Sunday, May 8, 2016

PRE Newsletter - May 7, 2016



Berkeley-At Thursday's national board meeting, the majority spent most of the meeting passing a resolution instructing station management to "run their operations more productively" by such actions as calling credit card donors whose credit cards don't go through and encouraging past donors to renew. Houston listener rep Bill Crosier attempted to amend the resolution to also address the content being broadcast. He proposed rolling back program changes in the last 12 months that generated less net fund drive revenue than the pre-change content. But the majority revolted and offered rationalizations for failing to address what is actually being broadcast on the stations as subscriber numbers continue to decline. Crosier's amendment, a restating of founder Lewis Hill's theory of listener-sponsored radio said "reverse any programming changes made in the last twelve months that resulted in a decrease in listener support, and to put programs with a track record of good listener support into time slots which typically have more radio listeners and/or to give those programs more time in the schedule, and to implement this by the June 2 PNB meeting". 

Hill's essay on the theory of listener-sponsored radio can be read here.  Among other observations: "Certainly when we develop the idea of broadcasting to this point, the listener is the only one discernible who has a real stake in the outcome.  It must have occurred to you that such a principle could easily revert to the fabled ivory tower.  Some self-determining group of broadcasters might find that no one, not the least minority of the minority audiences, gave a hang for their product. What then?  Then, you will say, there would be no radio station—or not for long—and the various individualists involved could go scratch for a living.  But it is the reverse possibility that explains what is most important about listener sponsorship.  We make a considerable step forward, it seems to me, when we use a system of broadcasting which promises that the mediocre will not survive.  But the significance of what does survive increases in ways of the profoundest import to our times when it proceeds from voluntary action.  Anyone can listen to a listener-sponsored station.  Anyone can understand the rationale of listener sponsorship—that unless the station is supported by those who value it, no one can listen to it including those who value it.  But beyond this, actually sending in the subscription, which one does not have to send in unless one particularly wants to, implies the kind of cultural engagement that is surely indispensable for the sake of the whole culture".

Listener support donations at the five stations plummeted in 2015 by 16%, a loss of $1.6 million dollars in a single year, after hovering at the $10 million mark for the previous five years. This sudden drop in listener support was in addition to the failure to collect Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant funds now totaling over two million dollars due to late financial audits from 2014-2016. Brian Edwards-Tiekert of KPFA moved to strike the language supporting listener-sponsorship in favor of management-driven program choices.

The board's only other action on May 5th was to retroactively add $15,000 in salary for a national election supervisor to conduct the 2016 election which had been left out of the partial budget. The correction was made, as stated, "because of" the Yeakey vs. Pacifica lawsuit. The partial budget, which remains unofficial because no budgets were ever done for the two East Coast stations, had been sitting for months at the national finance committee and then at the full board. None of the 25 pairs of eyes noticed there was no allocation to pay for the election administrator. No one has been hired to do the job. June 1st (23 days from now) is the bylaws-deadline to open nominations. The national board is not scheduled to meet again until June 2nd. 

On May 5th, Yeakey vs Pacifica, which seeks to remove 7 national board members whose elected terms expired in December 2015 and 2 affiliate representatives whose stations are not currently affiliated with Pacifica, was held over for a trial beginning on July 6th. The continuation is caused by Siegel and Yee, Pacifica's unofficial corporate counsel, who characterized the request for injunctive relief as a shareholders derivative suit, a much more complicated legal process used to remove board members for negligent behavior and recover financial damages from them. Yeakey vs Pacifica asks for no financial damages. Pacifica's law firm is demanding a $50,000 bond be put up by the two listener-member plaintiffs in order to have their request heard. The complaint can be seen here. The actions of Siegel and Yee may quadruple or quintuple Pacifica's legal costs by pushing forward to a trial and may result in the board members squatting on expired terms "charging" Pacifica several thousand dollars each to hang on to their board seats for a few more months. Pacifica will be back in court on the East Coast on May 20th to address the action that seeks to seat representatives from NY's WBAI on the national board which has kept them off since the beginning of the year while trying to undo the independent majority on NY's local board. The East Coast complaint can be seen here.

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 seek to correct 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 from Pacifica members, you can visit the Clean Up Pacifica Project for more information.

A timeline of the now two year old coup by the Siegel/Brazon faction can be seen here.

