Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Cerenely not yours—Exile update...
Berkeley - In an abruptly called "special meeting" on Tuesday evening, one of two Pacifica National Board meetings called for this week, the outgoing board majority decided they didn't like the results of the 2016 board elections and threw them out after certification by the independent national election supervisor and True Ballot, a nationally recognized election services firm. They declared in a motion they wanted a "recount" and that the seating of newly elected delegates, and any officers and national board members they elect, and any business they transact were all "provisional" until further notice.
The Siegel/Brazonites banana republic maneuver was probably motivated by their large losses in three of Pacifica's five signal areas. They lost elections overwhelmingly in Houston, New York and Los Angeles (all by a 2-1 or greater margin) and faced losing their majority in the upcoming year due to the strongly expressed desire of Pacifica members for a change in direction after botched audits, CPB disqualification and rapidly declining membership numbers.
The almost three hour meeting began with an opening salvo of refusing, yet again, to seat directors from WBAI who do not belong to the Siegel/Brazon faction, after they were elected to fill the year-long vacancies caused by the board majority's failure to seat directors from WBAI who do not belong to the Siegel/Brazon faction, last January. The motion, unsurprisingly, was from Cerene Roberts. The long rambling motion focused on one former board member whose term is over claiming he didn't get to vote, although his single vote would not have changed the results in any way. The NY Siegel/Brazonites had 8 members in attendance and the independents had 13. But logic was not in evidence and the board voted to reject the seating of the WBAI independent directors yet again.
But they weren't finished. Having spent an hour and a half on the WBAI directors, they then proceeded to spend 10 minutes on the delinquent FY 2014 financial audit and then moved on the real business of the evening.
The motion for a "recount" of the 2016 delegate election referred to a CD with the ballot scan files that PNB secretary Janet Kobren has refused to publicly post, although Pacifica elections require that be done. The availability of the complete ballot data allows anyone to independently verify the results using a simple piece of open source election software. Kobren has not stated why she is suppressing the ballot scan files and refuses to publish them.
The completed election results that have been certified with 251 pages of round by round totals can be seen here.
Both national election supervisor Lynne Serpe and election services vendor True Ballot are owed money by Pacifica, which has already racked up $150,000 in expenses for the delegate elections, which are paid for by member charitable donations. It is unlikely that either will engage in this new "recount" until their previous bills are cleared. Pacifica was told their FY 2014 audit would not be released until further payment is made to auditor Armanino. They have not started the FY 2015 audit that was due to California's Attorney General and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in June of 2016. $285,000 in expenses were incurred up in a failed labor arbitration with SAG-AFTRA in September. December fund drives at several of the stations, including KPFA, KPFK and WBAI are coming up short of projected revenues. The board majority indicated they had no idea how much their "recount" would cost or how it would be paid for.
The refusal to accept the certified election results throws the organization into chaos, with KPFK having already turned their board over and the other four stations scheduled to do so over the next six days. Local board members unable to let go after the end of their elected terms, have already jumped on the "recount" to suggest they can continue on, notably former KPFT LSB chair Dewayne Lark, who having lost his bid for re-election, jumped in to announce that the old board would meet and vote on "unfinished business" Wednesday night after the expiration of their terms.
The refusal to acknowledge the election results echoes the events of 2007-2008, when then IED Dan Siegel, now Pacifica's corporate counsel, fired national election supervisor Casey Peters due to his displeasure at the election results - and replaced him with himself. Siegel kept expired board members on the Pacifica National Board for months after their elected terms ended by refusing to recognize the election results, until stopped by a NY court. Peter's report on work as a Pacifica election supervisor can be read here. He does not mince his words. That was the last time Pacifica members voted to remove a Siegel/Brazon board majority and replace it with an independent one. Pacifica was sued by NY law firm Silverman and Silverman for $95,000 in unpaid legal bills Siegel racked up for his maneuver to block the 2007 election. According the court records, a seizure warrant was executed against Pacifica in November of 2016 to extract the $95,000 from one or more Pacifica-owned bank accounts, although the board of directors was not informed of any forcible seizure of funds.
Pacifica members must make it clear to the outgoing board majority they do not want their increasingly scarce charitable donations spent on an unncessary recount when the Foundation is on the brink of a financial precipice. The will of the voters must be respected even if the Siegel/Brazon faction is unhappy they lost the elections. Please take a moment now to write to the board of directors at firstname.lastname@example.org. More dramatic action is likely to be necessary given the intransigence of the outgoing board majority.