Friday, January 30, 2015

CFO's Report to the PNB - Jan 29, 2015

I captured last night's open session of the PNB. It was the usual mess and I will put it up later. In the meantime, I extracted the CFO's Report, such as it is. Bear in mind that these figures come from people like Berthold Reimers, so they should be taken with a huge grain of salt.

ADDENDUM (also see Indigo's comment).

This came in from Tracy Rosenberg shortly after I posted the above CFO Report:

Hi Chris,

While the other stations seemed to stay reasonably within screaming distance over the past two days, I am sad to report that my station KPFA is reported to have lost another $215,379 dollars in the last 36 hours, as the draft 2014 income statement provided to the national finance committee showed a loss for KPFA of ($276,000) and this one now shows a loss of ($491,000) rivaling the good old days of 2010 for KPFA.

What happened since Tuesday to double KPFA's 2014 loss? Is it the usual policy to give one set of numbers to the national finance committee and a completely different set of numbers to the board? 

The board didn't even ask about it.

KPFA had $215,000 more in expenses in the year that ended 4 months ago that just came to light today?

What a mighty strange scenario.

Attached are the Tuesday version and and Thursday version.

Closing in on a half a million dollar deficit for KPFA, all without missing a single fund drive goal.

I guess that "subsidizing the network" stuff may have to transition into "drowning the network" if this is true. 





  1. Great Plains is meant to be an enterprise-wide planning and management solution, and data and reports should be available in real or near-real-time, with projections forward to various time frames. That’s what it’s for. That’s what it does. Yet this organization feels that it has made great progress because it has preliminary data for periods one and two years back.

    There is a deficit characterized as ~$1.2 million network-wide for the previous year. This is clearly not sustainable and there are no credible plans in place to address this level of deficit, which is on the order of ~10%.

    Salvador is clearly incompetent, and should be fired.

    Reimers is unable or unwilling to integrate the financial management of WBAI with the specified standards of the larger organization. He should be fired on those grounds alone.

    Let me explain something simple. A truly competent PA can be had in Manhattan for ~$80k + benefits. Any such person, who routinely handles financial affairs of Pacifica-like complexity for producers, etc, can easily handle this nonsense.

    Yet, of course, Pacifica and WBAI can’t figure any of this out.

    Not news, not news, I know. Still, one is struck by it, yet again.

    There are no meaningful lines of authority, responsibility, or decision-making, only an eternal muddle.

    A significant part of the problem here, network wide, is that these people are a specific form of coffehouse-airhead-windbag-wanna-be-deep-thinker-inellectuals. They are obsessed with and fixated on process and procedures and their imagined ‘structure’ and ‘plans’. Notice how their instincts lead them to structure all performance comparisons (not merely a subset) along ‘compared to budget’ rather than simply cash flow positive and negative, and accrued balances positive and negative – *actuals* as compared to ‘plans’ and ‘projections’ – in a review, and even more as an assessment of current position and state of play, actuals come first, comparisons to ‘projections’ and ‘plans’ are secondary or tertiary. People that get the work of the world done are focused on only *one* thing – getting it done, fuck everything else, whatever it takes.

    They are ass-over-teakettles deep in their own shit.

    This is the way their world ends.

    Twenty years from now they still won’t have begun to wrap their heads around it.

    They would give idealism a bad name if anyone knew they existed. Fortunately, that’s not an issue.

    They will, though, serve as something of an example in the end.

    A very very minor one, at best.

    ~ ‘indigopirate’

    1. Hi Indigo, I'm glad you found this so quickly, I posted it because I read your question on the BlueBoard and, as you know, was unable to respond. :)

      I have yet to hear a Pacifica/WBAI meeting that showed any professionalism-this is a dead horse.

      You know, of course, that Salvador was already fired once, but brought back by the motley Margys in that little underhanded maneuver.