The latest report back on the FY 2014 audit, still not finished despite being on the "cusp of completion" for the last three months, can be found here. The 10 minute report from Pacifica's May 3rd audit committee meeting contains status updates from auditor Armanino and CFO Agarwal read out loud. The long and short of it is that Pacifica owes $75K on 2014 audit work to date and there are still outstanding items that have not been verified.  There is no agreement in place with the Empire State Building and will not be until the completion of the 2014 audit (despite a year and a half of reported secret negotiations). The CFO says the accounting records are in "no state" to begin a 2015 financial audit.

The inability to get caught up on the back audits, which began running literally a year behind schedule after the Siegel/Brazon coup in March of 2014,  is preventing any effort to update the ineffective accounting system, which among other problems, uses an awkward mixture of cash and accrual accounting and does not reconcile records kept in the donation database Memsys with general ledger records in the Microsoft Dynamics/Great Plains accounting software.

As everything old is new again, this list of financial transparency resolutions passed by the Pacifica National Board in December of 2004, 11 and a half years ago and never enforced, reveal the long-term duration of the financial reporting problems. On review of the document, a former board treasurer commented wearily: "I actually got at least three of these items re-passed during my years, completely unaware they were already standing ignored policy".

The half-suppressed revelation about mystery lawsuits at DC's WPFW by local board member Eric Ramey began to come into focus after the written report from DC's last election supervisor came out. In it, David Levine notes that he resigned from his position on September 18th, 2015 because he was not paid by WPFW or Pacifica at all after beginning work on July 1st. Levine's resignation for non-payment was not disclosed publicly or to the board of directors, which canceled DC's election three weeks later on October 6. Levine's report can be seen here. In it he says:

"I resigned from my position as WPFW Local Election Supervisor on September 18, 2015, after working without pay from July 1-September 18. My contract with Pacifica stated that I would be paid bi-monthly for my work, and I reluctantly resigned after failing to receive any compensation for my work, despite repeated requests seeking pay". 

At Texas station KPFT, the local station board has come to a halt due to a rescinded resignation attempt by a delegate elected in 2012 to a three year term that is holding over into 2016. Maria Elena Castellanos resigned from the local board in March and tried to "take it back" three weeks later in April. The Houston local board canceled its April meeting twice and is next scheduled to meet on May 11th. The practice of trying to reverse a resignation is discouraged by Pacifica's bylaws which indicate resignations are effective "on their occurrence" and not up for re-evaluation at a later date. As with the other seating snafus throughout the network, the effort is being exerted against an independent candidate trying to occupy a seat they were elected to in the 2015 election.

The website Truthdig.com featured a video that sheds some light on the muddled situation with the former Uprising program launched by Pacifica back in 2002, now rebranded as Rising Up. KPFK manager Leslie Radford broke up the daily public affairs hour in 2015, following instructions from Adam Rice. The video illustrates an at-home production studio built by host Sonali Kolhatkar with a grant collected outside of Pacifica Radio. $62,000 proceeds from an Indiegogo campaign for the program were redirected by Margy Wilkinson for operating expenses in 2014. GM Radford broke the program's contract with Free Speech TV in 2015. The current status quo has LA station KPFK paying Kolhatkar and her producer staff salaries while only broadcasting the program twice a week. In the fund drive that just began in LA, Rising Up's 8am appearance on May 3rd netted $275 in the most listened-to hour in radio. The 5 day a week 8am broadcasts at Berkeley's KPFA, which bears no production costs for the program, regularly bring in $3K to $5K an hour. Rising Up's Berkeley simulcasts displaced locally-generated programs at KPFA in 2014. The mess caused by Wilkinson and Radford has already directed grant funding away from Pacifica, seems to be pushing Rising Up into an eventual exit from Pacifica altogether, and currently financially boosts the KPFA station at KPFK's direct expense.

Summary by Month. Generated 01 May-2016 02:19 EDT

KPFK's other new programming innovation of the last 12 months also isn't paying off, with the first three day listener support totals for the Safe Harbor block, a melange of midnight to 3am programs based on the liberal use of on-air profanity, totaling an anemic $260 after 9 hours of broadcast. The former all-night program, Something's Happening, now relegated to an abbreviated 3am to 6am slot, collected $4,800 or 18 times the receipts. The eclectic Something's Happening, a Los-Angeles institution for decades, was the highest-rated overnight radio program in the nation's second largest media market, including both commercial and non-commercial competitors. Web analytics for the independent website show a large decrease in visits after the broadcasts were slashed, showing the ongoing damage to one the few Pacifica Radio programs that was reaching an audience of significant size.

