Saturday, November 14, 2015
As the curtain drops: Pacifica in Exile newsletter - Nov. 2015
Here is the latest Pacifica in Exile newsletter with its perspective on the current WBAI mega-crisis. It is liberally sprayed with links and I am glad to see that it takes to task a hanger-on, Fred Nguyen, whose sophistry periodically pops up in the form of racist, anti-semitic amateur "journalism".
Bankruptcy Is A Beginning
Berkeley-The Pacifica National Board had an informal "strategic planning" meeting Thursday night. In the hour-long meeting, KPFA director Jose-Luis Fuentes pushes for the Pacifica Foundation to move into voluntary bankruptcy, which is described as "a beginning" by PNB director George Reiter. The board indicates they wish to consult with their FCC attorney John Crigler about filing for reorganization, although Crigler is an FCC and copyright attorney, not a bankruptcy attorney. Options on the table are described as a sale of Berkeley's national office building or a lease, sale or swap of WBAI's broadcasting license. PNB members Adriana Casenave and Tony Norman insist the board's discussions about selling real estate, leases, swaps or sales of broadcasting licenses or "debt reorganization" be held in executive session where the network's members cannot hear them, and discuss how these decisions are "political". The full meeting audio is here, a seven minute clip is here. Fuentes seems to be taking instructions from KPFA radio host Brian Edwards-Tiekert as he indicates at about 49 minutes into the meeting by saying "what more professional advice do you need than that of the chair of the finance committee?" Fuentes also says the board never authorized WBAI to move their broadcast tower from the Empire State Building (monthly rent $50,000) to 4 Times Square (monthly rent $14,000) which the board scolds him for divulging on a public stream.
The last time the board of directors considered a lease for WBAI operations, lead bidders considering taking on the project included WFMU's Ken Freedman who recently pioneered the Audio Engine project, and former Pacifica ED Dan Coughlin, who was just sued by Nuyurican poet Jesus Papleto Menendez and Paper Tiger Television co-founder Dee Dee Halleck for violations of First Amendment rights and operating a non-transparent publicly-funded facility.
Ironically, at about the same time national board member Fuentes is telling the board "where are you going to get enough money?", Fred Nguyen who describes himself as the co-founder of the Justice and Unity Caucus, the NY wing of the Siegel/Brazon faction, is rantingabout the "Zionist" and "corporatist" foundations that fund grassroots and progressive media. Nguyen names the Bay Area's Zero Divide and the national Media Democracy Fund, funder to many, if not most, grassroots media organizations around the nation including: Prometheus Radio Project in Philly, the Center for Media Justice in Oakland, and national advocate Free Press as "Zionists". Nguyen's rants, which can be seen below, indicate the extent of Pacifica's alienation from almost every possible source of funding for progressive and alternative media after the Siegel/Brazon coup, a big problem after the faction blew enough audit deadlines to lose Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding eligibility for the foreseeable future.
Fred Nguyen You can go on and check all these "foundations", most of which are funded by corporates and liberals, with plenty of Zionist money. The fact that X is paid by a 501c3 which is the way corporate and liberal foundations spread capitalist influence under the disguise of charity and education is properly disgusting. Here is another funder The Media and Democracy Fund: Take a look at the list of usual suspects:
The problem, apart from Nguyen's hypocrisy which fails to take into account that factional colleague Lydia Brazon's nonprofit, the Humanitarian Law Center, was heavily funded by the Open Society Institute of George Soros, is that Pacifica Foundation is desperately in need of support from the progressive media funding sector, which is probably one of the few philanthropic possibilities for the debt-burdened network.
Nguyen then tilts over into straight-up anti-Semitism, finishing his rant on behalf of the Siegel/Brazon faction with "There is a large Jewish bourgeoisie in the US. On average, a Jewish family is 46% wealthier than the average American family", a mis-stating of statistics contained in a 2008 Pew study.
The disarray at the managerial level, where the network lacks any paid national executive staff at all, manifested on the Internet when two of the network's five divisions crashed out their websites this week. Kpfa.org went down for a few hours with a "switch problem" and kpfk.org vanished from the Internet Wednesday night at the stroke of midnight after GM Leslie Radford forgot to pay the server bill. The KPFK website remained down as of 10pm on Friday evening.
