Problems with the KPFK program
director search committee
( more added 11-8-02 including David Fertig post )
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The whole crux of the PD search committee problem is that Brazon and Fertig wanted the committee to recommend KPFK produce[r] [ name deleted due to confidentiality policy ] so that Georgia could hire him. Some members of the search committee told the LAB members and Georgia that [ name deleted due to confidentiality policy ] was not on the list of finalists, as he had been vetoed by a minority of the search committee. (He demonstrated authoritarian behavior when he was Sonali Kolhatkar's producer, telling her that he, not she, was in charge of content of her show.) So Fertig and Lydia went to a meeting they had no right to attend and let the committee know that if [ name deleted due to confidentiality policy ] was not on the list, they would throw out the finalists and reopen the files of the rejected candidates.
Diana Barahona [ KPFK area ]
Please post the following, as it explains the situation more clearly, especially the reason why Carole La Flamme will not return to the committee, as LAB member Don White and Carol Spooner had hoped.
Subj: [fpnncc] The PDSC at KPFK is ethically compromised
To all concerned about KPFK:
The PDSC at KPFK is ethically compromised and should not be allowed to continue in its present configuration.
1. Confidentiality was abused repeatedly.
Confidentiality: At least one person on the committee has communicated with candidates regarding our process, decisions reached in meetings, and other candidates. The GM questioned a member of the committee why certain candidates were voted down.The chair of the lab and the representative to the iPNB in their ‘surprise’ appearance at the last meeting knew who the finalists were. One of the committee members who ‘invited’ the board members to our meeting had previously suggested that the GM be present at the second interviews.
At the last meeting on October 29, instead of canceling the forum and staff event, and sitting down to do constructive work to organize an outreach to the under-represented communities, four hours were spent in shouting and trying to force the rest of the committee to accept the already Rejected Candidate. It all became about him—and not about resuming the search. And then came the destructive act of trashing our process, previously agreed to by the committee and applied equally to all candidates, and voting out the finalists we already had chosen because the rest of us would not include their candidate. How can we expect well-intentioned people who are interested in working for a Pacifica station to trust or take KPFK seriously after such a breach of ethics?
This experience has taught me that the opportunists rise to the top as soon as the door is opened, and the jockeying for power begins. That may be inevitable in any struggle, but it is harder to swallow when you discover that some of your fellow committee members are part of the game. The final words issued by the lab chair before her exit were to the effect that ‘if we did not present enough finalists to the GM, she would have to reopen the file of our candidates who were already rejected,’ read that—pick one of her ‘favorite sons.’ The worst news I have seen is that the PDSC plans to do just that themselves, and with seemingly no deadline anymore, and no need to plead for another extension from the GM, they have decided that they should reconvene and revisit the same-old same-old. I would have hoped they would have been more creative, and rather than going backward they would have thought to launch a serious outreach campaign and find candidates who would be representative of the under-represented communities and be good for the station.
My resignation stands. I cannot be part of such a compromised and corrupted project.
fpnncc list, October 31
~~~~~from don white, KPFK LAB~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
There are several different perspectives and rationales which have been put out regarding the issue of the participation of non-members in the Search Committee's meeting and work. While David Fertig and Lydia Brazon, members of this Local Advisory Board, clearly felt they were somehow providing a service in clarifying and/or investigating the committee's process, it has been seen widely as an inappropriate intrusion into the work of the committee.
Some of us on this LAB feel it was inappropriate for non-members of the committee to attend and participate in the committee's work, especially under the confusing conditions of last Tuesday night's meeting and especially after the committee had apparently already voted on its finalists.
Some of us feel that even the "appearance of undue influence," even if only an impression, is damaging to the credibility of this LAB.
Now, "with our eyes on the prize," it is impertive that we take a deep breath, recommit ourselves to the concept of seeking what's best for our network, our station and our listeners....and look for the path out of our current polarization and back to fulfilling the mandates which we have accepted to serve our community.
The next LAB meeting is set for Sunday, November 3, 2002 at 11:00 a.m. at Loyola Law School. This LAB meeting was designed to address the pressing issues of bylaws and program councils. Now some listeners are demanding that the Program Director Search Committee be the focus of that meeting. While we all know that this issue will be addressed there, I am strongly urging that we not be derailed in our work by hours of conflict and animosity on Sunday. To that end I am intending to propose the following advisory motion to the LAB and ask others to consider supporting it and allowing the present Search Committee to regroup, continue to function independently as its mandate calls for and allow us to move on to other agenda items after a brief discussion of this Search Committee issue.
