Tuesday, May 30, 2017
The following anonymous brief is the first I have heard from someone who attended last evening's public meeting at 388 Atlantic Avenue.
If you were there, please post your impression—how many attended, etc. Typically, WBAI simply continued airing the old infomercials.
The town hall discussion went pretty well Chris. There was a lot of criticism of Reimers and Bates especially about treatment of producers. There was also criticism of producers for not promoting more or doing things like station ID breaks. There was also talk of expanding outreach and marketing efforts. The biggest problem appeared to be lack of communication from and to management. —Anonymous
Monday, May 29, 2017
Berkeley-The Pacifica National Board met twice in the month of May, on May 11 and May 25. The meetings featured slow but steady progress intermixed with a not inconsiderable amount of disruption from the remnants of the Siegel/Brazon faction, who no longer hold a majority on the national board. Most of the board's open sessions are point-of-order-athons, making them a frustrating listening experience for the network's worried members. The independent board majority uses the Maestro Conference service, a popular conference call service, in order to maximize the efficiency of the meetings, but has used the service's features sparingly and only after numerous warnings.
IED Bill Crosier, who has been unable to provide a report to the board verbally on any board call since February, (5 consecutive times), provided a written copy of his planned report for the board's May 25 meeting, which can be read here. His previous written reports from March 23 and March 2 can be read by clicking on the links here and here.
Highlights include ongoing settlement negotiations for the unpaid tower rent lawsuit with Empire State Building, which has paused litigation to engage in discussions which have been occurring in New York City, where Crosier and CFO Agarwal have been for the past week. Crosier is holding an open meet and greet with NY-area listeners at WBAI on Monday May 29 at 5pm.
Pacifica is also in dialogue with the Ebay seller who acquired a large quantity of Pacifica's old master tapes after Pacifica's national office failed to pay storage bills and the storage company sold off the contents of a storage locker. Other Minds, a Bay Area nonprofit run by KPFA's former music director Charles Amirkhanian, is assisting with attempts to return the materials to Pacifica's custody.
The national board acted to reverse the "SCA Motion" initiated by Cerene Roberts in 2016, which attempted to reallocate sideband rental revenues away from Pacifica's National Office, cutting its self-generated income in half with no replacement. The effort placed the entire 2017 budget process into such chaos that not a single divisional budget was ever approved by the 2016 national board for the current fiscal year. Pacifica's controller Efren Llarinas had stated in several 2016 finance committee calls that he did not know how to implement the SCA motion. The move rolls back planned fee increases of $20,000 and $50,000 respectively for stations WPFW and KPFA, which had faced them due to smaller sideband rental revenues.
The national board also rescinded a mandate for each station to add an additional 5 hours of Spanish language-only programming to their existing grids. The mandate from June of 2015 had been implemented more than two years later, by only one station - Los Angeles' KPFK - and ignored by the other four stations. Each Pacifica station has some existing bilingual or Latino-focused public affairs and cultural programming, but only KPFK schedules large blocks of time for Spanish language only programs that are inaccessible to non-Spanish-fluent audiences.
In the closed session on May 25, the board selected an audit firm to begin the delinquent fiscal year 2015 audit (for the year 10-1-2014 to 9-30-2015). The Independent board majority has had a struggle with the Siegel/Brazon remnants in the network to get the late audit going, despite a deadline set by the California Attorney General for receipt of the completed audit report by the end of August 2017. If Pacifica does not make the deadline, then it will face state suspension of its tax-exempt status due to severe audit delinquency.
Hints of the internal struggles can be heard on the audio from open session financial committees. On May 2, Pacifica's financial committee heard a report from CFO Sam Agarwal on audit readiness where he laid out problems getting the needed documentation from Berkeley's KPFA, problems which are said to be mostly resolved a month later.
On May 24, Pacifica's audit committee heard Siegel/Brazonites attempting to drag out the audit firm selection process indefinitely using expressions like "haste makes waste", a term wildly inappropriate for the process of selecting an audit firm to conduct an audit that was legally due to the State of California 11 months ago in June of 2016.
