the stations.

All along, those listeners who are not close to the stations' political fires only hear what is on the air. From this, they either decide everything is fine because they like the programming, or that everything is hopeless because ths same poor programs continue. In either case, the listeners are not informed enough about what is going on to make them informed enough to vote on real issues. When real issues are presented to the listeners, the management with the support of the PNB finds one way or another to shut it down or neutralize it in favor of the status quo, once again choosing denial over dealing with fires.

So I say, a happy good-bye to Sawaya, who apparently was in denial about what is needed, and I say to the Pacifica PNB, get your act together and your heads out of your rear-ends of denial and hire an ED who isn't interested in "doing radio" but who is interested in managing a multi-million dollar national nonprofit corporation by applying best practices and fair and honest policies and procedures.

2
----- From Carol Spooner:
I don't blame Nicole for quitting. But it is bad for Pacifica, which is collapsing, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, and desperately needs a strong ED to take control and put it back on its feet. Pacifica will not survive another year of floundering and mismanagement, and the outrageous & irresponsible politicking on the PNB in support of certain managers and staff members holding protected sinecures here and there around the network.

The next Pacifica ED must tell the PNB that they will take the job on the following conditions
:
1) That the CFO be immediately terminated for presenting false, misleading, inaccurate and late financial reports, and for failing to take corrective measures at bankrupt WBAI back in 2004 when its financial slide first became obvious. The CFO position will report to and work under the supervision of the Executive Director, and the board will approve the ED's hiring and firing recommendations as to that position.

[The August financial reports projected WBAI would end the fiscal year on 9/30 with an operating surplus, when in fact WBAI was deeply in debt to the National Office and was using restricted grant monies for operating expenses -- all of which was known to the CFO or should have been.]

2) That the WBAI General Manager and Program Director will be immediately terminated and an outside management firm will be brought in to restructure and turnaround that station.

3) That the Washington Bureau Chief position will be immediately terminated. Pacifica cannot afford the $80k+ salary and the headlines service being produced is not carried by Pacifica stations and by very few affiliates.

4) That the corporate counsel will be immediately terminated for compromising Pacifica's required neutrality in the elections and for encouraging, aiding and abetting the PNB and the National Elections Supervisor to violate the bylaws, state laws, and the required neutrality of the elections, as well as for mishandling the investigations and lawsuits for sexual and/or racial discrimination and harassment around the network -- particularly at KPFK -- exposing Pacifica to hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential liabilities.

If the PNB will not agree to all of those conditions, then Pacifica will go down, and swiftly, and any ED is doomed to failure. Then those measures and more -- likely the sale of one of the broadcast licenses -- will have to be taken by a Bankruptcy Trustee.

On the other hand, if those measures are taken and sanity and fiscal responsibility are imposed, then it may still be possible to rescue Pacifica and make it a credible and significant alternative media organization -- which is desperately needed in this country at this time.

Carol Spooner

by Harryo
Monday Dec 17th, 2007 2:26 PM
That's too bad...Nicole didn't have these problems when she was running KALW....As a occasional KPFA listener who knows a bit about the Bay Area non-commercial radio scene it seems that there's no process in place to hire a general manger who can produce good radio and respond to listener conerns. Just one example is the way KPFA handled the replacement of Larry Bensky for the Sunday Show. I try to listen most Sundays and can't remember if the station asked either for listener suggestions for a new host or held auditions for the spot. I had assumed that one of the fill-ins for Larry, Matt Gonzales, etc. would have been chosen., but Peter Laufer came in from out of the blue whose commercial radio style certaintly rubbed KPFA listeners the wrong way, but conversely his show was not really given a chance to win listeners over. And who's doing the show now, the program director who reportedly has a close relationship with the station manager. I know a bunch of people who could have done the Sunday morning show; Davey D, Ishamel Reed, JR, Tiny of Poor Magazine, Matt Gonzales, Brenda Payton, Van Jones, Media Benjaman to name a few.
KPFA needs a board that can select a general manager who knows how to run a non-commercial radio station and then get out the way and let that person do the job of running a radio station. No other non-commercial station in the Bay Area has the drama of KPFA and depending what you want in non-commercial radio, they all produce just as good or better programming than KPFA. The constant fighting and behind the scenes bickering at KPFA may be of interest to the Berkeley-SF-Santa Cruz activist crowd, but most listeners could care less and click off the radio when any discussion of slate A or faction B is mentioned on the air and many of them won't come back, especially if the main reason they tune in is for a show like Democracy Now! that can be heard on the internet at other stations.
by Mara
Monday Dec 17th, 2007 6:28 PM
Harryo
I have no quarrel with you about KPFA management being a mess but as a very involved listener, I want to correct a few misconceptions, because the key to correcting the situation is informed listeners - very hard to achieve unless we all try to spread the information around & encourage each other to keep working on it.

