KPFA News Reports on Janet Reno's Intervention in KPFA Protests


KPFA Evening News - 6/23/99

Dennis Bernstein:  Attorney General Janet Reno reportedly instructed a top aide to inquire why the Berkeley Police didn't more aggressively pursue arrests against protesters outside of KPFA Monday.  Reno's directive may have come at the instigation of Pacifica Board Chair Mary Frances Berry, who was appointed by President Clinton to chair the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

If so, it raises the question of whether Berry used her influence within the federal government to attempt to further the crackdown at KPFA, which has been involved in a protracted dispute with its parent the Pacifica Foundation.

During Monday's protest Berkeley Police officers were reluctant to arrest protesters blocking the office of Pacifica Executive Director Lynn Chadwick.  Chadwick resorted to a citizen's arrest to force action by the police.

Berkeley Police Chief Dash Butler today acknowledged to KPFA that he received a call from Joe Brann, the director of the so-called Federal COPPS office, which awards federal monies to police departments to add police officers to their force.  Chief Butler said Brann told him that Attorney General Reno was asked by somebody who knew her to inquire about how the Monday arrests were carried out.  When asked whether that somebody was Mary Frances Berry, Butler said that name may have been mentioned by Brann.  Butler stressed, however, that the Justice Department official was not calling to twist any arms and was very polite about the inquiry.

Brann reports directly to the number three official in the U.S. Justice Department, the Associate Attorney General.


KPFA Morning News - 6/23/99

Philip Maldari:  Tighter security has been imposed at KPFA.Pacifica Director Lynn Chadwick has revoked the electronic door codes of staff who use them to get into the station.The move follows another protest in front of KPFA yesterday, where a number of progressive activists spoke out against the Pacifica Foundation.  Mark Mericle has more.

Mark Mericle:  Staffers now have to report to a security guard to gain entrance to KPFA.  The security guard details have also been doubled to two.  Security was imposed on KPFA over five weeks ago by Pacifica Executive Director Lynn Chadwick, who is in the midst of an intense dispute with KPFA staff.  Before the increase in personnel the security was costing $10,000 a month, now presumably it's more.

The purported reason for the move is to protect Pacifica's assets -- that is, KPFA property -- while Chadwick is away at a Pacifica Governing Board meeting this weekend in Washington and on a subsequent vacation.

KPFA morning show host Philip Maldari  is a steward for the KPFA union, which is part of the Communication Workers of America Local 9415.

Philip Maldari:  We're absolutely outraged, particularly the door codes.  She is essentially taking away the keys of everybody that works here at KPFA, and it means that we have to check in with the guard in order to enter the building.  This is like working in a prison.

Mark Mericle:  Late yesterday afternoon dozens of people rallied outside the station in support of the demand to rehire station manager Nicole Sawaya, who was fired by Chadwick March 31st, setting off the worst crisis at KPFA in twenty-five years.

Staff is also demanding independent mediation of the dispute and the reinstatements of fired broadcasters Larry Bensky and Robbi Osman.

At the rally yesterday Barbara Lubin of the Middle East Children's Alliance read a letter signed by over sixty people symbolically dismissing Lynn Chadwick as Pacifica's Executive Director.

Barbara Lubin:  We are presenting the following letter to Lynn Chadwick.

June 22nd, 1999,
Lynn Chadwick,
Executive Director, Pacifica Foundation.

Dear Ms. Chadwick:

We are writing to notify you that you have forfeited your right to lead KPFA and Pacifica due to your promotion of censorship, your failure to uphold the principles that have guided KPFA and Pacifica for the past fifty years, Your abuse of and disrespect for KPFA's staff and listeners, and for your inappropriate and irresponsible mishandling of the grave crisis that confronts KPFA.  Effective immediately, your tenure as Executive Director of the Pacifica Foundation and as interim general manager of KPFA have been terminated.

Mark Mericle:  Progressive activists, writers and politicians paraded to the microphone to support the staff's demands and castigate Pacifica management, and actor and writer Peter Coyote checked in by telephone.

Peter Coyote:  It is highly disturbing that Pacifica Foundation has behaved towards KPFA in such a peremptory and undemocratic manner.  It would appear that they're using the muscle of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to pull Pacifica stations into the ever-expanding loop of corporate-sponsored public radio, restraining one of the truly independent investigative voices left in the United States.  KPFA's demands for a clear statement of reasons for the firing of their exemplary manager, Nicole Sawaya, without warning or stated reasons, is normal bureaucratic protocol and simply an indecency. So is their call for a mediation of the dispute.

I urge all concerned listeners to mount an aggressive email and phone campaign to the Pacifica Board and our elected representatives to ensure that this muscle flexing from an apparently ego-inflated central committee does not go unremarked and unchecked.

Mark Mericle:  Reporting for KPFA news, I'm Mark Mericle.

Philip Maldari:  Another rally is to be held in front of the KPFA studios tomorrow at 4:30 p.m.

Transcribed by John Sommers

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