A Reply to ‘Pacifica Myths and Realities’
May 23, 2001
Mark Schubb and his associates in, or close to, the management of KPFK-LA recently put up a statement entitled “Pacifica Myths and Realities,” which was quickly placed on The Nation magazine’s website. The statement is remarkable for the crudity of its apologetics for the Pacifica management. In Schubb’s account, whereas the thousands of protesters and hundreds of fired employees never have a reasonable complaint or make a valid point, as with Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Soviet apparatchiks in “We Never Make Mistakes,” so also Schubb’s Pacifica management never makes mistakes.
In his opening paragraphs Schubb chastises the “save Pacifica” forces who “use tactics completely counter to the Pacifica mission.” This comes from a man who has aggressively used censorship, among other tactics and policies that are incompatible with the Pacifica tradition, as we describe below. His document is also an apologia for the Pacifica national board majority, which has not only consistently used censorship as an instrument of control but has also hired union-busting firms to deal with its “labor problems,” and has clearly set Pacifica on a path of centralization and mainstreamed content that abandons the Lewis Hill goals of local control and of a strong alternative voice.
Schubb’s statement is also notable in that, on each point it addresses, it misrepresents reality.
Taking his points in order:
1. Schubb: “Myth: There has been a corporate takeover of the Pacifica National board.” To which Schubb responds: “Reality. Untrue. Pacifica’s board is little different than any other progressive nonprofit. There is no corporate influence or formal corporate presence on the board.”
REAL REALITY: There was a Pacifica board coup in 1999, as the board changed the bylaws to make itself completely self-selecting (see also #8 below). The claim that there is no “formal corporate presence” hides behind the word “formal.” Businessmen in real estate and accounting, a home-construction industry lobbyist, a financial entrepreneur and a member of a corporate law firm with a specialty in union busting have been brought onto the board by the dominant control group and have been present and active. A New York banker was proposed by the management in 2000 but decided to withdraw because of the controversy.
On the alleged absence of corporate influence, control groups on boards make overall policy, and enforce it not by board orders but through hirelings. Thus a WBAI is overhauled and dissidents are fired by people like Utrice Leid and Bessie Wash who are selected by the dominant members of the board to do the designated work.
On the alleged absence of Pacifica’s difference from other non-profits, the Sierra Club’s board is elected by members. State ACLU chapters select their boards and national representatives via member elections. Popular/professional organizations like the American Historical Association elect their president and council by member elections. Pacifica’s board of directors now selects itself, and it recognizes nobody else as having a formal binding role in governance.