Complaint # 4 – Filed July 11, 2019
The complainant requests anonymity. The complainant states that WBAI listener candidate Robert Gartner has been banned from the station premises at KPFT due to ongoing “dangerous behavior”. The complainant characterizes the dangerous behavior as threats to staff, programmers, and members, ongoing sexual harassment, an unsafe working environment and legal liability for Pacifica. The complainant requests that Gartner be disqualified due to a severe lack of character and the legal liability to Pacifica associated with that. As evidence the complainant cites the general manager’s facilities access ban that has been in place for six months and provides several examples of email correspondence.
From: Robert Gartner <email@example.com> Date: Fri, May 10, 2019 at 3:04 PM Subject: Fwd.: Two men exonerated today in Texas, declared “actually innocent” To: LSB KPFT <firstname.lastname@example.org> CC: Cerene WBAI <email@example.com> For each of you who voted against me being on the Board and those of you who lied about me, made up shit on me, and threw me out of the station… here is a message for you on Mother’s Day; Be careful what you do and choose to believe because you just might cause someone to actually be killed! And then find out later you have a conscience… I wonder if any of these two individuals about which this article speaks had evil ones hovering around them at one time… Robert Gartner
Gartner admitted in a letter dated September 30, 2017, that “Yes I did pull out a knife last night…” on an unarmed fellow Programmer.
In a letter dated March 1, 2019, Gartner further made terrorist threats of violence and arson toward Pacifica, its staff, volunteers and property, while giving a glimpse into his paranoid delusions, by clearly addressing the Pacifica IED, Maxie Jackson and saying: (emphasis added) “Sorry you inherited this shit Mr. Jackson, but you are just being played into it and by your actions inaction, you have thrown Acetone onto the fires of EVIL. You are actually fanning the flames that induce a ‘postal response’. No Don, NOT a THREAT. It’s just time to stop the games and lies. You are doing a pathetic job. Robert Gartner The Scapegoat”
Discussion: We want to make clear from the outset two things, Firstly that we take threats of violence extremely seriously and that the emails submitted are not acceptable in any workplace. Secondly, we want to state that the jurisdiction of the election supervisor is limited to enforcing a set of rules that specifically relate to preferential treatment of candidates. The safety of KPFT’s workplace, sexual harassment, and potential weapons in the workplace are legal matters that must be dealt with by Pacifica’s managerial employees, not by an independent contractor hired to supervise the running of an election.
To begin. By precedent and actuality, running for seats on Pacifica’s local boards has never been prohibited for individuals who have been banned from stations. This has historical roots in the “the return of the banned and fired” during the turmoil of 1999. As a factual matter, one time KPFA local station board member Maria Gilardin was “banned for life” from KPFA and served on the KPFA board in the 2000’s. Former Pacifica board member Cerene Roberts was banned from the station premises of WBAI and served on the WBAI board for six years and on the PNB for five. This historical anomaly stems from the use of “banning” for behaviors not particularly connected to threats and violence. While we do see a distinction between kinds of bans, precedent is important and therefore, having no historical precedent nor bylaws language to rely on, we do not see any defensible grounds for not approving Mr. Gartner’s candidacy because he is subject to a facilities access ban at KPFT. The Pacifica National Board did address this by policy in 2013 when the network adopted a definition of the bylaw phrase “member in good standing” with the idea of precisely defining what a “member in bad standing” or “not in good standing” would consist of. It is our understanding that policy has never been utilized in the ensuing 5 years, and that it contains a somewhat specific process for finding a member not in good standing. So we would state that if the complainant or others wishes to follow that Board-approved process, in consultation with counsel, they are certainly free to do so and the national election supervisor will perform any actions required by the PNB policy as national policies must be complied with. Absent such a process, we do not have any justification within the constraints of the election rules enforcement system to meet the complainants request at this time. We will state that threats, violence and sexual harassment will not be tolerated within the constraints of election-related activities themselves and that we will take punitive action if other candidates, and election staff or assistants, are subjected to any threats or violence. But we cannot look backward in time to non-election related activities and assess consequences without a process for doing so. Please inform us of any duties we may have if the Pacifica National Board initiates a member not in good standing process and we will fulfill them to the best of our ability.
Ruling: The complaint lies outside the scope of election rules enforcement.