Media Alliance on The Legislative Hearings and Witnesses

Oakland, CA Committee of the California Legislature will hold hearings on the conflict between Berkeley¼s KPFA radio and the Pacifica Foundation. The hearings will take place until 2:30 PM at the Elihu Harris State Building at 1515 Clay Street in Oakland.

Witnesses scheduled to testify on the morning panel include Pacifica Foundation national board member Peter Bramson; Bill Harvey of the Communication Workers of America; and David Adelson, the acting chair of the local advisory board of KPFK, the Pacifica Foundation¼s station in Los Angeles. The afternoon panel witnesses include Nicole Sawaya, the fired KPFA station manager; Meigan Devlin, the KPFA book keeper; and officials from the Franchise Tax Board and the Attorney General¼s office. Pacifica Foundation representatives have been invited to testify on both panels but have declined to participate in the hearing.

„There are two main avenues of inquiry that the committee should be pursuing: Has Pacifica, through its recent actions, betrayed its mission to provide a free speech, community controlled radio station; and how much subscriber-donated money has Pacifica used for purposes that subscribers definitely wouldn¼t support said Larry Bensky, a veteran Pacifica broadcaster who was fired for speaking out on the air about the KPFA/Pacifica crisis. Bensky has covered government hearings on a variety of topics.

According to the official agenda for the hearing, topics to be covered include Pacifica¼s governance structure; the lawsuit challenging Pacifica¼s recent governance changes; the financial relationship between the Pacifica Foundation and KPFA; extraordinary expenditures by Pacifica since January 1999; and California law as it relates to the use of tax-exempt funds and the sale of assets by a tax-exempt organization. The Pacifica Foundation is a nonprofit organization incorporated in the state of California.

Yesterday, KPFA supporters ran a half-page ad in the New York Times asking for the immediate resignations of Pacifica Board Chair Mary Frances Berry, Executive Director Lynn Chadwick, and those members of the Pacifica Board who provoked the crisis at KPFA. The ad also called for an end to censorship throughout the Pacifica Network, an accounting of donor funds, and democratization of the organization. It was signed by local and national progressive notables including author Alice Walker; activist and professor Angela Davis; Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown; actor Danny Glover; political analyst Noam Chomsky; Tom Rankin, president of the California Federal of labor, AFL-CIO; and co-founder of the United Farm Workers, Dolores Huerta.

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