The CPB Complaint

On July 11, 1996, the Committee to Take Back KPFA filed a complaint against the Pacifica Foundation with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) regarding Pacifica National Board Meetings. Though meetings are required to be open to the public as a condition of CPB funding, Pacifica National Board meetings (where organizational policy is determined) have been closed to all but upper management officials since Pat Scott took over as Executive Director of Pacifica in late 1994.  In an effort to keep policy and financial decisions secret and prevent dissent by the community as well as others in the organization, the Scott regime has called these closed meetings "retreats."

Here are the results of the CPB investigation into the complaint. They were a long time coming, but confirmed the charges made by TBK and the forty others who signed the complaint to the CPB: the closure of meetings and other actions of coercion and secrecy are violations, and must stop if funding is to continue. Only some part of the closed Board Meetings could appropriately be classified as retreats, the report concluded. Pacifica management had, as we charged, surrounded the decision-making process with inappropriate secrecy.

The Scott regime is denying wrongdoing, and is trying to put a positive spin on the report, as this recent press release demonstrates.  Take Back KPFA also distributed a press release,  very different from Scott's.

Here are some articles written on the results of the report:

Pacifica Criticized in Official Report -- The Portland Free Press, May/June 1997
Clash of the Titans (SF Bay Guardian) - May 22, 1997
SF Bay Guardian Editorial -- May 21, 1997
Current -- May 12, 1997
The New York Times -- May 12, 1997
The Oakland Tribune -- May 9, 1997
The Berkeley Voice -- May 8, 1997
The San Francisco Examiner -- May 7, 1997
The San Francisco Bay Guardian -- May 7, 1997

Scott wrote a letter to the CPB Board of Directors to challenge the results of the IG's report. She and Jack O'Dell flew to Washington DC to testify on May 19, 1997, at the CPB, in order to have the investigation invalidated, that the secrecy may continue without financial sanctions. (Their airfare, accommodations and consultations with attorneys were paid for with subscriber's money -- so if you subscribed you have financed this trip designed to keep you in the dark about what's going on at "your station." As you can see, the Scott regime will go to great lengths and expense to prevent the community from getting a look at what is really going on inside Pacifica. What is really going on? The KPFA Advisory Board wants to know. They sent a letter to Jack O'Dell expressing strong disapproval of Scott's letter.

Jeff Blankfort from Take Back KPFA also flew to Washington to testify on behalf of the people. Letters of support of the IG's report were also sent to the CPB Board, including one from a former President of Pacifica Foundation. Nevertheless, the CPB board had drafted a response before even hearing the testimony, and had met in closed session the day before with Pat Scott, Jack O'Dell and Pacifica's attorney.

Jeff reported that in spite of the kangaroo court-type results, the effort has had the effect of further mobilizing the community to understand the need to challenge this illegitimate regime now running Pacifica. KPFA's Local Board has resolved to publicly voice opposition to Pat Scott's handling of the CPB situation, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian condemned the secrecy and conduct of the Scott regime in a recent editorial.

The Committee to Take Back KPFA then sent a letter to Alan Sagner, the Chair of the CPB Board regarding the inadequacy of their response. The letter also raised the question, considering the apparent whitewash by the CPB Board of the Inspector General's audit, that the firings of two previous investigators was indeed connected to their attempts to investigate Pacifica's activities under the Scott regime. More on this as it develops; the GAO (General Accounting Office) was also informed, and may investigate as to whether the CPB Board behaved unethically or illegally by failing to enforce its own regulations.

Since the hearing, new facts have emerged. Clare Spark, a former KPFK program director, was approached by KPFK's current general manager, Mark Schubb, and asked to write a supportive letter to the CPB. She has since reviewed our documentation, and written an astonishing letter sent to the to the CPB Board Of Directors in June 1997, retracting her earlier letter which, she believes, was solicited under false pretenses.

The History of the CPB Complaint and Investigation
documents and articles in chronological order

In September 1995, Jeff Blankfort of Take Back KPFA attempted to tape a Pacifica National Board Meeting in Houston, Texas. He was not permitted to tape, and The Pacifica Board attempted to remove Jeff and other members of the public when policy and finance were going to be discussed. Take Back KPFA members contacted the California Coalition for the First Amendment (CCFA) about the legality of this secrecy. Terry Francke of the CCFA sent a letter to the Pacifica administration criticizing the lack of openness. Pacifica Executive Director Pat Scott responded to the CCFA letter with an hysterical press release.

Current Magazine wrote an article as a result of Scott's press release. The Current article was seen by Brian McConneville, an investigator in the Inspector General's office at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides about one million dollars in government funding to Pacifica each year. In order to be eligible for these funds, stations must make meetings of their governing boards open to the public. Based on the Current article, McConnville decided there was a possibility violations were occurring. McConnville commenced an investigation which was abruptly halted several weeks after it began, when McConnville was fired without notice in November of 1995.

The investigation was transferred to the Inspector General of the CPB, Lester Latney, who apparently did nothing to pursue the matter. As a result, a formal complaint was filed by The Committee to Take Back KPFA in July 1996. Latney spoke with Jeff Blankfort about the complaint, but he too left the CPB, for health reasons, before the investigation was complete.

Meanwhile, the closed meetings continued. Workers at WBAI consulted with attorney William Schaap, (of Covert Action Quarterly) regarding an injunction to compel Pacifica to open its upcoming New York National Board Meeting. No injunction was filed at that time, and the Pacifica National Board held another closed meeting, which they again referred to as a "retreat." Take Back KPFA wrote a letter to the CPB Chairperson, regarding the continual delay, in October, 1996.

When Latney left the CPB, Michael Donovan became Acting Inspector General and resumed the investigation. Just as his inquiry was nearing completion in January of 1997, he too was suddenly fired.

Index|History: Pacifica |Press Clippings |Pacifica Against Its Workers |The CPB Complaint |Pacifica Documents|Community Responses |Follow The Money |Who Decides?|How You Can Help |Mailing List ||Micro Radio

Anatomy of a Heist
Audio Files
Legal Action