The real Pacifica must be strengthened
A Truth Commission for Pacifica Radio:
It's Mandate and Obligations
by Lyn Gerry
It has been said that those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. Since its beginning, Pacifica has been a battleground and a bone of contention. This is ironic, as Pacifica's founders wanted it to not only communicate pacifist ideals, but also exemplify them. This failure to learn from past mistakes has contributed to a climate that enabled the present hostile takeover to occur. Unless we study and expose the conditions and actions that brought us to this point, we are doomed to fight this battle again and again, and perhaps loose Pacifica forever.
Over the past five years, a deliberate effort has been made by persons known and unknown to change the fundamental nature of Pacifica's mission and mode of operation, and to keep the changes from public knowledge. Threats, subterfuge, intimidation, retaliation against whistleblowers, and even the removal of broadcasters attempting to report on these issues by an armed private police force with ties to the National Security establishment have been employed in the service of this takeover attempt.
Those at the helm of Pacifica have violated the founding principles and traditional purposes of this community based radio broadcasting organization, which include providing a platform for ethical and sincere communication serving the goals of ending war and other institutionalized forms of violence, exploitation and repression. The atmosphere of free thought and speech, long considered a prerequisite to accomplishing Pacifica's Mission has been deliberately assaulted to such a degree that Pacifica, under the present management, has set a standard for censorship unprecedented in American journalism.
Funds donated by members of the community have been misused in order to consolidate the takeover, and have included the use of union busting consultants, armed guards, spin doctors and legal personnel. Much of the result of these expenditures has been to cast a veil of secrecy over financial matters within Pacifica.
Pacifica is unique as the only independent media network not in corporate or government hands. Only Pacifica has been able to serve as a countervailing force to the propaganda efforts used to "manufacture consent" by carefully gatekeeping what information reaches the American people. This makes Pacifica politically dangerous to the powerful; it will continue to be attacked in the future, as it has been in the past, for this reason.
Collusion between government and Corporate America has resulted in a situation conducive to media oligopoly, and raised the bar to media access over the heads of all but wealthy conglomerates whose profits are burgeoning as a result. For this reason, Pacifica's licenses are now potentially of enormous value economically, and if present trends continue, will remain prime targets for economically motivated takeover attempts. In order to protect Pacifica for the future, a Truth Commission must ask and answer a series of questions about the past and present, assess the factors that has made Pacifica vulnerable, and formulate methods to forestall, or at least discourage those intent on destroying or possessing it in the future. It must shine a light on what has been kept secret to aid in the fostering of a general understanding about Pacifica's problems, and encourage broad participation among our grassroots base in crafting and implementing solutions.
SOME CENTRAL QUESTIONS
1) More money has flowed into Pacifica's coffers than at any time in its history, yet important items such as the Folio, local news coverage and training programs at some stations have been eliminated with the excuse of economic necessity - yet more than a million dollars has been spent on legal actions, anti-union and other consultants, armed guards and personnel of questionable usefulness. The public must have a full accounting of every disbursement, who ordered the disbursement, and who benefited by it.
2) In at least three instances, grant money received by Pacifica has not been used for the purposes for which it were granted. What grants were received, from whom, who controlled their distribution and who benefited?
3) What large contributions have been made by specific individuals and entities to Pacifica and what has their effect been?
4) Pacifica has invested money in securities and other financial instruments. Exactly what are these investments? What commissions were paid as a result of these transactions and who benefited?
5) What negotiations and discussions have occurred regarding sales of Pacifica stations and assets, and who is responsible.
6) Have their been sweetheart deals and kickbacks to Pacifica officials as a result of any financial transactions?
7) Has embezzlement or other criminal financial malfeasance occurred?
8) Disclosure of salaries and job duties of those paid by Pacifica.
9) What is the actual condition of Pacifica's facilities such as the transmitters and the Pacifica Archive?
10) What is the situation regarding WBAI's move, cost overruns, contractual obligations?
1) What role have agencies or agents of the government, political factions and organizations or commercial interests played in the takeover of Pacifica? Who benefited (or who, what was intended to benefit?) What were the goals? Beyond obvious principals such as members of the Board and Management, who are the planners and backers?
2) Sadly, none of this could have happened without the active and passive collusion of a significant number of people in the organization. Why did this happen? How was this accomplished? What conditions internally and externally made this possible? What were the various motivations of the participants?
3) Have their been economic incentives and/or bribes involved?
4) Have their been threats involved by outside entities?
5) What is the real story behind the Congressional attack on Pacifica as "hate radio" and what did Pat Scott do and say in Washington to silence Congressional critics?
6) What programs were removed and what coverage was abandoned as a result of outside pressure?
Structure and Culture
1) What in Pacifica's organizational structure enabled the takeover? What sort of structure would discourage future attempts?
2) What role has scarcity, personal ambition, and conditions in the general society played?
3) What role have interpersonal relations and communication problems played and how could relationships and communications become more comradely and constructive?
4) What factors contributed to the consolidation of power in the hands of a few and what mechanisms would effectively foster distributed power and equitable participation by Pacifica stakeholders?
5) Who has been harmed during the course of this takeover and what steps can be taken to make amends? What enmities exist and what is their effect on the organization as a whole? How can these conflicts be resolved constructively? What is to be done about those who have perpetrated the harm?
6) What are the actual, as opposed to professed values within the culture of Pacifica? What ought they to be? How can understanding and mutual support be developed among Pacifica's diverse members and eccentric personalities? How are we to balance individual freedom with collective responsibility? How can we restore a creative and open environment while managing the practical details competently.
1) What do we mean by success? How can we measure our progress toward our goals? What are they? Why do we exist as an organization?
2) What is our relationship to our communities. What does our mission mean on a day to day basis? What do our communities need from us? How can we expand meaningful participation in Pacifica to more people?
3) How can these aspirations be codified in Pacifica's by-laws in a way that allows them to retain their vitality?
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