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The Battle for Pacifica
by Dan Siegel
Saturday Nov 3rd, 2012 5:16 PM
The upcoming elections for the local station boards at the five Pacifica stations - KPFA in Berkeley, KPFK in Los Angeles, KPFT in Houston, WPFW in Washington, D.C., and WBAI in New York - are critical to Pacifica's survival. The Foundation is sliding into bankruptcy due to its inept and sectarian leadership. Saving the network requires a new majority on the Pacifica National Board.
The Battle for Pacifica
By Dan Siegel

Ballots are being mailed for elections to the Local Station Boards at the Pacifica Foundation's five radio stations across the nation. The result of these elections could determine whether Pacifica survives or continues its slide into bankruptcy.

First a bit of background. Each of Pacifica's five stations - KPFA in Berkeley, KPFK in Los Angeles, KPFT in Houston, WPFW in Washington, D.C., and WBAI in New York - has a 22 member Local Station Board (LSB). Half of the seats are up for election this year. Each LSB sends four of its members to the Pacifica National Board (PNB), which wields absolute control over the network, including hiring national staff, approving national and local station budgets, and setting programming priorities.

Pacifica has always been fractious, back to when KPFA was founded as its first station in 1946. Its current bylaws were adopted 10 years ago, following a mass uprising and several lawsuits directed at a leadership group that attempted to create a self-perpetuating PNB. The new bylaws have brought democracy to the network, but they need revision to create a more streamlined and efficient structure that absorbs less of the organization's time and money. But that is a conversation for another day.

The current majority has controlled the PNB since January 2009. When it took control it fired the Foundation's long-time Chief Financial Officer, Lonnie Hicks, and replaced him with former KPFA LSB member LaVarn Williams. In the absence of an Executive Director, PNB chair Grace Aaron, a Los Angeles peace activist and veteran of Scientology's internal wars, assumed political and organizational leadership.

Since 2009, the PNB's inept and politically sectarian leadership has brought the Foundation to its knees. It has spent down all its reserves, incurring cumulative deficits of $5.7 million in the last four fiscal years, according to its 2012 audit report. The National Office, which receives 20 percent of each station's on-air fundraising, has fallen far behind on its bills, including payments for Amy Goodman's Democracy Now!, Free Speech Radio News, and legal costs. But for its creditors' patience, Pacifica would be in bankruptcy already. The audit reports raises doubts about Pacifica's ability to continue as a "going concern."

The reasons for Pacifica's financial decline are complex, including both the world wide financial crisis that has impacted almost all nonprofits and the aging of Pacifica's core listenership. But rather than responding to these challenges, Pacifica's leadership has accentuated them. Before his termination, Hicks had for years warned of the financial decline and urged Pacifica to develop new fundraising strategies instead of relying on more and longer on-air fund drives that frustrate and alienate listeners. Almost nothing has been accomplished to improve fundraising at either the local or national level since 2009.

Pacifica's annual budget is about $14 million. The budgets of the member stations vary widely: In the year ending September 30, 2011, KPFA raised $3.3 million, KPFK $3.7 million, WBAI $3.2 million, WPFW $1.6 million, and KPFT $1.3 million. While the other four stations have been able to meet their expenses and pay their share of the National Office expenses, WBAI has not been able to do so for several years.

The PNB has refused to address WBAI's financial crisis, which has required an annual subsidy of $500,000 to $1.0 million. Most of WBAI's shortfall is due to the $720,000 it pays annually for its Wall Street office and Empire State Building broadcast tower. The PNB has failed to insist that WBAI find cheaper facilities, at least in part because its PNB members are a critical part of the current board majority. Instead, WBAI's financial problems have threatened the stability of the entire network.

For Pacifica to survive, its leadership must address its financial problems, particularly the WBAI situation, diversify its fundraising, and develop a strategy for developing Pacifica's Internet presence and digital media. Pacifica is far behind most mainstream media outlets and free-standing web sites in presenting its content to the growing part of the population that relies less and less on traditional radio broadcasting. Comparing Pacifica's web presence with that of Democracy Now! proves this point.

