Sunday, October 22, 2017

Open Letter from Tracy


Throwing in my two cents:

Below and attached: (Click on red line for PDF file)

Since word has leaked out of some shall-we-say disagreements about the national board's course of action, I'm going to take a moment to go over some of this. There is some obfuscation going on, in traditional Pacifica style, and at this point in time, the less of that the better. There are also some assertions being made that, at a minimum, need some back-up before being taken at face value. For ease of reading, I'm going to divide this into three broad sections, although some of the discussion will cross categories because the issues are inter-related. In broad strokes, the topics are a) Bankruptcy i.e. Chapter 11 Reorganization b) Summary Judgment and c) Swap/Sale of License

A) Bankruptcy/Chapter 11 Reorganization
After conversations with several bankruptcy attorneys, Pacifica has determined that a Chapter 11 proceeding will cost between $500,000 and $1,000,000. Because Pacifica has assets in excess of its debts, a bankruptcy proceeding would not result in the reduction of debt. It would simply extenuate the process of liquidating assets to pay debts and provide oversight on that process by a bankruptcy judge and a creditors committee. 
What bankruptcy does in practical terms is:
  1. Add another $500K to $1M in Pacifica's lawyers fees
  2. Forestall immediate collection activity at enormous cost, essentially increasing the debt load for no value as asset liquidation to pay debts happens regardless
  3. Places Empire State Building in the position to collect an even larger amount of theirattorney's fees and interest for the duration of the delay in payment of the summary judgment and their participation in a creditors committee
  4. Lowers the autonomy of the Pacifica Foundation in deciding which assets to maintain and which not to maintain
  5. Prevents taking on loans against real estate interests
  6. Discourages philanthropic support if any can be found as well as listener support donations because bankruptcy sounds terrible
  7. A declaration of bankruptcy greatly complicates a potential signal swap (not a signal sale) on two grounds, firstly the uncertainty that bankruptcy presents to a potential partner in a swap and secondly at the FCC where it is necessary to demonstrate adequate liquid financial resources to operate the new station (usually 3 months of operating expenses in escrow). A petition to deny based on precarious finances could well delay a swap for a considerable period of time, if not indefinitely and one should not expect favors from a Trump FCC for a left-wing radio network. They do favors for Sinclair, not you. 
In other words, the normal upside of bankruptcy, which is the discharge for debts which there is no way to pay, doesn't exist in this case, since assets exceed liabilities debt reduction will not occur, so there is no tangible benefit to bankruptcy. It's throwing a million more dollars down the toilet for no reason. Only the lawyers benefit from it.

B) Summary Judgment
On October 3, Pacifica received a summary judgment for $1.8 million dollars plus attorney's fees. A summary judgment doesn't mean that you lost the case. It means that you were determined to have no viable defense to litigate.

A summary judgment is subject to collection activity rapidly. It does take a certain amount of paperwork, but nothing that attorneys of the caliber of ESRT cannot handle rapidly. After the standard 30 days, it's open season on all of your bank accounts and all of your buildings. That date is November 4, 2017, or about two weeks from now.

Therefore, not to put too fine a point on it, it is the responsibility of the governing board and the executives to do whatever they have to do to make the payment on time. The time to negotiate was before summary judgment, not after it. Pacifica tried to settle, with a very low ball offer of $500K and got absolutely nowhere. You have less negotiating leverage after a summary judgment than you do before it, and you had relatively little then. So the fantasies that Empire will forbear or delay or hold off based on promises are just that – and they are more of what has gone on for the past few years when Pacifica somehow convinced itself it could unilaterally reduce the rent without a written agreement. Which is what you did for two years. If you repeat it post-summary judgment, that would be a very serious mistake. If you have a loan on the table that will pay the summary judgment by November 4, you do that transaction and you do it now and what you “debate” about is what you will do to pay the loan back.

There is no other creditor and no other obligation that is a higher financial priority and no other debt is of this immediate consequence. Acting as if Empire is just one creditor among many and you can decide when to pay them is quite wrong. That period of time is over. You will pay them, in the full amount of the judgment, by November 4, or they will pay themselves and you will lose the ability to operate your stations, which is your mission and your purpose. And every day that you delay taking a loan is increased attorney fees and interest due to ESRT, so you are throwing bad money after bad money. The last thing in the world that you want to do is pay another million dollars to ESRT's attorneys because you couldn't face up to paying the debt promptly. As a donor, I resent you spending my money that way and I won't be the only one. The debt has to be paid right now. This month. Now. Take the best real estate loan you can get and pay it before you have no more choices.

