Pacifica Campaign Report
Dear Supporters of the Pacifica Campaign:
**Juan Gonzalez resigns as Pacifica Campaign Chair, returns to Democracy Now!**
Recently, we issued an email request to you, our supporters, for input into future plans for the Pacifica Campaign. We would like to thank you for the several hundred thoughtful emails we received in response.
Most responses called for the Pacifica Campaign to continue, mostly to fulfill a watchdog function until the threat to the network has been more assuredly overcome.
On January 23rd, the Pacifica Campaign also held a strategy meeting in New York City with local activists concerning our future. This included a discussion on the Pacifica Campaign's position on the listeners boycott, which culminated in a vote to lift the boycott.
It was the opinion of Juan Gonzalez, local activists, and the staff of the Pacifica Campaign that we must respond to the urgent financial needs of Pacifica Radio by encouraging listener-sponsors to immediately begin pledging funds and conducting outreach to new listener-sponsors. In order to facilitate access to operating funds, local bank accounts are currently being established for the radio stations, in cooperation with Pacifica National Headquarters, so that the stations will have some local control of funds.
During this meeting, Juan resigned as Chair of the Pacifica Campaign. Expressing full confidence in the remaining staff of the Campaign to carry on, he cited new projects that are looming on his horizon. We at the Campaign are speaking for many in the independent media movement when we express our deep thanks and respect to Juan for creating the Campaign and fostering its success by giving us a winning strategy, as well as lending his reputation and credibility to the struggle. Only time and history will be able provide a real measure of his contribution.
Since the "fired and banned" returned to WBAI, three other Pacifica Campaign staff have moved on. Dan Coughlin, former coordinator, became Executive Director of Pacifica Radio Network on January 14th. Bernard White has returned to WBAI as Program Director and host of the morning show, "Wake-Up Call." Valerie Van Isler has returned to her work as Station Manager of WBAI. The dedication, loyalty, and spirit of service of Dan, Valerie, and Bernard were phenomenal. The Free Pacifica movement is indebted to them - particularly to Dan Coughlin for his tireless and vigilant commitment to the Campaign.
Remaining staff members of the Pacifica Campaign include Bok-Keem Nyerere, Denis Moynihan, and Ursula Ruedenberg. The three of us have agreed to draft a new mission statement for the Pacifica Campaign and will present our ideas to local activists and to supporters across the country by email. Pacifica Campaign activists in Los Angeles are also working (without pay currently) to build towards the March 8-10 Board meeting.
Unfortunately, real threats to the network appear to still exist. We agree with people across the country that the Campaign should not disband at this time.
According to our sources, Pacifica's previous management cultivated a culture of contempt for the institution, with patronage and no-show jobs and sensational spending habits. The Campaign has learned that former Executive Director Bessie Wash sponsored a bonanza of severance packages for over 20 employees with pledges of up to 9 months pay, 6 months vacation pay and continued health insurance. For some, it appears that laptop computers and even car repairs and car leases were promised. We understand that Pacifica's new management has stopped payment and will challenge most of these agreements.
There are virtually no remaining funds due to past policies and mismanagement. Currently the network is struggling to meet payroll and operating costs. Meanwhile, Pacifica has financial liabilities totaling approximately $4,000,000.
Half of those liabilities are comprised of debts to law firms, public relations firms, and security firms. The other half of the debts were incurred through operating expenses. Debts to Legal firms contracted by Pacifica include: $460,000 to Williams & Connolly and $410,000 to Epstein, Becker & Green (EB&G) after at least $700,000 already paid to EB&G. Another union-busting firm in Pacifica's employ, Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp, is seeking about $300,000 in addition to the quarter million paid out already. Their attorney Larry Drapkin was the principal recipient of the business, for his work attacking the Democracy Now staff. Attorneys at yet another firm, Fulbright and Jaworski, are lining up for around $200,000. Seeking $250,000, Westhill Partners, the latest and highest-powered public relations firm hired by the former Pacifica National Board, may be planning to go to a judge to force Pacifica into involuntary bankruptcy.
In an extraordinary development, we have learned that a firm called Decision Strategies has a bill due for $230,000. Decision Strategies is a high-end corporate security and "intelligence" firm, which touts its use of "multijurisdictional online and onsite searches with the involvement of overt and covert field operatives." According to a USA Today article, the firm hires "ex-FBI, CIA, IRS, DEA, and Secret Service agents; former police, prosecutors, customs agents, federal marshals and military intelligence experts; veterans of Britain's MI6, Europe's Interpol or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; and lawyers, forensic accountants, database specialists and journalists." Pacifica's use of this firm points to even deeper corruption and total abandonment of the network's mission than heretofore understood. See the firm's site at http://decision-strategies.com
Furthermore, John Murdock, EB&G lawyer and former Pacifica National Board member, told New York Newsday on January 30th that if there are too many changes to some of the stations, "I think that there will be challenges to their licenses." Clearly, Pacifica will soon be facing more attacks while we work to restore the network to its progressive mission.
In conclusion, some news of Pacifica National Headquarters include:
- Verna Avery Brown has been employed as Deputy Executive Director of Pacifica Network. Ms. Brown was the former Pacifica National News Anchor until she resigned in protest over Pacifica policy.
- Station Managers at WBAI, WPFW, and KPFT have been terminated and at KPFT the Station Manager resigned prior to the January 12th meeting of the Interim National Board. They are currently being replaced by Station Managers hired on interim bases.
- In Los Angeles, local Indy Media activist Stephen Starr replaced KPFK Station Manager Mark Schubb.
- In Washington DC, Tony Regusters, former press secretary for congresswoman Maxine Waters replaced WPFW Station Manager Lou Hankins.
- In New York, former WBAI Station Manager Valerie Van Isler of WBAI has returned to replace interim manager Robert Daughtry.
- In Houston, a KPFT General Manager will be named Monday. Garland Ganter has been replaced by the station operations engineer in the interim.
- The next national board meeting will be held in Los Angeles on March 8 -10. We encourage everyone to join us there to support the free-Pacifica struggle in Los Angeles. As in New York, the venue will be a school or union hall instead of a corporate hotel.
- Finally, New Yorkers were delighted to hear Free Speech Radio News during WBAI's time slot for national news recently. The Pacifica Campaign heartily endorses a commitment at all Pacifica stations to airing FSRN regularly.
Thank you for your support in the past and we look forward to the next phase.
Pacifica Campaign Staff
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