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Oakland court clears lawyers to handle gang case
Dan Siegel has played a long role at KPFA and Pacifica. What is his real record at the station and the pacifica network?
Who is Dan Siegel? KPFA And Pacifica
June 5, 2014
by The People’s Minister of Information JR
Oakland mayoral candidate Dan Siegel – Photo: People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey
Who is this white lawyer posing as a left wing candidate in the Oakland mayoral race, a man with a long history of collaborating with and representing police and backing legislation, as a public servant, that has gotten people killed? Dan “the opportunist” Siegel.
Since this man wants to be mayor, I decided to talk to some of his colleagues who have worked with him over the years, so that we can inform the Bay on truly who this man is. Here is Tracy Rosenberg, who as treasurer of the Pacifica Radio board, worked with Dan Siegel for over 15 years. Her answers discussing who he TRULY is are very insightful. Check her out in her own words.
M.O.I. JR: When did you meet Dan Siegel? When did he start working with Pacifica?
Tracy Rosenberg: I met Dan Siegel for the first time in 1999, when the nonprofit I was working for at the time (which I now direct) first got intensely involved in the conflicts going on at the Pacifica Radio Network. We did so as an advocate for independent media and quickly got involved in trying to help KPFA, which at the time was threatened with a sale and/or shutdown, which happened for three weeks in the summer of 1999.
Dan at the time was a lawyer in private practice, a member of the Oakland School Board – which was heading towards receivership – and a close friend of then-chair of KPFA’s local advisory board, Sherry Gendelman. Dan Siegel would represent Gendelman and several of the other local board chairs at the other four Pacifica stations in a lawsuit against their parent 510(c)(3), Pacifica, that was filed in 1999.
M.O.I. JR: What were people saying about him prior to him coming to KPFA?
Tracy Rosenberg: Dan has a long history in Berkeley. He was a Maoist when young and played an active role in the People’s Park confrontation with the University of California, actively inciting police assault in the May 1969 confrontation that killed one person.
This resulted in Siegel having trouble getting his law license after graduating from Boalt (UC Berkeley’s law school) and having to go all the way to the Supreme Court of California to get them to overrule the State Bar’s decision that he lacked the “moral character” to practice law.
Siegel’s firm made most of its money in academic tenure lawsuits, where it won several large settlements from the University of California for tenure denials. He was active in Oakland politics, serving on the Oakland School Board for many years as it lurched into receivership and representing many City of Oakland politicians and employees in lawsuits. His firm also does some significant pro-bono work for demonstrators and victims of police brutality.
Dan Siegel was active in Oakland politics, serving on the Oakland School Board for many years as it lurched into receivership and representing many City of Oakland politicians and employees in lawsuits.
M.O.I. JR: He recently left Pacifica to run for mayor of Oakland. What was Siegel’s history at Pacifica?
Tracy Rosenberg: Dan’s history at Pacifica is long and tangled. Perhaps it is best described as corporate counsel for four years, interim executive director twice, national election supervisor once, local and national board member, and lawyer suing or defending the foundation at least a half a dozen times in the past decade. If that sounds like a lot, then it is.
Dan has felt little compunction about filling any and every position within Pacifica, and often two or three of them at the same time, in defiance of most commonly understood precepts about conflicts of interest. As corporate counsel he handled about a half a dozen lawsuits, mostly for sexual harassment, and most cost Pacifica significant settlements.
He negotiated and signed off on the 2007 Democracy Now contract that many place at the heart of the network’s financial crisis and which certainly accounts for two thirds of the institution’s debts. His testimony as a witness at a trial against Pacifica cost hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time when he was a board member and owed it to Pacifica to try to mitigate rather than exacerbate their damages in a lawsuit filed against them.
As director of Media Alliance, Tracy Rosenberg (third from left) organized a meeting of prison phone justice advocates with Congresswoman Barbara Lee on Aug. 23, 2012. From left are Owen Li, Sandra Johnson of the Ella Baker Center, Tracy and Mark Toney of TURN.