I have heard something to the effect that you believe you have $5-$6 million in pressing debts payable in the next six months. You would do well to document that figure as well as avoid unclear adjectives like “pressing”. A summary judgment is not a pressing debt. It is a paramount obligation and nothing is more pressing in any way, shape or form. You can evaluate the other priorities by urgency, but you should not muddle the situation by sweeping up a summary judgment into “debts”. It is the other financial obligations in which terms like forbearance and negotiate might play a role, not in the summary judgment already executed against you.

C) Swap or License Sale
To start at the beginning, the mission statement of the organization is to operate radio stations. A mission statement is not a cute soundbite for your website, it is your reason to exist and it is why you get a tax exemption from the government. Pacifica is not a real estate trust. There may have been the purchase of real estate to facilitate the mission, but the mission is not to acquire and retain buildings and land. You do not get to change the mission statement. You are in your positions to execute it. So you do what is necessary to continue broadcasting, not what is necessary to retain real estate holdings. That has to be the basis for any discussion.

Of your five licenses, two are commercially-convertible and three are not, which makes a significant difference in their value. Four are in the top five media markets and one is in the top 10 media market and all have pretty significant range, with KPFK the largest NCE license in the Western half of the United States.

Both a sale and a swap are contingent on several things, among them a membership vote and FCC approval. A sale, potentially to another non-commercial broadcaster, would subject the buyer to FCC scrutiny, but not the seller. A swap subjects both parties to FCC scrutiny and is generally a more complicated transaction and will yield less cash, but may preserve a Pacifica station in the affected signal area. An FM-FM swap would retain a Pacifica station as we recognize them. An FM-AM swap would necessitate a complete program overhaul in the affected signal area as music broadcasting is impossible on AM, so you would be left with a talk-only format.

You can expect that petitions to deny will be filed against a sale or swap transaction, in addition to a national election referendum, so your timeline is at least a year out. I don't disagree that in the long-term it may be very difficult to find any financial stability without some sort of license transaction. However long-term and short-term are two very different things. The realistic scenario for a sale or swap means a few things need to be dismissed out of hand:
  1. A sale or swap is of no value in addressing the summary judgment or any short-term pressing debts. It's not a plan for that. Besides the concrete factor that you need a buyer and a specific written offer, Pacifica's board and executives have no ability to execute a swap or sale or agree to one without the completion of a national referendum. Therefore you cannot collect any money from a buyer that is not 100% returnable pending a referendum failure and it cannot be used to pay any of your pressing debts, unless you want to compound your problems. And I doubt any media property buyer is that stupid anyway.I've heard some avenue of thinking that you might try to get Empire to forbear collection based on a security interest in the proceedings of a license swap citing the Tracy Broadcasting case. That case is a serious outlier, the law is extremely unsettled in this regard, and that is all exhaustively discussed in the Broadcast Law Blog here:
  2. http://www.broadcastlawblog.com/2011/09/articles/securing-a-loan-to-a-broadcaster-part-2-bankruptcy-cases-and-liens-on-licenses/
  3. Among other factors is that the cases in question involve commercial entities, not NCE licenses and 501(c)-3 organizations, and that a security interest in a transaction that requires membership approval, requires FCC approval, and is held by a creditor who cannot force the entity into bankruptcy, is basically worthless to the creditor. In other words, it provides nothing additional to the summary judgment already secured by ESRT. ESRT is not qualified to own an NCE license.
So while a license sale or swap in the long-term may be necessary to get out of a debt position long-term, and I say that with great sadness, it is of no value for the immediate issues at hand, which are satisfying the summary judgment amount in two weeks and paying whatever amount of immediate pressing debts that you cannot get out of in the next few months. For that, you have only your real estate assets, and it is a fortunate thing that you have them.

It may be somewhat distasteful and that is why there is fighting, but you must leverage them to get you through the next year, at which point you may be able to execute on a sale or swap of a license. An immediate real estate loan to settle the summary judgment and then the judicious liquidation of one or more real estate properties to allow you sufficient cash to make payments on the loan for a year and set up payment plans on the remaining debts for the next 6-9 months. That may include dispensing with the superfluous Berkeley restaurant property, and/or it may include a lease back sale on one of your other properties that would include sufficient time to secure another facility and move on a reasonable time schedule.

