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KPFA election: When Progressives Cheat
by Daniel Borgström
Friday Nov 30th, 2007 10:08 AM
When Republicans cheat to get their candidates elected, we do our best to expose the violations and make noise. But what about when we see our fellow progressives cheating? That's the dilemma facing KPFA listener-activists after the recent election for the board of directors.


When Republicans cheat to get their candidates elected, we do our best
to expose the violations and make noise. But what about when we see
our fellow progressives cheating? That's the dilemma facing KPFA
listener-activists after the recent election for the board of directors.

KPFA's management team controlled the mic and openly intervened in the
election to tip the playing field in favor of a slate of candidates
whom they had recruited for the purpose of packing the board with
rubber stampers. As in Ohio and Florida, the cheaters won. They will
now have close to a 2/3rds majority on the board.

Complaints of the numerous violations were filed, but, without an
enforcement mechanism, the election supervisors were powerless to do
much. For example, when a prominent ex-programmer illegally used a
station email list to call on listeners to vote for the pro-management
slate, the election supervisor ordered as a remedy that each of the
opposition groups be allowed to send out a message of their own over
the same list. But, as with so many other election procedures
designed to ensure fairness, this order was not implemented by KPFA
management. The election supervisor also imposed a penalty on the
culprit, banning him from the station's airwaves for the remainder of
this year. However, only three days after the announcement of the
penalty, the offending programmer was a guest on the Morning Show.
He's also scheduled to host a segment on the upcoming KPFA crafts
fair. In this and other instances, the election supervisors were
unable to enforce regulations, remedy violations or impose penalties
on offenders. Without such powers, fair elections won't happen.

At this point, remedies won't be easy. There will be the inevitable
polarization, bitterness, pain, disgust and bad feelings, and no
matter how it may come out in the end, we progressives are going to
look bad. It's messy, and it's tempting to forget the whole thing,
pretend it didn't happen. On the other hand, if nothing is done, the
cheaters will go on cheating; they'll control KPFA, and what kind of
community radio will that be?

Daniel Borgström
KPFA listener-subscriber

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Fera
Friday Nov 30th, 2007 11:12 AM
What a load of crap. Borgstrom conveniently forgot to mention Peopl'e Radio's blatant campaign violations with their use of personal attacks in their campaign statements. By all rights those candidates should have been disqualified. The inept election supervisor took no action. No mention of that. The statements assigned motive to certain people, called them "dismantlers", and all kinds of other names. That mud-slinging is fair to guys like Borgstrom. But, thank goodness KPFA listeners saw through their rubbish and their tactic back-fired. Now, like every soar loser in the book they're crying foul. Elections over friend, YOU LOST!

Bensky has a first amendment right to endorse whomever the hell he wants to endorse. Period. He is free to contact his friends and family and former listeners to his hearts content. People's Radio was free to do the same thing, only difference is they don't have many friends.
by Believer in DemocracyNow(even for the Left)
Friday Nov 30th, 2007 7:32 PM
Bensky does have the right to endorse whomever he wants. BUT NOT , AS HE DID, USING STATION RESOURCES . PERIOD ! Pacifica bylaws are completely clear on this .
It's interesting . If guys like '' Ferca'' had his/her way Pacifica elections would be even more dumbed down than the National elections ! (In some ways they already are. At least the D.P. and the G.O.P. have had real debates . Something the so called '' Concerned Listeners '' and their predecessors '' KPfA Forward '' have always refused to do )
As for the election results , even aside from the gross election violations of Siegel and Bensky , they still might have been very different if it haven't been for the whopping 5, 000 decline in membership since 2004 . I don't know for sure but i suspect it's mainly based on increasing discontent with the programming and the obvious contempt the KPFA Mgmt. have for listener concerns .
by reality check
Saturday Dec 1st, 2007 9:16 AM
the decline in subscribers probably has more to do with the poor quality of many of the station's programs. the news crew can barely recite their lines (from AP), some announcers sound like they're auditioning for an amateur poetry slam with a little lilt at the end of each line, others whisper into the mic. Then there's new age drivel like the misnamed 'visionary activist' and boring snorefests like the stupefyingly inane 'stone's throw'. 'hard knock radio' is unlistenable with a robotic drum machine sputtering behind each interview. even quality shows like Flashpoints turn off listeners when dennis bernstein gets all self-righteously whiny during fund drives. At least bensky had a good voice and worthwhile programs.
by Fera
Saturday Dec 1st, 2007 10:43 AM
It's rare someone uses the term quality program and Flashpoints in the same sentence. That show should be renamed "Hamas Propaganda Points." Bernstein is whiny and preachy all the time, not just during fund drive. Talk about unlistenable. Flashpoints has a predictable drum beat of Palestinians can do no wrong, while Israel is the seat of all the world's evil. Aside from never venturing to cover other topics, Bernstein could at least attempt to offer multi-faceted, nuanced coverage of that one issue. He can't even do that.

What's costing the station listeners has a lot to do with the embarrassingly low quality of it's main afternoon drive program. Put a good, professional sounding, highly produced program in that time slot and it would work wonders.

