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KPFA Board Backs General Manager Campanella By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday August 16, 2005

KPFA’s Local Station Board voted overwhelmingly Sunday to retain General Manager Roy Campanella II despite a complaint filed by eight female station workers charging him with sexual harassment. 

The board voted 15-5, with two abstentions, against recommending Campanella’s dismissal to the Pacifica Foundation, KPFA’s parent network. 

“Our investigation did not find sufficient grounds to call for his termination,” said a board member who requested to remain anonymous. The board also rejected a proposal to place Campanella on probation, several board members said. 

“The board’s decision is the second time an investigative agency has ruled in my favor,” Campanella wrote in an e-mail to the Daily Planet. “Like the first investigation conducted by Pacifica, it’s been found that I did not sexually harass or discriminate against anyone.” 

KPFA’s board has been divided between a faction that is generally supportive of the station staff and a smaller faction that charges that staff members are seeking more influence at the station and views the harassment charges against Campanella as part of a larger power grab. 

Sunday’s vote revealed that several members of the pro-staff faction opposed firing Campanella. 

“This was not a factional vote,” said a board member aligned with the anti-staff faction. “It was an overwhelming majority.” 

Philip Maldari, co-host of KPFA’s morning show, said he was disappointed by the vote. 

“I’m astounded that a leftist political organization like this one is so ignorant of the importance of taking seriously sexual harassment on the job.” 

He added that employees—many of who signed a letter expressing no confidence in Campanella—would petition Pacifica’s national board to fire him. 

“[The station] is totally dysfunctional,” he said. “When a petition of no confidence is signed by 80 percent of the paid staff, it’s clear that the manager can’t manage.” 

KPFA’s board will hold another closed door meeting Saturday aimed at closing the rift between Campanella and station staff. 

The eight staff members who filed the sexual harassment complaints last week with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), charged that from the time Campanella joined the station last November, he asked them out on dates and when rebuffed, retaliated by threatening to cut funding for their programs, criticizing their work to supervisors and threatening to fire them. 

Campanella has maintained that his invitations to go to movies or dinner were extended to both male and female employees at the station and were never intended to be considered dates. 

If the DFEH substantiates the employees’ complaint, KPFA and the board would be liable for monetary damages. 

“The board members are putting the station at tremendous risk,” Maldari said. 

Campanella told the Daily Planet that he has written to the DFEH and to the federal National Labor Relations Board urging them to conduct the investigations. 

“Not only am I convinced that they will find these charges baseless, but it will end the distraction while operating the radio station,” he wrote. 

The station board has been debating Campanella’s future for the past two months. Board members said they conducted an investigation that included testimony from the plaintiffs and concluded that there was not enough evidence to call for Campanella’s dismissal. 

KPFA has struggled to retain general managers in recent years. After a four-year period of interim general managers at the station, KPFA hired former Berkeley Mayor Gus Newport in April of 2003. When Newport resigned after less then a year, Jim Bennett ran the station as interim general manager. Campanella was hired last November after a six-month search for a new station head.