I realize there is a Ten Little Indians dynamic in trying to decide which real estate properties to utilize and which signals to entertain license sale or swaps for, and it is an ugly thing to watch and probably an even uglier thing to participate in, but it is your responsibility now to use these public assets, which is what they are, to fulfill your mission statement. That is why you were given the money to acquire them and they are to be used for the purpose of continuing broadcasting operations.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Poisoning WBAI's air


I came across the following observations by Rachel Barr elsewhere on the web, where Frank Lefever had posted it for wider circulation.

I agree wholeheartedly with Rachel, whom I have never met, but occasionally come across on FaceBook. 

I hope this broadcast (audio clip below) and Rachel Barr's thoughts reach Bill Crosier, who could do something about the Reimers/Bates disaster, but I'm afraid I fully understand the pull-the-plug solution she brings up. Anyway, read this and add your own comments:
Today, Tuesday, Oct 17, a show hosted by Geoff Brady who does a show on  Monday nights from 11-12 was on the air from 9-11AM. Bates repeated it from 4-6PM and again from 9-11. This show was about conspiracy theories that attempt to explain the hurricane  in Ireland and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. 

Tony Bates, while pitching, said that Bill McKibben's theories on climate change are bogus because he's funded by the Rockefeller Foundation..This was not only an insult to  Bill McKibben's work but to Democracy Now, as Amy has had Mr. McKibben on many times.. Also disrespectful to the young people who have gotten so involved in the climate change movement, not to mention Standing Rock. Not cool to dis your media colleagues on the air. Very rude, unprofessional and disrespectful. If Geoff Brady wants to have such kind of guests on to talk about such conspiracy  theories, that's fine. I don't listen to a lot of BAI's programs for many different reasons. However,  to have this particular show on to make money from it is equivalent to BAI  selling 9/11.. I know many people who lost loved ones on that date. They aren't interested in anyone making money off of it. And so it's the same with Puerto Rico.. Im sure that people who are Puerto Rican, whether they live on  the "mainland" or not, and those, like myself, who have been helping Puerto Rico since Maria struck the island aren't interested in hearing about engineering that created the hurricanes. Puerto Ricans are more than knowledgeable about the history of the u.s. government invading that island in 1898, that it's a colony, sterilized the women, and bombed Vieques. I'm sure they are much more interested on getting water, water, water, water, insulin, generators, and antibiotics. 

Tony Bates further went on to criticise the Board of Pacifica calling them close minded because they did not think the program which aired 3 times in one day was appropriate. 

The one good show that David Kinney aired on Sunday Oct 15 from 9PM-11PM was not re aired .. It was about Paul Robeson's testimony in front of HUAC, he played "What is America to Me" and the testimony of the Hollywood 10. Shame on Bates that he called out the Board on this. This is unprofessional, rude and disrespectful. 

I hope that Toby Bates faces ramifications/disciplinary measures for allowing this particular show to be used for fund raising purposes and for "dissing" the Board publicly.

Perhaps if BAI doesn't make the 1.8 it won't be such a bad thing -- with a PD such as this one, maybe its time for  the station to go... I've given money over 40 years, been listening  for more than that, worked there for 10 years, but there is no more community, there is no flavor. I never get an email answered nor was I literally allowed to buy a premium because they were trying to make me  pay for all of it at the same time. No way to do business.

It was a good 57 years. Good luck
Feel free to respond, please.

Rachel.Barr
Here is the first part of the program in question

Monday, October 16, 2017

WBAI on the Edge of Nowhere


It's long, it's late, it's funereal...

The WBAI Treasurer's Report - October 11, 2017

POOF! Credico was gone...


Many of us have wondered why Randy Credico disappeared so suddenly. Rumors were bandied about and assumptions were made, but people in the know were only hinting.

Now, thanks to Mitch Cohen, we have a more focused explanation from Randy himself. It confirms some of what we were hearing and I, for one, find it completely in keeping with the my own observations and the impression that the rumors generated in my mind.

Here's what Randy gave Mitchell to post. He wrote it on his cellphone, so it needed minor corrections, mostly punctuation marks—I hope I got it right and look forward to the promised account.

Randy Credico wrote:

I should have chronicled this earlier and I'm ashamed that I didn't....


Earlier this year, I was in the office of GM Reimers and lame duck interim fun drive coordinator Tony Bates.


They told me they were moving Reverend Billy from Thursday at 5 p.m. to Sunday at 8 a.m.... they said Billy refused and he was no longer there.



I asked him why they would move him from his spot that had been on for so long and had built up a following and they pulled out a chart showing what he had raised over the last 8 months.

These charts are very deceptive

I said to them, well if he doesn't raise a lot of money you can preempt him during a drive, but don't fire him or move him to Sunday.

Well Tony, who basically has the general manager by the cojones got his way and Billy was gone..