First, I don't think we know if Nicole had problems at KALW - injustice, incompetence, & polarized situations are just a fact of life in every group
.
The General Manager is not alone in producing radio & responding to listeners, there is a Program Director & Program Council to help with this, & the Board (LSB) is supposed to monitor the programming & appoint a certain number to the PC.

Then, Nicole was *not* the KPFA General Manager, she was the Executive Director of the entire Pacifica Foundation, with its 5 stations, affiliates etc. The ED has to oversee the whole network, & there are problems of & power struggles at every station.
The worst situation is at WBAI in New York, where a corrupt Program Director dominates the station with the help of associates known as the Justice & Unity coalition, has fired popular & competent programmers thereby losing thousands of listeners, misspent monies & stolen or allowed to be stolen station equipment etc. etc., & can't fundraise enough money to cover their expenses, & has a station pervaded with violence to keep others in line.
This station is draining the resources of other stations, yet the EDs and national board members refuse to intervene. Three out of 4 of our own KPFA delegates to the National Board have voted against measures of control as well.
An Executive Director needs to be willing to roll up their sleeves, with or without the support of the Pacifica National Board (PNB), & help take this & other misuses of power in hand. Apparently, Nicole Sawaya was not. Matthew Lasar's Pacifica savior would be someone who will take this on in order to save the network, realize that, at this point, they probably won't be able to last the year, but can make a lasting contribution by helping to oust dominating power brokers or systems from their positions. People at WBAI have been appealing to National to help them for years; there is no lack of will there.
If listeners understood this situation, they would not be voting for the slate whose associates have in some cases deliberately aligned themselves with the JUC on the national board - the Concerned Listeners.

Hey, activism is not boring! People can become active players in these dramas, instead of passive consumers of spy films, combative video games, etc. etc. Real life is very colorful, maybe too much so for some.
Drama is where you find it & KPFA a worthy cause.
We need more programs on station affairs, not less. In my experience, many listeners are eager to discuss KPFA internal governance. And the more they learn, the less overwhelmed they they will feel, & the more able to help the situation.

To learn more, check out http://Peoplesradio.net
by octadecapeptide
Tuesday Dec 18th, 2007 6:54 PM
As a long time member who once had enough money to put my name on a brick in the KPFA building, and now only occasional listener, here is my view. The real problem is that KPFA programs are, for the most part, not worth listening to. I continue to tune to KPFA at various times during the day and night. With a few exceptions, I find that whatever random program I happen to catch, for both talk and music shows, either does not have anything interesting to say, or whatever interesting things it has to say are not very well said.

I suspect that many, if not most listeners who stumble across and even those who deliberately tune to KPFA experience the same thing. I don't have the time, skills, or desire to sort out the internecine mess that is going on at KPFA. All I care about is that the programs are interesting and well produced, and that they preferably provide information or entertainment that I will not get by listening to other radio stations.

Obviously listeners will differ in their opinions as to what makes a program interesting and well produced, and as to what sorts of information and entertainment should be put on the airwaves. But it is pretty clear to me that KPFA does not have enough programs that enough people want to listen to.
by Curious
Wednesday Dec 19th, 2007 3:29 PM
The item below from Current. org today seems to contradict Mathew Lasar's announcement last week. So, has Nicole Sawaya resigned or is she negotiating? If the latter, what's to negotiate? She was reportedly given a five-year contract more than two months ago. If the former, why was Lasar the source of the news? Is that what historians do these days? And how could she not know that Pacifica has some problems? The whole thing sounds fishy, though par for the course. Whatever. But doesn't someone have to explain who's in charge at the moment, Dan Siegel (described below as counsel), Board Chair Adelson, Sawaya, or a player to be named later?


