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.

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  • Jean Pauline

    My major problem with this article is that it replicates the lies that people from SaveKPFA have been spinning for years now. And the fact that they’re convincing so very many people that they always tell the truth is very depressing to me. The people of SaveKPFA have been trying to destroy Pacifica (and KPFA) for many years now and it’ll be too late to stop them if their people win in the upcoming election. If those who believe SaveKPFA were to read stoptherecall.org, they’d get the whole truth about Tracy and the SaveKPFA people. I hope they will!

  • Bob English

    Objective article? Prompting Helio Oticica’s comment (turning reality in a yoga head stand): “Everyone connected with KPFA knows that Tracy Rosenberg works against democratizing the station and is directly responsible for canceling the excellent ‘Morning Show.'”

    FYI Helio: Tracy Rosenberg has always stood with thousands of us locally and nationally in the listener democracy movement and Coalition for a democratic Pacifica (which developed and established elected boards) and served many years as KPFA Election Supervisor, Program Council chair and elected LSB and PNB member. Further, what “everyone knows” about cancellation of the Morning Show is dead wrong. See Ann Garrison’s comment.

    No, the Daily Cal still has the story wrong, re. the basic premise of the KPFA recall petition/election, despite the somewhat helpful correction. As a long time KPFA/Pacifica listener and activist, I have to wonder if the paper did the research to get enough background, factual information for the previous and follow up reports on the subject, or checked with alternative sources such as Pacifica officers, Support KPFA supportkpfa.org, Stop the KPFA Recall campaign committee and website stopthekpfarecall.org? We hope the Daily Cal as a university newspaper follows and exemplifies professional investigative, research and reporting standards and practices that exceed what sadly passes for journalism in the mainstream, corporate, sensationalist press.

    Initially, the Daily Cal apparently assumed and accepted the so called “Save KPFA” spin as accurate and factual, that “Pacifica Foundation Treasurer and KPFA Board Member Tracy Rosenburg canceled the popular program The Morning Show.” I suggest “Save KPFA,” as one of the opposing political entities covered, is not a reliable, objective news source for these articles, considering that practically everything by and about “Save KPFA” turns out to be phony, half true or false, starting with the name ripped off from 1990s KPFA activists who had the opposite principles, objectives, governing process and direction for the station.

    It’s commendable that the Daily Cal is willing to make corrections, trying to get the KPFA story right, out of difficult, complex, conflicting and sometimes confusing information and sources. However, the correction isn’t accurate either: “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.”

    Contrary to popular myth promoted by the usually anonymous “Save KPFA”/KPFA Worker crew and websites, the Morning Show (MS) was not cancelled by decision or order of Rosenburg, the Pacifica Executive Director (ED) or by vote of the Pacifica National Board (PNB), none of whom have the function or authority to make local station program decisions. The ED, supported by the PNB, did make long overdue staffing reductions, voluntary and layoffs, essential to the financial stability and survival of KPFA/Pacifica. Budgetary layoffs of MS hosts Aimee Allison and Brian Edwards Tiekert were implemented under the seniority and other provisions for the order of layoff in the staff union contract. (Tiekert had limited seniority but initially declined, and later agreed, to exercise bumping rights to a News Department position.)

    The MS was in fact replaced by a new program, The Morning Mix (MM), produced by unpaid staff but only after paid staff higher on the seniority list refused assignments or options to fill the MS host positions following the layoffs. Although not well know or understood in all the fireworks and misinformation around this story, Pacifica’s original plan was to continue the Morning Show with senior staff as hosts and an existing producer. However, when paid staff were actively, effectively discouraged from stepping up, there was no alternative to replacing the show. While it’s understandable that CWA union represented staff would support fellow members/colleagues and refuse to take their place on the show, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too;” that is, the “core staff” leaders, CWA and “Save KPFA” can’t complain the show was cancelled after senior staff declined the opportunity to go on air and produce the program, following legitimate, financially essential staffing reductions (upheld by the NLRB).

    Further they refused to assist or support the MM staff, not even with an on air lead in “stay tuned for,” instead harassed and boycotted the show, tried to extort the station and leverage return of the MS by conducting fundraising competing with KPFA’s fund drives, which is the subject of another lawsuit in progress (a story for the Daily Cal to pursue).