Since then, he replaced Reverend Billy, being that nobody else was willing, to be a scab, with an unwitting repeat of a repeat on Tuesday nights at 7... that is Jimmy Dore's show, which is taped 5 days earlier than the original day, on Tuesdays.

No principled producer at WBAI would step into that spot and Mr. Dore was unaware that he was being used as a scab.

All the shows that have come in by Tony Bates in the last year have raised nothing, particularly his Pad show Trump watch, which everyone knows is the most amateurish show ever to be presented at WBAI

You look at his other shows, they raise no money but they are all still there.

I am doing this on my cell phone and when I get a chance on my computer I will really write a comprehensive retrospective of what happened.

Bates' shows at the station have been a complete disaster as has he, in general.

Much more on the Reverend Billy double cross and lie by the general manager and outgoing interim fund drive coordinator Tony Bates.

Furthermore, I would like to talk about Bates' outrageous comments about Naomi Wolf and the general manager's outrageous comments about two female journalist from Algeria...
Best,
R.C.
Mitchell wrote:
I concur with what Randy Credico writes here.

It is f'ng outrageous that Pacifica allows WBAI to continue employing Tony Bates as interim PD. I've been holding back while the Empire State Building travesty was unfolding, so as not to divert energies. But Pacifica's lack of proper supervision of those in its employ are a large part of the reason why WBAI (and other stations) are in the terrible shape they're in. (at the time I wrote former ED Margy Wilkinson about the critical importance of supervising negotiations between the GM and and ESB. She did nothing, and that's partly why we are where we are.)


I might add that noone from current BAI management saw fit to show up at Therese Chorun's memorial service yesterday. Therese was a staffer at WBAI inputting into database for many years, an environmental direct action activist, and volunteer at many other WBAI events. She died of cervical cancer a few weeks ago at age 55. It was so fine to see Indra Hardat, Ken Gale, Alex Steinberg, Matt Mazza and others from the true family of WBAI—not this faux family that's running things today. Geez, they couldn't even show up for her memorial. Unforgivable.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pacifica in Exile newsletter - Oct. 14, 2017


Berkeley—To no one's real surprise, a NY court ruled on October 4 that the Pacifica Foundation owed $1.8 million plus attorney's fees to the Empire State Realty Trust, the multimillion dollar real estate firm that owns the Empire State Building, where Pacifica has lodged WBAI-FM's antenna since 1966. A 15-year contract signed in 2005, after the collapse of the World Trade Center, made antenna space in NYC a hot commodity, and featured soaring prices and a 9% annual escalation, which left the price of the rental by 2015 at more than 4 times the market value and in excess of $500,000 a year, a vast amount for a listener-sponsored radio station.

The contract was signed by an interim executive director, WPFW's Ambrose Lane, who held the position briefly between outgoing ED Dan Coughlin and incoming ED Greg Guma. By most accounts, he was a fine programmer, but a somewhat absentee interim director. It isn't clear if the full Board of Directors in 2005 ratified the contract before or after Lane's signature or at all, but the commitment to pay some $7.5 million dollars over 15 years through 2020 was made. Pacifica, with some struggles, paid the contract in full through 2013 and began defaulting in the 2014 fiscal year, eventually running up the $1.8 million debt cited in the lawsuit over the next three years. Interim ED's Margy Wilkinson and Lydia Brazon, and WBAI GM Berthold Reimers made vague references to negotiations in progress with the Empire State Realty Trust in the 2014-2016 period to lower the monthly rental cost by 2/3.  Despite Pacifica proceeding to make the partial payments as if negotiations had worked, no actual agreement was ever obtained. Several million dollars in future liability remain on the duration of the contract.

The contract's "elevator clause" (the large annual increases) were known to be a disaster waiting to happen for several years. The failed negotiation effort and the secrecy surrounding it for several years, obscured the scale of the problem. By the time the lawsuit was filed in December of 2016, it was too late. Pacifica attempted, with some reason, to make an "unconscionability" defense in the lawsuit, stating the lease was non-responsive to the free market and unreasonably oppressive. But the law does not often protect from the consequences of poor decisions, and it did not do so in this case. 

The amount of the judgment, as well as the other accumulated debts, is sobering. But Pacifica is in the position that its assets are larger than its debts, so the decisions facing the organization are about which assets to retain and which will have to be accessed to settle debts. 4 real estate properties in 3 different cities total at least $10 million dollars in value and 5 major market broadcast licenses represent at least $150 million. Board and executive discussions on the matter by necessity occur in closed session. No notification to the network's members is expected until a decision is arrived at. Any proposed broadcast license transfers would be subject to an up or down vote by the network's donors, in addition to the governance board. The summary judgment, if not paid, would open the Foundation to eventual collection efforts, which could take the form of bank account sweeps or real estate liens, so action will have to be taken fairly soon to avoid that. 