Sawaya, new executive director of Pacifica, may not stick with the job

Nicole Sawaya, hired by Pacifica Radio with high hopes less than three months ago, is talking with the organization's national board about whether she will stay, General Counsel Dan Siegel told Current. Matthew Lasar, Pacifica's unofficial historian, reported in his telecom policy blog that Sawaya has resigned. "Without going into all the details, Sawaya found the level of internecine dysfunction at Pacifica overwhelming, and fled her job," Lasar wrote. Sawaya, hired Sept. 29 to succeed Greg Guma, knew from experience about the network's volatile constituency. Her 1999 firing as manager of Pacifica's Berkeley station was a factor in the listeners' campaign that overthrew the former national board.
by Gregory Wonderwheel
Friday Dec 21st, 2007 5:15 PM
Below is my response to Matthew Lasar's blog, posted at http://www.lasarletter.net/drupal/node/525

I looked at Lasar's website today and he has removed the comments including this one. He can dish it out but he can't take it. He talks out of both sides of his mouth. He says the blog is about FCC stuff and then posts Pacifica issues like this. And then when anyone dares to argue with his self-serving view of Pacifica he says we are just attacking enemies or being "actionable." What a joke. Matthew, I used to think you were serious, but now you have lost even the appearance of objectivity. Your "history" is now compelety suspect. Very sad to see you in the gutter like this.

12/15/07
Sawaya's Leaving Confirms Denial About Mismanagement.
By Gregory Wonderwheel

I appreciate Matthew Lasar's wealth of information and insight into radio, however even Lasar has a degree of denial when it comes to Pacifica that is difficult to fathom. I can only surmise that it is because he feels so very close to Pacifica, since it is our own foibles that are hardest to see.

Lasar praised the PNB for hiring Sawaya and then added: "Sawaya made it clear during her interviews that she wanted to do radio, not spend her days putting out office politics fires. That the board responded favorably to this stance gives LLFCC hope, even now."

I don't see it that way. If Sawaya really "made it clear" that she wanted "to do radio" instead of organizational management, then she was the wrong person for the job from the get-go and should not have been hired. If she wanted to do radio she should have applied for program director or for the KPFA Sunday morning slot.

The failing of the PNB has consistently been denial of the outrageous problems with management at all five stations. The PNB suffers the illusion that the executive director and station managers, but most importantly the ED, should be a radio people. This denial by the PNB has led to the hiring of the wrong people to lead Pacifica beginning with the hiring of Dan Coughlin, who despite his few good points led Pacifica into the badlands of management protecting managers who were accused of theft, sexual harassment, coverups of physical violence at stations, etc.

The EDs and station managers at Pacifica have failed or done poorly in communicating and working with the elected governing bodies. Instead of working collaboratively and educating the PNB and the LABS with the management problems at the stations and the national office, the managers have covered up and glossed over the issues or worked actively together to conceal the issues.

The crappy atmosphere at Pacifica flows from the top. And the ED is the top of management. When the ED protects the station managers instead of telling them to do their jobs fairly and evenhandedly, then nothing can be accomplished to change the atmosphere at the stations. The PNB needed to tell Sawaya, and any new ED, that "you are not being hired 'to do radio', but to clean up the organization's management practices."

But just as importantly, the PNB is the top of governance, and the PNB is so much in denial of the problems at the stations that they are running the foundation into bankruptcy. The PNB's denial is what allowed them to hire Sawaya who, according to Lasar, was full of denial about the need to put out the prairie fires of mismanagement throughout Pacifica.

The directors on the PNB should be ashamed of themselves, first for hiring Sawaya (if she indeed said that she wanted "to do radio" instead of put out fires) but most importantly for their own disorganization and buffoonery in office. You know there is a vein of denial running deep and wide when they would rather argue over the agenda than deal with the mismanagement at the stations where funds and equipment are purloined, staff and volunteers are physically threatened and battered, people are sexually harassed, and there is no accountability with managers being allowed to go unevaluated (just to mention a few of the concerns). As another example, the PNB has allowed the CFO to continue when he should have been fired before his first year was up for failing to provide adequate, useful, and intelligible information about the corporation finances and has misled the PNB about the financial difficulties at WBAI that now threaten to sink the whole Pacifica ship.

