Friday, September 28, 2018

The slippery PNB slope...

A sigh of relief followed the announced solution of Pacifica's WBAI-based rent arrears problem. That included the purchase of a new transmitter and a change in location from the Empire State Building to 4 Times Square.

Now, thanks to borrowed money, WBAI's rent became more manageable—considerably so—but with listenership at an all-time low and dysfunctional management (the worst in memory), one would never know that the old problem had ceased to exist. The long promised one-phone studio system  continues to severely limit the scope of call-in shows and the station's audio quality is as horrific as ever.

Soon, celebration of an anticipated, drastic reduction in operating cost turned into speculation. Free speech or not, Pacifica wasn't talking and the sighs of relief morphed into such unanswered questions as: Is the new debt being paid? Is transparency unaffordable? Why is there more secrecy than money in the bank? Another month of fund raising? Who's in charge? Where/who is the new Executive Director? Who are the candidates? Are there candidates?

The good news about the bad news is that Jara Handala is on the case. Here's what he unearthed:

Jara Handala on FJC's Loan to Pacifica

Friday, September 21, 2018

Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Here, sans a hint of pretense, is the September 20, 2018 PNB meeting. I have yet to hear it all, but Part 3 certainly will interrupt the heaviest of sleeps. You are on your own.

September 20 PNB meeting - Part 1
September 20 PNB meeting - Part 2
September 20 PNB meeting - Part 3

Thursday, September 20, 2018

WBAI's resident vandals

As most of us have undoubtedly noticed, Cerene Roberts—a NY-based opportunist whose nefarious activities sporadically land her in the belly of Pacifica's beast—could always be relied upon to disrupt PNB meetings.

Her activity escalated when she allied herself and her JUC faction with MNN's Dan Coughlin in his attempt to take advantage of WBAI's near-fatal ESRT rental delinquency and absorb WBAI.

Now that she no longer has a seat at the table, we can no longer hear her clumsy-but-effective interferences at meetings, but her destructive activities continue in the form of e-mail posted to various lists. Yesterday, her nonsense came in the form of an open letter to ED Tom Livingston and the PNB.  

Here is Bill Crosier's letter:
A warning to anyone contemplating cancellation of the 2018 Pacifica Delegates election, based on what Ms. Roberts wrote:

Her arguments are clearly partisan, designed to circumvent the whole reason the Bylaws were re-written in 2002 - that the membership should choose who their representatives are on our boards. Neither the PNB nor management should cancel the elections based on flimsy excuses from people who will benefit from not having elections.

Ms. Roberts and her faction depend on taking advantage of a flaw in the Bylaws that allows candidates who were not elected in the previous election (those not chosen by the membership - some being distant runners-up having very few votes, sometimes as few as one vote) to replace those who were elected, in order to eventually get control of our LSBs and Delegate assemblies, which in turn elect Directors. When elections are cancelled, we end up going even further down the runner-up list and seating on our boards more candidates who lost the previous election. While some runners-up have been willing to effectively serve their stations, many have not, and this is NOT having the membership choose their representatives! Ms. Roberts and her allies have learned how to take advantage of this flaw in the Bylaws by harassing, slandering, creating disruptions in meetings, and otherwise driving away effective board members so that their friends who got almost no votes eventually get put on our boards, even though the membership chose to elect other people. Cancelling elections fits right into their playbook.

Pacifica almost always hires the NES late, and the elections go on. This year the NES was hired even later, but our NES is working to make sure the elections are completed as soon as they can be done properly. We should let him do his job.

Management and the PNB should not interfere in the elections - it is a direct conflict of interest for board members to do so.

While she says the delay in getting the elections started is contrary to the timeline in the Bylaws, a much more serious violation of the Bylaws would be to cancel the elections completely.

Also, the cost figures for the election quoted by those who don't want elections have been greatly inflated. While we've have some expensive elections in the past, that was usually because of screw-ups that required ballots to be re-sent, and because of excessive costs in the way we used to do elections (such as for mailing a printed copy of the entire candidate catalog) to all members, instead of just making the info available online. We have learned how to control the election costs, and while not trivial, they are certainly manageable. Our iED has also told us that the NES plans to really watch costs and keep them at a minimum, while meeting Bylaws requirements.

Regarding costs - If the Delegate elections are cancelled, there will almost certainly be a lawsuit, the court will tell us to do the elections, and we'd end up paying then for both the legal expenses AND the elections. So let's just get the elections done and stop this nonsense about cancelling them based on taking things out of context from the Bylaws.

