Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ready for the Pacifica Perp Walk?

While the dysfunctional self-destructing Pacifica Board wasted hours shouting bitter nothings at each other, the stark reality came ever closer. Now—thanks in good measure to Berthold Reimers' incredibly inept pretense of "leadership" and a succession of his superiors' utter failure to do anything about it (i.e. kick his ass outta there, to be blunt) the day of reckoning is  but a few days away. I have not spoken to Bill Crosier about this in any detail, but I strongly suspect that some of the information comes from Berthold Reimers and is an attempt to put the blame on others, including the storm, Sandy, a ludicrous excuse that Reimers regularly uses to get himself off the hook.

Asking WBAI producers to "educate the listeners as to what the situation is" saddle demonstrates how little Mr. Crosier has been told about Reimers and his cronies. Unless these "producers" are given something to read, they will only make things worse as they will surely compound the lies that are already out there. These are the same people who gladly pitch phony cures and other frauds when participating in Reimers' endless marathon fundraisers. The sad truth is that WBAI would not be in this critical situation were it not for amateur management, self-serving on-air opportunists, and a National Board riddled with ignorance and corruption. Asking the perpetrators to put bandaids on the wounds they themselves have inflicted will not work, they need to be shown the door and what is left of the listenership needs to be made aware of their permanent departures. Even that, is probably too late—they essentially killed the station a few years back and it isn't likely to start breathing again. 

The following from Pacifica's iED, Bill Crosier, says it all, but any stories from the "producers" should be taken as the last gasp. I still applaud Bill Crosier for trying, but, quite frankly, WBAI is a candidate for mercy killing—there is nothing left to save, there are no "celebrities" who give a damn anymore, and there is no audience. Read Bill Crosier's plea, wish him the best, and let us know what you think  

URGENT  •  URGENT  •  URGENT

Dear Producers at WBAI and the rest of Pacifica,

We are in as grave a situation as Pacifica has ever been.

The Problem:

As you may know, the Empire State Building (ESB), which houses the WBAI transmitter, has refused to negotiate with Pacifica in a lawsuit over our antenna lease. It has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (MSJ) in NY State Supreme Court against WBAI/Pacifica not-for-profit and non-commercial radio. They claim WBAI owes them $2.1 million (increasing each month) on our lease for the last 3 years. The onerous lease goes until 2020.

The case goes to the Judge on June 30.

URGENT

WBAI's operations -- and Pacifica's -- would be put in serious jeopardy if the Judge grants the MSJ.

There's of course a much longer story here involving the ESB taking advantage of the World Trade Center's antenna being destroyed in 9/11, which eliminated its competition, and forcing WBAI to have no choice but to sign an unconscionable lease with large increases each year and is now more than 4 times the present market rate! 

It is imperative that ESB officials quickly become very aware that the public, including politicians, celebrities, press, and listeners, care about WBAI. We must make the ESB calculate that the loss to their good will from many sectors is not worth it.

We have to take action very quickly - this week!

What Producers Can Do Immediately:

Producers are the first line of contact with the public. Please spend a portion of each of your shows in the next week helping to educate your listeners as to what the situation is. And then most importantly urge them to:

1. Contact their elected officials, including those in New York's City Council and state legislature, and express their concerns.

2. Call the ESB switchboard to talk with Anthony Malkin, the CEO and President of the Empire State Building. Leave a message for him if you can't speak with him, so think in advance about a short message you can leave.

Callers should request three essential actions by the Empire State Building:

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1) withdraw the Motion for Summary Judgment, 
2) be reasonable and negotiate with WBAI/Pacifica in good faith, and 
3) release WBAI from the remainder of its onerous lease with no penalty.

The phone number for the Empire State Bldg switchboard is 212-687- 8700. Request Anthony Malkin, the CEO and Chair of the Board of Empire State Realty Trust, which owns ESB and several other buildings in New York.
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There will also be upcoming Press Conferences and other activities where turn out from producers and listeners will be essential. Please be on the watch for such announcements soon.

