Wednesday, May 25, 2016

As the bamboozle ball bounces...














Anyone who has listened, even sporadically, to the currrent edition of Berthold Reimers' infomercial series will not be surprised by the following post from R. Paul Martin's dying BlueBoard forum.

Just when it seemed that WBAI had reached its nadir, it started sinking even further and there isn't a ladder long enough to climb out of this hole.

It amazes many of us that Reimers can stay in that job, even though he has his very own  accounting results—tallies that are always more favorable than the ones calculated by Pacifica's CFO.

If Reimers figures are correct, where is the money disappearing to? In the more likely reality that they are not correct, why isn't he vacationing on Rikers Island? 

Read the following and see if you can figure it out.

Posted in his own forum by WBAI LSB Treasurer R. Paul Martin on May 25, at 4:19 PM EST:

The NFC got the Consolidated Income Statement for the first seven months of FY16 last week. It's pretty bad. The total consolidated bottom line is showing a deficit of $550,984 as of April 30, 2016. It was showing a deficit of $21,320 as of March 31, 2016. The magnitude of this increase is shocking.

And then there's WBAI's part of the Income Statement which shows WBAI's deficit as of April 30, to be $352,158. For March 31, it had been $250,178. That's an increase of about $100,000 in one month.

Now the Income Statement is the usual Pacifica mixture of cash and accrual accounting, so you need to have been informed about which figures are what before you can draw a lot of conclusions from them. But even with considering that the ESB rent is "really" only $12,000 a month, and that the difference, which is either $36,000 a month or $43,000 a month depending on whether you use the CFO's figures or the WBAI General Manager's figures, is in a nebulous state of accrued debt, it's still quite a question of how the station's finances got that much worse in 30 days. It doesn't help that the WBAI General Manager has held himself incommunicado with the local Finance Committee for more than four months now.

The May 31, NFC meeting is only supposed to be about KPFK, which has a lot of its own problems and which may be quite an interesting meeting, and that May 31, NFC meeting is only supposed to last for one hour, after which we go to some executive session meeting the details of which haven't even been revealed to the NFC members. But after that the next regular NFC meeting isn't until June 21. I think the NFC needs to look at the finances a lot more. I am not at all sure that the rump PNB has the competence to deal with the problems on its own, however I also wouldn't trust them to be honest about it if they did.

Meanwhile the Spring 'thon was at $179,810 as of this morning, which is a daily average tally of about $7,818 a day, as opposed to the budgeted daily tally of $12,432 a day.

Something is going to happen some time soon.

—R. Paul Martin

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Running on empty


To anyone who has followed the molasses-paced erosion of WBAI/Pacifica, in recent years, last night's phone-based meeting of the PNB's Finance Committee is more aptly described as a confirmation than a revelation. It comes as no surprise that the general financial situation has continued to worsen. Listen to the average program offering and you get a good idea why that is the case, think of the fact that not even the treasurer, R. Paul Martin knows what comes in or how it is spent. WBAI manager, Berthold Reimers has the answers, but he isn't talking straight to anyone. With bankruptcy looming, some PNB members are finally smelling the rat.

One Finance Committee member pointed out the insanity of having the vandals fix the damage they themselves inflicted... and the beat goes on, its ring becoming increasingly hollow as Pacifica becomes a shameful footnote.  

The centerpiece for last night's conclave was Chief Finance Officer Sam Agarwal, who reported on the present situation. He is a rare bird in this nest, one who neither fantasizes nor gilds the morsels Pacifica and its local managements cast our way. As our good friend, 'Indigopirate' put it, "Agarwal seems at this point to state the dire situation and to voice positive thoughts, such as noting the energy and enthusiasm of the plans of a local board, then again, when questioned, acknowledging that, no, it's a bad situation, and there's not actually any hope."

Indigo noted, after trimming this audio to a listenable yet comprehensive length, that others raised hard questions and made candid observations. Though shorter, the audio retains the original sequence. Click-track beeps mark spots where editing took place. Let's hear what you think.

PNB Finance Committee meeting - May 17, 2016

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Those long WBAI noses...

