Leah Garchik on Bill



Thursday, March 10, 2005
The following appeared in Herb Caen’s column 10 years ago:


“As you may have heard, KPFA’s left-winging McCarthy-defying political commentator, William Mandel, has been fired, justlikethat, after 38 years, and such prominent lib/rads as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, David Brower and journalist Alexander Cockburn are protesting loudly, to no avail. …”

That “no avail” turns out to have been true, but old lefties don’t give up on matters of principle. A petition to the station’s general manager, Roy Campanella II, demanding Mandel’s return, was presented on Monday. Ten years is a long time to be collecting signatures, and the signers list now includes Daniel Ellsberg, Pete Seeger, Ed Asner, Tillie Olson and the three mentioned above, except it’s now the late David Brower.

Campanella wasn’t at the station when the 13 Mandelistas (including 87-year-old Mandel, “smiling ear to ear,” said my spy) arrived. They demanded that the station agree to Mandel’s return by April 4 (or else more petitioning, I guess). Power to the people.


…those Mandelistas still sore at KPFA for taking Bill Mandel off the air — 10 years ago, when he was in his late 70s — are giving it another go. They’re madder than heck, as ever, at the “regressive, corporatist Pacifica coup regime managers” who made the decision, and they’re rallying in protest at the station on Saturday.


…the 10-year battle seems to be over. KPFA’s Program Council voted on May 3 to give its ousted commentator a new show, “Thinking Out Loud With Bill Mandel.”

The Mandelistas are calling this “a tremendous victory for free speech,” but noted that after the vote, a person apparently disappointed with the outcome threw a metal chair (an act that’s the equivalent of a sword fight in Berkeley).

Checked with General Manager Roy Campanella II, who said he wasn’t going to comment on that report, but it is “an embarrassment to have people engage in raising such unnecessary conflict… We have a zero violence in the work-place policy.”