Monday, May 18, 2015
An interesting moment from the May 26, 2015 PNB Finance Committee meeting. KPFT's Bill Crosier asks Pacifica CFO Raul Salvador important questions. The answers, if you can understand them, may offer a clue as to why Mr. Salvador abruptly reigned May 6. You may recall that he was dismissed by the PNB last year, when his interim status was about to run out, but rehired covertly when the Wilkinson regime crawled in. This exchange was extracted by Tracy Rosenberg, who wrote the following lead-in:
"As usual former PNB vice-chair Bill Crosier asks the right questions. The answers are baffling. The three primary areas: 1) Will restricted funds used to pay operating expenses be repaid? 2) Why did Pacifica take out a loan for $156K to pay back employment taxes 6 weeks after getting an unsolicited $150,000 donation? 3) Why does an accounts payable list only itemize 20% of the amount Pacifica owes?"
Thursday, May 7, 2015
May 7, 2015
For Immediate Release
Pacifica's CFO Resigns
Berkeley-Pacifica's chief financial officer Raul Salvador suddenly resigned on May 6, 2015 at 10:00am. The resignation is effective May 15th, four days after new Executive Director John Proffitt begins work on May 11th. Salvador's tenure at Pacifica was stormy, marked by the Board's decision not to move ahead with his permanent hire in January of 2014. The decision was reversed by the new incoming board a month later, leading to the departure of most of the national office accounting staff.
Since then, the fiscal 2013 audit took an astonishing 8+ months to complete, the fiscal 2014 audit has not begun, and Pacifica missed Corporation for Public Broadcasting filing deadlines in both 2014 and 2015 for public media funding. The California Attorney General launched a correspondence audit of Pacifica in December of 2014.
Pacifica's board has not announced Salvador's departure formally on their website or anywhere else, but are expected to mention it at this evening's Internet-streamed board meeting session.
Salvador's abrupt resignation comes a week after the board majority expelled former KPFK local board treasurer Kim Kaufman from their ranks, after Kaufman submitted documents independently to California's Attorney General and notified the board she had done so. Kaufmana was expelled for the alleged crime of supposedly releasing financial data Pacifica sent to California's Attorney General to former board members in response to the investigation. A petition objecting to her removal by a narrow 14-person vote on the 22-member board can be found here.
More inquiries into unauthorized purchases made on company credit cards have been launched.
Outgoing interim executive director and board chair Margy Wilkinson does not seem to be willing to let her successor, John Proffitt, a nonprofit radio manager for 28 years, make any decisons, making a last-minute crony hire of former Pacifica board member Leslie Radford as the new permanent general manager of LA station KPFK, less than 9 office hours before Proffitt begins work on Monday.
Radford has no apparent credentials for the KPFK general manager position. She teaches introductory community college classes and has no mangerial or media experience. Her public Linked In profile can be seen here. Radford is a member of the dominant Siegel-Brazon faction to which Wilkinson belongs. The incoming permanently hired executive director expected to interview the candidates and make the hire on his arrival in Berkeley, but has been pre-empted by interim Wilkinson's nepotism hire.
The network's five stations have begun their Spring on-air fund drives, which will run for most of May. Early results out of California are disappointing, with both KPFA and KPFK posting receipts at 75% of their daily goals, even after substantially reducing those goals from previously budgeted amounts. (KPFK's budgeted goal of $750,000 for the Spring fund drive was reduced to $612,000 and KPFA's budgeted goal of $733,000 for the Spring fund drive was reduced to $580,000). Results from Texas station KPFT, Washington station WPFW and NY station WBAI are not available yet.
A controversy has broken out at Berkeley's KPFA, where popular show Guns and Butter was reported on Facebook to have had programming related to California's childhood vaccination debate censored. The email appeal, which appears to have gotten around widely, says:
"Today Gary Null was scheduled to appear on Bonnie Faulkner’s program Guns and Butter over the Pacifica Network’s flagship station KPFA in Berkeley CA. He was scheduled for the full hour to speak on vaccine efficacy and safety and address issues concerning the California vaccine bills. The station censored her from doing the broadcast. The first time G&B been censored in 11 years. The program is syndicated and airs on other land stations around the nation, and is particularly popular in California. KPFA and other Pacifica stations pride themselves in being the last bastion of free-speech, commercial free broadcasting in the nation. However, it has become increasingly controlled by ideologues with political agendas trumping the public interests it claims to champion. Anyone who wishes to file complaints to KPFA management and express the station’s disservice to California residents may do so by sending a brief email to either the general manager Quincy McCoy email@example.com or better yet the station manager Laura Prives who was responsible for banning the broadcast firstname.lastname@example.org."