Click on above image to enlarge
You may have noticed that the WBAI Archive is frozen in its tracks, that Haskins could't get it up when it was time for Democracy Now, etc. Well, with listeners being lied to and urged to come up with money, wouldn't you think Reimers could have coughed up the relatively minuscule amount of even the highest Internet service?

Jim Freund, at least, told the truth in the early morning hours.

WBAI is a study in warped priorities and cluelessness.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

PRE Newsletter - May 7, 2016



Berkeley-At Thursday's national board meeting, the majority spent most of the meeting passing a resolution instructing station management to "run their operations more productively" by such actions as calling credit card donors whose credit cards don't go through and encouraging past donors to renew. Houston listener rep Bill Crosier attempted to amend the resolution to also address the content being broadcast. He proposed rolling back program changes in the last 12 months that generated less net fund drive revenue than the pre-change content. But the majority revolted and offered rationalizations for failing to address what is actually being broadcast on the stations as subscriber numbers continue to decline. Crosier's amendment, a restating of founder Lewis Hill's theory of listener-sponsored radio said "reverse any programming changes made in the last twelve months that resulted in a decrease in listener support, and to put programs with a track record of good listener support into time slots which typically have more radio listeners and/or to give those programs more time in the schedule, and to implement this by the June 2 PNB meeting". 

Hill's essay on the theory of listener-sponsored radio can be read here.  Among other observations: "Certainly when we develop the idea of broadcasting to this point, the listener is the only one discernible who has a real stake in the outcome.  It must have occurred to you that such a principle could easily revert to the fabled ivory tower.  Some self-determining group of broadcasters might find that no one, not the least minority of the minority audiences, gave a hang for their product. What then?  Then, you will say, there would be no radio station—or not for long—and the various individualists involved could go scratch for a living.  But it is the reverse possibility that explains what is most important about listener sponsorship.  We make a considerable step forward, it seems to me, when we use a system of broadcasting which promises that the mediocre will not survive.  But the significance of what does survive increases in ways of the profoundest import to our times when it proceeds from voluntary action.  Anyone can listen to a listener-sponsored station.  Anyone can understand the rationale of listener sponsorship—that unless the station is supported by those who value it, no one can listen to it including those who value it.  But beyond this, actually sending in the subscription, which one does not have to send in unless one particularly wants to, implies the kind of cultural engagement that is surely indispensable for the sake of the whole culture".

Listener support donations at the five stations plummeted in 2015 by 16%, a loss of $1.6 million dollars in a single year, after hovering at the $10 million mark for the previous five years. This sudden drop in listener support was in addition to the failure to collect Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant funds now totaling over two million dollars due to late financial audits from 2014-2016. Brian Edwards-Tiekert of KPFA moved to strike the language supporting listener-sponsorship in favor of management-driven program choices.

The board's only other action on May 5th was to retroactively add $15,000 in salary for a national election supervisor to conduct the 2016 election which had been left out of the partial budget. The correction was made, as stated, "because of" the Yeakey vs. Pacifica lawsuit. The partial budget, which remains unofficial because no budgets were ever done for the two East Coast stations, had been sitting for months at the national finance committee and then at the full board. None of the 25 pairs of eyes noticed there was no allocation to pay for the election administrator. No one has been hired to do the job. June 1st (23 days from now) is the bylaws-deadline to open nominations. The national board is not scheduled to meet again until June 2nd. 

On May 5th, Yeakey vs Pacifica, which seeks to remove 7 national board members whose elected terms expired in December 2015 and 2 affiliate representatives whose stations are not currently affiliated with Pacifica, was held over for a trial beginning on July 6th. The continuation is caused by Siegel and Yee, Pacifica's unofficial corporate counsel, who characterized the request for injunctive relief as a shareholders derivative suit, a much more complicated legal process used to remove board members for negligent behavior and recover financial damages from them. Yeakey vs Pacifica asks for no financial damages. Pacifica's law firm is demanding a $50,000 bond be put up by the two listener-member plaintiffs in order to have their request heard. The complaint can be seen here. The actions of Siegel and Yee may quadruple or quintuple Pacifica's legal costs by pushing forward to a trial and may result in the board members squatting on expired terms "charging" Pacifica several thousand dollars each to hang on to their board seats for a few more months. Pacifica will be back in court on the East Coast on May 20th to address the action that seeks to seat representatives from NY's WBAI on the national board which has kept them off since the beginning of the year while trying to undo the independent majority on NY's local board. The East Coast complaint can be seen here.