Instead of focusing on the critical big picture issues, the PNB has developed a new strategy of intervening in local station affairs. KPFA has born the brunt of the PNB's attacks, perhaps because three of its four PNB members, who are members of the Save KPFA caucus, oppose the direction of the Board majority. Last year the PNB rejected the station budget developed by the KPFA staff and LSB, even though it was realistic and balanced, including required payments to the National Office. The PNB also backed now former Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt in her unprecedented rejection of all three candidates proposed by the KPFA LSB to serve as KPFA's station manager. The PNB recently intervened in the selection process for the hiring of KPFK's program director. A PNB committee has proposed a new "code of conduct" that would allow the expulsion of people from membership in the Foundation for bad mouthing or attempting to undermine the PNB's decisions. Remember that Pacifica calls itself "Free Speech Radio!"

In the interests of full disclosure, you may conclude that I have an axe or two to grind here. I was the Foundation's general counsel from April 2006 through January 2009, when I resigned over the Hicks firing. When I took office as an LSB member at the beginning of 2010, I was greeted at my second meeting with a libel lawsuit filed by Grace Aaron, LaVarn Williams, and a few others. We had that case dismissed and recovered $20,000 in sanctions. A few months later, some of our opponents filed a new case against me and three other KPFA LSB members for the offense of raising $68,000 in pledges to keep KPFA's Morning Show on the air after it was removed due to the machinations of Engelhardt and Tracy Rosenberg, the sole KPFA PNB delegate who is not a member of Save KPFA. (Needless to say, the removal of the Morning Show was a catastrophe for KPFA fundraising, a concern that has yet to be fully remedied two years later.) That case remains pending. The final part of the litigation tri-fecta came about when the PNB voted to expel me because I was a "political appointee" as the volunteer legal advisor to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. The superior court ordered that I be reinstated, which finally occurred when the judge threatened to hold the PNB chair and secretary in contempt. The PNB voted to appeal the decision, although the term from which I had been expelled ended a year ago, which coincides with my resignation from my post as the mayor's legal advisor over disputes concerning her handling of Occupy Oakland.

Sorry for the digression. The bottom line here is that we need to create a new PNB majority by winning a minimum of two to three more seats than we now have. Practically, that means keeping the three current KPFA seats and adding a few more reasonable delegates from the other stations, particularly increasing the number from KPFK from one to two or three.

A new PNB majority will take the focus off petty politics and instead address (1) Foundation finances; (2) Digital media and the Internet; and (3) national programming. It will also have the responsibility early next years to hire a new Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer for the Foundation. The new CFO should focus on fundraising rather than bookkeeping. The PNB should limit its activity to setting policy, rejecting the temptation to meddle in staff and local station decisions.

Finally, I want to address what I view as a few of the false issues that have been injected into the campaign for the KPFA LSB. First is the claim that members of Save KPFA are simply stooges for the Democratic Party. In truth, several of my friends in Save KPFA are active in the Wellstone Democratic Club, which probably represents the most progressive wing of that party. Some Save KPFA members, including me, are extremely alienated from the Democratic Party and support the Greens, Peace and Freedom, etc. Period.

A second canard is that we are also stooges for KPFA's paid staff and want to eliminate volunteers from the airways. That is another canard. What Save KPFA wants is good programming, presented by paid and volunteer staff, that will attract new people to our station. We want Pacifica to grow itself and contribute to the development of a powerful progressive movement in this country. If anyone thinks that is a crime, please do not vote for us.

by Now is the Time
Saturday Nov 3rd, 2012 9:54 PM
The supporters of Pacifica who want to stop the government operation known as SaveKPFA from destroying Pacifica are United for Community Radio at

United for Community Radio is the anti-recall slate while SaveKPFA tried to recall our beloved Tracy Rosenberg. Let us hope that the bylaws will be amended soon to eliminate all expensive recalls as we already have almost annual expensive Local Station Board elections and thus never need any expensive recall.

