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by Leslie Radford, KPFK LSB candidate
Monday, Nov. 12, 2007 at 2:28 PM
After a struggle for democratic elections that nearly destroyed a progressive radio network, local elections at KPFK are besmirched by unchecked money, influence, and confusion.
Six years ago, listeners to a progressive radio network called Pacifica won
a lawsuit that allowed KPFK members to elect representatives to their local station
board, and through them, to determine who sat on the Pacifica National
Board. The demand for democracy was an eruption against a board of
directors that considered selling one of the stations to finance a string of smaller Black stations in the South. The settlement instituted the first democratically-run radio network in the U.S., another groundbreaking advance in the network's long history. Such are the contradictions of democracy.
Today, that democratic outburst has fallen victim to a single slate of
candidates supported by "The Committee to Strengthen
KPFK," a powerful amalgam
of Local Station Board members, station staff, and new faces, and endorsed by
attorney Carol Spooner, one of the key figures in the original effort to
democratize Pacifica. And they have injected the influence of a financed elections and Democratic Party politics into
an institution that prides itself on being "powered by the people." The Committee and procedural violations threaten to confuse and
discourage candidates, and endanger the quorum necessary for election
Lack of oversight, improper procedures, and an insider Committee so arrogant that rules seem meant to be broken, are spreading a viscous taint on the credibility of any election outcome. At the same time, a blackout on election
violations is so thorough, the determination to make quorum so overpowering after the near-failure of previous elections, that much of the electorate is unaware
that infractions have occurred. Even candidates who file complaints receive, at
most and only occasionally, an acknowledgment that their complaint has been received.
Already, in the fifth week of the campaign, the Committee To Strengthen KPFK has wantonly violated
several of the eleven simple rules laid out for fair elections. The KPFK
candidate webpages and broadcast archives, under the control of Committee member and
station webmaster Ali Lexa, been used for numerous inequities
in publishing candidate information. And the procedures
of election events distributed to the candidates and posted on the station
website for voters has been altered with little or no notification to the voters
and the candidates. To date,
no sanctions have been announced to repair the damage to independent candidates or to
inform the voters.
In spite of its long list of rules violations, the Committee didn't hesitate to inject the election with the
influence of privately financed campaigning, purchasing a high-gloss, multi-colored mailer sent to KPFK members, at a cost of $6,000
to $7,000 according to Committee director and candidate Grace Aaron, even as the donation-based station suffers a marked downturn in contributions. The Committee To Strengthen KPFK has taken the first step to becoming a non-profit corporation itself, by affiliation with the International
Humanities Center, which has adopted the Committee as one of its projects, providing the group with a tax
shelter and anonymity for its donor or donors.
The Pacifica National Board, recognizing the serious disadvantage the mailer poses to
low- and moderate-income independent candidates, and that "spending of
large sums of money in Pacifica campaigns runs counter to the noncommercial
nature of the Pacifica Radio Network while underscoring the discriminatory
nature of campaign financing so prevalent and objectionable in mainstream
elections," moved on November 1 to begin a process to find remediation for the
disadvantaged candidates. The discussion of specific remedies
began at the KPFK Local Station Board meeting on Wednesday, November 7. Candidate Jubilee Shine told the local board, ""I am here to represent
workers. I'm a roofer and a union activist. I couldn't get $7,000
for a flyer for this campaign. I couldn't raise $300." In order to implement the remedies, the board discussed the possibility of a further election delay, to December 21.
Aaron formed the Committee to spearhead a campaign to remove
progressive, lesbian, and African general manager Eva Georgia in light of a
sexual harassment suit filed against her and the network. In July, the Committee
presented a petition calling for her removal to the Pacifica National Board, the
culmination of a five-year campaign to oust Georgia with a plethora of accusations that began even before a staffer denied her the keys to her office
when Georgia officially took over leadership of the
station. The Committee invited local media to the board meeting held in Los Angeles,
and the event was reported in the LA Times, Throughout the summer, the press was fed accusations, and articles without context appeared in the LA Weekly (twice), where reporters salivated over the charges of Black lesbian sexual misconduct.
