Saturday, April 30, 2016

CUPPs of TROs for the PNB Rogues...

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If you prefer to download Mr. Brown's letter in PDF format, click here.

28 comments:

  1. Basically true, if maybe a bit biased, too.

    SDL

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    1. Is anybody wholly objective when it comes to Pacifica's Grimm Brothers governance? Will the little hoods be able to close that oven door after stuffing grandma Usta-be in? So many questions, so many fantasies, so much greed, so much venom...

      ...and in the end...

      So what?

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  2. Off topic, but what's happened to Ivan Hametz ? He (though not his show) has been off the air for a good number of weeks by now.

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    1. I honestly don't know why he has been absent for several shows, but I am inclined to think that Mr. Hametz either is ill or simply needs a rest. I'm sure he'll be back. The lady does an excellent job of hosting and, presumably, producing the three-hour program.

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  3. How much of this sound and fury about quorums and elections and "legitimacy" actually signifies anything? I have little doubt that what is described above actually happened more or less as described, but hasn't the other side of this conflict also played fast and loose with the rules, including an ED who sat in at Pacifica headquarters until a judge ruled that the board had a right to dismiss her? And what has any of this maneuvering within the fish tank got to do with the long term solvency of Pacifica? For example, Mr. Brown states that several members of the current board have expressed a desire to sell one or more stations, including his precious WBAI. Well, what of it? sure, it would be nice if someone had come up with a plan to turn the entire network around, but is that even feasible now? Didn't the previous board, which Brown approved, have a mandate to do so, and did not, and Pacifica only continued to sweat money? At this point, isn't selling at least one station the only way to prevent bankruptcy? Is not WBAI a yuuuuge (to channel Trump) liability? For that matter, isn't KPFK? Now, I also understand that WBAI's license is 2 years out of date. That makes it unsalable. Now, I'm no expert in communications law, but doesn't that mean that their frequency can be handed over to someone else, without compensating Pacifica? It certainly makes the license unsalable. Is anyone following up on this? But more to the point, why is selling a station looked upon as some kind of crime? Even if someone devised a viable recovery plan tomorrow, they would need a pile of cash to implement it, and it would take time to see the results. Why is everyone more concerned with the minutiae of micro-parliamentary maneuvering than with the big question? And while we're at it, why is a 5 station radio network saddled with a bylaws document that is more complicated than the US constitution?

    -- No One You Know --

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    1. You make valid points and raise valid questions.

      Selling one of the owned and operated five, if it can be done, is not a solution or move I oppose offhand, but having a station in NYC is important. Of course, WBAI's location is of no significance if it continues to be run like a trailer operation in Podunk; sad to say, the potential for making it even better than it was in the '60s and '70s has been there for a long time. Quite honestly, I think it is now too late to salvage WBAI and even Pacifica itself, so you are right when you suggest that the major obstacle comprises the lack of time and money.

      For Pacifica to get back into gear, there would have to be a complete renewal of attitude and goals—a change that only a new, dedicated shift could bring about.

      Pacifica and its stations are only of sporadic significance these days, and when any of the stations does something noteworthy (in a positive sense), you can bet that it cannot be traced back to local management or Lew Hill's vandalized Pacifica Foundation. Individuals given an opportunity to voice their vision, thoughts and insight are the real "Pacificans". There was a time when the stations attracted such people and encouraged them to speak up. Lew Hill's concept was in large measure designed to provide a platform for untethered expression, a forum from which sprang boundless, visionary ideas as well as meaningful looks at our past. It is not enough to be "different"—which is what WBAI's current occupiers keep telling us in their "only on WBAI" sales pitches—you have to be so in an inspired and innovative way.

      Today's WBAI serves only the egos of a few and the delusions of those who fail to recognize that.

      The minutiae of micro-parliamentary maneuvering—as you put it—is an important part of the "big question" for it really puts into focus that sometimes blurry picture of corruption, criminality and gainful naiveté.