Guns and Butter frequently covers heated topics and has consistently posted some of the most robust fundraising totals on the Berkeley station's 1-3pm afternoon strip. The replacement show G&B aired on Wednesday raised $2,814 in the 1-2pm hour, the highest total in the 11am to 10am period of the 2 1/2 day fund drive so far.
Pacifica in Exile readers may write to the board at email@example.com.
Now we know why they haven't posted a picture of the new "studio"! They had a couple of years in which to create it, Reimers was said to have consulted an "architech designer", Chief Operations Manager Tony Ryan worked hard to build it, claiming to have spent his own money on it...
|Regression lives at 388 Atlantic Ave. Photo by Jim Freund (posted on FB)|
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
The following sobering piece by Stephen M. Brown addresses, among other issues, the racism that has escalated under Mario Murillo's tenure as iPD and is possibly giving WBAI the final push over the edge to oblivion. Originally published elsewhere, it is reproduced here with permission pending.
Dear WBAI Supporter –
I am perplexed and saddened that WBAI’s Program Director, Mario Murillo, has invited two people back on the air who had long ago been sent packing from WBAI in disgrace, and for good reason. When queried, Berthold Reimers, who as general manager has final authority over who and what gets on WBAI’s air, denied responsibility, claiming, “Gee, I’m only the general manager. What could I do?”
The first disgraced returnee is Don Rojas, who as a former General Manager helped inflame racial and ethnic antagonisms among staff and listeners. He resigned after protests over his incessant absences from the station, his failure to capably perform his job, and the mysterious disappearance of several of the station’s newly purchased Apple laptops, which -- it was discovered by examining shipping receipts -- had been surreptitiously “diverted” to his father-in-law’s address in New Jersey.
The second disgraced returnee is Bernard White, a former WBAI Program Director. After being caught and forced to confess that he gave thousands of dollars from a WBAI fundraiser to a friend, White was eventually dismissed for failure to capably perform his job, and for abetting hate speech and committing libel on the air. In response, he sued WBAI and Pacifica, claiming damages of $500,000 because – as he alleged – he had been fired for being Black.
Never mind that he had been fired by a female African American general manager, on the advice of an African American human resources director, with the consent of local and national boards that were at least 50% people of color. Or – even more telling -- that the person who replaced him was also African American.
Despite the fact that his claim could not even pass the laugh test, Mr White gambled that Pacifica would do what it always did when it was sued – i.e., settle for a quick $50- or $60,000 payment to avoid having to pay the $125,000 deductible for legal bills that was required by Pacifica’s insurance company before it would start picking up the tab. But White had gambled wrong. Pacifica’s then-Executive Director refused to play that game. She wouldn’t pay a dime to settle White’s fraudulent claim and went to court. The judge agreed that the claim was meritless and threw it out, writing a scathing decision that exposed White’s lawsuit for what it was – a cynical and blatantly dishonest attempt to scam the foundation for his own benefit. White vs Pacifica. Nevertheless, this fraudulent lawsuit cost WBAI and Pacifica hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs, which they could ill afford.
Both Rojas and White, after damaging WBAI and leaving in disgrace, have been brought back by Program Director Murillo – not because they will help WBAI – but because they are his buddies. Once again, cronyism has trumped competence at WBAI. Thanks, Mario. Thanks, Berthold. With friends like you, WBAI doesn’t need enemies. “Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose.”
Stephen M Brown
Saturday, May 2, 2015
I was preparing to applaud Kim Kaufman for blowing the whistle on the Pacifica Board's rogue majority when Tracy Rosenberg issued her latest Pacifica in Exile update. It says it all much better than I could, and it contains valuable links.
One of these captures how Ms. Kaufman handled the outrageous kangaroo court scenario that played out in public at this week's PNB meeting. We can't bring you the continuation of that, which took place in the executive session that followed, but we are told it was heated. Clearly, the rogue faction that pushed its way into the power lead is now running scared, so we who want to see Pacifica restored owe Kim Kaufman our thanks.
