- Judith Gips I asked in the phone room at the beginning of this most recent KPFA on air fund drive "does anyone know what is happening with KPFK and wheter they are staying on the air?" and got told/warned by one of the newer off-air coordinators that I'd violated the Code of Conduct by bringing up controversial subjects.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
Loans with 20% Interest: A Pacifica Exile newsletter
Loans With 20% Interest
Berkeley-In the wake of Pacifica's latest executive transition from permanent ED John Proffitt who resigned after 4 months, to Siegel/Brazon faction leader Lydia Brazon, information out of Pacifica's national office (which is supposedly on the block for mortgage according to Brazon, who had earlier shown the property to real estate brokers in 2014), has slowed to a trickle. Despite apocalyptic statements from controller Efren Llarinas at the last national board meeting about bills due at the end of September, it appears enough money was borrowed to clear paychecks and preserve employee health benefits. However Llarinas continues to sound the alarm, telling the finance committee: "It is really unpredictable if PNO can fund its own PNO employees' salaries this October 15 payroll " and "There is no assurance right now that PNO will be able to advance the November healthcare bills (approx. $65K) which are all due on Oct. 31". Meanwhile, the Pacifica Archive is desperately trying to collect money owed to it from stations, including "PRA Days" at LA and NY, premium billings from DC, and thousands owed from LA for the use of their bookkeeper after the last temporary KPFK bookkeeper was terminated for embezzling and the successor quit in less than a week.
Pacifica's finance committee is considering a proposal by controller Llarinas for a no-collateral loan of $300,000 with a 17-20% interest rate from an unspecified financing company. Pacifica's monthly expenses network-wide average about $990,000.
The increasingly desperate proposals for real estate mortgages and now quickie high interest loans indicate the extent expenses have outstripped listener-donated funds with no brakes put on by the rogue board majority that took control of the network in March of 2014. The board chair and ED from March of 2014 to May of 2015, Save KPFA's Margy Wilkinson, set up a nonprofit to capture broadcast licenses should Pacifica dissolve, file for bankruptcy or attempt to sell or transfer broadcast licenses.
Pacifica's audit for the year ending 9/30/2014, which was due to the State of California Registry of Charitable Trusts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting over 100 days ago, has still not been started due to financial disarray, making a mockery of earlier statements by ED Wilkinson, CFO Salvador and PNB treasurer Edwards-Tiekert that this audit would be a "snap", and the long delay in completing the FY 2013 audit was entirely caused by inherited accounting deficiencies. All three previous administrations completed annual financial audits by the time the rogue board majorities in 2014 and 2015 *started* the annual audit. Auditor Armanino has said they will terminate their relationship with Pacifica following the completion of the 2014 audit they have not yet started.
A week into the new fiscal year, the national board has not reviewed a single divisional budget and the finance committee has only passed one: KPFA's, leaving the network bereft of any financial planning documents for the year now underway. This is the second consecutive year the vast majority of the 7 divisional budgets were prepared late and failed to be reviewed by the board of directors prior to the start of the fiscal year on October 1.
Pacifica's delayed board member elections, which will replace half the expired members while keeping the other half around for another year (if the network lasts that long), may possibly get underway soon with ballots being mailed to members in 4/5 signal areas (DC's elections were canceled). This publication's endorsements will be provided this upcoming weekend for all four signal areas electing staff and listener representatives.
After struggling and failing to come up with a $25,000 first-class mail postage deposit in August, Pacifica resolved to send ballots out using nonprofit bulk mail, so voters may get ballots anytime between October 15th and the end of the month. Candidate groups that send out accompanying mailers promoting their candidates have been distraught by Pacifica's seeming intent to mail the ballots before providing lists for outside mailings, which may prevent voters from getting supplementary information until voters have already voted. It may also place the foundation in violation of Corporations Code clause 6330, which provides 10 business days for responding to election mailing list requests from members.
KPFT treasurer Bill Crosier prepared this detailed spreadsheet on election costs with historical data, budget projections and actuals to date.Crosier guesstimates that personnel costs alone for the election supervisor and 5 local staffers may go as high as $100K and that the six week+ delay from August to October for the ballot mailing cost at least $15K in extended staffing costs.
After three long-term KPFK music hosts with 57 years of experience between them resigned on-air three consecutive days last week, Derek Rath, Betto Arcos and Yatrika Shah-Rais issued a joint statement on their decision. It can be found here.
