Friday, April 22, 2016

Who's on top?

High on the list of the current corrupt Pacifica National Board's secrets is the contractual agreement WBAI/Pacifica signed with the Empire State Building and its current wording. We don't know what changes Berthold Reimers "negotiated" in his alleged marathon sessions with the ESB, but here is the original one, dating back to June 27, 2005.

ESB Pacifica WBAI lease.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Serenity at Pacifica "governance" meeting: April 20, 2016

I posted this uncut audio of the April 20 meeting without having had time to do more than spot check it, but now—the day after—I have listened to the whole thing. 

I won't go into details, but there are obviously members present who attempt to do the right thing, but—as always—that ends up being an exercise in futility. Here, as so often in the past, it is WBAI blocker, Cerene Robertson who pours water in the gas tank. This being a phone conference, she is unable to get physical, but she interrupts again and again in her characteristic hostile way, eventually igniting and fueling a shouting match of impressive decibels. As close followers of the current Pacifica board game know, Cerene is not there legitimately, but rather as an obstruction planted in the path of progress. It is a role she was born to play and she does so rather well, albeit without finesse. When her seat on the Board is rightly questioned, she explodes into a telling hissy fit, throwing a tantrum at Chair pro tem George Reiter (KPFT), and essentially bringing the curtain down on another embarrassing, unproductive Pacifica skit. You will notice that Tony Johnson, the WPFW Siegel simpatico jumps in to boost Cerene and derail this meeting. 

If this is governance, Spam is a festive holiday meal.

The April 20, 2016 Governance meeting in full.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Personal comment: Bill Crosier

When Kevin White asked, "Why is Terry Goodman work so hard to support the stupid faction?", Mr. Goodman asked a sadly appropriate question:
"Is there a non-stupid faction?"

That prompted Bill Crosier, a KPFT Pacifican of rare sanity, to post the following commentary, which I thought to be a worthy of repeating:

Here in Pacifica-land, we believe everyone has the right to be as stupid as they want or are, whether it's by nature or nuture. We don't discriminate against stupidity, or ignorance, or failure of fiduciary duty, or even malfeasance. Equal rights for all!

Sorry - I could not resist that.

Actually, for years, I've looked at the major difference between Pacifica factions as whether they support financial responsibility or not.  For example, do the factions support wacky budgets with bloated revenue estimates in an attempt to keep as many people on the payroll as possible even if it guarantees deficits?  Or do they ignore lack of action by management to ensure we get our audits done on time?  There seems to be a clear difference between the factions about that, but from listening to the rhetoric you'd think it was all about which faction is more politically radical than the other.

I've been very disappointed with board members (on LSBs and the PNB) who don't do their homework, who don't actively help with outreach (to get more listeners and members) or fundraising, who don't review budgets and other proposals, and who don't insist that management do what's needed to ensure Pacifica survives (much less thrives) and hold them responsible. Instead, we have board members who just follow the leader, even if it's off the cliff.  So much for the value of large, STV-elected boards that were supposedly to ensure we'd have a bunch of diverse people bringing a variety of useful skills and experience to our boards.  Clearly that has not happened, and the follow-the-leader approach makes a mockery of our supposed democratic governance.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Are the answers blowing in the wind?

Inquisitive by nature and chosen mission, the undaunted Tracy Rosenberg feels it's time for the Pacifica Finance Committee to pull some arbitrary secrets out from under the table and answer some questions. She made her suggestion in a letter posted today:
Now that it's* finally been released: a few questions. Please address these at the finance committee meeting:

1) Direct Mail Expense: The PNB was told the national office sent out a piece of direct mail in December of 2015. There is $4K in income credited as direct mail revenue and another $35K in donations to the PNO. There are no direct mail expenses accrued in the fiscal year by the PNO. 

2) Satellite Fees. In 2015, this expense was accrued at $5.7K a month or $68k a year. It has never been lower than $67K annually for the past five years. In 2016, it is accrued at $3K a month which is less than 50% of previous years. Why?