Talking Points for Producers to Inform Listeners:

* In 2001, when 9/11 happened, WBAI covered it live, and stayed at the mic round-the-clock reporting from downtown Manhattan. After the destruction of the Twin Towers, broadcasting stations in the NYC area had few options for rental of transmitter space. The Empire State Building took advantage of their virtual monopoly on good antenna space after 9/11, and so forced a now deceased former Pacifica Executive Director to sign an unconscionable contract whose rent now has risen to over $50,000 a month.
 
*This highly questionable 15 year contract  also involves extraordinary annual increases of 7% of the license fee for using the antenna. in addition to an annual cost of living increase based on the inflation rate. This is why the monthly payments, which were (barely) affordable when the new lease was signed in 2005, are now so outrageous.  The Empire State Building has refused to release Pacifica from the contract which has three more years of escalating payments to go.

*Since the Conde Nast building was built at 4 Times Square, and the new Freedom Tower were built, other good antenna space is available, and the amount being charged WBAI is now much higher than other options that are now available for about $12K per month.

* ESB's response, when we told them we could not afford the exorbitant increases per the lease but could pay them the market rate, was not to be reasonable or fair, but to tell us that we should sell the WBAI license or trade it for one with a much smaller coverage area!  In other words, they suggested that we cannibalize our signal in the largest media market in the country, so they could earn excessive profits.

* The ESB receives public assistance in one form or another (abatements, etc.) but the ESB has no not-for-profit rate, and worse it is charging WBAI at 4 times the market rate!

* The Empire State building is owned and managed by the Empire State Realty Trust. Anthony Malkin is the Chairman, CEO and President.  It is an international entity including investors from Qatar, Japan, Norway and Austrailia. At one point Donald Trump was involved in legal actions and ownership of the building.

* WBAI's best chance of achieving financial stability is to move to a comparable location elsewhere with comparable coverage area that is available now (but not in 2005), at 25% of what's in the current ESB lease. That it is why it is so important that listeners make their views known to the Empire State Realty Trust, which owns the building.
 
*The mission of Pacifica has always been to serve the public. WBAI has been a pioneer in coverage of the global ecological issues, climate change, social justice, anti-war protests and the economic crises. The station has  provided in depth coverage of the Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements and of the Dakota pipeline protests, as well as ground-breaking coverage of the Arts, Women's Liberation, and Gay Liberation. Every public radio station in America has based itself on the example that Pacifica pioneered. Pacifica invented listener-sponsored radio. Pacifica is not just a reporter of news, but a news maker. A strong, united Pacifica is needed now more than ever. We cannot let the forces of elitism win!!
 
Again, please ask listeners to contact their elected officials and also to call the Empire State Bldg. and ask that ESB:
*****************************************
  1. withdraw the Motion for Summary Judgment, 
  2. be reasonable and negotiate with WBAI/Pacifica in good faith, and 
  3. release WBAI from the remainder of its onerous lease with no penalty.
The Switchboard for Empire State Bldg is 212-687-8700; request Anthony Malkin, ESRT CEO and Board Chair.
***********************************
And remind listeners that this is just the first action in our fight to save the station!

Together, we will fight to continue standing up for the rights of the people who are often forgotten, and to keep WBAI's free speech voices strong and continuing to broadcast news, public affairs, analysis, and culture that you don't hear on other stations.

Thanks for all you do for WBAI and Pacifica.

Bill Crosier
Interim Executive Director
Pacifica Foundation 
1925 Martin Luther King Jr Way
Berkeley CA 94704-1037

35 comments:

  1. Ed ManfredoniaSunday, June 25, 2017

    Everyone hated me when I said that Berthold Reimers was lying about the rent for the Empire State Building.

    Steve Brown, Mitchel Cohen, R Paul Martin, Carolyn Birden, et al defended Berthold's lies.

