Crisis at KPFA; SEIU-NUHW Trial; Health Care Reform; Praise for Tommi …

by on March 30, 2010

To the Editor:

KPFA has been a large part of my life for 25 yrs., so I read your article with interest. Other than hearing the news reports about Rigio’s termination, I am unaware of the underlying issues other than obliquely in the sense that leftist internal bickering seems to always exist. Unfortunately, what I need is a journalistic article, not opinion, as you provide. Why did the elected board want Rigio fired? Why do paid staff deserve a greater say in the running of KPFA than an elected board? These aren’t rhetorical questions on my part – I don’t know the answer and wish that your article had addressed them.

Sheila Sexton
San Francisco

To the Editor:

Well said, although financial whistleblowing isn’t the only reason Lemlem came under attack. She also made some unpopular decisions. But sometimes, that’s what managers must do. What KPFA and Pacifica apparently can’t abide is strong managers — and perhaps leadership itself. Another Left dilemma. Unfortunately, most of the progressive media has chosen to pass on discussing Pacifica’s internal problems. Editors say they don’t want to air such dirty laundry. Not so surprising. It could become a trend.

Greg Guma
Burlington, VT

To the Editor:

I would like to correct some items you reported on. There were a number of other misleading allegations, but I will reframe from commenting on all.

If you look at KPFA’s finances they went from an approximate $900,000 reserve two years ago down to about $7,000 total cash in February 2010. The February payroll was about $170,000, and without the fund drive would not have been met. This is not due to Pacifica raiding the coffers or KPFA’s funds being shipped elsewhere. Neither have happened. The problem is that the station was, and still is, running on deficit spending.

Also, KPFA has not been paying Central Services, i.e., the Pacifica national office, the 19.5% services fee for quite some time. Neither the national office, nor WBAI have anything to do with KPFA’s financial troubles. KPFA simply has not been able to pay its own bills for some time. That is being changed.

You refer to a one vote majority on the board as being part of the cause of KPFA’s woes. Please note that your article closely followed the line of the former board majority that was in place until just a few months ago. I fail to understand why you did not check in with the new leadership or how we can be blamed for the actions of the former.

It is true that internecine battles in the progressive community are harmful. It is also true that the elections and therefore democracy can be expensive and slow moving. It is what we are committed to, however, and I believe that democracy is also now moving to save KPFA from deficit spending.

Erroneous stories such as the one today, however, do not help the public understand the basis of KPFA’s financial troubles.


Sasha Futran, Chair
KPFA Local Station Board

To the Editor:

KPFA, and Pacifica as a whole, are in financial trouble like all non-profits, because the greedy reckless investment banks behind Barack Obama created the hardest hard times since the Great Depression, not because of the KPFA Local Station Board. And, because they’ve failed to understand the Web, like the Rocky Mountain News, the oldest newspaper in the West, whose editor acknowledged that failing after it went under.

It is not possible to find more than a few KPFA public affairs segment in Google Search because discreet public affairs segments aren’t posted to the Web as such, with discreet URLs and tags that would make it possible to find them. Americans now turn to the Web more than to newspapers and radio for news, but they won’t find KPFA there unless they know it’s there and go looking. They won’t be able to search for KPFA’s coverage of a particular subject, unless it was on Democracy Now, and DN so understands this that they’re now very actively seeking new staff to increase their Web presence.

Hence, e.g., it is not possible to find the KPFA Morning Show’s segment on Prop 16 and renewable energy in a Google Search. Nor is it possible for the No on 16 campaign to post that KPFA segment to their website. What does the Prop 16 campaign have posted instead? KQED. No on 16 could post an entire two hour KPFA Morning Show, but they would have to introduce it with a note saying: “The segment on Prop 16 is — e.g., an hour and 20 minutes into the show. Move the slide bar below and see if you can find it.” If the station were giving its audience, which includes the No on 16 campaign, something to post to their website and circulate, and, something to make available to Pacifica affiliate stations throughout California, then they might feel as though they had more reason to support the station. Instead, they spent listeners’ donations producing a segment within a two hour broadcast that no one will ever fish out of the Web and slide the bar to find again.

I even called a KPFA Morning Show producer to ask for the time the segment aired, but got no response. As General Manager for many years, as more and more people turned to the Web for news, Lemlem Riggio has to take responsibility for this failing. That’s one of the main reasons I voted for the majority now serving on the KPFA Local Station Board. They understand this problem and are committed to solving it before it’s too late, though it may already be, because KPFA is way way behind. The station’s Web presence is negligible, barely there. Years and years of KPFA news and public affairs segments have not been posted to the Web and never will be now. I also respect the by-laws and democratic governance of Pacifica. It’s about democracy and the rule of law, codified procedure, which is the opposite of destructive argument.

Ann Garrison
San Francisco

To the Editor:

Carl Finamore’s article is an eye opener. Finamore exposes SEIU-UHW’s real intent for filing their phony law suit. The lawsuit is simply an onerous attempt by UHW to slander NUHW volunteers, and more importantly, to errode NUHW’s brand of democracy, which the majority of healthcare and homecare workers support. Judge Alsup should dismiss SEIU’s frivolous law suit since it is based on pure greed and the desire to destroy union democracy in order to hold on to centralized power by Stern’s hand picked Washington appointees. But what every happens with SEIU’s phony law suit, they should understand that NUHW will not be deterred from fighting the civil war that SEIU-UHW atarted. And let there also be no doubt that NUHW will win this civil war in the end.

Francisco Martinez
Oakland, CA

To the Editor:

Ultimately, the Local Union is a subordinate body to its International. Expending its funds in opposition to the direction of its convention, and then International policy, is a defiance of the dictates of the Constitution and Bylaws these officers were sworn to protect. It was a violation of their duties as fiduciaries of the Local. There is nothing one can state except that the interests of the individuals involved took precedence over those responsibilities, and damaged the interests of the affected membership.

Ben Samuel
San Francisco

To the Editor:

Great article, Carl! The best way for readers to understand SEIU is that is not a legitimate labor union, but rather an extension of management’s control over the workers. The outrage here is that workers are forced to pay for their own oppression through mandatory dues payments to SEIU, their so-called ‘union.’ As for Leon Chow, what a low-life scab!

Charlie Ridgell
Oakland, CA

To the Editor:

Am a big fan of Medicare for All. However, as long as powerful corporations have person-hood under the law, they will dominate. They will dominate with more adds on TV, more lawyers in the courts, and more prostitute Senators in Congress. One can rail against corporate health care, unending wars for profit, open borders for cheap labor, or dangerous food. All with little effect. Only a constitutional amendment will effect an end run around their cancerous grip on government.

Cam Trenor
Bellevue, WA

To the Editor:

Thank you again, Tommi, you are always so eloquent and impassioned in your fair and reality based descriptions of issues facing San Francisco, all S.F., and with clear insight about Queer communities, poor folks and others marginalized by a city that has been way too much selling out to corporate and high end realty interests for way too long. With S.F.’s beautiful history of resistance and radical activism in the face of civil rights attacks, I hope that everyone — that has a house or not, renters or on the streets, homeowners also, to stand up for justice and what is right, and not further marginalize and make punishment life on the edges, on the streets. As a tranny artist who has been priced out of the place she used to rent, I well may be resting my bones on a sidewalk and get arrested, but even if that wasn’t the case, what kind of supposed liberal city is this if you can buy a Prius and put an Obama bumpersticker on it, but you can’t act with compassion for all the humanity that is sharing the city with you?

Roxy Monoxide
San Francisco

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