Sunday, May 1, 2016
Pacifica in Exile's May Day message...
LEGAL BILLS FOR PROCEDURAL QUIBBLES
Berkeley-In bicoastal court appearances this week, Pacifica relied on procedural feints to further delay hearings on two requests for injunctive relief filed against them by their own members. In Northern California, Yeakey vs. Pacifica requests the removal of 7 national board members whose elected terms expired in December of 2015 and who were not re-elected, and the removal of two Pacifica affiliate representatives who are not affiliated with current Pacifica affiliated stations. The complaint can be seen here. In New York, Young vs Pacifica requests the seating of national board representatives from WBAI-FM who have been prevented from voting or participating on the national board for four months by the Siegel/Brazon majority faction. The East Coast complaint can be seen here.
In California on April 26th, Siegel and Yee attorney Alan Yee appeared for Pacifica and LA attorney Jerry Manpearl for plaintiffs Lamont Yeakey and Chandra Hauptman. Pacifica has requested the two members post a $50,000 bond, but as Manpearl pointed out, no such bond is required for an elections-based lawsuit by members. The next hearing has been set for May 5th at 2:30pm in Department 16 of Alameda Superior Court in the Administration Building at 1221 Oak Street.
In New York on April 29th, Jesse Siegel, a New York criminal defense attorney and unofficial corporate counsel Dan Siegel's brother, appeared for Pacifica and also angled for delays, including questioning the location of the case in New York. Previous election-related cases at WBAI have been decided in New York, including the 2007-2008 Cohen vs. Pacifica case, which Pacifica lost after running up tens of thousands in legal bills on similiar procedural delays. Attorney Gary Carlton represented plaintiffs Bob Young and Stephen Brown. The next hearing has been set for May 13th in Kings County Supreme Court at 360 Adams Street in Brooklyn, NY.
The Siegel and Yee procedural filings are running up Pacifica's costs by generating multiple hearings and more paperwork while avoiding substantive discussion on the merits of the complaints. The Pacifica National Board has not met in closed session with their attorneys even once and have not authorized or been apprised of what is being filed in their name or the costs they are generating for the foundation with procedural objections. Independent board members Grace Aaron, Jan Goodman, Bill Crosier and Jonathan Alexander have been persistent in their requests to the board majority to resolve the lawsuits by ending bylaws violations and not squander foundation resources fighting the lawsuits which request no damages or restitution from Pacifica besides correcting the board of directors roster so it has WBAI representation and all directors are elected.
If you would like to support either or both of the requests for injunctive relief from Pacifica members, you can visit the Clean Up Pacifica Project for more information.
At Wednesday's national board coordinating committee meeting, board officers commanded a "special order of business" to correct the national office budget that didn't allocate a penny for an election supervisor salary in 2016. They described the error as an omission that needed to be urgently corrected due to the Yeakey vs. Pacifica lawsuit. They did not address multiple notifications received by both the national finance committee and the national board itself that the salary allocation was missing, including one sent days before the national board vote. Pacifica still has no agency budget for the year, having only prepared divisional budgets for the California and Texas stations and none for the East Coast stations they are planning to restructure, sell or shut down.
A timeline of the now two year old coup by the Siegel/Brazon faction can be seen here. Op-Ed News published a "Civil Liberty Alert" on Pacifica Radio's plight by freelance writer John Ervin.
An income statement was released for the period ending 3-31-2016, halfway through the 2016 fiscal year which ends on September 30. As expected, Pacifica began the annual slide into negative numbers as the more lucrative fundraising period runs from September to February in the first part of the fiscal year. All of the Pacifica stations showed an operating deficit for the year to date but LA station KPFK. It's likely the six figure LA surplus is more the product of poor accounting than of an actual operating surplus, given GM Radford's appeal to the national board for permission to solicit an $80,000 loan to purchase and send out back ordered premium gifts to subscribers. KPFK management also requested permission to kick over April network service payments into May due to lack of funds to pay them, and the station recently announced plans to spend no less than half of the 120 days between May 1 and August 30 in 24 hour on-air fund drive. You can view the income statement here (formatting slightly modified from the original to ease readibility).
KPFK attempted to kick off their period of too much fundraising with an email appeal for donations, but the solicitation sent on April 29th, which you can see a copy of here, contained nine different broken links referring back to the screwed up KPFK website, all of which returned page not found errors, including the yellow "donate" button, the solicitations for used car donations and used cell phone donations and the quick links to "listen live", the program calender, the program guide, the membership benefits card and a "more about us" page.
Some LA listeners also expressed frustration when KPFK's controversial volunteer coordinator Adam Rice abruptly knocked award-winning Sri-Lankan author Nayomi Munaweera's interview with Mitch Jeserich on Letters and Politics off the air, wiping out Munaweera in mid-sentence in order to announce the arrest of three protestors at the LA Police Commission that morning. The awkward interruption at 10:52am could have been delayed for five minutes to 10:57am in the interval between programs much more smoothly. Rice is not affiliated with KPFK's news department and the station's news reporters did not participate in the "breaking news alert".
