Wednesday, November 21, 2007


by Anonymous

There is an under-current of intrigue at WBAI-FM, Pacifica Radio's New York outlet, following Local Station Board elections last week. The dispute over thousands of undelivered ballots for that election has has now gone to court, as tallies at two other Pacifica stations are also in litigation. National Board members connected to three Pacifica stations have taken the Network to court in two states for election fraud. (Bernard White in photo on left)

As reported on this Blog last week, more than 2000 New York election ballots mailed to subscribers did not reach the potential voters by election day, last Friday. Also last week, the same mysterious 'non-delivery' of ballots was mirrored at both KPFK and KPFA-FM, two California stations owned by the network. Some are calling the missing ballots an accident, while others are calling it deliberate and intentional. Whatever the reason, the non-profit radio network is under fire largely by Pacifica insiders unhappy with, and opposed to, the leadership of the Justice and Unity Coalition or, J-U-C. Some believe the J-U-C may even have had a hand in the missing ballot controversy.

The Justice and Unity Coalition (J-U-C) is an arm of the Brooklyn-based December 12th Movement . The controversial and, some say, even racist, African-American group, is a highly vocal band that was led by the late Sonny Carson up until his death in late 2002. The J-U-C / December 12th Movement was at the center of a storm earlier this year when New York's City Council failed to rename part of a Brooklyn street in Carson's honor. Carson was himself a controversial leader of the group who some had called a 'racial arsonist.'

During a highly emotional and boisterous Council 'Stated Meeting' last Spring, members of the Brooklyn-based group packed the City Council chambers with dozens of their supporters and nearly disrupted the street renaming proceedings. The Carson measure failed to pass, as the 51 member City Council had split along racial lines. It is the same tactics practiced at Local Station Board meetings, opponents argue, and by the same grouping. Their charge is not without basis. In at least four video recordings of past L.S.B. meetings in New York one reporter observed, shouting matches and, even fist fights, taking the place of station business J-U-C members find disagreeable.

Long time watchers of the Pacifica / WBAI Radio story have told a reporter that the current Local Station Board (L-S-B) elections will set the tone at WBAI-FM for years to come. Unlike National Public Radio and other non-commercial radio groups, the Pacifica Network acts and governs in a complex, and even bewildering fashion, with the oversight power of both national and local station boards. The current set-up, we were told, allows groups or factions like the J-U-C entry into the Pacifica process and thus, wide influence in spite of small numbers.

It is a process, some believe, that may have allowed the J-U-C to influence the current election at 3 network stations. The WBAI Elections Supervisor, Dale Ratner, meanwhile, had been swamped with hundreds of E-mails of complaints in the days leading up to the tally. Several staff members had openly complained and demanded ballots while Ratner was on the scene at the New York station.

Some employees and volunteers had made special trips to WBAI's Wall Street facility last Friday, just to receive their ballot and, vote their choices while on the premises. As voting at WBAI got underway last Friday, there were other movements a-foot on the West Coast. On that same day staff and National board members had filed two suits in California civil court.

Margaret Prescott , a National Board member associated with KPFK in Los Angeles, led the west coast effort. The New York Civil Court suit was organized and filed by Mitchel Cohen, a member of the New York Local Station Board. In a scathing E-mail he had sent to scores of subscribers and listeners on Monday, Cohen outlined why and the motive for his legal actions.

He said the litigation and fight over the ballot issue has wide support in New York. At issue is the very survival of the New York commercial-free outlet, long known as the 'voice of the voiceless.' While the election argument now goes on in court, this past week had been a rough ride for the New York station. WBAI remains faced with formidable issues that include: an aging and declining listening audience, pay cuts to staff, possible layoffs, a General Manager mired in a sexual harassment suit, a shrinking subscription base, the departure of a popular employee and, a 300 thousand dollar shortfall stemming from the recent fund raising drive.

There is growing sentiment and opposition among staff and listeners to the J-U-C faction that has dominated WBAI-FM for over five years. The J-U-C, including WBAI Program Director, Bernard White, argues race as the reason for turmoil in New York, and blaming a rift between the Black and White political Left. Non-sense say both Black and white staffers opposed to White and the J-U-C programming and policy measures at WBAI. They argue, the down turn in fund raising is directly related to poor programming currently offered on the station. "What happens next?" is the prevailing question many both inside and outside Pacifica have to be asking themselves, as we go to press here. -


Anonymous said...

