HCGP Expresses Dismay Regarding KPFT Situation

Several members of the Steering Committee of the Harris County Green Party, along with other HCGP members, wish to make known their dismay over the current controversy at Houston's Pacifica affiliate KPFT 90.1 FM. Pacifica is recognized as the only national network providing news and public affairs programming from a progressive or radical perspective, and KPFT has filled that niche in Houston since 1970.

Last week, the Pacifica Foundation's interim executive director, Bill Crosier of Houston, fired the interim general manager and three other staff members. Beyond that, the facts of the situation are themselves controversial, with different stories emerging from those involved, as are theories regarding the motivation for the firings. Crosier selected longtime KPFT programmer Larry Winters to replace him.

The details of the situation change daily, such as which individuals and groups are pursuing what sort of remedy; as of today (21 July), the central fact of Dr. Kamau's dismissal remains. Various parties involved in the dispute will gather at the S.H.A.P.E. Community Center's Harambee Building, 3903 Almeda Road, this evening at 7 pm. Crosier will not be present.

Crosier is a longtime progressive ally and a leader in the Houston Peace and Justice Coalition; therefore, it is distressing to see him undertake what other allies have declared a racist act.

Dissenting Opinion

The HCGP Steering Committee wishes to make it clear that it is not unanimous on this matter. Prior to publication, Co-chair George Reiter and Secretary Deb Shafto requested some changes in the text of this post.

We have confidence in the integrity and commitment to KPFT and Pacifica of Obidike Kamau , Bill Crosier, and Larry Winters. 

We call for a facilitated meeting between Bill, Obidike and Larry, in which they can share what they need from each other, and for the station, in order to develop a strategy for moving forward in a way that strengthens the station and returns it to a productive and viable fiscal existence.

Other current and former members of the Steering Committee, however, would like to point out that Crosier has taken a unilateral step that is racially tone-deaf at best in dismissing KPFT's first African-American GM, interim or otherwise. This is especially true given the unrealistic expectations placed on the interim manager to rescue the station, within three months, from years of inadequate funding and mismanagement within the Foundation.

Coverage Online

On Wednesday night, 19 July, GreenwatchTV devoted a special episode to the situation. Appearing on the program are Kamau, former staff member Greg Audel, Local Station Board member P.K. McCary, and Pacifica National Board member Adriana Casanave.

Alyson Ward of the Houston Chronicle has posted three articles on the situation, featuring quotes from Crosier, fired GM Dr. Obidike Kamau, several staffers, volunteer programmers, and members of the Local Station Board past and present. NOTE: Viewing these articles in their entirety may require a digital subscription.

The reporting in the articles is reasonably balanced; not everyone close to the situation will agree on the facts as presented. Further, they do not include accounts of the dispute between Crosier and some LSB members, or Crosier's statements that the true reasons for the terminations cannot legally be revealed.

The explanation quoted for Kamau's dismissal, that he had not submitted a development plan by a certain deadline, is not official. If it is accurate, it seems weak in light of such expectations not imposed upon his predecessor Duane Bradley. If new interim GM Larry Winters is called upon to submit such a plan within three months and fails, will he be fired also?

Green-friendly blogger Perry Dorrell has also posted two entries on the matter, one with quotations from Ward's "turmoil" article, and another with excerpts from Facebook discussions. His conclusions are that Crosier "screwed the pooch" and that perhaps KPFT and its supporters should accept the station's inevitable obsolescence.

The author received input and assistance from HCGP Treasurer David Wager.

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  • George Reiter
    commented 2017-08-03 10:51:59 -0500
    While there is agreement within the Green Party to opposition to war as a means of one state imposing its will on another, and within the Texas party, to adults hitting children in order to make them do what they are told to do, there is much less agreement within the local party on what constitutes a non-violent response to conflict, either in the conflict over the replacement of the General Manager at KPFT, or in the interpersonal conflicts that arise in every close relationship on a daily basis.

    I would suggest that in all cases, what constitutes violence is the attempt to dominate another, and enforce your will on them. This can be subtle, through manipulation in which the other person is unaware of what is happening, or out front, with overt threats of punishment for non-compliance.

    Dealing with each other through domination is the way of the world we grew up in. It seems natural and right to us that we should “punish bad behavior”. When a conflict occurs, we look for who is “bad” in the situation, and choose sides accordingly.
    That approach reproduces the world we have, in which a man whose brand is domination is president, and most of politics is identifying who is the source of our problems (immigrants, transgender people, muslims, lazy workers, unwed mothers —) and finding ways to make life difficult for them.

    If we are to break out of the cycle of punishment, resentments, recriminations and retaliation, in our politics and in our personal lives, we need to recognize ourselves in each other, to reach for each other when conflicts arise, trusting that there is someone there to reach for. That is not so easy. We were born loving beings, able and willing to love anyone. We felt ourselves to be at home and at peace in this world, a world that we have evolved over many millennia to survive in. We are damaged by the system of domination that we grew up in, a system that no longer supports the long term survival, much less the continued growth and flourishing, of human beings. We are hurt in many ways that lead us to reflexively shut ourselves off from each other and the world, doubting that we are loved, seeing enemies in the people around us. We develop strategies for surviving in this now hostile world, no longer seeking to fulfill our needs through cooperation with each other, no longer expecting cooperation. We are thrown to competing fearfuly, for position in the society at large and within progressive organizations, for power over others, for

    money, trying to replace the inherent sense of self-worth we were born with the “rewards” and acknowledgements available from the system. Reproducing the system.

    If we are to succeed in replacing the unworkable system we have inherited, with one operating on the stated values of the Green Party, we will have to learn to reach for each other when conflicts arise. I’m a good guy, you are a good guy, and the bad guys…., they are good guys too.