Reports on the Pacifica nationa board meeting in Houston 3-3/4-01
3-7-01: Juan Gonzalez report of Houston events (co-producer of Democracy Now!)
Links to audio reports:
The insta-review based on reports on KPFA by Tracey Rosbenberg and on Larry Bensky's show (I'll forget something - LOTS probably - but for starters:
The financial records HAVE ALREADY been removed from LA to DC. There's no controller to replace Sandra Rosas, so who knows what's happened to them. An accountant hired to do the statements (?) said there has been no input of records since October, and it will take weeks or months to get the records caught up. Not good news at all, but probably not unexpected, either.
Applications/resumes were sent by 7 people representing listening areas for board positions. Ken Ford claims not to have received ANY of them, and had the audacity to suggest they were ALL lost in the mail.
Board is playing nicey-nice apparently on the advice of attorneys. Sherry Gendelman said it was "hilarious."
People prevented from attending open meetings, etc., as usual.
No action on by-laws
"No intention at this moment to sell any stations." Make of that what you will. They said this last year, too.
Rob Robinson re-elected to his board seat, which is expiring. Four dissenting votes: van Putten, Ford, and two others whose names I didn't get (one is the new director from Houston area).
I'm sure more will be added to this. Hope this helps.
Date: Mon Mar 5, 2001 12:46am
Go to http://www.wbai.net for some updates.
there were meetings all weekend and and a great teach in where the history of how this could have happened to the network was attended by many. It was lots of information and Q&A.
Valerie Van Isler spoke on sunday at the WBAI comment session about the successes in her tenure as general manager but failed to mention her complicity in the pacifica march towards corporatization.
if only she would have said "after all I did for the pacifica foundation - I busted the union for you, i did what ever you wanted- how dare you throw me in the garbage like you did this plaque i received for the successful move to Wall Street!"
No it didn't go like that at all but it was the first time i ever seen her be passionate. pretty wild stuff.
Utrice and Bessie Wash both left during the wbai crisis discussion. they pulled a Mary Berry on us. the meeting got shut down by chanting and singing and then revived without the public except for 5.
check out the website.
more later i am too tired..
Sunday 12:00 noon
Re-election of current board members is taking place. Dissident board member Rob Robertson has been re-elected.
Sunday 9:00 am
At around 10:30 am the meeting is about to reconvene with at least enough board members to make quorum.
Rally rips changes at Pacifica network
By DANNY PEREZ
Demonstrators with signs reading "corporate hacks off the Pacifica Board" and "Pacifica: Stop wrecking free-speech radio" called Saturday for Pacifica Chairman David Acosta of Houston to resign.
The rally, which involved protesters from across the country, came outside the Double Tree Post Oak hotel, site of the Pacifica Foundation's annual meeting.
Pacifica, based in Washington, D.C., operates five stations nationwide, including KPFT (90.1 FM) in Houston. It often has carried programming that could be construed as anti-establishment.
Critics complain that management in recent years has censored political commentators and replaced newscasts with music.
"I'm here and dozens of other people are here because this group inside the hotel is trying to destroy the only independent radio network in the United States," said Andrea Buffa of Media Alliance, a nonprofit media advocacy group. "It is being attacked from the inside."
Police were stationed in the hotel lobby and near meeting rooms for security.
Some board members and their families received threats before the convention, Pacifica spokesman Fred Winters said, but he said that was not the reason for the security.
To try to defuse tension during the convention, Pacifica's board allowed protesters to speak at an unscheduled open forum. The speakers complained about the station's management and the direction its programming has taken.
After listening to several complaints, the board adjourned the meeting.
One of the issues raised was Pacifica's transformation over the past five years. A small clique who have more in common with corporate vultures than with working-class Americans has hijacked the Pacifica board, asserted Juan Gonzalez, former co-host of the Pacifica program Democracy Now.
Amy Goodman, current host of Democracy Now, which is nationally syndicated on radio, also decried the changes at Pacifica.
Goodman, a 16-year employee, has dealt with such topics as police brutality, corporate globalization and the death penalty.
"We give voice to union activists, people who fight for racial, social and economic justice in a regular way," Goodman said.
Goodman said management at WBAI, the Pacifica station in New York City, have censored, harassed and verbally abused her.
She said she has filed labor grievances with her union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
Goodman said Pacifica has tried to create "an extremely hostile work environment" for her.
Instead of resigning like her former co-host Gonzalez, she said she decided to carry on and join in the call for improvements.