An anonymous source indicated that prior to the audit firm selection in the national board's closed session, a Siegel/Brazonite board member moved the 2017 audit committee should be disbanded and the selection process began all over again from scratch. The motion was defeated by the board's independent majority, which then went on the select one of the four audit firms that had submitted proposals. On March 2, Pacifica listeners nationwide donated over $200,000 to help the network catch up on the delinquent audits.
Throughout the network, Pacificans continued to react to the revelation that KPFA board chair Carole Travis had been soliciting celebrities to join the board of "Big Tent Radio", a new nonprofit she claimed to be starting to acquire Pacifica's assets after it "collapsed". Two of the recipients of Travis' appeals sent them to Pacifica IED Crosier, who issued this statement in response. Travis' "Big Tent" follows her involvement in the previous iteration of the "KPFA Foundation", a nonprofit created by former Pacifica corporate counsel Dan Siegel and former Pacifica IED Margy Wilkinson in secret. It is now formally registered with the Registry of Charitable Trusts with Pacifica's 1949 mission statement and Siegel as the chief executive officer and chief financial officer. Big Tent Radio has not been incorporated so Travis' appeals were either for the KPFA Foundation itself under a new name or for a nonexistent nonprofit that has no board to join. The website www.bigtentradio.org has been purchased by some unhappy with Travis' actions.
Calls to remove Travis from Pacifica governance have been heard throughout the network, including from sources as unlikely as former IED Lydia Brazon, an erstwhile ally of Travis, Wilkinson, Siegel and Save KPFA. Brazon, apparently a bit sore about her February removal as Pacifica's executive director, helpfully drafted a resolution for the national board to remove Travis and sent it to the national board unsolicited.
A lengthy conversation about Big Tent Radio was held at the KPFK local station board on May 21. You can listen to selections from that here. It contains a choice bit of revisionist history from Siegel/Brazonite Lawrence Reyes, who while waxing indignantly about Travis' actions, comes up with the novel assertion that both he and Brazon opposed the similiar actions of Wilkinson and Siegel when the secret existence of the "KPFA Foundation" was uncovered in 2015. What actually happened on the national board in 2015 can be heard here. Both Brazon and Reyes voted three different times: once to not add censuring Wilkinson to the board's agenda, once to rule out of order a motion to no longer use the services of Siegel as Pacifica's corporate counsel and once to prevent then-ED John Proffitt from investigating the creation of the "KPFA Foundation". Brazon cast the tie-breaking vote to prevent an investigation from going forward.
Twit Wit Radio's satirical look at the Big Tent Radio revelation can be heard here.
Finally, because you can never have too many lawsuits, the Siegel/Brazon remnants filed in Alameda Superior Court a 3-part lawsuit designed to try to recapture the national board majority after their large losses in the 2016 board elections. The lawsuit is being prosecuted by Harold Smith, the longtime law partner of Harmeet Dhillon, chair of the California Republican Party. Smith was her law partner for 8 years from 2006-2014, starting up his own firm in 2014. Dhillon, who infamously delivered a prayer for Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention addressing him as “a warrior and a leader” following Jefferson Sessions’ nomination of Trump, is the spouse of former national board member Sarv Randawa who represented Berkeley’s Save KPFA faction on Pacifica‘s national board for five years from 2004-2008. Dhillon and Smith previously pusued two other lawsuits against Pacifica, representing Siegel/Brazonites Brian Edwards-Tiekert and Rodrigo Argueta in 2011.