      The bylaws document is, indeed, an obstacle to the operation of Pacifica and a hook upon which the self-serving can hang their mis-directed personal agendas.

      Finally—as I repeat myself—the long term solvency of Pacifica is of no importance if, as we see, it requires the sacrifice of the concept upon which it was founded.

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    2. 'indigopirate'Sunday, May 01, 2016

      I agree fully.

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    3. I disagree. There is no moral equivalence. The Siegel/Brazon crowd is running roughshod over Pacifica and violating their own rules. Its important to remember that. There is a difference between the likes of Cerene and Bob Young. Their opponents are trying to restore some semblance of order. It may indeed be too late to save Pacifica but I certainly do not begrudge attempts to stop the likes of Siegel and Brazon from pocketing the proceeds of a sale of the station that they ran down in the first place.

      Chris: Do you know who the directors Steve Brown says are illegally seated besides the bogus affiliate directors? I'm guessing he is talking about those who had their terms extended one year like Cerene.

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    4. I think you are guessing correctly, but the way these elections have been run, I suspect that others were seated despite the rules.

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    5. I don't much care about "moral equivalence," but operational equivalence. You claim that those you support are " trying to restore some semblance of order." Would your opponents not say, similarly, that their recapture of the board majority has "restor(ed) some semblance of order," whatever that phrase means to them or to you? Did not an ED approved by a board more to your liking refuse to quit, and sat in at Pacifica HQ, until a judge determined against her? Is not the current WBAI Station Manager, a member of the "faction" you support, not "illegally" occupying his post in spite of having been fired by the same Pacifica ED described in the last sentence? And did that same ED not postpone elections due to expense (a valid rationale), which allowed the next runner-ups in the previous election to take office when those friendly to her resigned, ironically leading to her dismissal? How is all that not "violating (your) own rules?" And, most importantly, did not your "faction" have a couple of years to come up with a viable plan to turn Pacifica around, and didn't do so? How does this make you OPERATIONALLY different from your opponents? As for Siegel and Brazon, why are you predictively accusing them of "pocketing the proceeds" of the sale of a station that has yet to occur? To your knowledge -- not dark suspicion -- KNOWLEDGE, have they illegally pocketed anything connected to Pacifica? Aren't you just trying to protect your "turf," either because of your employment &/or nostalgia? Fact: WBAI is a drain on Pacifica, as is KPFK and WPFW. Why is it a crime to sell these losing entities, apart from dark suspicions of theft, Amy Goodman, etc?

      Personally, I don't give a rat's ass what you guys (both factions, and all in between or outside) do. I'm just trying to cut past all the micro-parliamentary/micro-bureaucratic nonsense and figure out what a business operated by sane, logical people would do, and then figure out why nobody is doing it. I don't care which crew of silly rad-libs is currently not doing it, or doing it, or proposing to do it or not do it.

      -- No One You Know --

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    6. NOYK (No One You Know), its unfortunate we can't agree on moral equivalence. The Siegel/Brazon folks have misappropriated funds, rigged elections and illegally seated people as delegates and directors. I have many criticisms of the Indy folks and their allies but I believe they are sincere in wanting transparency and honesty in Pacifica operations. I am not an employee or otherwise linked to any faction. I only know what I have seen at WBAI meetings and what I have learned from others.
      As to your specific points, Summer Reese did not refuse to quit. She was illegally fired 3 months into a multi-year deal and she fought it for as long as possible and rightly so. Reimers is an incompetent GM by any metric you want to use. I don't believe he is with any faction. I don't agree with Reese's decision to unilaterally cancel the election but it didn't start with her. There have been difficulties making quorum going back to at least 2010. It was obscene to spend $200K to fund elections under these circumstances but she should have worked with the PNB instead of acting on her own. The Indy faction has presented multiple proposals to increase membership, fill premiums etc. which sets them apart from the JUC folks who just mindlessly support the status quo. That they failed to implement those measures is a valid criticism but does make them very different from the Siegel/Brazon folks. Finally, I am accusing the Siegel/Brazon folks of wanting to pocket the proceeds because they secretly created a foundation to capture the assets in the event of a bankruptcy. There have been any number of fundraisers where the stations get only a fraction of the money raised. If you're looking for a champion of the Indy slate, I am not your guy. I would like to see some grownups come in and fix this mess but it is simply not true to equate the two factions. It would be a shame to sell any stations especially after the actions of the Siegel/Brazon crowd but I would love to hear any proposals from you NOYK to get out of this mess and still stay true to the original Pacifica mission.