As for the election, People's Radio is the side that committed violations. It wasn't the election bylaws that forbid Bensky and the other staffers from making endorsments from their email lists, it was the arbitrary decision of an incompetent election supervisor. PERIOD. The bylaws say you can't use station computers, or station letter head, or station phones and faxes to make endorsements. It says nothing about email lists. People's Radio is grasping at straws. They lost because their vision for the programming i.e.: (chest thumping, one-sided propaganda like FP) does not appeal to discerning, intelligent listeners. Bye bye People's Radio, hope you enjoy your time in the empty void of total irrelevance.

by truth hurts
Saturday Dec 1st, 2007 1:26 PM
Bensky used the station server to send out his e-mail blast.

so much of what you say reminds me of a famous Brian Edwards-Tiekert thought

From:"Brian Edwards-Tiekert"
Yahoo! DomainKeys has confirmed that this message was sent by Learn more
To:"Lemlem Tekle" , "Bonnie Simmons" ,
LisaRothman [at]
CC:"Sasha Lilley" , "Lemlem Tekle" ,
mawu_mama37 [at], "Amelia Gonzalez-Garcia" , Rain
Geesler" , "Sherry Gendelman" , "Gary
Subject:Re: budget
Date:Thu, 1 Sep 2005 20:58:28 -0700

Strategic retreat on the LSB—

"how do we make our enemies own the problems that are to come?"

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

Fera, You follow that method so well, trying to make "your enemies own the problems that are to come"

And Brian Knew they were coming since there is always resistence to injustice and some people will always speak up in response to lies and distortions of the truth.
by ^
Saturday Dec 1st, 2007 8:15 PM
Fera exposed her/himself on Palestine, complaining of Flashpoints and Dennis Bernstein being "Hamas Propaganda Points." Now we know for sure the cause of the election violations by Bensky & Company and the agenda of his rotten Democratic Party gang operating under cover of the name "Concerned Listeners:" They are bothered about the litmus test issue of the day, telling the truth about Palestine, which Flashpoints does just about everyday with live, eyewitness accounts of the waste of our tax dollars on the US military base in the Middle East to protect US oil profits, perpetrating a theocratic, military, genocidal, racist little hellhole called Israel, all supported 100% by all Democratic and Republican politicians. Flashpoints is by far the best program on KPFA, followed by Guns and Butter, which exposes the truth on the 9/11 Inside Job and does a lot of other necessary muckraking, heard Wednesdays at 1 p.m. And Dennis Bernstein's style of fundraising guarantees lots of paychecks for the paid staff at KPFA as he is obviously one of the best fundraisers, being able to raise funds to match $1,000 and up contributions within 1 hour or less (he usually starts 20 minutes before the show ends and always makes the goal). Of course, Flashpoints is a team of labor, and it takes the entire team to make the outstanding Flashpoints news magazine the benchmark, professional program that it is, for all the rest of the news department at KPFA to emulate, and the sooner, the better. As to where the supporters of People's Radio and Voices for Justice will go, the answer is nowhere. We are all staying right here to carry on the struggle to make KPFA a real voice for peace and social justice, to mobilize far more of the 23,000 subscribers to vote as only some 3,000 voted, and to guarantee that the voices of the Palestinian Liberation Movement are heard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on KPFA, and we will not tolerate any attacks on Flashpoints by the new Local Station Board. We also clearly need to teach 3rd grade English to Fera: It's means it is; the possessive is its. George W. Bush has the same level of illiteracy; he also has the same reactionary politics on Palestine.
by Fera
Sunday Dec 2nd, 2007 6:28 PM
You caught a typo, wow you're so darn smart. It's like I was writing an article for a big magazine or something and not on a local website. The gods of punctuation are smiling indeed.

Anyway, People's Radio are a marginal little side clique. It doesn't really matter at this point if they go away or not, their whole agenda is irrelevant.

The last poster is obviously some kind of crank with his, or her, allusion to loony bird conspiracy theories and all that guff.

Programs can do segments on the Middle East. That's fine. But, that's all FP does. It's a prime drive time program and it hardly deals with any other issue. The listeners lose out on getting information. It doesn't even do its own broken record issue well. What there aren't two sides to the issue? There aren't numerous complicated factors at play in the region? I guess not. I guess it's all this simplistic good guy/bad guy situation like in a children's book story. Flashpoints is a bad radio program. I'm positive it's ratings in relation to competing public affairs programs running in its time slot are way at the bottom. Bay Area public radio listeners are way too intelligent to swallow that kind of propagandistic drek.
by BS tracker
Tuesday Dec 11th, 2007 1:43 PM
I'm still not clear after reading this post on how Concerned Listeners "cheated." Because Larry Bensky endorsed them and sent it out on his station email account? Because someone knew someone back a year or 2 ago when they were formed? "Cheat" is a very strong word Mr. Bergstrom and you have not backed up your deceptive headline in this flimsy piece.
by hypocracy watch
Wednesday Dec 12th, 2007 11:52 AM
Daniel Bergstrom's blog is called "free speech zone" and yet he disables the public comment feature that is readily available to him in his blogging tool so that he can churn out these baseless attacks unchallenged. How is that a Free Speech Zone? In addition he uses his Free Speech Zone to create misleading attack pieces that call for among other things censorship and GAG RULES at kpfa. Free Speech indeed!
by Defend Free Speech Radio
Sunday Jan 6th, 2008 9:33 AM
"hypocracy watch" (probably a management staffer) is very concerned about democracy and free speech but not apparently when
it comes to KPFA airwaves. After the management and their supporters helped rig the KPFA
election by stopping publicity of it during the marathon, preventing the carts from being played
before everyone had voted and then not rotating them and finally allowing staff such as Bensky and Siegel to use foundation
resources to push their political agenda, they topped it off by suing Pacifica to force the certification.
They then reported on the election on their "fair and balanced" news show by interviewing the
very people who had participated in rigging the election without providing the other side to
present their views. This is another example of why KPFA is no longer advertising itself as
"free speech" radio. Instead their programming is now directed toward how "shoppers can deal
shopping properly". Is this NPR radio or what?