In 1999 we saw a Board of Directors who were insulated and self selecting running the foundation into the ground. We saw four constituencies: Governing board, management, staff and listeners. At that time, the listeners were out of the equation except for providing funding. The Board became hostile to staff and the listeners came to the rescue. We created an organizational structure that allows the staff and listeners to democratically elect the governing boards who in turn will select the management. However, now at most stations, there are cliques of management and staff who have allied together to keep out any listener influence that would threaten the status quo of current employment of those staff and managers. This unholy alliance is supported by listeners on all the governing boards, including the PNB, who are jeopardizing the very existence of Pacifica, rather than dealing with the real problems of management and staff at the stations.

All along, those listeners who are not close to the stations' political fires only hear what is on the air. From this, they either decide everything is fine because they like the programming, or that everything is hopeless because ths same poor programs continue. In either case, the listeners are not informed enough about what is going on to make them informed enough to vote on real issues. When real issues are presented to the listeners, the management with the support of the PNB finds one way or another to shut it down or neutralize it in favor of the status quo, once again choosing denial over dealing with fires.

So I say, a happy good-bye to Sawaya, who apparently was in denial about what is needed, and I say to the Pacifica PNB, get your act together and your heads out of your rear-ends of denial and hire an ED who isn't interested in "doing radio" but who is interested in managing a multi-million dollar national nonprofit corporation by applying best practices and fair and honest policies and procedures.

by Gregory Wonderwheelw
Friday Dec 21st, 2007 5:23 PM
Mara, correction for you. Nicole Sawaya was the Station Manager of KPFA, she was NOT and never was the Executive Director of Pacifica. She got in trouble with Pacifica because she wouldn't play along with the Executive Director and Board of Directors, so her contract as station manager was not renewed.
by Gregory Wonderwheel
Friday Dec 21st, 2007 5:27 PM
Sorry Mara, I misread what you wrote and thought you were talking about 1999 not 2007. Yes of course this year she was hired for ED and that is the position that she abandoned, not the Station Manager of KPFA. The comment that Lasar quotes does make it sound like she was tryig to be hired as Station Manager.
by Old Lib
Friday Dec 21st, 2007 5:36 PM
So far, all I've seen is everyone except Nicole or Pacifica announce that she has resigned or otherwise left Pacifica's current employ.

Rather than post self-important verbose entreaties and self-serving bon mots as "facts", it would help if some actual and legitimate documentation were to be presented, rather than the high-pressure rumor-mongering that Wonderwheel and others like to employ in order to appear both relevant and knowledgeable.

It is rather obvious that Wonderwheel does this in order to try and be 'as important' as Carol Spooner tries, but unfortunately the effort shows, which is always bad form.

Of course, there is another self-important attorney in these forums who does much similar for the same reasons, so perhaps it is merely a job-related dysfunction.



I must second the perspectives herein by Joe Wanzala and Mara Rivera.

An unpaid staff member of KPFA recently noted a couple of things to me that I never imagined would be the case at KPFA, until I pulled back the curtain a bit and took a look behind the scenes, went down to the station for myself, and sat down with and broke bread with many of the figures actually involved (something I recommend all interested listeners to do by volunteering and attending the Local Station Board {LSB} meetings regularly):

(1) "KPFA is a microcosm of the outside world" [In other words, all of the problems of classism, racism, and the rest of it are unfortunately manifested and perpetuated within the management of the station. This is not effectively veiled by the installment of token people of color within various positions at KPFA, including the iGM position, when the political perspectives of such persons are out of touch with those of the working-poor and the marginalised. The accountability for this must be enforced by the listeners, especially as they are the main ones to moan when problems are exposed. The staff and governance persons can take shelter in their inside information and alliances, listeners left in the dark cannot. For the purposes of this comment staying somewhat on topic, I should probably leave this part of the analysis right there. Of course, I'm always open to critique. Only, through open and constructive dialogue can this truly unique social experiment that is KPFA/Pacifica survive.]

