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Will the KPFA Building Be Up For Auction?
by Gar Smith
Sunday Feb 9th, 2020 9:15 AM
As a result of the failure of the management of KPFA to pay the property tax bill their building may be up for auction. The same management is supporting new bylaws to corporatize the foundation and eliminate staff representation and democratic governance. There will be a press conference in front of the station on Wednesday Feb 12 at 12:00 noon.
Will the KPFA Building Be Up For Auction?
The Berkeley Daily Planet

Gar Smith

Saturday February 08, 2020
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Will the KPFA Building Be Up For Auction?

It is both ironic and tragic that an historic, anti-war media institution like the Pacifica Foundation should find itself repeatedly engaged in a war for survival. And, once again, Berkeley's own KPFA finds itself at ground zero on the media battlescape.

Dedicated KPFA members will soon be asked to respond to a ballot that would fundamentally alter the station's operational bylaws. Members of a listener group called Rescue KPFA are warning that the new bylaw changes will be "anti-democratic and dangerous"—the work of a "rogue KPFA management" seeking to overturn Pacifica founder Lew Hill’s vision of an independent, anti-war, community based operation. According to the RKPFA partisans, the new rules threaten to turn "KPFA into NPR."

Rescue KPFA believes the current face-off involves an "engineered financial meltdown" brought about through "deliberate fiscal mismanagement" to set the stage for "an imminent auction of the Berkeley building."

Adding to the growing concern: a violent seizure of the WBAI studio in New York during a successful fund drive and "repeated failure to submit timely audits, causing a loss of Corporation for Public Broadcasting grants." A statement from Rescue KPFA references "secret KPFA Foundation incorporation papers in 2013" intended to "enable a bankruptcy judge to order the WBAI license and other station assets to be sold for tens of millions of dollars, allowing KPFA to use the proceeds to pay down debts and operate KPFA under new anti-democratic bylaws."

"This is exactly what we successfully defeated in 1999," Rescue KPFA notes. "Are we moving backwards?"

The reference is to a long factional battle between Pacific Foundation officials and local KPFA staff that culminated in a July 1, 1999 police siege of the KPFA building and the physical removal of station staff—including Flashpoints host Dennis Bernstein—while hundreds of station supporters gathered outside and blocked traffic from Martin Luther King Jr. Way. (In April of that year, KPFA broadcast icon Larry Bensky also was fired for daring to discuss the struggle on the air.)

The Pacifica Foundation's violent take-over of the station followed the accidental release of an internal email from a Houston real estate broker who served on the Foundation's board. In the email, Michael Palmer wrote: "I was under the impression there was support in the proper quarters, and a definite majority, for shutting down that unit and reprogramming immediately." Palmer was among a faction of Pacifica boardmembers who was considering (in his words) "the possibility of selling one of the stations to put the national network in a better financial position."

According to Rescue KPFA, all five of Pacifica’s Local Station Boards have overwhelmingly voted NO on the substitute by-laws.

What Is at Issue?

The concern is that the new bylaws would:

Enable a self-selected board to accept corporate or major donor contributions, instead of listener support
Eliminate community-elected Local Station Boards and oversight
Eliminate staff representatives on the Pacifica National Board
Disenfranchise more than 200 affiliate stations.
Disaffected staff and listeners are also concerned that Pacifica’s anti-war mission is "under threat by continually airing the fake opposition politics practiced by mainstream media and both major parties."
The Rescue KPFA activists charge that management "has canceled popular programs without explanation: Guns and Butter, Twit Wit Radio, Discreet Music, Work Week." Instead, it chose to fill precious air-time with repetitive "gavel to gavel coverage of what every other media outlet is covering."

The closing sentence of the appeal reads: "Vote NO on the substitute bylaws and prevent the NPR model of corporate control so KPFA can once again become the leading voice in opposition to endless wars."

Meanwhile, the situation is growing dire. Because the station's management has failed to pay $486,000 in property taxes on the Berkeley studio for the last six years, the Alameda County Tax Collector’s office has announced its intention to seize the property for public auction.

For more information, you can click on Rescue KPFA. Media Alliance executive director Tracy Rosenberg also recommends checking out the Pacific Radio in Exile webpage.

A public press conference is planned at noon on February 12 at the KPFA studio (1929 MLKJ Way)
Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
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It's "", [NOT RescueKPFA!]longtime listenerSunday Feb 9th, 2020 12:23 PM
Who Is Your Supervisor?repostSunday Feb 9th, 2020 9:26 AM

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