We lose (this time) 9-18-01
From: Carol Spooner email@example.com
Subject: UPDATE - Committee to Remove the Pacifica Board
Date sent: Tue, 18 Sep 2001 21:13:09 -0700
September 18, 2001
Dear All -- Well, the good news is that Judge Sabraw is NOT the trial judge in this case, although he is the judge ruling on all pre-trial motions. (I believe Judge Barranco will be the trial judge in January.) The bad news is that he ruled against us on our joint pre-trial motion today to prohibit election of new directors tomorrow. He did specifically state, however, that this decision could be changed at trial, and that if any directors are elected tomorrow they may be removed at trial if the trial judge finds the election was illegal. Can't say that helps us much in the meantime, while those controlling the board are running Pacifica into the ground and shirking their duties to provide coverage that is "not commonly available elsewhere" of the current war build-up crisis. (Except of course on KPFA/KFCF.)
All motions ruled on today were made jointly by the plaintiffs in all lawsuits.
Judge Sabraw ordered that tomorrow's board conference call meeting be tape recorded and that a copy of the tape be delivered to the court. That may help prevent some of the abuses in past board telephone meetings where directors were "muted" and not permitted to raise issues and speak. (I believe the meeting will also be streamed over the internet from http://www.pacifica.org/info/releases/pbmcc_0919.html. -- starting at 11 am Pacific Daylight time.)
He also ruled that Pete Bramson can vote at tomorrow's meeting. Ken Ford (Vice Chair) had notified Pete a couple of weeks ago that he would not be permitted to participate because his term had allegedly expired. The judge didn't buy that one under the bylaws the board is currently operating under.
He took under submission our motion to require the defendant directors to post an adequate bond (as well as what amount would be adequate) to repay Pacifica for their defense attorneys' fees which are currently being paid by Pacifica -- but denied our motion to require the Foundation and the defendants to have separate attorneys -- even though we are suing on behalf of the Foundation to recover damages against the defendants for damages to Pacifica.
The judge also declined to appoint a receiver to protect Pacifica's funds until trial. This, even though we presented evidence that they were required to liquidate investments held in reserve accounts to meet payroll last week.
So, this was not the best day in court. But it could have been worse. The judge did overrule their second attempt to get some of the "causes of action" in our complaint dismissed or stricken.
We don't know how the vote to elect new directors will go tomorrow. I believe that eleven directors will be voting -- including five "dissident" directors. (I believe Rabbi Kriegel will be making the personal sacrifice of participating even though it is Rosh Hashanah tomorrow.) Perhaps one of the directors on the other side will have the wisdom to vote NO to election of new directors. If so, I hope and believe that we may be able to settle the cases without trial and that would be in the best interests of the Pacifica Foundation.
Over this past horrible week, I have once again realized how crucial this legal fight for Pacifica is. Pacifica must be preserved. It is the only national broadcast medium for the critical news, information and analysis needed to inform American listeners about the "war" we may be about to enter, its causes, ramifications and consequences.
I know many of you are already engaged in your communities in opposing the tragedy our country appears to be about to embark upon -- the slaughter of more innocent men, women and children across the Middle East and into central Asia, as well as the loss of many American lives.
Your continued generous financial support is needed as we enter into the intensive and expensive deposition stage leading up to trial. See below for where and how to contribute. Thanks again for all your support and encouragment these past two years!
Pacifica Means Peace,
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2001 17:58:38
from Hunter Pyle, one of the attorneys representing the LAB plaintiffs:
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2001 17:58:21
Here is what happened with respect to the substantive motions that were before Judge Sabraw today:
1. Motion prohibiting election of directors: denied.
Our office brought the ex parte application re. Ken Ford. We did this so that the Judge would have Ford's situation in front of him when he ruled on Bramson (i.e., so that we could point out to the Judge how unfair it would be to let defendants' prohibit Bramson from participating while allowing Ford to participate). Although the application was denied, IMHO it put the Judge in a position of having to order defendants to allow Bramson to remain on the Board.
From: Cliff Barney firstname.lastname@example.org
here it is; if i don't hear from anyone within an hour i will try to post it myself, with who knows what results:
Judge refuses to block Pacifica board meeting; Bramson allowed to participate
September 18, 2001: Alameda County Superior Court Judge Ronald M. Sabraw today refused to block the teleconference meeting of the Pacifica Board of Directors at which the ruling faction will attempt to boost its slim majority by electing new members.
The meeting will be held Wednesday, Sept. 19, at 2 p.m. EDT, and will be broadcast live over the web. Instructions for listening can be found at the Pacifica site, http://www.pacifica.org/info/releases/pbmcc_0919.html.
Judge Sabraw insisted that all board members be allowed to speak according to normal meeting practices, and must not be arbitrarily cut off by the chairman. And he ruled that dissident board member Pete Bramson should be allowed to participate in the meeting and vote. Pacifica had attempted to disqualify Bramson on grounds that his term had expired.
But Judge Sabraw brushed aside arguments that the meeting was illegal, that holding it would do irreparable harm to Pacifica, and that holding it on the final day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, was unfair to Jewish board members who have religious obligations.
In a lengthy hearing, attorneys for the four joined lawsuits against Pacifica tried to persuade the court that any election was illegal because of previous illegal bylaw changes, and that holding an election now, and allowing the current majority to pack the board with more supporters, would irreparably harm Pacifica.
But Judge Sabraw said that the illegality of the current bylaws, under which the elections will be held, is the main point of the court case, and will be decided at the trial, which is slated to begin next January.
Any actions taken because of the meeting could be undone should the plaintiffs win, the judge said. However he ruled that there was no reasonable presumption of such a victory, and therefore he refused to prohibit the election.
The board plans to nominate former Washington DC mayor Marion Berry, comedian and activist Dick Gregory, public relations and marketing executive Krishna Roy, Democratic Party activist James Ferguson, and real estate executive George Barnstone of Houston, as new members.
Judge Sabraw also refused to disqualify Fulbright and Jaworski, one of the new law firms hired by Pacifica. Plaintiffs argued that there was a conflict of interest between the board as a whole and individual board members, and that the same firm could not represent both. In addition, the judge ruled that Pacifica's finances are not in such bad shape that he should appoint a receiver for the corporation.
Plaintiffs attorney Terry Gross said after the hearing that while he was not happy with most of the rulings, the favorable result on Pete Bramson was important. With Bramson voting, the Pacifica majority now rules by only a 6-5 margin.
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