Independent board members Grace Aaron, Jan Goodman, Bill Crosier and Jonathan Alexander have been persistent in their requests to the board majority to resolve the lawsuits by ending bylaws violations and not squander foundation resources fighting the lawsuits which seek to correct the board of directors roster so it has WBAI representation and all directors are elected. 

If you would like to support either or both of the requests from Pacifica members, you can visit the Clean Up Pacifica Project for more information.

A timeline of the now two year old coup by the Siegel/Brazon faction can be seen here.

The latest report back on the FY 2014 audit, still not finished despite being on the "cusp of completion" for the last three months, can be found here. The 10 minute report from Pacifica's May 3rd audit committee meeting contains status updates from auditor Armanino and CFO Agarwal read out loud. The long and short of it is that Pacifica owes $75K on 2014 audit work to date and there are still outstanding items that have not been verified.  There is no agreement in place with the Empire State Building and will not be until the completion of the 2014 audit (despite a year and a half of reported secret negotiations). The CFO says the accounting records are in "no state" to begin a 2015 financial audit.

The inability to get caught up on the back audits, which began running literally a year behind schedule after the Siegel/Brazon coup in March of 2014,  is preventing any effort to update the ineffective accounting system, which among other problems, uses an awkward mixture of cash and accrual accounting and does not reconcile records kept in the donation database Memsys with general ledger records in the Microsoft Dynamics/Great Plains accounting software.

As everything old is new again, this list of financial transparency resolutions passed by the Pacifica National Board in December of 2004, 11 and a half years ago and never enforced, reveal the long-term duration of the financial reporting problems. On review of the document, a former board treasurer commented wearily: "I actually got at least three of these items re-passed during my years, completely unaware they were already standing ignored policy".

The half-suppressed revelation about mystery lawsuits at DC's WPFW by local board member Eric Ramey began to come into focus after the written report from DC's last election supervisor came out. In it, David Levine notes that he resigned from his position on September 18th, 2015 because he was not paid by WPFW or Pacifica at all after beginning work on July 1st. Levine's resignation for non-payment was not disclosed publicly or to the board of directors, which canceled DC's election three weeks later on October 6. Levine's report can be seen here. In it he says:

"I resigned from my position as WPFW Local Election Supervisor on September 18, 2015, after working without pay from July 1-September 18. My contract with Pacifica stated that I would be paid bi-monthly for my work, and I reluctantly resigned after failing to receive any compensation for my work, despite repeated requests seeking pay". 

At Texas station KPFT, the local station board has come to a halt due to a rescinded resignation attempt by a delegate elected in 2012 to a three year term that is holding over into 2016. Maria Elena Castellanos resigned from the local board in March and tried to "take it back" three weeks later in April. The Houston local board canceled its April meeting twice and is next scheduled to meet on May 11th. The practice of trying to reverse a resignation is discouraged by Pacifica's bylaws which indicate resignations are effective "on their occurrence" and not up for re-evaluation at a later date. As with the other seating snafus throughout the network, the effort is being exerted against an independent candidate trying to occupy a seat they were elected to in the 2015 election.

The website Truthdig.com featured a video that sheds some light on the muddled situation with the former Uprising program launched by Pacifica back in 2002, now rebranded as Rising Up. KPFK manager Leslie Radford broke up the daily public affairs hour in 2015, following instructions from Adam Rice. The video illustrates an at-home production studio built by host Sonali Kolhatkar with a grant collected outside of Pacifica Radio. $62,000 proceeds from an Indiegogo campaign for the program were redirected by Margy Wilkinson for operating expenses in 2014. GM Radford broke the program's contract with Free Speech TV in 2015. The current status quo has LA station KPFK paying Kolhatkar and her producer staff salaries while only broadcasting the program twice a week. In the fund drive that just began in LA, Rising Up's 8am appearance on May 3rd netted $275 in the most listened-to hour in radio. The 5 day a week 8am broadcasts at Berkeley's KPFA, which bears no production costs for the program, regularly bring in $3K to $5K an hour. Rising Up's Berkeley simulcasts displaced locally-generated programs at KPFA in 2014. The mess caused by Wilkinson and Radford has already directed grant funding away from Pacifica, seems to be pushing Rising Up into an eventual exit from Pacifica altogether, and currently financially boosts the KPFA station at KPFK's direct expense.