The complaint can be read here. It asks the court to restore LA listener rep Sharon Brown, after Brown was found to hold a seat on the Los Angeles Small Business Commission and was ruled ineligible by KPFK's station board by an 18-1 vote, due to the bylaws restriction on board members holding political appointments. It also asks the court to restore Efia Nwangaza to an affiliate director position by continuing to throw out the votes of NY's representatives. And the lawsuit asks the court to issue a pre-emptive injunction against any removal of Adriana Casenave for refusing to cede the board chair position to the newly elected board for three meetings in February and March of 2017. Plaintiffs Brown, Casenave and Nwangaza are suing board members David Beaton and Mansoor Sabbagh as individuals as well as Pacifica as an entity and claim in their complaint that Pacifica is "failing to protect the Foundation from attempts to dismantle it" - apparently trying to use the actions of their erstwhile allies in Save KPFA (Wilkinson, Siegel and Travis) to support their lawsuit.
Saturday, May 27, 2017
Saturday morning: Jim Dingeman has just posted a confirmation and updated the time. Please note that it is now set for 5 PM on Monday. Or is it?
A post by Alex Steinman on Nalini's listserv is casting some doubt regarding the veracity of the town hall meeting (see below). My source was a post by Jim Dingeman, whose growing frustration with WBAI and Pacifica is ever growing (and understandably so).
Alex Steinberg wrote:
This is a mistake. There is no meeting on Monday. I just confirmed with Bill Crosier and he knows nothing about this meeting. —Alex Steinberg
To which Jim Dingeman replied:
That is inaccurate
I set up this meeting many hours ago and mentioned that it would be a mass meeting
I have had to for years when head of the cab chair meetings like this
Frankly it would be a positive event
If people have changed their mind
So be it
But there was no mistake
Is the fake news policy of WBAI now spreading to its genuine supporters? I leave it to you to interpret—Remember, Steinberg tends to be snarky and, as noted, Jim is teetering on the edge of exasperation. Will the fat lady sing to an empty house?
Friday, May 26, 2017
There will be a town hall meeting at 3:00 PM on Monday, May 29th. This will offer a rare opportunity to meet Pacifica's Interim Executive Director, Bill Cosier, in person and hear what is being done to get WBAI back on track as a meaningful station that serves the entire N.Y area community. All are welcomed to attend and participate in what promises to be an informative exchange of plans and suggestions.
The event will take place at WBAI Radio, 388 Atlantic Avenue, between Hoyt and Bond Street in downtown Brooklyn.
In the short time Mr. Crosier has held this position, he has made significant strides to repair the damage created by his predecessors—he deserves our support in attempting that well nigh impossible task.
As I hope this blog has made obvious, my personal desire is to see WBAI regain its dignity and importance. That can not happen as long as the likes of Berthold Reimers, Tony Bates, and other self-serving incompetents continue to call the shots and bring the station down. At this late stage, it may not be possible to win back trusting listener-supporters, but let us at least try.
Here's a summary of some of the things going on around Pacifica. I'll be glad to answer questions about these topics and more during the PNB meeting tonight.
* Empire State Building lawsuit (about unpaid tower rental for WBAI's transmitter) - We (Sam Agarwal, our attorney Sam Himmelstein, his associate Jesse Gribben, and I) met with ESB representatives on Tuesday. As we expected, we will have to wait for them to get back to us with a specific dollar amount they're willing to accept in settlement. The ESB people in the meeting included ESB's President, Chief Controller, Director of Broadcasting, and two attorneys for their side. Their attorneys did most of the talking for them, and they did their job by asking some tough questions but none that were unexpected, and we were prepared for all of the questions and I think we gave good answers. Himmelstein agreed. Sam Agarwal did most of the negotiating because this is basically a financial matter, and he did an excellent job presenting our case and answering financial questions. Besides the legal issues, I pointed out that ESB has not lost money on Pacifica, but in fact has made a lot of money from us, and is now charging over 4 times the market rate for the tower lease. I reminded them that we had kept up with even those payments from when the lease started in 2005 until 2014. I told them it was a mistake for Pacifica to have agreed to a 15 year contract with such large increases each year (7% annual plus an additional Cost of Living Adjustment on top of that). They did not disagree with anything I said about that. ESB's President was silent during almost all of the meeting and had only one question - if we settle, how soon can we pay and how will we come up with the money. So I think it's good that is what his major concern is - clearly they want to settle. But they did not indicate what dollar amount will be acceptable to them. We told them that the PNB had authorized us to look at mortgaging or selling the property in Berkeley next door to KPFA (where the National Office is) and that we are checking into that and expect that will be how we can provide the settlement funds, as all of the stations barely have enough funds for payroll, insurance, and other essential expenses. They asked for some additional information, which I sent them yesterday, and I expect we'll hear back from them in a week or two with a dollar amount they will accept. They did say that whatever amount it is would have to be approved by their Board, and I told them that our PNB would also have to approve whatever sale or mortgage would be required to generate the settlement funds. I'll be glad to answer more questions in the PNB meeting tonight.