3) PNO insurance Expenses are accrued at $74K, when they are much higher. $274K in FY 2015. Has insurance been dropped and if so what insurance has been dropped, or are bills not accrued?

4) Audit Expenses accrued are $18K since October. Why are the auditor bills of $75K to $100K as described not accrued? Did the auditor do no work and send no bills In January and February of 2016?. The accrued amounts are from November and December of 2015.

5) Legal bills were accrued by the PNO in the amount of $47K. Why were resources directed to legal instead of the audit? What are the legal bills for? Why are $37K of them accrued prior to the filing of a lawsuit against Pacifica in January?

6) Administrative expenses at the PNO did not drop by a factor of 80% in February. The expenses are simply not entered. Why is this the case in early April when this statement was released?

Nothing seems wildly inaccurate, although the tower utilities are missing for February, but it is somewhat incomprehensible that listener support is at $432K for the year after three fund drives. The station may not cross the $1 million mark in revenue. Two things that come to mind are that you have to take a look at the programming because you have a 25% income drop and secondly that the no-premiums mode of fundraising may be costing money rather than saving it.

1) The only accounting point is that $37K for consultants is a lot in the first five months of the year. WPFW has spent about 10% of its income on consultants in 2014 and 2015, after getting those expenses down in 2012 and 2013. I'm not sure popping those numbers way up again is a good practice. 
The noticeable change is that the $900K decline in listener support from FY 2014 to FY 2015 has maintained through 2016, a huge year over year drop that needs an explanation. Going from $2.2 million to $1.3 million in a year is a catastrophe and there has been no recovery. Completely apart from the structural problem with ESB. Whether it is listener dissatisfaction with the programming, the failure to send premiums or both, leaving it unremedied for more than a year is completely crazy. 
1) As with WPFW, close to 10% of income is being spent on consultants,. Does the finance committee know what these $43K in consultant expenses are for and has there been discussion of their use at both East Coast stations?

2) Election expenses. WBAI has not accrued the bill for the printing, postage and counting of the LSB election ballots. Simply Voting must have sent a bill by now and certainly the printing and postage has been accrued so where is it?

3) Credit Card discounts. Something is wrong with these numbers. Credit card processing fees are fairly uniform and WBAI is reporting the same amount as KPFA on 1/2 the income and 5x WPFW for just $100K more income. If $21K is being paid to process $553K in income, then other arrangements need to be made. 

4) Fund drive expenses. I assume this is the call center service, but again $48K in five months is almost 10% of income. This doesn't seem like a sane way to do things. 
1) Election expenses. KPFT has not accrued the bill for the printing, postage and counting of the LSB election ballots. Simply Voting must have sent a bill by now and certainly the printing and postage has been accrued so where is it?
A significant amount of expenses are missing and have not been accrued in January and February. 

1) Payroll expenses need some explanation. The January figures, while expected to be higher due to the return to 80% time, are higher than the 100% payroll from last year. If back seniority pay was paid out or other concessions due to arbitration, that should be recorded differently than as 2016 payroll because that's not what it is. The February payroll number is $59K less than January's and only $20K larger than December. Is $20K a month all it cost to bring the entire staff from 50% time to 80% time?

2) Why does KPFK have $4.7K accrued for "National Board expenses and travel"

3) Election expenses. KPFK has not accrued the bill for the printing, postage and counting of the LSB election ballots. Simply Voting must have sent a bill by now and certainly the printing and postage has been accrued so where is it?

4) Who was paid an LES salary for KPFK in December? Didn't Cookie go missing in action?

5) Credit card discounts have largely not been accrued.

6) Why are development expenses in February $8.8K negative?
1) Website income. KPFA is coming up dramatically short on website income because the majority of it is being added to the listener revenue category at the end of fund drives, now for periods in excess of two weeks after funds drives are completed. This has already opened up a $40K gap between budgetary projections and actuality

2) Events income. Unrecorded for January and February. Website records events on Jan 20, Jan 26, Jan 28, Feb 3, Feb 10, and Feb 18. 

