29 September, 2008

65 KPFA Staffers No-Confidence Statement Gaining Signers

KPFA Staffers No-Confidence Statement Gaining Signers:
65 Now Endorse Call For a Change

by Anonymous
Tuesday Sep 23rd, 2008 8:20 PM
A statement of no-confidence in current management following the banning and arrest of unpaid programmer Nadra Foster has now been endorsed by 65 staffers.
KPFA Staffers Release No-Confidence Statement as Fall Fund Drive Begins ; Community Supporters Express Dismay at Use of Police

Berkeley, CA – Nine years have passed since Pacifica radio station KPFA, the seminal community radio outlet founded by pacifist Lew Hill in 1949, last had the police inside its doors to arrest its workers, but on August 20, 2008, the Berkeley police were again summoned to 1929 Martin Luther King Jr Way, and asked to eject programmer Nadra Foster, who had been allegedly banned for a disagreement involving usage of a copier.

Sixty-five of the station’s workers, paid and unpaid alike, have joined together to condemn what they describe as a growing atmosphere of intimidation, including increased security measures, restrictions on airing discussion of internal issues, the return of banning individuals from the premises, and the use of police force to address non-violent policy issues.

Several prominent members of the progressive community the station serves have decried the use of force, including authors Michael Parenti and Norman Solomon, devorah major, former SF poet laureate, Jack Heyman of the ILWU, Mills College professor Julia Sudbury and advocacy groups Critical Resistance, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and Copwatch.

Project Censored Executive Director Peter Phillips commented "KPFA should only use outside police in the station when a serious life-threatening circumstance is evident or major crime is in progress. A progressive self-managed system of mutual respect and communication must take priority over outside force”.

After Pacifica Radio surmounted a major crisis in the late 1990’s that involved ousting a Board of Directors that planned to sell the stations, a subscriber-elected governance system was put into place, allowing listeners who pledge $25 annually to select the network’s directors. An attempt to replace the current interim manager, the station’s former development director, with a permanent hire was stymied last year and the hiring process is again underway.

Media Alliance director Tracy Rosenberg, an elected local board member, commented “It is way past time for KPFA, and Pacifica as a whole, to move away from discredited command and control tactics to manage its diverse workforce”.

The Unpaid Staff Organization, (UPSO) which from 1990-onwards organized the 160+ unpaid programmers, was de-recognized in August 2007, leaving the majority of the station’s producers and hosts with no avenue for internal appeal of disciplinary actions and/or loss of status.

Programmer Foster, who suffered a severe sprain and bruises during her arrest, is still facing five misdemeanor charges in Alameda County, including trespassing, resisting arrest and battery on an officer. Her pre-trial hearing was on September 22nd. Fellow staffers are trying to arrange a fundraiser to assist her with legal expenses stemming from the August 20th incident.

The Pacifica Radio network, one of the few national media outlets that features news, information and culture with a decidedly progressive slant, is said to be facing significant financial challenges in what is clearly a difficult economic environment for journalism.



" We, the undersigned paid and unpaid KPFA staff do not have confidence in the management of KPFA’s Interim General Manager Lemlem Rijio. Rijio's actions during the past 2 years have caused the alienation of a large of number of staff members, have created turmoil within the station and have resulted in her losing credibility with many staff members. Her shift of KPFA’s culture away from one of collaboration and mutual support helped create the climate leading to the tragic and unnecessary police arrest of unpaid staff member Nadra Foster. KPFA and Pacifica management’s transformation of a workplace dispute, internally resolvable through collaborative means, into a major police action violates KPFA’s mission to promote peaceful ways to solve conflicts. Moving toward a more restrictive work environment will distance the station further from grassroots communities that Pacifica aims to serve.

" We look forward to the appointment of a new General Manager from the list of 11 candidates, prepared by KPFA’s Local Station Board, in order to bring comprehensive teamwork, support, and peace to the station. We agree with the nearly 80 staff members who signed a recent “Open Letter on New KPFA Leadership Attributes/Priorities” that it’s time for fresh leadership".

25 September, 2008

Response to ‘Healing KPFA’ article
29 Sept 2008 - Berkeley Daily Planet


Reader Commentaries:

In Response to ‘Healing KPFA’

By Shahram Aghamir and Nick Alexander

Thursday September 25, 2008

First of all, we must confess we were a bit puzzled that the authors of the Sept. 18 commentary, “Healing KPFA,” self-identified as “KPFA Staff,” when nearly half the six signatories are actually KPFA Local Station Board members affiliated with the “Concerned Listeners” block, rather than staff members. Furthermore, of the six actual staff signers, five are paid department heads, and not rank and file or unpaid employees. To say the least, a rather skewed sampling of “KPFA staff.”

