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Voting for GrassrootsKPFK: It Matters

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Please forward this widely.

KPFK Friends,

If you care enough to be a member of KPFK, your vote may turn the tide at our station. It really matters. Please read this so I can explain.

First let me say it's been a privilege and a pleasure to serve you on the Local Station Board for nearly three years and on the Pacifica National Board for the past two. As I said in my 2007 campaign, KPFK needs new people in governance, and I'm stepping aside to make room for them. I've found a group of candidates who have my unqualified endorsement. Another candidate slate has told you they want new people on the Local Station Board, but they're actively promoting only their incumbents. Now, look at the GrassrootsKPFK candidates: not a seated candidate in the bunch, and every one of them active in our communities. That's the best that can be done to give you a clean sweep of the current impasse on the LSB and turn KPFK around. Let me introduce you.

I just finished listening to the KPFK candidate forums broadcast last week. I hope you heard them, too. What struck me is that in every forum, the people with a clear vision of a radical KPFK are part of GrassrootsKPFK. Brenda Medina, Aryana Gladney, Lawrence Reyes, Michael Novick, Lydia Brazon, Ron Spriestersbach, Chuck Anderson: every one of them had a concrete grasp of what KPFK is meant to do and how to get our station there.

Remember where KPFK was going just a few years ago? KPFK became the only Southern California radio station to air left-wing programming in Spanish. Why aren't we hearing the sweeping and insightful commentaries of Mumia Abu Jamal anymore? Nearly all our news of local activism has been replaced with news from up in northern California. Do you remember in 2003 when KPFK brought together all the anti-war groups in a round table to organize the first major protest against the Iraq War, and thousands marched behind Mike Farrell, Rob Reiner, Martin Sheen, and KPFK down Hollywood Boulevard? And when was the last time you saw KPFK broadcasting from a demonstration?

Now, if you still listen, you hear about "Ageless Answer" face cream. We're told we need to clear ourselves of "over 350 blocks" to "unleashing our Inner Millionaire" with Theta Healing technology (patent pending). Personalities drive more of our programs than insightful topics. As our radio station heads down the path that NPR forged when it went mainstream, KPFK is shedding listeners and depending on fewer and fewer members who can pony up more and more money over and over and over again. It's not working: after three years of this nonsense, KPFK is hanging on by a budgetary thread, and the rest of Pacifica is teettering on the brink of default.

What's going on?

With the 2007 Pacifica elections, the balance of power shifted, from our long tradition of radical voices to a group of reformists. They've told you they're not into politics. Is that what you want for KPFK? Politics and cutting edge shows are being pushed aside by this new majority, who believe our station's financial redemption will come from tepid and apolitical appeals to those among the middle class who still have some disposable dollars. Local news and community affairs are giving way to their model of "congruence" among all of the Pacifica stations, a nationalistic, older, center-leftist, one-size-fits-all approach to radio programming and governance. What you're hearing is no accident: it's their plan for a "Pacifica make-over."

You'll hear them talking about upgrading KPFK's website or buying billboards or opening up chat rooms. All good ideas, no doubt. There is little in their platform to disagree with, and little to distinguish them from what everyone wants for any broadcast outlet.

Now, read the GrassrootsKPFK principles: peace with justice, migrants' rights, defense of the earth, gender equity, bilingual and non-English programming, workers' rights, accountability, transparency, a local focus, and quality broadcasting. This is what KPFK should be about, and GrassrootsKPFK candidates say so, out loud. Listen to Chuck Anderson talking about the Republican stranglehold behind the Orange Curtain, Brenda Medina telling us why we have so few young adults listening and what to do about it, and Aryana Gladney promising to bring to KPFK revolutionary African-American listeners. Lawrence Reyes calls out the shame of the current Local Station Board in refusing to waive membership fees for any of the sixteen poor applicants who applied for this small scrap of generosity. Ron Spriestersbach tells us our station should find answers for those suffering in the economic recession and to global warming; the other candidates spoke of digging up the station's parking lot, parliamentary procedure, and having no agenda. Michael Novick proclaims that KPFK will find its new audience when gentrification, gang injunctions, and the criminalization of young people are discussed on the air. After other candidates answered a question about Spanish programming by telling us how much they like Mexican art and Spanish music, Lydia Brazon boldly and unequivocally calls for more Spanish-language and interlingual programs.

What You Might Have Heard, and the Truth

You might have read a public letter declaring that to vote for these candidates would be "a terrible mistake." Then ANSWER-LA and the Independent Action Center, three caucuses of SEIU Local 721, the Venice Justice Committee, the Peace and Freedom Party of Los Angeles and Orange Counties, the Puerto Rican Alliance, and the South Central Farmers Support Committee are making the same mistake. So are Aris Anagnos, Theresa Bonpane, Ralph Fertig, Dolores Huerta, Isaura Rivera, Jack VanAken, Tim Wise, and Gore Vidal. These are the endorsers of GrassrootsKPFK candidates and principles.

Maybe you've heard there's a "fringe" group and a "mainstream" group. I agree, and I'm proud to be outside the mainstream. If you're reading this, I trust you are, too. But "fringe" in the context of this election is a pejorative for dedicated community activists: GrassrootsKPFK candidates are involved in the ACLU, AL AWDA, Americans for Democratic Action, Amnesty International, ANSWER Los Angeles, Anti-Racist Action/People Against Racist Terror, the Black Riders Liberation Party, CAIR, the Central America Information Project, Change Links, Common Cause, Crack the CIA, FAIR, the Humanitarian Law Project, International Action Center, the Labor Council of Latin America Action, MEChA, the NAACP, the National Lawyers' Guild, Office of the Americas, Planned Parenthood, Public Citizen, the Sierra Club, the SEIU, SOA, the South Central Farmers, the Southern California Immigration Coalition, Turning the Tide, UTLA, Viva Palestinia, Westside Coalition on Hunger and Homelessness, and World Can't Wait.

GrassrootsKPFK's candidates have served on every committee of the Local Station Board and they all attend Local Station Board meetings. They've been called disruptive, but I say the current course of KPFK and Pacifica needs correcting.

Honestly, if you're happy with the KPFK direction is heading and you're listening more than ever, then vote for those other folks. If you want to placate a wider swath of middle-of-the-road listeners and if you want to use our airwaves to learn how to improve your relationship with your shadow (really, I heard it), then they are the candidate slate for you.

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