BERKELEY -- The fired head of the foundation that runs the city's iconic KPFA radio station and four other stations around the country is refusing to go and is living in her office with her mother and supporters.
Air mattresses line the hallways of the Pacifica Foundation Radio headquarters in Berkeley where former Executive Director Summer Reese cut a lock and re-entered the building March 17 after being fired four days earlier by a majority of the 22 member national board.
"We have no idea what's going on over there," said board chair Margy Wilkinson from the KPFA offices which are next door to the Pacifica Foundation offices on Martin Luther King Jr. Way, adding that she has not been let inside since Reese cut the lock. "They've been sleeping there 24-7 as far as I know."
Reese' mother, Geneva Reese, of Richmond, said she was there to support her daughter, "hold down the fort and keep out the enemies."
Police arrived on the scene Monday after Wilkinson said a Reese supporter began yelling at her on the sidewalk in front of the two offices. Wilkinson said she noticed employees bringing documents out to a mobile shredding service and began to ask questions. No injuries or arrests were reported.
Summer Reese, 40, said it was routine shredding, and in any case, all records are available on computer drives in the office.
Reese was a little over a month into her three-year, $105,000 a year contract when she was fired and given no reason, she said. Wilkinson declined to say why Reese was fired, saying it was a personnel matter.
The fight over who runs the organization has not affected operations at KPFA or other stations around the country, officials on both sides of the disagreement say.
Wilkinson said the Pacifica board has chosen a successor to Reese and will make an announcement in the next couple of days. In the meantime, the board is considering legal action to get Reese out of the office.
Reese, who oversaw a $13 million budget, said she will not go because the decision, supported by a bare majority of board members, was made at an unannounced meeting and is therefore void and illegal. She said the organization needs her because its books are in disarray, it's financial situation precarious.
"I care about this organization and they want to destroy it," Reese said. "I have a fiduciary duty to stay around and it will fall apart if I am not here."
Reese was the Pacifica interim executive director for 18 months before she signed a three-year contract Jan. 31.
Reese said the board's displeasure with her may have started in August when she had to lay off 19 employees, or two thirds of the staff at WBAI in New York.
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