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Pacifica Cutbacks Raise Questions About Progressivism

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July 26, 2010 -- On the night of July 16, 2010, I delivered the following statement to the regular quarterly meeting of the national board of the Pacifica Radio Foundation. What you read here is a transcript of the statement as I delivered it, so it differs a little bit from a version also on the Internet that is the speech as I had written it.

I'm Kellia Ramares, news tech, journalist and board op at KPFA, one of the reporters arrested in the newsroom on July 13,1999 and co-founder of Guns and Butter.

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On June 29th, I was informed that my work hours would be cut from 11 per week to 6. A 45% reduction, mostly in my hours as the weekend news tech. Six hours a week is not enough to live on.

And I will also add, since Anthony Fest brought up Ann Garrison, Ann Garrison gives me credit for putting technically together her stories. And she's not the only one.

Is KPFA really so broke that it cannot pay me a little more than $1200 over the next three months? Because that's the difference between 11 hours and 6 for me until the end of the fiscal year. If so, what is the cause?

If KPFA's budget problem is that the payroll is too top-heavy with full-time, benefited employees, why make such devastating cuts to a quarter-time worker with NO benefits?

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During a recent fund-raiser two Saturday news programs were pre-empted in an unprecedented move. Now the weekend news tech hours are almost entirely eliminated. Is this really an economic necessity or is it part of a plan to eventually ditch the weekend news altogether?

Or is it just further exploitation of non-union part-timers?

Or is it a mistake by our beancounting interim GM, whose Linked-in profile shows he's all HR and no radio? He shows no regard for the consequences to programming on a 24/7/365 operation of slashing someone who works weekends, and holidays, and who fills in when people are sick, on vacation, on special assignment or have a household emergency.

Did Pacifica consider other budget options such as National taking a smaller cut of our fundraising, or renegotiating the contract for DEMOCRACY NOW, which has formed partnerships that give it alternative resources?

Do not hope better times will help the budget. Mark my words, we are experiencing the collapse of industrial civilization.

So NOW is the time for alleged progressives to prove another world really is possible:

Shredding the livelihoods of poor workers to achieve a certain bottom line, is not alternative or progressive. It's Schwarzenegger cutting IHSS, it is the Congress dragging the feet on extending unemployment benefits. It's BP.

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Pacifica hires an election supervisor while they cannot keep a news tech at quarter-time hours? Is this the business of elections or radio? To those who say that I should not criticize this expenditure, because "we must democratize Pacifica", I quote Confucius: "You cannot teach philosophy to a hungry man."

And I will also say to those of you who are talking about news staffs in other places that KPFA is overstaffed. I think you're understaffed.

And I refuse to be the collateral damage of the mistakes or malfeasances of KPFA management, past or present, and I refuse to be sacrificed on the altar of "democratization". So I have given notice that July 25 is my last work day. You can all go exploit someone else!

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Kellia is a freelance journalist in Oakland, CA who left the Pacifica Radio Network in July, 2010 after 11+ years in the KPFA news department and over 10 years with Free Speech Radio News. She is now in the odd position of needing a paid job while (more...)

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