Summary by Month. Generated 01 May-2016 02:19 EDT

KPFK's other new programming innovation of the last 12 months also isn't paying off, with the first three day listener support totals for the Safe Harbor block, a melange of midnight to 3am programs based on the liberal use of on-air profanity, totaling an anemic $260 after 9 hours of broadcast. The former all-night program, Something's Happening, now relegated to an abbreviated 3am to 6am slot, collected $4,800 or 18 times the receipts. The eclectic Something's Happening, a Los-Angeles institution for decades, was the highest-rated overnight radio program in the nation's second largest media market, including both commercial and non-commercial competitors. Web analytics for the independent website show a large decrease in visits after the broadcasts were slashed, showing the ongoing damage to one the few Pacifica Radio programs that was reaching an audience of significant size.

KPFA's voters, who made Occupy Oakland hero Scott Olsen the 2nd highest vote-getter in the 2015 election, probably don't know that Olsen, who doesn't reside in the Bay Area full-time, has been barred from participating in discussions and voting at the majority of KPFA's local board meetings this year, despite setting up a remote link-up for the meetings when not able to be physically present. The governing CA Corporations Code, Section 5211, permits remote participation and Pacifica's national board of directors meets almost entirely remotely, having not had an in-person meeting since June of 2015. While remote participation can be inappropriate when local board members reside in driving distance and can physically attend board meetings, preventing participation by those who relocate can serve to deny representation to their constituency, which in Olsen's case is the over 10% of KPFA's voters who made him their top choice.

This publication's home on the Internet (www.pacificainexile.org) is starting a Resources page to provide easy one-click access to frequently searched-for and downloaded documents and files. It's still in the beginning phases, but about two dozen documents are now available, with more to come. If you have any requests for materials you'd like to see there or for posting, send to pacificainexile@gmail.com so we can develop the most useful page possible for those "looking for that thing" moments.
_____________________
Except for occasional changes in graphic images, this blog neither prepares nor is responsible for the Pacifica Radio in Exile newsletter, but it is reproduced her for your convenience. —CA

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Pacifica in Exile's May Day message...



LEGAL BILLS FOR PROCEDURAL QUIBBLES

Berkeley-In bicoastal court appearances this week, Pacifica relied on procedural feints to further delay hearings on two requests for injunctive relief filed against them by their own members. In Northern California, Yeakey vs. Pacifica requests the removal of 7 national board members whose elected terms expired in December of 2015 and who were not re-elected, and the removal of two Pacifica affiliate representatives who are not affiliated with current Pacifica affiliated stations. The complaint can be seen here. In New York, Young vs Pacifica requests the seating of national board representatives from WBAI-FM who have been prevented from voting or participating on the national board for four months by the Siegel/Brazon majority faction. The East Coast complaint can be seen here.

In California on April 26th, Siegel and Yee attorney Alan Yee appeared for Pacifica and LA attorney Jerry Manpearl for plaintiffs Lamont Yeakey and Chandra Hauptman. Pacifica has requested the two members post a $50,000 bond, but as Manpearl pointed out, no such bond is required for an elections-based lawsuit by members. The next hearing has been set for May 5th at 2:30pm in Department 16 of Alameda Superior Court in the Administration Building at 1221 Oak Street.

In New York on April 29th, Jesse Siegel, a New York criminal defense attorney and unofficial corporate counsel Dan Siegel's brother, appeared for Pacifica and also angled for delays, including questioning the location of the case in New York. Previous election-related cases at WBAI have been decided in New York, including the 2007-2008 Cohen vs. Pacifica case, which Pacifica lost after running up tens of thousands in legal bills on similiar procedural delays. Attorney Gary Carlton represented plaintiffs Bob Young and Stephen Brown. The next hearing has been set for May 13th in Kings County Supreme Court at 360 Adams Street in Brooklyn, NY.