In Other News Around the Network

LA's KPFK has been heavily fundraising, but showing improved results with a robust $700K+ fund drive result in May. The fall drive underway was at $300K at the 10 day mark and is averaging receipts of more than $30K a day under GM Christine Blosdale.

Houston's KPFT is slowly recovering after a contentious management change following the 2016 retirement of long-time manager Duane Bradley. The station lost staffers and has been operating at limited capacity. Long time music programmer Larry Winters is working as the interim GM without taking a salary, and restored some popular music programs to attempt to stabilize dwindling receipts that had been noticeable for some time. The station's local board has been locked in factional struggles and is spending much of its time arranging trials in attempts to kick one or another person off the local board.

At NY's WBAI, the summary judgment for Empire State Realty Trust has been the major topic of concern as the culmination of the station's decline from being the financial powerhouse of Pacifica to its weakest financial link. Partially due to being burdened with expensive leases and longstanding tensions between premium-based and program-based fundraising that never seem to get resolved.

Berkeley's KPFA has also had recent fundraising success. The station chose to cut the last fund drive's scheduled conclusion. That management decision was worthy of note after a routine title search revealed that property taxes for the station's main studio building at 29 Martin Luther King Jr.  Way had not been paid since the 2014 fiscal year, showing a $273K lien on the property from the County Assessor.

Pacifica is also struggling to resolve unpaid pension payments for employees dating from the 2014-2016 period. The network maintains, as a historical accident, two different retirement plans for its low paid employees, a 403(B) plan that provides an employer match on employee contributions and a defined benefit pension plan that provides an additional 2% of salary employer match. The 403(b) plan was intended to replace the defined benefit pension plan back in the 1990's, but due to some administrative ineptness, both retirement plans were written into a union contract and neither employee union, CWA nor SAG-AFTRA, has been willing to allow the plan replacement for the last 20 years. Pacifica has periodically been late on the pension payments before, most noticeably in 2011-2012, when a few months delay caused scathing national denunciations of then ED Arlene Engelhardt from the California Labor Federation, but the complete defaults in 2015 (on the 2014 contributions) and in 2016 (on the 2015 contributions) seem to be unprecedented. The three year liability (as the 2016 contributions also need to be paid this year) represents about $300K in back payments. The payments are overdue because of being mandated in the union contracts. The pension plan itself was written as a voluntary profit-sharing plan based on employer financial health. The parallel 403(b) retirement plan is fully funded. Some resolution of the 20 year old double-retirement plan snafu would assist with Pacifica's financial stability going forward. 

To subscribe to this newsletter, please visit their website at www.pacificainexile.org

Friday, October 13, 2017

Pacifica gets noticed—sad


In the case of astronomical arrears owed to ESRT, the WBAI manipulators—true to form—have been playing the victims of their self-generated mismanagement. They wrongfully and publicly point their fingers at a legitimate creditor and beg, with unjustified hostility, for undeserved mercy. This is par for the course for opportunists who routinely recite a litany of culprits upon whom they blame their own shortcomings, including an exodus that has resulted in an all-time low listenership.

In recent years, wiser people, with genuine concern for the station's welfare and a desire for it to regain its integrity, have attempted to lend Berthold Reimers and his coterie du jour well-founded advice, but they are routinely ignored.

Over the years, WBAI has suffered under much bad management, but none as detrimental as that feigned by Berthold Reimers, a clueless clerk who shirks the responsibilities for which he is paid over $100,000.00 annually and obstinately refuses to recognize that listenership is, in great measure, commensurate with program content and quality. If the product is not the programs, what is he trying to sell?

Turning the station over to a small, confused segment of the New York area's black population and granting substandard producer/hosts permanent on-air presence has had the effect of discouraging listeners—of all beliefs and ancestral origins—from seeking intellectual stimulation and a broader scope. The concept upon which Lewis Hill founded Pacifica in the late Forties is as attractive as ever, but it is no longer practiced. The audience that made the intellectually curious tune in and give financial support dwindles with each pedestrian amateur show thrown together, with each race-based propaganda effort, and each lie told. 

Using Pacifica's original mission as a sales tool while not following it, WBAI and its sister stations are in the main morally bankrupt centers for scam activity and mis-information. The few dedicated voices still heard on the spotty network of five Foundation-owned stations and distant affiliates increasingly speak to an empty room.