KPFA's voters, who made Occupy Oakland hero Scott Olsen the 2nd highest vote-getter in the 2015 election, probably don't know that Olsen, who doesn't reside in the Bay Area full-time, has been barred from participating in discussions and voting at the majority of KPFA's local board meetings this year, despite setting up a remote link-up for the meetings when not able to be physically present. The governing CA Corporations Code, Section 5211, permits remote participation and Pacifica's national board of directors meets almost entirely remotely, having not had an in-person meeting since June of 2015. While remote participation can be inappropriate when local board members reside in driving distance and can physically attend board meetings, preventing participation by those who relocate can serve to deny representation to their constituency, which in Olsen's case is the over 10% of KPFA's voters who made him their top choice.

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 pacificainexile@gmail.com so we can develop the most useful page possible for those "looking for that thing" moments.
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Except for occasional changes in graphic images, this blog neither prepares nor is responsible for the Pacifica Radio in Exile newsletter, but it is reproduced her for your convenience. —CA

37 comments:

  1. They should just make a TV show out of themselves.

    SDL

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    1. Yes—could one make a reality show out of something that unreal? :)

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    2. Sure, when you look at the evolution of reality shows from serious to utterly stupid: Cops > Survivor > Keeping Up with the Kardashians > Jersey Shore > Honey Boo Boo... Pacifica Ocean is only fitting as the next one...

      SDL

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    3. With a score by Wolfgang Amadeus, it's got to be a winner. I like that: A winner with cast of losers."

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    4. With a score by Bernard Herrmann, the musical composer of Psycho. And they should have a "real" shower scene.

      KGT

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    5. Mimi in the shower and Bernie White as the psycho?

      SDL

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  2. Random Thoughts:
    Bill Crosier is too rational and reasonable to be a director.
    I don't think $15,000 is enough for the grief that the NES will endure. I propose spending $45,000 and hiring SDL for the job.
    The board terms may expire before the court cases.
    One of the 2004 rules is to maintain station membership lists. Its sad when you realize the election issues are the direct result of the repeated failure to maintain the lists.
    We saved money by cancelling an election at WPFW. Yay. Oh wait we forgot to pay the LES.
    Oh...
    The KPFT story is funny considering WBAI delegates resign by way of text sent to someone who knows someone on the board. Apparently even that takes effort. I heard some members in the past went a year between meetings.
    They're still working on the 2014 audit? They're still working on the 2014 audit!
    Sonali is in LA raising money for KPFA and WBAI has Haskins. What is wrong with this picture?
    Bleeping Safe Harbor has bleeping raised $400 in nine bleeping hours. Isn't that like the price of one premium? That is bleeping crap.
    Should I be upset that Scott is barred from KPFA meetings or that he didn't bother informing anyone that he doesn't live in the area?

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    1. Hell, I'd do the job for free just to see their reactions to an honest and clean result. I'm impartial, since I don't really like any of them.

      Pacifica elections make Bush vs. Gore look honest.

      SDL

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  3. I don't suppose it makes that much difference, but since I like to claim accuracy for what it's worth, the unofficial totals were corrected to official totals and the official three day haul was as follows: Chris can correct the paragraph above as I have done on pacificainexile.org or not - as he wishes.

    KPFK’s other new programming innovation of the last 12 months also isn’t paying off, with the first three day listener support totals for the Safe Harbor block, a melange of midnight to 3am programs based on the liberal use of on-air profanity, totaling an anemic $260 after 9 hours of broadcast. The former all-night program, Something’s Happening, now relegated to an abbreviated 3am to 6am slot, collected $4,800 or 18 times the receipts.

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    1. It makes a huge difference, Tracy. Imagine where Pacifica might be today if its Managements and boards practiced accuracy.

      That said, I have made the corrections (in the paragraph to the right of the graph).

      Thank you, Tracy.

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    2. And I will add that 3am - 6am is a worse time slot than 12am - 3am in regards to getting donations.

      SDL

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  4. This is off-topic, but don't know where to post it. There was a nice touch by Max last night around 9pm. He ran Uncle Sidney's great medical marijuana pledge promo & a wink to bringing him back. Made for a welcome respite between the begging...