Beyond that rather misleading representation, we ask, is it really fair for the authors of this letter (who ostensibly call for “healing”) to use innuendo and the term “opportunist” when characterizing the many dedicated programmers who have courageously taken it upon themselves to discuss the troubling Aug. 20 police incident (a public news event) on the air, both to educate listeners and to bring healing to a traumatized and demoralized staff?

In addition, quoting from the “Healing KPFA” letter, we see a number of other unfair and divisive characterizations, to wit:

“And the loudest shouting over the police incident has come from those entrenched programmers at the station who stand to lose the most from a revitalization of KPFA.”

While we acknowledge differences of opinion among KPFA staff, we ask this letter’s authors whether they are trying to instigate false divisions along “seniority” lines within the vibrant, strong coalition for fundamental change at KPFA. The “Healing KPFA” authors seem to be trying to create divisions in our struggle without addressing the favorable or unfavorable contributions of so-called “entrenched” staff with regards to “revitalization.” None of the “Healing KPFA” authors have signed our widely embraced open staff letter outlining a desperately needed, prudent and carefully developed vision for new leadership and the revitalization of KPFA. (Visit www.physicszone.org/letter2008/letter.html) On the other hand, those senior programmers derided as the “loudest” by the “Healing KPFA” letter did sign our letter. So who should properly be described as “entrenched?”

Unfortunately, the tragic arrest of unpaid staffer Nadra Foster is but a symptom of deeper problems inside the station or on KPFA’s Local Station Board that the “Healing KPFA” authors have steadfastly refused to address. Indeed, LSB staff representative Brian Edwards-Tiekert did not support a LSB resolution calling on Interim General Manager Lemlem Rijio to reverse her “de-recognition” of KPFA’s Unpaid Staff Organization (UPSO). His close ally, then-LSB Chair and journalist Conn Hallinan, was not eligible to vote. But ally, voting LSB member and Pacifica National Board Chair Sherry Gendelman, also abstained. To be fair, Andrea Turner voted for the resolution, but she has otherwise gone along with the mute response of LSB “Concerned Listeners” to Rijio methodically shifting KPFA’s culture away from collaboration and mutual support, which ultimately culminated in the unnecessary police arrest of Nadra Foster.

In the eight-point open letter, 80 paid and unpaid staff from a broad spectrum of backgrounds and positions at KPFA are demanding a number of reforms, including fresh new KPFA leadership committed to the following core values:

1. KPFA and Pacifica network’s mission, which promotes peaceful means to solve conflicts instead of resorting to state force as occurred in the tragic and unnecessary arrest of unpaid programmer Nadra Foster.

2. Active support and respect for KPFA’s entire staff, including the First Voice Apprenticeship Program and other radio collectives, and no obstruction of UPSO from lawfully holding elections, as well as support for unpaid staff participation in station affairs. KPFA’s Unpaid Staff Organization, which advocates on behalf of the station’s large unpaid workforce and had established grievance procedures for volunteer concerns, was abruptly de-recognized by Rijio in August of 2007 and has not been reinstated, in defiance of resolutions by KPFA’s Local Station Board and Pacifica’s National Board.

The open letter’s other points deal with new KPFA leadership that works to achieve—instead of blocking—democracy in the station; helps reform KPFA’s program schedule and incorporates interactive media tools; recognizes the need to serve new and younger audiences (In 2006, Rijio outraged many staff when she permanently removed Youth Radio from the air for FCC profanity violations without discussing other possible disciplinary actions with the then-active Program Council, which was also effectively dismantled later, under her watch); allocates resources to support local producers’ needs, including disabled staff; is accessible and impartial in all staff matters; and respects and facilitates the broadcasting of ethnic specials.

Finally, despite what the “Healing KPFA” authors are trying to suggest at kpfa.org/august20, no one in our coalition is saying do not call the police in extreme circumstances involving bodily harm or willful destruction of property. Falling outside such circumstances is an unpaid KPFA programmer, Nadra Foster, who was allegedly “banned” from the station for apparently disagreeing with a manager who said she could not use the phone or photocopy machine.

Shahram Aghamir is a staff representative on the, KPFA Local Station Board and co-producer of Voices of the Middle East And North Africa. Nick Alexander is a reporter and co-producer for The Radio Chronicles.