Now the sword of Damocles hovers more perilously than ever. Madame Defarge is about to add the last name to her interminable knitting, and Pacifica is finally noticed, albeit for the wrong reason.

Here's an article by Ernesto Aguilar, a former Program Director at KPFT, the Houston station. It appeared in Radio World and is excerpted in Spark News. 

Radio World article in PDF format.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

October 10 PNB Finance meeting?


Probably, but we don't know, because they closed the door.

Preliminary nothing


These audio clips may not make much sense—they come from a good friend who knows better than to drink the eyedrops. :)

The last two may or may not be that same meeting continued, but they form a good audio likeness of these amazing free-for-alls.

The argument meeting continues

But wait! There's more!!!

Crosier addresses the KPFT LSB


As self-serving vandals infiltrate Pacifica's LSBs, they compound a crisis that is partly of their own making. Every station has its own board and every LSB has its own disruptors. It is highly possible that the current result of ineptitude will result in Pacifica losing WBAI—there certainly will be no returning to the third rate black outlet opportunists have created.

Pacifica iED Bill Crosier has been far too tolerant of agenda-driven disrupters like Cerene, Adriana, the Uhuru puppet and others of their ilk. That patience may be running out—here's a note from Bill sent to the KPFT (Houston) LSB yesterday:

To KPFT's LSB:
The proposed KPFT LSB agenda, like most of them this year, virtually ensures that we'll have little, if any, time to talk about some very critical financial matters.

All year long, our LSB agendas have prevented us from having enough (or sometimes any) time to talk about important topics. In many meetings this year (not just the last few months), items that should have been in new business in accordance with Roberts Rules were put at the beginning of the agenda, and then we didn't get to the main parts of the agenda. I remember one meeting several months ago where we spent over an hour on motions that mostly involved micro-managing programming and similar matters of interest to the chair, and I think all were eventually voted down, as they should have been. But it wasted a great deal of time. In one meeting we did not get to the finance committee report, despite my requests earlier to have more time for it, until 9:55, 5 minutes before adjournment. In a number of meetings we never got to the comm. reports at all. Even in the months when we actually got to PNB reports and committee reports (which should generally be one of the most important parts of the meeting) before the end of the agenda, time has been very limited and we have not been allowed to have discussion during the committee reports. Instead, all year long we've spent most of our time on things that have accomplished nothing.

Even my repeated requests for an executive session, to answer people's questions about the personnel changes made at KPFT in July, were ignored and not put on the agenda until I had to ask the LSB itself to overrule the chair so we could do that. But we were not able to get to that in the August meeting and so we had to wait until the Sep. meeting, in which I again had to ask the LSB to overrule the chair. For both months, the chair refused to put my request for the executive session on the agendas even though I had asked in advance more than once each time, and at least seven days in advance.

What has the LSB achieved this year? Anything productive, that actually helps the station? I can't think of anything.

We spent a whole meeting a week ago Sunday on a motion to re-instate Obidike. Whether you think that's a good idea or not, why is it on the agenda again this time? Our LSB chair himself recognized that the LSB does not have the authority to do this and that it could only be considered as a recommendation.

In July, the PNB approved a resolution (that I did not even ask for and on which I abstained) that re-affirmed the iED's authority to make iGM changes, and in support of the personnel changes I made. Yet some people on KPFT's LSB won't give up, and persist in spreading false statements about whether I have proper authority to do so or whether I followed some twisted interpretation of the Bylaws. They've made sure that the LSB can accomplish nothing this year except encourage people to spread lies, misinformation, slander, libel, and insults during public comment, when our rules prevent us from responding, not even to correct lies and statements made in violation of our Code of Conduct.

Some LSB members have also invited people who did not like decisions made to come to closed (and invalidly noticed) meetings of an "Assertions" committee where they were allowed to assert anything they wanted, without proof or corroboration and by stating misleading things out of context, about me and another LSB member, without even having the courtesy of providing me with the report they promised on what was said in secret about me and the other member. They claimed I could come and refute whatever was said, but they wouldn't tell me or the other member what was said, so we don't know what needs to be refuted.

You may choose to spend your time discussing yet again whether the LSB should recommend (remember, the LSB has no authority to do more) that Obidike should be put back in as iGM, and you can choose to schedule meetings to put me and another member on "trial" based on secret "testimony" that we were not allowed to hear. And you may decide to persist with your guilty until proven innocent approach.

