Sunday, April 6, 2014

Latest from Pacifica Radio in Exile

Hearing Date Is April 9th And 

An Interesting First Day Of Work
Berkeley-The date has been set for a hearing on the Pacifica Directors for Good Governance lawsuit, which is requesting an immediate restraining order to enjoin the Pacifica Board of Directors from moving ahead with their attempted termination of executive director Summer Reese. The hearing will be on Wednesday April 9th at 9:00am in Department 15 of the Alameda County Superior Court. The request for an immediate hearing was granted by the court on recognition of potential irreperable harm resulting from the board's actions. The TRO request was approved by the court with a waiver of service and confirmation that the defendants had no legal representation at the time. 
The restraining order paperwork can be found here. The complete text of the legal complaint can be found here
An open letter to the Board objecting to the breach of the Executive Director's contract signed by hundreds of staffers, volunteers and listeners across the country can be found here
The board appears to be struggling to find leadership who is willing to work with them. More than two weeks after the attempted firing, they finally announced the appointment of Bernard Duncan to be the disputed interim Executive Director. Board members report he was the only candidate and they did not interview him prior to the board vote. Some members of the board have never spoken to the person they "voted" to appoint. 

Duncan was the general manager of Pacifica station KPFK for two years. During this time, KPFK lost its Community Service grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and ran quarter million dollar deficits each year. One employee was found to be running a side business out of a KPFK office doing income tax returns, while using station equipment and facilities.  That employee was terminated after a new interim GM took charge after Duncan's resignation a few months ago. 
What Duncan will be able to do on his first day of work on Monday is a question. The national office remains inaccessible and all bank accounts and vendor contracts remain under Reese's authorization. It is assumed he will occupy the KPFA program director's office where Wilkinson set up camp two weeks ago.
When Reese left the national headquarters on April 3rd to assist with the legal initiative, some board and staff members attempted to obstruct the national office, but 22 community members responded to a call for assistance. Reese re-entered her workplace at 3:30 in the afternoon without incident. Berkeley songwriter Vic Sadot penned a tune for the occasion, sung to the melody of "We Shall Not Be Moved".  A recording of the impromptu sidewalk serenade is here. 
KPFA local station board treasurer Barbara Whipperman confirmed that KPFA's accounts were not reconciled nor ready for audit at this time, a situation that resulted in the delay of the audit from March (6 months after the close of the fiscal year) to June (9 months after the close of the fiscal year). Her public statement began ""The business manager at KPFA is working on a complicated reconciliation of the KPFA financial records.  The complications center around the records of income from credit card donations, many thousands of records.  There are statements from credit card processing companies involved, as well as the monthly bank statements". KPFA has 17,000 members who donate 1-4 times per year. More than half of all donations are via credit card during fund drive telethons. An annual financial filing is required for the disbursal of Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) funds. More than a million dollars is allocated to the Pacifica stations annually. 
In a heartfelt appeal, KPFA local station board member Samsarah Morgan, elected in 2012, wrote: "We, the community, are the burnt out parents. And the danger here is that we are tempted to shut down and turn away; and if we do this we risk losing a vital resource. We must not turn our backs – we must not allow the other side’s noise to cause us to turn away from the injustices taking place in our back yard and across our country. This is not a case of two factions who need to “learn how to get along.”  This is a call to community action".  The full text of Morgan's essay was published in the Fog City Journal. 
Rumors continue to fly regarding the possible sale of one or more of Pacifica's radio licenses as the network continues to face expenses largely in excess of revenues. 
Satires of the chaotic situation appeared on-air at KPFA (by the Twit Wits troupe produced by playwright George Coates) and slightly remixed, rebroadcasted on KPFT in Houston.
A community meeting hosted by the Berkeley station's Community Advisory Board will be held at the South Berkeley Center Center at 2939 Ellis Street in Berkeley on Sundat April 6th at 4:00pm. 
A video interview with Reese shot on March 31, 2014 at the Pacifica headquarters can be seen here.  Reese was also interviewed on WBAI's Off The Hook on April 2nd. 
A copy of a complaint filed with the CA Attorney General by 8 former members of the national board can be found here.
Disputed chair Margy Wilkinson is reported to have said with regard to Reese's attempted firing; "it isn't illegal until someone says it is".
Reese has continued to report to work at the national headquarters since March 17th. 


  1. who cares anymore?