Ballots are to be mailed on November 6. The candidates are listed at : and are:
Andrea Prichett – Listener Candidate
Beth Seligman – Listener Candidate
David Welsh – Listener Candidate
Dr. Laurence Shoup – Listener Candidate
Karen Pickett – Listener Candidate
Kate Tanaka – Listener Candidate
Oriana Saportas – Listener Candidate
Ramsés Téon Nichols – Listener Candidate
Samsarah Morgan – Listener Candidate
Virginia Browning – Listener Candidate
David Landau – Staff Candidate
Frank Sterling Jr. – Staff Candidate
Joy Moore – Staff Candidate

You can print the leaflet and distribute it far and wide to the KPFA listening audience, at

Endorsers of United for Community Radio are:
Max Blanchet
Michael Parenti
Steve Martinot
Barbara Lubin
Monadel Herzallah
Laura Wells
SF Bayview Newspaper
Carol Spooner
Bill Carpenter
Peter Phillips
Gray Brechin
Michael Lyon
Evelyn Nieves
Valeri Hood
Mickey Huff
Tracy Rosenberg
Claude Gatebuke
Jan Garrett
Marsha Feinland
Anthony Fest
Carolyn Scarr
Henry Norr
Jim Curtis
And endorsers from the leaflet are:
Anthony Fest Host Weekend News
Banafsheh Akhlaghi Dir of Legal Sanctuary
for Community Advancement
Barbara Lubin Director of Middle East
Children’s Alliance
Bonnie Faulkner Host Guns and Butter
Bruce Wolfe, M.S.W President of DogPAC
of SF, Boardmember of Haight Ashbury
Neighborhood Council/Kezar Gardens
The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club
Carol Spooner Lead plaintiff in listeners’
lawsuit to remove the Pacifica Board 99-01,
Pacifica National Board 2002-2005
David Roach Founder The Oakland
International Film Festival, Mo' Better Food
Davey D Host Hard Knock Radio, Morning
Fadi Saba South Bay Mobilization
Gray Brechin Environmental activist
Kate Raphael Host Women’s Magazine
Jonathan Nack Activist Photographer
Peter Franck Movement Atty - from Mario Savio
to Save KUSF, former Pres. Pacifica Foundation
Jack Heyman Retired executive board member
and business agent, ILWU, Local 10
Jan Garrett Program dir. of the Pacific ADA
Center, Former Dir. Center for Independent Living
Janet Kobren
Local Station Board listener
representative, Occupy and Free Palestine activist
James Heddle Ecological Options Network
Jean Pauline Member Bound Together Books
East Bay Chapter (#162) of Veterans for Peace
Joe Wanzala Former KPFA Local Station Board
and Pacifica National Board member
Kevin Zeese Ex. Dir. Voters For Peace, Director
Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics
Larry Bragman Fairfax Town Councilor
Mary Berg Host A Musical Offering
S.F. BayView, National Black Newspaper
Marsha Feinland Co-chair, Alameda County
Peace & Freedom Party & Commiss. Berkeley
Rent Board ‘94-‘98
Michael Lyon Gray Panthers of SF
The San Francisco Green Party
Michael Parenti Political analyst and
author of “The Face of Imperialism”,
“Gods and His Demons” & other books
Miguel Molina Host La Onda Bajita,
Flashpoints en Español
Monadel Herzallah Palestinian rights,
labor and Immigrant rights activist
Peter Phillips Project Censored, host
Morning Mix
Renee Asteria former Pacifica national
election supervisor, musician, producer
Robbie Osman Host Across the Great
Dennis Bernstein Host Flashpoints
The Oakland Greens
Tracy Rosenberg KPFA Local &
National Board, Ex. Dir. Media Alliance
Andres Soto Host Morning Mix
by Repost
Sunday Nov 4th, 2012 8:57 AM
KPFA Radio, the first listener-sponsored radio station and progressive media outlet, is having board elections in November. Many of you will say “again?” - having recently received postcards and ballots for a recall election just a few months ago. This time, however, your vote will count, and there are some important decisions to be made. This article is intended to help you decide how to vote if you are a KPFA member – and encourage you to do so. It’s not as hard as it may feel to decipher all the rhetoric!