(2) "KPFA is who goes there." [To quote Bob Marley "When the cat's away/The mice will play." The first KPFA LSB meeting I attended was in San Jose, October 2007. The cat (the listener) was away, and the mice (the dominant LSB members) definitely played. They played you and me, through bizarre abuses of Robert's Rules of Order, through uncooperative and unprofessional factionalism and other problematic parliamentary behaviors. As, I've noted elsewhere, Sarv Randhawa's (KPFA LSB and Pacifica National Board member) monotone mantra "point of order, point of order" haunted me for days following that dizzying episode. Chair Bonnie Simmons seemed only interested in Treasurer Brian Edwards-Tiekert's say on things. Richard Phelps, at one point, shot out of his chair, arms flailing and crying foul and threatening to leave the meeting, as certain members of the board and scant audience giggled. Later, during break, KPFA LSB member Chandra Hauptman stumbled over p.a. cables and chairs, frantically chasing Sarv around the room, pleading to be heard. Is this cooperation? I thought 'parliamentary procedure was all about helping people run meetings efficiently and fairly'? The problem here was the listeners were largely absent. The room was virtually empty. This is the problem with KPFA and Pacifica, the listeners are largely absent. The next couple of KPFA LSB meetings were filmed by listener-members. It seems this slight increase in transparency curbed much of the previous shenanigans. Nevertheless, Brian Edwards-Tiekert is still filmed (12.15.07) pointing out that "unsavory" methods were the best way to get things done (such as pushing through strange agenda motions). Consider the motion to seat new board members despite a corrupted elections process, not to mention the fact that the 2007 KPFA LSB elections had not yet been certified. "Listener involvement is critical," one current KPFA LSB member pointed out to me not too long ago. So, to read listeners complaining about governance or programming problems without getting in there to put in their share of the work to bring that to fruition is disappointing. 'KPFA is who goes there'; and if the listeners don't go there, the entrenched staff/management will be justified in their sanctimonious stabs at power consolidation, not to mention handed an easy job of it. Lasar is correct on one major point: following the people's victory over the attempted KPFA/Pacifica takeover of 1999-2002 (one which took the figureheads Berry & Chadwick seven years or so to develop, by the way), the 'Left' vanished from the scene as did, especially, those big names which helped galvanise solidarity and help mobilise the masses. It's unfortunate that we, as a community, had to rely on the 'big names,' but such were the sociopolitical conditions of that time. I admit my guilt in that. I, too, walked away thinking everything would be fine. That KPFA would always be a free-speech station. Today, that phrase is completely absent from any of the station's logos. 'Professionalized' politics tends to perpetuate that sort of mass mobilisation followed by mass evacuation, without any real input from, or training to, or engagement of the masses, the individuals, the listeners. I remember going to many mass demonstrations put on by groups such as A.N.S.W.E.R. and feeling the strange disconnect of being at a Lollapalooza concert. The point is, as listeners and supporters of KPFA, as well as of those mass demonstrations, we, the people, are called upon at token moments by 'leaders' like cattle to march on command or donate money on command, but never to truly engage the participatory democratic process or get involved in any substantive way. Thus, after the people's victory of the 1999-2002 KPFA/Pacifica crisis we assumed the people left in charge (i.e. the staff/management/programmers/board members) would never sell out or turn away from the will of the community, the listeners, the poor, the silenced---we were wrong. So, I, like many others, went back to my day to day thinking everything would be gravy at KPFA. Now, about five years later, in less time than it took the previous Berry/Chadwick cabal to sieze power, we see a new takeover attempt and exclustion of listener involvement as well as undermining of participatory democratic process. This time it's an inside job. By definition, KPFA and Pacifica is a grass-roots organisation/foundation. Without the masses and the people getting involved, it will, by definition, become an insular or 'professionalised' organisation, wholly unresponsive to the needs of the community and the grass-roots. The problem is listener involvement has been consistently undermined by certain staff and certain management since the 1999-2002 KPFA/Pacifica crisis. As has been the tradition within the 'Left' the masses were called upon in times of crisis and then shut out when no longer needed to fulfill a particular objective. 'KPFA is who goes there' and I sincerely urge the listeners to go there regularly, to ask questions, and to get involved. On Tuesday 12.18.07, there were some people concerned about the current erosion of the original mission of KPFA/Pacifica out in front of the station picketing to call attention to this new crisis. Let us join together on the streets, face to face, and dialogue. Let us gain substantive understanding in order to affect substantive, positive change. Without this, Nicole Sawaya or anyone stepping up to that position of Executive Director will be only be sent to their certain doom.]