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    1. I had a similar experience, Ed, also a few years back when I observed that they were turning WBAI into a third-rate black propaganda station.

      Many people see and hear what best suits their personal agenda.

      Delete
  2. It’s a valid contract.

    The ESB has delayed action for some very considerable time, and the fact that they have now once again moved for summary judgement means that Crosier’s attempts at negotiation have failed.

    Which in turn means they have no confidence in the ‘plans’ to save the network.

    Abhorrent though it is to the likes of Pacificans they do in fact have fiduciary responsibilities – and those responsibilities are not to WBAI/Pacifica, however incomprehensible such a concept would appear to be to these merry, snarling little leftists.

    This and other concomitant disasters are of WBAI/Pacifica’s making – no one else’s.

    They have done it to themselves, over many long years, with many possibilities of altering course.

    Yet here they are, whining.

    Surprise.

    Let there be fair judgement.

    Let the axe fall.

    ~ ‘indigopirate’


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    1. Regretfully indisputable, Indigo. They had ample time to get back on track, but they ignored every sign, every warning, every advice.

      Can you say, "Art"?

      Delete
  3. I particularly like the to-the-ramparts pr-blather of ‘We cannot let the forces of elitism win!!’

    The double exclamation marks are particularly compelling.

    :)

    ~ ‘indigo’

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  4. 'BAI should simply move to Mexico, and with the proceeds garnered from the sale of the frequency, set up a 250 kW AM blowtorch station, and spam their bullshit out across half the country.

    Wolfperson Gary says.. "I'm very rich - in friends. I'm too nice a fellow. I give most of my money away."

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    1. In the "border blaster" days they may be able to have done that. But the USA and Mexico eventually made a deal to limit the transmitters and their power.

      However, they could go onto shortwave and probably get more listeners than they have now by virtue of SWLers curiosity.

      Needless to say, if WBAI were on shortwave, they would become hated as one of those stations that asks for return postage for QSL cards but never actually sends out the QSLs.

      SDL

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  5. I looked up the motion. A motion for summary judgment is a request for the court to rule that the other party has no case, because there are no facts at issue. The party making the motion is claiming that either the case should not go before a jury at all, or a jury could only rule in favor of the moving party.

    In order to win an MSJ, the moving party must show that:
    •there are no facts which can reasonably be disputed; or
    •anyone looking at the facts and applying law would rule in favor of the moving party.

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    1. They're saying WBAI does not have a case so why bother with a trial? If they're denied, then they have to consider whether its worth it to go to trial. If granted, they avoid a trial and may receive a judgment in their favor. Essentially ESB is covering themselves. They could insist on getting the full amount owed, negotiate payment terms or be in a better position around settlement time or in the event Pacifica goes bankrupt.

      Delete
    2. The reference to bankruptcy is very astute. Having a judgement against Pacifica/WBAI would give the ESB priority over other creditors in the event of bankruptcy.

      Delete
    3. CORRECTION: The judgment, by itself, does not give a creditor priority. However, a creditor with a judgment lien does have priority, and a creditor with a judgment can take steps to acquire a judgment lien. So, obtaining a judgment is an intermediate step in acquiring priority in the event of bankruptcy.

      Delete
  6. A motion for summary judgment is based on the argument that the moving party is entitled to judgment based on indisputable facts. The ESB's motion here would be based on the following three indisputable facts: 1. WBAI entered into a legally enforceable contract with ESB. 2. The contract required WBAI to make certain payments to the ESB. 3. WBAI has not made the payments agreed to. Therefore, WBAI owes the ESB the difference between the amounts owed and the amounts paid. Legally, this is a no-brainer; and there is nothing to negotiate. Everything else is just noise.

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    1. I think it is pretty clear that Berthold Reimers became trapped in his lies—I wonder if there was an ounce of truth in his claim to have spent month after month "negotiating" with the ESB people?