Basically, there are two slates of candidates--United for Community Radio (UCR) and Save KPFA --and you will make a choice to largely support one or the other. Details on the candidates running and their statements can be found on the web as each slate has a website: UCR at and Save KPFA at

But let’s cut to the chase and answer the question: what is the fighting all about?

It all began five or six years ago. KPFA started to show declining membership numbers in 2006 and hit a deep crevice when the economy collapsed. The decline was up to 30% by the spring of 2009. At a non-profit where 85% of all income derives from listener-member donations, that is a big crisis.

When then-board treasurer (and Save KPFA poster boy) Brian Edwards-Tiekert presented the draft budget to the board on July 11, 2009, here is what he said:

“The bottom line--with all the caveats about rough numbers that I spelled out above--is a minimul (sic) operating surplus before capital expenses, and a minimal cash deficit afterwards. But getting to that break-even point requires cutting around $430,000 in salaries and benefits, and eliminating most consultant spending”

A year before, in May of 2008, Edwards-Tiekert had addressed the national board of directors and said:

We have spent, and budgeted, as if a one-time spike in listenership and listener support was long term , which it was not. … We have a lot more people on payroll; and it hurts to cut jobs … it hurts us as social-justice people. …And you get pushed back, you get politicking, you get coalitions to block any kind of job cut, so the path of least resistance is to first spend down your savings , as long as you got money to pay the bills, and then go, ‘Oh my god, we’re headed over a cliff now,’ which is where we are now.”

In fact, neither the final 2008 nor the 2009 budgets contained the cuts necessary to get to the break-even point, and just as Edwards-Tiekert anticipated, the station went right over the cliff., losing $575,000 in the year ending September 30, 2009 and another $585,000 in the year ending September 30, 2010.

The tragic thing for KPFA, besides the fiscal crisis itself, was that the scenario Edwards-Tiekert laid out went down exactly as predicted: There was push back, there was politicking, there was a coalition to block any kind of job cut. Ironically, it was Edwards-Tiekert himself who led the charge, along with his comrades in Save KPFA.

They inundated KPFA members with accusatory and angry emails, filed (and lost) five different complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, filed (and lost) a union arbitration, filed bogus lawsuits and a recall election, ran competing private fund drives and basically did everything they could to make people (and KPFA itself) “pay” for getting back to the breakeven point from the bottom of the cliff where they never should have gone in the first place.

There’s a fundamental dishonesty to that.

So here we are in 2012. The last two years have been filled with charges and denunciations. Recall elections have been launched. Another executive director has bitten the dust. Yet KPFA’s website is technologically backward, no Internet channels have been launched, KPFA hasn’t gotten a grant in years, and the current fund drive is struggling. What have we gotten from this Save KPFA coalition to block any kind of job cut, this politicking, this push back?

Obstruction, anger, declarations of revenge. Making people pay.

I don’t want it to seem as if this article is an attack on Brian Edwards-Tiekert. It’s not. I would fight to save my job if it was in danger and everyone’s job is in danger when their employer experiences huge losses and a fiscal crisis. Nowadays, everyone’s job is in danger all the time because the 1% has looted this country and brought it to the brink of catastrophe.

Which is why we have to stop messing around with one of the few progressive media outlets we have and hold Save KPFA accountable for their destructive and fear-based campaign. They aren’t helping KPFA. In the year since the recall campaign was launched last fall, KPFA slipped from 21,455 members to 19,800 in July of 2012. That’s the wrong direction. It’s not working.

So to you 19,800 remaining members and anyone reading this who isn’t a member and should be, we don’t have to keep falling over the cliff again and again. $3.4 million dollars (KPFA’s current annual budget) is a lot of money. Stations all over the country demonstrate every day that you can have a vital, healthy, radical voice for change for a lot less than that. You just can’t piddle it all away in a pitched battle about who is to blame for financial stresses everyone understands and no one likes.