On the other hand, Matthew Lasar's "report" is disappointing from a journalistic point of view. Am I, or any other listener-member of KPFA/Pacifica expected to uncritically take his word for it? Where are his sources or quotes? He claims, "Without going into all the details, Sawaya found the level of internecine dysfunction at Pacifica overwhelming, and fled her job." Then he proceeds to take us through a tour of his personal views on the matter. Next he drops a bomb on us: "there are no saviors, no simple solutions to complex problems. And Pacifica radio is always a complex problem." Of course, again, he avoids offering any substance to the claims. What are the complex problems? What would he suppose to be the solutions? As an endorser of the so-called "Concerned Listeners" slate, it wouldn't take much deduction to surmise what those enigmatic problems or solutions would be. Why are we, as a community, expected to take Lasar's partisan account of such a significant event without so much as offering quotes or sources in an unquestioning manner? Lasar then continues to take us through more fallacies of logic in his analysis:

(1) "Pacifica remains in a perilous situation, however. It is pursuing an ambitious experiment in media democracy in a hostile external environment, with inadequate resources, and without the help of significant forces that rhetorically supported the Pacifica Revolution of 2001 but are now nowhere to be found." [Lasar seems interested in creating a constant sense of dysfunction surrounding KPFA/Pacifica without actually pointing to any substantive causes or founded problems, such as the exclusion of listener involvement, the undermining of KPFA LSB elections processes, campaign finance disparity (see the so-called "Concerned Listeners" expenditure of thousands on mailing propaganda), uneven promotion of KPFA LSB Candidates through the KPFA airwaves and websites (including the Pacifica website), to name a few examples.]

(2) Pacifica is "pursuing an ambitious experiment in media democracy in a hostile external environment, with inadequate resources, and without the help of significant forces that rhetorically supported the Pacifica Revolution of 2001 but are now nowhere to be found." [Well, this is an interesting statement. What Lasar means by a "hostile external environment" is not made clear. But if we are expected to follow the "Concerned Listeners" narrative or analysis, we can conclude that he is referring to unwanted listener involvement.]

(3) At the same time that Lasar bemoans the absence of "significant forces that rhetorically supported the Pacifica Revolution of 2001 but are now nowhere to be found" he vilifies listener involvement (surely, the most 'significant' and meaningful force with regard to any vision for maintaining the original mission of KPF/Pacifica): "And the organization is besieged by zealots whose vision of Pacifica boils down to a public access network that doles out air time to whoever screams the loudest at a four hour meeting." [So in one fell swoop, grass-roots, free-speech radio is transmogrified into an insignificant "public access network." As if to suggest it could be much more without listener involvement, if it were 'professionalized' without the cumbersome hassle of having to consider the will of the community. Lasar seems to pay lip service to some vague notion of "media democracy" (another interesting phrase which excludes the people), without offering constructive ideas or solutions for improving the ability for the community to submit greater, substantive input into governance processes whilst increasing the functionality of cooperation and democratic principles.]

(4) Finally, Lasar offers his coup de grace, by reducing the community of listener-members to a mere "mob." This is the very community which has supported KPFA/Pacifica to this day and brought it this far. This is all topped off by fabulously confusing wordplay which contradicts his own points of argument. While he opens his analysis by informing us "there are no saviors," he concludes it by expressing his "hopes that [such a] person arrives soon." Very interesting, indeed.

Why are we expected to take his partisan analysis on face value. The truth is Nicole Sawaya declined to give a comment when members of the KPFA "Evening News" contacted her for a comment. And Lasar offers nary a quote himself only hearsay. On Monday December 17, 2007 (http://kpfa.org/archives/index.php?arch=23835), Brian Edwards-Tiekert (another curiously partisan and conflict-of-interest-plagued figure to be delivering news on Sawaya's departure), reporting on the matter notes, "There has been no official announcement of Sawaya's departure from the Pacifica National office, nor any announcement of who is managing the network in her absence." Edwards-Tiekert then proceeds to inform the public that the news broke on Lasar's website. This is like a circular continuum of weak and skewed journalism being magnified by other weak and skewed journalists. Talk about conflict of interest. "Concerned Listeners" continues to be the common thread. Of course, at this point Edwards-Tiekert along with Sherry Gendelman are suing KPFA/Pacifica to force the corrupted KPFA LSB Elections results. It's hard to imagine that this corruption would have nothing to do with Sawaya's departure, if indeed she has quit for good. Of course, Edwards-Tiekert and Lasar, in their circular, self-validating analysis would have us believe it is the democratic governance structure and listener involvement which is at fault for everything. It's worth noting that Lasar refuses to comment as he refuses to engage substantive dialogue on his website.

