July 3, 2001
To: Pacifica Campaign Supporters
From: Juan Gonzalez
1) The pressure campaign against the
2) Recent agent provocateur-type
3) Status of a possible negotiated
Our campaign to take back Pacifica continues
to move forward.
Since my last update to you three weeks ago, we have kept up the
pressure on the group of hijackers who remain on the board, while we
wait to see the results of any negotiations between them and
representatives of the three California lawsuits.
In New York City, we have worked with Concerned Friends of WBAI
(http://www.wbaiaction.org/) and Community for
Progressive Radio (CPR) to organize weekly pickets outside the
office/home of board member Andrea Cisco, and some of us have talked
with Cisco and urged her to resign. In Houston, free speech
activists are picketing and protesting renegade Pacifica board
member Valrie Chambers. Pacifica reform activists in Los Angeles,
San Francisco and throughout the country have kept up enormous
pressure on the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) to get
Pacifica board vice-chair and NAHB official Ken Ford to resign.
We are planning a National Day of Action on the NAHB for July 10,
2001. Since there are 800 chapters of NAHB around the country, there
is probably one in your area where you can organize a protest. To
get more information, call our office at 1-800-797-6229.
This is an important day of action in defense of free speech. The
NAHB has threatened legal action against a web site through which
listeners have sent more than 800,000 protest emails and faxes.
"This is one more case of the people who took over our free-speech
radio network trying to stifle the speech of others," said Steve
Freedkin, operator of the Progressive Portal web site (http://www.progressiveportal.org/) which has
coordinated the letter writing campaign. Previously, Pacifica
threatened several other protest sites with lawsuits, but it
relented in the face of nationwide outrage.
NAHB pressure against Progressive Portal's web hosting service
temporarily forced Freedkin to stop the letters. But he idenfitied
an alternative host and the letter-writing has resumed without
interruption. Meanwhile, Freedkin is supported by the Public Citizen
Litigation Group of Washington, DC. "Public Citizen is concerned
that the attempts by Pacifica and NAHB to silence their critics
could have a chilling effect on Internet activism," said Paul Levy,
an attorney with Public Citizen.
The NAHB's Ken Ford is especially important now because he is
acting chairman of the board since the resignation of Pacifica Chair
David Acosta. Ford is also the one who has threatened to bring in
the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate Pacifica
activists who utilize their constitutional rights of free speech to
complain to board members about their policies. Any of you who have
received such threats from Ford, should not worry. Merely calling a
board member or sending an e-mail to someone whose actions you
oppose is not an illegal act in the United States -- at least not
yet. As we have repeatedly said, you should be polite and respectful
in all communications to Ford and his crew, and should refrain from
any threats in any form. We abhor and condemn racial, ethnic or
sexist slurs of any kind.
We urge you to join efforts in your city to keep pressure on the
remaining hijackers, including Bob Farrell in Los Angeles and
Wendell Johns, Bert Lee and John Murdock in Washington, DC. Since
they hold a bare 7-5 majority on the board now, the resignation of
three more would signal an outright victory for our movement. For
information on these board members, visit http://pacificacampaign.org/www.pacificacampaign.org/getinvolved.asp.
Agent Provocateur Activities
In a bizarre and disturbing development, vandals and thieves
trashed a non-profit arts center in Long Island, New York, just
hours after it hosted a Free Pacifica event on June 30. The burglars
stole both the box office safe and a larger upstairs safe that
contained approximately $2,500 in cash. Luckily, neither safe
contained the proceeds raised by Saturday's event, according to
cinema co-founder Vic Skolnick. But the burglars caused extensive
damage to the theater's walls, locks, and new computer equipment.
The culprits, whom police suspect hid in the building until after
closing, also destroyed the reel of "Himalaya," a Tibetan-language
film, worth more than $4,000.
Clearly, this was no ordinary burglary. The culprits also left
behind spray-painted slogans on the walls saying: "Stop Supporting
WBAI," "No More WBAI $," and "No More WBAI Broadcasting Here." The
obvious intent of this act was to discredit our movement and to sow
confusion and division among the ranks of our supporters. For more
info, see The New York Times article at http://pacificacampaign.org/www.pacificacampaign.org/nty703.asp
Amazingly, over the same weekend WBAI producer Gary Null, who is
in the midst of broadcasting a series of interviews on the Pacifica
crisis that for the first time presents both sides of the conflict,
also reported a break-in at his residence. Nothing of value was
apparently stolen, but Gary reports that some files were taken.
Could these attacks just be a coincidence? Or could they be the
beginning of an agent provocateur campaign aimed at subverting our
movement? Many of us who are old enough to remember the FBIıs
COINTELPRO can hazard an educated guess.
