Friday, January 6, 2017
NOTICE WAS IMMATERIAL
Berkeley - After throwing out two consecutive elections by WBAI's delegates to fill 3 WBAI vacancies on the national board, and rigging the 2017 affiliates director election by not allowing any independent WBAI directors to vote, PNB treasurer and board majority member Michael Novick admitted that "in retrospect", the board majority was wrong and the "flawed notice" was immaterial. In correspondence with a Pacifica employee, Novick said:
"I abstained on the vote not to seat the people elected at the LSB meeting in December. In retrospect I think the flawed notice was immaterial, as it had no impact on the outcome of the vote. Since I abstained, however, I am not in a position to move for reconsideration"
You can read Novick's full email here. In the 15 days between the 2nd thrown out election and Novick's retrospective recognition, the LA activist is not known to have spoken out about his discomfort with the action or attempted to reverse the injustice.
This sound file contrasts the excuses used to throw out the first WBAI directors election (held on December 7 and thrown out on December 13) and those used to throw out the second WBAI directors election (held on December 14 and thrown out on December 15).
The affiliates director election for 2017 was held 4 days later, without any independent representation from WBAI. The two affiliate directors will likely be the tie-breaking votes on a closely divided 2017 national board. Election teller Terry Goodman released the full election count publicly, showing the results when all ballots were counted, including those of the WBAI independent directors. His public report showed that David Beaton was the winner, with Temba Tshibanda as the first runner-up. It can be read here. Beaton received 44% of the first place votes cast (7/16). The second runner-up, Tshibanda, received 31% (5/16).
75% of WBAI's national representation has been exiled from the national board for an entire year, in violation of Article 5, Section 1 of Pacifica's bylaws, which states the board of directors has a minimum of 22 members and equal representation from all 5 Pacifica stations and that the board may not change the configuration by resolution. The reason for the WBAI vacancies is the board's interpretation of the "six-year rule" or term limit, which states delegates (local station board members) may not serve for more than six consecutive years.
KPFA's local station board has planned another un-noticed "retreat meeting" for this upcoming Saturday at an undisclosed location unavailable to the public. Wilkinson will attend the secret meeting. It is said former CFO Sam Agarwal will be an invited guest speaker. Agarwal left the organization in September after tussles with the Siegel/Brazon board majority.
The Pacifica National Board meeting scheduled for this evening looks to be a contentious affair with the lame-duck Siegel/Brazon majority attacking each other with members Kobren, Sorden (WPFW), and Casenave (KPFT) all offering motions to discipline, censure or overrule the "Save KPFA" branch of the faction over matters of the secret retreat meeting, remote call-in meeting participation and Wilkinson's continuing activity after her delegate term expired. Pacifica in Exile will have a complete report on the meeting outcomes early next week.
The 2 WBAI directors elections are not the only elections the board majority threw out. They threw out all of them on December 13, demanding a recount of all 10 local station board elections and declaring certified election results from vendor True Ballot and national election supervisor Lynne Serpe "provisional". In the ensuing three weeks, the board majority has not backed down from their attempt to invalidate the election, despite much criticism. The enclosed report from the board secretary Janet Kobren spends 22 pages exhaustively detailing a long list of write-in candidates, none of whom received more than 5 or 6 votes (most received only 1 or 2).The report provides no evidence that a single result would be altered. The "report" can be read here. It is a demonstration of the expression "fiddling while Rome burns". California Corporations Code Section 5615 states that the certification of an appointed election supervisor is final.
Pacifica has still posted no financial information for fiscal year 2014 (10-1-2013 to 9-30-2014) on their website, despite statements the tardy financial audit is "done. The page for financial information for 2014 remains blank at 26 months after the close of the fiscal year.
In other news, LA station KPFK is facing the imminent loss of its chief fundraiser, producer Christine Blosdale. Blosdale, one of the KPFK employees whose severance benefits were reinstated in the SAG-AFTRA arbitration, has raised between 30% and 45% of KPFK's revenues in the last three fund drive cycles, and for many previous years with special fund drive programs. KPFK has been running fund drives about every 60 days since GM Radford took over and barely meeting fundraising goals. The station has no ready solution for a sudden drop in receipts. In the station's December 2016 fundraising effort, Blosdale's programs raised $185,000 of $438,000 raised during the drive or 42% of the total.
The LA station's draft budget was approved by Pacifica's financial committee with the draconian move of terminating all dependent child and spousal benefits for both full-time and part-time employees. The proposal would make KPFK the only unit in Pacifica that does not provide health coverage to spouses and dependent children of full-time employees. The plan to cut benefits would put Pacifica in default of the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) which requires employers of 50 or more employees to provide dependent child coverage up to age 26, for no more than 9.5% of an employee's annual salary. If any of KPFK's employees seek alternate coverage for their children on the state exchange, penalties would be triggered against Pacifica. The benefits cut would affect 6 full-time employees at KPFK who are currently covering dependent children and another 3 employees covering spouses. Employees include management, program hosts and administrative employees. All but one of the impacted employees filed grievances upheld in the 2016 SAG-AFTRA arbitration. Pacifica may be vulnerable to litigation alleging retaliation since GM Radford indicated the benefits were to "pay for" Radford's 2015 contract violations, which assessed fees and penalties of $285,000. You can hear a summary reel from the finance committee discussion here.
Legacy WBAI broadcaster Bob Fass made the NY Times, which reported Columbia University had purchased archival tapes of Fass' Radio Unnameable, the seminal countercultural program featured in a documentary film The university bought the tapes directly from producer Fass,and will digitize them for permanent archival storage on the campus. You can read more about it here.
Long-time WBAI broadcaster Gary Null took to the air on January 2 and talked about Pacifica's current state. His full hour long show can be heard in the program archives at wbai.org. A selection from his lengthier comments can be heard here.
In Texas, long-time manager Duane Bradley's tenure is coming to an end after a pitched multi-year battle with the Houston Siegel/Brazon group. Bradley, whose time as a Pacifica station manager is twice as long as anyone else since the 2002 democratization, finally threw in the towel a few months after long-time program manager Ernesto Aguilar went to the National Federation of Community Broadcasters last fall. KPFT's listeners, partially due to concern about the management drain, handed an overwhelming election victory to the independent group Move KPFT Forward, but the new board and the station will have to go forward with no program director and a brand new interim manager Obidike Kamau, whose previous job was as a university library director. Kamau was a volunteer programmer at the station.