Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Too many cooks and no real recipe....


The following podcast by Radio Survivor features an interview with Matthew Lasar, who has been writing about Pacifica for many years, although not always with sufficient attention to factual details. He is in good form here as Paul Riismandel—with whom he co-founded Radio Survivor—has him explaining how Pacifica's system of governance works, or doesn't. Lasar blames much of the network's current—and possibly fatal—crisis on the the Foundation's unwieldy attempt to "democratize," pointing out that it is expensive, over populated, and poorly run.

Lend Lasar an ear and see if you agree with him—as I do.


You can subscribe to the Radio Survivor podcast through iTunes.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Does Reimers finally hear the corpulent coloratura?


Yesterday on his show, Gary Null looked into his crystal ball and predicted the demise of WBAI and, probably, Pacifica.

That's not an original conclusion to draw, present situation considered, but it comes, significantly, from a merchant upon whose sales pitches WBAI has become reliant. If you don't think do-nothing WBAI GM, Berthold Reimers lives in a sub-world of his own, you should read this letter to the WBAI "Family," which was dumped into circulation today. Reimers is not very bright, but he is devious, without conscience, and morally bankrupt. I don't know who he is trying to appease with this letter, but I doubt if anyone is fooled by it.

Dear WBAI Family, 

It's September and our thoughts turn to those of you preparing to send children off to schools, colleges, or heading there yourself.

WBAI has from its inception, the mission to "establish and operate for educational purposes...In radio broadcasting operations to encourage and provide outlets for the creative skills and energies of the community...to employ such varied sources in the public presentation of accurate, objective, comprehensive news on all matters vitally affecting the community."

With this in mind WBAI will bring you many informative and creative programs and activities this fall. Take a look at some of them listed below. We will once again be hosting an extensive internship program for students from universities across the metropolitan area, offering them on-air opportunities few radio stations make available.

Listening to WBAI programming is often assigned to students in local colleges. We will be partnering with some new ones, bringing you their informative podcasts and live streamed lectures by well known progressive personalities.

We wish you all a successful school experience this fall and hope that those of you who are lifelong listeners and learners will pass on the call numbers 99.5fm or our stream at wbai.org to those close to you.

Berthold Reimers

General Manager 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Union disunion


SAG-AFTRA Union Takes Pacifica Into Arbitration
 Alleging Bust of Collective Bargaining Agreement

Berkeley - On Thursday, the SAG-AFTRA labor union filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association. The union stated to its members their position that Pacifica is in ongoing violation of the collective bargaining agreement. The Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Radio and Television Artists represents approximately 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals. Three of Pacifica's  four unionized stations are represented by SAG-AFTRA, one in Berkeley by the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and the Houston station remains non-unionized. 

Pacifica is attempting to lay off three workers at KPFK (the webmaster, film club coordinator and a development assistant), reduce all other workers to 50% time for at least the next four months and "reorganize" the staff for the following budgetary year with new job descriptions and work schedules. This recording is from the staff meeting where Margy Wilkinson-appointed general manager Leslie Radford announced the layoffs and reductions to the workers.

The layoffs were handled klutzily by Radford, with one employee not finding out they were laid off until 4 days after the staff meeting, and incorrect job titles listed on layoff letters. The union also has taken umbrage at Pacifica's suggestion that it authorize supplementary unemploy-
ment checks for still-employed union members, a program that PNB treasurer and Upfront host Brian Edwards-Tiekert has used to supplement his own paycheck since 2011 through at least mid-2014 and possibly into 2015.

Both GM Radford and ED John Profitt have stated they relied on advice from Bay Area attorney Dan Siegel regarding the implementation of the layoffs and work reductions at the KPFK division. Siegel, along with former IED Margy Wlkinson, incorporated the KPFA Foundation clandestinely in 2013 to capture one or more of Pacifica's broadcast licenses in the event of organizational breakup.

SAG-AFTRA's resort to litigation against Pacifica was probably abetted by Pacifica's inability to present a coherent set of accounting records. On Tuesday night, the national finance committee made confused noises about an income statement, complete with 24 pie charts, presented by the controller that showed the KPFK unit with a $182,00 net profit for the current fiscal year and the 501c3 with a $959,000 net profit for the current fiscal year. You can listen to part of the meeting here.