3) Tower utilities missing for December and February
General Accounting Notes

1) The recording of direct mail solicitations makes no sense. The expenses are broken out, the income is not, making it impossible to see how much revenue came in from the $20K in direct mail costs that are expensed. That income should be broken out in the category called "direct mail revenue" which currently contains only $4K for an expense of $20K.
2) The recording of website income makes no sense. In order to assess how much money comes in via the web, it needs to be placed in that account by all the stations or you can't tell. Many stations don't break it out at all or like KPFA they hide the majority of it in the listener support line. That doesn't allow you to assess how effective your online fundraising efforts are or are not.
3) The $4.7K assessed to KPFK for national board meetings and travel got lost and never made it into the consolidated income statement. The amount that is there $3.8K also needs an explanation because there was no national board meeting travel in October and November of 2015. 
4) The only election expenses accrued besides NES and LES salaries is $15K by KPFA. The printing, postage and Simply Voting charges do not all belong to KPFA nor are they likely to only total $15K. 

Have a good finance committee meeting. Hopefully you can clear up some of these things and correct them in the March financial statement.
*Pacifica Financial statement ending 2-29-2016 

Friday, April 15, 2016

If the shoe don't fit...

Bill Crosier of KPFT is one of the few Pacifica board members who consistently makes an effort to cut through the BS and get something positive accomplished. For that reason, he is subject to the majority's stifling tactics. We have heard his phone connection cut off during tele-conferences, as well as other moves to prevent him from pointing out highly questionable election rigging maneuvers. Obviously, the Siegel mob does not welcome Mr. Crosier's no-nonsense approach.

If you have listened to recent teleconferences as streamed, I'm sure you have noticed how Siegel's disciples, including Tony Norman of the Washington station, are quick to step in when the questioning becomes discomfiting. A recent move in the Siegel game has called for rigging of WBAI's LSB in order to obtain majority for the JUCs. Cerene Roberts flits around like a fly in a bottle to manipulate elections and recently, when a meeting was rendered unlistenable by a symphony of beeps, Mr. Norman claimed that a vote had taken place during the interruption and—wonder of wonders—it favored the Siegel agenda.

This morning, another game maneuver prompted Mr. Crosier to send Tony Norman a note to point out a typical departure from the rules. He also cc'ed it to the Pacifica Radiowaves listservI. You might find it illuminating:

Subject: [PacificaRadiowaves] Re: WBAI email ballot election results
Date: April 15, 2016 at 12:26:50 AM EDT
To: Tony Norman <>, "" <>
Cc: Pacifica Radiowaves <>, "" <>

Tony, I see from the e-mail election results you sent to the PNB today, for WBAI LSB officers and Directors to the PNB from WBAI, that only 11 people voted.  So clearly there was not quorum for any of those elections.

Also, I note that the tallies were performed by Jack VanAken.  While I respect his work on the KFPK Election Working Group, why were the tallies not done by Terry Goodman, who I believe was named in the PNB motion (that improperly authorized this e-mail election) to do that job?

I recall that Terry e-mailed us, saying the elections did not reach quorum, and were also invalid because the Bylaws do not allow for e-mail elections of LSB officers nor Directors. Several of us on the PNB also objected at the time the motion (for this election) was being considered, based on the fact that it's contrary to the Bylaws do have such an election, that it's impossible for candidates to be questioned or for there to be any discussion about their qualifications, because the ballots were apparently not going to be sent out to all of the correct delegates/LSB members, and because the WBAI Delegates already had a meeting to elect Directors but the JUC folks decided to boycott it rather than bring forward any objections then, which would have been  the proper time to do so.

So I believe this election is essentially null and void, correct?