Regarding what Ms. Roberts said about me, we never got a report from the NES nor for most LES's for the 2016 election. I have not withheld any reports. I was not even iED during that time. I became iED in Feb. 2017. I do know that payments to the NES and some or all of the LES's were greatly delayed in 2017, and two of the LES's resigned in the middle of the election period, putting even more work on the NES. And some people (especially from one faction at KPFT, that is allied with Ms. Roberts' faction) buried the election supervisors in complaints, increasing the work load even more. Obviously, we should have received reports from all the election supervisors, but when they are weeks late being paid and the work is much more than expected, things can happen that we don't like.
Bill Crosier

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Questions regarding Form 990

Dear PNB Members, Tom Livingston and Eileen Rosen - 

Thank you for posting the FY 2017 990 on [The 990 Form as posted by Pacifica] Having reviewed it, I have some serious concerns. 

Tom Livingston signed this Form 990 on August 15 but I wonder if he reviewed the contents or knows enough about Pacifica’s finances to review the contents without outside help. A cursory look at the Form shows many serious discrepancies and omissions. 

For starters, on page 6, Section C, question 18, which “requires an organization to make its Forms… 990… available for public inspection,” Tom checked the box to provide this Form 990 on “Own Website.” I asked several times publicly for it to be made available to the public on On September 13, I sent a formal letter requesting a copy per the IRS code. This was all unnecessary. As of a few days ago, this 990 can now be found on

This 990 was not authorized for filing by the PNB as they would have had to take a public vote. Even in closed session, there would have to be a report out. 

I am listing some of the serious shortcomings that I am able to identify.

1. Page 7 – Compensation: The form does not specify the amount paid to two Directors, Kathryn Davis and Mansoor Sabbagh, although both were paid compensation.

2. Also on page 7, the hours listed for Jonathan Alexander are two whereas he is a full time employee. The hours should be 35 or 40. 

3. I believe Bertold Reimers and Quincy McCoy should also be listed as high-salaried employees. 

4. Balance Sheets are not prepared monthly. These are prepared only during the audit. We have also been told that the books were not ready for the audit. Therefore, any numbers that relate to a Balance Sheet for FY 2017 like Cash Balances, Liabilities, etc., can only be considered as “made up.” Some of the balances do not make sense:

a. Page 1, Line 21. It shows that Liabilities have gone up by about $172,000 during FY 2017. This does not seem right. WBAI did not pay Empire State rent for the full year and accrued penalties and late charges. This alone would add roughly $700,000 - $800,000 to the liabilities. 

b. We know that pensions have not been paid for the last several years. The unpaid amounts, interest and penalties have to be accrued in the books. This will also increase the liabilities significantly. 

c. Page 11, Line 1 shows Cash Balance of $944,879. How is it possible there was almost $1 million sitting in the bank? 

5. Revenue and expense numbers will change substantially when the books are ready. I believe Empire State charged hundreds and thousands of dollars in late fees and penalties which were never accounted for. When this is accounted for it will increase the losses substantially. This is just one example and clearly the income statement numbers that are stated in Form 990 are not correct. 

6. It is not mentioned anywhere that these financial numbers are based on unaudited statements and will change after the audit is complete. It is a serious mistake to let readers believe these numbers are final. 

7. On Page 6 and 30, Tom certified that the books are in the care of Sam Agarwal. Tom’s signature is dated Aug. 15, 2018. Sam resigned in March, 2018 and left a month or two later. This statement is easily identified as completely false and makes it easy to question if anyone reviewed this.

8. Several Declarations on Page 6, Section B Policies are questionable. For example, Line 12a and 12b asks for a Policy regarding Conflict of Interest. I never saw such a policy when I was on the PNB and I am sure none was made since then. If there is any such policy, please provide a copy so the public is assured there is one. 

9. Page 27, Schedule O, Part VI, Section B, line 11b – Notwithstanding the process described is unrecognizable as Pacifica practice, it states: “After a full review (with modifications where necessary), the final version of the tax return is provided to all members of the Organization's voting body.”

a. I think Tom is providing a false certification here as I do not believe the Form 990 was presented before the PNB nor reviewed by them. It was not approved for filing.

b. I do not believe Tom has the authority to approve the return for filing on his own. Nevertheless, it is the PNB who has the ultimate responsibility for presenting truthful or untruthful information to the IRS and the public. 

Tom signed this return “under penalties of perjury,” that he examined this return and “it is true, correct and complete.” I have serious doubts about such certification based on the shortcomings I have pointed out above. This falls under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Although Sarbanes Oxley, passed by congress in the aftermath of the collapse of Enron and its subsequent litigation, was written for public corporations, guidelines I have read indicate that non-profits should also follow those rules, especially where it disallows a CEO, or ED, from claiming they “didn’t know” what was going on in the company or organization.

The Form 990 is supposed to be accurate and complete information about a non-profit organization. It appears that the Auditor, and designated tax preparer, has also failed to ask questions or verify the information provided by management. This is serious.

