Report on the CPB Board meeting on Pacifica

From Jeffrey Blankfort -- May 21, 1997

The very fact that Pacifica was forced to come before the CPB Board on the basis of Take Back KPFA's complaint, was a victory for us. Whether or not the CPB Board approved the report of its Inspector General Joe Arvizu, the facts of his report remain.

It seems obvious from the CPB's decision to whitewash Pacifica's flagrant violations of federal broadcasting law, that the CPB Board is unwilling to take seriously the mandate given it by Congress to enforce the open meetings provisions of the communications act and its own guidelines.

Moreover, the failure of the CPB Board to make any reference in its statement to the well-documented criticisms made by its own Inspector General regarding Pacifica's treatment of its local station advisory boards, would seem to be giving Pacifica a green light to continue its high-handed treatment of those boards. If anything is going to happen to change things on that level, it will have to be done by the boards themselves. And, to put things in a positive light, that appears to be a likely prospect.

The de facto rejection of the audit conducted by its new Inspector General also seems to indicate that the firing of two previous investigators from the Inspector General's office who had begun inquiries of Pacifica, based on our complaint, reflects an effort by someone of importance in Washington who wishes to see Pacifica continue in its present direction.

Brian McConville was fired in November, 1995, 17 days after he initiated an inquiry over the closing of the Houston meeting, and in February the Acting IG Mike Donovan was fired at the point where he was about to make a report, as he led me to understand, that would be very similar, if not stronger, than that of the new IG. CPB officials claimed that the firings were for "personal" reasons and had nothing to do with Pacifica. Frankly, I don't believe that.

One of the most upsetting portions of Pacifica Board Chair Jack O'Dell's error-filled testimony, was his repeating of the lies spread by Executive Director Pat Scott over the reasons why Pacifica went into executive session in Houston on September 30, 1995. Scott, and now O'Dell, who was not there, claim that the board did so because the meeting had been interrupted by protesters. This was and is a bold-faced lie, which, unfortunately, has now has become a fairly common-place product whenever a Pacifica spokesperson opens his or her mouth.

An important result of the IG's audit and Pacifica's angry and insulting response, first by Pat Scott and now by O'Dell, has served to expose to a number of Pacifica folks around the country, the extent of the rottenness which has been eating away at Pacifica's core.

Ironically, the last time I had been in Washington, attending an AFL-CIO conference in 1989, I had been a guest in Jack's home. So it goes.


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