Monday, January 4, 2021

No shame

No shame

There are times that one knows what one thinks, but has no idea what to say. 

Between our November KPFA Station Board meeting and the one we had on a Saturday in late December a group of board members from the majority setup some shell non-profit and then filed a lawsuit to put KPFA into receivership.

The reason I do not know what to say is because I am at a loss for words to describe how outrageous a thing that was to do.

First and foremost, this was outrageous because it boiled down to attempted theft of a member owned radio station by a number of board members acting on their own to get their hands on the considerable value of the station, the building, and above all it’s license.  They had a non profit all set up to sweep the wealth into; a non profit controlled only by them. 

It was also outrageous because this lawsuit was a surprise to the rest of the board, the rest of the KPFA community and the Pacifica Foundation to which KPFA and the other stations belong. If they had gotten away with it, a narrow majority at one station, KPFA, would have had control of all five Pacifica stations. 

It was outrageous because they acted in the dark and struck by surprise. 

Last meeting ended with us wondering if there was even going to be a December meeting.  The only reason to hold one would be if the bylaws said that we had to re-elect board officers before the end of the calendar year.  There was no mention of an impending lawsuit wanting to take control. 

So, this meeting had an extra item added to the agenda.  The motion was to censure and remove the three board members who had sued the organization that they claim to represent.

The meeting degraded into a shouting match. When people were not shouting, they were making harsh accusations.  A few people dominated the Zoom chat with nasty comments and attacks on each other’s personal histories on all sorts of subjects not related to the problem at hand. 

I have not seen such dogmatic, sectarian infighting since I was a young leftist in Montreal in the 1970’s.

If you have not seen Monty Python, The Life of Brian, watch it. 

Friends warned me about the so-called Save KPFA faction and I should have listened. That clique added some new members and now has a new name or two, but does not seem to change much.  Before I just disagreed with their proposals.  Now I question their sense of ethics. 

At the December Local Station Board meeting we heard a lot of why they think that they are the only ones to hold the right views, but as they went on, we got nothing about why they feel that their lack of respect for the process was helping anything, or what justified them acting unilaterally like that. 

So, what do I think?  For me, filing that lawsuit is sort of like suing for custody of the kid and then thinking that you can still sleep in my bed.  How could such a thing not wreck the relationship? 

In the course of the discussion, we were given all kinds of interesting arguments that if addressed differently would have been valuable.  Worthwhile discussion should have been held BEFORE throwing such a bomb.  There were also some strong accusations made by the majority that needed more support than Trump style belligerence. 

Among other things, we were told:

·        Pacifica’s board is not democratic, so it can be ignored
·        Only their faction is doing anything for the station
·        That everyone else has “never done jack shit” for KPFA
·        That people who oppose them are part of the Workers World Party (that I don’t even know)
·        That “somebody” had to stand up for the station because nothing is being done
·        The financial crisis risks losing the whole network (if so, show us the numbers)
What did not get an answer to, was the question “what gave them the right to unilaterally do this”?
Had the situation that they consider so dire been brought to the board with supporting documentation and then the board have been asked to back such a legal action, we would be talking a different story.
Somewhere in there would have been the step where the local KPFA board would file a well-documented complaint to the national Pacifica board, who actually manage the network. 
By the way, the judge seemed to think the same thing about these guys lack of standing and lack of support for their accusations, and then summarily threw the whole receivership request out. 
The December meeting then took a long time electing board officers because discussion of the lawsuit was all over the public comments period and the election comments period.  In the end, the majority faction fell into line like Republicans and voted in officers who included a lawsuit plaintiff.
A plaintiff in the receivership suit now leads the local board of the foundation that she just sued.
We had this in Oakland for many years on the school board, where the public schools were being run with a pro privatization majority backed by a billionaire’s movement.  It is only so analogous, but it feels like we are down a similar rabbit hole. 
And now we will have to finish discussing the motion to remove the 3 board members involved next month.  I asked for a written abstract from both sides with links to supporting documentation WELL BEFORE the next meeting.  I have no idea if we will get that.  I will write the board secretary. 
So what do I say? 
I have no idea because I don’t know how to talk to people who have done a thing like that. 
What will they do next?  Who will they do it to?
We have another week to find a way to talk to each other. 
Next meeting, Jan 9th, 11 AM
Meeting ID: 986 5391 8465