The Siegel and Yee procedural filings are running up Pacifica's costs by generating multiple hearings and more paperwork while avoiding substantive discussion on the merits of the complaints. The Pacifica National Board has not met in closed session with their attorneys even once and have not authorized or been apprised of what is being filed in their name or the costs they are generating for the foundation with procedural objections. Independent board members Grace Aaron, Jan Goodman, Bill Crosier and Jonathan Alexander have been persistent in their requests to the board majority to resolve the lawsuits by ending bylaws violations and not squander foundation resources fighting the lawsuits which request no damages or restitution from Pacifica besides correcting the board of directors roster so it has WBAI representation and all directors are elected.

If you would like to support either or both of the requests for injunctive relief from Pacifica members, you can visit the Clean Up Pacifica Project for more information.

At Wednesday's national board coordinating committee meeting, board officers commanded a "special order of business" to correct the national office budget  that didn't allocate a penny for an election supervisor salary in 2016. They described the error as an omission that needed to be urgently corrected due to the Yeakey vs. Pacifica lawsuit. They did not address multiple notifications received by both the national finance committee and the national board itself that the salary allocation was missing, including one sent days before the national board vote. Pacifica still has no agency budget for the year, having only prepared divisional budgets for the California and Texas stations and none for the East Coast stations they are planning to restructure, sell or shut down.

A timeline of the now two year old coup by the Siegel/Brazon faction can be seen here.  Op-Ed News published a "Civil Liberty Alert" on Pacifica Radio's plight by freelance writer John Ervin. 

An income statement was released for the period ending 3-31-2016, halfway through the 2016 fiscal year which ends on September 30. As expected, Pacifica began the annual slide into negative numbers as the more lucrative fundraising period runs from September to February in the first part of the fiscal year. All of the Pacifica stations showed an operating deficit for the year to date but LA station KPFK. It's likely the six figure LA surplus is more the product of poor accounting than of an actual operating surplus, given GM Radford's appeal to the national board for permission to solicit an $80,000 loan to purchase and send out back ordered premium gifts to subscribers. KPFK management also requested permission to kick over April network service payments into May due to lack of funds to pay them, and the station recently announced plans to spend no less than half of the 120 days between May 1 and August 30 in 24 hour on-air fund drive. You can view the income statement here (formatting slightly modified from the original to ease readibility).

KPFK attempted to kick off their period of too much fundraising with an email appeal for donations, but the solicitation sent on April 29th, which you can see a copy of here, contained nine different broken links referring back to the screwed up KPFK website, all of which returned page not found errors, including the yellow "donate" button, the solicitations for used car donations and used cell phone donations and the quick links to "listen live", the program calender, the program guide, the membership benefits card and a "more about us" page.

Some LA listeners also expressed frustration when KPFK's controversial volunteer coordinator Adam Rice abruptly knocked award-winning Sri-Lankan author Nayomi Munaweera's interview with Mitch Jeserich on Letters and Politics off the air, wiping out Munaweera in mid-sentence in order to announce the arrest of three protestors at the LA Police Commission that morning. The awkward interruption at 10:52am could have been delayed for five minutes to 10:57am in the interval between programs much more smoothly. Rice is not affiliated with KPFK's news department and the station's news reporters did not participate in the "breaking news alert".

Also in LA, KPFK lost a fundraising program with Ralph's Markets, which allowed members of the station to donate a percentage of their grocery purchases to KPFK. Ralph's (a division of Kroger) ordered the station to end the program and remove all references to Ralph's from the KPFK website in response to charges of anti-semitism from a hard right Zionist group Join The Boycott. GM Radford wrote a long essay on how the Ralph's withdrawal was caused by the station being people-of-color-led and community-based, but apparently didn't look at the JTB group's other targets, which have been fairly mainstream including the Los Angeles Times newspaper, Yahoo, Orange Telecom, Lush Cosmetics, the New York Times, and the California State University at Northridge (CSUN). 

