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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 […]
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’s
office in Berkeley last month. The demonstrators prevented Pacifica
Foundation 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.