The PNB has the ultimate responsibility to provide correct information to the public. I have based my analysis on publicly available information plus my knowledge and experience with Pacifica. If any of my statements turn out to be incorrect, please provide documentation or explanation. I would also expect the PNB to publicly report what action they plan to take, including if substantial changes are required. 

But, more importantly, why was such misleading information allowed to be filed with the IRS? Who is watching Pacifica’s compliance with laws and reporting? 

I am making my comments public and request that any responses also be made publicly.    —Kim

Monday, September 17, 2018

Mining at KPFA

A few points of information from the KPFA LSB Meeting of September 15, 2018 which may be of some general interest:

Tom Livingston, iED terms out 30 September.

Sunday, 16 September, there may or may not be an announcement of a new permanent Executive Director.

The selection process had winnowed the number of total applicants, twenty-two, to three. The candidate who was considered most qualified then withdrew after listening to a few Pacifica Board Meetings, leaving two candidates remaining.

There may or may not be an announcement of the winning candidate in part because many board members have voted for ‘no candidate’.

At least one stated opinion was that neither of the remaining candidates is qualified.

There was then a wrangle over past choices re the possibility of bankruptcy.

A motion was presented to reduce the number of PNB directors and to have them apportioned proportionate to listenership.

Incidental to the above discussion the following membership numbers were mentioned…

After some further acrimony as to the past bankruptcy question the motion advocating the bylaws amendment was passed.

All looks wonderful in PacificaLand, yes?

~ ‘indigopirate’

Friday, September 14, 2018

Lone KPFT Stirs?

This is an excerpt from the archived audio of the KPFT LSB Meeting of 12 September. It was snipped free from the overall meeting audio, but is unedited other than having thrown some compression at it to try and improve the audio quality, which is pretty bad.

This section is Q&A with KPFT’s members of the Pacifica National Board. There are the inevitable disagreements and variant perspectives, but I think a couple of salient points, of general interest, not merely for KPFT but for Pacifica, ring through fairly clear:

Pacifica has long had no fiscal standards. The $3m+ loan was meant to buy time to address that, but that isn’t happening.

NETA, the outside accounting firm which has been brought in, is being balked at every turn, by every unit, with its attempts to get actual financials. Units simply refuse to cooperate.

There are no plans to repay the loan, nor to repay the monies necessary to bring the unpaid pension liabilities into compliance.

The most recent audit included twenty-five pages of details as to Pacifica’s  improper financial practices – none of these have been discussed, nor have there been any attempts to address them.

The point that most sharply struck the Pirate was, ‘What they’ve mostly been talking about is quality of programming… as if… that’s why we’re losing listenership….’

I think that speaks to the point all too clearly.

~ ‘indigopirate’

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Wind up time...

Pacifica National Board, Finance Committee
11 September 2018

The Finance Committee met, as per custom, approximately half an hour behind schedule, having reached quorum minimum of six members present.

The first item was a report from Anita Sims, of NETA.

At this point NETA has visited every station, and the National Office. While NETA appears to be active, diligent, and competent, they have had no ability to access the information necessary to do their work. Stations haven’t actually entered their information into Great Plains for two years or so. Stations and the National Office simply haven’t provided them the necessary financial information despite constantly constantly repeated requests for the necessary information. Critically, they have no access to Great Plains, for which they have requested access since first taking on the job of attempting to put Pacifica’s financial house in order. For whatever reasons, the National Office simply hasn’t granted them access. They’re in the dark, flying blind.

As is, of course, Pacifica, at both the unit and the national levels.

From the Q&A and discussion that followed it’s once again crystal clear that Pacifica is without organization, without lines of authority, and fails completely to communicate within itself.

NETA, clearly, will do what it can, but it desperately needs some degree of cooperation from Pacifica in order to do that.

The committees response was to draft and approve a motion.

As for the next item on the agenda, budget preparation, there is very nearly no progress. KPFK appears to have some preliminary draft budgets, which means it’s far further along than anyone else.

WBAI, for example, with its fund raising collapsing further than ever, hasn’t bothered to have the General Manager address the issues, as he prefers to take the day off, it seems, rather than attempt to do so.

There is no question, budget or not, that WBAI is looking at deficits.

The one positive note this pirate heard in the course of the meeting was from KPFK. The newly permanent GM, who has a showbiz background, appears to have made some real progress in taking things in hand, thus improving morale, has purchased Nielsen’s which will be used to shape the programming grid, and is reported to be determined to move KPFK on from the 1960’s and into the current century.

On the whole, however, Pacifica is clearly as abysmally chronically dysfunctional as ever.

It may prove amusing to see what the forthcoming General Manager attempts.

Or not.                                  ~ ‘indigopirate’

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Finger in the wind approach...