The gist of the confusing explanation offered, both at the meeting and in a series of emails that flew around the network afterwards, went something like this: "After the temporary KPFK bookkeeper was terminated for embezzling on or around August 13th, the former CFO Raul Salvador, now consulting, was sent in and then most, but not all, of the station's April and May income was double-booked into the KPFK general ledger, income which had already been recorded before, presumably in April and May. The controller, formerly Salvador's subordinate and seemingly now his boss, issued financial reports based on that ledger, whose accuracy he was unable to assess because no bank reconciliations had been performed at KPFK in the last year".


KPFK is reported to have paid $46,000 in the first 9 months of the year for temporary bookkeeping services. This sound clip features Leslie Radford telling station staff about the embezzling at KPFK.

Former ED Summer Reese commented in a public list-serv: "During my tenure, the former National Office Controller, her childhood friend from the Philippines the current controller, his wife, his cousin the former KPFK Business Manager, and his former employee in the Philippines Pacifica's last CFO, were all separated from Pacifica. The books were literally millions of dollars out of whack when I took the helm.  After my termination, some of these separated individuals were obviously brought back for reasons that can only cause speculation".

Pacifica's board elections continue to be in a state of limbo, more than a year after they were supposed to be held by board resolution. One half of the local and national board members have overstayed their elected board terms by 20 months, and the other half will end their elected terms on December 15, 2015, rendering the whole structure illegitimate in about 100 days. After soliciting 100+ board candidates and hiring six election supervisors, Pacifica did not remit a $25,000 postage deposit earlier this month and has provided no revised schedule for the commencement of the election. The rogue Siegel/Brazon faction in control of the national board has taken no corrective action.

In the meantime, staff candidates not aligned with the majority faction, have experienced targeting with WBAI staff candidate Mitchel Cohen removed from his unpaid volunteer coordinator position and KPFK staff candidate Ali Lexa picked as the only full-time KPFK employee to be immediately laid off. Cohen is a former WBAI LSB chair and the lead plaintiff in 2008's Cohen vs Pacifica election fraud lawsuit. Lexa, the LA station's webmaster, was the first place winner in KPFK's staff elections in 2006 and 2009, and served on the Pacifica National Board for a year in 2012. Another LA staff candidate, music director Maggie Le Pique, has had her position eliminated on paper in GM Radford's 2016 staffing plan. Radford was an ardent member of the Siegel-Brazon faction during her local and national board terms.

Pacifica's audit lead, Grant Lam at Armanino LLC set off a firestorm when he informed the former chair of Pacifica's audit committee on August 25th that no work had been done to date on Pacifica's 2014 audit, which was due to California's Attorney General and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting two months ago on June 30. Pacifica took approximately $50,000 from KPFA at the end of July to "immediately start the audit" which was claimed to be delayed because Pacifica could not pay the balance due from the last year's audit, the most expensive in Pacifica's history. Lam's email, which was so lackadasical it barely acknowledged the "emergency payment" had been made, caused many to conclude that perhaps the payment hadn't been made (it was), but did confirm  a month has passed with no work completed on the overdue audit, marking the second consecutive year Pacifica has been delinquent on the legally required state filing. FCC attorney John Crigler confirmed the network will be unable to secure any of $2.2 million dollars in public media funding Pacifica has been unable to collect due to audit delinquency.

KPFT director Bob Mark, a new 2015 addition to the board of directors who is not aligned with the Siegel/Brazon faction, was mystified and saddened when his simple request that new CFO candidates be asked during the interview process what they would do to address Pacifica's problems with getting bank accounts reconciled and audits completed in a timely manner, was voted down. PNB chair Lydia Brazon's tangled explanations for why Pacifica's CFO has no responsibility for the network's financial recordkeeping and Mark's pained comments as the Siegel/Brazon faction closes ranks on him, has to be heard to be believed.