Join Larry Shoup, Karen Pickett, Ramses Teon Nichols, Samsarah Morgan, Andrea Prichett, Dave Welsh, Oriana Saportas, Beth Seligman, and Kate Tanaka and vote United for Community Radio ( for a vision for KPFA's survival a little deeper than the blame game.


(Tracy Rosenberg is the executive director of Media Alliance, and a local and national board member for KPFA. She knows a little bit about the blame game).
by kpfa listener
Sunday Nov 4th, 2012 12:37 PM
Here is Dan Siegel in action at KPFA:

by Louis Schame
Sunday Nov 4th, 2012 11:30 PM
Mr. Siegel seems to have a bit of amnesia about anything that occurred prior to 2009. Which is surprising since he was such a major player as the foundation's counsel and a prime backer of the Concerned Listeners (now morphed into Save KPFA). I know its a surprise to him, but the Internet existed before 2009. It existed for years and years when he and his crowd were merrily in charge (from at least 2005-2008), and blowing through Pacifica's assets in a party that never stopped. (One annual meeting at a Double tree hotel in NY in 2008 cost over $80,000).

Who does he think failed to invest money - when Pacifica had money to invest - in digital technology throughout the 2000's? Well um....him.

They didn't even replace the station transmitters, which in 2012, failed in both Houston and Los Angeles.

Mr. Siegel *was* the corporate attorney for Pacifica when Pacifica signed an unaffordable lease for WBAI to house the transmitter at the Empire State Building until, get this, the year 2025. At rates that go up 15% a year. Did it occur to him to say this was a really expensive contract in 2006 when he recommended the board sign it? Or perhaps the WBAI lease at Wall Street which again was signed on to repeatedly by him and his cronies in what the then-minority thought even then was financial insanity? That's not even mentioning a totally nutty balloon loan proposed in 2008 that would have endangered foundation buildings and licenses and was averted by one solitary vote from the contingent he ridiculously insults.

This kind of raw hypocrisy is the problem.

Mr. Siegel fails to mention his role in actively supporting a number of incompetent managers in extracting significant legal settlements from Pacifica after termination, greatly exacerbating the financial chickens that came home to roost in 2009-2010, including serving as an attorney *for* fired KPFK manager Eva Georgia and testifying *on behalf* of Mr. Hicks after he was let go as the CFO. These legal shenanigans are his responsibility and his alone. They're usually defined as malpractice.

Mr. Siegel's Save KPFA contingent described unpaid workers at KPFA as "clowns" on Michael Krasny's Forum radio program, needlessly insulting the workers who create 75% of KPFA's program content and raise more than 1/2 of the operational funds.

The point is the last thing KPFA needs is more of the same. Economic pressures are what they are (and SF's KALW also has a "not a going concern" alert on their audit. It's endemic in this age of financial catastrophe. Very few of us besides wealthy lawyers *are* a going concern these days).

Mr. Siegel is so desperate to keep control of KPFA that he ran a lawyer at his own firm, Siegel and Yee, for the KPFA board in 2010 and now proposes to add a *third* lawyer from Siegel and Yee, Jose Fuentes Roman, to the local board. Making more than 10% of the local board his current and former employees. Does Siegel and Yee think KPFA is their personal property?

Reject this nonsense and vote United for Community Radio with a slate of fresh candidates who are not a part of the Siegel machine.

Dr. Laurence Shoup, Ramses Teon Nichols, Samsarah Morgan, Karen Pickett, Dave Welsh, Andrea Prichett, Beth Seligman, Oriana Saportas and Virginia Browning.

