Thursday, February 25, 2016

Financial fermentation continues at PNB

Further observations by 'Indigopirate'...


"We have a little list... What's his name again...?"

Sam Agarwal, Pacifica’s CFO, has, as spokesperson of the ‘leadership team’, called for two signal items – with very considerable urgency:

1) ‘WBAI and WPFW are deemed to provide full access of their accounts and finances to [the] CFO for close supervision and guidance.’

Translation: WBAI and WPFW are to pass financial control and decision-making to the CFO and the ‘leadership team’. ‘Supervision and guidance’ is the standard language in financial-legal-speak for ‘control’. ‘Close supervision and guidance’ is standard financial-legal-speak for complete control and authority.

2)  ‘CFO in consultation with the leadership team to propose alternate sources of revenue stream for board’s consideration and quick action.’

Translation: It has been decided by the ‘leadership team’ that Pacifica as it presently exists cannot survive and the ‘leadership team’ will present a radical redefinition, re-purposing, and restructuring in a desperate effort to survive – no details, nor executive summary, are offered or available.

In effect, what we have here is very simple – and I emphasize that I mean this literally, not as mere personal interpretation or as hyperbole:

All financial control and decision-making is to be centralized in the persons of the ‘leadership team’, which control and decision-making is to then be formally approved and ratified by Pacficia National Board.

The conclusion has been reached by the ‘leadership team’ that the existing modes, model, and structure of Pacifica are to be replaced.

~ ‘indigopirate’


ps: Most of the meetings referred to are ‘executive sessions’, and steps are to be taken to alter procedures for future ‘open’ meetings to make it impossible for dissenters to ‘interrupt’ and ‘obstruct’.

Excerpts from the PNB Coordinating Committee meeting, February 24, 2016.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

And now, a word from our sponsor...


If its under-the-fence entrants grant themselves this financial solution, WBAI's uniqueness will lie in its distant past and its slide to the limits of low listenership and high ineptitude. Pacifica only has to shake off a few worthy programs before it will have come full circle.

In New York, the decline has been slow but deliberate, compounded by a flag-raising shift to a new targeted audience and the lowering of program content to street level. As might have been predicted, this about face has reduced the listenership to its smallest number in WBAI's 55-year history.

Proof of decay and managerial abandonment lies in the hearing: tuning in to 99.5 at any time is likely to produce an assault on one's intelligence and sense of √¶sthetics, not to mention a one or two-hour product promotion. Fund raising has become WBAI's raison d'√™tre, or so it seems, but it still boasts of being commercial-free, often citing WNYC's regular "underwriting" spots as a feature that would severely restrict program content. 

There has, nevertheless, been talk of Pacifica resorting to underwriting, but such proposals are inevitably opposed. Now, however, the situation has grown so dire that some see this dreaded form of advertising as a necessity. This became evident at the February 23, 2016 meeting of the PNB Finance Committee, an uncharacteristically civil discussion that, as so often is the case, found 'indigo pirate' as a fly on the wall. His lead-in is a quote from that meeting: 


The situation at WBAI/Pacifica appears, from what information is publicly available, to continue to spiral inward and downward.

I’ve distilled the archived audio of the Pacifica National Board Finance Committee Meeting of 23 February 2016 down from 1:33:17 to 28:33, focusing particularly on WBAI and Pacifica’s overall financial situation.

I’ve indicated gaps with a bit of click track, and I’ve tried to be as fair as possible in letting the information speak for itself.

Which it does, perhaps all too clearly.


The full audio may be found here.

~ ‘indigopirate’

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Morgan Freeman On Black History Month


Have you had your fill of WBAI bozos trying to cash in on Black History Month? Have you noticed how they have brought it down to the level of President's Day white sales? At least sheets and pillowcases are functional, the twisted blather of the Mumia/Garvey scammers serves only to set back past advances.

Intelligent people of all hues and heredity know what game these opportunists are playing. Asking demanding that listeners pay exorbitant prices for amateur-produced propaganda and tabloid-tainted books has turned WBAI into a tawdry marketplace for gimmicks. Expecting intelligent people to see such exploitation as anything but exploitation is to grossly underestimate their capacity for independent thought, which is the basic premise upon which these silly delving dilettantes operate.