The KPFK website crash, the more serious of the two, incited rage in Radford's chief assistant/mentor/roommate Adam Rice, who took to the Internet to blame "psych-ops" for Radford's failure to pay the server bill. The station laid off its web director of more than a decade in August, the only layoff of a full-time employee imposed by Radford, who said she would take over the website job herself. In response to a question about when the website would be restored, Rice said:
"Good question. Most likely when you and your vicious pack of reactionary obstructionists realize that we are all aging out and you can't take it to the grave with you and that Pacifica is the birthright of the youth, especially the ones repeatedly characterized as "Skid Row gutter rats". When a true intergenerational, intercultural and interracial dialogue is developed and maintained, in line with the Pacifica mission, not to serve the Democratic party or the Church of Scientology, but to serve the people. So when you and your psych-ops pushing clique are driven back into obscurity. In other words, soon".
Soon has not yet come as the website remains down, and Rice's contributions to intercultural and interracial dialogue, which included calling Uprising host Sonali Kolhatkar a "dumb bitch" and threatening a female volunteer with "armed self-defense" probably haven't sped things up any. In the meantime, a fourth producer/host Melting Pot's Michael Barnes joined the exodus out of the LA station, saying off-air that "he was done with the place and how badly it was being managed". Barnes joins Global Village hosts Derek Rath, Betto Arcos and Yatrika Shah-Rais in departing in the wake of Radford's hire by former IED Margy Wilkinson, who was asked in writing by incoming ED John Proffitt not to proceed with the Radford hire before he got there. Wilkinson spurned his request and completed the hire of her board crony before Proffitt arrived from Texas. He quit five months later.
In Berkeley, SEIU lawyer Sheila Sexton used a Pacifica Facebook page to saber-rattle at KPFA's Flashpoints for an "anti-union segment" interviewing journalist Arun Gupta, a founding editor for the Indypendent and Occupy Wall Street Journal and frequent contributor to the Nation, The Progressive and the UK Guardian, as well as Uprising. Gupta was mildly critical of the SEIU's Fight for $15 campaign, but after Sexton excitedly posted about "Dennis Bernstein's anti-union segment", former IED and Save KPFA-affiliated board member Margy Wilkinson encouraged her to file a complaint about the program, and another Save KPFA supporter jumped in to advocate for getting rid of Bernstein altogether saying "I think Dennis Bernstein needs to move on, he’s used up his good will at KPFA". After the full interview was publicly posted, the three reversed their positions saying they had "over-reacted". Pacifica in Exile commented about the episode: The exchange on Facebook reveals a poor understanding of current progressive discourse, intolerance for dissent, the instinct to censor prominent national journalists, and a reflex reaction to punish the Flashpoints program, even going so far as to say it should be eliminated on editorial grounds.
On Saturday, KPFA's local station board will finally get a look (albeit in closed session) at the 60 pages of secret documents that caused the national board to vote on October 29th that KPFA should refund a $400,000 bequest to the Pacifica Foundation that was deposited directly into KPFA's account as a restricted donation for the exclusive use of the Berkeley station. If Wilkinson can be taken at her word that "Pacifica’s management (herself) communicated with the estate", then it is strange the estate failed to issue a letter stating the donation was restricted for the Berkeley station.. If Pacifica management was unable to obtain a letter from the estate indicating the donation was restricted for KPFA's use, then the donation was not "unspecified" nor "ambiguous". It was quite specifically and unambiguously an unrestricted donation to the Pacifica Foundation. The Pacifica National Board has indicated no intention so far to release all or a part of the documentation publicly or to allow national or local board members to do so.
The board voted 11-5 that the bequest had been redirected incorrectly to KPFA's exclusive use.
Wilkinson secretly set up a duplicate nonprofit foundation with attorney Dan Siegel in California using Pacifica's mission statement to acquire Pacifica's broadcasting licenses under her sole control "should Pacifica go bankrupt".
Slowly the network's ballots, sent by bulk mail, are starting to arrive at member residences. Pacifica in Exile's national endorsements for local station board seats at all four stations having elections can be found here. Berkeley members can access audio from this week's candidate debates 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.