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Pacifica's Bessie Wash Fired, and New Board Chair

jim writes, here's the latest from the Pacifica Campaign:



Summary of the firing based on http://savepacifica.net report, then a summary of KPFA news report on the firing of Bessie Wash submitted by Steve Freedkin of the Progressive Portal web site. A short description of the bomb scare ends this release.


Pacifica's board chair, former Los Angeles city councilman Robert Farrell, tonight (Oct. 24) announced he has fired Executive Director Bessie Wash.

Wash, formerly station manager of Pacifica station WPFW, was named executive director by a board then controlled by former chair Mary Frances Berry. Wash has presided over a total deterioration of the network and its finances, including the banning of Pacifica's only remaining nationwide program, "Democracy Now," the "mainstreaming" of the once alternative daily Pacifica Network News, now the target of a boycott and a strike, the "Christmas Coup" at WBAI in New York, which resulted in dozens of staff members being fired and banned, and the expenditure of an estimated two million dollars on legal fees, public relations firms, and security services.

Farrell and the Pacifica Board majority have also agreed to a two and a half year old demand from KPFA's staff and community for mediation of the dispute which began in April, 1999 with the firings of popular KPFA station manager Nicole Sawaya and long-time Pacifica national affairs correspondent Larry Bensky.

The mediation, sparked by four pending lawsuits on behalf of listeners, national, and local advisory board members, is scheduled to take place November 1 in San Francisco.

A report published in today's San Francisco Chronicle says that Farrell, fellow board member Wendell Johns, and newly appointed board member former D.C. mayor Marion Barry will represent Pacifica.

KPFA Evening News, Wed., Oct. 24, 2001

Pacifica "dissident" board member Pete Bramson (KPFA, Berkeley) said on KPFA this evening (approx. 7:25 p.m. PT) that Pacifica National Board Chair Bob Farrell phoned him this evening to say that he (Farrell) has told Bessie Wash to leave her post effective tomorrow morning.

According to Bramson, Farrell said Wash expressed some concerns about the action, and indicated she may take legal action against Farrell or Pacifica.

When asked, Bramson said there has been no Board vote regarding Wash's tenure, and that he does not know whether there would be enough votes to oust Wash were it brought to a vote of the Board.

Bramson said he was surprised by the call from Farrell. While he and Farrell had had previous conversations about Wash's performance, Bramson was not aware Farrell was about to oust Wash.

Asked what impact the announced ouster of Wash might have on Pacifica, Bramson said it was not yet clear. "Change comes slowly to Pacifica, as you know," he said.

Farrell's reasons for firing Wash were not explained.

KPFA Evacuated After Bomb Threat

October 24, 2001: The KPFA studios were evacuated due to a bomb threat at about 5:45 pm today. After police checked the building, the staff was back on the air at 6:30 pm."