His stint as election supervisor came after firing the incumbent who was pointing to serious problems and forcibly preventing the eventual winners from taking their seats for months, until forced to do so by a court. In short, it’s a history that can be characterized as using any means necessary to try to keep institutional control in the hands of the small faction he favors.
M.O.I. JR: What role did he play in the Nadra Foster case?
Tracy Rosenberg: When Nadra Foster was beaten up in the lobby of KPFA for refusing to admit to trespassing in her workplace of 15 years, Dan’s good friend and former client Sherry Gendelman said she “tipped her hat” to the KPFA employees who called the police.
Dan himself spoke forcefully to block an investigation by KPFA’s local station board into what exactly led to the violent confrontation. Given his role as a frequent critic of the police, the Foster beating was no doubt embarrassing for Dan, and to a significant extent he hedged his public statements in admitting that incident was unfortunate and the police should not have been called, while working behind closed doors to prevent any consequences or remediable action at KPFA, where the end results were that a bookkeeper resigned and KPFA dropped the charges against Foster.
Given his role as a frequent critic of the police, the beating of 12-year volunteer Nadra Foster at KPFA was no doubt embarrassing for Dan, yet poke forcefully to block an investigation by KPFA’s local station board into what exactly led to the violent confrontation.
The unpaid staff who paid for Foster’s bail out of pocket were never even reimbursed by the station.
M.O.I. JR: What role has he played with Save KPFA? Who is Save KPFA?
Tracy Rosenberg: Save KPFA is a coalition of some long-term entrenched paid programmers at KPFA with supportive members of the community, many connected with high-level labor union bureaucracies and progressive Democratic Party vehicles like the Wellstone Democratic Club, Move-On and the PDA.
They’ve used various names over the years, including KPFA Forward and Concerned Listeners, but the current incarnation is as Save KPFA. They have acted as an echo chamber for a narrative that KPFA is the best Pacifica station, subsidizes the rest of the Pacifica network, is run by “real professionals” and basically manages itself – i.e., no outsiders needed or wanted.
This narrative runs a bit contrary to the reality of a 35 percent decline in members since 2006, but it goes on unabated.
Siegel’s faction has acted as an echo chamber for a narrative that KPFA is the best Pacifica station, subsidizes the rest of the Pacifica network, is run by “real professionals” and basically manages itself – i.e., no outsiders needed or wanted. This narrative runs a bit contrary to the reality of a 35 percent decline in members since 2006, but it goes on unabated.
Dan has been a major funder of the Save KPFA efforts, which have included adding expensive “slate card mailers” to the local board elections – making it very hard for genuine grassroots candidates to run without raising thousands of dollars to support their candidacies – sponsoring alterna-fundraisers to divert funds away from KPFA to protest management and program changes Save KPFA did not approve of, and filing and participating in numerous lawsuits to change the outcome of decisions by placing financial stress on the nonprofit parent.
M.O.I. JR: How did Dan Siegel lay the groundwork for the current civil war going on at Pacifica? What has the role of his law office been?
Tracy Rosenberg: Siegel, along with much of the Save KPFA faction, latched on to the genuine uprising among Pacifica listeners and supporters that happened in 1999 amid misplaced emails that showed board members were planning to sell one or more of the stations. Somewhat cynically, they embraced the call for democratization, although even then some of their supporters like Sherry Gendelman made it clear they didn’t really believe in or want any “nonprofessionals” participating in radio station operations beyond basic clerical tasks and late night DJing.
Tracy Rosenberg, center, was a panelist at KPFA’s Townhall on Racism April 11, 2013, at Laney College. Other panelists, from left, are Steve Zeltzer, Frank Sterling, Gerald Sanders and Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia of Poor News Network. – Photo: Scott Braley
Siegel’s lawsuit ended up combined with the far more authentic grassroots effort headed by Carol Spooner (The Listener’s Lawsuit), and after the old board was removed, it was sort of left to “the listeners” as voters to sort out the future direction of the network through a democratic process. The short answer is that they didn’t.