Meanwhile, the PNB, the CEO, and the CFO stood behind Georgia with unreported public statements of support. The lawsuit is still pending, and Pacifica insiders seem confident that Georgia
will be vindicated in court.
Aaron chaired the LSB in 2006 until her term ended and she was voted
out. During her tenure, she forced the local board into numerous
closed sessions to present sundry charges against Georgia. One, an
expense report purported to show Georgia's misuse of station funds but
discredited by the Pacifica CFO, Lonny Hicks, was circulated widely
among station staff despite its confidentiality.
Aaron, along with Committee members and the slate's other two returning candidates, Lamont Yeakey and Donna Warren, during earlier elections were members of a slate known as Progressives for Independent, Responsible Community Radio. PIRCR and slates at other stations in the network were organized by Spooner from Pacifica members who had opposed ensuring elected representation for underrepresented communities in the new Pacifica Bylaws.
The Committee To Strengthen KPFK and Spooner, after roundly condemning Georgia for
bringing a lawsuit down on the network, are contemplating their own lawsuit
against Pacifica for refusing to include their partisan mailer with the ballot
mailing, according to Committee member Ian Masters in his November 4 broadcast
(since edited out of the archived version of the broadcast).
Slate members Ricco Ross, Linda Sutton, Dan Wang, and Ahjamu Makalani,
according to their election materials, are all active in the Progressive Democrats, a caucus of the
Democratic Party, raising alarm bells about
mainstream party funding and takeover of the "fiercely independent" radio station.
Makalani, who has moved from the Peace and Freedom Party and the Green Party to vice chair of the Progressive Democrats, explained that they were supporting John Edwards in the national elections because, "Kucinich wasn't a viable candidate."
Other Committee candidates include Aaron, Summer Reese, Donna Warren, Lamont Yeakey, Lich
Doan, Sarkis Ghazarian, Sergio Monteiro, and Shel Plotkin. Popular radio
show hosts Shawn Casey O'Brien, Don Bustany, and Eben Rey are running with on the
Committee ticket for staff seats on the local board.
Meanwhile, candidates without insider connections, largely newcomers to KPFK's election process, are left to slug their way through the morass of confusion, violations, and unannounced changes, in what is turning out to be something akin to a no rules wrestling match.
The elections are supposed to operate under the terms the new Pacifica Bylaws
and the summaries provided to candidates in the 2007
Fair Campaign Provisions for Listener Candidates and for
Programmers, Staff and Management , with the enforcement of the National Election
Supervisor, Casey Peters, and Local Elections Supervisor,
Apparent violations by the Committee to date include:
- The Committee To Strengthen KPFK was provided with access to a mailing house and the use of the KPFK
membership list held by that mailing house, while many other candidates were
unaware that such a service was available and nearly all are unable to
afford those services. That list was used
to send a mailer endorsing those candidates to the voters, unduly affecting
the outcome of the election.
- The Committee To Strengthen KPFK used a website for
four weeks that had “KPFK” in its URL, in direct violation of a prohibition against using the station call letters in an election-related URL.
- Ian Masters, program host and signatory to The Committee To Strengthen
KPFK, in his broadcast of October 14 concluded that some candidates did not
adhere to the mission of the Foundation, a clear disparagement of the
candidates and violation of the rules for programmers.
- Masters during his broadcast of November 4 called some candidates
“psychotic,” while he deemed The Campaign To Strengthen KPFK "sane" and "reasonable,", alleged that “pinche ethno-fascists” were disrupting the elections with "lots of race-baiting."
(The archived version of this broadcast was edited to remove the offending
- Jon Weiner, program host and signatory to The Committee To Strengthen
KPFK, includes a hyperlink on his show’s webpage from the KPFK website to
his personal website , where he endorses the Committee slate. Campaign rules prohibit using the station website to link to any endorsement.
