If Dan Siegel is going to show himself to be a leader of the progressives of Oakland he will need to show it at KPFA.

KPFA is our local community radio station in the Pacifica Network, in case you did not know.

And in case you did not know, as most don’t, there is a civil war going on at our community radio station. The faction fight for control of the station and the network has reached a new shrill peak this week. Unless he stands up and does something, Dan Siegel will be counted as one of the un-civil warriors.

He is very identified as a leader of one of the two groups, “Save” KPFA, wanting to run the show.

The other group is here http://supportkpfa.org/

Both websites will give you each side of this recent dispute and then some.

This infighting disturbs me and makes me angry two ways. First is because the station could go under.

KPFA, our Pacifica Station, is one of the few media outlets in the whole country that belongs to the people. It is precious, rare and needs a lot of support to survive in the recession economy.

Right now the war drums are pounding out an Iraq invasion kind of beat with a one sided, distorted view of what is happening in the Ukraine. Pacifica is one of the very few outlets in the US that is letting us know other parts of the news, not being told to us by the corporate press. Where else will the public get alternative reporting on our economy, the environment, race relations, our legal system, and our foreign affairs in these days of Clear Channel?

If KPFA went under, we would lose a lot. We have depended on this radio station for generations now. With the corporate giants controlling most of the airwaves and dissent so blacked out, it is time for Pacifica and KPFA to grow larger, grow more heard and grow better at what we do. It is also time for us to reach more young people and listen to more young people.

The other part that disturbs me is the way this faction fight gets so extreme. The tactics of the fight have become more of an issue than whatever opposing views each group has for the management of the station. I am not sure I know what each side wants to do, mostly I hear about what the other has done wrong. I do know people on both sides of some value.

One of them is Dan Siegel, who I have known for years. I have seen some of the economic arguments and tend to agree more with the other group. I also think that the other group has not been anywhere so cut throat about things.

The image we are giving of community radio to the public with these kinds of antics is about as damaging as any the right wing would wish upon us. Right now Fox news execs can uncork the champagne and laugh as we do ourselves in.

All sides have done some of it, one side had done most of it. I think everyone who is so viciously fighting for power inside of KPFA and Pacifica needs to be held accountable for their viciousness. Late night meetings, dubious votes, padlocking the offices, legal actions, calling the police (and the fire department?), trying to take over the bank account in some kind of lightning power grab all does not look good because it is not good. It is recklessly irresponsible.

Responsible would be to listen to all sides. Seems that some sides want some financial audits, so let’s have all the audits people ask for, and let’s have them done by a neutral, professional, third party.

Responsible would be to follow procedures and law. If a vote is to be held to remove the executive director, then hold it with some time for everyone to hear the case that is being made. Hold the vote where it can be counted normally. Follow protocol and law dealing with the director’s contract.

Responsible would be to hold back. If one only has a thin majority, one should not act like a G W Bush Republican and make deep changes that disrespect the significant minority. The vote to remove an executive director and change course for the network needs a super majority. The vote to sell a station license should require a consensus.

Responsible would be for everyone to act like adults and work on what the station needs to grow because the station urgently needs to grow adding more listeners and members.

Responsible would be to treat each other with respect.
If we want Unity, then we need to offer respect and some sense of restraint. Dan, I do not think you should back down on the views you express in support of “Save” KPFA. If that is the direction you advocate for the station, then advocate it openly and honestly, as we all should advocate our views.

But could you Dan, help us control this kind of behavior? As a leader of one of the two groups could you now offer some leadership to the whole community? If you stood up for some restraint and mutual respect right now, we could back away from this abyss.

Right now this LA Weekly article is correct, we are falling over the edge.

(good article, worth reading and looking at the comments)

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10 Responses

  1. Oakie

    Thank you Don for your participation in the City Council race that replaced Jane ugh Brunner. But I’m afraid I’m having a hard time avoiding a feeling of schadenfreude with regards to the “progressives” food fight at Pacifica/KPFA.

    I took my daughter at the age of one to her first demonstration in front of the KPFA building when one group (Pacifica BofD, I think) had locked out the staff. I think she enjoyed herself. But she’s now in high school applying for a driver’s license, and nothing has changed at Pacifica.

    I’m trying to read through the LA Weekly article, but I’m having trouble getting past the first page: the LA outlet has a listenership count of 700 out of a metro population of 18,000,000. And the salient characterization of the opposing sides are “Radio Havana” and 9/11 Truthers. This does not pass the giggle test.

    I’ve always felt the deepest flaw of the Berkeley leftists (who call themselves “progressives” as if to imply that those of us who disagree are somehow regressives) was a lack of a sense of humor. It’s not hard to see the humor in their antics, it’s just that it’s a case of laughing “at” instead of laughing “with.” Sorry.

  2. Adrienne Lauby

    I am getting calls from concerned supporters of KPFA and Pacifica who want to stop the madness and want to know if they can help. I appreciate your point of view here, Don. These sentences are especially poignant: “If KPFA went under, we would lose a lot. We have depended on this radio station for generations now. With the corporate giants controlling most of the airwaves and dissent so blacked out, it is time for Pacifica and KPFA to grow larger, grow more heard and grow better at what we do.”

    I hope Dan responds to your plea. He’s one of the main “players” in this drama and his decisions and thoughts will make a difference.

