by Rachel Swan
Yesterday, embattled KPFA board member Tracy Rosenberg tried a new tack to stave off the recall campaign against her — by seeking a court injunction against the organization that she helps oversee. Rosenberg, who currently serves as treasurer of the Pacifica National Board, has been under fire for defending the current leadership at Pacifica Foundation, which runs KPFA, and which made several controversial programming changes over the past two years. The most severe, of course, was its decision to eliminate KPFA's morning show, which had been a powerful fund-raising arm for the station. It's since been resurrected, albeit in a different form, in light of plummeting Arbitron ratings.
But that didn't happen without a fight, and the battle goes on. And on. Last summer members of the listener-staff coalition SaveKPFA launched a campaign to oust Rosenberg. In all they secured more than 800 signatures from KPFA donors, which they submitted to Pacifica in September. (The foundation requires 400 valid signatures for a recall petition to be ratified.) On November 1st, Pacifica certified 592 of those signatures, according to Rosenberg. Had it abided by its bylaws — and by California Corporations Code — the foundation would have mailed out recall ballots within 60 days.
Instead, the organization dragged its heels, giving Rosenberg a loophole with which to challenge the recall and put the ballots under seal. The ballots didn't actually arrive in listeners' mailboxes until late June, which meant that technically, anyone who donated money to KPFA between November 2011 and late April 2012 should have also received a ballot. Rosenberg quickly found one such ballot-bereft listener who'd given money in December, signed the person on as a co-plaintiff, and filed a request for an ex parte hearing at Alameda Superior Court yesterday. The court granted her request, issued a temporary restraining order on the recall, and left the ballots sequestered in a post office box in Berkeley. They'll stay there until the hearing on September 10. They may never be counted.
"I think recall elections are destructive, expensive, divisive, and represent a desire to eliminate points of view," Rosenberg contended, insisting that the goals of SaveKPFA are illusory. She may successfully preserve her position at the station, albeit at a time when the axis of power is clearly shifting. Last week, the board — the same board on which Rosenberg sits, mind you — voted not to renew contracts for Pacifica CEO Arlene Englehardt and CFO LaVarn Williams, which end this fall. Rosenberg said they're certainly invited to reapply for their positions. SaveKPFA called it a victory.