Friday, May 26, 2017
Updates from iED Bill Crosier
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