Words by the PNB members at their September 10, 2018 Strategy Committee telephonic meeting. Observations by Indigopirate (pro tem), who cranked up a discarded Victrola and pointed it west.

As ever, Pacifica drifts, at times in overt acrimony, at times in ‘discussions’ that lead nowhere. As ever, its listenership drifts in turn, ever lower, as indebtedness grows, unaddressed other than in passing reference, occasional entreaty, action never taken.

This evening, the PNB Strategic Planning Committee, the unvarying pattern:

The Finance Working Group, hasn’t met.

Nor has the Programming Working Group.

Nor has the Governance/Mission Working Group.

Tell you what, let’s have a discussion. How about discussing… Underwriting?

It might raise some money.

Yes, but it would support Capitalism, and we’re Anti-Capitalism.

It would be a slippery slope.

But it might reduce or replace the health scams, etc.

Yes, but who would decide what’s acceptable, or not?

Yes, but on the other hand…?

Get the idea?

Nothing happens. Hasn’t for decades, why start now?

Of course listenership continues to decline…

How about a Survey!?

The Indigo Pirate’s Summary:

‘What, you want to Do Something?’

Never happen.

Never say Never?

It’s okay. In this case, you can safely say Never.

~ ‘Indigo, Pirate Pro Tem’

Friday, September 7, 2018

Nocturnal Jumble Jam

Thursday night's "Special Meeting" of the PNB featured a lengthy, appropriately inaudible opening act by Pacifica's very own Marceau mime, an entity who is getting increased attention on WBAI and now seems to have traipsed into the stream.

In the meantime—not to be discounted as an earwitness—our trusty fly on the wall, Indigo, was ready to suck in the sounds that eventually surfaced. A kind soul, he also felt a need to share it all under a brief perceptive predictive preamble.

The entire meeting is linked to below. It speaks for itself, though not eloquently, leaving hope that a follow-up will be dedicated to speak for it. In the background, the green screen shows something red and, perhaps, unread, a Modigliani of unpaid bills and unfulfilled obligations—it's an obscured real life of a future growing increasingly dim. This "Special" telephonic jam session begs for explanation.

Indigopirate's observation gets right to the point... if there was one:

If you’ve followed this decades-long-running ugliness, you know all this all too well.

Livingston put them in a position where it would be possible, if they could, if Pacifica could, learn evolve develop evolve… grow.

It won’t happen.

Pacifica’s people don’t change. Pacifica doesn’t change. It remains in a drifting-through-time state of eternal leftist fractiousness, having abandoned its original foundational mission many decades ago.

These are talentless people no one capable is willing to work with.

Oh, by the way, not a word as of yet of any competent permanent Executive Director.

Perhaps they’re holding the matter in special secret session.

Perhaps they’re deadlocked.

Perhaps they have someone as yet undisclosed.

It doesn’t matter.

It won’t matter.

The present course leads to nowhere until they’ve run through their remaining assets and face the reapers and then in turn the knackers.

The only fate to which they’re truly dedicated.

Sad, ain’t it?

Time to move on…

Special PNB Meeting, Act 1
Special PNB Meeting, Act 2
Special PNB Meeting, Act 3

Unbeknownst to us, there was another astute observer listening in, Jara Handala. Here is what he had to say:

Last nite's marathon PNB railroaded thru a pensions trustee cttee. (Chair Nancy refusing an amendment that would have offered an alternative person to the three put forward by the gatekeepers); Humble DeWayne called iED Major Tom a racist; &, oh yes, Nancy put Point-of-order-madam-chair Adriana in the virtual straight-jacket, a.k.a. zapped by the mute button on the masterboard. Whether Adriana cried no-one could tell, but she seemed somewhat subdued when Nancy let First Secretary Koba ask her how she was voting.

And to add spice to the proceedings, Self-effacing DeWayne seemed to be trying to remind Chair Nancy that the Texas Democrats wanted director Bill Crosier sent into Pacifica exile, barred from the meeting. If only this energy were directed towards constructive goals. But then those like DeWayne would be flying planes all the time.      —Jara Handala

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Verbose vanity...

Here is what was happening (or not) on the day Browne-Marshall successfully screwed up the first day of WBAI's Kavanaugh Senate hearings. She talked to herself over the whole thing, making it impossible to follow on WBAI!

From Indigopirate...

A sampler, so to speak, of the Programming Committee as it springs into action…!

Draw your own conclusions, it isn’t too difficult, running time of the sampler is ~ 21:09 and the tenor is very clear, very early.

Two sentiments dominate, as they have for decades:

1) We have to change, fast!

2) There are processes and procedures, and what’s the rush?

Guess which wins?                                        ~ ‘indigopirate’

Mercifully truncated audio clip.
Sadistically untruncated version.