    2. Agreed, of course. I mean this as a literal observation, not simply a casual putdown: The average high school prom or whatever committee functions at a higher level of professionalism. Far higher. Literally. I emphasize that. These are debaters that don’t know how to debate, managers that don’t know how to manage, accountants who can’t maintain accounts, and communicators who can’t communicate. Most of all, perhaps, given their dedication to political advocacy rather than the broad mandate on which Pacifica was originally founded, they’re community organizers with no contact with communities of more than the proverbial small circle of friends, and ‘progressive’ advocates with no grasp of or skill in progressive analysis, advocacy, or organizing. They think that being with a few people waving signs and chanting is ‘movement.’ Well, it ain’t that simple. They, however, are that simple.

      You know – and I say this only on my own behalf and addressing only myself not presuming to speak for or to address anyone else, but… does any of this matter? There’s always a proximate cause of death, and sooner or later they’ll find their way to theirs. As I’ve said, and others have said and thought as well, they’re already long dead in any effective terms. It’s the ‘If a tree fell…’ thing – do they even make a sound, do they even exist?

      I think that for the simple and obvious reason that the ideals were so worthwhile and for a time, long ago, whatever the differences and shortcomings and clashes of personalities and the like, there was some great art, great radio, one wishes one could do something, say something that made a difference even though one knows perfectly well that there’s nothing that can be said or done to make any difference.

      All the king’s horses….

      It’s late. Time for me, at least, to give it a rest.

      ~ ‘indigopirate’

      ps: Yes, Salvador already fired once, and Reimers as well. Such swill, the worst of dregs.... and once such a worthwile ideal. Oh well, there are in fact new media and new possibilities. Megan Ellison just opened a new division. There will be good things, just not at Pacifica. The world moves on, for both good and for ill. Let them have their past. The future is elsewhere.

    3. One would think that they at least knew the rules and agenda, but they sound like people who just happened to stroll in. Like Haskins and so many who have been at WBAI for decades, it's all a never-ending on the job experience from which nothing is learned. Children act better than that-Nalini's listserv really captures the ignorance and animosity that characterizes Pacifica these years.

      I'm sure you have experienced an adult board meeting where differences were discussed and compromises reached... that old-fashioned give and take approach. That's how Pacifica Board meetings used to be and none of the stations met a financial situation they couldn't overcome. Equally important is the fact that the programming never suffered as a result of money being tight. Our listener-sponsors were kept informed of the situation and they performed accordingly. It was not a utopian love affair, but there was mutual respect and a mutual goal.

      Pacifica may be able to keep limping along, but it is the walking dead.

      Listened to Bob Fass' show this morning, he received two calls—one of them from frackin' Fred and all he did was play records (without commenting on them) and recite the little stations that relay his show. It was depressing. I think he is well aware of the void out there and he asked several times for e-mail. Pathetic.

    4. Anon--I helped to plan my high school's prom many, many years ago. If my experience is typical, you are being too generous to WBAI and Pacifica.

      Chris--Many years ago, I wrote for community newspapers. In that capacity, I attended many school board and community board meetings. Even at the very worst of them, there was an understanding of what needed to be done and discussion as to how it could be accomplished. From what you, Indigo and others are saying, any one of those meetings I've covered is better than any Pacifica or WBAI board meeting.

  2. The audio clip isn't working for me in either Firefox or I.E.


  3. Yawn... Pacifica is getting torn apart by the economic realities... so what... didn't we have this convo the August before last?

  4. Here's a brief summary of what's gone wrong with Pacifica's accounting:

    Summer put Raul on leave in October 2013 -- the first month of the 2014 fiscal year -- and he didn't get access to the books again until June 2014 -- the 9th month of the fiscal year. In the interim, there was no centralized, competent oversight of accounting functions.
    When the national office standoff started, all bookkeeping in the national office basically stopped -- they weren't even entering *payroll* numbers in the accounting system.

    Meanwhile, at KPFK, Summer had fired a competent Business Manger in January 2014, and replaced him with a temp who turned out to be completely unqualified. They've replaced that person now, but they're basically having to reconstruct KPFK's books for the entire year.
    At WBAI, Arlene Engelhardt had decided the station could get by without a Business Manager, so their bookkeeping is being done remotely -- the Business Manager at KPFT makes some accounting entries on their behalf. However, she's recording expenses when WBAI cuts checks, not when the expenses come due (so if WBAI doesn't pay its rent, the books make it look like it didn't have any rental expense)--that's inconsistent with the rest of the network, which uses accrual accounting. Also, obviously, the KPFT Business Manager is not close enough to WBAI to know when something she's entering looks wrong.

