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Shame on Save KPFA
The scurrilous attacks on myself and Media Alliance, the fiscal sponsor OF Indybay itself, are really shameful. Perfect example of the left-wing firing squad and scapegoating for the toxic dysfunction at KPFA which has been going on for as long as anyone can remember.
It's really sad to see this kind of stuff promulgated on Indybay, a site that originated in MA's offices in 2000 when coming off the high of the '99 Seattle protests, a group of committed media activists launched Indybay to provide unconventional coverage of the National Association of Broadcasters San Francisco convention and the convergence of the low-power FM radio movement to challenge them. A concert in San Francisco's Union Square featuring Jello Biafra was the highlight of days of protest activities, including the arrest of Counterspin host Steve Rendell near Clearchannel San Francisco on Townsend Street. I have always valued Indybay as a place that gives me up-to-the-minute and from-the-ground reports from places of struggle and resistance and am proud of the role MA staff played in its birth more than a decade ago.
And I am tremendously proud of the work Media Alliance does every day, against all odds and yep, with little-to-no resources. We were just honored with a nomination for a BENNY Award from the Corporate Ethics Network for the regional campaign against the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, which resulted in the CPUC investigating, rather then rubber stamping yet another media merger, and surfacing all kinds of misinformation that eventually led to the Department of Justice coming out against the merger on anticompetitive grounds and the deal collapsing. Something that never, ever happens - and yet it did. These are the kinds of collaborations MA is a part of, and I am honored to be a part of them.
Last I checked, in the fall of 2010, KPFA was down to $4,500 in its bank account and $250,000 in arrears on shared service fees. I'm also aware of a handful of nonprofits that have gotten a little short of cash sometime between the collapse of the economy in 2008 and the current day. And a whole bunch of individuals who have lost their jobs, homes and livelihoods. It's tragic. It's not something to sneer about or manipulate in the interests of political games, its a time and a place where we show solidarity and support each other. We're all struggling and times are really tough. If we don't recognize who the true enemies are and fight THEM, then we're all sunk.
Media Alliance lost about 75% of its membership ranks when the association health insurance plan, which was one of the few viable options for people with pre-existing conditions to access affordable and comprehensive health care in this fucked-up system, was ended along with 14 other association plans. The plan type has never been reinstated, as the NWU and the Media Workers Guild can attest. They have tried. MA was pleased to have been able to offer it for
as long as we did, many people benefitted who had either lost employment or worked outside of other coverage options, and the extra membership fees generated by the plan were a great source of revenue to support the kind of media activism we wanted to do and so we could grow. When it ended, MA returned to the financial instability it had long been familiar with. Media advocacy is not a lucrative field. The work goes on. You work with what you have and make the most of it. I know that we do.
KPFA is a financially stressed organization as well. It just had its worst fund drive effort of the past five years, bringing in a dismal $636,000 for an organization with a $1.85 million annual payroll and $3 million dollars in annual expenses. The fund drive results are a $75,000 DECREASE from the May 2011 fund drive results of $712,000 and worse than the catastrophic fund drive results of the spring of 2010 when results of $660,000 precipitated a $375,000 payroll reduction, some voluntary and some by layoffs. Big organization or small organization, you can't spend more than you take in. Not forever, anyway, and after posting a $575,000 deficit in 2008-2009 and a $585,000 deficit in 2009-2010, KPFA was out of cash reserves and had to cut expenses.
The Labor Relations board upheld the actions taken by the Pacifica ED (board members advise only) FIVE consecutive times and wouldn't have had to spend any money on lawyers at all had the Save KPFA/KPFA worker bunch not filed all those losing complaints. I bet they wish they had that money back now. when KPFA could use it, but instead yet more money goes out the door on a recall campaign that won't succeed. What's wrong with this picture? If I were a kpfa worker, I'd sue THEM for putting my job in jeopardy by wasting assets in an unending series of frivolous complaints.
The statements made are defamatory and legally actionable, although I have better things to do with my time.
The layoffs were not illegal or retaliatory
Pacifica has never initiated a solitary legal action.
Retirement contributions were never diverted and they are paid in full
KPFA has no gag rules. It has election rules that prevent on-air discussion of board elections and the same rules every other broadcasting unit in the nation has in place.
Pacifica's bylaws prevent those serving in non-civil service appointed positions in government from serving concurrently on KPFA/Pacifica boards.
Expense reductions at the stations do not result in any additional funds to Pacifica. The shared services fee remains 17% to shared station services and 2.5% to maintain the Pacifica archives. Expense reductions at the stations enable the stations to pay their own bills and not run out of money. When the stations are all 20% under where they had hoped to be halfway through the year (and all 5 of them are), then they have to make adjustments in order to be able to stay afloat as Pacifica stations do not take corporate underwriting, as other public radio stations do. KPFA should be doing so willingly as the responsible stewardship of listener donations, which are still amazing generous in such bad times, means living within their means and not endangering the license by spending more than comes in. All of the stations will have to do that and it is painful.
But scapegoating and looking for people to blame doesn't change reality. And throwing money down the drain just makes it worse in the end.
Let's celebrate what is good - survival for KPFA, WBAI, KPFT, KPFK, WPFW and Media Alliance - keep doing the work that is so vitally important to the region, the country, and the world - and do what we have to do to continue. The situation is too grim to take refuge in firing squads. We have better things to do.
Love to all who do the work and continue to struggle for what really matters,