Lawsuit Readied to Reverse Takeover By Pacifica Foundation Directors

by Alexander Cockburn And Jeffrey St. Clair

Legal counsel for community members from Local Advisory Boards of FM radio stations KPFK (Los Angeles), KPFA (Berkeley) and WBAI (New York), has informed the Pacifica Foundation, which owns the non-commercial stations, that they will take legal action unless Pacifica’s Board of Directors reverses recently enacted changes in Foundation by-laws that give the Pacifica Governing Board exclusive right to nominate and elect its entire membership.

Attorney Dan Siegel, of the Oakland firm Siegel and Yee, in a letter dated June 14, informed Pacifica Chair Mary F. Berry and Pacifica Governing Board members of the complaint on behalf of sixteen members from Local Advisory Boards (LABs) at Pacifica’s three largest stations. The letter charges that the by-laws changes approved by the Governing Board in September 1997 and February 1999 violate provisions of the California Corporations Code. Further, Siegel wrote, “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 unnecessary to require a court order to do so.” Prior to the contested changes, LABs elected a majority of the Pacifica Governing Board. Station staff representatives on LABs have also seen their voting rights removed, along with their ability to serve on the Governing Board.

This is the latest development in a nearly 5-year long conflict over the issue of governance, democracy and community control at Pacifica, the largest non-commercial radio broadcaster in the United States. The Pacifica Foundation is a network of listener-supported radio stations founded 50 years ago to provide a venue for the open discussion of ideas that would lead to peace and social justice.

Prior to the most recent vote to change Pacifica By-Laws, prominent progressive authors Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Edward Herman, wrote Pacifica urging it to respect the democratic principles it broadcasts and noted, “As long-time admirers and supporters of Pacifica, we are troubled by apparent tendencies toward increased centralization of power and decision-making that bring Pacifica closer to the private corporate model.” Nonetheless, the Governing Board approved the changes unanimously.

Pacifica’s Governing Board meets this coming weekend in Washington DC. The agenda includes consideration of new board members according to the provisions of the amended by-laws. Siegel indicates that the sixteen LAB members he represents are prepared to file suit if Pacifica fails to establish contact to enter into negotiations by Friday.

Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch. 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.

Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000
John Feffer
Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
Paul Craig Roberts
The Impulsiveness of US Power
Ron Jacobs
The Murderer as American Hero
Alex Nunns
“A Movement Looking for a Home”: the Meaning of Jeremy Corbyn
Philippe Marlière
Class Struggle at Air France
Binoy Kampmark
Waiting in Vain for Moderation: Syria, Russia and Washington’s Problem
Paul Edwards
Empire of Disaster
Xanthe Hall
Nuclear Madness: NATO’s WMD ‘Sharing’ Must End
Margaret Knapke
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages
Uri Avnery
Abbas: the Leader Without Glory
Halima Hatimy
#BlackLivesMatter: Black Liberation or Black Liberal Distraction?
Michael Brenner
Kissinger Revisited
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Halyna Mokrushyna
On Ukraine’s ‘Incorrect’ Past
Jason Cone
Even Wars Have Rules: a Fact Sheet on the Bombing of Kunduz Hospital
Walter Brasch
Mass Murders are Good for Business
William Hadfield
Sophistry Rising: the Refugee Debate in Germany
Christopher Brauchli
Why the NRA Profits From Mass Shootings
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
Pete Dolack
There is Still Time to Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Marc Norton
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Andre Vltchek
Stop Millions of Western Immigrants!
David Rosen
If Donald Dump Was President
Dave Lindorff
America’s Latest War Crime
Ann Garrison
Sankarist Spirit Resurges in Burkina Faso
Franklin Lamb
Official Investigation Needed After Afghan Hospital Bombing
Linn Washington Jr.
Wrongs In Wine-Land
Ronald Bleier
Am I Drinking Enough Water? Sneezing’s A Clue
Charles R. Larson
Prelude to the Spanish Civil War: Eduard Mendoza’s “An Englishman in Madrid”
David Yearsley
Papal Pop and Circumstance
October 08, 2015
Michael Horton
Why is the US Aiding and Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Genocidal War in Yemen?