* Tapes being sold on eBay - I've been in contact with the person who is selling the historic KPFA tapes on eBay, and he's willing to work something out. He says he has about 4000 analog tapes from KPFA, KPFK, WBAI, and other stations, along with folios, that came from a storage locker. Negotiations are in process. An inspection visit by soe of the California people will take place this weekend.
* National Office funding: All stations are making special contributions this month to the National Office to help pay for part of a backlog of debt that has accumulated over the last few years. We expect to get a total of $100K from the stations, in addition to current Central Services, and this will help a great deal. In addition, another national fund drive day is planned for June to raise funds for the N.O. The theme is tentatively planned to be about George Orwell's book 1984, and will feature readings from the PRA 64GB USB drive - a reading of that entire book by professional actors is on that USB drive.
* Audits: Preparations are almost complete for the FY2015 audit, and we expect to be able to start that next week. I want to thank the Audit Committee for their work in this, incljuding evaluating proposals from audit firms and making a recommendation in their meeting last night.
* SAG-AFTRA filed for arbitration at KPFK because we were not able to provide a schedule acceptable to them for funding the past-due pension payments. None have been made into our profit-sharing style plan since the beginning of 2015 for any of our stations, although the 403B retirement plan is fully funded. I want all stations to catch up with all pension funding, but we need some time to determine how long that will take. I hope this can be worked into the budgets for FY2018 and perhaps some stations can start catching up on those payments this year.
Interim Executive Director
1925 Martin Luther King Jr Way
Berkeley CA 94704-1037
The streamed portion of the PBS Meeting Bill Crosier refers to at the beginning of his update turned out to be yet another gathering of confused gathering of the confused, the disruptive and the disengaged. Let's hope that the closed session that followed accomplished something. —Chris
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Note from IED Bill Crosier to the Pacifica National Board.
I met with the GMs and PDs (by conference call) on Monday to discuss how we could collaborate on coverage of Trump-gate hearings, however it progressed, with Russia, Comey, etc. The consensus on Monday was that we should wait until Congress schedules hearings. There was a lot of interest in covering something like that. We'll probably have gavel-to-gavel coverage on pacifica.org and possibly on some stations, but probably each station can choose what parts to broadcast live and what to save or repeat for the daily news or other shows. And we can mix in interviews of people who don't appear on other broadcasters during breaks.
Now that they will have Comey testify, that sounds like something we'll all want to cover.
I'll talk with the GMs and PDs about it next week.
Anyone have a better name for such hearings than "Trump-gate"?
Yesterday, WBAI suddenly went off the air and remained blessedly silent for about twelve hours.. It continued streaming, but a pitifully small listenership was reduced even further by this encore presentation of nothing.
If an explanation or apology was given via the stream, I didn't hear it. Around 3:30 Friday afternoon, it popped back in and we were assaulted by the hysteria of Margaret Prescod, the West Coast fantasist who is known to have spent a couple of months trying to unload a DVD set so rare that she was only able to get 15 copies. Well, this screeching hustler from Pacifica's cadre of repulsive fabulists is still peddling the same set.
