Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Halo to the Chief?
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.