The Pacifica Campaign extends our solidarity to both the Cinema
Arts Center and Gary Null. At the same time we urge the Pacifica
reform community to be on the lookout for disruptive or irrational
acts that might tarnish the movement's image. Make sure that your
demonstrations or protest activities have a legal observer and be
sure to have a video recorder present.
Despite these acts, our movement is gaining strength with each
day that passes. Last week, for example, the 11-member executive
committee of the National Writers Union (NWU) voted to support both
the stringer strike against the Pacifica Network News (PNN) and the
Pacifica Campaign's nationwide boycott of the network. The NWU, the
only labor union in the country for freelance writers, has more than
7,000 members in 17 local chapters nationwide.
Weıve also been getting important media coverage in the national
press. National Public Radio (NPR) reported on the race baiting at
Pacifica station WBAI in New York. You can listen for yourselves by
clicking here and scrolling to the bottom of the
"Weıre talking here today about the European psychological
warfare against Africans. And thatıs what the whole thing is about,"
WBAI interim general manager Utrice Leid was heard saying on NPR. "I
need you stalwart soldiers out there This is a call to arms. I
told you itıs a war." This kind of poisonous rhetoric has come to
define the "new" WBAI where race baiting, misogyny, rightwing
militia propaganda, and anti-Semitism now rear their ugly heads.
What Happened to Settlement Talks with
We are hopeful that the board "majority" has finally recognized
it cannot win and is serious about a possible negotiated settlement.
From what we understand, Pacifica attorney Daly Temchine made an
initial offer on Monday, June 18, to lawyers for the three lawsuits
-- the listeners' lawsuit, the dissident board members' lawsuit, and
the local advisory boards' lawsuit. That offer involved a
power-sharing structure between both sides that was immediately
rejected. But that was only a starting offer from Pacifica.
Since then, the principals in the three lawsuits have been
seeking input from the overall Pacifica reform movement and
reportedly have been preparing a counter-offer. At the same time,
they have requested answers to specific questions about the
financial state of the network before agreeing to enter any
full-scale discussions. They want to be sure that the hijackers have
not looted the assets of the network on their way out the door.
As you might expect, the pace of these preparations for
negotiations have been slow. Litigants are scattered around the
country, and each group of litigants has a different idea of how
they should proceed. On top of that, various Pacifica reform groups
who are not involved in the lawsuits, such as the Pacifica Campaign,
Concerned Friends of WBAI, the Coalition for a Democratic Pacifica
(CDP), the Pacifica Listeners Unions, etc., have all been offering
their own "settlement ideas" to the litigants. It is a complex
process and our movement needs to be patient. But we should not
become so patient that we allow the Pacifica Board to get a "second
wind" so that it decides to keep fighting. There are some clear
indications that the current board majority has had enough and that
more of its members want "out."
It is my opinion -- and this is only an individual opinion --
that the sooner the litigants themselves (not just their lawyers)
move toward round-the-clock talks, the better off our movement will
be. Preferably, that should occur within the next few weeks. No one
can know for sure how serious the board is about relinquishing its
power until there are face-to-face talks. Remember, we are now
heading into the dog days of summer. By the end of July and
beginning of August, activity on all sides will diminish
considerably. Many people will be forced to take vacations or
fulfill family commitments, which is only natural.
If the litigants do not make an all-out attempt at settlement
talks soon, they may find themselves dragging into September and
October before any talks begin. That will mean several more months
of the network being in disarray, several more months for the
network's managers to reconfigure the five stations in their own
image, several more months of continued harassment of Democracy Now!
host Amy Goodman, of more bannings and firings -- in short, several
more months of horrendous damage to the network we all love..
This past weekend, for example, the station managers and top
staff met secretly in a New York City hotel. With the board in
disarray and the network racking up huge financial losses from the
boycott, the hijackers dare not even call an official board meeting
for fear of the massive listener protests that will greet them.
Still, free speech activists managed to raid the Pacifica execs
meeting in the swank Millenium Hilton Hotel in downtown Manhattan on
June 28, calling for WBAI manager Utrice Leidıs removal.
In this climate, however, executive director Bessie Wash and
station managers Utrice Leid, Mark Schubb in Los Angeles, and
Garland Ganter in Houston have a freer hand than normal to act as an
autonomous coalition of warlords over their individual stations.
Each day that passes, they make more programming changes and become
more emboldened in their determination to resist democratic reform.
We in the mass movement must redouble our pressure on the board
members while we wait for the litigants to act on Pacifica's offer
of negotiations. Even one more resignation prior to the start of any
talks would be an enormous psychological boost to our side. Let's
work to get that one. Finally, thanks again for your enormous
participation in this historic movement. We are closer to victory
than we have ever been.
Hasta La Victoria,