Between The Minutes: Notes from KPFA Board Meetings

by Daniel Borgstrom

Notes on what happened at the LSB of January 11, 2020
— Getting Tom Voorhees on the PNB
— Rejecting the Bylaws change
— Another program taken off the air

Not a lot of drama at this day’s meeting, but two important things were decided.  First of these was to choose four reps to the PNB (Pacifica National Board).  That is one of the most important decisions the LSB makes each year.  Other LSB tasks are to evaluate the General Manager and also the Program Director — neither of whom have been evaluated for some time.

There are 24 seats on the board, and our affinity group, Rescue Pacifica, has 8 of these seats.  So logically we could get one of our people, Tom Voorhees, on the PNB.  But there was a potential glitch — the majority faction, the UIR/SK, had made multiple attempts to force Tom off the PNB.  First, a couple of years ago, they had launched a series of lawsuits.  I’ll spare you the excruciating details on that and just say they failed, and Tom kept his seat on the PNB.  Then, during the takeover of WBAI in New York, one of the takeover-team (Donald Goldmacher) attempted to remove him from the PNB.  No grounds for that were ever given, and the matter was dropped, but it was quite clearly because Tom was one of the PNB members who refused to go along with the takeover of WBAI.

So we considered it possible that the majority faction, (the UIR/SK) might find a pretext to block Tom from running.  Well, they didn’t.  So today Tom Voorhees was elected to another year on the PNB without any fights or drama.

(UIR/SK is United for Independent Radio/SaveKPFA; both UIR and SK are deceptively named, adapted from the names of opposing groups.)

The other two listener reps chosen today for the PNB were Chris Cory and Akio Tanaka, both of the UIR/SK.  (Donald Goldmacher, who’d been one of their PNB reps last year and played a prominent role in the takeover, didn’t run for the PNB this time.)

One staff rep was reelected: Sabrina Jacobs.  She was the acting chair of the PNB during the takeover of WBAI in New York.

(Please note that I’m trying to use a neutral term for the month-long takeover of WBAI.  The takeover team euphemistically calls it “the October attempt to save Pacifica,” and we call it “the coup” or “the hijacking of WBAI.”)

THE PACIFICA RESTRUCTURING PROJECT
That concluded what is normally considered one of the LSB’s most important tasks of the year.  Then we had another agenda item of major importance.  That was a motion to endorse the “Pacifica Restructuring Project.”  If enacted, this project will bring about a total change in Pacifica’s bylaws, replace elected boards with ones where most seats will be appointed.  LSBs of the other Pacifica stations are also voting on it; WPFW and WBAI have already rejected it unanimously.

The motion was presented by LSB members Susan da Silva, Akio Tanaka, and Donald Goldmacher.  Donald participated remotely by speaker phone.  The motion read:

“Be It resolved that the amended Pacifica Bylaws submitted to the Pacifica National Board in September 2019 by more than 1% of the Pacifica members, and subsequently accepted by the Pacifica National Board, be enacted as soon as possible.”

Although almost everyone recognizes that the PNB is dysfunctional, the proposed restructuring will take out the democracy without remedying the problem.  That was our view, so we opposed it.  However, there were only 8 of us, and while I can’t say what the others of our affinity group may have expected (after all, nobody likes to say a fight is lost before you fight it), I thought this awful thing was certain to pass.  After all, the deep station at KPFA was home base for last fall’s takeover of WBAI, and now this.

Discussion on that began at 1 p.m. and continued for nearly an hour.  Everyone spoke, and as they spoke, one after another, it began to look like we were not totally alone in opposing it.  To my surprise, even Sabrina Jacobs (former spokesperson for the takeover of WBAI) opposed it, as did several others of the LSB majority.  So as the discussion drew to a close, it looked as though this just might be close to a tie. (There is just too much said in that discussion to even try to quote here. I recommend listening to it on the archive at https://kpftx.org .)

Then came the vote:
4 in favor
13 no
4 abstained
Motion failed.

This should’ve been a roll call vote.  It was not.  Three of four who voted yes were Susan, Aki, and Tim; I’m not sure who the fourth was.  Quite strangely, it appears that Donald Goldmacher hung up and left without bothering to vote for that motion which he’d put so much of his efforts into.

So KPFA’s LSB did not endorse the Bylaws changes, the “Pacifica Restructuring Project.”  Nevertheless, our station’s General Manager Quincy McCoy announced over KPFA’s airwaves: “Members of the PNB voted on the proposed new bylaws & the LSBs are now voting and so should listener-members” — possibly giving the erroneous sense that the proposal was well received.

There was also a second motion by Susan, an addendum to the first:  “Be it resolved that the delegate members of the KPFA LSB believe the Pacifica membership should have a right to vote on the current bylaw proposal submitted by membership petition in September 2019.”

Discussion opened and James McFadden of Rescue Pacifica said,  “I recommend that we abstain on this motion.  It is meaningless grandstanding that wastes LSB time. The current bylaws define when a listener election is required.  This is an attempt to include propaganda.”

No one else spoke on that motion, and we voted:
5 in favor.
14 abstained.

