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An Open Letter on KPFA's Budget

by Tracy Rosenberg (tracy [at]
A brief comment on all the hoopla ....
I'm on the road today, so am requesting some assistance forwarding this to wherever people think it should go or be posted. I want to be clear that this is just a letter from myself to you and reflects only my own experiences. ICR will eventually make its own vetted and signed-off statement and that is not what this is.

Firstly, thank you for returning me to the board and as the 2nd place finisher overall out of 27. I am honored by the trust you have placed in me, especially with such disturbing rhetoric flying around in a circus-like atmosphere.

On September 20th, I reported the unsuccessful outcome of 15 hours of budgetary meetings to my colleagues on the Pacifica National Board. I reported that a balanced budget had not been achieved. I am grateful to Ms. Englehardt that she listened to the concerns and initiated
conversations about them with the national directors from the KPFA unit, one of whom Andrea Turner of Concerned Listeners, declined the invitation.

On September 22nd, I listened to and participated in a brainstorming session. At that session, this is what I did. I listened to KPFA's interim management present a plan to deal with the budget deficit. That plan was to remove Flashpoints from the 5pm evening slot and replace it with a syndicated news program from an external source. To remove Hard Knock radio from the 4pm evening slot and replace it with a syndicated Baltimore NPR program hosted by Michael Dyson. I listened to a plan to implement staff cuts in these positions in the seniority chart (1 being the highest seniority): #9, #10, #13, #14, #15, #18, #20 and #26. And then I was sworn to confidentiality, accompanied by a rather loud table thump to emphasize the point.

I do not come to meetings unprepared. I had reviewed the CWA Local 9415 contract. I had reviewed the staff seniority chart. I had thought about the structural problems that might result from implementing the contract as written, namely that seniority must prevail. A more intelligible, ethical, reasonable and labor positive conversation would have looked more like this: #36, #34, #32, #31, # 29, #28, #27, #25, #24 and #23 (with a few skips mostly linked to shop steward
status, core operational functions and in one case, the non-viability of replacement by a more senior individual).

And presto – there's your political hit list.

A few notes for the record:

*There is no misdirected email. The contents of the meeting were not emailed.

*Speaking for myself, I was aware that confidentiality was likely to be abused. I cannot in good conscience put a campaign for a seat on the board ahead of my duties as a director of the foundation to treat its assets in a responsible manner. I maintained confidentiality after the breach because I had given my word and because human beings should not be used as political footballs and have their impending terminations broadcast at 59,000 wats. I still regret the necessity to disclose information in this way. This should never happen.

*News and information on our radio station has been subordinated to a job self-preservation campaign featuring the hostile profiling of PNB members engaged in their fiduciary duties . The radio is not to be used to incite opposition to financial planning. That is not what it is for.

*One of KPFA's shop stewards who stopped by the PNB meeting in New York City where the board of directors unanimously supported the Pacifica executive director in implementing seniority-based layoffs to bring expenses into line with revenue at the Berkeley unit, was told
PNB members would be happy to meet with staff on their return. No request has been made with 24 hours notice or when I, myself, was not physically on an airplane at the time.

*The Local 9415 of the CWA (a union whose national office I have cordial relations with and have worked with some in opposition to the Comcast/NBC merger) is acting in an irresponsible manner. Siding with management to advocate for unfair reductions that violate the basic
seniority provisions in their own contract and endorsing slates in board elections is the kind of behavior that gives unions a bad name.

Lets remember the context. We have lost a million dollars in 24 months. We are out of money. In the last month, KPFA borrowed money from the Houston station to make its payroll, had its long distance telephone service cut off and its online archives collapse.

KPFA in 2009-2010 looks to have the largest deficit and the largest payroll in the network. It is a failing unit.

KPFK in Los Angeles has a bigger signal area, is not posting massive deficits, and does it with about 24 FTE. KPFA is currently at 30.51 and after “decimation” as it was so hysterically described, would also be at approximately 24 FTE.

Enough is enough.

With apologies for missing tomorrow's board meeting as I have to be in Reno for a plenary panel at the Alliance for Community Media Conference. I'm on their board as well although it is not quite as time-consuming a board as this one is :)


Tracy Rosenberg
Director, Pacifica Foundation
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