The Capturing of Pacifica
Below is chronology of the events leading to the vote by the Pacifica National Board to place itself in exclusive, permanent and unaccountable control of Pacifica Foundation and the five stations, as well as the resistance that has intensified with every new outrage by Pacifica Foundation management. These actions of Pacifica's Board have been met with widespread opposition, even from people and groups who have not expressed significant criticisms of the direction Pacifica has been taken over the past several years.

Since giving itself total, unaccountable control of Pacifica in February 1999, the Pacifica Board has moved forward with imperious arrogance toward its corporate agenda. Resistance has been fierce, particularly at KPFA where firings, demonstrations, and now arrests have occurred.  These events are chronicled in the statements of resistance section of this page. We have attempted to pull together the facts of what occurred, as they  have occurred, with the most recent events at the top of the list, as well as to expose the manipulation used by the Pacifica National Board and Management to prosecute this coup. One of the hallmarks of the centralized regime has been to attempt a rewrite of history in matters regarding Pacifica, and one should expect more of the same. Another strategy being employed to deflect attention from the power grab is a cynical and shameless manipulation of accusations of racism. We have catalogued this in a special section, Playing the Race Card, because we think this deserves special attention. Additionally, we have linked this chronology to relevant documents and articlesthat provide background and additional detail.

One tactic Pacifica used is the pretense that opposition to this was minimal, that a compromise was reached to the satisfaction of all, that some sort of process of input occurred and that everything is now resolved.  The fact that the community is engaged widespread protest, and now legal action, shows the tranparency of that lie.

This started long before the firing of Nicole Sawaya in March 1999.  The campaign of repression began in 1995, exemplified by this memo to local station boards.- editor


Analysis of Pacifica Board Decision on Bylaw Change
by Jeffrey Blankfort (3/1/99)

Reflecting on the February 28th Pacifica board meeting, after reading the letter from CPB VP Rick Madden to Lynn Chadwick,  I believe the main fault lies not with our LAB members who crumbled at the last minute but with and within the troika of Mary Berry, Roberta Brooks, and Lynn Chadwick, the last of whom, for the most part, has cleverly evaded our scrutiny.  Here is what I believe happened, in chronological

In a continuing effort to centralize Pacifica's power, and knowing in advance what the answer would be, Pat Scott called the CPB's Robert Coonrod in late August, asking him if Pacifica was in compliance with CPB regulations that require a separation between governing board and advisory board.  Scott, it should be remembered, had received a statement of fulsome praise from Coonrod after she had announced that she would be leaving Pacifica in April of last year but would stay on the job until October when her  successor would be selected.

As most of us correctly figured, her successor, Lynn Chadwick,  was already in place,  working  side by side with Scott in  Pacifica's Berkeley office as her assistant executive director.  It had seemed strange to many at the time that Chadwick, who had been the long-time head of the NFCB, and a publicly-funded radio careerist would take a job as second in command at Pacifica unless she had some assurances that she
would be Scott's likely successor.

Both Scott and Chadwick were more than familiar with CPB regulations.  In fact,  both Scott and Chadwick had served previously on the CPB Task Force that voted to stiffen the funding requirements for community stations.  And both of them knew what Coonrod's answer would be:  Pacifica's governance structure is out of compliance with federal law.

In a letter dated Sept. 14, Coonrod replied, as anticipated,  and suggested, without a direct threat, that Pacifica do something about it. Scott dutifully sent Coonrod's letter to Pacifica's lawyer, John Crigler, who,  wonder of wonders,  agreed with Coonrod.  His letter of October 12, on inspection, could have been written by the CPB, What is critical here is that there is no evidence in any of the correspondence that Pacifica asked Crigler to argue that, since CPB had allowed Pacifica to function in a non-compliant manner during their entire relationship, that if a waiver to continue in its present form was not granted, a reasonable time period would be allowed for Pacifica to bring its governing structure into compliance.  Nor did Crigler, surprisingly, recommend that such a prudent path be taken. The ducks were being put into place.

At Pacifica's October Board meeting in Houston,  Coonrod's letter was presented to the board by Berry, Brooks and Chadwick as an immediate threat and the board consequently voted unanimously to bring Pacifica into compliance by having its Governance and Structure Committee draft a by-law proposal to be approved at
its February 28th meeting.  No consideration was given or suggested to reconstruct the board in a way that it would make it accountable to its listener-sponsors such as democratic elections and only a single member of the board, Cheryl Fabio-Bradford, a LAB rep from KPFA,  objected, cautioning the board against "jump[ing] into a boat to get into compliance." Succumbing to the pressure that Pacifica applies to
bring everyone into conformity, she also voted for the measure.  Fabio-Bradford subsequently resigned her seat on the local board.