Also in LA, KPFK lost a fundraising program with Ralph's Markets, which allowed members of the station to donate a percentage of their grocery purchases to KPFK. Ralph's (a division of Kroger) ordered the station to end the program and remove all references to Ralph's from the KPFK website in response to charges of anti-semitism from a hard right Zionist group Join The Boycott. GM Radford wrote a long essay on how the Ralph's withdrawal was caused by the station being people-of-color-led and community-based, but apparently didn't look at the JTB group's other targets, which have been fairly mainstream including the Los Angeles Times newspaper, Yahoo, Orange Telecom, Lush Cosmetics, the New York Times, and the California State University at Northridge (CSUN).
Pacifica appears to have responded to information that fingerprint checks for job candidates not working with children, the elderly or disabled, aren't permitted in California and removed "fingerprint clearance" from the job announcement for a bookkeeper at LA's KPFK. They haven't yet resolved whether the bookeeping job is a full-time or part-time position, describing it under "status" as a regular part-time position and under "definition" as a full-time exempt position in the posted job announcement for prospective candidates to try to decode.
WBAI's operations manager reported that Verizon's Fraud Control Center shut off the NY station's long distance service for a while in response to a call made to the African country of Sierra Leone at 2:45am on Saturday April 23rd. The program on at the time, "Labbrish", conducted a live on-air interview from Sierrra Leone seemingly over the landline telephone. The interview was with Abdulai Bayraytay, a spokesperson for Sierra Leone president Ernest Bai Koroma and can be listened to on WBAI's archives, (it begins at 48 minutes after the hour). Communications with WBAI staff regarding logistics and economical alternatives like Skype, seem not to have occurred.
Whoever filed a mystery lawsuit at WPFW, it was not the previous election supervisor, who has now confirmed twice, once in writing and once verbally, that he did not file a lawsuit, threaten to file a lawsuit or provoke any sort of FCC, CPB or DOJ investigation, despite local station board member Eric Ramey's email of April 21st saying "I I was informed earlier the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is investigating. In addition the justice department will investigate to determine if any FCC violations have occurred. Accordingly I will invoke the 5th and remain silent". Ramey raised the issue himself at a national elections committee call in April that was Internet-streamed, (you can hear his audio report here), and appears to be invoking the 5th Amendment self-referentially to his own comments. His partial revelation of we're-not-sure-what provoked WPFW PNB member Nancy Sorden to request that he check in with her first before speaking up at streamed meetings.
KPFA's local station board is planning a closed day-long retreat on May 22nd with an unknown agenda and facilitator. It is not known how many board members will attend the retreat, which will not include voting in order to avoid violating Corporation for Public Broadcasting's open meeting requirements. The planned retreat does violate Article 6, Section 7 of the Pacifica Bylaws which specifies that all local board meetings must be open to both members and the general public except those that are closed due to predominant focus on specific matters named as personnel, proprietary trade secrets, negotiations regarding purchases or contracts or advice from a legal counsel. There are no provisions in the Pacifica bylaws allowing closed local board retreats.
The northern and southern wings of the Siegel/Brazon majority faction appear to be butting heads about the spanish language programming mandate passed by the Pacifica National Board in June of 2015. Although KPFA's entire national board delegation including Save KPFA reps Margy Wilkinson, Brian Edwards-Tiekert and Jose Luis Fuentes voted for the addition of 5 hours in spanish between 6am and 6pm to all the station grids, local colleague Mark Hernandez charaterized the decision on Facebook as "The PNB was strong-armed in LA by a parade of spanish language promoters". Save KPFA supporter Richard Wolinsky, an unpaid staffer, added "It is my understanding that the spanish language programming mandate is not being enforced". You can see their comments here. The comments indicate the cynicism inherent in voting for something while intending not to enforce it and is reminiscent of the contents of the Margy Wilkinson notebook found in 2015, which divided board colleagues into a list of "us", "them" and "workables" and speculated on how to manipulate the "workables" on the list.
The Berkeley wing of the Siegel/Brazon faction now known as Save KPFA stole the name "Save KPFA" from the 1990's independent listener group that went by that name, changing from a former name of "Concerned Listeners". You can read a statement about the name theft here from the steering committee of that 1990's group, which strongly objected.
This publication's home on the Internet (www.pacificainexile.org) is starting a Resources page to provide easy one-click access to frequently searched-for and downloaded documents and files. It's still in the beginning phases, but about two dozen documents are now available, with more to come. If you have any requests for materials you'd like to see there or for posting, send to email@example.com so we can develop the most useful page possible for those "looking for that thing" moments.
However "organizational darwinism" works out, it is looking like one ugly process. To remind you to keep laughing and keep fighting for a Pacifica Radio that can not only heal itself but also help to heal the world, take 30 minutes to enjoy this Twit Wit radio satire from way back in March of 2014 when Pacifica's national office was occupied in an effort to keep the network from being dismantled.