    1. I more or less gave my view on that yesterday, posting in another forum, and I don't think my feelings are atypical:

      Not so long ago, I viewed the station’s possible demise with deep sorrow. What bothered me most was that—all things considered—I did not see this as an inevitable outcome. Now, with new insight, my waning optimism leaves me no trace. I don’t normally give up easily, but I perceive no substantial effort being made to right a decades-old misdirected stumble in the wrong direction. Sincerely suggested patchwork gives me no solace at this point; the object now should be to figure out a way to salvage the spirit that moved Lew Hill and others to found Pacifica, Lou Schweitzer to make his generous gift of WBAI, and thousands of us to join in the dream as listeners and enthusiastic participants.

      It is impossible to pinpoint exactly hen the spirit died, but that is the time Pacifica went on life support. The systematic draining of intellect, original thought and artistic imagination was an omen shamefully ignored, but that could still be changed, so there was still hope, or so I thought. However, it, too, evaporated as self-serving factions had it out amid the cacophony of shouting matches that characterize Pacifica’s local and national board meetings. The amazing picture that had attracted me to WBAI over a half century ago became unfocused beyond recognition—a blur that challenges memory and imagination.

  2. I reviewed the charging documents. Linkert scale was misused, when it was used to fire Raul Salvador, who was a probationary CFO. Summer Reese is a probationary ED, and the anti-Reese faction could have used the same Linkert scale to get rid of her and make it legal. Interesting, how the Reese faction has formed its own Unincorporated Association and hired a lawyer, while Janet Coleman actively agitated against the Board getting their own lawyer. That makes her a partisan actor and less than respectable in my estimation. The legal paperwork does not substantiate the claim that Tony Norman was an elected official, but not specifying what office he was elected to. The complaint to the Attorney General does not show any solid criminal violations and I doubt that he will act on it. The sexual harassment complaint, that was leveled against Raul Salvador is not substantiated or documented, which makes it look like a politically motivated act, used to libel Salvador. Anyone can fire a probationary employee for any reason, including political, and no real reason is provided for Salvador's termination, other than some portion of the surveyed staff, same proportion as the Reese faction, incidentally, did not like him. The only actionable allegation - 7 Million unaccounted dollars, was not mentioned in the complaint to the Attorney General. So, no real audit of Pacifica, I bet that Reese wouldn't want it either, and I doubt that the lion will roar, or wake up, for that matter. I would have respected and supported Reese's actions to make Pacifica run more efficiently, has she not been such a partisan actor, building her support by hook and by crook, and acting in her own self-interest. I also believe that Wilkinson faction has its own political corruption and may have misappropriated funds, but the fact that Reese is not trying to expose it, rather make use of it for her own advantage, shows her unsuitability to be the Executive Director.

    1. It is my recollection that Summer Reese's status was no longer interim when the pot boiled over. If I remember right, she was given the full position quite some time ago and there was speculation as to why she continued to refer to herself as the iED. It was later said that it had something to do with her delaying the status change because it somehow affected her ability to perform a certain task.

      Can someone correct me if I'm wrong, and give us the facts?

    2. Chris, if you look at the Court filings, Reese's three year contract as the ED runs from 01/30/2014 to 01/30/2017, and she is considered a Probationary Employee until 07/30/2014, at which point she becomes a permanent ED, unless there is a negative performance evaluation and a termination. A lack of any performance evaluation is considered a positive evaluation by default and she continues on as a permanent.

    3. Further interesting fact: 1/30/2014 was the 11th hour to gain the contract, given that a new PNB was coming asap in February, had things gone as scheduled. Ms. Reese was simultaneously "serving" as PNB chair and iED of the Foundation, and had to do a quickstep out of the former position to accept the ED position. This seems to be a strategy perfected in LA, because Grace Aaron was likewise both PNB head and iED. Am less familiar with all the gory details of that situation, because until the infection became visible in Berkeley, I didn't realize "MY" radio station was affected.

    4. Chris, you write, "If I remember right, she was given the full position quite some time ago [. . .]"

      In alleged clauses of the employment contract offered by the Pacifica National Board to Ms Reese, she was to be hired for three years from 30 January this year, with a six-month probationary period. Paragraph VII, Probation, also refers to her interim post:

      "Pacifica acknowledges that Reese has filled the position of Interim Executive Director for the period of August 17, 2012 to January 29, 2014 for a period of 17 months, as an at-will employee of the Pacifica Foundation at a salary of $72,000 a year, with identical job duties and work schedule to the position described in this 3-year employment contract"

      As I mentioned the other week, neither these Reese supporters nor anyone else, has ever published the signatories to any employment contract concerning Ms Reese. That is somewhat surprising given that alleged clauses of such a document have been published.

