The ongoing conflict between KPFA and its overlords at the Pacifica parent organization entered a new phase last month as three members of the Pacifica board of directors -- all of them notorious foes of the Berkeley station -- tendered their resignations. This is quite an accomplishment for supporters of KPFA and its embattled sister station WBAI, who have waged a tenacious campaign to hound these three directors into early retirement.
Directors Michael Palmer, David Acosta, and Karolyn Van Putten were the most steadfast supporters of chair Mary Frances Berry's strange 1999 campaign to crush all opposition among KPFA staff and volunteers -- a campaign that resulted in the two-week lockdown of the station, leaky memoranda about secret plans to sell KPFA, dozens of arrests, and a memorable demonstration with more than 10,000 marchers, all of which sullied Berry's reputation at the twilight of her career. Although Van Putten was not a board member at the height of the conflict, she was a well-known supporter of Berry at the time, and was spotted at the 1999 demonstration lurking near KPFA leaders with a directional microphone and a tape recorder; shortly thereafter, Berry appointed her to the board. As for Palmer and Acosta, they were the "Texas twins" from member station KPFT, who reportedly first conceived the plan to sell the station. In fact, Palmer was the author of the leaked memo that discussed selling the station and sparked the subsequent confrontation.
So it was quite a treat to read board member Acosta's June 12 resignation letter, which characterizes his legacy at Pacifica in considerably different terms. "My experience with Pacifica for the last seven years has been a fulfilling one, and I leave knowing that together we have made the network better than it was when we got here," Acosta wrote. "We have made the name of Pacifica aware in previously unaware places. Some would argue that this may not always be a good thing, but in the last few years, the myriad of discussions and arguments concerning freedom of individual speech, social justice, independence in the media, and direction of the network, have only strengthened Pacifica's importance in the world.... I am tempted to reflect on some negative aspects of our struggle to bring Pacifica to more people who really need it, (in my view, the whole world does) but I choose to dwell on the positive reality that Pacifica has been, is, and can be... a healer."
David Acosta. Healer.
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