Pacifica appears to have responded to information that fingerprint checks for job candidates not working with children, the elderly or disabled, aren't permitted in California and removed "fingerprint clearance" from the job announcement for a bookkeeper at LA's KPFK. They haven't yet resolved whether the bookeeping job is a full-time or part-time position, describing it under "status" as a regular part-time position and under "definition" as a full-time exempt position in the posted job announcement for prospective candidates to try to decode.

WBAI's operations manager reported that Verizon's Fraud Control Center shut off the NY station's long distance service for a while in response to a call made to the African country of Sierra Leone at 2:45am on Saturday April 23rd. The program on at the time, "Labbrish", conducted a live on-air interview from Sierrra Leone seemingly over the landline telephone. The interview was with Abdulai Bayraytay, a spokesperson for Sierra Leone president Ernest Bai Koroma and can be listened to on WBAI's archives, (it begins at 48 minutes after the hour). Communications with WBAI staff regarding logistics and economical alternatives like Skype, seem not to have occurred.

Whoever filed a mystery lawsuit at WPFW, it was not the previous election supervisor, who has now confirmed twice, once in writing and once verbally, that he did not file a lawsuit, threaten to file a lawsuit or provoke any sort of FCC, CPB or DOJ investigation, despite local station board member Eric Ramey's email of April 21st saying "I I was informed earlier the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is investigating.  In addition the justice department will investigate to determine if any FCC violations have occurred. Accordingly I will invoke the 5th and remain silent". Ramey raised the issue himself at a national elections committee call in April that was Internet-streamed, (you can hear his audio report here), and appears to be invoking the 5th Amendment self-referentially to his own comments. His partial revelation of we're-not-sure-what provoked WPFW PNB member Nancy Sorden to request that he check in with her first before speaking up at streamed meetings.

KPFA's local station board is planning a closed day-long retreat on May 22nd with an unknown agenda and facilitator. It is not known how many board members will attend the retreat, which will not include voting in order to avoid violating Corporation for Public Broadcasting's open meeting requirements. The planned retreat does violate Article 6, Section 7 of the Pacifica Bylaws which specifies that all local board meetings must be open to both members and the general public except those that are closed due to predominant focus on specific matters named as personnel, proprietary trade secrets, negotiations regarding purchases or contracts or advice from a legal counsel. There are no provisions in the Pacifica bylaws allowing closed local board retreats.

The northern and southern wings of the Siegel/Brazon majority faction appear to be butting heads about the spanish language programming mandate passed by the Pacifica National Board in June of 2015. Although KPFA's entire national board delegation including Save KPFA reps Margy Wilkinson, Brian Edwards-Tiekert and Jose Luis Fuentes voted for the addition of 5 hours in spanish between 6am and 6pm to all the station grids, local colleague Mark Hernandez charaterized the decision on Facebook as "The PNB was strong-armed in LA by a parade of spanish language promoters".  Save KPFA supporter Richard Wolinsky, an unpaid staffer, added "It is my understanding that the spanish language programming mandate is not being enforced". You can see their comments here. The comments indicate the cynicism inherent in voting for something while intending not to enforce it and is reminiscent of the contents of the Margy Wilkinson notebook found in 2015, which divided board colleagues into a list of "us", "them" and "workables" and speculated on how to manipulate the "workables" on the list.

The Berkeley wing of the Siegel/Brazon faction now known as Save KPFA stole the name "Save KPFA" from the 1990's independent listener group that went by that name, changing from a former name of "Concerned Listeners". You can read a statement about the name theft here from the steering committee of that 1990's group, which strongly objected.

This publication's home on the Internet (www.pacificainexile.org) is starting a Resources page to provide easy one-click access to frequently searched-for and downloaded documents and files. It's still in the beginning phases, but about two dozen documents are now available, with more to come. If you have any requests for materials you'd like to see there or for posting, send to pacificainexile@gmail.com so we can develop the most useful page possible for those "looking for that thing" moments.

However "organizational darwinism" works out, it is looking like one ugly process. To remind you to keep laughing and keep fighting for a Pacifica Radio that can not only heal itself but also help to heal the world, take 30 minutes to enjoy this Twit Wit radio satire from way back in March of 2014 when Pacifica's national office was occupied in an effort to keep the network from being dismantled.