      This is of interest, not least because I have read that although Ms Reese might have signed the offered employment contract no-one signed it on behalf of Pacifica Foundation Radio. The report on the website of the 7-10 February annual meeting of the Pacifica National Board didn't say Ms Reese had been hired - but then, unbelievably, the report is taciturn, one sentence long. (The previous report is of the 5 Dec 2013 PNB meeting. Presumably there were meetings in this two-month period - just no reports published.) Was there a press release, or an announcement on the website, saying she had been hired from 30 January?

      Last, as information, the homepage of is filled with what it calls a press release, announcing the appointment of Mr Bernard Duncan as the Interim Executive Director. Sloppily, but perhaps not surprisingly, obvious information is missing:
      1) the website posting is undated;
      2) the press release is undated;
      3) it is not said when Mr Duncan was appointed (what we get is "Pacifica Foundation Radio has just appointed Bernard Duncan"); &
      4) it is not said when Mr Duncan will start work.

      But the press release ends on a reassuring note from Ms Wilkinson:

      "'What Pacifica needs right now is a skilled manager who can hit the ground running, and I'm very pleased Bernard's taken us on.'"

      Landing at SFO is one thing; fighting your way to your desk on MLK Jr. Way is something else. But maybe Pacifica could turn all this to its advantage, acknowledge a cultural achievement surely close to the hearts of their Spanish-language listeners, & make some money with a livestreamed event: Bernie & Summer can mask up & get down to business with some lucha libre. Gary could be MC (doubling up with supplying 'supplements' to Summer), with Margy as the impartial referee. Summer's ma can be in charge of the bell, & Brian can be the livecast commentator. What could go wrong?

    5. I'd just like to elaborate on Brooser Bear mentioning the matter of a performance evaluation: "she is considered a Probationary Employee until 07/30/2014, at which point she becomes a permanent ED, unless there is a negative performance evaluation and a termination".

      1) Having read alleged clauses from the employment contract offered to Ms Reese, posted online by some of her supporters, importantly there is nothing in it saying a performance evaluation has to be detailed BEFORE terminating - it simply says "If Pacifica should terminate this agreement during the duration of the probationary period, Pacifica shall complete a performance evaluation" (paragraph VII). So a judgment to terminate can be made, & done so properly, with the detailed performance evaluation made available, to whoever, in a timely manner after the termination.

      2) In the same paragraph, to a lay person such as myself, the meaning of another requirement is unclear:

      "A termination during the probationary period would be subject to Human Resources review before being finalized."

      With talk of "finalized" presumably "A termination" means 'a proposed termination' - because a termination is never provisional, it's always terminal.

      No-one has claimed that a "Human Resources review" was carried out.

      3) The third requirement, "demonstrate cause as set out in Paragraph V", may be the real sticking point in her proper termination. No reason has ever been offered by the Pacifica National Board. And the bar, as I said the other week, is quite high:

      "The following constitutes cause and its grounds to terminate the employment of Reese.
      (i) A willful breach of this Agreement or the willful and repeated neglect by Reese to perform duties that she is required to perform as Executive Director;
      (ii) Being charged with any criminal act related to employment at Pacifica;
      (iii) Conduct that violates Pacifica's established work rules in a substantial manner." (paragraph V)

      "Willful", "repeated neglect", "substantial".

      4) As a final point, I'm surprised that having been dismissed the PNB doesn't seem to have acted decisively in cutting Ms Reese out of the picture: cutting off the electric & phones; removing any signatory powers she may have had on accounts or Pacifica forms & statements; informing relevant organisations that she was no longer a Pacifica employee; etc., etc.

      It would be interesting to know if she received her pay on 31 March - & how much, whether she was paid off, along with accrued holiday pay.

    6. Thank you, Jara, for your detailed response to my question regarding Summer Reese's interim status. There are so many tricks of the light in this tangled story! I'm sure others here share my appreciation for the time you have taken to place the Kliegs correctly but, of course, there will be those who don't. After all, it's Pacifica with a "P"—as in paranoia :)

  3. Mr. Albertson-- I'm sad to hear that you don't, or can't, care about the vegetating corpse of WBAI. Really sad.

    I'm even sadder that you allow your blog to be used by the people who oversaw the malpractice that killed the patient, as a repeater for their relentless disinformation. We on the West Coast who know those actors all too well have NOT conceded defeat, and have not given up on our stations, even as the same playbook is deployed here as in NY.

    1. One practices free speech or one doesn't. Nobody is "using" my blog. One of it's raison d'etres is to make information available to the reader, whether it reflects my own leanings, or not. I do not agree with everything I post. You have your own opinions, which is as it should be—is it not more interesting to read/hear opposing views? I think it is, and I often find it useful.

