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".