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How Grace Aaron Came to Run Pacifica

by Wachale Sunday, Oct. 04, 2009 at 9:51 PM

An untold chapter on the tactics used by Aaron and her CTSK to win the 2007 election at KPFK that propelled her climb to controlling Pacifica Radio.

Voted yet in the KPFK Local Station Board elections? If you haven't, read this first. If you have, read this and then ask the KPFK Local Elections Supervisor for a replacement ballot.

In 2009, the Committee to Strengthen KPFK is trying to buy an election. In 2007, they tried a lawsuit against the Pacifica Radio Foundation.

In 2009, CTSK, led by Grace Aaron, has foregone most of the manipulations they used to win in 2009. This year, the CTSK group has shrunk and their endorsements have shriveled, so it's resorting to the mainstay of Democratic politics: money. They've marshaled their friends who still have excess money to seduce witless voters with another round of costly mailers and the back page of Change Links. Whether money buys elections at the potentially, and sometimes actually, radical community radio station remains to be seen. Ballots are due in on October 15.

The 2007 CTSK leader, Grace Aaron, has stepped away from openly leading CTSK, since she's now heading the whole Pacifica shebang, of which KPFK is but one part. She's both Chair of the Pacifica National Board and Executive Director. Have you heard the current fund drive? The snake oil and hocus pocus are not just a transparent appeal to aging baby boomers' lost youth, it's Aaron's vision of a KPFK make-over. The same pablum is being doled out across Pacifica stations.

Ever wondered why KPFK's news is now broadcast out of Berkeley?

Aaron will term out in March, but she's leaving in her wake the rest of the CTSK slate, led by her husband, Ken Aaron.

Grace's rise to power began with the 2007 elections, but she first flexed her muscle in a lawsuit to squeeze one more CTSK member on to the KPFK Local Station Board. The story never made it to LA Indymedia, but the whole account is in the Local Election Supervisor's report.

Makes you wonder what Grace and CTSK will do to Pacifica and KPFK if they don't win this year.

Here's the long, sordid, and revealing tale:

"It turned out that another KPFK candidate withdrew after having been declared elected. After LSB members raised a challenge to write-in candidate Ahjamu Makalini's membership status, and it was determined that he had not been a member for at least a decade, he withdrew his candidacy. The NES announced that the same ruling that was made in regard to Leslie Radford also applied in the case of Delegate-elect Ahjamu Makalani. Upon hearing about the demand for redistribution of the withdrawn candidate's votes, corporate counsel Dan Siegel asked the NES: "Why would you do a recount?" Subsequently, he bent to political pressure and convinced the PNB in secret session to pass a resolution to decertify the election without hearing the NES' viewpoint. However, the lawsuit filed by Grace Aaron and others was not well received by Los Angeles Superior Court, and the judge upheld the authority of the Election Supervisor, citing California Corporation Code Section 5152.

Judge David Yaffe's ruling in Aaron v. Pacifica (BC383600) The written tentative ruling stated: "Said election is determined to be void and of no force or effect because the fairness of the election was fatally compromised when Plaintiffs demanded and were granted postponement of the election in order to enable them to engage in further campaigning for their slate of candidates. "The unfairness of the election was then aggravated because the slate proposed by the Plaintiffs included a candidate who was ineligible to run for office because he was not a member in good standing of the corporation, and because he was permitted to run despite the fact that he had not been nominated by 15 members in direct violation of [Article 4] Section 2 of the corporate Bylaws. "The Court will further order that a new election be held, or that the delegates that held office at the time of said election of delegates [will remain in office], after the parties have been given the opportunity to agree which of said alternatives will best protect the voting rights of the members of the corporation."