Five years ago, PNB treasurer Brian Edwards-Tiekert and the Berkeley wing of the Siegel/Brazon faction spread accusations of "unionbusting" against  Pacifica far and wide after layoffs were imposed following a two year loss by KPFA of $1.1 million dollars. Flyers such as this archived copy of "What Is Unionbusting" were posted on websites at savekpfa and kpfaworker. The Siegel/Brazon faction and Edwards-Tiekert specifically, castigated Pacifica as "unionbusters" because they would not accept a "sustainable budget" proposal that among other features proposed 1) giving the Berkeley station three years to pay back its network services debt to Pacifica 2) shifting elderly union workers to Medicare 3) asking stations that replay programming produced at KPFA to pay the production costs (KPFA now broadcasts Uprising from KPFK every morning and does not contribute to its production costs) and 4) chopping from the top i.e. laying off national office staff instead of union workers.

In 2015, with KPFK's 2014-2015 two year operating deficit (in whatever version of the financial statements you choose to believe in) at half of KPFA's 2009-2010 two year operating deficit and the unpaid network services amount quite similiar, there is not a peep out of Edwards-Tiekert and Wilkinson about "sustainable budgets" and three year network services payback plans. Wilkinson's appointment of factional cohort Leslie Radford as KPFK's GM on her last day has depressed KPFK's daily fund drive revenues by 33%, from $30,000/day to barely $20,000/day, directly exacerbating the station's financial instability and in opposition to the stated objections of all but one of the LA station's workers.

Pacifica in Exile readers may write to the board at pnb@pacifica.org.


For readers who may wish to do more, any donor to a California-based not for profit organization like Pacifica may file a complaint to the open file at the Registry of Charitable Trusts at the Office of the CA Attorney General. Pacifica's case number is CT011303. The form and instructions for filing may be downloaded here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Chef Reimers' recipes: Artificial flavoring?

Berthold Reimers is still using QuickBooks, an accounting system that apparently is simpler than Great Plains, which s what the rest of the stations rely on. For someone who in his resumé claims a background steeped in accounting, Reimers' admitted inability to handle Great Plains is somewhat astounding, but so are the figures he and his two interns come up with.

Indigopirate points out some of the discrepancies in the following summary, to which he has attached two pertinent links. This will undoubtedly sound as messed up to you as it does to the honest committee members. 


Apropos confusion, it reigned at Tuesday's (Aug. 25) telephonic meeting of the PNB Finance Committee, from which I have included KPFT representative 
Adriana Casenave expressing her considerable frustration with all these meaningless figures that seem to be pulled from nowhere and tell vastly different stories.

The 2014 Pacifica Audit, to be conducted by Armanino LLP, has not yet begun. There is confusion and consternation as to this fact.

This first short clip, extracted from the Pacifica National Board Finance Committee Meeting of the evening of 25 August, consists of, first, a passing reference by Efren in which he refers to $142,000 having been paid by the National Office for the 2013 Audit, and, secondly, his response to a question as to whether or not the 2014 Audit has in fact begun. He says that it has not, and questions follow as to why it hasn’t.

The second clip is from the Pacifica National Board’s Audit Committee, which took place simultaneously, also on the evening of 25 August. In this clip, which is far longer, we have at the very beginning a reading from an email from Armanino which is interpreted as referring both to the fact of the 2014 Audit not yet having begun and also is interpreted as that being the case because Armanino had not yet been paid in full for the 2013 Audit – at which point these considerations spiral onward to dominate the meeting. At one point, far into the discussion, one member, Virginia, raises the possibility that the email was ambiguous or misinterpreted as to the question of whether or not payment to Armanino for the 2013 Audit had been completed, and that it might be the case that Arminino had indeed been paid in full as stated by John Proffitt before his having left for vacation.

My guess is that Virginia will be proven right.

In any event the real attention-getter, panic and accompany-ing suspicions aside, is that the 2014 Audit upon which hopes of CPB money depends, has not yet begun.

~ ‘indigopirate’

Here we have another brief audio clip from the August 25 PNB FC meeting. Pacifica's Acting Controller, Efren Llarinas, offers to teach Berthold Reimers how to use the Great Plains software, which he says can easily be done via phone. Inexplicably (well, perhaps not), the Siegel-allied JUC rep from WBAI, Cerena, takes a dim view of this and comes up with laughably weak excuse for not teaching Reimers any new tricks. He is already overburdened with work, she says, echoing what his cronies (Mitch Cohen, et all) like to tell us when we wonder what, if anything, he is doing to earn $100,000.00 a year. Obviously, having an inept GM is something these people find beneficial. Notice how Chair Brian Edwards-Tiegert, a member of the destructive group, refers to this important impediment as a good source for "conversation"—by others. These people are very transparent.

