Take Back KPFA
P.O. Box 13557,
Berkeley, CA 94712
(510) 464-4629

May 27, 1997

Mr. Alan Sagner
Chairman of the Board Corporation for Public Broadcasting
901 E Street NW
Washington DC 2004-2006

Dear Mr. Sagner:

While we appreciated the opportunity to have had Jeffrey Blankfort, a member of our Coordinating Committee, address the CPB Board, with regard to the Inspector General's audit of the Pacifica Foundation, at your May 19th meeting, we are disappointed as well as extremely concerned at the Board's apparent failure to exercise the fiscal and legal responsibilities that it has been mandated by Congress to oversee and enforce.

Our review of the brief, three paragraph statement, issued by you at the conclusion of the remarks of Mr. Blankfort and those of Pacifica Board Chair Jack O'Dell during the Public Comment session, clearly indicates that the CPB Board (1) misinterpreted the conclusions of Inspector General Armando Arvizu regarding Pacfica's failure to conduct open meetings and (2) that the CPB Board ignored the equally critical matter of the Pacifica Board's interference with the workings of its five local station advisory boards which Mr. Arvizu concluded "were not allowed the autonomy needed to perform the role envisioned by drafters of the Communications Act. (P. 15)."

The Board's statement accepting "the Inspector General's finding that no actions by Pacifica were such to warrant denial or reduction of CPB grants," is not borne out by the report itself which contains no such finding. Rather, Mr. Arvizu concluded that "Pacifica had not been complying with the intent and spirit of the Communications Act , as it had not (1) provided reasonable notice of meetings to the public; (2) restricted executive sessions to those deliberations that met the Act's criteria for closed meetings; and (3) issued written notices to the public for holding closed meetings. (P. 17)" (Emphasis added.)

In addition, the Inspector General pointed out, and provided supporting documentary evidence, that "the local advisory boards were being threatened to support [Pacifica] Board decisions or resign; the advisory boards were not being allowed the autonomy needed to assess public needs and make recommendations to the governing board (P.

Unfortunately, none of the foregoing is apparent from the statement issued by the CPB Board. Moreover, it reduces to purely lip-service the concluding sentence of the CPB Board, i.e., that "The CPB wishes to re-emphasize its commitment to compliance with its requirements for open meetings, timely notification and good record-keeping."

We were, in addition, disturbed by the CPB's "wishes to commend Pacifica for actions taken in recent years to strengthen and improve operations and programming. " Will not Pacifica take this, as well as your entire statement, as a literal green light to continue its policy of secrecy and autocratic dictation to its local boards in direct contravention of the Communications Act which, we remind you, is your duty, not your choice, to enforce.

The entire matter has raised once again our earlier concerns that the firing of Mr. Brian McConville from the Inspector General's office in November 1995, 17 days after be began an inquiry into Pacifica's closed board meeting a month earlier in Houston, and the subsequent firing of Acting Inspector General Mike Donovan this past February, at a point where he, too, was about to issue a report critical of Pacifica, were due not, as we have been told, to "personnel matters" having nothing to do with Pacifica, but, in fact, reflected the desire of some higher authorities in Washington to impede the investigation of Pacifica's violations of the Communications Act. The refusal of the CPB Board to back the report of your new Inspector General would seem to confirm our suspicions.

What we also find troubling is that even before your Board meeting, Pacifica was so confident that you would not accept the Inspector General's report, that it again scheduled its Finance Committee meeting, in which the 1997-1998 Budgets are to be the sole agenda item, to be in Executive Session at its upcoming meeting on June 14. (Discussion of budgets, according to the law, are not exempt from the "open meeting" provisions,) And once again, the Board's public deliberations are scheduled to last a little over an hour. Is that the CPB Board's idea of responsible governance as Congress wished it to be carried out in the Communications Act? We sincerely doubt it.

Moreover, as Mr. Blankfort concluded in his statement, Pacifica's press spokesperson took little pains to hide this feeling of confidence, telling the Oakland Tribune that, "When we go to ... [the Inspector General's] bosses, these things will be cleared up." As, for the present, they were.

While we will continue to monitor Pacifica's behavior and inform the CPB of actions that we believe to be in violation of the Communications Act, we no longer will do so with the confidence that you will act in a manner that fulfills either your obligation to Congress or your responsibility to the American people whose tax money, after all, is what we are dealing with here.

Consequently, we are sending a copy of this letter as well as copies of our complaint and the report of the Inspector General to the General Accounting Office. They may have a different interpretation of how Congress's mandate is being carried out by the CPB, with regards to the actions of Pacifica, than we have seen to date.



Bob Bergstresser
Jeffrey Blankfort
Maria Gilardin
Curt Gray
Annie Hallatt
John Klein

cc: General Accounting Office
Richard Carlson, President
Robert Coonrod, Executive Vice-Pres.
Frank Cruz, Chair, Audit Committee
Rene Ingram, Treasurer
Armando Arvizu, IG

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