In open court, Judge Yaffe read aloud from the NES's brief, stating it provided the basis for his ruling: "In October 2007, Grace Aaron and her attorney at the time, Carol Spooner, threatened to sue the Pacifica Foundation if the KPFK Local Station Board ballots were mailed on October 15 in keeping with the requirements of Pacifica's Bylaws. Ms. Aaron was putting together a slate mailer to be sent to the voting members of KPFK, and wanted it to have full impact by arriving at the same time as the ballots. Attorney Spooner's email communication states that if Pacifica does not meet her client's conditions, Grace (Aaron) will be seeking a court order invalidating any KPFK listener ballots. "No slate mailer had ever been done in previous KPFK elections, and this would give Ms. Aaron's slate an undeniable unfair advantage over independent candidates. Despite the fact that no KFPK candidates other than her slate were sending mailers to the voters, Ms. Aaron indicated that she would sue Pacifica if an additional advantage were not granted by violating the Bylaws and delaying the mailing of KPFK ballots. Pacifica's counsel agreed to acquiesce in an effort to avoid the expense and delay of litigation."

email reply to Grace Aaron on January 6

Re: Please let's avoid a lawsuit

From: Casey Peters
Date: 1/6/2008 4:19:34 PM


Hello Grace.
I wanted to clear some misconceptions that you seem to have about the KPFK Listener Sponsor election.

First, your assertion that it was my responsibility to make sure that Mr. Makalani was a member is not accurate. He did not qualify as a candidate on September 25 because he turned in only 12 signatures. Therefore, the Local Election Supervisor did not verify his membership because it was a moot point. When Mr. Makalani subsequently campaigned as a write-in candidate, the LES still did not check his name on the membership list, a fact that came to my attention just a week ago (December 30, 2007). Your husband, Ken Aaron, who worked for Mr. Makalani's slate, was present at the vote count and gave many suggestions as to procedure but he did not make any mention that Mr. Makalani's membership may be in question and should be confirmed prior to the vote count.

After his status was challenged by a board member, I gave Mr. Makalani sufficient time to produce some proof of membership, and he was unable to do so. According to KPFK's subscriptions department, Ahjamu Makalani last pledged in 1996 and did not pay that pledge. Similarly, you wanted permission for another nonmember to run for the board based on his having appeared as a guest on a radio program. How does electing non-members to the board strengthen KPFK? The real responsibility lies with the organizers of the slate to make sure that their candidates actually support the Pacifica Foundation.

Second, your assertion that I was prepared to "re-count" Leslie Radford's votes if she dropped out as a candidate is patently false. How you arrived at such a conclusion is beyond my comprehension. As you may know, Ms. Radford announced prior to the vote count that she was withdrawing from the race. The following day, before any votes had been counted, she contacted me to say she had been persuaded to change her mind. I alerted Ms. Radford to the fact that once the votes were counted there would be no opportunity to redistribute her votes, and that were she to change her mind again and vacate her seat if elected as a Delegate, the First Alternate would fill the vacancy.

Third, your assertion that I intend to "throw out" ten percent of the votes shows a lack of understanding of the Pacifica Bylaws and of the Single Transferable Vote (STV). The Bylaws establish a method of filling vacancies that does not involve redistribution of votes. Rather, Article Four Section 10 provides for any vacancy to be filled by "the highest-ranked candidate from the last election of Delegates." If you disagree with this provision, you should work to adopt a Bylaws amendment for a redistribution method. STV is designed to minimize, not eliminate, the phenomenon of wasted votes. When nine seats are to be filled, the threshold for election is 10% plus one vote. Multiply that threshold times nine seats, and you see that nearly ten percent of ballots may not help elect a candidate. In the case of Mr. Makalani, over 20% of the value of his votes were already redistributed as a fractional value of each of his ballots after he was declared elected. The remainder of less than 79% value is nearly compensated for in the support shown in the final round of the vote count for the First Alternate, Israel Feuer.

Fourth, your assertion that the rule counting write-ins as first place votes has disenfranchised voters is not the case. Our volunteers went painstakingly through all of Mr. Makalani's votes to ferret out those that indicated they did not wish to choose him as their first place preference, and those ballots were distributed to the first preference indicated by each voter.

Fifth, your assertion that you would win a lawsuit forcing a recount is based on your presumption that you will find a judge willing to disregard the foundation Bylaws. A threatened lawsuit by you earlier in the election process forced an unwarranted delay in the mailing of the ballots. I acquiesced under the advisement of our foundation counsel. That decision led to the delay of the KPFK vote count and to an injunction against the WBAI vote count. In this instance, foundation counsel sees no need for a recount, and it is highly unlikely that a court would intervene.

The ruling on this matter is posted at http://www.pacificafoundation.org/elections/general-election-news/ Note that it is written in a discrete manner, not publicly airing some of the unpleasantries mentioned above.