Now, after a pause that refreshed, the scam was on again and, finally, an explanation was offered. Well, it came from Tony Bates, the program mismanager whose word is as good as styrofoam dinnerware. Suffering (thriving?) from a severe case of PP (Pacifica Paranoia), he is known to see a convenient dastardly plot in anything that might flicker his spotlight. Have you heard him twist African history? Has he offered you a bottle of the old Double Helix?
Unable to speak the truth or come up with a plausible reason for WBAI missing 12 hours of fundraising time, Mr. Bates dusted off his finger and pointed it at Verizon. Reimers had used that one before and it seemed to work.
Here, with more holes in it than Bonnie and Clyde's Ford V8, is what Bates wants us to believe:
|Was it :maintenance" or "repair"? Notice on WBAI's web site|
Saturday, May 13, 2017
As the May 11, 2017 Special Meeting of the PNB performed scenario that, inevitably, became part re-enactment, a desperate JUCie, Cerene the Contemptuous, banged on the cellular door and fired off a barrage of whiny posts and complaints. Disarmed for perennial bad conduct and vandalism, her disruptive tactics had boomeranged to bite her in the derriere.
In the meantime, our good friend, 'indigopirate' was all ears. What follows is his summary and audio highlight.
The Lowlights, or: Cerene questions the board’s sanity, the board (and Pacifica) question reality’s reality, or: Business As Usual As The Clock Ticks & Funds and Listeners Dwindle Ever Further
A few salient points…
A motion is passed to give the Chief Financial Officer authority over individual station business managers and when necessary their general managers in order to secure accurate and timely financial information and to have the authority, if needed, to apply disciplinary measures to secure such accurate and timely financial information.
There emerges a free-floating discussion as to the contingency consideration of the possibility of reducing WBAI, WPFW, and KPFT to repeater-station status. The CFO states that ‘there is no credible plan to turn around these stations’, but further states that he cannot go into any meaningful details in open session.
The argument cum complaint Is made that the CFO is unfair and unrealistic in requiring cuts of stations that are losing money and listeners.
There is discussion as to special fund raising to support the national office, as the CFO has reported to the finance committee that the national office is in severe financial difficulty, posing severe difficulties with respect to the planned audits, with respect to which the CFO points out that over the last two years the stations have not paid ~$800,000 in central services, and that that ongoing shortfall continues at the rate of ~$44,000 per month, which represents approximately 40% of the national office’s budget – ‘How can we continue our business?’
Edited version of the Pacifica Playhouse performance.
Thursday, May 11, 2017
I sent this to Pacifica radio's interim Executive Director Bill Crosier Wednesday morning. Since WBAI is re-airing this premium again today and pre-empting good shows by doing so (just as it did yesterday), I'm making this letter public. - Mitchel
Have you heard the new premium that WBAI offers, the "Zapper". THIS IS NOT A PARODY! Please go to WBAI's archives at 9 a.m. (NY time) for Wednesday, May 10, 2017), to hear Goeff Brady and Tony Bates pitching this instrument. Click HERE.
This is VERY serious -- selling WBAI's listeners a battery-powered electrical device that they attach to their bodies, ostensibly to create a negative ion field that kills parasites.
EVEN IF IT WERE TRUE that it works in the way being pitched, WBAI should not be in the business of pitching and selling items of this sort. One accident; one unanticipated heart attack, interaction with some other medical device or medication, development of irritations, tumors, danger to one's pets, etc., and we'd not only have injured one or more listeners but be put out of business by the lawsuits that would ensue.
Tony Bates says, after 10 minutes or so, that "We make no medical claims." He seriously believes that that statement protects him and WBAI and Pacifica against any injuries. This is Tony Bates' stupidity, and his utter lack of judgment or understanding of the purposes of WBAI radio, the Mission statement, and the implications of his actions. It exemplifies his whole approach to WBAI and it is clear that he hasn't learned anything since his last time here. He cannot be allowed to remain at the station.