The Save KPFA folks and their compatriots at the other stations started launching blizzards of propagandistic information at voters, programmers fought program changes and advocated for the status-quo-supporting slates on the air and, in the end, the majority of the voters tuned out and stopped voting, and the ones who did vote often had little to no idea what they were actually voting for.
The addition of the extra-curricular slate mailings turned the elections into a rich man’s game, and Siegel has proven that $10,000 can get virtually anyone elected to KPFA’s local station board. Siegel has consistently used his law firm to advance the interests of his favorite paid-staff-allied board members and worked to actively discourage more grassroots participation in KPFA.
His legal work has probably cost Pacifica millions of dollars over the past decade and has been designed to financially pressure the organization into acceding to the narrow demands of the Save KPFA factional slate or face dire financial consequences.
M.O.I. JR: What are your thoughts on Dan Siegel becoming the mayor of Oakland?
Siegel’s legal work has probably cost Pacifica millions of dollars over the past decade and has been designed to financially pressure the organization into acceding to the narrow demands of the Save KPFA factional slate or face dire financial consequences.
Tracy Rosenberg: Dan would probably repeat some of his behavior around Pacifica within Oakland city government. KPFA has long been run as a patronage outfit and some of that tendency seems to also exist within Oakland city government and would probably be exacerbated.
While it is a nominally left patronage system, it works much as patronage systems always have, to maintain existing power bases and generally to frustrate innovation and creativity. Siegel has a history of financial implosions with organizations he’s been involved with, notably the Oakland School Board and Pacifica, but there are others, so I would not expect a financially healthy trajectory for the City of Oakland.
Siegel has a history of financial implosions with organizations he’s been involved with, notably the Oakland School Board and Pacifica, but there are others, so I would not expect a financially healthy trajectory for the City of Oakland if he becomes mayor.
From my own experience, I would say that while a few symbolic progressive pieces of legislation would probably be passed with some fanfare, the underlying structure and the majority of the decisions would be based on a corrupt patronage model replete with numerous conflicts of interest – and I don’t think that is in the best interests of the City of Oakland.
M.O.I. JR: While on the School Board, Siegel and Quan voted to bring police into the Oakland Public Schools, and in 2011 unarmed Raheim Brown was killed outside of Skyline High by one of these armed campus policemen. What do you think about this? What is the difference between the real Dan Siegel and the image that he has made for himself?
Tracy Rosenberg: I think it’s a serious disconnect between portraying oneself as an anti-police brutality hero and voting to put children in the vicinity of armed police. Raheim was a victim of this disconnect. Siegel is not alone in having some distance between what he says and what he does, but in the end it is more important to stop voting for actions that result in murders than to vote for them and sue on the back end after the murders happen.
The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and the newly released “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at http://www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at blockreportradio [at] gmail.com.
Dan Siegel's Many Roles-Unpaid Advisor To Oakland Mayor Quan
Oakland court clears lawyers to handle gang case
Demian Bulwa,Matthai Kuruvila, Chronicle Staff Writers
Friday, February 4, 2011
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Darryl Bush / The Chronicle
Attorney Dan Siegel is an unpaid adviser to Oakland's mayor.
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(02-03) 18:07 PST OAKLAND -- A team of lawyers with ties to Oakland City Hall can represent young men accused in a city lawsuit of being gang members, a judge said Thursday.
City Attorney John Russo is seeking a civil gang injunction against 40 men, saying they are Norteño members who terrorize the Fruitvale neighborhood by dealing drugs and battling rivals. He wants to put the men under a curfew and bar them from hanging out together inside a 2-square-mile zone. Violations could mean as much as six months in jail.
Russo's office sought to remove defense lawyers from the firm Siegel and Yee, because Oakland City Councilwoman Jane Brunner works there and because the head of the firm, Dan Siegel, is an unpaid adviser to Mayor Jean Quan.
The dispute has widened a rift between two of the city's most powerful officials, Russo and Quan, even though the city attorney represents the mayor's legal interests.