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    7. @NOYK

      With respect: I would argue that the only sane, rational, possibly possible, possibly possibly viable move remaining would be to seek the protection of the courts in order to evaluate the possibility and probability of success of radical reorganization under the Ch.11 protection of the courts, with an objective, competent, independent court-appointed outside trustee and possibly some form of conservatorship.

      Pacifica is literally and demonstrably a completely dysfunctional organization, also literally and demonstrably incapable and/or unwilling to carry out – or even attempt to carry out – its purpose as specified in its charter and/or mission statement(s).

      I see this as the only conceivable approach – I also very strongly suspect that at this point, under a realistic appraisal of present circumstances and any realistic attempt at projection of future possibilities, such an outside, objective, independent evaluation would conclude that the situation is simply not salvageable.

      I think that that’s been the case for quite some time.

      ~ ‘indigopirate’

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    8. I asked you if these two INDIVIDUALS had misappropriated funds, not if their "folks" had done so. I didn't ask if one or more of their supporters was a thief, I asked if you knew of anything that those two people specifically stole. *folks*

      Apparently, a judge did not agree with Ms. Reese as to the legality of the firing. Sitting in at the Pacifica HQ after being told "you're fired" certainly sounds like refusing to quit. Or would you prefer "refusing to be fired?" Take your pick -- it's the same thing.

      Reimers was a member of the WBAI LSB before he was GM. He was backed by ACE/indies. Why haven't you addressed my point about him staying on after Reese fired him?

      We agree about Reese’s bad decision to cancel the elections, and the obscene expense and the lack of membership interest. What is even more obscene is attempting to govern five radio stations with a structure that makes the United Nations look like a model of parsimony and efficiency. Virtually all the current players were in on that one.

      Operationally, it doesn't make the Indy’s that different, and they devised no coherent overall strategy to revive Pacifica or any station. Their plans were piecemeal efforts at putting out fires, not a purposeful strategy. Nonetheless, those efforts were commendable, if futile.

      "Finally, I am accusing the Siegel/Brazon folks of wanting to pocket the proceeds because they secretly created a foundation to capture the assets in the event of a bankruptcy."

      Firstly, how would this help them steal the proceeds from a station sale, if said station sale prevented a bankruptcy? Secondly, isn't it more likely that they were trying to shield their flagship asset, KPFA, from the possible collapse of Pacifica by creating something called the "KPFA Foundation?" Exactly what "proceeds" would possibly fall into their hands in that event? Presumably, someone had to sign the documents for the KPFA Foundation.

      "There have been any number of fundraisers where the stations get only a fraction of the money raised."

      By "money raised," do you mean pledged? Because money collected is always less than money pledged. Also, doesn't Pacifica Foundation get a cut of money raised by stations? Or does it all go to Pacifica HQ? Do you even know, and can you give specifics? So far, all you've told me is that Pacifica and it's member stations are inept.

      " I would like to see some grownups come in and fix this mess..."
      "It would be a shame to sell any stations especially after the actions of the Siegel/Brazon crowd but I would love to hear any proposals from you NOYK to get out of this mess and still stay true to the original Pacifica mission."

