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Pacifica Campaign Report Back on the National Association of Home Builders and Pacifica Vice-Chair Ken Ford

1) National Day of Action in 12 Cities
2) Homebuilders "Booze Cruise" Gets That Sinking Feeling
3) One Million E-mails

NEW YORK (July 24) -- The growing campaign for free speech and community radio took a dramatic turn this month with a series of coordinated nationwide protests against Pacifica National Board Vice-Chair Ken Ford and his employer the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the Washington, D.C.-based anti-environmental and anti-disability rights group.

On July 10th alone, demonstrations, pickets, and other peaceful actions were carried out in front of NAHB offices in 12 cities around the United States. They were peaceful, autonomous actions that were locally organized and coordinated by the Pacifica Campaign. Several NAHB offices were shut down in anticipation of the protests. Meanwhile, more than 11,000 e-mail letters were sent to affiliate offices of the NAHB on July 10th, according to Progressive Portal, an Internet service for activists.

As well as calling for the resignation of Ken Ford, demonstrators protested recent threats made by the NAHB against the Progressive Portal web site, as well as NAHB attacks on environmental protections and disability rights. Cities where protests occurred included: New York City, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Washington DC, Nashville, Boston, New City (New York), Piscataway (New Jersey), Whippiny (New Jersey), Walnut Creek (near Berkeley), and Diamond Bar and Calabasas in the Los Angeles area.

The national action marked the inauguration of a new coalition between environmental, disability rights, and Internet activists.

Numerous media, including, the premier real estate Internet news service, covered the protests. See:

More than 100 people protested in New York City and Walnut Creek, California. In New York, chanting demonstrators marched in a spirited picket line for more than two hours at the entrance of the local NAHB affiliate, accompanied by drums and Irish pipes. Disabled in Action, an activist group calling for an end to NAHB lobbying against state guidelines for housing accessibility for the disabled, made up a sizable amount of picketers and was represented by a banner. Activists in wheelchairs passed out flyers. The NAHB affiliate offices were closed due to the demonstration.

Bay Area demonstrators, in Walnut Creek, California, rallied in front of the business offices of Bruce Smith, NAHB president. The crowd was estimated to be more than 120 people, included approximately six staff members of KPFA-Pacifica Radio and several LAB members, as well as Pacifica historian Mathew Lasar, who spoke to the group. Some of the protestors held a discussion with Mr. Smith after the protest. Mr. Smith acknowledged that the protests were causing difficulties for the NAHB but continued to defend Mr. Ford.

In the Los Angeles area, protesters held an informational picket, handing out flyers to pedestrians, passengers in cars, and leafleted car windshields in the parking lot. Since the offices were locked and the telephones were shut off, a letter to the management was slipped under the door. Later that same day, another group of LA activists attended an NAHB meeting in Calabasas. Their presence was anticipated and NAHB members balled up and threw away flyers the protesters handed out.

Several labor groups, Greens, the Sierra Club, and media activists were represented at the picket held in Atlanta, Georgia, while in Nashville, Tennessee, a surprising 15 people showed up to demonstrate in front of their NAHB affiliate offices. In Washington DC, a racially diverse group leafleted the national headquarters of the NAHB, where Mr. Ford works. Many people they encountered said that they knew who they were "because you are the folks who hung the banner off our building."

In Minneapolis, a group of two picketers were met by police and barricades in anticipation of their arrival, and in Boston, an activist delivering a letter to the local office had his letter thrown away and was told to get out. In Rockland County, New York, protesters picketed at the NAHB office in New City, and later handed out flyers on New City's Main Street.

Finally, New Jersey reported that during a picket in Whippany "a hardy crew" went to deliver a beautifully prepared letter: "When the manager realized who we were he requested to see us in his office, despite the fact that he had a client in there. He chewed us out, complaining bitterly about how the 1500 e-mails had crashed his system and he angrily asked that we get Pacifica to fire him (Ford)." Demonstrators also picketed offices in Piscataway, New Jersey.

New people are continuing to contact the Pacifica Campaign about forming new picket groups, from places such as Maine, Alabama, Colorado, and New Mexico.

The next national day of action is slated for Wednesday, August 8.

For information and support materials for setting up your own picket, go to Photographs will also be posted there when they are sent in from picket areas. For information, call 646-230-9588.


Homebuilders "Booze Cruise" Gets That Sinking Feeling

Giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "pirate radio," on Friday, July 13, an ad-hoc maritime unit of the Pacifica/WBAI resistance movement launched a twilight seaborne protest action against Pacifica Board vice-chair Ken Ford. The activists took to the waters of New York Harbor to race alongside a party boat chartered by local NAHB affiliates and loudly announce their demand that Ford resign from the PNB and cease his efforts to destroy community radio.

Acting on intelligence that a "booze cruise" organized by the Builders Association of Northern New Jersey and the Community Builders Association (both NAHB affiliates) would be departing from Weehawken, N.J., Friday evening on an excursion around lower Manhattan, a Pacifica resistance activist ­ call him "Ishmael" ­ organized a last-minute, "water-borne action." Ten hardy activists crowded aboard a 26-foot boat along with its crew of three (who shall remain nameless ­ and who, in keeping with their radical bent, refused any payment for the job). The nondescript vessel gave every appearance of being a putt-putt working boat, but as soon as it got out on the open water, its unsuspected 200-horse power engines kicked in, and its passengers had to crouch down below the gunwales to prevent being tossed overboard as the boat accelerated and commenced bouncing across the waves like a Greenpeace Zodiac racing toward a rendezvous with an illegal whaling ship.