Monday, April 11, 2016

Word gets around, but it's guarded

One does not have to tune in for long to hear that all is not right with Pacifica and its inhabitants, so it should not come as a shock that the five-station network's troubles are being observed from the outside. There was a time when the print media followed with admiration the accomplishments of KPFA, KPFK and WBAI—the core outlets—but when the creativity and flow of fresh talent stagnated and the listenership went elsewhere, the media lost interest.

Today, occasional write-ups are no longer sparked by noteworthy radio, but by its looming demise. Years ago, standing on the stage of Carnegie Hall, Billie Holliday looked at the capacity audience and remarked to a fellow performer, "They come to see me fall off the damn stage."

Some Pacifica listeners are similarly motivated to tune in, but even their rank is diminishing. After years of floundering, a menu of stagnant "shows", nasty infighting, extraordinarily inept self-serving management and shady coup attempts, the pioneering broadcast concept Lew Hill and a handful of associates created in the late Forties lost its significance and most of its listener-sponsors. 

The linked article was published April 4, 2016; the writer is obviously a long-time KPFK listener who still sees hope. He should sample WBAI. I recommend that you read his piece and bear in mind that he credits Tracy Rosenberg with assistance.

This link should take you there.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The latest story never told?

As even a casual observer might have gathered, Pacifica's swirling cesspool of corrupt conspirators hides many secrets in almost all areas of its governance. This is not to say that the PNB doesn't have decent people at the table—it does, but they are a powerless minority held in place only by their loyalty to Pacifica. Well, the Pacifica that once was and is destined to die as is. That Damocles sword has been hanging for a remarkably long time, but the pending audit findings may well cut it loose.

What little we know in detail of the financial situation is gathered from streamed telephone conferences and spurious reports issued by station managers and their cronies. The PNB conferences are studies in frustration and deceit, mindless dramas wherein the dedicated are cut off or drowned out by the duplicitous.

In the coming days, you will get pieces of this puzzle in the form of audio clips and—although we have not as yet formed the full picture—the posted glimpses should make it abundantly clear that Pacifica remains on course, heading for  a rendezvous with destiny, as FDR once put it. In WBAI's case, that destiny is doom, but the self-inflicted wounds are network wide. Here, for example, is  a sampling from the KPFA Local Station Board meeting, which took place yesterday, April 9, 2016. The excerpts—separated by three snaps— were captured by our good friend, 'Indigopirate'.

The full meeting is two clicks away, but be forewarned that it runs over two hours.

If the paying public, Pacifica's listener-sponsors were permitted to make "a point of order", they would undoubtedly be curious to know how and where their money was spent. However, the ruling few do not like such questions, so they hide in "executive meetings" at the drop of a naughty word or phrase... such as "Empire State Building". Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Who Cares About A Court Order?
Berkeley-Pacifica filed a postponement request one day before a scheduled hearing on a request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to restore voting rights for WBAI's PNB delegation and seat elected staff delegate Kathryn Davis. The complaint can be seen here. Pacifica asked for time to secure legal representation in the State of New York and the hearing date was rescheduled to April 29th. According to the plaintiff's attorney Gary Carlton, a temporary restraining order staying any Pacifica meetings barring voting rights for elected WBAI delegates is in effect until Pacifica appears in court or files an objection and both the meeting notice for an April 13th WBAI local station board meeting and last night's Pacifica National Board meeting can be characterized as ignoring a court order by the Siegel/Brazon board majority. 

