Vote NO on the proposed Bylaws for KPFA/Pacifica

The Alameda Green Party County Council strongly recommends a NO vote in the Pacifica bylaws amendment election – please reject the dangerous “New Day” scheme!

A thumbnail history: after several attempted takeovers of Pacifica in the 1990s, and the 1999 mass protests at KPFA, a unique and democratic set of bylaws was created, and approved by Pacifica’s members in 2003. These bylaws replaced the old unelected governing board with an elected local board for each of Pacifica’s five radio stations, and a National Board drawing its membership from those five local boards (Pacifica has stations in Berkeley, Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, and Houston).

Unfortunately, there remains a faction within Pacifica intent on undermining those bylaws and grabbing control of this valuable media asset of the Left. The primary difference between that faction and the democracy advocates has to do with who governs the network. Do we trust the listeners and staff who make up the Pacifica community to decide how it should be run, or will we allow an elite group to run the network as a top-down organization modeled after commercial media? The name of this top-down initiative changes from year to year. Last year, it was the “Pacifica Restructuring Project,” which Pacifica voters rejected in a landslide. This year it’s been touched-up and repackaged as “New Day Pacifica,” but the goal is the same: replacing the existing bylaws with a top-down corporate model.

The proposed New Day bylaws amendments will end local control (local station boards will still exist, but only as figureheads; they’ll have no authority) and install a more powerful (yet smaller) national board that can be dominated by a single faction. Also, New Day’s national board will have only two staff representatives (versus five – one from each station – today), meaning that at least three stations will not have even one staff voice. These changes (and others; there isn’t space to list them all) are moves to reduce democracy at Pacifica, not enhance it.

And what’s the point of all these changes? New Day’s supporters claim that if their bylaws are enacted, there’ll be less “factionalism,” and Pacifica’s finances will also improve. But how is that supposed to happen? There’s no actual financial plan as part of the New Day package. At present, Pacifica is stuck with a big loan it had to take out to settle an old debt. Altering the board structure won’t pay off that loan, nor will it attract new listeners and new subscribers. On these fundamental issues, New Day is silent.

The New Day team asks Pacifica’s listener-members to trust them. But trust must be earned, and the New Day crew’s past behavior has instead earned them mistrust. New Day’s supporters include some of the individuals who shut down Pacifica’s New York station,WBAI, in 2019, without even the authorization of the board (WBAI was later restored to local control). Most recently, two of them took part in a bizarre red-baiting-style attack on two KPFA board members (Christine Pepin and James McFadden) who also serve on Green Party county councils.

For these reasons, we strongly endorse a NO vote on the New Day bylaws amendments.  Voting starts this coming Monday, June 7.

Signed, Alameda Green Party County Council