An excerpt from
The Violence of Peace: One Year in the Pacifica Bubble
by Adam Rice
I write not as lead organizer for the LA Anti-Eviction Campaign, nor as Community Relations Coordinator for KPFK, but as an individual. My opinions don’t necessarily represent any other individual or organization. I’m about to tell you some hard truths from my personal experience working in what’s supposed to be a pacifist, community-based radio station.
Over the last seven months I haven’t seen movement by the new board majority to “Strengthen” KPFK. No, I’ve observed several moves to weaken KPFK and Pacifica. One of the first motions they pushed through was to support one side of the disputed election at WBAI in NY (who are suing Pacifica). A second, passed despite written statements from 2 foundation lawyers, said KPFK should adhere to a Federal Trade Commission regulation that Pacifica is actually not governed by, as a non-profit not involved in sales. This regulation would open Pacifica to fines of $16,000 for every thank-you gift not delivered within 90 days. The idea this rule governing for-profit mail order businesses applies to Pacifica traces back to a rambling, failed lawsuit filed and later withdrawn by Gary Null at WBAI. However, almost immediately after the withdrawal of this suit, another was filed by Null-backer Steve Brown and Robert Young, batting around the same FTC regulation. Ironically, Brown made a fortune in mail-order, yet in his decade-long association with Pacifica, at the station with one of the worst premium-fulfillment records, he’d never mentioned this regulation as a point of concern. The new KPFK LSB majority immediately drafted a motion that supports the lawsuit.
Supporting lawsuits filed by others against Pacifica hasn’t been the full extent of their failure. For example, the LSB majority’s Ali Lexa, former full-time KPFK webmaster, helped push a motion onto the agenda to rehire him to maintain what had for years been acknowledged as Pacifica’s worst-looking and poorest-functioning website. Since his departure with full severance, the website has been maintained by our general manager in her spare time, and despite a few early problems, it now functions well, and has been reformatted for mobile devices, something Lexa never did, though most of our web traffic is from such devices.
While using the board you’re on to get re-hired may be unethical, it isn’t illegal. The KPFK Local Station Board is a committee of the Pacifica National Board, so only members of the national board, elected from the LSBs, are directors of Pacifica and subject to the California corporation code. This brings us to current PNB members Jan Goodman and Grace Aaron. In April 2016 Yeakey v. Pacifica was filed in Alameda County Superior Court. The named attorneys on the complaint were Jan Goodman, and the offices of Mandel and Manpearl, the law firm of Jan’s husband.
Goodman and Aaron constructed a motion to settle said lawsuit without litigation, and put it to a vote of the LSB. Goodman laid out the causes of action for the case in public session, then excused herself before the vote, saying she had another appointment. She neglected to disclose her direct connection to the case. Grace Aaron, whose Social Uplift Foundation has been soliciting legal fees for both the CA and NY lawsuits under the label of the Clean Up Pacifica Project, did vote for the motion. Is Social Uplift collecting a fee on those donations, as most fiscal sponsors do? The evidence points to both these directors being in violation of California Corporation Code section 5233 by using their office to perpetrate a self-dealing transaction. By taking actions which they’re aware will harm Pacifica, they’re in violation of section 5231, their duty of care.
Family, listeners, ask yourselves, are these people who you want governing your radio station? Those who rely on Pacifica for a living, are these the people you want governing your family’s survival? Read their platform, do you see any plan — other than doing the same thing that has cost us thousands of members and listeners, and hundreds of thousands in donations, over the last decade? They want same-sounding strip programming that doesn’t welcome grassroots voices of a new generation of colorful people making a better world. They’re the party of “No” to every progressive change and innovation to bring the station into the community, and the community into the station, which is needed to save KPFK and Pacifica.
In the words of current GM Leslie Radford from a 2007 article, “KPFK: Welcome to the Madhouse,” dealing with these same people running the same game a decade ago: “KPFK is your legacy, you’ve earned it through your struggle …in your communities. Learn what KPFK was, dream of what it could be–the most powerful radio signal west of the Mississippi, capable of mobilizing people …from Santa Barbara to Riverside to San Diego. The doors are open. Take over KPFK. Claim it, own it, make it yours.”