Morgan Freeman had it right when he appeared on CBS' 60 Minutes many years ago.  

Monday, February 22, 2016

Exile Newsletter: February 21, 2016



Fraud Is A Major Concern Of The Auditor
Berkeley-While Pacifica waits and waits and waits for an audit of the 2014 fiscal year, which ended 17 months ago, new CFO Sam Agarwal informed the national finance committee that "fraud was a major concern of the auditor", currently Armanino LLP. In fact, he said it twice in a minute and a half. Agarwal added that "we don't know if all the donations have been accounted for" and that "it would be very easy for anyone to open up a bank account and deposit the donations and that would not be recorded in the Pacifica books". You can hear his comments here. 

Contradictions between Pacifica's self-generated financial statements and observable reality broke out into the open after Agarwal reported at the same meeting that the radio network came within a hair of completely defaulting on the network's payroll. Agarwal stated at the February 9th national finance committee meeting per commitee secretary R. Paul Martin: "Recently Pacifica had to borrow $90,000 from a bank in order to make payroll. He said that Pacifica does not have a line of credit and that the bank had made an extraordinary accommodation for Pacifica, had it not done so all of the Pacifica payrolls would have failed to be paid on time". Here is the audio. 

This announcement followed by a mere two weeks the release of a financial statement that showed a $468K surplus above operating expenses for the three months ending December 31, 2015. 

The reported payroll shortfall is bizarre because the two stations showing the worst financial performance (WPFW and WBAI) have small payrolls at $20K semi-monthly and and even with the addition of the archives unit payroll, the total of all three does not exceed $60K. The national office reported independent income from affiliate payments and SCA contracts in excess of its direct payroll obligations for the last quarter, so the size of the shortfall reported by Agarwal indicates that units reporting operating surpluses did not forward payroll amounts for their employees in time to meet the deadline for the issue of payroll checks. Agarwal has not stated which units failed to forward payroll funds to create the $90K emergency in January. 

WBAI host and alternative health author Gary Null, filed a copyright infringement, piracy and premiums fraud lawsuit in the United States District Court, Eastern District of New York (federal court). The civil action #1:16-CV-241 was filed against the Pacifica Foundation and individually against WBAI general manager Berthold Reimers, former ED Lydia Brazon, former ED Margy Wilkinson, former ED John Profitt and former local station board chair Mitchel Cohen. The suit requests injunctive relief, statutory fines and says the behavior has been ongoing for at least a decade. 
The complaint can be read here.

Former WBAI program director Bob Hennelly addressed some of the lawsuit's subject in an email he wrote on February 4, 2014. The email reads:

"The fact that so many well meaning people volunteered their time to try and salvage a poorly executed and under capitalized business plan is truly unfortunate.   There is a word for soliciting over the airwaves from listeners pledges for tens of thousands of dollars worth of premiums and not fulfilling those commitments in a timely and professional manner.  When any entity does that, even a non-profit like Pacifica,  it is fraud. When you do it repeatedly it is a 'pattern and practice' fraud."
 

Add in the widespread issues surrounding bootlegging illegally CDs that cropped up and you don't have a community radio station, you have an enterprise that invites both civil and criminal prosecution.

Bob Hennelly
Interim Program Director


Pacifica staff and boards, while understandably upset about the lawsuit, have displayed a lack of understanding of the wholesale distribution process for documentaries and copyrighted CD/DVD products and the problems with piracy in their social media and email discussions.

KPFA local station board member Mark Hernandez demanded copies of premiums like Stanley Nelson's "Black Panthers, Vanguard of the Revolution", Alex Gibney's "Kissinger", Oliver North's "People's History of the United States", Don Goldmacher's "Heist" and Mario Martinez' "Mind Body Code" be provided to Pacifica for no more than $3 per disk. (The wholesale prices range from $7-12 a disk). Hernandez accused producers of "profiteering" by charging Pacifica stations $7-$12 prices for their products. Pacifica stations mark the wholesale price up by a factor of at least 10 and provide the products in exchange for donations of $80-$150.

