"Justice and Unity faction tries to sabotage WBAI Fundraiser"
this repost was rec'd on Thursday, July 16, 2009 7:54 AM was originally sent to:
“On or about Wed Jul 15, 2009, the WBAI USOC Stewards wrote:
A group of people based in California, with the cooperation of local cohorts, have recently staged a coup at WBAI. “
reponse & corrections: A group of people based in New York, with the cooperation of cohorts in other station areas, have had a stranglehold on Pacifica until recently, and that stranglehold almost destroyed the Pacifica Foundation. The Pacifica Foundation, based in California, with the support of the Pacifica National Board consisting of Directors elected from all Pacifica station areas and with representation from Affiliates, under a democratic structure wherein listeners and staff use proportional voting methods to elect delegates, has facilitated a change in the management of New York station WBAI, which has been operating at a deficit for several years, subsequent to a majority request for such change in management by the democratically elected representatives of the radio station's local membership, who are in the categories of listener-sponsor members and staff members.
WABIers claim : The interim Pacifica Executive Director, Grace Aaron of Los Angeles, has engaged in a series of politically-motivated firings and bannings of longtime station and network staff in violation of due process and human decency.
reponse & corrections: The major reductions in Pacifica's network staff occurred months before Grace Aaron was made interim Executive Director. Pacifica's National Office is funded by payments from its broadcast stations and both WBAI and KPFK were behind in their payments to the National Office. Most of Pacifica's national staff was laid off in response to this loss of critical funding.
WABIers claim :In New York, General Manager Anthony Riddle has been forced out and replaced by LaVarn Williams of Berkeley, California.
reponse & corrections: LaVarn Williams is an experienced financial analyst and served for several years as Treasurer of the Foundation, elected by previous Pacifica National Boards. She was appointed interim CFO by the PNB in January and her double-duty as interim WBAI General Manager is both saving the Foundation money and placing financial oversight where it is most needed.
WABIers claim : Longtime WBAI Program Director Bernard White was fired as he returned from major surgery and banned from the station and airwaves, as was Ayo Harrington education activist and a producer of "On the Count" our criminal justice/prison rights" program.
reponse & corrections: Bernard White, as WBAI's Program Director, shares major responsibility for the station's declining listenership and poor financial performance in recent years. Ayo Harrington served as Bernard White's assistant for some of this period.
WABIers claim :Acting Manager Williams has ignored Ayo Harrington and the Unpaid Staff Organizing Committee's asking for Ms. Williams' reasons for her actions against Ayo Harrington.
reponse & corrections: If Ayo Harrington was dismissed in connection with her service as Assistant to the Program Director, then she does not have union representation in that dispute. If Harrington was dismissed in connection with her subsequent service as WBAI Premiums Manager, then her representation in that dispute should come from the paid staff's union. USOC stewards, who may or may not represent a recognized unpaid staff bargaining unit at WBAI, are interfering where they have no reasonable claim of authority; and Ayo Harrington had no business serving as a USOC steward when a Pacifica employee if she has done so.
WABIers claim : Additionally, host Mimi Rosenberg and newscaster Don Debar have been removed from WakeUp Call for their opposition to the coup.
reponse & corrections: Because the management changes at WBAI are supported by the station's Local Station Board consisting of delegates elected by vote of the station's local membership, those changes cannot accurately be characterized as a "coup." Volunteers Mimi Rosenberg and Don Debar have been removed from WakeUp Call not for their opposition to these changes but for other reasons. USOC stewards may represent these volunteers in their disputes with the station, but USOC does not control the station's programming decisions or station management's enforcement of Pacifica's programming policies.
WABIers claim : In Berkeley, after a baseless, public smear campaign, Chief Financial Officer Lonnie Hicks was fired.
reponse & corrections: Former CFO Lonnie Hicks is claiming such a campaign in his lawsuit against the Foundation; but, in fact, the Pacifica National Board had good cause to implement this dismissal and would have had equally good cause in previous years.
WABIers claim : In Los Angeles, KPFK Program Director Armando Gudino has been fired, as have News Director (and "Informativo Pacifica" producer) Fernando Velasquez,and programmer Jerry Quickley.
reponse & corrections: I do not know the details of Armando Guidino's exit at KPFK, but Fernando Velasquez and Jerry Quickley were both laid off, not fired. None of these KPFK employees are being replaced anytime soon, and there were additional recent staff cuts at this station.
WABIers claim : In Washington, D.C., General Manager Ron Pinchback was fired and humiliatingly escorted from the premises.
reponse & corrections: It is normal practice for separated employees to be escorted from the premises. Ron Pinchback was also serving as that station's Program Director. WPFW's financial performance has been better than that of WBAI and KPFK in recent years, but the station has not been raising enough funds to finance a move that will be required upon expiration of its studio lease. The Pacifica Foundation does not currently have the funds to rescue WPFW and finance its move when that time comes, so WPFW must substantially improve the performance of its capital campaign. Specifically, it must match a $1 Million pledge over four years or it may lose all or part of that donation.
WABIers claim: Thus, the current leadership of WBAI/Pacifica is undermining the principles that Pacifica promises to its workers and preaches to others.
reponse & corrections: The current leadership of WBAI/Pacifica is attempting to rescue WBAI, KPFK, WPFW, and Pacifica from financial catastrophe while improving those station's and the network's adherance to the Pacifica Mission and those station's and the network's service to its listeners. Pacifica is the first national broadcast network in the United States to adopt a democratic governance structure in order to be responsive to its listener members. When progressive changes occur in response to the legitimate demands of a majority for improvement, the minority is expected to complain. In Pacifica, however, such complaints should represent honest dissent and should not be based upon lies and distortions.
The USOC Stewards who authored the letter to which this is a response, Ayo Harrington, Ken Nash, Marquez Osson, Louis Reyes Rivera, and Cerene Roberts, share in the overall responsibility for WBAI's and Pacifica's financial problems, because they have repeatedly acted, individually and as members of a local faction, to resist needed reform at WBAI during the years of that station's declining performance under every measurable standard. If USOC is to be again recognized as bargaining agent for the members of the Unpaid Staff Bargaining Unit at WBAI, a recognition that has arguably lapsed and/or may be withdrawn, then these "stewards" should resign or be recalled by the Bargaining Unit members in support of the positive changes occuring at the station under its transition management.
Due to the Unpaid Staff Organizing Committee's failure as a committee to organize an unpaid staff organization at WBAI and obtain recogntion of that organization from station management, however, I would like to see a legitimate WBAI unpaid staff organization finally formed using the talent and services of a more conscientious and responsible committee of organizers.
NOTE: these “responses & corrections” were supplied & written by --Terry Goodman [ a very knowlegable and dedicated Pacifica and KPFK member whom some of us trust more than most writers ]