    Another related and significant story of recent KPFA labor history is how the same and previous paid staff leaders in 1996-97 undermined UE unions (representing both paid and unpaid staff at KPFA and Pacifica’s New York station WBAI), as well as union rights for unpaid workers beyond Pacifica, by forming a CWA local for paid staff only, abandoning the large majority unpaid staff, and as Bill Mandel noted, violating the most fundamental union principles and practices of solidarity and collective bargaining.

  • Mitchel Cohen

    Of course, it was Brian Edwards Tiekart, co-host of the Morning Show, who argued vehemently IN FAVOR OF the budget cuts throughout Pacifica, and the Pacifica National Board — at that time controlled by the “Concerned Listeners” faction — that agreed with Brian and mandated the budget cuts.

    Then, after we at WBAI and elsewhere throughout the network made the draconian cuts Brian Edwards Tiekart and the Concerned Listeners faction ordered, Brian and KPFA refused to make them! And the former General Manager, who was supported by Brian and the CL faction, “sat on” a $350,000 donation and refused to deposit it, to pull the wool over listeners’ eyes that the station couldn’t afford to make the cuts — except for vindictively cutting the staff at Flashpoints, who opposed the CL faction, with nary a peep from Edwards Tiekart.

    Whether you’re for or against the cuts, the reality is that the CL faction is spinning every which way to hide their own destructive role, preventing the truth from getting out, and scapegoating Tracy Rosenberg.

    For more, see:
    stopthekpfarecall.org and
    votecommunityradio.org

    Mitchel Cohen
    Brooklyn Greens/Green Party, and
    Chair, WBAI Local Station Board *

    *for ID only.

    • Ellen

      Spinning? You’ve got to be kidding. Mr. Cohen is spinning so many facts here they are coming lose from their moorings and flung out into fantasyland. For the true story of what happened with the TWO $350,000 donations — one to KPFA and one to Pacifica, see:
      http://www.savekpfa.org/facts-about-the-kpfa-situation/why-is-kpfa-broke

      To hear what KPFA’s listeners are saying about the whole thing, read their letters here:
      http://www.savekpfa.org/listeners-speak-out/236-2

      • Mitchel Cohen

        Hi Ellen,
        The point is, I was at the meetings in person in Washington D.C. when Brian Edwards Tiekart presented his plan to force cuts and layoffs on each station in the network. I know it’s hard for people to believe, but it’s true. The meetings were also recorded and I believe they’re online for your listening “pleasure.”

        So, once again, whatever your view on the necessity of the cuts (and I, by the way, opposed them), it would be a fool’s errand to claim that Brian’s role was something other than what it actually was. Listen to the recordings, if you don’t believe me!

        Mitchel Cohen
        Brooklyn Greens/Green Party, and
        Chair, WBAI Local Station Board

  • SaveKPFA.org

    Hundreds of bay area activists, scholars, and labor leaders have endorsed a YES vote on the Rosenberg recall – you can view their names and learn more about what’s happening at KPFA, 94.1FM, by visiting SaveKPFA.org.

    For a photo of the huge cartload of ballots returned in the recall, which Rosenberg is trying to prevent being counted, see http://www.savekpfa.org/rosenberg-sues-over-recall-ballot-count-delayed.

    And for Pacifica counsel Andrew Gold’s observations, check out http://www.savekpfa.org/mark-your-calendars-recall-ballot-count-in-court-sept-11

  • Helio Oticica

    Objective article. Everyone connected with KPFA knows that Tracy Rosenberg works against democratizing the station and is directly responsible for cancelling the excellent “Morning Show”.
    I can’t understand why she is trying to stop the vote count. Let the people speak!

    • There is a difference between acting with legal authority constituted by the Pacifica’s by-laws and exercising influence. That is a very significant difference that any precise and responsible journalist should report accurately, and that KPFA listeners should demand.

  • What is wrong with the Daily Cal? It is really depressing that the campus newspaper at the most venerable member of the California University system would publish this. Everyone involved with KPFA, who knows anything about its governance structure, knows quite well that Tracy Rosenberg did NOT have the authority to cancel the Morning Show. If the writer wanted to say, “Those who initiated the recall process accuse Rosenberg of wielding influence that led to Pacifica Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt canceling the Morning Show, blaming budget shortfalls,” that would be accurate. Why do we have to keep going through this, both here and with the Daily Cal? The last time the same thing was published I called the Daily Cal and had it corrected.

  • Great article :) very interesting topic…hope to hear more as the case proceeds!