At a hearing in Alameda County Superior Court, Judge Robert Freedman said the lawyers seeking to represent the alleged gang members had placed a "firewall" between their work and the city's actions. He noted that Brunner had promised to recuse herself from any decision related to the proposed injunction.
The ruling buoyed the 14 defendants who sat in the first two rows of Freedman's courtroom in Oakland - two of whom used canes to walk because of gunshot wounds. Many say they are not gang members, having put past troubles behind them, and would be unfairly punished by the injunction.
Now, the team of attorneys - who include Siegel's son and employee, Michael Siegel - will seek to represent all the men covered by the proposed injunction, including several who are behind bars.
Defendants covered by injunctions in other cities around the state have often struggled to hire lawyers. Criminal defendants have a right to an attorney, even if they can't afford one, but there is no such provision in civil court.
"I was pretty excited about that," defendant Michael Muscadine, 24, said of the ruling. The attorneys "stepped up from day one. If they weren't here, I don't know where I would have turned to."
The city is scheduled to ask for a preliminary injunction at a hearing Feb. 16, although that date is also in contention. Michael Siegel said his team needed more time to prepare, but Deputy City Attorney Rocio Fierro said Fruitvale residents should not have to wait for protection.
"We want the people of Oakland to have their day in court," Fierro said.
The legal battle, along with the case itself, has stirred up strong emotions.
Some activists at Thursday's hearing said the injunction unfairly singles out Latino men who grew up in difficult circumstances.
Fierro suggested that the activists were standing up for the men's "criminal interests."
Complicating matters, attorneys for the city told the judge that the City Council had the authority to force Russo to drop the lawsuit. It's not clear how the council would vote on that question.
At City Hall on Thursday, Quan said she was frustrated that the council had not weighed in on the Fruitvale injunction or a previous one that a judge approved in the northern part of the city. She said such a court order may be effective in the short term, but asked, "Does it make sense to have the entire Fruitvale district off-limits?"
Quan said she would sit down next week with Police Chief Anthony Batts - or his successor, if he leaves - to discuss whether the injunctions are a valuable tool for officers.
E-mail the writers at dbulwa [at] schronicle.com and mkuruvila [at] sfchronicle.com.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/02/03/BARL1HIJ8N.DTL#ixzz1DCsVPShF
KPFA Concerned Listener Candidate And Crooked Lawyer Dan Seigel Helped Rig Pacifica/KFPA 2007 Elections
http://www.pacificaelections.net/2007-8 pacifica elections final report.pdf
on the Pacifica 2007 Elections
by Casey Peters
National Elections Supervisor
pacifica [at] mail2casey.com
An unexpected problem arose at KPFA where candidate carts were bundled
in large groups playing for several minutes at a time. This was done rather than
the traditional broadcast of carts individually, dispersed among other sorts of
programming. Some candidates contended that the bundles always started with
management’s favored candidates and that listeners tuned out after the first
couple of carts were aired. I spoke with KPFA’s Interim General Manager Lemlem
Rijio and Interim Program Director Sasha Lilley, and both agreed to de-bundle the
carts and to broadcast them individually as other stations do. However, in
practice they refused to conform to a direct order from the National Election
Supervisor. The bundling continued, putting some candidates at a distinct
disadvantage. The one candidate whose cart aired first in the bundle garnered
the most first place votes by far in the KPFA Listener Sponsor vote count.
Greg Guma, who hired me to be Pacifica Foundation's National Elections
Supervisor for the 2007 election cycle, was known as a critic of our elections and
someone who felt that his power as Executive Director was undermined by
interference from ill-informed but strongly opinionated board members.
However, Guma was unflinching in following the letter and spirit of Pacifica
Bylaws in his administrative support for the election process. He published a brief
commentary on other approaches to governance that might draw upon a number
of traditions. Regardless of his personal and professional views on how best to
govern the Pacifica Foundation, Greg Guma always lent his full support as ED to
implementing the governance process established in the ByLaws and to the work
of the Election Supervisors.
