Published in Counterpunch, 11-9-12
by Tracy Rosenberg
In his Nov 5th Counterpunch op-ed titled “The Battle for Pacifica,” Oakland attorney Dan Siegel exhibits a severe case of amnesia. While chronicling a presumed series of deeds he claims occurred since 2009, Mr. Siegel mentions nothing at all that happened prior to 2009.
Siegel was the Pacifica attorney from 2006-2009, and at all times a powerful player in internal affairs and prime financial backer of the Concerned Listeners group that now calls itself Save KPFA. It is disingenuous for Siegel to pretend to a lack of culpability for some of the unfortunate circumstances he presents.
The Internet, at last report, existed well before 2009, so one must ask why in the decade prior no technology upgrades were made by the group Siegel now wishes to return to leadership. Who does he think failed to invest money — when Pacifica had money to invest — in digital technology throughout the 2000′s?
Well …. um….. himself?
In fact, his crew didn’t even maintain the radio transmitters, which in 2012, failed in both Houston and Los Angeles.
As the legal adviser to the board of directors in 2006, Siegel had every opportunity to point out the unaffordability of the Empire State building lease for WBAI-FM’s transmitter, which was signed in 2006 for 20 years with rates that increase by 15% a year. Instead, he recommended that the board sign it, and sign it they did.
Or perhaps the WBAI lease at Wall Street which was signed repeatedly by him and his cronies in what the then-minority knew even then was financial insanity? That’s not even mentioning a totally nutty balloon loan proposed in 2008 that would have endangered foundation buildings and licenses and was averted by one solitary vote from the contingent he ridiculously insults.
This kind of raw hypocrisy is the problem.
Siegel fails to mention his role in actively supporting a number of managers in extracting significant legal settlements from Pacifica after termination, greatly exacerbating the financial chickens that came home to roost in 2009-2010. Siegel served as an attorney for fired KPFK manager Eva Georgia and testified on behalf of Lonnie Hicks after he was let go as the CFO. These legal shenanigans are his responsibility and his alone. They’re usually defined as malpractice.
Siegel’s Save KPFA contingent described unpaid workers at KPFA-FM as “clowns” on Michael Krasny’s Forum radio program, needlessly insulting the workers who create 75% of the program content and raise more than 1/2 the operational funds.
The point is, the last thing Pacifica needs is more of the same. Economic pressures are what they are. Like Pacifica, San Francisco’s public radio station KALW-FM also has a going concern alert on their audit. It’s endemic in this age of financial catastrophe. Very few of us besides wealthy lawyers are a going concern these days.
Siegel is so desperate to keep control of Berkeley’s KPFA-FM that he ran a lawyer from his own firm, Siegel and Yee, for the KPFA board in 2010 and now proposes to add a third lawyer from Siegel and Yee, Jose Fuentes Roman, to the local board. This will make more than 10% of the local board his current and former employees. Does Siegel and Yee think KPFA-FM is their personal property?
Reject this nonsense and vote for candidates who are not a part of the Siegel machine.
Pacifica will thank you. Its survival depends on not repeating the mistakes of the past decade.
Tracy Rosenberg is the executive director of Media Alliance and a current local board member at KPFA-FM in Berkeley.