"We believe deeply in the original mission of Pacifica," she said. "We are the only independent media network in this country, and we have to move forward and protect this public space that is dedicated to bringing out the voices of those who are rarely heard."
The meeting room where protesters chastised board members was filled to capacity. Many of the speakers, including Gonzalez, demanded the resignation of certain board members, and vowed to keep fighting Pacifica's administration.
Pacifica officials discounted the notion that the network has abandoned its original mission. "Pacifica has an important mission and an important message, and we have made programming changes at all of our stations to bring that message to a larger audience, " said Garland Ganter, general manager of KPFT, the Pacifica station in Houston. "We have been very successful with it here locally in Houston."
Ganter was quick to add, however, that nothing was being compromised to enhance the network's audience.
"We do want to try to accommodate as many voices as we can," he said. "I'm optimistic and confident that, despite some of the controversy, I think eventually things are going to work out for the better."
meeting highlights from http://houston.indymedia.org/:
- Members of the Pacifica national board listen to comments by 17 concerned parties Saturday afternoon in Houston. The room was filled to capacity by activists and some were not able to get inside including Local Advisory Board.
- Rafael, former KPFT, Houston program director asks the board where is the diversity on Pacifica today. He longs for the station that once broadacast in eleven languages and now only programs in english.
- Epstein, becker & Green lawyer John Murdock responds after over an hour of hearing from angry listeners and activists. Excerpt: "...we can't get rid of you, and you can't get rid of us."
- In paraphrase Juan Gonzalez told the board, some of you might not know me very well, but when I decide to commit myself to a cause, I succeed. I will see you out of here.
From: Craig Gingold (off newPacifica list)
Following is a summary of KPFA news reporter Matt Martin's account of what transpired at the Pacifica board meeting in Houston on Saturday, March 3, 2001, from an interview of Martin on this evening's KPFA news broadcast:
Instead of the scheduled committee meetings, the board met in executive session all morning, until 1 p.m. It then held an "unscheduled" public comment period for one hour, which was completely packed despite the fact that hotel security kept many people out of the room, including several Local Advisory Board members. (Unfortunately, Martin did not provide any details on what was said during the comment period.)
Following the public comment period, two committee meetings took place, which were open to the public. During the governance committee meeting, committee chair John Murdock said that his proposed bylaws revisions would NOT be voted on during the board meeting. Instead, as a result of the heavy input of comments he received in response to his proposals, the board will undertake a complete review of the *existing* bylaws. The board now plans to hold public meetings in all five signal areas to gather input as to what changes should be made to the bylaws.
Lastly, during the finance committee's meeting, Pacifica exec. director Bessie Wash gave a figure of "$14,000" as the amount of money that has been expended for "security measures" at WBAI since the so-called Christmas Coup of Dec. 24, 2000.
Larry Bensky has announced that he will be speaking with people in Houston during the second hour of tomorrow's Sunday Salon program, which will air between 10 and 11 a.m. Pacific time. (see below)
Saturday 1:00 pm:
There's a demonstration outside the Doubletree hotel involving about 30-40 boisterous people with signs. Very heavy Houston police presence. Houston police Crisis intervention unit. The police removed a few people from the morning executive session that didn't have permission to be there.
Pacifica security at Doubletree Hotel inhibits free speech rights of listeners.
The cops and hotel security at the Doubletree Hotel, where the Pacifica Board held open comments, were there to inhibit the free access and expression of the listeners and longtime paying subscribers.
It is clear that the Pacifica National Board considers the listeners to be enemies of their goals and are using the Houston Police Department (HPD) and others to intimidate them.
A combination of Pacifica Board influence, Houston cops and hotel security tried to limit who and where listeners could enter the building to be part of the public comments session. Listeners were instructed not to use the lobby entrance and were directed to a side entrance to be part of the meeting. No other hotel guests or friends of hotel guests were required to do so. When listeners tried to reason that many of the them were in fact paying guests of the hotel, the goon squads had little choice but to let some people in through the lobby. But those people had to produce special key passes to get through the phalanx of guards at the gates. Once in the building another checkpoint was established to check hall passes a second time, and there was yet another checkpoint at the stairway leading to the meeting room. In the meeting room itself were many uniformed HPD officers.
This is a very defensive position for Pacifica, who are showing that they don't even trust their own listeners and feel a need to have the heavy hand of the police to protect them from hearing or seeing anything in opposition to their goals for Pacifica.
The establishment media will make no mention of this overwhelming police presence, which will no doubt increase as the board meeting goes on. It is important to spread the word about these heavy-handed tactics to embarrass the Pacifica board this weekend.
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