Edwards-Tiekert then proceeds to cite PNB Chair David Adelson: "In addition we're gonna have to address some of the structural problems, um, and institutional problems that make that position a very difficult position." This is like the Bush administration crying mythical terrorism (in this case it would be the "mob" that is listener involvement) and then using fear-mongering to ram through regressive policies (stripping democratic processes in Pacifica governance structures). Of course, for Edwards-Tiekert to report on his own complicity or that of other staff, management, and LSB members' complicity with the corruption of the KPFA LSB Elections processes would be a tad too much conflict of interest for Edwards-Tiekert to stomach. The Orwellian manipulation of information is continued on Friday's (12.21.07) KPFA "Evening News" report of the forced certification of the 2007 KPFA LSB Elections results (see http://kpfa.org/archives/index.php?date=2007-12-21). Interestingly, Christopher Martinez reads this report and Brian Edwards-Tiekert's name is absent from the analysis, although he is part of the lawsuit along with Sherry Gendelman. And of course, Larry Bensky (another "Concerned Listeners" supporter; and a major saboteur of the KPFA LSB Elections, censured by the National Elections Supervisor Casey Peters for violating the 2007 Fair Campaigns Provisions) is utilised to offer more partisan analysis to further mislead unsuspecting KPFA audience members. An Open Letter from The Committee On Fair Elections (fair_elections [at] yahoo.com) notes: "On October 30[, 2007], veteran programmer Larry Bensky used a KPFA e-mail list and server to send out to an as yet unknown number of voters a message endorsing one slate of candidates and attacking the incumbent board." Given the fact that Larry Bensky is a supporter and endorser of the "Concerned Listeners" slate, it's not hard to deduce which slate he endorsed and which LSB members he attacked. I would urge all listener-members who received a copy of this e-mail to come forward and further expose this corruption.

If Nicole Sawaya has walked away from Pacifica due to "internecine dysfunction" that would be a great loss for all of us as a community and as long-time supporters of KPFA and Pacifica. However, I would urge everyone to investigate a bit deeper to find the true causes of that "internecine dysfunction." "Internecine dysfunction" was obvious to me upon my first visit to a KPFA LSB meeting, it just took a little extra effort to pull back the curtain and look behind the scenes to get a more accurate picture of the truth, a truth one would never find by taking at face value the disinformation transmitted by characters such as Matthew Lasar, Larry Bensky, or Brian Edwards-Tiekert or any of the other so-called "Concerned Listeners".

For more information, please check IndyBay (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2007/12/21/18468328.php).

In solidarity of protecting the original mission of Pacifica as a grass-roots, free-speech, listener-sponsored radio network for peace and social and economic justice,

Felipe Messina
by Richard Phelps, KPFA Listener Representative
Tuesday Dec 25th, 2007 10:42 AM
Why was I upset at the San Jose meeting? I am passionate about the Pacifica Mission and progressive principles and Free Speech. Sarv, playing his usual role as CL history censor and CL interrupter, interrupted me when I had the floor with an invalid Point of Order, to stop me from exposing his and his allies voting record. They really don't want the listeners to know what they do on the PNB. The CL Chair, Bonnie Simmons dutifully ruled Sarv's attempted censorship valid which stopped me from speaking truth to power at a meeting of a "Free Speech" radio station.

The discussion was about the plight at WBAI and I was pointing out how we all needed to be mindful of those issues concretely and that those that had been co-dependent with the WBAI members avoiding responsibility for following the Bylaws etc. needed to acknowledge their mistakes so that we didn't have it happen again. It does no good for us to pass motions at the LSB level if some of our PNB members vote against our positions on the PNB and also never let us know what they are doing. I have made a motion for the KPFA PNB members to report their votes and the motions they voted either up or down on the PNB and boy did that meet with disfavor from Sarv and his crew. Each year when Sarv and others run for re-election on the PNB I ask each candidate who was previously on the PNB about their voting record since I often listen to the meetings or attend when possible. Each year Sarv's answer is always " I don't remember how I voted on that motion", and he is dutifully re-elected by the CL and formally KPFAforward allies despite his conscious refusal to take responsibility for his anti-progressive votes.

