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Pacifica Board Majority Moves to Stack Board Today

by an IMC-LA worker Wednesday, Sep. 19, 2001 at 7:37 PM

From: pacificacampaign@yahoo.com (Pacifica Campaign) Today's telaphone meeting of the Pacifica Board represents one of the key moments in this years-long struggle.

errorPacifica Board Majority Moves to Restock Board

Ex-Washington DC Mayor Marion Barry Heads Slate of Five New Members

Beltway Clique Aims to Tighten Grip, Exclude Rest of Network



New York (Sept. 18) - The Pacifica National Board majority confirmed this past week that they will aim to unilaterally restock their razor thin 6-5 majority with five new members at a telephone meeting on Wednesday, September 19th.


"This undemocratic move, taken in defiance of the Pacifica listener community and key stakeholders, will plunge the network into an even more costly and debilitating conflict," warned Juan Gonzales, the coordinator of the Pacifica Campaign, an organization of listeners and staff alike.


Gonzalez said that if the Board is restocked, the Pacifica Campaign will launch a multi-million dollar fundraising campaign to support fired and striking Pacifica workers who are producing alternative programming such as Free Speech Radio News (FSRN), a half hour daily news cast airing on 43 stations nationwide. The Pacifica Campaign will also launch a massive direct mail and advertising initiative to reach every Pacifica subscriber and the entire progressive movement in America with the message to boycott the network.


The Pacifica Board majority is also attempting to oust Pete Bramson, the duly elected representative from the KPFA-Berkeley listening area. Rabbi Aaron Kriegel and Leslie Cagan, two Jewish board members who are also dissidents, have raised concerns about the timing of Wednesday's meeting since it is being held during Rosh Hashanah.


Pacifica listeners in New York and Washington have also denounced the timing of the board meeting, saying it is insensitive at best and, at worst, an opportunistic ploy to use the Sept. 11 devastation as cover to force through unpopular and undemocratic measures.


Although Pacifica management has not reported any injuries or deaths to Pacifica staffers as a result of the WTC and Pentagon attacks, WBAI in New York lies just blocks from Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan and the WBAI listener community remains deeply affected by the events of last week.


Still, the renegade Pacifica Board is moving quickly to consolidate power. Leading the slate of new candidates is former Washington DC mayor Marion Barry. The Democrat garnered national attention after he mounted a political comeback in 1994, winning the DC mayor's race after serving six months in prison on a federal cocaine conviction. Barry was back in the headlines this April after pleading out an assault charge against a female janitor at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. In return, prosecutors dropped an indecent exposure charge stemming from an allegation that Barry exposed himself to the 30-year-old janitor.


The other proposed new board members include: comedian and activist Dick Gregory; pr and marketing executive Krishna Roy; Democratic Party activist James Ferguson; and real estate executive George Barnstone of Houston.


If all five were to come on the Board, and no existing Board members resigned or were forced off (like Pete Bramson), nine of the 16 members would come from the Washington DC signal area. Thirteen of the 16 would be men.


In the last few months, the Pacifica executive leadership has also tried to attract to the Pacifica Board former Texas Governor Anne Richards (Democrat) and leading Democratic Party pundit Susan Estrich, who was the campaign manager for Michael Dukakis's failed 1988 presidential bid. Board member Bert Lee also tried to recruit former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell onto the Pacifica
Board. Lee and Powell served together on the board of Howard University and Powell has been a subscriber to WPFW. Lee and Powell have since resigned from the Howard board.


In other important news, Pacifica Executive Director announced last night on its web site that controversial WBAI General Manager Utrice Leid has been ousted and replaced by WPFW operations director and drive time jazz programmer Bob Daughtry.


The move comes after National Program Director Steve Yasko was forced to resign last week after the Pacifica Campaign revealed that he was operating a website where misogynist attacks on women, and even a web posting attacking Amy, were broadcast. Amy's union, AFTRA, has a gender harassment grievance pending against Steve Yasko.


While Leid's removal is being seen as an admission by Pacifica of her disastrous tenure at WBAI, she has been named National Program Director, the No. 2 slot in the network. In that capacity she will supervise Amy Goodman and Democracy Now!


During her short nine month tenure, Utrice Leid fired and banned two dozen producers and presided over a massive drop in audience and listener contributions. Leid drove Amy and the Democracy Now! team out of WBAI with her constant harassment, undermining, and, in one dramatic case, a physical attack against Amy. Leid has gone on the air, literally for hours, denouncing Amy, calling her a criminal, a saboteur, a liar, a racist, and a Svengali who is responsible for the entire Pacifica crisis. Leid has also claimed that Amy fabricated the November 1991 Santa Cruz massacre in East Timor, for which she won major national and international awards.


The rapid decline of WBAI and Pacifica under Wash and Leid was dramatically expressed by what happened last week at WBAI during perhaps the greatest domestic crisis since World War II.


The attack on the World Trade Center created a horrific calamity and enormous suffering in New York and throughout the country.

Communications interruptions were widespread in Lower Manhattan and law enforcement closed off the area that included WBAI studios. The station was forced off the air. It took Leid and her staff two days to figure out a way to begin broadcasting from another location, and even then it
was on a much reduced schedule.


By contrast, Amy Goodman and the Democracy Now staff, who were faced with the same problems, found a way to overcome them immediately. They too were broadcasting from the restricted area, but they did not allow themselves to be silenced by the restrictions or by the lack of reliable telephone lines. They continued broadcasting live from ground zero.


At Pacifica headquarters in Washington, Wash could have reacted as most people have done during this crisis. She could have closed ranks, temporarily forgotten her feud with Amy, and aired the Democracy Now! broadcast over the other Pacifica stations. But she chose her own petty
vengeance over the good of the listeners who were hungry for Pacifica's distinct reporting and analysis, who were hungry for the views of Pacifica reporters, not ABC or CBS or PBS. If any single incident shows that Wash is not qualified to run the Pacifica network, it is that enormously selfish decision to deny Pacifica's listeners live coverage of this seminal moment in our country's modern history.


As for Leid, her failure to get WBAI up and running as quickly as possible equally demonstrates that she does not have the foggiest idea what it takes to broadcast a breaking news story under difficult conditions.






*********************

The Pacifica Campaign is a grass-roots organization representing listenersand staff alike, fighting to preserve Pacifica's 50-year tradition ofprogressive, community-based radio. For more info go to:
http://www.pacificacampaign.org


Pacifica Campaign
51 MacDougal St., #80
New York, NY 10012
(646) 230-9588




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Demonstration today at KPFK from the street Wednesday, Sep. 19, 2001 at 7:50 PM
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