Friday, October 30, 2015

Exiles Newsletter 10-30-2015 - Tsk, tsk Miss Margy....


Berkeley-In last night's Pacifica National Board meeting, held in executive session, the national board voted to order KPFA to refund to the Pacifica Foundation, national office the proceeds of one of two large bequests deposited into KPFA's Mechanics Bank account by then-IED Margy Wilkinson. One of the checks (totaling at least $400,000) was donated to the Pacifica Foundation. In the spring of 2015, the "Hall Trust bequest" was characterized as a restricted gift to KPFA, but information derived from a directors inspection convinced the board of directors the gift was instead left to the Pacifica Foundation and misappropriated for the exclusive use of the Berkeley station. The funds were not deposited into the national Pacifica operating bank account where they belonged. 

The board's executive session report out can be read here.

With some fanfare, PNB treasurer Brian Edwards-Tiekert and KPFA then "loaned" the Pacifica National Office small amounts of its own money to meet network expenses like the balance due to auditor Armanino. 

The national office has been in such desperate financial straits that employees like Affiliates Director Ursula Rudenberg have been informed they faced losing their health benefits as soon as November 1st. Permanent ED John Proffitt left the foundation's employ after less than five months.

The board's motion, which passed easily, was preceded by a vote to keep the discussion of the misappropriation of the Hall Trust bequest in closed session. The motion the board passed called for an accounting of how the money was spent by KPFA by November 4th, refunds of any outstanding amounts to the Pacifica National Office, establishment of a repayment plan for KPFA, and revision of 2016 divisional budgets for KPFA and the national office. The no votes on the motion included Willkinson and Edwards-Tiekert, WBAI rep Cerene Roberts, WPFW rep Peter Tucker and TX rep George Reiter. The reasons the non-KPFA three voted as they did are not available since the discussion occurred in closed session, but the board did release the vote tallies in their report-out from the closed session.

What the motion did not include was any censure or discipline, a change in the foundation treasurer position or an end to the consulting contract signed between then-CFO Raul Salvador and the Pacifica National Office in June of 2015.

In other news, the network's long-delayed board elections continue to move forward at a snail's pace with virtually none of the network's subscribers reporting the receipt of paper ballots which were sent out via 3rd class mail in the middle of the U.S. election when bulk mail services tend to be overwhelmed. The original mailing date was pushed back six weeks in August due to the inability to pay a $25,000 postal deposit. The national office likely would have been able to cover the postal election deposit in August had the Hall Trust funds not been hijacked.

At KPFK in Los Angeles, where 20+ union grievances will begin the SAG-AFTRA arbitration process next week. Background Briefing host Ian Masters, who has been one of the most outspoken staff members about the destructive impact of Wilkinson-appointed general manager Leslie Radford and about Pacifica's 13-year old democratic governance effort, released a puzzling set of election endorsements on his "Save KPFK" website. Masters, who takes great pride in his professional reporting and broadcasting skills, appears to have replaced knowledge about Pacifica's systems with uniformed high dudgeon. His candidate recommendations, which consist entirely of all-new candidates for KPFK's local station board, would result in the continuation of a Siegel/Brazon majority on the national board, the exact outcome he is trying to avoid. Pacifica's system allows local station board members with one year or more of local experience to stand for election to the national board. So if KPFK listeners were to follow Master's recommendations, KPFK's delegation to the national board would consist entirely of Radford's supporters from the Siegel/Brazon faction, as none of the people Masters endorses would be eligible until 2017. The system requires either the executive director or a majority of the Pacifica National Board to ratify a local board recommendation for a change in the GM position, which the current board majority and ED Lydia Brazon, a strong Radford supporter, would be unlikely to do. Pacifica in Exile readers concerned about the KPFK meltdown and their LA friends and acquaintances are instead encouraged to consider Pacifica In Exile's election recommendations, which would result in an actual change to the national board majority.

In Berkeley, Save KPFA (the Berkeley wing of the Siegel/Brazon faction) board candidate Hilmon Sorey withdrew his candidacy after Middle East Children's Alliance director Barbara Lubin wrote an open letter questioning his previous actions as board chair at the Museum of Children's Art (MOCHA) in Oakland. Sorey revoked an exhibition and planned educational programs featuring Palestinian children's drawings and artwork from the Gaza Strip ater experiencing pressure from museum donors. The incident was nationally publicized at the time as an example of collaboration with censorship attempts by Zionist-identified funders and donors. Among other programs produced by Pacifica, Voices of the Middle East and North Africa, Flashpoints and the Electronic Intifada cover Palestinian liberation movements and are often targeted by donors and funders who would prefer more Israeli-positive coverage of the long-standing regional conflicts.

KPFK local station board member Kim Kaufman wrote KPFK and Pacifica: A Quiet Coup for the LA Progressive. You can read the article on their site or at Pacifica in Exile. Kaufman writes: "A private “shadow” corporation was recently uncovered as a method to privatize Pacifica for the benefit of a few rather than keep it as a public benefit for the many. It appears the Shock Doctrine approach to the finances is not an accident, a mere “factional” dispute—but rather a plan by some of the board majority to gain control of the licenses and assets of the Pacifica Foundation".

Pacifica in Exile readers may write to the board at

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.

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