Many of the problems that arose in the elections this year may be traced to
the disruption caused by the early severance of Greg Guma after he tendered his
plan for resignation as Executive Director. The PNB ushered him out the door
hurriedly rather than on the timetable he offered which would have left him at
the helm during the election cycle. The vacuum of power, with an intermittent
interim ED interlaced by the spectacle of unprofessional vacillation on the part of
the presumptive new leader, created a virtual meltdown situation. With obvious
instability at the top, the election campaigns descended into chaos.
As soon as Nicole Sawaya stepped into the Executive Director role, I left
word with her assistant that I was available to meet at her convenience to brief
her on the status of the ongoing elections. Ms. Sawaya sent word back that she
had no intention of meeting with the NES and that she opposed Pacifica Bylaws
provisions for elected boards.
Shortly thereafter, Ms. Sawaya's sent an email to the PNB attacking me for
allegedly being partisan in my administration of the election. Apparently, she
preferred to get her information by rumor and to spread falsehoods through a
gossip mill rather than to meet face to face on a professional basis and civilly
discuss any concerns that might arise. This was a great disappointment, as the
warring factions had put aside their differences to join in support of Ms. Sawaya
to be hired as Executive Director. My hope was that her leadership would help to
bring about an Era of Good Feeling. Instead, she fomented the worst of behavior
already prevalent at Pacifica.
Soon, Nicole Sawaya had resigned - at least temporarily - and Dan Siegel
was put back into place as interim ED. At that point, the power really seemed to
go to Siegel's head and he started ordering me about in how to fulfill my duties.
He applied intimidation regarding the still-pending certification of KPFA results,
telling me that I would be fired if I did not do so promptly. The problem was that
criteria for certification had not been met due to irregularities in the campaign, as
will be explained later in this report.
Regardless of my desire to maintain absolute integrity in each of the local
elections throughout the cycle, I was forced to capitulate in order to continue my
work in administering the elections at the remaining radio stations. I realize now
that this was an unforgivable error on my part and that I should have publicized
the fact that the Interim Executive Director was using extortion to intimidate the
National Elections Supervisor and wrongly influence the outcome of the elections
to the detriment of members of the Pacifica Foundation.
Essentially, Dan Siegel in his dual roles as corporate counsel and Interim
Executive Director engaged in threats and manipulation to unlawfully control the
outcome of Pacifica elections. This constitutes the highjacking of the vote count.
On the evening of March 13, 2008, I was about to leave for Los Angeles
International Airport to fly to New York for the WBAI vote count when I received a
message from Pacifica Chief Financial Officer Lonnie Hicks. Earlier in the day, he
had confirmed that my accommodations in New York City were reserved. The
new message said that Interim ED Dan Siegel did not want me conducting the
vote count at WBAI and was firing me as National Elections Supervisor. Further
information about the WBAI count follows later in this report.
A few days later, Dan Siegel entered my home illegally without any prior
notice, and without ringing the bell, knocking on the door or announcing himself.
Siegel startled my wife Marilyn, who was home alone, in our living room and she
yelled at him to get out. His intent was to confiscate election equipment and
materials without compensating me for work completed. Siegel had apparently
been drinking, and sat in a rented SUV flashing his headlights into our bedroom.
Marilyn called the police to stop the harassment. We seriously considered
pressing trespass and assault charges, but felt any publicity about the incident
would not look good for the Pacifica Foundation.
Shortly thereafter, I arranged through the good graces of KPFK Interim
General Manager Jim Lafferty to deliver the desired equipment and materials in
exchange for partial payment for services rendered.
Email: editor [at] sfbayview.com
Get out of the way of history, Dan Siegel, and let KPFA heal
by Fadi Saba
Wednesday, 06 February 2008
It's definitely time for a changing of the guard at Pacifica's flagship station, KPFA, 94.1 FM, in Berkeley. And KPFA's Local Station Board (LSB) has voted 14 to 8 for the right person at the right time. But Pacifica's Interim Executive Director Dan Siegel, by refusing to act on the board's solid recommendation, is holding back history on a technicality.