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    1. Good for Max! Now, if he could suggest and affect the pink-slipping of certain producer/hosts and a manager, I would even wear a hat, just so that I could take it off to him. :)

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  5. cuba an african odyssey ... free on you tube .
    save your money , don't support these idiots.

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    1. Most of their "premiums" can readily be obtained via free download or at a price that is considerably below the one WBAI's scam artists are demanding.

      I'm afraid you're right, the station no longer deserves to be supported—and we have yet to learn of much criminality.

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    2. The premium issue is really troubling. Does Pacifica even have a policy regarding premiums? They're supposed to be related to the organization in some way. The price is supposed to be not so much a market rate but an expression of support. The idea is to reward members/donors with something on top of the regular benefits of membership for their support.
      The Cuba documentary is pretty good but what does it have to do with WBAI and where do these amounts come from. I notice they ask for at least $100 for any item. There is also the question of what you can do with copyrighted material with and without permission. I don't know if Creative Commons Licensing applies here or not but I wonder if anyone knows more about how the premium process is supposed to work.

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    3. It doesn't matter if nobody buys the video; the point of this was to link (falsely) Castro's Cuba with black anti-white African anti-colonial wars regarding the Castro Cuban war against the U.S. and to get blacks and Sally O'Brien whites to support the station. Even if nobody bought a ripped-off video, they succeeded. You guys are not thinking black.

      KGT

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    4. The premium issue is indeed troubling and it may well play an important part in Pacifica's pathetic end.

      Most of the stuff they offer has little or nothing to do with WBAI. They need to upgrade the program offerings and eliminate all that waste, then they can go back to offering the greatest of all premiums: an intelligent radio station called WBAI.

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    5. Non-commercial broadcasters normally charge a higher than market value donation for a "thank you" gift. I think they are allowed to ask for any size donation they want, so it becomes a moral question about what the required donation size is, basically. Technically, the thank you gift is an item separate from the donation, or so they all claim. They have to make that claim or it becomes a for profit sale. However, if they say you will receive an item for donating a certain amount, I think any court would consider that a contract. If it all sounds fuzzy, that's because it is double talk so as not to be considered selling stuff.

      To me, the Cuba/Africa thing makes sense to offer, since it falls into the political/historical category. However, charging for something available for free on youtube is morally despicable (look up any Gary Null DVD on youtube!). Other snake oil and hocus pocus premiums seem to be because the authors/manufacturers are people known by people at Pacifica and its stations, besides proving to be reliable sellers. Remember that most shows on WBAI can't raise any money because they suck.

      How do they come up with prices? I have no idea. Maybe they think there is a certain price range the majority of their listeners can afford? Maybe they take the calling center costs into account? Maybe they just ask: "How much can we rip the suckers for and not even have to send them their premiums?"

      SDL

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    6. What do you know about The Lot Radio? I am not talking about their programs (music) but I could use your knowledge re the equipment and concept, in general. I preparing a post. Try this:

      http://gothamist.com/2016/05/08/the_lot_radio_williamsburg.php?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=webfeeds

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  6. A new one on me. Website is http://www.thelotradio.com/ On the site now but nothing broadcasting. Seems they don't have a full schedule. If you want to contact them, they have facebook and twitter pages, it seems.

    Seems like an internet only webcasting station (i.e. no transmitter, even under the legal under 1 watt micro station rules).

    Set up looks simple but very good, decent turntables (Audio Technica? $200ish each) on either side of the $200ish(?) console (Behringer?), and a couple of those scratchable CD players (Pioneer) above. That tells me they do a lot of hip hop and dance music. Mic looks like an Audio Technica, too, probably $80-$150. Decent looking boom that may go for $50-$90. A mixer and computer out of sight, no doubt. Software for a set up like that is usually free. A set up like that with a used lap top is probably $1,500 tops, if you buy carefully.

    I know what your question is. Is this comparable to WBAI? Um, probably basically better, although the board would be too small for a radio station that has guests and callers. Good audio equipment is cheap these days, so WBAI not even having turntables is mind boggling.

