Sunday, November 22, 2015
And down came the spider... (Pacifica Radio in Exile newsletter)
I post this newsletter regularly FYI. Other than formatting and image, the content is unaltered. —CA
Berkeley-The Pacifica Foundation, 19 months into a coup by the Siegel/Brazon faction, is starting to project its internal demolition onto on-air operations. In the past two weeks, LA station KPFK's website has collapsed at least three times, once for 4 entire days and the station fell off terrestrial broadcast, the website at www.pacifica.org went dark, the website at www.kpfa.org went dark, WBAI-FM aired the Progressive Radio Network's internet stream having misplaced its own programs, and the LA archives failed, storing only 15 of the last 132 hours of programming since 6:00am on Monday November 16th.
The network's financial audit for the year ending 9-30-2014 remains un-started, 14 months after the end of the fiscal year and 5 months after audited financial statements were due to the Registry of Charitable Trusts at the CA Attorney General. As of November 18th, the network's national finance committee was told the following schedules had still not been provided by 4 of the 6 units in order to start the overdue audit:
WBAI: a) Prepaid Expenses; b) Premiums Inventory; c) Accrued Expenses; d) Accrued Rent; e) Tower Rent Expense; and f) Office Rent.
KPFA: a) Advances to Employees; b) Prepaid Expenses; c) Accrued Expenses Payables; and d) Accrued Vacation.
WPFW: a) Advances to Employees; b) Prepaid Expenses; c) Accrued Expenses Payables; and d) Accrued Vacation.
KPFK: a) Account reconciliations for Main Checking Account, Restricted Cash, KPFK Video Project, Programming and Saving Accounts b) Prepaid Expenses; c) Advances to Employees; and d) Accrued Expenses.
After the Pacifica National Board voted on October 29th in executive session that a $400,000 bequest to the Pacifica Foundation had been diverted to KPFA's bank account, the Berkeley wing of the Siegel/Brazon faction (Save KPFFA) took to the Internet, newspapers and social media. They went so far as to accuse national board member Janet Kobren of "costing KPFA $400,000" in a widely circulated anonymous hit piece. The piece characterized Kobren's request for documents that supported the claim the gift was a restricted donation as "dirty politics". Local station board member and KPFA staffer Frank Sterling strongly objected to the vicious hit piece here. ED Margy Wilkinson can be heard defending her actions (including a verbal slip-up) here.
Pacifica in Exile has made available a limited number of the 60+ pages of documentation available to board members. They demonstrate the will language and the check document mandate an unrestricted bequest to the Pacifica Foundation, and that KPFA's general manager signed estate documents instead of Pacifica's chief financial officer.
Another email exchange can be found here. In it, dated March 23rd, the CFO, 19 days after his initial attempt to find out the amount of the bequest, is still trying to find out the amount of the check, and is told by KPFA's business manager she had booked it as an accounts receivable to KPFA on February 12th. This is 6 weeks prior to the deposit of the check, 26 days prior to the issuance of the check which is dated March 10th, and 2 weeks prior to the sign off on the distribution by KPFA's general manager as an officer of Pacifica Foundation. It also makes clear the vast amount of time available to instruct the estate attorney in how to write out the payee name for a restricted donation to KPFA as "Pacifica Foundation for the benefit of KPFA" or "Pacifica Foundation doing business as KPFA". The estate attorney made the payment payable to the entity described in the will language exactly and precisely (Pacifica Foundation Radio) and KPFA staff added a "DBA KPFA" in pen to the name of the payee on the check to enable deposit.
At the time, the KPFA unit was experiencing serious cash flow difficulties and GM McCoy stated that payroll for April 2015 was "dicey".
In the local station board meeting held in Berkeley to discuss the decision about the bequest. Siegel/Brazonite Jose Luis Fuentes tried to frighten KPFA board members and any subscribers/staffers who may have been listening that "they" were going to sell of Pacifica's assets including the Berkeley property that houses KPFA and Pacifica's national office. The problem is that Fuentes himself, two days earlier, had been *insisting* that the national board pursue debt reorganization and the sale of assets. (The whole meeting, including the negative reaction to his proposal from board members in other signal areas, can be heard here).
So by *they*, Fuentes apparently meant *me*.
Fuentes' old boss Dan Siegel and ED Wilkinson set up a new California nonprofit foundation called the KPFA Foundation using Pacifica's 70 year old mission statement to re-house KPFA and Pacifica's assets under their sole control should the Pacifica Foundation file for bankruptcy or sell off assets.
In LA, Background Briefing host Ian Masters, one of the LA station's perennial money makers, declared his intent to take his program independent of KPFK. Masters says he has set up a nonprofit to support the program called the Full Disclosure Media Foundation and called current executive director Lydia Brazon and GM Leslie Radford, who was appointed by Margy Wilkinson, "incompetent ideologues". Masters says he needs to get away from KPFK "before it slides into bankruptcy". In 2013, KPFK had the highest listener support numbers in the five-station network at $2.775 million annually.
Masters mentioned "the deliberate and stated strategy of the "grassroots" faction to purge popular broadcasters off the air." (Grassroots KPFK is the LA wing of the Siegel/Brazon faction that took the board majority in 2014). His theory received evidentiary support from the last local station board meeting when Siegel/Brazonite Chuck Anderson characterized Masters, Uprising host Sonali Kolhatkar, and overnight institution Roy of Hollywood as racists, and suggested "unplugging them," in this snippet caught on Youtube.
In other LA news, GM Radford, who was appointed by Margy Wilkinson on her last day, announced yet another board crony appointment, setting up local station board member Doug Barnett as the "volunteer operations manager". Barnett's Linked in profile reveals no radio, media or operational experience and the only work experience listed is as a clerk for 28 years. The station's chief engineer flatly declared Barnett was "not qualified" for such a position.
As the biggest labor crisis in Pacifica for fifteen years edges towards arbitration, the Siegel/Brazon leadership is awkwardly attempting to get out from under the 20+ grievances filed against them since Margy Wilkinson appointed community college instructor and board crony Leslie Radford, the manager of the LA station. Unpaid pension deposits that were due June 30, 2014 for the fiscal year ending 9-30-2013 were suddenly mailed to LA SAG-AFTRA members a week ago. The checks, which are no longer tax-shielded for retirement, arrived with no explanation of what they were, no indication if or how much in taxes was taken out, and were sent to just the union employees although the station's non-union employees are also entitled to the payments per California law.
KPFK's bank account was reported to be at $134K on November 16th, 10 days after the end of a fund drive that booked $607K in pledges. External accounts payables were still in excess of $160,000 and about $350,000 was overdue in interdivisional network services payments that are 9 months in default.
The troubled board election process, which has seen duplicate ballots, insecure online voting codes and ballots that have still not come to many a month after being mailed, took another turn when it was announced LA's election supervisor had disappeared a month ago, apparently continuing to receive paychecks. The case of the missing election supervisor was kept concealed, with the disappearance unannounced in reports to the board on the state of the elections.
If you are a member and have not recieved a ballot, the replacement ballot form can be found here. Pacifica in Exile's candidate endorsements for all the signal areas across the country can be found here.
On November 8th, KPFA's satirical Twit Wit Radio once again hauled out the truth serum. You can listen here.
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.