      Reimers hiring by Pacifica was based on his lies—his gross incompetence obviously suited the Foundation-level scammers well, so an imagined win-win scenario loses. Even if, by some improbable "miracle" Pacifica survives, it has long been rendered insignificant and is almost guaranteed to remain so.

      The list of vandals is a long one that goes all the way back to clueless creeps like Steve Post, Millspaugh, Josephson and Koch. Of these, only Chris Koch made a positive contribution to Pacifica's reputation—he was an excellent radio producer until self-importance consumed him.

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    2. There is something to negotiate if ESB wants to talk. If the market rate is really $12,000 and there are not enough other clients then ESB may be better off trying to work something out to get some or all of their money. The key thing to remember is the ESB is in the driver's seat.

      Delete
  7. Chris,

    It is a commercial contract. If the contract is breached thee full amount is due. WBAI has no case. And Lynne Stewart's clients attempted to blow up the World Trade Center- including the broadcasting tower.

    Ed Manfredonia

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  8. Chris,

    I must share this with you. For many years Berthold Reimers had informed the WBAI Local Station Board and the WBAI Finance Committee that his negotiations with the Empire State Building were going forward. I, of course, knew that there were no negotiations. Furthermore, Mitchel Cohen, like Bill Crosier, believed that WBAI should have a special not for profit rate. l But there is special not for profit rate. Incidentally, Steve Brown’s advice was to not pay and break the contract- which would necessitate that WBAI pay the full value of the contract.

    Furthermore, Berthold, with the assistance of R Paul Martin, perpetrated accounting fraud and stated that the rent for the ESB was $15,000- not $45,000 or $50,000. The missing $30,000 was not entered into either the Income Statement or the Balance Sheet. Martin, an accounting t innumerate, even attempted to pass off some pages, which proscribed the sale of food, as the lease with the ESB.

    Whenever I pointed out these discrepancies, R Paul Martin would proudly display his ignorance of everything.

    But the truly ironic point is that Berthold Reimers and Bill Crosier have placed the onus of the lease on the destruction of the World Trade Center. Yet, Lynne Stewart was sentenced to federal prison for aiding and abetting terrorism. And whom did Lynne Stewart, who was elected as a member of the WBAI LSB, defend? Why, Lynne defended the Blind Sheikh, whose followers attempted to blow up the World Trade Center- thus, helping the Empire State Building overcharge WBAI for the lease of the radio tower.

    Ed Manfredonia

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  9. Chris, I said it before and will say it again. The only "negotiating" Reimers did with the ESB lawyers for a couple of years was fending off their collection calls. There were never any real negotiations going on.

    As for the MSJ, they aren't often granted. The thing is that the court has to be absolutely sure that there isn't any question to any claims, etc. here it looks like WBAI is playing the usually pathetic loser stance of an unconscionable contract. That could be an issue IF all the other stations at the ESB are paying much lower rentals.

    Anyway, I doubt Anthony Malkin's voicemail will see much activity over this. Pacifica better be ready to bite the bullet and pay up and/or move out. The only thing in their favor is Himmelstein et al. being a decent law firm (um, don't ask how I know, please).

    SDL

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  10. Chris,

    I notified the Empire State Building that Berthold Reimers was perpetrating accounting fraud. I received a letter from an attorney that the Empire State that they would look into this. I provided the ESB with a copy of the financial statements in which the rent liability was omitted.

    How stupid could Berthold Reimers and R Paul Martin be? They insulted me whenever I asked a question; so I was obligated to report them for fraud. That is why I was proclaimed a whistle-blower in BusinessWeek.

    Ed Manfredonia

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    1. Well done. Fraud is fraud. ESB might as well have that bit of additional ammo if they'd like to make use of it. It would be well and truly justified.