WBAI/KPFK programmer Don De Bar then suggested that Pacifica producing unauthorized copies by using a duplicating machine at no cost should actually be a relief, and not a burden, to producers.

(This should not be taken as an admission that Pacifica is actually pirating copyrighted materials without permission. De Bar is not an official spokesperson for Pacifica). 

The national finance committee has still not completed budget preparations for the fiscal year that began four and and a half months ago and the national board has never approved an operating budget for the fiscal year now underway. Budget drafts for each unit appear to be incomplete or erroneous. Berkeley's KPFA turned out to be using a 90% fulfillment rate in their budget draft when internal reports for the period September 2014 to May of 2015 documented that the fulfillment rate (the amount of pledged dollars that actually come in after on-air fund drives) had slipped to 85%.

A similar failure to use correct fulfillment rates to estimate revenue had dire consequences at LA's KPFK, after the 2014 national finance committee and then the national board allowed a KPFK draft budget to remain unchanged after internal reports documented the fulfillment rate used was 8% higher than the actual fulfillment rate. The station's employees were involuntarily shifted to half-time pay for 4 months in September of 2015 as a result of the $250,000 revenue shortfall created by the failure to correct the fulfillment rate in the FY2015 KPFK budget.

Mozart did not make an appearance at the Feb 4th disrupted national board meeting, but while the sounds were less than musical, the outcome was the same: meeting interuptus. Doubling down on their outrageous stripping of all national voting rights from NY station WBAI and the seating of two bogus affiliate directors from non-affiliated stations, the rump majority did not even keep their promise to allow WBAI's 2015 directors to "participate, but not vote". They didn't send WBAI the meeting codes and hung up on them when they called in. In fact they hung up on everybody, including duly elected directors from other stations as KPFT director Bill Crosier stated: "I was repeatedly disconnected from the call. I have not been making any interruptions, but tried several times to raise a point of order and was never recognized, but my call was disconnected several times. This is highly improper.  Whoever is controlling the conference call has no right to just disconnect anyone they don't want to talk, even when making valid points of order". 

A sound clip of the meeting "highlights" can be heard here in a 26 minute version.  The full meeting (of about two hours duration) has been posted on the NY-based blog, WBAI-nowthen 

The rump majority then claimed after the meeting that a motion to re-install termed out director Lydia Brazon as a "volunteer ED" had passed with no vote taken because there were "no objections". LA directors Jan Goodman, Grace Aaron and Houston director Bill Crosier can be heard on the audio record above the cacophany clearly objecting 8 different times. Here are the time stamps (on the full meeting audio posted here). 


38:32 to 39:20, 41:40 to 41:45, 45:27 to 45:40, 46:57 to 47:55, 52:14 to 52:58, 54:10 to 54:15, 54:27 to 54:40, 56:15 to 56:30

The controversial late night program change in LA which exiled the beloved overnight long-time overnight host Roy of Hollywood to the 3am hour has been taking a toll on KPFK's current fund drive, the first after the program change took effect. The Something's Happening program has taken in a whopping $15,195, already surpassing its totals in the last fund drive in 1/2 the broadcast hours, while the replacement program Safe Harbor hasn't yet cleared $3,000 after 30 hours of broadcasts over 10 days. 
Replacement program Safe Harbor has focused on the FCC's safe harbor rule by featuring curse words in the late night slot. The programs themselves are a disorganized compendium of rap and hip-hop music, call-in on air therapy, a sex-focused show, rebroadcasts of old political programs like a 2013 tribute to Hugo Chavez, plays of old comedy albums from George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Dick Gregory, and some slam poetry. 


Here's a few samples. (These are from late January. Pacifica in Exile apologizes for being a little tardy preparing these).

Safe Harbor: Dead Into Mickey Mouse
Safe Harbor: Vacationing Therapist: Where's Roy?
Safe Harbor: Erotic Electrocution
Safe Harbor: Reality TV Therapy

Pacifica in Exile readers may write to the board at pnb@pacifica.org.