May 2, 2015
For Immediate Release
Pacifica's Shame: From Battling Witch Hunts To Embracing Them
Berkeley-Consistent with their long-standing pattern of retaliating against staff and board members who blow the whistle on financial malfeasance, the rogue board majority joined by KPFA's UCR representative Janet Kobren who cast the tiebreaking vote, kicked LA listener rep Kim Kaufman off the Pacifica National Board for the alleged crime of supposedly releasing financial data sent to California's Attorney General in response to the state's investigation of the radio network.
Things have changed at the 66 year old radio network since it gained national prominence in 1960 when KPFA programmer Bill Mandel declared "I want the lights on, precisely; I want the fullest glare of publicity on this committee's activities" and refused to cooperate with the HUAC 'kangaroo court'."
Now the board of the radio network that used him as an example of their bravery and iconoclasm for 55 years convenes their own secret kangaroo courts and ducks the glare of basic transparency.
You can sign a petition objecting to Pacifica's kangaroo courts and the expulsion of members for trying to figure out Pacifica's tangled finances here.
Kaufman, who requested copies of Pacifica's filing of 5 years of financial data, was accused of sharing the information with the board's treasurer from 2011-2013 and its board chair from 2011-2013. In full disclosure, the Pacifica in Exile editor is one of the parties mentioned as an alleged recipient. Kaufman, who had filed an individual complaint with the Attorney General after the investigation was launched, and notified her colleagues she had done so, should have been protected by California's whistleblower statute, which prevents retaliation against individuals for reporting concerns about financial mismanagement.
Kaufman said that financial data sent to the Attorney General for the period she sat on the board (Jan 2014 to Feb 2015) was inaccurate and contained significant omissions and suspected that was also the case for the 2010-2013 period when she was not on the national board. California Corporations Code specifically states the accounting books and records of a (501c3) public charity are not off-limits to any member of that organization.
6333. The accounting books and records and minutes of proceedings of the members and the board and committees of the board shall be open to inspection upon the written demand on the corporation of any member at any reasonable time, for a purpose reasonably related to such person's interests as a member.
Kaufman, whose longstanding statements that her home station KPFK was going off the rails financially were proven correct by the LA station's recent crisis, which was announced in April:""KPFK is faced with the possibility of having to shut down as it faces $300,000 in outstanding debt. Some of which would affect our ability to continue operations. We are going to be starting an emergency fund drive". The LA station will go into fund drive again in the next two weeks, attempting to raise another $750,000.
In it, she states "I whistleblew because I believe management was obstructing justice by not complying with the AG’s request for documents. I submitted readily available documents to the Attorney General’s office which they requested but management did not send. I had over 20 financial reports which had been disbursed to the PNB and elsewhere and were not sent to the AG".
Witch hunts of listener reps have been a staple shenanigan of the Siegel-Brazon faction for years when they needed additional votes, beginning with attempted recalls of NY LSB members Mitchel Cohen and Steve Brown in 2010, which were stopped by outside counsel, KPFA LSB member Tracy Rosenberg in 2011-2012, which was stopped by the Alameda Superior Court after the local Save KPFA faction racked up more than $35,000 in printing/postage and legal costs, and another attempt to recall Kaufman in October 2014 on a different set of allegations. All had failed until last night when the board dispensed with parliamentary procedure, attorneys and any semblance of order at all and simply retreated into secret session to brawl with no witnesses or evidence. Houston Board member George Reiter, a former chair, described the entire process as out of order and contrary to parliamentary rules. Kaufman was prevented from presenting witnesses despite her request to do so in the board's open session.
Kaufman's final statement in the board's open session before they went into secret sessioncan be listened to here.
Sign the petition to tell Pacifica's rogue board that a war on whistleblowers is a contrary to the core values of Pacifica Radio.
Kaufman's colleague on the board, NY listener representative Steve Brown, was also considering going down the whistle-blowing path after his requests for a list of Pacifica's accounts payables for the last two audited years were flouted, with both Pacifica's CFO and auditor declaring that such lists (which would itemize the amounts listed as $2.7 million at 9-30-2012 and $4 million at 9-30-2013) would not be made available. Brown's full public statement can be found here.