On the west coast, Yeakey vs Pacifica was filed in Alameda Superior Court on April 6th. The lawsuit is filed against both the Pacifica Foundation and against majority board members Bethune (KPFT), Casenave (KPFT), Edwards-Tiekert (KPFA), Fuentes (KPFA), Norman (WPFW), Patel-Adams (KPFT), Roberts (WBAI) and purported affliate directors Gammon and Nwangaza individually. The plaintiffs are former KPFK local station board member Lamont Yeakey and former KPFA local station board member Chandra Hauptman. The lawsuit alleges the two affiliate directors (Gammon and Nwangaza) do not represent affiliate stations per the Pacifica Bylaws definiton and the elected 3-year delegate terms of 7 directors (Bethune,Casenave, Edwards-Tiekert, Fuentes, Norman, Patel-Adams and Roberts) expired in December of 2015 and their terms were extended illegitimately without the required vote of the Pacifica membership. The complaint requests the 9 directors be removed. 5 of the 9 (Casenave, Edwards-Tiekert, Fuentes, Norman and Roberts) voted in May of 2015 to extend their own three-year delegate terms. The complaint can be seen here. A procedural hearing was held on Friday April 9th in a Hayward courtroom and set the date for the injunction request to be heard on April 26th.
Pacifica National Board member and attorney Jan Goodman wrote in an April 7 memo to Pacifica's unofficial corporate counsel Dan Siegel:

We thought that you should be aware that we have tried very hard to avoid having a court settle the matters in which we have now been forced to seek judicial action. Resolutions were introduced and Points of Order raised by several PNB members in an effort to resolve these matters in a Parliamentary manner-- both with regard to 1. The matter of the illegality (per Corporations Code Section 5220 and the Pacifica Bylaws) of Directors/Delegates remaining beyond the term for which they were elected, (ie. the Director/Delegates elected in 2012 whose terms ended in December, 2015) and 2.  The lack of written agreements between Pacifica and WMXP and UHURU RADIO the Stations which the erstwhile Affiliate Directors represent, as well as the lack of 30 Day notice of the meetings at which said directors were elected. All of those Resolutions, Motions and Points of Order were either ignored, overruled, or voted down by the PNB majority -- the majority of whose terms, by the way, ended in 2015. In addition I discussed these matters in great detail with Lydia Brazon, the Interim Executive Director and another lawyer member of the PNB in an effort to avoid litigation--again to no avail.
Siegel informed the Hayward court that he will be representing the Foundation in Yeakey vs Pacifica, but not the nine directors individually, who will have to secure their own legal representation (Bethune, Casenave, Edwards-Tiekert, Fuentes, Norman, Roberts, Gammon, Nwangaza, and Patel-Adams). 
A timeline of the now two year old coup by the Siegel/Brazon faction can be seen here. 

At the April 7th national board meeting, the board majority weirdly stated that they would be announcing the results of the WBAI "email election" they convened, although the election teller informed them in writing the election failed to meet a quorum, with only 11 votes received from the 24 member NY local board. The memo from the board's appointed election teller, Terry Goodman, stating the election failed due to lack of quorum can be seen here. Any seating action by the board would be with a motion to show cause pending in NY's Supreme Court.
In other news from the national board's April 7 meeting: Siegel's personal client Margy Wilkinson blocked KPFT rep Bill Crosier's motion to end Siegel's legal representation of Pacifica, saying she thought it was "inappropriate" and "complicated". Siegel's conflict of interest ridden history with Pacifica is discussed here. Board chair Tony Norman characterized Siegel as Pacifica's "interim corporate counsel". The board also voted down Crosier's motion to correct the March 3rd meeting minutes which stated a motion to strip WBAI directors from voting rights on the PNB and reappoint Lydia Brazon as executive director "passed without objection" (no vote occurred). Crosier, and LA reps Jan Goodman, Grace Aaron and Jon Alexander can all be heard objecting multiple times on the meeting audio, as many as 11 different times during the disrupted meeting. The board also set a bylaws amendment deadline of April 17, only 8 days from now, ensuring the general membership or the local station boards, which are allowed to submit bylaws amendments, would not have enough time to gather signatures before the deadline.

