Democracy Derailed On KPFA Board By BRIAN EDWARDS-TIEKERT Commentary

Tuesday December 28, 2004

Two weeks ago I was elected to KPFA’s Local Station Board (LSB) with 43 percent of the KPFA staff’s first-place votes—more than twice what any other candidate received—in an election that, though unquestionably flawed, had the second-highest staff turnout in the five-station Pacifica Network. This Saturday, at what was to be the first meeting of the newly-constituted LSB, I was kept from assuming my position by what I believe to be an illegal move by the majority faction of the old LSB.  

Here’s what happened:  

Miguel Molina, who was serving as a staff representative on the old board, introduced a proposal requesting a re-vote in the staff election on the grounds that he lost his bid for re-election by a small margin (roughly 1.3 votes) and at least two of his colleagues had not received ballots. The issue was not on that meeting’s agenda, nor had Molina’s appeal been distributed to Board members ahead of time, as is customary. 

Carol Spooner, a listener-elected representative, amended the resolution to prevent any of the newly-elected staff representatives from being seated on the board—and keep the old staff representatives in place—until the appeal had received an official ruling by Pacifica’s National Elections Supervisor. As there is no longer a Pacifica National Elections Supervisor (his position has ended and will not be filled until the next election two years from now)—that could be a very long time. 

The motion passed, 11 to 10, in a vote along party lines established some eight months ago during a contentious fight over changing the timeslot of Democracy Now! Every staff representative except Molina voted against it. 

The net result? The winning faction in that vote held onto a majority it would have lost had the newly elected staff representatives been installed, replacing Molina. So much for democracy: The majority faction of the old board effectively chose its own successor. 

The LSB continued to conduct business for some three hours after that vote—with the old staff representatives still in place. If the issue is not resolved by the first week of January, they will elect the national directors of the Pacifica Foundation.  

The move appears to be a violation of Pacifica’s bylaws, which stipulate that Pacifica’s National Elections Supervisor is responsible for certifying the fairness of the election—which he did—and do not give the Local Station Boards any power to adjudicate disputes in their own elections. The bylaws also require that newly elected members of the Local Station Board take their seats in the December meeting. 

This leaves me deeply concerned that the board as presently constituted is an illegal entity, and its activities as such leave the station open to costly and damaging litigation.  

I encourage you to bring any concerns you may have directly to the next meeting of the Local Station Board, which is scheduled for Sunday, January 9, at a yet-to-be-determined location that will be posted at www.kpfa.org/lsb. 

Meanwhile, if you wish to receive updates on further developments, you can subscribe to an announcement list I’ve set up: Send an e-mail to KPFA-LSB-INFO-subscribe@topica.com; you can also visit the blog I’ve set up at http://kpfa-info.blogspot.com. 


Brian Edwards-Tiekert covers the Environmental Justice Beat for KPFA’s News Department; his freelance work airs on the nationally-syndicated programs Making Contact and Free Speech Radio News.