KPFA will thank you.

by Now is the Time
Monday Nov 5th, 2012 8:09 AM
Thank you all for the illuminating information. Louis Schame's article is especially useful since we do not usually hearing anything about WBAI here. Mr. Schame's article demonstrates further proof that Siegel & Company are a government operation to destroy Pacifica. We should all remember who the leading light is for this SaveKPFA government operation, namely Larry Bensky, a former KPFA programmer and former editor of the CIA's Paris Review. Here is more:
1. His attacks to callers on air:

2. Supporters of Pat Scott Gang and union busters American Consulting:

3. More horrors of supporting Concerned Listeners gang:

4. His opposition to Peace & Freedom and Green Parties:

5. His use of name lists in violation of Pacifica election rules:

6. His opposition to the 9/11 Truth Movement

7. His anti-labor outlook on labor programming:

8. His contempt for free speech:

9. His attack on William Blum's book exposing the CIA and a reminder that Bensky was editor of the CIA front, the Paris Review, at

10. His ridicule of the fact of history that Nazis influenced the anti-Communist witchhunts of the 1940s-1950s as of course they were first and foremost anti-communist:
by remembering
Monday Nov 5th, 2012 11:22 AM
Siegel's role in a KPFA election. This is from a report by a former Pacifica election supervisor.


Former WBAI management did not pay their rent for four months and received a Three Day Notice to pay or be subject to eviction in March of 2009. This was not promptly communicated to the financial or executive management of Pacifica. WBAI has been losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for several years and currently owes Pacifica over $1,100,000.00 in back central services contributions. Each station contributes 20% of its listener-generated revenue to run the Foundation. When one station isn’t making its contribution the results are that the Foundation is short on money or the other stations have to pay more. This several year problem at WBAI and the current economic downturn has caused serious financial problems for Pacifica. The current Pacifica National Board (PNB), elected in January, gives hope for the survival of Pacifica.

Why didn’t Pacifica correct this problem early on? There was collusion among some PNB members from various stations to allow WBAI to do what they wanted to do with no oversight or accountability to the Bylaws or the listener/subscribers. The major players in this collusion were from KPFA, WBAI and WPFW, with a vote or two from KPFK and KPFT and the affiliate Reps on the PNB of past years.

The Local Station Board (LSB) majorities at KPFA and WBAI generally elected three PNB members that supported this collusion and WPFW, until recently, often sent four. There are 22 members of the PNB, four from each station and two Affiliate Representatives. An LSB majority can elect three of the four PNB members for their station. With ten votes from KPFA, WBAI and WPFW it only takes three votes from the ten from the other two stations and affiliate reps to have a majority to control the PNB and continue this collusion. Until this last January the Colluders had the majority for several years.

Who are the Colluders and why did they do this? Local tyrannical majorities wanted to run their stations without regard to the Bylaws and with no oversight from the Foundation. At KPFA the “KPFAForward” (2004) and “Concerned Listener” (CL) (2006 & 2007) slates represented the same management/staff faction and generally endorsed majorities that sent three PNB members who consistently voted to protect and continue the collusion. This group included William Walker, Sarv Randhawa, Rosalinda Palacios, Mary Berg, Sherry Gendelman, Bonnie Simmons and Andrea Turner. They consistently vote/voted with the Justice & Unity majority from WBAI and the WPFW majority. They generally sit together at the PNB meetings and are regularly seen privately caucusing together at lunch and before and after meetings, sometimes with GM Lemlem Rijio when in Berkeley.

Prior to this year’s PNB, Bob Lederer was the Justice & Unity leader on the PNB. I have attended many PNB meetings and listened to most of the others on line. During those meetings if KPFA Colluder PNB members were not sure how to vote they often passed if Bob Lederer hadn’t voted or passed. When he voted they would follow. If you don’t believe me go to the archives of the meetings and listen.
Whenever there was a move to correct the problems at WBAI the KPFA Colluders always voted with the others to protect the LSB majority at WBAI. Patty Heffley, the minority PNB Rep from WBAI, made a motion to have the PNB order the WBAI LSB to do a performance review of the general manager (GM) and the program director. The Bylaws require these to be done annually. At WBAI they had never been done, despite complaints from the LSB minority. The PNB Colluder majority refused to order the WBAI LSB to follow the Bylaws. Many others complained about WBAI being out of control and losing money and the Colluder PNB majority did NOTHING as the red ink continued to flow.