I am asking you, Bill, to stop WBAI's sale of this premium immediately, and to direct that Tony Bates be removed from any association with WBAI.
Saturday, May 6, 2017
The following letter from Finance Committee member N. Martin Jamison to WBAI LSB Treasurer R. Paul Martin is an important read.
As you are aware, at last night's Finance Committee meeting it was revealed by the general station manager, Mr. Berthold Reimers, that World Financial Group, Incorporated an affiliate of Aegon N.V., a multinational life insurance, pensions and asset management company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands with revenues in the tens of billions has been an on air premium provider of financial services to our listenership and that the Mr. Reimer's son, Yoan Reimers, apparently works for World Financial Group, Incorporated. When Mr. Reimers was further questioned about the relationship and the nature of the WBAI’s agreement with World Financial Group, Inc. the general manger's response was essentially that his son was in Florida (!?) Putting aside for a moment the issues of how this group was vetted and by whom, the appropriateness of them being allowed to ultimately market a multi level marketing product to our listenership and whether or not the Financial Institution Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has approved the relationship, approved the apparent rebates being offered and approved the script or content for the on air discussions it is apparent that the general station manager was either unaware of the obvious conflict of interest and possible breach of his fiduciary duties to Pacifica and WBAI or he did not care............this is most troubling and has several possible legal implications for all involved!
It was further revealed that the general manager had apparently hired and paid a consulting firm, Yellow Magnet of New York, a $10,000 retainer for social media, online fundraising and other marketing related consulting services. Per usual the station manager could not (and/or would not produce the contract) and could not sufficiently described the total compensation that was agreed to. This raises a number of questions including but not limited to was there an open bidding process for the services, who vetted this group, who drafted and reviewed the contract that was used, does any member of WBAI's staff or management benefit from this relationship directly or indirectly and where did $10,000 come from, what was not paid because the consultants were paid and does the general manger have the authority to hire outside parties and pay them whatever he thinks appropriate for services that seemingly have not been purchased previously without review by the finance committee, Pacifica or the Local Station Board?
It has been clear to me that a conflict of interest policy is either wholly lacking or has not been adhered to. My experience as a finance committee member has led me to conclude that the general manager has consistently refused to provide financial information in a standardized format as requested by a passed motion of the finance committee for a couple of years now and up until now I have wanted to chalk up most of his reluctance to provide the most basic financial information in a clear, concise and consistent manner to either his lack of financial training and/or the fact that we have been operating in an ongoing crisis mode but these two recent events coupled with the apparent lack of even the minimum adherence to reasonable policies and procedures for dealing with vendors, providing transparency and accountability make me question my initial assessment.
R. Paul, originally my intent in writing this was to resign my position on the finance committee as the current situation is completely and totally unacceptable to me but I realized that quitting would not change the situation for the betterment of WBAI and it would make me sad about the situation so instead of resigning I am respectfully requesting that the you notify in writing the Local Station Board and the Executive Director of Pacifica on or before Friday May 12th of these developments and that you provide evidence of such notification to the finance committee members. I believe that these recent developments have risen to the level that the immediate direct involvement of the Local Station Board and/or the Pacific Foundation's executive director is required otherwise I feel my only recourse is to notify and seek outside regulatory oversight of the situation as a possible means to remedy or rectify what is seemingly taking place at WBAI. I base my position upon my belief that we have been entrusted with the hard earned money from our listeners and by all accounts we do not adequately account for it and now we apparently engaged in obvious conflicts of interest with the possibility of some within WBAI profiting directly or indirectly at our listeners' expense; a completely and totally unacceptable situation!
N. Martin Jameson
Finance Committee Member
As the Pacifica disharmony continues, specific topics come and go, but there are recurring leitmotifs. Not the least of these is the strenuous, mostly ludicrous, and always cluelessly counterproductive effort by the NYC JUC faction and its network-wide compadres to make their Pacifica squat permanent. Here is a flurry from last week that started with a typical disingenuous letter posted by JUC character Cerene on May 4th. Like I used to say about WBAI’s perennial aging hippie, Cerene—if given an opportunity—will strangle you with her love beads.