- Lich Doan is running as a listener candidate although he was regularly
announced as assistant producer for Background Briefing from June 1 to
August 31, and he continues to be announced as the assistant producer for
that show, giving him regular on-air name recognition and disadvantaging
candidates without similar access to the airwaves. Candidates are disqualified for listener seats after 30 hours of work for the station in the three months prior to the start of the campaign.
- Ajhamu Makalini, a write-in candidate according to The Campaign To Strengthen KPFK, did not have the requisite fifteen signatures for his nomination form but has been allowed to participate in the on-air
and in-person forums.
KPFK website and archives inequities:
- Candidate Lich Doan’s statement included two references to his endorsement
by Mr. Masters for the first month it was posted, an unfair advantage to
candidates who did not use staff services to promote their candidacies. Staff services are forbidden to candidates.
- Candidates Bayard Condon and Jubilee Shine have their names inaccurately
posted on the website, and Joaquin Cienfuego’s name is misspelled on the
ballot, so that their names on the website do not match their names as listed on the
- Candidates Bayard Condon, Reza Pour, Schyna Pour, and Alise
Sochaczewski’s answers to the candidate’s questionnaire have not been
posted on the station website, while other candidates’ answers have been
available for weeks.
- The English on-air candidate forums for November 1 was not posted to the
archives of station broadcasts until November 5 and the Spanish forum of the
same date is still not available, although the forums for October 30 and 31
were available immediately after broadcast.
- The English-language forum of October 29 as originally posted edited out
the responses of candidate Leslie Radford, and, when that was brought the attention of
the Local Election Supervisor, the forum was hyperlinked to a non-existent
- Candidate Lawrence Reyes’ email address and telephone number, included
in his candidate statement, were not included in the station website posting
of his statement, and candidate Radford’s website was not included
in the station posting of her statement, and these inequities continued
for weeks into the campaign. Other candidates’ statements that included
email contacts and website addresses, notably addresses to the Committee's website, were posted properly.
- The deadline to submit ballots was moved to November 26, but not all
voters have been notified of the extension, so that some voters inevitably returned
their ballots on the date indicated on the ballot without access to
all information about the candidates or remedies of grievances that may occur
after the original ballot deadline. The extension of the deadline also
shortens the time to extend the election to assure a quorum, endangering the
- Unannounced changes to the published timetable, including more than a
week’s delay in mailing the ballots, delaying the on-air candidates’
forums, delaying broadcast of the candidates’ on-air announcements, and
extending the return date for ballots, have caused some candidates hardship
in planning an election campaign.
- No announcements have been made to the candidates of election events,
changes to the election materials and election deadlines, any
sanctions resulting from election violations, or the Pacifica National Board
motion regarding elections passed and referred to committee, so that
candidates are reliant on word of mouth to participate fully in the election
process. Links from Pacifica's homepage to Election News in English and Election News in Spanish lead to Washington, DC candidate statement.
- No time has been provided for a question-and-answer call-in period
between candidates and station listeners as required by the Bylaws.
- Until November 5, no carts were aired regarding any election events,
election materials, election deadlines, or any sanctions resulting from
election violations, so that voters are denied timely election information
and reminders on the airwaves, endangering informed voting and making a
- On-air announcements recorded by candidates did not begin to air until
November 5, although the election timeline requires that broadcast begin
immediately after the fund drive which ended on October 20.
- English-language forums will be rebroadcast while Spanish-language
broadcasts will not, and neither candidate statements nor ballots are
available in languages other than English.
- In-person candidate forums have been announced on the air only a handful
of times, the announcements occurred only a day or two prior to the forum,
and the address of the first in-person candidate forum was not posted on the
station website until some hours before the forum, while
announcements directed voters to that website for the address of the forum.