(In fact, Greenpeace conducted a seaborne action on Sunday the 15th ­ see for a report.)

Though the party boat had a major head start, the speedy pursuit craft caught up with the revelers as they reached lower Manhattan. At approximately 7:53 p.m., as the activists pulled alongside their quarry, they unfurled banners, raised signs, and began chanting "Get Ken Ford Off Pacificašs Board!" amid the steady beat of a drum and the shaking of noisemakers. Booming through a loudspeaker, "Ishmael" explained to the befuddled homebuilders why the protesters were demanding that Ford resign from the PNB and cease sabotaging Pacifica Radiošs historic, progressive mission as the "voice of the voiceless."

Some of the bemused partygoers on the two-story cruise ship responded with rude gestures, while others actually applauded this entertaining interruption of their alcohol-fueled, three-hour tour. Meanwhile, in response to a radioed request from the shipšs captain, another double-decker party boat traveling in the opposite direction veered dangerously close to the protesters, blowing its horn and attempting to "squeeze" and scare off the activists.

It was to no avail. The raucous protest continued for a nearly 25 minutes as the pursuit craft shadowed its prey past the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. The action was broadcast live via cell phone for 13 minutes over the popular program Flashpoints with Dennis Bernstein, on KPFA, Pacificašs flagship Berkeley, Calif., station. That was followed by a hook-up to (WBAI in Exile), an Internet-based "global gathering of audio refugees" working to keep the spirit of WBAI alive. After the successful action, and amid a glorious sunset, the unit returned to a herošs welcome at Pier 63, which it turns out is definitely sympathetic territory for those fighting for genuine, free-speech community radio.

One Million E-mails
Progressive Portal Reports Back on the New E-Activism

This report is broken into a number of sections in order to summarize responses to the waves of email on the Ken Ford/Pacifica situation.

Numbers of emails Received
Jim Folkman of New Mexico said he got 600 to 700 at the point where he responded. Sam Anderson of Bellevue, WA, sent out several replies, in one of which he notesd getting over 300 emails. Tim Underwood (no location given) mentions over 500, as does Gina Hill of Gainesville, FL, and Tobey J. Chappell. Bary Simon claims 960, but champion was Jerry Rombach, who says he got over 1000 emails about Ford. Naturally all this email had some effect, leading to our next section.

Disrupting Work
Jerry Rombach said all this email ruined his day and he hoped karma would inflict a rotten day on everyone involved in emailing him. Simple complaints about disrupting work came from Gina Hill, Connie Valliere (no location given), "Shannon", John C. Cone, Mark Ailsworth of Virginia, Judy Carlson of Wisconsin, and Judy Barnes, who wrote, this campaign "is causing grief all over the country and must stop now."

Please Stop The email!
At least 40 people sent pleas for the email campaign to omit them from further distribution. This included Melissa Leighton, who maintains an NAHB distribution site called EOCListserve (EOC is NAHB's Executive Officers Council). Most requests can be represented by Jenny Malone's "I would greatly appreciateit if you would remove [me] from your email list. I am not familiar with Mr. Ford and have no personal or professional opinion on this issue.

A couple people got rude about it, though. [Name withheld] wrote "Bite me you spamming asshole." Channing Bates wrote "I don't appreciate having my email cluttered by a bunch of socialists." And Bob User of Columbus OH contributed "This is about the stoopidest [sic] thing ever. Lazy activists suck." Perhaps more snotty than rude (or maybe intended seriously[!]) was Richard Tremaine's "May God have mercy on your troubled soul."

About a half dozen indicated they were emailed erroneously because they were neither NAHB members or staffers. They were sent apologies and deleted. Lisa Scott of Peoria IL is an example.

Tried to Dialog
Two people tried to enter dialogs, however briefly. Richard B.. Kramer (location not given) and Shannon Roden of Texarkana, TX, both asked questions about Ford and his involvement with Pacifica, e.g. how he got on the Board and specifics of why people dislike him.

Jack Waugh (no location given) asked "Why will they care about my opinion?"

Forwarding emails
Two said they were forwarding all emails. One without a name or location said they were being sent to "Pacifica", while Phyllis Osborn of NAHB's Executive Officers Council said she was sending all emails to Bessie Wash, Pacifica National Director.

Knows Ford
M. Hoyt sent out three emails that got progressively more hostile, in which he indicated knowing Ford personally. In the first Ford is "gentle, kind, hard working...married 25 or 26 years...has a daughter {about to enter] medical school." In the second he says "this is race bateing [sic]". And in the third, "Pacifica is dragging Mr. Ford's name through the mud."

Balanced Responses
Janie Cherry wrote "they [NAHB staff] are aware of the effects of good and bad press and will make sure due diligence is done." Larry Coppolo of Pt. Orchard WA wrote "It may very well be that Mr. Ford has no business on your Board and is doing NAHB more harm than good, in which case I will encourage him to resign. However, it may also turn out that your group simply has no tolerance for a difference of opinion. If that is the case, I will encourage him to stay."