Cerena's subsequently proposal that Reimers be allowed to continue using the QuickBook software was voted down. What will she try next?  

Monday, August 24, 2015

The culprit is Tracy?


The discussion was prompted by a secret maneuver whose movers, having now been exposed, claim it to be "incredibly prudent" and a barrier against KPFA becoming a voice for the right. As they struggle in their defensive mode, these scheming bozos even invoke the name of Rush Limbaugh, which is supposed to make everybody tremble and vote against reason. Pay good attention to Brian Edward-Tiekert's attempt to wiggle out of this one.

As someone points out, it is difficult to understand why something so important that it allegedly could save Pacifica from being Foxed must be done without Pacifica's knowledge. This meeting produced no acceptable excuse for the covert action taken by Margy Wilkinson, wanne-be Mayor Dan Siegel, and their ill-advised ilk. But listen for yourself, it's all herein its entirety.

AND HERE'S MORE FROM THE TRACY OF LOST TRUTHS...



Two Credit Cards Are Better Than One

Berkeley -The severe financial distress at KPFK-FM, which resulted on Monday in an announcement by Margy Wilkinson-appointed general manager Leslie Radford, of the immediate reduction of all KPFK employees to 50% work schedules and the layoff of three employees, has been accompanied by growing evidence of a year and a half of financial mismanagement of the station, Pacifica's highest earner as recently as 2013. KPFK abruptly fired its second consecutive temporary business manager after finding out about monthly checks issued to an outside person by the business manager, along with unauthorized cash advances never paid back. The business manager was personally hired and trained by former CFO Raul Salvador to "fix" the accounting mess at KPFK in the fall of 2014, and per a motion passed by the national board in 2014, reported directly to Salvador rather than the station's general manager. Thousands of dollars in fraudulent credit card charges at Walmart and Ralph Lauren on KPFK's company card in May were enabled by an April replacement of that card by Salvador with a new card issued to the identical card holder (not the now-departed business manager). Salvador failed to close the previous card, leaving Pacifica with two different credit cards issued to the same individual with different account numbers open at the same time. The old card that had been replaced almost a month earlier was the card victimized with almost $4,000 in bogus charges. The former CFO offered his resignation the following day, only to be brought back as a "financial consultant" and now assigned to replace the former KPFK business manager after her dismissal.


The layoffs at KPFK were for development assistant Sue Cohen Johnson, Film Club coordinator Donna Walker and webmaster Ali Lexa Al-Hilali. Walker's layoff may cause a problem as KPFK has many subscribers to their film club and with every single employee reduced to half-time, it is unlikely any will be able to take on new projects, and refunds would be expensive and strain the station's finances. The station's webmaster has double the then-seniority of KPFA's Brian Edwards-Tiekert who contested a layoff in 2010 on seniority grounds, and is likely being targeted for participation in governance, as the first-place finisher in staff board elections in both 2006 and 2009 and a candidate again in this year's suspended elections.

The station's SAG-AFTRA bargaining unit has stated that layoffs and work reductions were neither agreed to nor negotiated with the union and has already filed grievances against Pacifica. The union has refused to sign off on an EDD work sharing plan, a plan that has subsidized the salaries of KPFA's news department since 2011, although the station has made new hires since and probably should have terminated the state paycheck subsidies several years ago. (Recipients include Upfront host Edwards-Tiekert and news anchors Aileen Alfandary and Mark Mericle). KPFK GM Radford stated publicly at the station's local board meeting that the reductions of all staff to 50% time will not exceed 4 months in duration, but curiously presented a 2016 staffing plan with the 2016 budget which contains no full-time employees and several new part-time positions.This proposal, given Radford's definition of a half-time schedule as 17.5 hours a week, would eventually result in a completely non-unionized workforce with no health benefits, as the current union contract in effect only provides benefits with an 18 hour a week work schedule. 