      Well, I hate to tell you this, but any grownup looking at the situation would tell you that it is too late to try to rebuild the membership base, since you have neither the money/time to wait for the long haul results. Therefore, the only sane thing to do is to sell one of your money losing assets, and the quicker the better. That will at least give you the money/time to then come up with a long term plan to save the remainder, and build for the future. The real shame would be to prevent this because your enemies proposed it - if it is not done, there will be no Pacifica Foundation left to revive the original mission. Any long term plan would have to include both programming improvements and advertising the stations' existence to attract a new audience: the old one is dying.

      --No One You Know--

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    9. The problem here is the naivete involved. The sale of a license is not to facilitate programming improvements, it is to fund ongoing existence WITHOUT making any, or not making any that don't involve purging perceived enemies. In other words, one station will be sold to allow the status quo to continue at the others for a while longer. What gives you the idea the sale of a station would induce programming improvements? The whole point of it is to avoid them.

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    10. Somebody did sign the KPFA Foundation documents. Here they are. http://www.mediafire.com/download/sat7c4jkb5z494w/KPFA_Foundation-Articles.pdf Pacifica's soon to be interim executive director and unofficial corporate counsel.

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    11. "The problem here is the naivete involved..."

      You have no idea what you are talking about. I never said that the sale of a license automatically improves programming, I said that it would give you the money/time to plan for the future. What you do with that money/time is up to you. What gives you the idea that you have the money or time right now to make long term improvements, INCLUDING advertising the existence of the remaining stations, without first selling off a money losing asset? The problem here is the inability to face reality.

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    12. I know exactly what I am talking about. The people currently in charge of Pacifica have no intention of improving anything. What they want is the money to continue things as they are at 3 or 4 of the stations. The problem is what it has always been, the sabotage and obstruction of anyone who tries to improve the programming, be they staff, board or management. To pretend it is money that prevents program improvements is the inability to face reality.

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    13. Other factors apply, but you've nailed it.

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    14. No, you have no idea what you are talking about. Programming improvements are only half of the job that needs doing: the other half involves letting the world know that Pacifica stations exist, without which programming improvements are so much wasted effort. In a word: ADVERTISING, which takes money. Is there some bone in a Pacificans head that causes them to not to understand that word, and causes them to immediately gibber about programming changes? Also, it takes time for either programming improvements &/or advertising to yield positive results, and during that time bills and salaries must be paid. No, programming changes &/or advertising are not automatic results of selling a station, but without doing so, for reasons stated above, your efforts are futile.

      --No One You Know--

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    15. Frank Lefever has long advocated that WBAI be promoted by any means necessary. He disagrees with me when I say that such efforts are likely to be futile as long as the station's schedule is filled with innocuous music and blather.

      What do you think you have accomplished if you succeed in persuading someone to tune in and they take your suggestion only to come across Brady insisting that reptilians and aura-snatching space creatures walk among us, or Kathy getting all pseudo spiritual with her psycho-babble, or Ron Daniels worshipping a dead old fraud who fabricated history, or.... you get the picture.

      It isn't easy to sell a malfunctioning product, even if you assure the prospective buyer that it's going to get better.

      When I took over as the station's manger, we were seriously in debt. I went on the air and explained what I found wrong with our offerings, told the listeners that there would be significant changes for the better, and urged them to stay tuned, listen carefully and see if the improved programming could inspire them to support us.

      I immediately ordered some changes so as to make it clear that I wasn't just whistling Dixie. The donations quickly increased. The next step was to buy a new transmitter, hook up to the Empire State antenna and change the annual price of admission from$12 to $15. I also had phones installed for on air communication with listeners and quite impromptu created the marathon (no premiums, no excessive interruption of regular programming, and a modest goal based upon our actual needs at that time. There was but one such fund drive a yer and the duration was determined by the listeners (i.e. we stopped on a dime as soon as the targeted amount was pledged, which was about 2 weeks). That didn't make us rich, but it kept us on the air, paid the 25 salaries and held the wolves at bay.

