November 1 2014
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Pacifica in Exile Press Release
November 1 2014
For Immediate Release
Boo It's An Election
Berkeley- It's a Pacifica election for Halloween. Maybe. The national board after considering a timeline developed by their elections committee, rejected the timeline, but did issue an order to unelected chair of the board/interim executive director Margy Wilkinson to hire someone to run the election by December 1st. This is not the first time the board has so instructed, but since Wilkinson voted to tell herself to make the hire, perhaps she will. Who will be hired is a mystery since the most qualified candidates Bill Crosier and Sanchez Montebello have both been ruled out, Crosier due to factional antipathy and Montebello withdrawing in anger after Wilkinson never acknowledged receiving his application. The election has many unanswered questions including how Pacifica will transition to online voting, where the money will come from to pay for it, and what seats are up for election - as 1/2 of the delegates terms expired in December of 2013 (including Wilkinson's term) and the other 1/2 expire in December of 2015. The rejected timeline proposed a completed election by July of 2015. If the election covers all the seats, Pacifica subscribers will have to rank 18 candidates out of the 36-50 that will run in each signal area. Pacifica's bylaws prevent delegates and directors from extending their own terms without the permission of the full membership.
A directors inspection last month delivered Pacifica's bank statements from 2012-2014. The bank statements revealed a startling level of financial breakdown in the last six months. The monthly bank fees on Pacifica's operating account have more than doubled since February of 2014, with charges assessed of $5,929 in August, $5,364 in July, and $5,936 in June. The increased charges are probably caused by the network's transition from writing business checks to conducting virtually all business by wire transfer. As an example, the national office wrote only 3 checks in June of 2014 from its operating account while engaging in 70 incoming and outgoing wire transfers during the month. By contrast, in January of 2013 the foundation issued 50 checks from its national operating account and paid a $450 monthly bank fee.
A pending complaint to the CA Attorney General Registry of Charitable Trusts by 8 former board members can be found here (in a slightly updated version). The AG is responsible for California charitable compliance. Pacifica members can send a note to the AG here.
Wilkinson and CFO Salvador both gave reports to the board at the national board meeting on October 30th. Wilkinson responded to board member critiques of the use of corporate call centers and program decisions in NY and LA by saying "it's not her job" and stated "the audit of FY 2013 is done". Salvador the CFO, who spoke afterwards, contradicted her statement that the audit was done, stating the auditors had been sent away from the national office because not all of the audit schedules were completed, and would do fieldwork until returning on or about November 10th to the national office. In response to board complaints about the stalled budgetary process, Salvador said "we can't do budgets for the stations". Salvador also reported that Pacifica came very close to losing a United Health Care medical benefits program that covers KPFT in Texas, WPFW in DC, WBAI in New York and the national office and archives, only two months after the benefits were cancelled for 3 days in August. KPFT in Texas appears to have loaned the money to keep the medical benefits from being cancelled again.
Pacifica's finance committee meetings are growingly increasingly contentious, reflecting the stalled budgetary process. Texas treasurer JIm Boyd scolded the committee on October 23rd saying "WBAI is a financial problem and that is what our job is. We're not doing our job". National board member Lydia Brazon said at the same meeting: "I'm not impressed with any of the budgets. I think we have too much wishful thinking in them". Brazon didn't seem to understand the finance committee can modify the divisional budgets if they believe they are wishful thinking. That's the purpose of the budgetary review process.
Pacifica's audit committee, after spending an hour talking about a third attempt to elect a chair for the committee, agreed to recommend to the national board the retention for a 3rd consecutive year of the Armanino firm to audit (or try to audit) Pacifica's books. The audit committee suggests the audit of the 2014 year begin in May of 2015, a date which is 90 days after the IRS-recommended deadline of 5 months after the end of the fiscal year - and plans for the network to again miss the June 30th deadline for Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding - given the 8 week lead time for audit completion. The decision to forfeit 2015 CPB funding, assuming the organization would re-qualifiy, will cause ongoing financial stress. The audit committee also noted auditor Armanino is in need of the 2013 minutes for the audit committee. Unelected chair Margy Wilkinson was reported to have sent out a request trying to obtain those minutes. The committee later noted the 2013 audit committee secretary was Wilkinson herself.
Truthout magazine, among other media outlets including Pacifica's own Democracy Now, have finally started to cover the Chevron media blitz of the Northern California town of Richmond, which featured the corporation inundating local voters to support its chosen City Council members and creating a "company newspaper" distributing corporate-approved "news" - the Richmond Standard. The coverage has not mentioned the role of KPFA in removing the only prime-time mass media focused on Richmond and Western Contra Costa, Andres Soto's edition of the Morning Mix, where the Communities for a Better Environment organizer and 30-year Richmond resident had been giving Chevron a run for their money. The removal of the program in May and replacement with a syndicated program from LA eliminated the only year-round non-student coverage focused on the East Bay region which is assailed by Chevron's refinery and an incoming crude by rail station at Kinder Morgan. The Richmond Progressive Alliance, which is in a pitched battle with the Chevron-backed candidate slate, objected to the program change in June, along with a plethora of community groups including the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, the Gray Panthers, Veterans for Peace, The San Francisco Green Party, ILWU Local 10, and the SF chapter of the National Lawyer's Guild.
The new general manager also gave a dismissive public response to the scathing letter sent to KPFA (copied to author Naomi Klein) from Movement Generation. KPFA's manager failed to apologize, referred to the concerns raised in it as "ridiculous" and Movement Generation as "those people", who were "demanding free tickets to the event". Movement Generation was the event co-sponsor. The letter alleged blatantly anti-immigrant and racist behavior from KPFA's event staff in trying to prevent Spanish language interpretation at Klein's September 29th speaker series benefit. The entire letter can be found here.
The Siegel/Brazon faction continues a series of witch hunts to try to prop up its shrinking majority by kicking opponents off the board. The pending trial of Kim Kaufman was postponed to November, eating up two board meetings with the kangaroo court.Kaufman could not even get a straight answer about what the charges were against her until six days before the first trial. Meanwhile, the national board ate up an hour of its own meeting time seeking to boot WPFW listener representative Luzette King off the board . (The Siegel/Brazon faction did the same to King back in 2008, when she last served on the national board). The board forgot they tabled King's request for an excused absence due to illness on September 4th while they proposed kicking her off the board for three consecutive unexcused absences. King has been sharply critical of the board majority in 2014.