TO BE MOVED AT THE LAB MEETING ON SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2002 AT LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL:
WHEREAS the Search Committees of KPFK-fm are composed of the major stakeholders of the signal areas and whereas the membership of the search committees have been chosen through a transparent, participatory process, and
WHEREAS the independence of the committee's work is key to maintaining the confidence of the various constituencies represented by the membership, and
WHEREAS the work of the present Program Director Search Committee has been disrupted by a process many see as inappropriate or having the "appearance of inappropriateness" and
WHEREAS the KPFK community has placed trust and confidence in the Search Committee and has mandated it to achieve its goals to the best of its ability and in the best interest of the station, and
WHEREAS this Local Advisory Board feels that the outstanding individuals of the present Program Director Search Committee will acknowledge the enormous trust and confidence placed in it by the stakeholders who chose them and that they will honor that trust,
THEREFORE I MOVE THAT THIS BOARD CALL FOR AND ADVISE:
Motion by Don White
[repost from freekpfk]
Here is the reply I sent to Larry Romsted on the Alliance list. Larry had the rare decency to ask me directly what was up. Why is that rare?
I find it odd that only two people (Steven Starr and Dave Adelson) have called to ask me directly what happened in this recent matter re: the Programming Director Search Committee at KPFK, and nobody asked me via email until Larry Romsted did. Thanks for asking, guys. As in journalism, in Pacifica one ought not base conclusions upon one view of the matter.
KPFK LAB Chair Lydia Brazon and I were invited last week by at least one member of the KPFK PDSC (Prg. Dir. Srch Comte) to discuss with the PDSC applicable Pacifica policies and methodologies of voting. Thus we came to the next PDSC meeting (Oct 29) at KPFK. When it started, we made it clear that we were there at the request of a committee member to discuss process. Some expressed surprise, and we were then asked to leave the room while our presence was discussed. After some time, (during which I worked on the so-far successful KPFK fund drive), we were invited in by vote of the committee.
Lydia and I clearly stated that we were not here to tell the PDSC how to do its job, just to discuss policy and procedure; that we were not seeking to alter the outcome, merely to learn about the process. We never discussed the names of any candidates, we never said anything that could even be marginally construed as an instruction, order or demand.
I noted that search committees were being engaged at most of the Pacifica stations, and different mechanisms were being used with varying levels of efficiency and inclusion. I asked how this committee felt about its process, do they feel it worked, were there any problems, etc. We were given some interesting and lively responses from both satisfied and dissatisfied members.
Apparently the K-PDSC used a veto-vote system, whereby any three people could combine to veto any candidate (I never got a clear answer as to how that particular method was agreed upon, whether it was by simple majority vote or otherwise).
Some members said they felt that the veto-vote method resulted in skewed outcomes, others felt it resulted in the least controversial candidate, etc. I noted that Pacifica, through the iPNB, had stated general support for proportional representation voting methods, whereby minority-proportions of constituencies would be more likely to get their views heard and represented. I asked if that approach had been considered, and frankly I feel I didn't get a very clear answer to that, either. I noted that giving people a veto, thus a power to block something, is quite different than giving the power to advance something, and I asked if that had been discussed, apparently it had to some degree, but finally the decision had been made to use the veto-vote method.
After about 20 minutes, we left, and I understand the meeting went on for another hour or so.
Then the committee apparently made some decisions, which I have not been informed of, nor do I need to be, since I am not on the committee.
I still expect that we can develop a methodology or guideline for Pacifica search committees that works, despite the inevitable clamoring for preferred candidates and processes which skew or limit the outcome or which leave participants feeling excluded from meaningful participation in the process.
Meanwhile, I really hope the committee will simply work out a methodology that has the confidence of the committee as a whole, and which succeeds in attaining its goals, so that finalists can be promptly submitted to Eva Georgia. The K-PDSC has done enormous work to sift out the best of over a hundred applications, that work should be allowed to bear fruit without being dragged into the sort of hyperbolic speculation which seems to attend nearly every thing that happens, one way or the other.
An unacceptable result came out of a committee ... no final candidates of color were put forward for the PD position, and then, no final candidates at all were put forward. Based on the statements and reports of the participants, there were many internal dynamics and issues within the committee that caused this result, and those internal dynamics and issues are generally representative of the communities that love KPFK.
The committee needs to deal with those dynamics/issues and come to a result that they can all stand behind. I believe, given enough time and support, they can surely do that because I presume good faith and a desire to see KPFK thrive and carry out its mission.
You have said, essentially, that the dynamics/issues can be reduced to: (1) racism, and (2) some people being opposed to "mission driven" programming changes at KPFK.
Those are assumptions presented as conclusions -- that people seeking "peacemakers" must be either (1) racist (because they fail to perceive people of color as "peacemakers" or are threatened by assertive people of color), or (2) opposed to "mission-driven" program changes (because they are unhappy with the station manager and the station manager is trying to make "mission driven" program changes), or (3) both.