- The Local Election Supervisor appointed candidate Grace Aaron to
convene the first in-person candidate forum and refused to intervene when
that forum became contentious. The Local Election Supervisor did
not attend the second candidate forum, leaving the host to moderate the
event. In both cases, the lack of leadership diminished candidates’
communication with voters.
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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 54 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
|Democrat takeover of KPFK
||Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007 at 12:31 AM
|Democrat Party takeover of KPFK
||Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007 at 12:31 AM
|PDA? Jeeez. Even Air America is more progressive.
||Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007 at 1:17 AM
|" Democracy" at KPFK
||Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007 at 1:49 AM
|one down . . .
||Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007 at 11:13 AM
||Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007 at 12:26 PM
||Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007 at 12:48 PM
|the event above
||Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007 at 3:24 PM
|OK, I can't let it stand
||Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007 at 3:32 PM
|Why is Indymedia intervening in KPFK
||KPFK listener and volunteer
||Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007 at 3:36 PM
|Radford drank the Kool-Aid
||Concerned for the K
||Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007 at 3:37 PM
|Memory problems Ms Radford?
||for justice against disunity
||Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007 at 3:51 PM
|Just the facts
||Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007 at 4:46 PM
||Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2007 at 10:44 PM
|The Democratic Party Spin Doctors
||Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2007 at 4:02 PM
|Can't true u anymore Leslie
||Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2007 at 6:20 PM
||Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2007 at 10:41 PM
|When you start with a lie, my interest peters out
||Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007 at 10:04 AM
||Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007 at 10:29 AM
|the sound of static
||Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007 at 10:37 AM
||Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007 at 4:54 PM
|Claims of Archive censorship very disconcerting
||Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007 at 7:15 PM
|For the afficianados
||Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007 at 8:36 PM
|Leslie's Top Candidate Is A Threat To Station Safety
||Friday, Nov. 16, 2007 at 1:59 PM
|The Slander and Spin and Slander of the Dem. Party
||Friday, Nov. 16, 2007 at 6:11 PM
||Friday, Nov. 16, 2007 at 10:33 PM
|OPINION, FACT + PERSONAL ABUSE - TO THE EDITORS
||Sunday, Nov. 18, 2007 at 2:24 AM
|KPFK: Welcome to the Madhouse
||Sunday, Nov. 18, 2007 at 6:40 PM
|IS ANA KUNKIN A COP?
||Sunday, Nov. 18, 2007 at 9:55 PM
||another anonymous coward
||Monday, Nov. 19, 2007 at 12:17 AM
|Reyes could sue
||Monday, Nov. 19, 2007 at 2:06 PM
||Monday, Nov. 19, 2007 at 5:49 PM
|re:Terry (yawn) Goodman's comments
||just another listener
||Monday, Nov. 19, 2007 at 11:11 PM
|Pacifica National Board Opposes Election-buying efforts
||Monday, Nov. 19, 2007 at 11:33 PM
|Terry (the Trustworthy) Goodman votes against the poor
||just another listener
||Monday, Nov. 19, 2007 at 11:51 PM
|Let's be honest about the URL.
||Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2007 at 10:31 AM
|Correction to URL posting
||Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2007 at 10:37 AM
|911 Divide at KPFK Reflecting in Election Shenanigans?
||Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2007 at 8:01 PM
|re: 9/11 question
||Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007 at 11:38 AM
||stickler for urls
||Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007 at 4:58 PM
|not receive my ballot
||Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007 at 9:32 PM
||Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007 at 11:34 PM
|More evidence of Leslie's "Agenda"
||Thursday, Nov. 22, 2007 at 9:53 AM
||Thursday, Nov. 22, 2007 at 1:47 PM
||Saturday, Nov. 24, 2007 at 9:46 PM
|9/11 People are Obsessed
||Saturday, Nov. 24, 2007 at 11:16 PM
|911 on KPFK
||Monday, Dec. 03, 2007 at 2:01 PM
|What a choice
||Saturday, Jan. 19, 2008 at 12:42 PM