Letters, Week of March 27, 2014 | East Villager & Lower East Sider

Letters, Week of March 27, 2014

Lies and distortions

To The Editor:
Regarding your March 20 talking point, “After director’s firing, WBAI sale is now rumored,” by Paul DeRienzo:

DeRienzo is no disinterested observer of this issue; he is a former WBAI employee and board member. I find it amazing that almost five years after my summary removal as WBAI’s program director, supporters of the faction responsible for my dismissal are still spreading lies and distortions about my tenure.

DeRienzo attributes to me a quote purporting to support the sale of WBAI, deceptively implying that he interviewed me. Actually, the quote was lifted from a 2006 article in Black Star News, whose previous sentence read, “‘Many of them wanted to sell the radio station, so they [could] make some money,’ says White, who survived, and is now the Program Director, referring to the Board members.”

As I told the editor at the time, the (original) writer failed to clarify that the “quote” from me that followed characterized those board members’ position — not my own.

Furthermore, to accuse me of wanting to sell WBAI flies in the face of all available empirical data:

First, I was one of two people fired in December 2000 for opposing the faction on the board of the parent Pacifica Network that was interested in selling WBAI. Many unpaid producers were arbitrarily stripped of their programs and banned.

Second, I was an intricate part of the 13-month-long Pacifica Campaign, which successfully fought those who were moving to sell WBAI.

Third, I spent more time on air raising money for WBAI than any individual during my employment as program director.

Finally, I raised more money than any individual in the history of the institution in an effort to keep it alive.

I actively fought against the sale of WBAI in the past, and although it is a poor shadow of its former self, I don’t support a sale, lease or signal swap, nor do my colleagues in the local board minority. Instead, on the 15th anniversary of the death of my friend and predecessor, Samori Marksman, I call on the listenership to help rebuild WBAI into something deserving of those who have given so much by writing to us at savewbai@gmail.com.

I don’t usually respond to the fabricators who seek to promote themselves by pretending to present objective appraisals of what has happened to WBAI. However, this was a lie of such enormous proportion and it comes when the fate of the station is being decided, that I felt compelled to speak. The faction DeRienzo supports has been fully in charge of WBAI and Pacifica for the last five years. They are responsible for the destruction of Pacifica’s finances and programming, setting the stage for those who would present the sale of WBAI  as an easy way of saving the network.

I am proud of my accomplishments at WBAI. Some of my colleagues and I were able to create a dynamic, community-focused media outlet that was well respected by listeners, activists and journalists around the world. We were able to achieve this in spite of the racism and duplicity that we faced on a daily basis. If you want to know what’s wrong with WBAI, ask people who listened six years ago what they think about the station today.
Bernard White
White is a current WBAI local board member, and was WBAI program director, 1999-2000, 2002-2009, and WBAI “Wakeup Call” co-host, 1992-2000, 2002-2005

WBAI mail mess

To The Editor:
Re “After director’s firing, WBAI sale is now rumored” (talking point, by Paul DeRienzo, March 20):

This is totally not in any relation to the weighty matters you are discussing, but something is very wrong at WBAI on the business side. I was surprised a few days ago to receive two identical letters of acknowledgment of a donation of $10 I made in 2013. Both had a corrected street address but in two different hands. Both carried full postage, 48 cents.

I don’t usually get such letters for my piddly donations, and considered this a waste of money. I wrote to the office manager.

Yesterday I received two more such identical letters, stamped 48 cents. That makes four. What is going on there? This year I gave them $15. Are they spending it on postage? The first two were an error that should not have happened, but two more looks like malfeasance.
Zulema Seligsohn

Two-tiered parks

To The Editor:
Re “Opponents want Bill to block bistro pavilion plan” (news article, Feb. 27):

Our park buildings are needed especially now for public uses that have no hope of profit: meeting sites for community boards, centers for seniors and for youth, children and families, AA meetings, resiliency/recovery centers for emergencies, centers to promote and model sustainable practices, etc.

These buildings should be active hubs of local organizing.

Where the Parks Department has no funding to sustain programming, they should be leased by R.F.P. to local nonprofits to program with shared space for local community organizations, and monitored by Parks.

There is no benefit to the local community, nor to the Parks Department when these buildings are leased for private profit. It sends the message that our parks are two-tiered: Some parts belong to the public — while some parts belong to those who can afford the high cost of a meal in them.
K Webster

Decriminalize drugs

To The Editor:
Re “Bleecker pot activist gets out of jail” (news article, Feb. 13):

Dana Beal is a good example of why all drugs should be legalized and regulated. This way, the criminal aspect will be done away with and the quality of the drugs can be controlled and deaths prevented.

By taxing marijuana sales, the billions of dollars that lubricate criminal activity will be redirected to programs that serve U.S. citizens, including drug rehab for those who want it. While I myself do not advocate drug use, we have to decriminalize it.

A story on what happened to 9 Bleecker St. hopefully is on The Villager agenda. And I hope that everyone makes sure that people understand Dana was transporting pot — not heroin. Marijuana is legal for personal use in some states, and medical marijuana has helped with pain and mood conditions in people with serious health issues.
Jim Fouratt

Where’s the respect?

To The Editor:
Re “Lower East Side: A livable neighborhood in progress” (Progress Report article, by Diem Boyd, March 6):

I agree that obnoxious, noisy businesses need to control the noise, but the cabaret law should be eradicated once and for all. That said, as someone who lives across the street from the DL, they should be shut down for their blatant disrespect for the community.
Reverend Jen

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