More on this in a moment, but first let's meet the candidate who was supported so overwhelmingly by the LSB. The candidate is Michel Shehadeh, a Palestinian-American businessman, human and civil rights activist, former research associate at San Francisco State University and a former member of what came to be known as the LA 8, a group of Palestinians who were rounded up over 20 years ago on phony McCarthyite communist-turned-terrorist related charges - and only recently absolved of those charges.
By all accounts, Shehadeh is fair-minded, politically savvy and understands well the underlying mission of Pacifica as a radical alternative to the corporate media that encourages diversity as a strategy towards global peace and understanding.
It would be an extraordinary restatement of purpose and mission for the Pacifica network to hire a Palestinian manager at its flagship station, at a time in history when the entire U.S. corporate press has turned Palestinians into terrorists. The tragic story of the ethnic cleansing of occupied Palestine doesn't even exist in the mainstream media, even though it's heavily supported by U.S. tax dollars and U.S. weapons of horrific destruction - Apaches, F-16s etc.
IEDs of intransigence
In November, after a long and arduous process of screening resumes and conducting phone interviews, the KPFA board's General Manager Search Committee sent the names of three applicants to the full board for in-person interviews. One of the candidates dropped out on the day of the interviews, Nov. 17, 2007.
A motion recommending Michel Shehadeh for the position of manager passed 14 to 8. A motion to forward to Pacifica's Interim Executive Director Dan Siegel a pool of candidates, consisting of Shehadeh and KPFA's current interim general manager, Lemlem Rijio, failed. She has presided over great turmoil at KPFA and is highly unpopular among most of the staff - paid and unpaid. KPFA's LSB showed little confidence in Rijio's work to date and was clearly not interested in having her as KPFA's permanent manager.
The bottom line: Siegel is stonewalling the process by demanding a pool of candidates. Thus, he is planning to ask the LSB to re-open the entire hiring process, subjecting the KPFA staff and listeners to another 18 months of the current inferior management and undermining this wonderful possibility for a desperately needed and sought after change at KPFA.
Though I am a Palestinian American, that is not the reason I support Mr. Shehadeh's appointment as general manager. Rather, it is that I know KPFA - and it needs an amazing manager to turn it around.
Pacifica is in financial peril. We cannot let mismanagement continue. As a former local and national board member, it is definitely time for a new day and a fresh and more respectful management style that is both responsive to the staff, paid and unpaid, and to the community that pays the station's bills and depends on it for a real alternative to the corporate mainstream.
Get out of the way, Dan Siegel, and let KPFA heal!
Fadi Saba is a community activist and public school teacher. He can be reached at fasaba [at] yahoo.com.
Dan Siegel Attacks Flashpoints At PNB Meeting
After censuring Mitchel Cohen for merely *naming *Dan Siegel and Lonnie
Hicks in reference to monkey business at WBAI and during the elections, PMNB
chair Sherry Gendelman nevertheless allowed Dan Siegel to indulge himself in
the following personal attack on Flashpoints (and falsely attributed to
Dennis Bernstein comments that were actually made by others):
*"Uh, people who, uh, are particularly associated with the "Flashpoints"
program who, uh, uh, in my opinion, uh, seize upon any opportunity to attack
the national organization as well as local management, have, uh, ah, made
this, ah, an issue on the airwaves with great frequency. Um, they have
misstated facts. Um, we've heard from Dennis Bernstein that there were 16
police officers, that Ms. Foster was pregnant, and that they broke her arm,
uh, none of which are true. Um, and yet these statements are continued to be
made on our airwaves by our employees, uh, creating a big problem for, uh,
Station management and Foundation management."*
*- Robert Knight*
Dan Siegel has a long recored of conflicts of interests and corrupt practices at KPFA and Pacifica. A picket was held at his office this year. He illegally used his position as executive director to censor campaign statements, personally involved in pushing a corrupt election to support the "save KPFA" grouping and is making money off of KPFA as it's lawyer with his own employee on the board. Is this corruption or what?