But please let the LSB have time to discuss the very urgent and important financial issues that are facing Pacifica and all of our stations, at tonight's LSB meeting. We have not had enough time, all year long. If you won't do that, then what's the point of having an LSB?


I have not had time to waste on the endless e-mails and petty local e-mail conflicts that some of you seem to enjoy. But I decided that I can't sit back and let another LSB meeting prevent discussion of important, critical issues. 

Now that I've spent most of my lunch time writing this, I'm getting back to work to help Pacifica and all of our stations. I appreciate the help some of you are giving, and I also appreciate the many thank-you's I've received. I won't comment on what the rest of you are doing (or not doing).
Bill

AN OCTOBER 11 RESPONSE FROM STEPHEN COHEN

I honor everything you just wrote about the time wasting, Salem witch trial resembling KPFT LSB—which I assume stands for Lying Slices of Baloney (this a family yahoo group. Can’t  use the more common meaning of S(o)B).


One way to give all who are interested a sonic ear’s view would be to upload the audio of the public portion of these meetings to kpftX.org. Or elsewhere. But if you put it elsewhere you need to announce, at kpftX, where  people can find it. If there isn’t time to edit it or compress  the number of bytes, can’t it be posted anyway?

It’s harder for those who wish to help you or Robert Mark or the latest target without hearing the audio. To all wavesters, Adriana is on the KPFT LSB, albeit lacking in Cerenity. But it’s time Adriana had her lace in the son. Must she always be relegated to being a race, gender, and class baiting side kick?  Must she always be in the shadows, itself an insult to brown people?

For those of you who struggle with your Jones for her or otherwise can’t get enuf of her, like moi, this KPFT LSB audio could  help slake your thirst—I’m talking the equivalent of methadone vs cold turkey when you strung out on Hydrocodone. 

Take a look at kpftX. org and anyone can see the massive holes in KPFT LSB Audio posting. Despite my requests to post what I believe is recorded audio of all/virtually all  meetings. I suspect embarrassment or some other need of some, ?many, on this LSB to hide what is going on or how they speak and behave to listeners.   Occasional snippets of discussion at kpft lsb drawing parallels between board member’s rhetoric and foul smelling items found in a laundry basket reinforce my view of them as craven. 

Which in turn leaves me a couple of units of blood short of feeling sanguine about the matter. 

And yet there is no hesitation to monetarily shake down the naive listener ad lib. 

Tip of the yamikah to Jaime Gomes and Fred Blair (both KPFK)  and the folks at kpfa LSB for responding quite effectively every time I’ve hungered for audio from their LSBs 

And shame on the star chamber LSBs at WPFW and WBAI—too ashamed or too allergic to sunshine or too interested in ruling from the anonymity of the shadows are they to allow anyone to hear how they roll. I mounted several campaigns (phone calls) at WPFW to post their LSB audio, current and past. I’m always promised the moon then given it—figuratively speaking. 

Like all the Pacificans, they are the first to decry, protest, demand, threaten, relish the targeted “antic” and “prank” and sometimes worse, a perception of lack of transparency in others. Meanwhile their windshields are so dirty, you’re safer being schlepped around town in a rickshaw. 

I know you’re super busy Bill. But would you help in getting KPFT, and BAI and PFW  LSB posted to kpftX?

I question the ethics of cajoling people to send in their money with this very telling audio data being withheld from them. In some cases, I suspect quite deliberately, which is the definition of fraud.
Stephen Cohen


Thursday, October 5, 2017

As you sow...


If there was anything Berthold Reimers wanted as much as money, it was publicity. No, not for himself, just for the radio station that pays his undeserved salary. What started almost a decade ago with an embellished resumé and an amateur selection committee, eventually became a destructive game of hide and have others go seek. 

With Reimers behind the green curtain, no lie is too big to attract donations, no disrespect for the listener-sponsor too callous. Blinded by ineptitude, this pedestrian accountant was, ironically, hired to stem the tide of growing aftereffects generated by his predecessors and thus to save WBAI. However, there is a downside to even the most successful dishonesty: the greed and desperation that constantly drove this "manager" to cross the border into moral neglect was also big enough to attract the truth he dreaded so much.

So details are beginning to surface. SPARK is an excellent, highly informative online publication devoted to Community Radio—no, not the narrow, race-based "community" that is proving to be WBAI's undoing—the broad intellectual community that Pacifica was meant to serve.

You are probably already familiar with the content of this issue of SPARK, but here it is as less informed readers will see it.