Thursday, May 4, 2017
Today, this clueless ignoramus was at it again, fomenting hate and attempting to sell it for the sake of keeping him and people of his ilk on WBAI's air.
If you are concerned for the future of our station, help restore its significance and listenership by demanding the ouster of this idiot and the whole Reimers gang.
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Ever credulous and/or the naïve apologist, Mitchel Cohen jumps off his steed to do the deed. Respect for Reimers has its ups and downs with our wannabe.
Here's what he has come up with regarding the latest Saint or Sinner question.
Is this actually true?
For many months our Monday team of volunteers has complained of not enough work, especially since they come in from far flung places (one from Jersey, another 2 hours away on Long Island, etc.). The team of 9 volunteers (more can be added, if needed) works quickly and efficiently, and usually we finish compiling, packing and mailing whatever is provided to us within 2 hours. We've mailed every single premium we were given.
After the end of the last fund drive, I asked where were the rest of Gary Null's premiums? The volunteers were aware of a large number that were still outstanding.
So I made inquiries. I learned that many hadn't been shipped, yet, by the publisher, or completed by Gary's staff, or manufactured by the company Gary uses. In other words, at that time -- I stress, this was a few weeks after the last fund drive, so things have likely changed in the interim -- we had (and still have) the troops willing and able to get them out, all set to go, and we were waiting on Gary to provide them.
There was then some problem or argument over payment TO Gary, from WBAI. While Gary has been generous and providing his premiums to WBAI at a discount, they have not been donated to WBAI as some of his listeners believe. I've seen invoices totalling over $50,000 billed by Gary Null for the last year.
I am not saying that those invoices were unjustified -- a great deal of material by Gary has been ordered by WBAI's listenership. And Gary indeed gives freely of his time, hosts free events, etc. So what exactly am I saying?: That there have been several causes for the delay in shipment -- disputes over WBAI's payments to Gary Null; disputes over air time; the premiums not being ready on time; the proposal that Gary's staff would send them out, not WBAI; etc. You try to sort that out and you get a dozen conflicting stories.
So, the WBAI volunteer team arranged to bypass all of those problems and pick up those premiums, at our own expense, when they are ready, as we had done a couple of years ago. Alternatively, I also suggested a few years ago that Gary rent a van and have one of his folks drive them over, and bill WBAI for that. On several occasions I also suggested that for small shipments of a few cartons of material, that Gary just put them in a cab and pay the driver the $30 it would take to bring them to Brooklyn.
In the current instance, I was told that the premiums either were not ready (on Gary's end) or were not being released until payment was received -- not unreasonable for normal businesses, but not exactly the black-and-white claim that Steve is making, either.
Please note that we indeed packed and shipped a large number of Gary's premiums without any problem, so why these particular premiums have become a problem is likely a bit more complicated and less one-sided than Steve is making out, here.
Again, the volunteers are working regularly -- not just the Monday crew, but others as well on Fridays, too, and smaller groups during the week when needed. If Gary has the premiums sitting in his office, please ask him to let me know, in writing, and we'll have folks come and get'm (though it would be easier all around for him to rent a van and have one of his folks drive them to Brooklyn). —Mitchel Cohen
Let’s stick to the issues and facts that I know about first hand. As of my last writing, all of Gary’s premiums had been ready for pick-up at his office for weeks and weeks, ready to be delivered to the listeners, except for one premium, Brain Stuff, about which Gary’s staff had notified Berthold, far in advance, that production was not complete.
