City council accepts the mayor's resignation (exclusively reported here last week), and Postville's public radio station may close due to lack of community support.
Immigration raid continues to impact Postville
Lynda Waddington, Iowa Independent
The City of Postville will soon have a new mayor.
Three out of the city’s five city council members voted Monday night to accept the resignation of current Mayor Bob Penrod. Penrod, who had made an emotional and seemingly off-the-cuff verbal resignation last week during a discussion about a mobile phone device, had quietly expressed that he would be willing to continue to serve as mayor if those on the council refused his resignation.
On Monday morning, hours before the council met, it looked as if Penrod would continue as mayor. At least one of those who ultimately voted against retaining Penrod Monday night had expressed a desire to keep the man on until the end of his term.
When the vote was taken, members Jeff Reinhardt, Virginia Medberry and Milo Heins accepted Penrod’s resignation. Larry Moore and Ross Malcom, who is serving as interim mayor, voted against. There were no public comments made about why certain members had a change of heart.
City officials will publish a notice in the local newspaper that candidates are being sought for the post. Council plans to appoint a person to serve instead of paying roughly $3,500 for the cost of a special election.
Postville community radio station KPVL 89.1 FM, which has been the only local information source for residents in the wake of the May 2008 immigration raid, has been in the process of a massive fund drive for the past few days. Sources close to the station have indicated that the station is in make-or-break mode. Without unprecedented listener support, the station is likely to close in the near future.
The situation, which was recently detailed by reporter Nathaniel Popper for the Columbia Journalism Review, pits the board of the community radio station against Jeff Abbas, KPVL’s station manager.
The turning point for Abbas came the week after the raid, when he read the descriptions of child labor, abusive supervisors, and dishonest management in the government’s affidavit on the slaughterhouse. Abbas was outraged. When I interviewed him months later, he became animated as he recalled his awakening. “Every time I spent more than a few minutes with that affidavit, I became more incensed,” he said. “I couldn’t help but become outspoken.”
… It was Abbas’s decision to air an interview in late May, with a woman from Texas who was angry about the way the Rubashkins[, owners of the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant,] had treated her, that caused the first blow-back from Chaim Abrahams, then the president of KPVL’s board and also an executive at Agriprocessors.
Popper’s report documents how, as the influence of Abbas and KPVL increased, revenues declined. Abbas has worked most of the past few years without a regular paycheck, a situation that has resulted in him accepting government assistance in order to survive.
The Agriprocessors plant, Postville’s largest employer and site of last year’s raid, also continues to struggle. Limited poultry production has continued under Joseph Sarachek, a Chapter 11 bankruptcy trustee, and the plant sale is scheduled for March 23.
The Rubashkins and their allies have been trying to censor KPVL reporting since the raid. There's an explosive story here, one that will eventually be told.
As for the future of KPVL, if the people of Postville want to have an independent news and information source (along with great 24/7 music), they need to find ways to make their station viable, and they need to do so immediately.
I also find it both telling and sad that the man who led the Postville relief effort, who fed and helped hundreds of indigent Agriprocessors workers, and who worked to prevent evictions and utility sut offs for those workers and for the rabbis and kosher supervisors, is forced to take public assistance to live.
This is Postville's shame. I hope the citizens of Postville realize this. I can guarantee you, many other people do.