Here is one example. The WBAI LSB under majority rule by the JUC had "never" reviewed the GM or the PD in three years. It is required every year under our Bylays. Patty Heffley, the minority member on the PNB from WBAI made a motion at the PNB to have the PNB require WBAI to follow the Bylaws and do the personnel evaluations of the GM and PD. That motion was voted down!!!! And guess who were the swing votes??? Three PNB members from KPFA, Sarv, Rosalinda and Mary. La Varn Williams, a Peoples Radio member voted to require WBAI to be accountable. So the CL candidate that CL put first to get elected on their 2006 literature voted to allow WBAI's JUC tyranical majority to continue to be in violation of the Bylaws and out of control. And only now that their being out of control is having financial implications here at KPFA and Foundation wide are the CL folks wringing their hands and demanding something be done. They just don't want the listeners to know who helped it get so bad.

You ask why would CL candidates and allies not hold WBAI's out of control majority accountable on the PNB? The entrenched leadership group at KPFA had a mutual back scratching arrangement with the JUC at WBAI and similar folks at WPFW and some in LA, Adelson and Berzon etc and some in Houston. You leave us alone to do what we want at our station even if we violate the bylaws and progressive principles of transparency, accountability and due process and we will do the same for you. After observing this collusion in action after getting elected I coined the term
"Confederate Stations of Pacifica". This was engineered by an earlier Executive Director, Dan Coughlin, who chose GM's for their willingness to play ball with him, not their commitment to the Mission and progressive politics. This was the same ED that stonewalled on Director's inspection for over two years with the voting help of Sarv, William Walker and the JUC folks, another collusion to violate our Bylaws, the principle of transparency and for the PNB and had the KPFA entrenched allies taking a position on transparency to the political right of the California Corporations Code, see section 6334, Director's inspection are an "absolute right". Their Confederate Stations of Pacifica collusion was allowing all the participants to maintain their local control with a wink and a nod from the then ED and a PNB with a majority in denial! And now we have an IED grossly violating election neutrality in favor of the CL precisley because PeoplesRadio exposed the listeners to the rotten underbelly of KPFA's current management and LSB allies.

What next? A news broadcast on KPFA reporting on the election with the opinions of Larry Bensky (CL endorser and election rules violator), Sherry Gendelman (CL candidate and election rules violator apologist), Matthew Lasar, (CL endorser ) and Dan Siegel (IED who grossly violated election fairness to support CL and Gendelman, his former client and KPFA/Pacifica employment advocate and no one for the opposition slates? Not even a disclaimer that they were contacted and weren't available? I forgot they just did this. They out "Fair and Balanced" Fox News. How could anyone who put Pacifica principles and Mission first before power to control the station do this? No one who really believed in the Pacifica Mission would have done any of the things I have mentioned in this article.

One final comment on this. During the 2006 election, when the CL put Sarv as their number one to get elected, I asked each of their candidates that were running with him if they knew his voting record on transparency etc and they all showed no interest! They had their marching orders and didn't have any interest in how their slate mates had voted and the positions they had taken. This whole thing is so unPacifica Mission and Principles it is clear why they don't want it mentioned to listeners at a meeting in San Jose. We are in a position similar to 1999 except the opportunists are from the inside. However this should be no suprise to those who have followed the history of KPFA. Go to http://www.peoplesradio.net and read Maria Gilardin's history of the staff's failure to combat the prior corporate takeover attempt.

Some day someone needs to write "The Peoples' History of KPFA and Pacifica." The listeners need to know the whole truth about what goes on behind the mic.

Richard Phelps, KPFA Listener Representative

P.S. I can't wait for the anonymous slanders and personal attacks from those that refuse to deal with the issues and whose goal is always to kill the messengers so the truth will not be told.

by Truthseeker
Friday Jan 18th, 2008 9:30 PM
If Nicole Sawaya has walked away from Pacifica due to "internecine dysfunction" that would be a great loss for all of us as a community and as long-time supporters of KPFA and Pacifica. However, I would urge everyone to investigate a bit deeper to find the true causes of that "internecine dysfunction." "Internecine dysfunction" was obvious to me upon my first visit to a KPFA LSB meeting, it just took a little extra effort to pull back the curtain and look behind the scenes to get a more accurate picture of the truth, a truth one would never find by taking at face value the disinformation transmitted by characters such as Matthew Lasar, Larry Bensky, or Brian Edwards-Tiekert or any of the other so-called "Concerned Listeners".