Please be gracious enough to recognize your slate's errors, to comply with Pacifica Bylaws, to accept your slate's victory in a majority of the seats, and to implement the platform on which you campaigned. Casey Peters National Elections Supervisor Pacifica Foundation

<-----Original Message----->
>From: Grace Aaron [graceaa...@ca.rr.com]
>Sent: 1/5/2008 6:14:11 PM
>To: pacif...@mail2casey.com


>Subject: Re: Please let's avoid a lawsuit

>Dear Casey,

>We have already started drafting a letter to you threatening to file
suit in
>L.A. County if you do not redistribute and recount the ballots. Please
save us
>the time and trouble this would cause by doing the right thing to
ensure that
>KPFK voters are not disenfranchised.

>We're not asking for anything unusual -- just that the will of the
voters be
>given the highest priority.

>You will recall that I never (nor anyone from our Committee) protested
>intent to recount Leslie Radford's ballots after she resigned. We have
>fair and not placed our personal interests above the will of the
voters. We
>also did not challenge Leslie's re-entrance to the election. We expect
the same
>spirit of fair play from you.

>The outcome will be the same. The ball is in your court. No pun

>Do you want to have to do the recount before or AFTER a court

>Trying to feel peaceful,

>Grace Aaron

Brief response to Ken Aaron's email of March 2, 2008

The husband of Grace Aaron sent an email on March 2 that was rife with disinformation. The National Elections Supervisor was too busy preparing for the WBAI vote count to respond. Now for the record, here is a cursory reply to some of the charges:

(1)"KPFK Local Election Supervisor Liliana Sanchez was fired just prior to the counting of the ballots." This is a total lie by Ken Aaron. Ms. Sanchez in fact had an extension of her contract after the vote count in order to complete her final report.

(2)"There was no log of events." Every round of the vote count was carefully recorded, in keeping with prior practice at Pacifica vote counts.

(3)"Verification of votes was based on a secret process." The Election Supervisors protect the privacy of our members and do not disclose the Personal Identification Numbers assigned to any individual.

(4)"Inadequate security of ballots." Responsible persons were present with the ballot box at all times, and no tampering was reported.

(5)"Hand counting is not appropriate with a large STV election." Cambridge, Massachusetts used a hand count of the Single Transferable Vote to elect its City Council for six decades. At KPFK it proved considerably faster than and just as accurate as the computer count. The transparency of a hand count makes it easier to understand than the opaque mystery of a computer count. A hand count of the first round of the Listener-Sponsor count and of the entire Staff election should always be done to assure the voters that the computer count is not crooked.

(6)NES Casey Peters "stalled the completion of the count, taking off time for personal activities, leaving in the middle to handle a flap in Berkeley." The KPFK computer count was stalled due to technical difficulties the KPFK Elections Work Group (EWG) had with scanning ballots for verification. Peters took one day off for oral surgery and a second day to recover. Otherwise, Peters seldom had a whole day off during 11 months of service to Pacifica. The KPFA Staff election was counted as scheduled one week after the KPFK count began, then Peters returned to Los Angeles to complete the vote count. The EWG was still experiencing problems, so a hand count was undertaken and completed in 2 days (December 24 & 26). The EWG finished the computer count with the same result on January 6.

(7)Aaron claims the Staff election was flawed although he did not attend the well-noticed count. More ballots were received in the re-vote than in the first election, and there were only two invalid ballots compared with 22 invalid in the first vote. The hand count took only an hour, and the results were beyond reproach. (8)Ken Aaron submitted a declaration to the court that consisted of perjury, but his attempt to mislead the judge failed and his wife's case against the Pacifica Foundation and Casey Peters was dismissed."
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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 6 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Question re Grace and Aaron Oscar Monday, Oct. 05, 2009 at 12:56 AM
Who is and has been financing Aaron? Oscar Monday, Oct. 05, 2009 at 1:01 AM
Who cares? Fredric L. Rice Monday, Oct. 05, 2009 at 6:15 AM
finding good candidates K friend Monday, Oct. 05, 2009 at 12:49 PM
this IS 2009, but some enjoying rehashing past history for ??? their own benefits & glory akfpker - a stakeholder Tuesday, Oct. 06, 2009 at 1:12 PM
On the comment above, briefly K Friend Thursday, Oct. 08, 2009 at 9:28 PM
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