At KPFA the CL slate and the Rijio/Lilley management work together to make sure they maintain a majority on the LSB to elect three PNB members from their group. One of their methods was to have no election information on the air when the ballots went out and at the same time the CL sent a slate mailer. After the first time this happened I wrote a motion on the PNB Election Committee requiring election information to be on the air during the election. It passed out of the election committee by a 10-2 vote. The Colluder majority on the PNB voted it down. When KPFA finally ran some candidate information they ran 22 candidate statements in a row, always with Sherry Gendelman first! At the April 2009 PNB meeting in Berkeley the new non-Colluder PNB majority passed a motion requiring broad election coverage on the air. Bonnie Simmons, CL endorser, made a motion to rescind the required election coverage. It didn’t pass. And we will have a more inclusive election this year, no thanks to CL and its allies.

The Colluder majority was consistently against transparency. The Bylaws and California law allow Directors the “absolute right” to inspect all documents and facilities at any reasonable time. For years the Colluders fought to stop or hinder Directors’ Inspections. When inspections were finally allowed due to potential lawsuits it was discovered that $65,000 worth of equipment had been sent to a WBAI former GM’s father’s house and was not accounted for. As recently as 2008 a Director was ordered out of WBAI in the middle of a lawful inspection without any justification. Who gave the order? Dan Siegel, interim Executive Director, hired by the Colluder majority and a recent CL candidate.

So when you hear Brian Edwards-Tiekert, Sherry Gendelman, Bonnie Simmons, Conn or Matthew Hallinan, Dan Siegel or any of the CL allies complain about KPFA money going to shore up WBAI, they and their allies are responsible for this crisis for trading fiscal responsibility for their power to ignore the Bylaws, transparency and accountability.

KPFA/Pacifica is a Commons that belongs to all of us, and it must be protected and preserved above the CL/Rijio group’s desire for unrestrained and unaccountable power.

Richard Phelps, former Chair, KPFA LSB May 2009 (Labor donated.)

by Mitchel Cohen
(mitchelcohen [at] Wednesday Nov 14th, 2012 12:00 AM
Dan Siegel should be proposing positive ways to expand KPFA's membership -- which has greatly diminished during his faction's control of the local board -- and stop scapegoating WBAI.

Siegel does not begin his account of WBAI’s travails until 2009 – I wonder why? It was, after all, WBAI’s mismanagement up until the middle of 2009 that was the problem, and it was Siegel and his faction on the Pacifica National Board and national office who hired the destroyers and promoted their policies that were and still are undermining the network.

We at WBAI are still digging ourselves out from under an amazing amount of mis-management, terrible “planning”, very real physical violence, and theft at WBAI that had been hammering us while Siegel was Chief Counsel and interim Executive Director at Pacifica.

In 2009, we succeeded, finally, in replacing the old Siegel-backed crew at WBAI that had caused so much damage to Pacifica. The following year, the new management was able to begin reversing the serious problems they’d inherited.

They’d inherited the following:

- at least $65,000 in essential equipment that WBAI had purchased had been “diverted” to private individuals, one of whom was a relative of the former Siegel-supported management. That was covered-up by one of the very officials Siegel continues to defend in his letter! Please recall that until 2009, Siegel’s faction controlled the Pacifica National Board. He personally – with the support of his Board -- pulled every trick in the book to block the Directors’ inspections from looking into the $65,000 in stolen equipment, after which the PNB decided to sweep the whole matter under the carpet.

- more than 7,000 listeners had ordered and PAID FOR premiums over 2007 and 2008, but those orders had never been fulfilled (though the station accepted their money).

- the premiums department at WBAI was a wreck. When I personally went to investigate, I found literally thousands of CDs strewn, unlabeled, all over the floors, desks, and radiators! WBAI lost thousands of members as a result.