A proposed by-law change, drafted by the Governance Committee, that would have the LAB members on the National Board resign from the LAB and then remain as  members of the National Board ,  went back to the local boards,  whose members then had an opportunity to see that Coonrod's letter did not, in fact, set a deadline for compliance and did not appear to represent any immediate threat.  Objections were raised that ranged from refusing to bow to CPB dictates and eliminate the funding  altogether, to postponing the vote until further alternatives could be suggested. Giving up CPB funding was not seriously considered, however, when LAB members were told what the effect would be on their stations.  However, three of the Pacifica's five LABs passed resolutions calling for tabling of the measure in February pending further investigation of alternatives.

It is not clear whether it dawned on any of them that Pacifica's current "dependence" on approximately $1.5 million in CPB funding represents a classic example of the addiction that occurs when organizations ostensibly committed to  the public's welfare find their budget increasingly dependent on funding from sources, whether public or private, whose existence is based on controlling the damage those organizations might do the existing source of their funds, such as the Haas Foundation of Levi Strauss, the Pew Charitable Trust, etc. or in the case of the CPB, the imperial empire of the United States.

When the National Board meeting was but a few days away it appeared that there were more than enough votes on the local boards to delay the approval of the by-law change.  At this point, panic must have set in at Pacifica headquarters. Chadwick called CPB's Madden and asked for help and Madden complied, sending her a letter threatening the foundation with an imminent cut-off of funds, in mid-March of this year, if some change that would separate the governing and advisory boards was not approved, and this letter was presented to the LAB the letter is dated February 24, and the members began to arrive on the evening of the 26th.

Now they were told, with the letter to prove it, that if they did not vote for the by-law change, they would be personally be responsible for Pacifica losing , perhaps, three quarters of a million dollars.  The LAB members are human. Three of their local boards have passed resolutions calling for some kind of postponement of the vote;  at KPFA it was unanimous, but now there was a new development.  Many were representing their LABs for the first time. They could not consult with their local boards and they were forced to make a decision that their experience and political background had not prepared them to deal with.  Invariably, the LAB members sent to represent their stations are not political activists, as in former times.. That may be why they were selected. Most are not used to the type of manipulation that Pacifica will subject them to. (Some, like Frank Millspaugh from WBAI in New York, Dorothy Nasitir  from KPFK in Los Angeles, and Michael Palmer and David Acosta, the two businessmen who represent Houston's KPFT, which hasn't had a local news show in three years, eagerly go along with it and pressure the others to do so.)   And this is exactly where Chadwick, Berry and Brooks wanted them.  The ducks were now all in a row.  And they went down.

This was the third attempt by the Pacifica inner circle, initiated under the reins (sic) of Scott to eliminate local input into the National Board; first to prevent station staff reps from serving on the local boards, and then to limit the local board to one rep on the national board with the trusty Pacifica inner circle selecting the second rep,
with no input from the staff, listeners, or the local board.  Neither of these succeeded, but the third time for them was the charm.

Despite the change, Pacifica is still out of compliance with the CPB Guidelines and federal regulations of which one of the minimum requirements is that the local station advisory board advise the station's governing body, in fact, that is the reason for its existence as its name implies.  Given that none of the stations have a local governing board, it is physically impossible, under the present governance structure for the LABs to give advice to the governing body as the law intended, a fact that the CPB has obviously overlooked.

From simply the standpoint of operational procedures, as executive director, Lynn Chadwick is the person most directly accountable for the present situation, with Pacifica Chair Mary Berry a close second.  Whether she waited, in a Macchivellian manner, to get a last minute letter from CPB in order to ensure the break down the opposition of the LAB reps; whether her tardiness in asking for the clarification from the CPB was simply an oversight and an example of her incompetence,  or whether her failure to ask Pacifica's lawyer for a further grace period in which alternative solutions could be considered was yet another sign of incompetence, she is clearly represents a liability for Pacifica.  A movement must  put pressure on local station advisory boards to demand that Chadwick either resign or be fired,  if nothing more than to compensate for the pressure brought on their representatives to capitulate in Berkeley.  There will be no excuses for the LABs not fighting back on this issue.

Chadwick is in the running to be almost as unloved around her neighbor KPFA -- they are now in adjoining locations -- as was the departed Pat Scott, and her shoddy handling of this vote, whether or not she was following or giving orders, was inexcusable. This point must be stressed, irrespective of whatever motives or conspiracies that we believe were behind her behavior.


It has become standard practice for the Pacifica Brass to attack critics of their power grab as racist and violent. This has happened repeatedly since the takeover began under the Scott regime in 1995.  This ploy is repulsively cynical, because if anything, the Pacifica junta has silenced the voice of working class communities of color in order to make the radio sound more comfy for the upwardly mobile. The real issue is: shall communites control their own airwaves through an open and accountable process?






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