It was two o’clock.  The meeting took a break, then continued on for another hour.  Next on the agenda was “Public Comments,” which is normally near the beginning of the meeting.  Two people from the audience spoke: Stan Woods and Anthony Fest, both former LSB members.

“First off I want to congratulate the board for voting down the Corporate Model proposed Bylaws,” said Stan Woods, and then commented on the station’s sparse coverage of the antiwar movement. “KPFA has always been known as the antiwar station. Not so much anymore! … KPFA has rarely had genuine anti-imperialist, antiwar activists on the air recently, instead preferring guests that MSNBC or NPR would have no problems with. One blatant example is the frequent appearance of Professor Karen Greenberg [Director of The Center on National Security] who in response to a question from myself stated, ‘We should never forget that the FBI or CIA are there to protect us!'”

Across from Stan sat board member and KPFA show host Philip Maldari.  Just the previous Sunday, Philip had hosted Karen Greenberg on his show, but she’s been on at least once since then.  Some have joked that she’s on so often she might as well have her own show.

The second speaker, Anthony Fest, talked about KWMR, a community radio station at Point Reyes and Bolinas, which operates on $400,000, only about 12% of what KPFA spends.  Not peanuts, but it showed that a community radio can run on a lot less than we might think necessary.  In addition to about 95 adult volunteers, the station also had junior high and high school students performing as deejays.  Maybe KPFA should consider something like that; it could generate interest among young people.

General Manager Quincy McCoy was absent.  Business Manager Maria Negret wasn’t there either.  So treasurer Sharon Adams gave the treasurer’s report along with a bit of obligatory WBAI bashing.  There were no financial spread sheets.

Chris Cory, chair of the PNB’s National Finance Committee, reported that Pacifica has hired a new iCFO, Anita Sims.  She works for NETA (National Educational Telecommunications Association), and was the supervisor of her predecessor; so Ms. Sims is familiar with Pacifica.

Near the end of the agenda was an item listed as: “Old Business: Motion concerning PNB Directors.”  That’s the way the secretary listed it, giving no indication that it’s a motion Rescue Pacifica introduced in December; the item should have read: “Motion to consider the censure of Donald Goldmacher for accusations that could have tarnished the reputation of fellow PNB member Tom Voorhees during a Pacifica election.”  The LSB didn’t get to it last month, nor at this meeting.  So it’ll just continue to stay there, possibly to the discomfort of some.

The meeting adjourned at 3:15, having lasted 4 hours.
— — — — —

THE MONDAY MORNING AFTER
On Monday the 13th, just two days after the LSB meeting which General Manager Quincy McCoy did not attend, he took yet another show off the air.  This latest target is “Work Week,” hosted by Steve Zeltzer, the only show on KPFA devoted to labor issues and probably one of the very few if not the only show specifically on labor in the Bay Area.  For a so-called progressive station to terminate coverage of such an important and under-covered subject indicates that KPFA is joining the class war on the wrong side.

Lacking any explanation from the GM, this could be seen as a retaliatory measure; Steve is a former LSB member who raised uncomfortable questions, and recently he was interviewed on WBAI in a discussion of the Coup.

During the last couple of years, General Manager McCoy has taken several programs off the air; these include “Guns & Butter,” “Discrete Music,” and “Twit Wit Radio.” McCoy’s biggest takedown was last October at KPFA’s Pacifica sister station in New York, WBAI 99.5 FM, where former iED John Vernile appointed him “Consulting Programmer of Pacifica Across America.”  In that capacity McCoy replaced all local programming on WBAI’s airwaves with piped in programs and awful machine music.

KPFA is now playing a cart with the lines, “Quincy McCoy, our terrific general manager.”

This “terrific” GM needs to be evaluated by the LSB.  That’s one of the duties of the LSB, long overdue.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Here are KPFA’s current officers and new PNB reps:
LSB chair: Christina Huggins — UIR/SK
LSB vice chair: Marilyn Langlois — Rescue Pacifica
LSB secretary: Carol Wolfley — UIR/SK
LSB treasurer: Sharon Adams — UIR/SK

KPFA’s Pacifica National Board (PNB) reps:
Tom Voorhees — Rescue Pacifica
Chris Cory — UIR/SK
Akio Tanaka — UIR/SK
Sabrina Jacobs — UIR/SK

The eight RESCUE PACIFICA persons on the KPFA LSB are: Frank Sterling, Marilyn Langlois, Tom Voorhees, Karina Stenquist, Mantra Plonsey, James McFadden, Christine Pepin, and myself Daniel Borgström.

— — — — — —
DANIEL BORGSTRÖM
member of KPFA’s Local Station Board
with input from members and supporters of Rescue Pacifica

For updates, reports, audios, & essays about KPFA/Pacifica, please visit these websites:

RESCUE PACIFICA  https://www.rescuepacifica.net

PACIFICA IN EXILE http://pacificainexile.org

AUDIO ARCHIVES of LSB meetings at https://kpftx.org

DANIEL’S SITE http://danielborgstrom.blogspot.com/

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