A Pacifica Press Release - October 5, 20


October 5, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Trevor FitzGibbon 706-308-7372

Court Protects ESRT’s Lease Terms for Pacifica’s Non-Profit WBAI Radio in NYC – Denies “Unconscionability” Motion

Pacifica National Board to Meet Thursday Night to Decide on Next Steps

NEW YORK CITY A Manhattan, NY court sided today with Empire State Realty Trust in what critics described as “price gouging” against the small, non-profit radio station, Pacifica’s WBAI. In the ESRT lawsuit against Pacifica for unpaid tower rent at the Empire State Building, Judge Lebovits denied WBAI’s motion for “unconscionability”, and gave ESRT a summary judgment of $1.8 plus million, plus attorney’s fees. The latest invoice from ESRT was for $2.4 million, including fees up till last month. Pacifica’s national board of directors will meet Thursday night to decide the next steps for the station.

“All stations should continue doing what they are doing - bringing great news, music, and public affairs that the other stations won't let you hear,” stated Bill Crosier, Interim Executive Director of the Pacifica Foundation. “There's going to be some pain involved to come up with the money for the judgement, but we will get through it.” 

In a statement to staff, Crosier said, “We do have some options, but they are more limited now, and none are easy.”

The judge, in effect, ruled that it was not price gouging, when he denied Pacifica’s unconscionability motion.

The lawsuit was a classic “David vs Goliath” standoff with Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT). The company, owner of the Empire State Building, was accused of price-gouging the local non-profit radio station with a lease having monthly fees that increase at more than four times the rate of inflation. The lease was renewed in 2005 with terms that were significantly worse than the previous lease, after the Twin Towers and the antennas for all the broadcasters there were destroyed on 9/11/01, leaving radio and TV stations with few options for antenna space, and giving the Empire State Building a near-monopoly for stations to deal with.

The standoff also compelled Mrs. Patricia Perry, an 85-year-old mother who lost her son on 9/11, to start a petition that accused the company of profiteering off of the tragedy. Her petition urged the realty company to negotiate in good faith with WBAI.

“This station has always been one of the feelings of pride of our city and beyond - providing a platform for our local elected officials and NYC’s best and brightest.  For decades, WBAI has fearlessly served the public with independent news, music, and public affairs that other stations won't let you hear.  My son did not risk his life for you and Empire State Realty Trust to profit from it.  It is not the New York Way.”

The summary judgment  leaves the 68-year-old radio network, which owns five broadcast licenses in New York, Washington DC, Houson and Northern and Southern California, along with a valuable historical audio archive, with a challenge in figuring out how to satisfy the multimillion dollar real estate firm. 

The 15-year lease signed in 2005 does not expire until 2020 and has raised antenna rental costs by 9% a year for the last 12 years. The rent is currently set at more than half a million dollars annually or approximately 4 times the current market rent for Midtown Manhattan antenna rentals. Pacifica Radio's WBAI had housed its transmitter at the Empire State Building since 1966. 

The full text of Ms, Perry's petition can be read below. 

Dear Mr. Malkin,

My son, police officer John W. Perry, was killed on 9/11/2001 while attempting to save a woman’s life when the South Tower collapsed on him and countless others that horrific day.  The pain and impact of 9/11 were felt by local businesses and people throughout the New York City area.  One of those impacts was that your property, the Empire State Building, became one of the few places for local TV and Radio to transmit from since all antennas on the Twin Towers were destroyed. 

One of those stations, Pacifica's WBAI, has been part of the fabric of our great city for decades and now is on the verge of shutting down because you continue to price gouge and take advantage of the station by repeatedly jacking up the monthly lease payments.  You took advantage of this when WBAI's antenna tower lease was renewed in 2005 by making the license fees under the lease increase by more than four times the rate of inflation. That is unconscionable.

WBAI management went to Empire State Realty Trust three years ago, asking that you accept the market rate for antenna tower leases because WBAI could not afford the large annual increase in payments in the lease, but never got an answer. 

Please negotiate in good faith with WBAI and stop price gouging this small non-profit - be fair and reasonable.  Let them out of their lease, release them from the obligation to keep paying increasingly exorbitant fees, and don't force them to pay additional late fees and legal fees because they have not been able to keep up with the unfair lease payments.

This station has always been one of the feelings of pride of our city and beyond - providing a platform for our local elected officials and NYC’s best and brightest.  For decades, WBAI has fearlessly served the public with independent news, music, and public affairs that other stations won't let you hear. 

My son did not risk his life for you and Empire State Realty Trust to profit off of it.  It is not the New York Way.

Sincerely, Patricia J. Perry, Seaford, New York