    Seriously, Chris, does a station need more than these?

    http://www.amazon.com/Behringer-QX2442USB-24-Channel-Mixer/dp/B00CTKI7D6/ref=pd_sim_sbs_267_5/187-2975631-5796156?ie=UTF8&dpID=51LMOXGXy%2BL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR160%2C160_&refRID=1MH4EJ1H6RY6RDPTHA53

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VWKQV1Y/ref=s9_al_bw_g267_i5

    SDL

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    1. That's the point I want to make. The equipment is good and inexpensive these days. What this young Belgian.guy has done in shipping container shows imagination that Reimers and.his gang can't even begin to approach. This is online radio and it points to the future. Think of all the money the fools at WBAI/Pacifica are wasting. They borrowed $30,000 from Steve Brown to hire the useless Katz woman, Reimers is getting $110,000 a year and allowed to do nothing, Haskins hasn't learned anything in his 30 + years on the payroll, it is said that Reimers borrowed $10-20,000 from the lady who owns the building, the ESB debt is piling up, etc., etc.

      A mess borne out of greed and ignorance.

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    2. Chris, you could outfit a very nice studio for a professional 50,000 watt station like WBAI, including an audio compressor, extra mics, etc, for $5,000-$6,000 on the cheap. $10,000 and you have a fantastic studio that will do everything you need. WBAI should be able to go on the air, pitch and have the money for a studio in one entire day, at most!

      Here's another webcaster that really has it down well. Kind of looks like the grandchild of 1960s WBAI, doesn't it?

      http://radiofreebrooklyn.com/

      SDL

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  7. A few minutes ago I heard Max say that WBAI doesn't have internet. I find that difficult to believe. How do the get DN!, Prescod, Jesserich, etc?

    SDL

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    1. I'm sure he's wrong, unless they just lost it—I say this because they have e-mail and I used it a couple of days ago to contact one of the few insiders who actually respond—they responded.

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    2. I went to the website and see the archives haven't had new posts since 9:00AM. I guess a glitch in the system.

      SDL

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    3. A glitch in WBAI's system???How can that be?

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    4. Ask Interim Webmaster Alan Arthur (Katz?)...

      SDL

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    5. That Katz has yet to explain why the site is always full of misinformation and lacking in updates. It has become little more than a billboard for hopelessly inferior shows

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  8. Maybe the GM is "in negotiations" with TWC or Verizon over a payment?

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    1. Could be.... another secret marathon negotiation. It's difficult for me to imagine Berthold Reimers having any kind of discussion with intelligent people.

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  9. I'd like to know if Alan Arthur (Katz?) gets a salary. I believe Andrea Katz does, but for what I don't know.

    Reimers negotiating anything beyond the condiments on his hot dog must be a laugh to see. How the hell do you have a year and a half long negotiation over a room at the ESB? I still think it's all about trying to stop WBAI from getting sued and evicted, if there are even any "negotiations." Has anyone seen even one piece of actual evidence of any negotiations?

    SDL

    SDL

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    1. I believe Katz is paid for his website work, but I'm no sure that he is actually salaried. Could be--the movement of money within that organization is too covert to be legit.

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  10. I just heard Jim Freund say that there is no Internet at WBAI, because the bill wasn't paid. "warped" does not begin to describe Reimers' priorities. Such incompetence would have gotten him fired in the real world.

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    1. call now and cathy cake will psychicly channel WBAI air signal and website to you. Call now at [what that's a disconnected number?] umm, err, just make your pledge of 7.9 trillion dollars in reparations now at 212 [ wait, that number is closed for "negotiations"?] Just channel your pledgements to %kathyKakes now

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  11. (JustAListener)
    The ISP flipped the switch, now just waiting for the ESB to do the same.

    I knew someone who worked in a car dealership that went under.
    It too was a "well managed" operation.
    The owner lived in CT and when he visited he'd sneak in the back door because he had an outstanding warrant in NYS.
    I asked my friend how they handled the closing.
    He told me the place never officially closed.
    One day the manufacturer refused to ship parts due to outstanding debt.
    The owner was nowhere to be found.
    Shortly after the phones shut off and the employees figured they might as well grab what they could and leave before the lights were shut off.
    I figure that's how WBAI will end.
    Pacifica will likely end up dissolved in court by debtor lawsuits.


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    1. I am inclined to agree with your prediction, JAL. This "manager" has been sneaking in the back way for at least 2 years, and now the Internet... they hardly sprang a surprise on him, so why didn't he pay the bill?

      There isn't much stuff left that can walk out of there, but I bet that's already happening.

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