Finally the board engaged in a lengthy and futile discussion about the stalled 2014 financial audit. PNB treasurer Brian Edwards-Tiekert put forward a motion that the board allow a "not a going concern" note on Pacifica's 2014 audit, rather than spend as much as another month having CFO Sam Agarwal try to construct a turnaround plan to satisfy the auditor. Pacifica is in this predicament because the accounting standards will change in December 2016 from the previous protocol which applied going concern standards to the 12 month period following the year being audited (i.e from Oct 2014 to Oct 2015) to a new standard which applies to the 12 month period following the date the audited financial statements themselves are issued. ED Brazon strongly objected and stated she could produce a turnaround plan "over the weekend", causing KPFA listener rep Jose Luis Fuentes to ask angrily that if that were the case, why she had not produced such a turnaround plan in her 5 month tenure as interim executive director, much less turned anything around. CFO Agarwal stated he did not think such a hastily produced plan would be "worth the paper it was written on". The board voted down the Edwards-Tiekert motion unanimously, except for the Berkeley Save KPFA reps. Pacifica will miss the CPB AFR (audited financial statement) deadline for the third consecutive year, now totaling the forfeit of $2.75 million in public broadcasting grants.

A 24 minute highlights reel from the April 7 meeting can be heard here. 

Pacifica's audit committee, after significant obstructionism from the Siegel/Brazon majority, finally met independently with auditor Grant Lam from Armanino on April 4. The meeting, which drags on for 45 minutes until Lam is allowed to speak, can be heard in its entirety here. In summary, Lam reports the following: 1.  One of the primary problems remaining with the 2014 audit is securing a statement from Democracy Now that Pacifica does not owe another $658,000 for broadcasting the program in FY 2014.  The contract expired on 9-30-2012, but Pacifica continued to accrue the expense for reasons that have never been clearly explained. From 2002 to 2013, Pacifica accrued over $6 million dollars in charges to broadcast its formerly owned program. 2) The other primary problem is ascertaining the amount of money owed to the Empire State Building on the 15 year NY tower lease that ends in 2020. 3) No engagement letter has been signed for the FY 2015 audit which indicates it will be impossible for Pacifica to file its audit timely to the State of California which requires it by June 30th.
Former Pacifica board treasurer Tracy Rosenberg compared Pacifica's 2011-2013 audit reports with Democracy Now's 2011-2014 990 tax returns. In a memo, she reported the tax returns indicate Pacifica's liability to their former program does not exceed $1.4 million dollars and no funds due beyond the expiration date on the contract on October 1, 2012 were accrued by Democracy Now. Pacifica appears to have been over-stating its debt by over half a million dollars. The memo can be seen here. 
KPFK's bedraggled website came to the attention of local station board member Charles Frederick when he tried to order a KPFK t-shirt from the online order form and received a "this website is not secure" warning. In response to his inquiry, tech support from reported the SSL certificate had expired in the fall of 2015 and not been renewed. Website analytics for kpfk.orgreflect dramatic drops with a week in January of 2016 showing daily social media shares of website content at 6, 0, 0, 0, 6, 1, 0, 12, a large decrease from previous years. The website also features a badly blurred donation appeal, which you can see below. KPFK terminated its webmaster in September of 2015 and has experienced constant website functionality problems over  the past six months.

According to KPFK staff, GM Radford reported that the station's planned quiet drive is "not getting the hoped-for returns". Management has proposed returning to lengthy on-air fund drives with a proposed schedule that leaves the station in 24 hour fund drive for over half of the 120 day period between May 5 and September 5. The proposed fund drive schedule is May 3 to May 20, June 17 to July 17 and then August 16 to September 5 again. 

As "organizational darwinism" plays out in Pacifica, this publication, which prefers the simpler term "cannibalism" will leave you with a song that sums up the current Pacifica landscape: Grace Slick and Paul Kantner's Silver Spoon.  Sharpen your teeth for the family feast.
However "organizational darwinism" works out, it is looking like one ugly process. To remind you to keep laughing and keep fighting for a Pacifica Radio that can not only heal itself but also help to heal the world, take 30 minutes to enjoy this Twit Wit radio satire from way back in March of 2014 when Pacifica's national office was occupied in an effort to keep the network from being dismantled.