In 1999, when the board adjusted its bylaws to make itself self-perpetuating, correcting a tax law violation and bringing it into line with the vast majority of non-profits, the radicals screamed ‘dictatorship’ and launched a series of lawsuits. They also began an often vicious, occasionally criminal campaign against national board members. Attorneys for one threatened WBAI radio host have documented a campaign of harassment and intimidation against the national board’s majority, details corroborated by a former national board member.

Although no lawsuit was ever won, the intimidated liberals on the old board majority gave in and agreed to negotiate. A much-celebrated settlement saw the old board resign in favor of an interim board – five members of the old board, five ‘dissidents,’ and five directors chosen by the chairs of the stations’ local advisory boards.


This appointed interim board took power at the start of 2002, with a limited mandate: they were given the authority only to set new bylaws and hold elections as soon as possible. At this date, they have yet to make a bit of progress toward either goal. Instead, they violated the settlement that placed them in power by going after their political enemies at the stations and canceling the network-wide programs that angered them so much – in particular, the ninety-minute Pacifica News Network, which was completely shut down in February 2002.

The interim board claimed the cancellation was for budgetary reasons, which may be partially true, since the lawsuits launched against Pacifica cost it over a million and a half dollars in legal fees. But few on the new board were sad to see Pacifica News Network go. Only on the far Left could a national leftist news program become a symbol of oppression. As for its judge-mandated mission, the selection of new bylaws, the interim board needed a year and a half of bitter arguing to decide on a draft they could take to the local advisory boards for ratification, and that only after an incredibly petty dispute over Roget’s Rules of Order.

The local advisory boards promptly voted to reject the new bylaws, placing the interim board right back where it started in January 2002. The conflict was over whether the stations should institute racial quotas. (The national board’s proposal created ‘Committees of Inclusion,’ which had the power to delay elections to the local boards in order to racially gerrymander the candidate pool, but that wasn’t good enough for the local advisory boards.)

When one looks at the membership of the new board, its failure shouldn’t come as a surprise. People who organize against management for a living don’t usually excel at management. Take Leslie Cagan, the chair of Pacifica’s national board, who has a history of Communist Party membership dating back to the 1960’s. In the early 1970’s she was a member of the Venceremos Brigades, a group of American youth sent to Cuba for special political education and training. She remained a member of the CPUSA until at least the late 1980’s; currently, she’s a co-chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, a spin-off of the Communist Party created after the Soviet Union imploded. She also heads up one of the main coalitions opposed to national security, United for Peace and Justice, a re-hash of the People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice, the Communist Party’s anti-Vietnam front.

The board’s main representative for Los Angeles, David Fertig, has a similar background. A radical labor law attorney who refuses to represent management, Fertig is also a member of the neo-Communist National Lawyers Guild.

The treasurer of Pacifica’s national board, Jabari Zakiya, also has a radical pedigree, having served prison time in the mid-1990’s for refusing to pay taxes or file returns.


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