    Meanwhile, when WPFW's Business Manager quit, Summer decided to install the same arrangement there -- which has produced similar problems. Raul's in the process of setting up the software and training to get local staff keeping the books at WPFW again--but, again, most of 2014 is still a big mess.
    KPFA's books are better than most, but we still rely on the national office to make many of the accounting entries--e.g., for payroll, pensions, central services, shared expenses--that show up on our income statements. That means bad practices at National create havok for KPFA as well.

    For instance: after Raul generated preliminary financial statements for FY2013, we discovered that the National Office doubled KPFA's Central Services charges in the winter of 2013 (before Raul came on) -- charging us $130,000 more than we actually owed. (Raul's since fixed it, and credited the overpayment back to KPFA).

    Another example: One of the big hangups in reconciling KPFA's books was that the National Office had repeatedly screwed up payroll in the late fall of 2012, forcing KPFA to reverse multiple accounting entries and issue dozens of hand-cut checks to make employees whole who'd gotten paid the wrong amounts--and to do it all in a hurry. That created multiple complex transactions that were difficult to reconcile to bank statements (though, thankfully, those reconciliations are now finished).

    Maria's spending all day double-checking the figures from 2014 today. We almost certainly *did* run a deficit that year--the problem is that we weren't getting financial statements often enough to know it. And the amount of the deficit may drop significantly when Maria finishes her work.

    1. Fuckups, excuses, explanations, and incompetence.

      No sane organization would tolerate these, at length, organization-wide.

      Do the details even matter?

      ~ ‘indigopirate’

  5. Even though the details of Pacifica's foibles pile up on each other every day, it's basically getting to be the same script. Just a movie series doing the same thing for the thirteenth installment, yet again. I hope they get in serious legal trouble at some point, but like a Jason or Freddy, they seem to always come back to life.

    Seriously, I had more fun and education today catching up on the past few episodes of Glenn Hauser's World of Radio than anything WBAI has offered up in years, except that one week when Bob Fass demonstrated his new "no form" radio format. Sadly, he didn't continue with it.

    Oh, and I hate American football. At least in rugby they beat each other up...

    Sorry to sound morbid, but three deaths in my life in one month is surreal.


    1. Sorry to hear of death in your family, SDL.

      It will take serious legal trouble to shake this gang loose. To wish for WBAI's extinction sounds harsh, but who keeps a broken record?

      I, too, get no pleasure from watching American football. In my year at Kent College, Canterbury, I had no option but to play Rugby (Rugger), but I was terrible at it, because it was unimportant to me.

      I apologize for not having fixed the CFO Report audio clip—I wasted a lot of time trying, only to find out that the server (Div-share) is down. I'll grab it as soon as they fix it.

    2. Thanks, but they weren't family. In fact, I have no family, as everyone died already, even my cat. Just me against the world. Two were relatives of friends and one was my favorite neighbor. Three deaths around you in a month just makes for a weird vibe. Also, since I have no family, I will be leaving my estate to institutions and charities, except WBAI. They get nothing for turning into shit. HAHAHA!

      No problem on the audio. I'll catch it whenever. Like I said, today was a World of Radio marathon day for me. Jeez, how radio around the world is dying. Barely any of the formerly major stations even have shortwave outlets anymore. They have mainly gone internet only. I am saddened that shortwave radio will no longer exist in a decade, if even that long. Also, kind of strange to realize I have been listening to Glenn Hauser since I was like 13 years old.

      How I miss the days of state run radio stations and their propaganda broadcasts. I think that's what gave me a good bullshit detector.


  6. OK, listened to that audio clip. For some reason it made me think of The Blues Brothers doing Rubber Biscuit...


    1. The Blues Brothers made sense, none of this CFO Report did. A bunch of incompetent crooks.