Saturday, March 5, 2016

Pacifica in Exile Newsletter:March 5, 2016

Only One Faction Votes In New York
Berkeley-The Pacifica National Board, which met on March 3rd for the first time in a month after two consecutive disrupted meetings on January 28th and February 4th, doubled down on their disenfranchisement of WBAI-FM. The board again prevented 4 NY directors elected on January 26th from participating in the meeting and insisted on their authority to seat the last place finisher from the 2012 election in the NY local board's vacant seat, instead of the first runner-up from the recently completed election. The national board's interference has brought NY to a halt as the national board attempts to undo the 13-11 independent majority elected by the voters in order to deliver the Siegel/Brazon faction a 12-12 tie. 

In a particularly absurd twist, the national board spent more than half an hour elaborately constructing a rationale to give participation and voting rights to the 2015 Siegel/Brazon faction NY representative Cerene Roberts, while continuing to eliminate participation and voting rights for all of the 2015 and the 2016 WBAI representatives from the independent group that holds the majority on the WBAI local station board. 

New CFO Sam Agarwal contradicted earlier reports about the audit in process by saying only 70-80% of the auditor's information requests had been fulfilled to date, with the remainder (he called them "big-ticket items") expected to take several more weeks. Agarwal had previously stated the 2014 audit would be finished in the first week of March. He stated Pacifica owes $70,000 to Armanino for work completed to date and the full cost of the 2014 audit is expected to reach $150,000, more than twice the estimate and the most expensive financial audit in Pacifica's history. Statements by national board treasurer Brian Edwards-Tiekert that the 2014 audit would be a "snap" have proven not to be true. 

Pacifica needs to complete both the 2014 audit and the one for the year ending 9-30-2015 by June 30th for Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding eligibility and to comply with California's Nonprofit Integrity Act, which requires annual audits to be filed at the CA Attorney General Registry of Charitable Trusts by 9 months after the end of the fiscal year for organziations with revenues in excess of 2 million dollars.

KPFA staff rep Anthony Fest attempted to get KPFA's local station board (which has a Siegel/Brazon factional majority) to acknowledge that all of  WBAI's directors should be seated and granted voting rights, but his motion which said "the KPFA Local Station Board urges the PNB to take no votes and transact no business until Directors elected by the WBAI Delegates are seated" was abruptly tabled at the end of the Berkeley local board's February 27 meeting.

That meeting of the KPFA Local Station Board contained some amazing statements by the Berkeley wing of the Siegel/Brazon faction.

In a snippet well worth listening to, rookie Siegel/Brazon member William Campisi threw the solidarity thing way overboard by proposing that Pacifica stations whose central service payments are delayed should have their national voting rights stripped. Campisi then upped the ante by suggesting Pacifica should be forced into bankruptcy court, in the 9th Circuit Court where he is "known". Board member Jose-Luis Fuentes followed up by saying WPFW, WBAI and KPFK national directors are "eyeing" KPFA's fund drive for available money to "subsidize their standard of living".

A few days later, Pacifica CFO Sam Agarwal stated KPFA had not paid February central services contributions in full. KPFA's national directors did not strip themselves of national voting rights at the March board meeting due to their delinquency, per Campisi's rant. Agarwal was responding to a motion asking KPFA to repay $90,000 remaining from a $400,000 bequest to the Pacifica Foundation that KPFA kept in the spring of 2015.

Board chair Carole Travis, whose involvement in the establishment of the "KPFA Foundation" nonprofit with Margy Wilkinson and attorney Dan Siegel had not been previously disclosed, told a transparent lie. Travis, who took umbrage at critical statements about the secret corporation set to "catch" KPFA's license that was uncovered in July of 2015, said "we set it up without a discussion because we knew that your side had gone to the Attorney General's office". The "KPFA Foundation" incorporation papers were filed on September 24, 2013 (as the date stamp on the filed papers reveals). That is six months before ED Summer Reese was abruptly fired and six months before any complaint was filed with the CA Attorney General. Travis also stated twice the "KPFA Foundation" was "collapsed" and "dissolved". It isn't. It remains listed as active with the CA Secretary of State.

