Judge considers halting local radio station board member’s recall

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A hearing regarding the preliminary injunction of the recall of Tracy Rosenberg as board member from the Berkeley-based KPFA radio station took place Wednesday at the Hayward Hall of Justice.

The recall process began last September after many supporters became upset with Rosenberg for her role in the cancelation of the popular Morning Show program to make up for KPFA’s budget deficit of $375,000. The show was substituted with a volunteer-based one called the Morning Mix.

SaveKPFA, a coalition of KPFA listeners and staff, collected more than 800 signatures on a petition in support of Rosenberg being recalled in response to these events. Recall ballots, however, were not sent out to KPFA’s staff and members until almost seven months later on June 28.

An issue arose because the election’s record date — the date that determines which KPFA members are eligible to vote — was set in early November 2011, and ballots were sent out accordingly. However, the California Corporations Code states that an election must be held within 60 days of the record date, and Pacifica’s bylaws reduce this number to 45 days.

Rosenberg filed a lawsuit against Pacifica arguing that the ballots are invalid due to the election date exceeding the record date by over 60 days.

On Tuesday Judge George C. Hernandez Jr. heard from the defendant, who argued for the judge to reconsider his tentative ruling from Sept. 6, which was released on the Alameda County Court’s website. The ruling would have granted the plaintiff’s motion to stop the recall election and prevent the currently sequestered ballots from being counted.

The defendant’s attorney Andrew Gold argued that if the judge upholds his tentative ruling, the ballots will be unusable and Pacifica will have to decide whether to begin the approximately $20,000 process anew.

Gold said in today’s hearing that the judge could set a record date retrospectively from the date of the election and the current ballots would only be considered valid with respect to membership status according to that new date. Members who were unable to vote in the election but eligible according to the new record date would be allowed to cast their votes.

“I think it would be expensive and destructive,” Rosenberg said, commenting on the possibility of Pacifica redoing the entire recall process. “My hope would be for KPFA and Pacifica to avoid these financial crunches.”

SaveKPFA coalition members could not be reached for comment.

Hernandez Jr. said at the hearing that he expects to issue a ruling by Thursday.

Contact Megan at [email protected]

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Pacifica Foundation Treasurer and KPFA Board Member Tracy Rosenburg canceled the popular program The Morning Show. In fact, the decision to replace the show was voted on by the Pacifica board. Although Rosenburg played a role in the decision, she was not solely responsible.