- there was more than $800,000 in pledges at WBAI each year that were left "sitting on the table" and never collected. Instead of pushing his managers to collect those funds, Siegel made excuses for their incompetence. Since we installed the new management, we have at long last increased the fulfillment rate income by over 10 percent (around $200,000 per year).

- thousands of dollars in cash had been appropriated and "misused" by a sticky-fingered manager supported by Siegel, and awarded to management's friends.

- violence at the station was rampant; reports of physical abuse occurred on a daily basis.

- Management purchased premiums from its friends, as a kickback operation to its faction’s supporters.

- Management allotted prime office space for no rent to its friends doing private business from WBAI's studios.

- it was Dan Siegel’s faction on the National Board that imposed the renewal of the onerous rental lease on WBAI, and which many of us opposed -- a lease that Siegel now incredibly blames on us! (Studio rent is $380,000 per year; antenna rent atop the Empire State Building is approaching $500,000 this year.)

All of these and a lot more occurred prior to 2009, when Siegel and his faction ruled Pacifica, which is why he begins his "analysis" only after that date. It was only when we finally were able to put into place new management at WBAI (not solidified until 2010-11) that each of these problems began to be seriously addressed and rectified.

Let me give one more example. Hundreds of WBAI listener-members and staff did not receive ballots in the 2007 election, when Dan Siegel was Chief Counsel for Pacifica and its interim Executive Director. We brought this repeatedly to Siegel’s attention. Instead of simply ordering Pacifica to send us ballots, Siegel and the Board he controlled at the time refused to send them. We had to go to Court; we won a Temporary Restraining Order that, among other things, directed Pacifica to send us ballots.

Instead of following the Court's order, however, Siegel and Pacifica continued to play games with members' right to vote. He mired the Network deeper and deeper into an expense of more than $175,000 to Pacifica's attorneys, just to justify not sending us ballots! He lost, but Pacifica was left holding the bill.

Why were Siegel and Pacifica at the time acting so viciously, incurring huge expenses that the network had to pay? At the same time Pacifica and KPFA were pleading poverty, the management Siegel and his faction controlled at KPFA and supervised by KPFA's then-treasurer Brian Edwards-Tiekert (BET for short) “forgot” to deposit a $375,000 check, while claiming “there's no money!” (In fact, BET, Siegel and the KPFA GM met with the donor when the check was given to KPFA. Do you think they really just “forgot” about such a large sum?)

The new management teams at WBAI and Pacifica inherited that huge mess from the previous administration; it has taken several years to clean it up, and we’re still not fully out of it yet. But we’re way ahead of where we used to be. WBAI management has been excellent in addressing (and improving) at least that much.

But, no thanks go to Brian Edwards-Tiekert – a KPFA paid programmer -- who proposed a few years ago that WBAI and the other Pacifica stations drastically cut staff. The National Board -- at that time controlled by Siegel and his faction -- voted to implement Brian Edwards-Tiekert’s proposal. WBAI was forced to cut 35%(!) of its staff, bringing it down to around 1/2 the salaries of KPFA and crippling the station.
The very cuts Brian proposed were the cuts that he went to the barricades over when they affected his own job, instead of other people's.

So it is very strange that, all of a sudden, Dan Siegel “discovers” that WBAI is in trouble and “draining the network”. It was the mismanagement of those supported by Siegel’s faction that set those wheels in motion and that the new management is trying to reverse. We are slowly succeeding in doing so.

OF COURSE WBAI has to move to cheaper studios -- I've been one of those most vociferous about that. Still .... If WBAI had the same very low costs for studio space as KPFA or KPFK, we'd be swimming in funds. WBAI now takes in around the same in contributions as KPFA. Looked at another way, why is it that KPFA is in such serious straits under the Siegel faction, since it has around $900,000 less in overhead expenses than WBAI?

I believe that the best chance for improving KPFA lies in saving – not breaking up – the Pacifica network. And so I urge you to reject Siegel’s blame-game, and vote for the United for Community Radio slate in the elections to the local station board.

Mitchel Cohen
Chair, WBAI Local Station Board*

*for ID only.