In it, he states "I ask you, Margy, what is the director of a California public corporation to do if -- after receiving numerous credible allegations of significant financial error (or significant financial misbehavior) in the management of the foundation’s funds – he is refused the documentation that will enable him to investigate those allegations in accord with his fiduciary responsibility? Indeed, when the very persons who refuse to provide this information are the same auditors, chair of the board, interim executive director, and chief financial officer who are supposed to make this information public, but instead, astonishingly, seem to be colluding in hiding it from the public?
Financial statements released to the board's national finance committee, which purported to provide information about current accounts payable, disclosed only $1.1 million in total debts, despite reports of $4.017 million in payables and $1.184 million in additional accrued liabilities at 9-30-3013. The national office divison, which the auditor claimed was $3.2 million dollars in debt 18 months ago, disclosed only $648,000 in debts. Public matters like the network's September 2014 assumption of a $165,000 loan from real estate magnate Aris Anagnos and multiple 2014 lootings of restricted funds which must be paid back, were omitted from the reports.
Former Board VP Bill Crosier, now volunteering as Texas station KPFT's local treasurer, was hushed up at Tuesday's finance committee meeting which adjourned rather than allowing Crosier to continue questioning Pacifica's CFO. At the meeting, the CFO disclosed Pacifica had still not filed 2013 financial data with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 11 days after the deadline for submission of 2014 financial data, and more than 10 months after the extended 2013 deadline expired. The missing audits have already cost the foundation $2.2 million dollars in public media funding and triggered a state investigation. 2014 audited financial statements are due to the Attorney General Registry of Charitable Trusts in 60 days.
In other news, Pacifica's long-delayed delegate elections finally received a tentative schedule. Unfortunately, the proposed schedule, which opens candidate nominations on June 15th, does not comport with California law by extending the gap between the date of record and the mailing of ballots beyond the 60-day legal limit. The entire board of directors will have outlasted their 3 year delegate terms by December. Half the board including self-appointed chair/IED Wilkinson have already overstayed their three year terms by more than a year. They are not permitted to extend their own terms without a vote of the members.
New ED John Proffitt begins work on May 11th. He's going to have his hands full. Proffitt's first major decision will be the appointment of a permanent general manager for troubled Los Angeles station KPFK, which has been in severe financial stress in 2015. He is expected to begin reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates for the KPFK general manager position directly on his arrival in Berkeley next week.
KPFK has been spending a substantial amount of money on promotion, putting bus ads and billboard around the Los Angeles metropolitan area, and has not yet been able to recoup the investment with dwindling fund drive returns. The station also engaged in an exensive experiment with the use of corporate call centers charging .90 cents a minute to process pledge calls during the fund drives instead of free station volunteers.
At New York's WBAI, old managers are reappearing as new programmers with fired PD Bernard White, whose racial discrimination case was thrown out of court after costing Pacifica $125,000, and resigned GM Don Rojas, who diverted WBAI-owned computers and equipment to his father's business in Teaneck, NJ claiming WBAI had donated the equipment to his own former for-profit organization, returned to the airwaves. The NYC station built a non-soundproofed broadcast studio in Brooklyn which just began operating after being evicted from its on-air studio at City College. The station still does not have a lease at the Brooklyn space and has been unable to extricate itself from a catastrophic tower lease at the Empire State Building where it is "accruing" $37K in unpaid rent every single month. The station remains $165,000 in debt to a board member's employer. This apppears to be the board majority's enactment of "organizational Darwinism", attorney Dan Siegel's expression for letting some stations in the network suffer in order to endow others with the proceeds from their sale or swap following financial crisis, a kind of disaster capitalism for radio.
In Berkeley, a crowdsourcing effort on the Indiegogo platform flopped, collecting 11% of the goal. The campaign, which gave no gifts to donors, focused on KPFA's needs for "paint, rugs and chairs" as well as elevator repairs and mold cleanup. The station, which recently benefited from deathbed bequests, would be showing a 2015 operating deficit without the gifts. KPFA lowered listener support goals for the April/May period by almost $200K, so it will rely on one-time gifts to meet ongoing operating expenses this spring. The station's next fund drive begins in three days.
Pacifica in Exile readers may write to the board at firstname.lastname@example.org.