      ~ 'indigopirate'

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  11. Trying to put outside "pressure" on the ESB's management will not get very far. A while back, the odious Bill Donohue of the so-called "Catholic League" got into a feud with the ESB over the ESB's refusal to light the building in blue and white in honor of Mother Teresa. When rebuffed, Donohue started a campaign to get the ESB to capitulate to his lighting demands, to no avail.

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  12. This was accounting fraud. I wrote that Berthold had said that he was engaged in meaningful discussions with the ESB to lower the rent. Obviously, there was no discussion.

    Only individuals, who are associated with Pacifica, believe that it is permissible to lie to people.

    Most individuals do not want to be dragged into the mistruths of a serial liar.

    Berthold should be indicted for fraud.

    Ed Manfredonia

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    1. Some months back there was concern that they might lose their Directors and Officers insurance. I've seen no recent references to the status of that question.

      Any idea as to whether or not they're covered?

      ~ 'indigo'

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    2. I thought they DID lose it, already.

      SDL

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    3. I thought so, too, but they don't seem to refer to it, so I was just looking to confirm the fact.

      If they are, as directors and officers, stark naked, financially, that would be a good thing.

      ~ 'indigopirate'

      Delete
  13. (JuatAListener)

    Amazing how Reimers' deflector shield keeps working.
    He's been exposed as an incompetent liar to yet another ED and is still collecting a paycheck.
    The unsent premiums, the $20,000 Verizon bill, the uncompleted paperwork (and refusal to follow Pacifica's order to use specific accounting software) that delayed audits and contributed to loss of CPB funds, and now this.

    If I were the ESB why would I negotiate with an entity that keeps a Reimers in a management position?

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  14. In a sense, Pacifica's taking the same approach that Greece took with the IMF re: their bailout negotiations. Look, we can't pay this debt. What are you gonna do? Invade and take over our country? If depositions were taken, it would be proven that Pacifica has no case. Someone FORCED them into signing the ESB contract? Really? the 5 w's (who, what, whwn, where and why). How did they force you? or was that just your 'perception" of a threat?

    Pacifica's long history of total incompetence which was encouraged and covered up by various factions totally destroys them. Which means what? Lots of people conncted with Pacifica will now have to get attorneys?

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    1. Some of them are, in fact, attorneys.

      No surprise there :)

      Delete
  15. Depositions of Agarwal and Reimers have been posted. They basically say Reimers and Katz met with the ESB in 2014 and informed them they could not pay the full amount. The ESB accepted the partial payments until a deal could be worked out. They then express surprise at the ESB's move for a motion of summary judgment.

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    1. You will find them linked to if you scroll up or go to the previous blog entry, "More ESB"

      Sorry, doing this on my iPad-—a bit awkward.

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    2. They have an "agreement". Is it written or verbal? While I'm not an expert on NY state contract law, wouldn't one party have more leeway to get what's owed to them if it's verbal? Besides, is reimers has been lying about station books, that's more leverage for the ESB. Their argument? This "agreement" was made with the other side deliberately lying about BAI's finances. Therefore it's in bad faith= null and void.

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  16. Call The Empire State Building people and urge them to oblige WBAI to pay every cent they owe: No deals. No escape from the contract.
    212 687 8700

    TPM

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  17. If the ESB's pushing harder to finally get their money, will Amy Goodman do the same? If Pacifica hasn't made any effort to pay her back, it wouldn't surprise me if she'd sue for her millions. Why hasn't she done this sooner? She's had an extremely lucrative contract w/Pacifica heavily in her favor. In her mind, this gives her leverage. Without me and DN, Pacifica's nothing. Incredibly arrogant thinking on her part, considering she hasn't updated their format in what, almost 20 years? Then again, when you're the boss tiny annoying things like air checks don't apply.

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  18. If they really go black , (excuse the pun) do you think they will blame it on white oppression?
    Stupid question . Ofcourse they will.

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    1. You answered your own question correctly, I believe.

      They have already, for all intents and purposes, gone black—unfortunately, on a very low level.

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