From where I sit on the interim national board -- watching the variations of "Station Post-Dictator Power Vacuum Syndrome" (so deftly described by Matthew Lasar a few weeks ago) manifest itself at all five Pacifica stations -- I think we all need to be very careful about when we invoke the mission and racism to bolster our arguments or they will lose their force and we will neither be able to combat racism nor to perform Pacifica's mission.
(At WPFW, our station in Washington, D.C, those who would like to see that station transformed from one that broadcasts jazz 19-1/2 hours/day are called racists because most of the WPFW jazz programmers are African American.)
What we know from 53 years of Pacifica history is that ALL programming changes are controversial -- whether mission-driven or not. I think we must also look at our history and understand that huge amounts of creative energy are squandered on power struggles between factions that would do much better and accomplish much more by learning to co-exist in order to address Pacifica's mission from different perspectives. For those reasons I hope the PDSC will reconvene -- that those who resigned will return or be replaced by those who elected them -- and work together to find a program director for KPFK who can lead the effort to get to the fundamentals of what Pacifica's purposes are, why it should continue to exist, and what pulls a diverse group of people together to put their energies into it.
We don't have much time for faction fighting left. Fascism is on the march and we must raise many voices to oppose it or lose our freedom to speak at all, as well as many lives here and around the world.
this statement was just released by one of the listener representatives to the kpfk program director search committee - Carole LaFlamme was elected at a forum that was widely announced on kpfk:
Carole LaFlamme (repost)
To the listeners:
Please be advised that the Program Director Search Committee will be putting no finalists forward for the position of Program Director, and there will be no Public Forum on November 6th. Last week, after a positive and seemingly productive two-month process, we had voted on and agreed on finalists.
Last night, with a published agenda that would deal mainly with planning the forum, some members of the committee--without informing the rest of us--had invited the local representative to the Pacifica National Board and the chair of the Local Advisory Board to the meeting to discuss possible 'problems' with the result of the vote for finalists. Although it was not on the agenda and the full committee had not been notified in advance, they were present when the meeting began.
Other members, myself included, respected the process we had voted on and were under the impression that the results were 'confidential.' Unwilling to accept the result of that vote, some members then voted to throw out that vote and hold a revote. At that point, I resigned from the committee and left the meeting. I was informed later that no finalist made it through the revote.
I cannot continue to represent you in a process where confidentiality is abused and the rules are changed after the results are in. I regret that I was not able to fulfill the mission you elected me to do.
From: Carol Spooner Date: Thu Oct 31, 2002 10:57 am Subject: Re: [NewPacifica] Re: [freekpfk] Forward of Carole LaFlamme's post from KPFK Listeners Forum: "NO FINALISTS FOR PD; NO FORUM"
Dear Frank, I am NOT willing, personally, to dismiss these serious concerns, and I have taken all steps that I can -- as a national board member -- to see to it that they are dealt with. This included, among other things, asking for a special executive session board briefing on these personel matters from our executive director which occurred at the last board meeting in Washington over Columbus Day.
Because of employee confidentiality rights, I cannot say more about it. However, I do assure you that I and other board members are very concerned and so is Dan Coughlin.
At 07:34 AM 10/31/2002 -0800, Frank Schweitzer wrote:
It is my understanding that you are aware of much of the serious assault on the values embodied in the free pac movement, and certainly in your great volumne of work, being recently "prosecuted" by some of the LAB, here in Los Angeles. I am speaking specifically of the corrupted process of the GM selection, and the ensuing heavy handed, and dictatorial mismanagement of the situation. A situation further perpetuated by this recent PD selection process transgression.
I, for one, was deeply disturbed to hear that you personally, were willing to dismiss the concern and opposition to these developments. The evidence of serious improprieties by certain of the LAB members in undermining the reach for participation, inclusion, and transparency is significant.
This recent PDSC debacle is only the recent, and most obvious, manifestation of a situation here, in LA, that seriously threatens the direction of the "new Pacifica." It is giving real traction to the "old regime," and is grossly discouraging to many of us with a balanced and progressive vision for the "new Pacifica."
It was even further discouraging to think that we could not look to you for some help in this situation. KpfK is not an insignificant part of Pacifica, thank you for your concern.
We certainly do need those new by-Laws in place, hopefully to conduct a representational election, and god willing, get past this continuation of petty dictatorships. This is not to say that the immediate problems here can wait for that.
From: Carol Spooner
Well, off the top of my head, I would urge the committee members to cool their tempers down ... and get back together to work it out. If they don't, I think this will be a bad "demonstration" case for local democratic control. This is a bad precedent, and one that I hope the people involved will resolve with serious respect for the agreed upon process. I also hope Carole LaFlamme will withdraw her resignation from the committee.
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