      That said, I do, indeed, care about the corpse of WBAI, as you put it. Ditto Pacifica. I also do not see any flawless among the principal players, just some who are less abusive,

  4. The Pacifica signatories on the contract to hire Reese were Heather Gray and Richard Uzzell, both members of the Pro-Reese faction. The Court documents name both factions. As I said before, what is amazing, is that pathological subcultures, such as criminal gangs, often mirror and imitate social structures that oppress them - police and military. Same seems to have happened with the Pacifica, which thinks itself enlightened - its boards mirror the partisan gridlock of the worst sort in the mainstream US politics. The two factions named in Court filing are as follows:

    PRO - REESE: Carolyn Birden, Janet Coleman, Heather Gray, Kim Kaufman, Luzette King, Janet Kobren, Janet Lane Ewart, Manijeh Saba, and Richard Uzzell.

    ANTI-REESE: Rodrigo Argueta, Lydia Brazon, Jim Brown, Benito Diaz, Adriana Casenave, Brian Edwards-Tiekert, Jose Luis Fuentes, Hank Lamb, Tony Norman, Lawrence Reyes, Cerene Roberts, Margy Wilkinson.

    I do not know most of these players, but two things stand out glaringly: There are five Latinos in the anti-Reese faction and NO Latinos on the Pro-Reese faction. Second, Reese faction is overwhelmingly, as in 90% Female . This must signify something. Anti-Reese faction seems more diverse, of the 12 members, there are 4 women and 5 Latinos.

  5. (I've had to split this into a number of comments, three, because of the word or character limit.)

    Thanks so much for all the links.

    The second link, "[t]he complete text of the legal complaint", gives the arguments offered to the judge by the plaintiff, the pro-Reese peeps, nine individuals who choose a collective name, the Pacifica Directors for Good Governance. (Amerikans, of whatever repute, seem adept at finding the titles that give off the 'right-on' signals.) I found of interest a number of claims they make that I don't think I've seen here on Chris' blog or elsewhere, but more strikingly, some of what was said, & not said, is frankly incredible:

    1) Carolyn Birden is the most prominent of the nine, the only one of them submitting an individual statement to the court (complaint paragraph #5; PDF page 3).

    2) Ms Wilkinson became chair of the National Board on 8 February after the vote was tied 11-11, but the complaint doesn't explain how the tie was broken in her favour. What it does say is that the proper tie-break, either tossing a coin or drawing lots, was never used (#11). (Surprisingly the complaint is silent on how she won after the tied vote.)

    3) Ms Reese doesn't have a social security number because of . . . wait for it . . . "religious reasons" (#25).

    4) I don't mention this as trivia: c. 7 February Jose Fuentes is said to have moved at the National Board "to terminate Executive Director Reese on the basis of her refusal to provide a social security number" (#26). (Carolyn Birden, in her statement to the court, says he moved this on 7 February, & it was to terminate with immediate effect - point #9; PDF page 106.) (An exhibit shows that Mr Fuentes used his iPhone that day to send the motion, as detailed above, to the National Board - PDF page 116.)

    5) General Counsel Terry Gross attended that meeting by telephone, & advised that lacking such a number "is not against the law and that there are ways that an employer can handle such a situation with the Inland Revenue Service" (#27). (The complaint is silent on what happened to the motion: was it put to the vote, was it withdrawn?)

    6) Importantly, on 10 February "the board voted not to recognize the contract of the Executive Director and to restrict her authority to perform her duties" (#32). (An unfortunate ambiguity here, but the context strongly implies that "voted" means 'passed a motion'. Are minutes of National Board meetings released to the public? The only public official info is this: "[PNB met] to consider personnel matters, priviledged [sic] advice from counsel, and information relating to engagement of services whose premature disclosure may compromise the legitimate business interest of the foundation".

    7) "On or about March 13, 2014 at an improperly noticed meeting of the Board, Defendant Fuentes, moved to terminate Ms Reese's employment with PFR, effective immediately and without notice" (#35).

    8) "On or about March 13, 2014, each Defendant, excepting Ms. Wilkinson who refrained from voting on this matter, voted to terminate Ms. Reese's employment prior to performance evaluation and without any stated cause" (#37).

  6. 9) National Board is, allegedly, a dangerous place: "Secretary Cerene Roberts has been banned for 2+ years from entering the premises of WBAI, the station she supposedly represents, for alleged violence" (Ms Reese's statement to the court, 3 April, point #7; PDF page 24).

