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Bessie Wash fired

Dear All,

Listener lawsuit plaintiff Carol Spooner has sent the following correction/clarification to the Save Pacifica bulletin below:


This is not "court supervised" mediation. It is private mediation. The court has no involvement in it. Only if the cases are settled, would a settlement agreement be entered with the court. And "Farrell" did not agree to it ... the board majority agreed through their lawyers.



Send reply to: savepacifica@peacenet.org
Subject: Pacifica Executive Director Bessie Wash fired


Pacifica's board chair, former Los Angeles city councilman Robert Farrell, tonight announced he has fired Executive Director Bessie Wash.

Wash, formerly station manager of Pacifica station WPFW, was named executive director by a board then controlled by former chair Mary Frances Berry. She has presided over a total deterioration of the network and its finances, including the banning of Pacifica's only remaining nationwide program, "Democracy Now," the "mainstreaming" of the once alternative daily Pacifica Network News, now the target of a boycott and a strike, the "Christmas Coup" at WBAI in New York, which resulted in dozens of staff members being fired and banned, and the expenditure of an estimated two million dollars on legal fees, public relations firms, and security services.

Farrell has also agreed to a two and a half year old demand from KPFA's staff and community for mediation of the dispute which began in April, 1999 with the firings of popular KPFA station manager Nicole Sawaya and long-time Pacifica national affairs correspondent Larry Bensky.

The mediation, under court supervision as part of four pending lawsuits on behalf of listeners, national, and local advisory board members, is scheduled to take place November 1 in San Francisco. A report published in today's San Francisco Chronicle says that Farrell, fellow board member Wendell Johns, and newly appointed board member former D.C. mayor Marion Barry will represent Pacifica.



The summary of a KPFA news report on the firing of Bessie Wash below was submitted by Steve Friedkin of Progressive portal



Wed., Oct. 24, 2001

Pacifica "dissident" board member Pete Bramson (KPFA, Berkeley) said on KPFA this evening (approx. 7:25 p.m. PT) that Pacifica National Board Chair Bob Farrell phoned him this evening to say that he (Farrell) has told Bessie Wash to leave her post effective tomorrow morning.

According to Bramson, Farrell said Wash expressed some concerns about the action, and indicated she may take legal action against Farrell or Pacifica.

When asked, Bramson said there has been no Board vote regarding Wash's tenure, and that he does not know whether there would be enough votes to oust Wash were it brought to a vote of the Board.

Bramson said he was surprised by the call from Farrell. While he and Farrell had had previous conversations about Wash's performance, Bramson was not aware Farrell was about to oust Wash.

Asked what impact the announced ouster of Wash might have on Pacifica, Bramson said it was not yet clear. "Change comes slowly to Pacifica, as you know," he said.

Farrell's reasons for firing Wash were not explained.



From Leslie cagan, dissident board member

A few hours ago, in a call to Pete Bramson, Bob Farrell announced that he had fired Bessie Wash today, and tomorrow (Thursday) is her last day. Farrell has asked Joanne (sorry, I am forgetting her last name - she has been the Development Director at Pacifica for about a year or so) to serve as interim director for the next six months while a search is done for a new director.

This, obviously, is amazing news! There are still many unanswered questions, such as:

a) What sort of severance package was offered or given to Bessie?
b) What will this mean about other staff position changes?
c) I assume Farrell took this action in consultation with the other Board officers, but what does that mean in light of the fact that the hiring and firing of the Foundation's executive director is supposed to be a Board decision? (No, we will not challenge the decision!)
d) Why has Farrell not issued any statement to the Board about this action...let alone a public statement?

Also, an agreement to enter a mediated settlement discussion about the law suits was just reached yesterday. The plaintiffs are issuing a statement tomorrow (Thursday) announcing this publicly...it should be posted by about 10 am tomorrow. The negotiations take place next Thursday, Nov. 1st in San Francisco.

I am working on setting up a meeting for people to share their ideas and concerns related to these discussions. Hopefully, I will be able to find a location for this to happen on Sunday afternoon (10/28). As soon as I nail down the details I will get word out to everyone.

That's the news for now!!!


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