In their statement they say "This joint decision has been the result of deep soul searching which has led to the conclusion that we have major ethical issues requesting money from listeners whose premiums do not get fulfilled and whose favorite programs get cut or are regularly interrupted or put on hiatus. Furthermore, we believe that Pacifica is no longer living up to its mission, and that power plays and internal politics are wreaking havoc with the station and have undermined quality programming".
As if that weren't enough, the LA station's email was completely out of order for most of last week, which had been shortly preceded by the phone system not accepting any incoming phone calls the week before. Station management communicated using gmail accounts set up at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com and at least 4 days of email traffic to the kpfk.org server bounced back to senders.
KPFK news reporter Ernesto Arce posted on KPFK's Facebook page this evening that a planned KPFK news report on the state of KPFK was prevented from airing this evening at 6:45pm as the Pacifica Evening News had apparently planned. It has generally been the policy of the Pacifica Evening News produced at KPFA that they do not accept management interference in the airing of internal news about Pacfica, which they have done frequently over the years usually in defense of the Berkeley wing of the Siegel/Brazon faction. Arce reported: "KPFK News: We were not able to air the report tonight, we're very sorry. KPFK management is expected to make a decision in the next few days on whether or not we can air the report. Thank you".
All of the turmoil leading up the start of KPFK's fund drive probably contributed to the rocky start. As of 11pm on Thursday night, the station had raised $55,000 of a 2-day goal of $81,000. The station congratulated itself on social media, apparently expecting a much worse result. The posted picture of the fund drive room showed the GM herself, LSB secretary John Garry, the wife of LSB member Doug Barnett, and the station's volunteer receptionist answering phones. The daily average has been so far about the same as the daily average of KPFA's recently-completed fund drive, but is problematic for the LA station because it set its fundraising goal $210,000 higher. Also problematic for GM Radford is the highest grossing program of the fund drive (so far) Uprising with Sonali Kolhatkar, the program Radford just cut to two days a week.Uprising without Sonali suffered an 80% reduction in pledges the next day. Producer Christine Blosdale, generally acknowledged to be on Radford's list of most disliked employees, raised a third of Tuesdays entire proceeds in two hours with programs at noon and 5 o'clock bringing in a total of $8,000.
Radford told programmers they were expected to book $1500/hour in pledges regardless of the time of day. Many programs missed Radford's bar, which was said to expose programs to removal from the air, including: both 6am airings of Democracy Now ($430, $1080), 2/3 airings of Mitch Jeserich's Letters and Politics ($510, $100), the Feminist Magazine ($50), the Pacifica Evening News ($370, $0), Uprising without Sonali ($920), The Broadcast ($870), Digital Village ($800) and all seven Spanish language programs: Informativo Pacifico ($725, $190), Voces de Libertad ($425), Insurgencia Feminina ($100), Supplemento Communitario ($410), Contragolpe ($125), Encuentros ($25) and Centro America Sin Censura ($35).
Pacfica is facing what has been described as a large quantity of employee grievances filed with the SAG-AFTRA bargaining unit in Los Angeles over work hour reductions, failure to pay seniority pay, failure to pay employer pension contributions and failure to submit 6 months of union dues withheld from employee paychecks. A change.org petition detailing the union contract violations is accepting signatures here.
In Berkeley, a 17 day fund drive ended meeting the goal of $540,000. The $540,000 goal is the lowest fall fund drive goal KPFA has had in at least a decade by six figures and the net receipts from the drive will cover a mere 45 days of operating expenses at $275K-$300K a month. The station's budget plan for 2016 features five fund drives with goals in excess of $270,000, all approximately 60 days apart. The December "mini-drive" which begins exactly 59 days from today has a goal of $389,000. The proposed budget also calls for an unspecified $30,000 in "staff cuts" at KPFA early next year. The final membership numbers were released for the election yesterday at 16,304 and confirm that KPFA has lost 1,900 members since July of 2012, when the membership roster was at 18,200.
KPFA's new fund drive room "code of conduct" drew some exasperation on Facebook where former community advisory board member Judith Gips recounted coming in conflict with the happy talk policy when she asked what was going on at sister station KPFK:
Pacifica in Exile readers may write to the board at firstname.lastname@example.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.