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CONTROVERSIAL EMAIL RECEIVED DETAILING POSSIBLE CLOSURE OF KPFA AS LAWSUIT IS FILED TO FORCE ACCOUNTABILITY COMMUNITY LEADERS DECRY CRACKDOWN

by Alexander Cockburn And Jeffrey St. Clair

 

BERKELEY, CA – At a press conference at 1:30 p.m. today, Media Alliance Executive Director Andrea Buffa will release a controversial email she received yesterday that describes plans by Pacifica Radio to close KPFA and possibly sell another Pacifica station, WBAI in New York. The email appears to have come from Pacifica board of directors member Michael Palmer.

“We are working to confirm the authenticity of this email and call on Michael Palmer and Pacifica Board Chair Dr. Mary Frances Berry to immediately publicly confirm or refute this email,” Buffa said.

Phone calls by Media Alliance and several Pacifica board members to Palmer have not been returned. Local Internet service provider IGC was contacted about verifying the path by which the email was sent to Media Alliance. IGC’s tech services department has stated that the email looks to have legitimately been sent from Palmer’s account. The full text of the email is available at www.zmag.org or www.counterpunch.org.

The press conference takes place immediately preceding a hearing at Berkeley Municipal Court at which charges will be filed against a group of peaceful protesters who blocked the entry to Pacifica Foundation’soffice in Berkeley last month. The demonstrators prevented PacificaFoundation Executive Director Lynn Chadwick from entering her office on June 22. Chadwick initiated a citizen’s arrest when Berkeley police refused to cite the activists. Local community leaders decried the decision, calling it a terrible contradiction.

Meanwhile, a group of local stations’ advisory board members from Los Angeles, Berkeley and New York is pressing ahead with a lawsuit intended to reverse Pacifica’s recent governance changes that eliminated local say on the national board. Oakland attorney Dan Siegel will file suit within the next few days to restore the last shred of local control at Pacifica: the ability of local station boards to recommend members to the national board. Seigel will also attend the press conference. “Pacifica, when faced with the question of changing its method of choosing its leadership, opted for the least democratic option imaginable. It is time to revisit this issue, and it should be unnecesssary to require a court order to do so,” Siegel said.

Yesterday, Pacifica national board chair Dr. Mary Frances Berry arrived in Oakland, told neither staff nor listeners of her visit, and attempted to negotiate with KPFA’s union leaders. Shop stewards met with Berry to remind her of her promise to meet with the KPFA steering committee, which both listeners and staff have designated as their representative, and refused to negotiate further.

KPFA paid staff, volunteers, local advisory board members, subscribers, and listeners will continue to press Pacifica to: 1) Rehire respected KPFA station manager Nicole Sawaya, whose termination touched off massive protests in Berkeley and the firing of two veteran programmers because they violated Pacifica’s on-air “gag rule”; 2) Participate in mediation and allow for investigation of the dispute between local interests and the national bureaucracy; and 3) Reverse the disciplinary or adverse actions taken against KPFA and Pacifica staff since Sawaya’s termination.

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

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