Friday, July 8, 2016
Pacifica Radio in Exile News July 6,2016
The Pacifica Radio in Exile Newsletter
July 7. 2016
Berkeley-The Pacifica national board will be meeting this evening at 5:30pm Pacific in the middle of a financial crisis getting worse every day. Their top two priorities per the meeting agenda: delegate elections (i.e. their own seats) and witch hunt punishments for the board minority and the organization's chief financial officer for holding an emergency meeting on finances on June 26th. Yep, those are the top two items on the agenda, with the witch hunt also scheduled to continue in the executive session behind closed doors.
You can listen to the full 90 minute audio of that meeting here. CFO Sam Agarwal's written report prepared for the meeting can be read here.A shorter (28 mins) audio segment with selections from the meeting can be heard here. A list of 17 recommendations from the June 26th meeting can be found here. The entire board majority boycotted the meeting.
The board majority has already excluded 4 elected directors from WBAI for the past six months, seated two affilate directors from stations that are not affiliates and do not have affiliate contracts and now looks poised to "suspend" the rest of the opposition and the organization's desperately-needed chief financial officer. You can hear a brief selection of the threats from the June 29th coordinating committee meeting here.
The faction insists they will also hold emergency meetings on the financial crisis - later. Their first attempt, a meeting on July 6th described as a "special meeting on fundraising" by the national finance committee didn't go so well. There was one action item: a recommendation the volunteer executive director convene a conference call with the station managers to discuss how to hold better fund drives. Long-time WBAI treasurer R. Paul Martin asked on the publicly streamed meeting audio: "Why do they need a committee to tell them to do that?"
The rest of the meeting was dominated by a series of accusations from Houston listener rep Adriana Casenave, who was publicly scolded by PNB treasurer Edwards-Tiekert.
Casenave's first accusation was that all of the stations had "secret underwriters". She used as an example a KPFA public service announcement about an event at Berkeley's Impact Hub.
Her second accusation was that funds to pay for the network's 2014 audit were being deliberately withheld. The 2014 audit report, which is 13 months late to the Registry of Charitable Trusts, resulted in Pacifica ineligibility for millions of dollars in Corporation for Public Broadcasting Community Service Grants, threatens negotiations with the Empire State Building, now Pacifica's biggest creditor, and is required by insurance underwriters prior to issuing Pacifica a 2016 liability insurance policy. Casenave insisted that her May director's inspection proved there was $250,000 in one of the California station's bank accounts (probably KPFA) and the 2014 audit fee should have been paid immediately with those funds.
She further insisted at the coordinating committee a few days earlier, that she wanted to meet with the board in executive session without the ED or CFO present to discuss what she had found out in her director's inspection, a conversation likely to ensue on July 14th again behind closed doors. Casenave had earlier suggested that payroll, health benefits, and shared service fees be automatically debited from station bank accounts monthly and that the West Coast stations needed to trim their work forces. Casenave is a member of the majority Siegel/Brazon faction and an ally of the local Justice and Unity Caucus, Grassroots KPFK and Save KPFA groups.
In other news, unpopular KPFK GM Leslie Radford in the middle of the station's latest summer fund drive (one ended a month ago and a new one starts in mid-August) sent an email telling the stations employee's "We need you at work". The station's SAG-AFTRA bargaining unit recently won a decision in arbitration that Radford and Pacifica had violated the union contract on several grounds and employees are awaiting financial restitution for pay cuts, unauthorized layoffs and the withholding of severance pay. Corporate counsel Dan Siegel signed off on the planned actions by Radford last fall, but was unable to defend them in arbitration.
Radford's email admitted the drive was not doing well, said the station was empty and depressing and told the employees that jobs aren't always fun and asked them to smile. You can read it here