    10) "The PFR board voted to make permanent my position as Executive Director on November 8, 2013" (ditto, #9). (Her submitted employment contract shows that she signed it 30 January - PDF page 36.)

    11) "I have done nothing to breach my employment contract, and no one has alleged that I have done so" (ditto, #11).

    12) The 13 March Board agenda had "a motion regarding my job status" - but not "the subject of my termination". Ms Reese says job status was up for discussion because "the alleged chair and secretary had arbitrarily begun calling me 'interim' Executive Director on the agenda a week earlier" (ditto, #16).

    13) "[. . .] the vote to terminate my employment contract occurred with no discussion or debate" (ditto, #16). No-one spoke against?!? Hardly plausible, one would think.

    14) According to the employment contract submitted to the court, Ms Reese is paid "semi-monthly" (paragraph II; PDF page 32) - typical in California?

    15) Paragraph VIII, "Arbitration", offered a less painful & damaging procedure, "[a]s the exclusive means of resolving any dispute arising between them during Reese's tenure in office".

    16) Brooser Bear has helpfully given the names, & this contract is signed, on behalf of Pacifica Foundation, by the "acting Chair" (Heather Gray) & the "Secretary" (Richard Uzzell).

  7. 17) When is a passed motion actionable, once it is passed or only after its inclusion as a minute has been approved by a later National Board meeting? In her statement, Carolyn Birden says "[i]t is my understanding that language on any motions brought to or passed by the PNB is not final until meeting minutes are agendized for approval [. . .] and then approved" (Ms Birden's statement, 3 April, point #8; PDF page 106).

    18) Due to a history of litigation, the "insurance deductible" of the Directors & Officers liability policy has doubled from $125k to $250k - it is implied that this increase is recent but no date is given (ditto, #15).

    19) There's an error in point #19 of Ms Birden's statement: "March 8" is given instead of 'February 8'.

    20) On 10 February Tony Norman moved a motion "to rescind the 'invalid' contract" with Ms Reese (ditto, #20). (The court isn't told what happened to this motion.)

    21) The same day Hank Lamb moved a motion "to Modify and Restrict Summer Reese's authority" (ditto, #25).

    22) The same day this motion was amended by Ms Roberts & Mr Fuentes - the particular restrictions are quoted in their entirety (ditto, #26; PDF page 109, also page 117 as an exhibit).

    23) This was passed "by the board majority" (ditto, #29).

    24) 6 March Ms Reese objected to the Chair & the Secretary that the agenda described her as "Interim Executive Director"; Ms Birden states that Ms Wilkinson, the Chair, "said that 'we' don't think the executive director is 'qualified' to be called the executive director" (ditto, #31). (Ms Birden does not disclose why she attributes this to Ms Wilkinson.)

    25) In response Mr Uzzell got the agenda of the 13 March National Board meeting to include an item to identify who had changed Ms Reese's job title (ditto, #32).

    26) 13 March Mr Fuentes moved a motion to immediately terminate Ms Reese, with no cause given (ditto, #35). (Incomprehensively this motion has not been submitted to the court by the plaintiff, the pro-Reeseists. Is it plausible that none of them (a) received a copy of the motion, or (b) didn't write down what might have been an orally delivered motion? This is perhaps the greatest puzzle about the bundle they gave to the court.)

    27) "No discussion or debate ensued" (ditto, #36). (How can this be?!? Why didn't the pro-Reeseists speak against the motion? Most odd. Queer, as Brits of the 1950s would readily say.)

    28) "No reason for the sudden termination was offered by the maker of the motion or any of the directors voting for it" (ditto, #36).

    29) I'd just like to stress that it is weird & incredulous that (a) according to the pro-Reeseist plaintiff, no-one spoke against the termination motion, & (b) the plaintiff did not present as an exhibit a copy of that motion. (thanks to Tracy Rosenberg for uploading this)


    Leo Gold is the newly appointed chair of the KPFT LSB in Houston. He was a programmer, gave up his show (the New Capital Show) and now fills in on Fridays for a show called "Partisan Gridlock". He is proposing that our 5 Pacifica stations be broken up into individually owned stations. Please listen to the link is UNBELIEVABLE!

    1. The link you provided does not work, so I downloaded the file from the KPFT archive, trimmed it down to the core and calls, and posted it. Very interesting, I thank you for pointing it out.

  9. All I would like is to be deleted from Pacifica in Exile emails. I have tried replying many times but I still get these almost daily emails I didn't sign up for. Not a good way to promote a cause - annoy the hell out of people.