Your reporting on this story is very amazing and indepth. WBAI is bankrupt. Dan Siegel and Casey Peters of the Pacifica National Board are corrupt. Dan Siegel has been placed on the national board for one month to sabatoge the elections and allow the WBAI Justice and Unity corruption to continue.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is a good report. We are experiencing a similar dilemma at KPFK, WBAI's sister station in Los Angeles. A group of very aggressive power-grabbers are working to hijack the election. They've even gotten Casey Peters to extend the Local Station Board election deadline (against Pacifica's own By-Laws) simply because one group sent out a slate mailer. This group also uses the techniques of race-baiting and fear mongering to confuse and artificially enrage listeners. In the meantime KPFK is now up to fund drives that last three-weeks (which is surely driving away listeners).

former subscriber said...

Good analysis/story. Too soft on the JUC though - they are in fact neo-stalinists in the classic sense. There is very tight control by an inner group that includes Bernard White and some of the worst programmers who would be tossed out by a rational program director.

The neo-stalinist JUC are mounting a show trial using Steve Brown as the victim. They use race baiting, character assassination and physical violence against those who oppose them. The videos of the LSB meetings are telling - and provide a rare opportunity to see real live stalinism in the USA in the 21st century.

Anonymous said...

Holy Toledo!

Have to say that this is the most comprehensive reporting on the matters at WBAI and, the Pacifica Radio Network I have seen anywhere. I am a reporter at WBAI-FM's local news program and, have chosen to stay out of the cross-hairs of those factional fights the author refers to.

I, too, was one of those who did not receive a ballot in the Local Station Board election vote last week. I had to cast my vote at the station last Friday, as well.

Wow! Like many of my colleagues at the station, I am concerned about staff pay cuts and staff reductions being bandied about. I just do my job there but, I had no idea of the depth of issues at the very place where I am employed.

I am going to stay tuned. Whoever is putting this story out has described the fighting in clear understandable chunks.

Eric Williams, Reporter

Terry Goodman said...

I have some corrections to the article and related posts.

Anonymous wrote:

"Margaret Prescott , a National Board member associated with KPFK in Los Angeles, led the west coast effort."

This is incorrect. Director Margaret Prescod presented a resolution to the Pacifica National Bpard seeking remedy to offset a mailing by a Los Angeles slate, but she is not involved as a plaintiff in the L.A. litigation.

Another Anonymous said...
"Dan Siegel and Casey Peters of the Pacifica National Board are corrupt. Dan Siegel has been placed on the national board for one month to sabatoge the elections and allow the WBAI Justice and Unity corruption to continue."

Neither party is reasonably characterized as corrupt and neither is on the Pacifica National Board. Dan Siegel is volunteering service as Pacifica's interim Executive Director. Casey Peters was hired as Pacifica's National Elections Supervisor. The extent to which these parties and the Pacifica National Board may occasionally act as enablers of the JUC is mainly a reflection of the JUC's skill at consolidating power and manipulating political processes.

Another Anonymous said...
"They've even gotten Casey Peters to extend the Local Station Board election deadline (against Pacifica's own By-Laws) simply because one group sent out a slate mailer."

This is over-simplification. The KPFK election deadlines were extended for a number of reasons, most notably due to the late mailing of ballots. There is a challenge to the KPFK listener-sponsor delegate election certification because the candidate who received the most votes in the election was disqualified for non-membership by the Elections Supervisor after the talley rather than before the talley, thus preventing redistribution of those votes to the next-ranked candidates on the voters' ballots. Under the rules of the parliamentary authority, only votes for qualified candidates should be counted, so the determination of this candidate's status should have occurred earlier. Pacifica uses a choice voting system (rather than winner-take-all) designed to allow representation to smaller constituencies. Discarding so many ballots is likely to have skewed the election results.

Terry Goodman
Outgoing KPFK Delegate

big suits said...

Who is he by the way? He is radio announcer?

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