  3. Virginia

    When Dan Siegel was the interim Executive Director of Pacifica about 7 years ago, one slate of candidates ran for the KPFA local station board. Whether I agree or disagree with their views is not at all the point. There were accusations in the one long statement they made of impropriety by the opposing slate (Siegel’s slate). The accusations were backed up with documentation. Maybe the statement was humorless or picayune, or maybe it pointed to important concerns, or all three. It was not “hate speech.” As the iED, Dan Siegel, who supported the opposing slate, not only called the statement of those he opposed “hate speech,” he disallowed the whole slate of candidates’ statements from being seen on the website. Instead, he put up his own statement denouncing them. He also conflated the so-called but not “hate speech” with actual racist language in another statement by another station.

    Dan Siegel is not the man who will make this all nice. He may try to seem to do that if it serves him though. I know he has been on the side of good causes in Oakland, and I just wait for the other shoe to drop. I feel – when Dan Siegel joins your cause, beware.

  4. Karen Lee

    The problem is money and control. A audit or two, following the bylaws should do it. Please consider this to solve the problem.

  5. r2d2ii

    “The problem is money and control.”

    That’s always the problem. It’s never simple. It’s what politics is all about and why politics is inevitably a mess until there is leadership. With good leadership things can get significantly better before they get worse again.

    KPFA or the city of Oakland, take your pick.

  6. Don Macleay

    Thanks for these comments. Truth be told, I send in my donations and do not follow the KPFA civil wars and am not a member of either camp. I do get tired of the accusations and it feels like Save KPFA really runs a lot of good people down. I do not want to make the same mistake. This was addressed to Dan because I know and respect him him, he is important to Oakland and really only warriors make peace treaties.

  7. Ann Garrison

    My contribution to this, as a KPFA and WBAI programmer and longtime listener. Written For Counterpunch, “Chaos at Pacifica,” http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/24/chaos-at-pacifica/.

    I don’t think it’s all the same, Oakie. But all kinds of struggles go on and on like class war, and the argument between advocates of war and peace. Those struggles continue to seem the same but also go through transformations.

  8. Oakie

    Oh, Ann, sorry to hear how hard you’re taking this. I loved the article from Counterpunch. [“Class War” “Crises” “Coups” “Sieges” “Occupation” “Takeovers” “Democratic Media Experiment” “Walter Cronkite” “Vietnam War”] Sure brings back memories. From 50 years ago.

    NPR was created to “counter Pacifica’s message” of the Vietnam War, and NPR is “far rightwing” “empire’s outlet”. Gotta love all those conspiracy theories. Are you a Truther also?

    All these lessons come straight out of the Bolshevik textbook used in the Berkeley of the 60’s (NPR is the new Trotsky, that revisionist running dog). All the adherents are now old, grey and sagging. And completely out of it.

    You do realize your world view is from a previous century, right? And, oh yes, communism lost. And if you had traveled through Eastern Europe before the wall came down or China or Vietnam before the Deng era took off, or maybe North Korea and Cuba now, and you had your eyes open, you would say good riddance and happy it’s now in the dust bin of history and there is an end to the human pain and suffering caused by it. Ask anyone who grew up and lived there in that time how they feel about it now (which is why the only ones left grew up fat and pampered in the Bay Area, indulging their red beret fantasies but never feeling the ouch of reality living under their beloved dogma).

    But not in Berkeley.

    Here they still are chanting about Class Warfare.

    And so what is the latest [“Crises” “Siege” “Occupation” “Takeover”] about this time for the people with the 60’s mindview?

    “Confidential personnel matter”

    Wow. A personnel matter leads to a crises, a siege, an occupation, a takeover. Bravo! I’m sure they’re marching in front of the Berkeley building chanting “All Power to the People!” “Down with the Running Dog Imperialists!”

    I remind you that KPFK has a listenership of 700 out of a media market of 18,000,000. People have moved on from the Marxism of the 60’s having seen sufficient evidence of its failure. The Millennials are not interested and this “cause” will die with them with their grip of the last 30 years on the politics of our town. And maybe then Oakland can actually tackle its very real problems once the discarded dogma is only in the dusty history books.

    I will miss the entertainment value, though.

  9. Ann Garrison

    @Oakie: Thanks for reminding me that the class war is over and everyone got what they deserve. I keep getting confused by the size of the Pentagon, police, and surveillance budgets.

  10. Oakie

    You’re quite welcome, comrade.

    Our military budget is shrinking, and before Obama ends the process it will be half of what it was under Reagan (% of GDP). Maybe President Rand Paul will be able to decrease it further :}.

    Unfortunately, because of the Putin Anschloss of Crimea, I would expect Britain, Germany and France to substantially increase their military budgets or they will have Tsar Comrade Putin knocking on Nato’s eastern borders. The Estonians and Latvians are freaked out, given they have 25-40% fifth columnist residents delivered to them by Stalin but now a very real threat for the Crimean treatment. The aggressors are encouraged by this flim flam anti-West anti-USA rhetoric coming out of the “progressive” media apologizing for Putinism and the first invasion and annexation at gunpoint of a European territory since Hitler. Watch RT as they trot out all their useful idiots to tell the story. If I had the stomach and a low enough blood pressure to watch Democracy Now! and listen to Pacifica Radio for more of the same.

    There never was a class war. That was made up by an upper middle class dude who sat on his ass and invented it in the 19th Century. Lenin facilitated its dissemination in the 20th Century among the people he called his “Useful Idiots” so he could expand the Russian Empire west and south, as had Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, and Putin the Great. By the way, it is now the 21st Century.

    I know that Dan Siegel thinks we spend too much money in Oakland on police. I would gladly pay for an apartment for him to live in the 98th and Bancroft neighborhood so he could experience what the victims of his ideology have to experience every day. See if he then thinks the cops are the enemy.


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