So Gary’s withdrawal from the fund drive was not because of Brain Stuff, no matter what Berthold has tried to imply. It was specifically about the hundreds (I think the number was 680) premiums that had been sitting on Gary’s office floor for weeks, despite urgent pleas by Gary’s staff that they be picked up and sent out to their recipients. But Berthold was being arrogant about it. He would not come himself, nor would he send anyone else to pick them up, or even let anyone know that there were premiums ready to be picked up. I know your group was willing and able to ship out whatever premiums you had in house, but you can’t ship what you don’t have. Did Berthold ever tell you about the outstanding premiums in Gary’s office, let alone to pick them up or arrange to pick them up so they could be shipped out? I don’t think so.
Berthold was simply playing chicken with Gary. And losing. But today, Berthold finally blinked.
This afternoon, Berthold did an about-face. He suddenly rushed down to Gary’s office to picked up all the outstanding premiums, as Gary had been urging him to do for so long. Then, since there was no time to arrange a live broadcast (because Gary is in Florida), Berthold had Tony grab an old Gary Null program off the shelf from the last fund drive, and run it from 6-8pm today. Since Gary’s issue about the outstanding premiums had now been resolved, at least for the moment, and absent any other difficulties, Gary could now join the fund drive.
But you should know this very important thing. Berthold had not failed to pick up the premiums because the station had no money to pay for them. No. The premiums that Berthold picked up today were all paid for. And that is the irony. Berthold could have picked them up and shipped them out to the listeners anytime during the past 6 weeks, since they were, shamefully, still outstanding from the last fund drive of several months ago. But Berthold doesn’t give a damn for the listeners who pay to keep the station on the air (and pay his salary). Berthold just wanted to play dueling penises with Gary Null. So during that previous drive, after Berthold had already collected all the money for the premiums from the listeners, he gave Gary the finger—by willfully spending all the premium money elsewhere, without a care about buying the premiums that he was obligated to send to the listeners who had paid for them.
But this was Gary’s audience, and Gary didn’t want to disappoint them. So (fool that he was) Gary volunteered to conduct a 2-week retreat specifically dedicated to raising the money to pay for those premiums, even though they had already been paid for before, by the listeners. So he opened his facility and gathered together therapists, doctors, nutritionists, masseurs, swimming instructors, chefs, psychologists, caretakers, bus drivers, etc., and in addition devoted nearly 500 hours of his and Luanne’s time for both intensive weeks, making themselves available 13 hours each day to these WBAI retreat-attendees for advice and consultation, and then lecturing to them for an additional 2 hours every evening – all without compensation. (Do you know what Gary gets just for his lectures? Maybe not the $200,000 that Hillary gets, or the $400,000 that Obama will get, but his fee for the many lectures he conducts around the country is $60,000, for a single lecture, let alone for 2 weeks of lectures every night.)
Anyway, the irony I referred to was that, after Gary had raised enough money through his retreat to pay for the premiums in question, and told Berthold they were ready to be picked up at his office for shipment to the listeners, Berthold wouldn’t pick them up. Nor would he tell you and your crew of volunteers that they were ready to be picked up. Despite repeated calls from Gary’s office, the premiums just sat there, blocking Gary’s office space, week after week, after Gary had just sweated out a 2-week retreat specifically to pay for those premiums so they could go out without delay. That’s what finally pushed Gary over the edge.
The station is too important (or was once too important, sigh) to be held hostage by the immature petulance and blatant criminality of a general manager who really doesn’t give a damn about the station, or its mission, or the community it is supposed to serve.
I would like to think that it was my series of public emails about how Berthold had goaded Gary into boycotting the upcoming fund drive that embarrassed Berthold enough to make him blink – and finally made him pick up the premiums at Gary’s office for delivery to the listeners. But I am not that vain – Berthold is beyond embarrassment, as sociopaths generally are. However, I do think that my emails alerted Bill Crosier and Sam Agarwal to the financial folly of allowing Berthold to keep Gary sidelined during a fund drive, for a possible loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars. My suspicion, unverified, is that one or both of them had picked up the phone to call Berthold and warn him that Gary had to participate in this fund drive, or else. That is, Berthold was told either to get off the pot or pack his bags and get out of town.
I hope that clarifies the issue.