      In short: fix it before you try to sell it.

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    16. Eaxctly, Chris.

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    17. What I've been suggesting is to do both programming improvements and advertising more or less simultaneously: neither will work without the other - the current listenership is too small. Problem: lack of money, and money draining stations. That means that a station may need to be sold to get some money to implement such a program. Sure, you could sell a station and then mark time until you are in the same position again, but that is not inevitable. Maybe someone on one side of the factional divide could approach someone on the other side with the notion of devising such a program first, and then selling a station to pay for it. Or is the tendency to protect local turf greater than the tendency to promote the good of the foundation?

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    18. I'm afraid that the concept of promoting the good of the foundation is alien to the majority of this game's players. Of course the power hub is the PNB, but the LSBs and individual station managements share the blame. The moral principles and—for the lack of a better term—quality control that once characterized Pacifica and attracted an intelligent listener-sponsorship has been all but abandoned, surfacing only in a handful of programs and during dishonest marathon pitches.

      So, I would say that the slow but steady collapse of Pacifica is, indeed, the predictable result of personal ambitions and a compulsion to maintain imagined turf. A corrupt national board hires likeminded station managers and the ball is rolling. It can no longer be stopped or diverted. Over the years, the prevalent element of ignorance, ego-driven amateurism and irresponsibility has diminished the listenership in number as well as intelligence. At WBAI, armchair activists have compounded the station's derailment by, essentially, turning it into a soapbox for a small stagnant segment of the area's black population.

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    19. Truth be told, there are many ex-listeners who probably tune by WBAI now and then only to be reminded why they are ex-listeners. This is your first pool of new financial support, if they stay tuned to improved programming.

      Promoting WBAI's mostly shit programming is a waste of time and money. Even The Left Forum people don't want to hear it.

      SDL

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    20. The formerly faithful tend to be pragmatists. Unless their naïvité merits a Guinness entry, they harbor no hope of the situation becoming conducive to a return to Pacifica ideology.

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  4. "That they failed to implement those measures is a valid criticism but does make them very different from the Siegel/Brazon folks."

    From the viewpoint (earpoint?) of a listener? How do you figure that? What's the diference between talking change and not delivering any, and just plain supporting the status quo?

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    1. Why, all the difference in the world! It's the difference between merely sitting on your hands, and being actively opposed to getting off your ass and moving your hands! Why do you critics lack the subtlety to comprehend this!?

      The ACE/Indy crowd could teach even the Democratic Party a thing or two about passive aggressive excuse making.

      --No One You Know--

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  5. For awhile now, I thought that the denouement would come when one creditor filed a claim in court for payment. Pacifica would then have to seek bankruptcy protection to prevent the seizure of its assets by that creditor. Then it's all up to the judge. If the judge decides that the creditors' best interests are served by liquidation, it's goodnight nurse. If some restructuring would allow Pacifica to pay off a greater proportion of its debts than liquidation, then the judge might force that to happen.

    I keep waiting on a creditor to pull the trigger on all this -- there have been so many: Verizon, CCNY, the Commons, Empire State Building, various union pension and health care accounts, Amy Goodman. But no one makes that initial court filing for payment that would force the PNB to seek bankruptcy protection.

    I wonder why? Do all these creditors see a better chance of repayment by letting things go on as they are? I cannot believe that anyone fears the political backlash, which would be what exactly -- a dozen or so angry old people yelling on the sidewalk in front of their offices?

    I guess another possible ending is running out of cash to meet payroll. But you can run a (shitty) radio station on all-volunteer labor. WBAI proves that. Except for the Empire State Building transmitter, you could lower costs to close to zero -- pay rent to the Commons, replace Berthold with an unpaid volunteer. If the ESB never sues for payment, WBAI could go on forever. And thus serve as a model for all Pacifica.

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