Pacifica's long-delayed board election got even more delayed when the foundation failed to make a $25,000 postage deposit to secure the mailing of ballots. No information has been provided about the length of the latest delay. One half of the board's elected terms ran out  in December of 2013 and the other half runs out in December of 2015.  The network has until  September 12th to mail the ballots to salvage the election. The putative reason for the delay - that stations could not afford to pay the postage - no longer seems valid as KPFK has received a one-time bequest of $134,000 and WBAI has said they can fund their share of the postal deposit (about $9,000). Over 100 candidates have filed nomination papers for vacant board seats currently filled by stayovers whose terms expired twenty months ago. Meanwhile, the five local election supervisors and one national election supervisor, who remain on payroll for the duration of the delay at $10,000+a month, have been processing fair election complaints and issued their first reprimand to New York's Justice and Unity Caucus (a Siegel/Brazon-affiliated group) for failing to post a required disclaimer on their outside website.

Pacifica's latest overdue financial audit (for the year ending 9-30-2014) is looking, despite earlier reports to the contrary, like it will, after missing the June 30 deadline for submission to the State of California Registry of Charitable Trusts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, be almost as late as last year's effort. KPFK GM Leslie Radford confirmed that KPFK'smschedules for the audit "are not prepared" in this sound clip, contradicting earlier claims by Pacifica's national office that they were. You can hear the three statements (July 9, August 6, and August 19) in this sound montage.
KPFA's Local Station Board discussed the incorporation of the KPFA Foundation by Margy Wilkinson at attorney Dan Siegel's office at their August 22nd meeting, having the conversation the national board failed to have. The perpetrators expressed no shame about their actions with PNB treasurer Brian Edwards-Tiekert putting forward that the KPFA local station board should "ratify" the creation of the corporation under Wilkinson and Siegel's sole control to "capture" the broadcast licenses.  Siegel/Brazon-affiliated KPFA Board Chair Carole Travis admitted she knew about the clandestine incorporation a year ago, but did not share the information with the rest of KPFA's local station board, the station's members or the Pacifica National Board.

Tracy Rosenberg, executive director of Media Alliance, when informed of the local board's conversation, indicated she had no interest in acquiring KPFA's broadcast license from Pacifica and has never had sexual relations with any FCC commissioners, despite what appeared to be Brian Edwards-Tiekert's claims.

The detritis of former WBAI program director Bernard White's destructive racial discrimination lawsuit has lingered long after the suit was thrown out of court. Pacifica has yet more legal bills to pay on the case it resoundingly won, as attorneys for station board member Steve Brown, who White sued individually, have taken action to collect their fees. White should have been dismissed from the case from the beginning, but following poor legal advice, Pacifica declined to do so and Chartis insurance mandated two sets of lawyers, one for each defendant. Despite Pacifica's overwhelming victory in the case, it did not receive any attorneys fees from the plaintiff, who continues to broadcast on WBAI despite sticking the station with at least a quarter million in legal bills from his failed lawsuit.

In Berkeley, the Siegel/Brazon-affiliated group  that used to refer to itself as KPFA Forward and then Concerned Listeners and finally Save KPFA has undergone another rebranding with a new  brownish logo that refers to themselves as "local", "community" and "progressive", using buzzwords greatly at odds with their previous rhetoric and actions, which included removing locally-generated programming from KPFA's AM drive time in favor of syndicated programming from Los Angeles and stating numerous times that KPFA was "not community radio" (Sasha Lilley 2008).

KPFA unpaid staff member Richard Wolinsky lamented on Facebook that the existence of this publication interferes with his ability to dish dirty laundry about Pacifica on Facebook discussion pages out of fear that his public comments on the social media network might be reprinted in this publication (and presumably read by a wider audience than that on the biggest social media network in the world). Wolinsky showed a somewhat confused understanding of the word "censorship" in his complaint stating:

"Richard Wolinsky It's funny. I have certain feelings and ideas about this whole issue (the KPFA Foundation) that I would love to express, but I'm silenced by the fact that anything I say could be misappropriated by Pacifica in Exile for their bulletins. So I have to remain silent. It's a form of censorship, a kind of pre-emptive blackmail". 

Pacifica in Exile readers may write to the board at pnb@pacifica.org.