The (latest) battle of KPFA - Page 2

Fight over content, money erupts into recall campaign

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Protesters march outside the Berekely radio station.
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY YAEL CHANOFF

The Save KPFA campaign website makes the case that Pacifica "uses KPFA as a cash cow," and notes money KPFA loaned to Pacifica around 2000, from which Pacifica apparently still owes KPFA $1.4 million.

As a staff-elected representative on KPFA's Local Station Board, Edwards-Tiekert pushed back on attempts by Pacifica to seize station funds. The Morning Show invited Pacifica's executives onto to the airwaves and "challenged them about how much they were taking from KPFA, and about Pacifica's spending priorities," the site reads.

"All of those charges are somewhat overstated. There's a certain percentage of KPFA's budget that goes to overall expenses," Rosenberg told us. In fact, according to Rosenberg's allies, the situation was reversed; KPFA had run out of funds and was threatening to bankrupt Pacifica. In response to budget shortfalls, Pacifica's executive director Arlene Engleheart "asked all five Pacifica stations to cut down on paid staff 2-3 years ago, as the only way to meet escalating deficits, KPFA's 4 "sister" Pacifica stations have already done this. Only KPFA continued to employ more paid staff than it can afford."

According to the website of a campaign against the recall, Support KPFA, in the fall of 2010, KPFA owed Pacifica more than $100,000 in unpaid dues. "At that time I was the representative from KPFA at the national Finance Committee, which does the budget from KPFA after it comes back from the local level," said Rosenberg. She claims that the budget that the board came up with came short of meeting expenses.

"So as a board member I went to the station and said, where's the budget? So I pushed for a couple of meetings saying look, a budget has to come up here that makes sense and is balanced. I told the executive director it was her responsively to make sure a plan for a balanced budget went forward. I would say that I put some pressure on the executive director to make some hard decisions."

Communication Workers of America Local 9415, a union that represents KPFA's paid workers, brought the issue to the National Labor Relations Board in late 2011, and the federal agency dismissed five charges of retaliation and layoffs out of the seniority order. Edwards-Tiekert, however, was reinstated as the result of a successful union grievance.

The other charges on the recall petition include putting forward two motions to overturn Jan 2011 local station board elections under fraudulent auspices and for specious reasons and misappropriating a list of KPFA members' personal email addresses.

The election fraud charge refers to a motion Rosenberg brought disqualify Dan Siegel, an attorney who was elected to the Local Station Board, from holding his seat, based on Pacifica policy barring individuals who hold a public office from serving on the board.

"I pointed out that this seemed to be a violation of the bylaws. That's all I did," she said.

But the incident turned into a court battle, and a judge eventually issued an injunction reinstating Siegel.

The email theft charge refers to an email blast that Rosenberg sent out concerning the Morning Mix, the Morning Show's replacement.

The Morning Show provided an in-depth look at stories from around the Bay Area. It had, and still has, a large following. "The corporate media doesn't cover real issues as they really affect people," said Sasha Futran, a listener member of the Local Station Board. With its cancellation, she said, "I want to know what's going on. I want intelligent analysis."

Democracy Now!—the foremost example of professional progressive journalism in the country—is now KPFA's highest donation-generating show. And in style and content, the Morning Mix is distinctly not a Bay Area version of Democracy Now!

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