The Green Party Of Orange County, CA requests investigation of Pacifica Foundation and KPFK by the CA Joint Legislative Audit Committee
August 2, 1999
Honorable Scott Wildman, Chair
Joint Legislative Audit Committee
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: Pacifica Foundation Governance & Potential Violation of CA Corporate Charter
Dear Chairman Wildman:
The members of the County Council of the Green Party of Orange County, CA, formally urge you to conduct immediate hearings to examine recent governance changes voted upon by members of the national board of Pacifica Foundation. It is our contention that recent changes in Pacifica’s By-Laws violate the California Corporations Code. Further, we urge you to investigate Pacifica Foundation’s non-compliance with public disclosure statutes mandated by Federal law governing non-profit entities.
We recognize that the controversies surrounding labor and charter abuses at KPFA-Berkeley are of extreme importance, but you should also recognize that issues at KPFA are symptomatic of larger and more substantive problems with Pacifica Foundation itself. To that end, we strongly encourage you to expand the immediate scope of any investigation to include an examination of serious problems at KPFK—Los Angeles, WBAI—New York, and KPFT—Houston. Only through such a broad-ranging examination will the pattern of labor abuse, funds mismanagement, and non-profit code and corporations code violations become fully manifest.
In the course of such an examination, we request that you investigate the following issues specific to KPFK—Los Angeles. These are enumerated below.
1. We allege that in the course of the last ten years the KPFK Local Advisory Board has been repeatedly and illegally dismissed and reconstituted at the personal order of the executive director of the Pacifica Foundation or her regional station manager.
2. We allege that the KPFK Local Advisory Board has been constituted with members at the express approval and urging of the executive director of the Foundation, or her regional station manager, without the consent or advice of community members.
3. We allege that the KPFK Local Advisory Board governance documents that indicate terms of office, selection process, duties, and mission are not available to members of the community through request or demand.
4. We allege that the executive director of the Foundation ordered the discontinuation of the FOLIO—an outreach mechanism—in 1995 or thereabouts, in violation of the corporate charter.
5. We allege that the KPFK station manager,
at the bequest of the Foundation’s executive director, discontinued the
monthly “Report to the Listeners” without explanation and without due regard
to requests of
6. We allege that financial reporting documents that provide detailed information about income and expenditures at KPFK are not available to the community by request or demand.
7. We allege that substantive programming changes at KPFK occur in the absence of published and available governance provisions or documents.A large element of capriciousness and favoritism informs programming selections by the station manager.
8. Finally and most importantly, we allege that the Pacifica Foundation and its management officer at KPFK (general manager) have repeatedly conspired to violate the free speech rights of its employees and volunteer programming staff by prohibiting open discussion of Pacifica national governance issues during on-air programming. The station manager has threatened employees and volunteer staff with immediate dismissal for violation of the so-called “dirty laundry rule” that in recent years has been informally expanded to include Pacifica policy issues. Such prohibition of free speech rights of employees and volunteer staff—many of whom are journalists—violates the charter of Pacifica itself and eviscerates the very meaning of Pacifica’s mission.
These allegations are, in fact, complaints common to the other regions in which Pacifica stations broadcast. By enumerating these specific allegations, we do not intend to imply that KPFK’s situation is unique. We are merely providing specific examples of alleged violations by Pacifica’s officers of governance and financial reporting requirements.
Thomas F. Edson
Media Liaison, Orange County Green Party, CA
At the request of the County Council
R.J. Schwichtenberg, Chair
Victor Tanious, Secretary-Treasurer
cc.: Senator Barbara Boxer, CA Assembly
Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa,
Senate President Pro-tem John Burton, KPFA News