The KPFA local board also discussed the use of a 90% pledge fulfillment rate in KPFA's pending budget after internal reports for the 2014-2015 fiscal year revealed the actual fulfillment rate was 85%. The pledge fulfillment rate is the percentage of pledged dollars that actually come in during the 12-month period following the pledge date. The stations estimate the amount of money they expect to have if they meet their fund drive goals based on data about how much of the pledged amounts manifest in the following 12 month period. Discrepancies in the fulfillment rate can lead to cash flow shortages, which is probably the reason Whipperman reported in December of 2015 that KPFA had only $6,500 left in the bank after issuing payroll checks on December 15, 2015. 

In the board's discussion, Whipperman stated she was "comfortable" using a 90% rate despite internal reports documenting KPFA's 12-month fulfillment rate for the 2015 fiscal year was only 85%. A similar failure to use correct fulfillment rates to estimate revenue had dire consequences at LA’s KPFK, after the 2014 national finance committee and then the national board allowed a KPFK draft budget for 2015 to remain unchanged after internal reports documented the fulfillment rate used was 8% higher than the actual fulfillment rate. The station’s employees were involuntarily shifted to half-time pay for 4 months in September of 2015 as a result of a six-figure revenue shortfall created by the failure to correct the fulfillment rate in the FY2015 KPFK budget.

The controversial late night program change in LA which exiled the beloved overnight long-time overnight host Roy of Hollywood to the 3am hour took a toll on KPFK's fund drive, the first after the program change took effect. The aborted Something's Happening program took in over $22,000, while the replacement program Safe Harbor barely cleared $5,000 after 50+ hours of broadcasts. Listeners reported Safe Harbor more or less quit trying to fundraise towards the end of the drive, never mentioning the fund drive in progress for periods exceeding an hour.

Replacement program Safe Harbor has focused on the FCC's safe harbor rule by featuring curse words in the late night slot. The programs themselves are a disorganized compendium of rap and hip-hop music, call-in on air therapy, a sex-focused show, rebroadcasts of political programs like a 2013 tribute to Hugo Chavez, plays of old comedy albums from George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce and Dick Gregory, and some slam poetry. 

The show awkwardly dealt with the uproar about its replacement of the long-time successful overnight institution with a "tribute" to what they broadcast the day before the fund drive began. 

Safe Harbor: The Real Deal: Tribute to Roy of Hollywood (airs his voice without apparently his permission or participation).
KPFK local station board member Myla Reson videotaped the finance report from the KPFK local station board meeting, despite having temporary bookkeeper Bella De Soto attempt to knock the camera out of her hand at the public meeting. The videotape features some trenchant comments from Kim Kaufman, a former national board member and currently the chair of KPFK's finance committee about the proposed move for Pacifica to accept corporate underwriting. 

WBAI host and alternative health author Gary Null, filed a copyright infringement, piracy and premiums fraud lawsuit in the United States District Court, Eastern District of New York (federal court). The civil action #1:16-CV-241 was filed against the Pacifica Foundation and individually against WBAI general manager Berthold Reimers, former ED Lydia Brazon, former ED Margy Wilkinson, former ED John Profitt and former local station board chair Mitchel Cohen. The suit requests injunctive relief, statutory fines and says the behavior has been ongoing for at least a decade. The complaint can be read here.

WBAI/KPFK host/programmer Don DeBar appears determined to collapse any Pacifica defense with continuing outbursts on Facebook. After DeBar's comments were documented here last week, the group "blocked" or "made itself invisible" to the Pacifica in Exile editor, but since there are workarounds to such things, we can report that DeBar continues in the same vein, this time insisting that Null "should have" retroactively given permission for his copyrighted works to be duplicated and resold. DeBar is set straight by a following comment which observes that such behavior is against the law. 

(This should not be taken as an admission that Pacifica is actually pirating copyrighted materials without permission. De Bar is not an official spokesperson for Pacifica). 
Don DeBar 
Rather than prepare a licensing document authorizing the copying after the fact, Null sues.

If it is copyrighted you cannot copy it and resell it. You cannot go buy a copyrighted CD or DVD and make copies of them and sell them. It is the law.

Former WBAI program director Bob Hennelly addressed some of the lawsuit's subject in an email he wrote on February 4, 2014. 
Error Correction: Pacifica in Exile mistakenly attributed the direction of the wonderful documentary People's History of the United States to military operative Oliver North instead of trailblazing director Oliver Stone. Much apologies for that typo slipping through last week. 
If you value being kept up to speed on Pacifica Radio news via this newsletter, you can make a little contribution to keep Pacifica in Exile publishing. Donations are secure, but not tax-deductible. (Scroll down to the donation icon). 

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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