Posted Feb2019

. . . not Robert Natkin, Untitled (Intimate Lighting), 1977 . . .

Posted Feb2019 at Chris Albertson’s blog:

four sets of comments, 12-28Feb:

1) one comment, Tu12Feb2019, re

Mr Hill was mentioned in a recent video that discussed how Pacifica can save itself. Also referred to were Ms Sawaya & Ms Spooner.

The discussants were Ken Freedman (WFMU station manager), Peter Franck (former President of Pacifica), a current Pacifica director (Ms Travis), & a current station treasurer (Ms Adams, KPFA). Mr Freedman said WFMU embraced digital from the 1990s; & listener support is now $2m pa. Wiki say they have a 15-day fund drive. Once a year. That’s it.

On Monday, KPFA’s homepage linked to three election films made by the video company just mentioned. The presenter is a very busy person: Pacifica’s National Elections Supervisor & three-times Local Elections Supervisor (KPFA, KPFK, & KPFT). Yes, the one-and-only Renee Penaloza.

The four encounters:

Mr Franck has four articles, including two lifeboat plans:



2) Three comments, 18-20Feb2019, re

2a) M18Feb2019:

Little birdie with access to the system tells me there is a BIG doubt that quorum will be made for three elections: two listener, one staff. Who knew things could be so complicated?

This Thursday the PNB meets at the call of director Outraged Lark and his outraged accomplices. We can all enjoy their public interrogation of the National Elections Supervisor, Reneeeeeeee Penaloza. As she’s also the Local Elections Supervisor for KPFA, KPFT, and KPFT, she won’t be able to fall back on the excuse that the info got mangled passing up the chain/dropping down the sewer. (Once that is disposed of they go private, to rip each other apart with info presented by legal counsel.)

The following Thursday the PNB meets again, this time called by director Ice Maiden Aaron and her Scientologist drones. They’ve assembled the assembly to dissemble on Pacifica’s debts and increasing lack of cash. The failed and currently failing fund-drives at KPFA, KPFK, & WBAI are sending a chill through the corridors of powerlessness. Those in the know are looking to borrow in the summer (after the FY2018 audit) to pay off FJC before declining listener support makes juggling the creditors unsustainable.

The Thursday after is a return to normality, the regular monthly PNB.

No rest for the wicked – especially wicked Scientologists.


2b) Tu19Feb2019:

The new lender? Who knows, but the broker for the FJC loan, Marc Hand (whose company also gave FJC an award last year) is on the case, and will soon present options to the PNB. The hope of the Scientologists is that it will be sufficient that (1) all the audits (general and pension) have been done, (2) NETA can declare to a potential lender that the bookkeeping and management accounting functions are under control, and (3) adequate collateral is available.

This hope, however, received blows at Monday’s PNB Audit Committee:

– first, the auditor said the current FY2017 audit won’t be ready until April at the earliest (the original expectation was November last year). One can estimate that the earliest the FY2018 will be completed is August, but with holidays and info delays it’s better to think October. Then, breathlessly, if they have the will, they, or someone else, can start on the FY2019 audit.

– second, ED Jackson said that Business Managers should be appointed at the three stations lacking them: KPFT, WPFW, and WBAI. (In typical unicorn politics style, neither he nor anyone else spoke of the cost, where the $$$ would come from, or the need to put this cost in station budgets.) But wasn’t NETA supposed to be doing everything for Pacifica, and magically saving lots of money at the same time? Well, another blow came at the end of last year: NETA, finding out what they’d got themselves into, insisted on amending the contract, so (1) only taking on the CFO role for three months, and (2) declining the offer to provide station Business Managers. This has made it easier for NETA to extricate themselves when the contract expires, after two years, in September 2020; by happenstance this benefits Pacifica, by stopping it being completely dependent upon NETA.

– oddly the elections came up, with Ice Maiden Aaron saying that, as of Friday, quorum hadn’t been achieved in any election (then 29 days down, 18 days to go to 5 March).

And the collateral? For any new loan it will almost certainly be on the current basis: a value-to-loan ratio of 3:1, so almost $10m, all the Foundation’s property, collateralized for the $3.265m currently borrowed from FJC.

Note that the first quarterly interest payment from Pacifica’s general account is due the very end of December this year; the current interest charge is 8.5%, so, for the privilege of this FJC loan, listeners currently pay $277,525 pa, $69,381 per quarter, to tread the water.

Finally, a correction, I typed ‘KPFT’ twice: Ms Reneeeeeee is LES for KPFA, KPFK, and KPFT.


2c) W20Feb2019:

Forgot to mention another blow from Monday: the auditor strongly indicated that the FY2017 financial statements will be given what he called “a scope limitation”. No surprise, as May 31 last year the FY2016 auditor did the same (surprisingly, Pacifica’s first), using as their language “a qualified opinion”. An auditor issues this warning because some of the quantities in the financial statements cannot, in the jargon, be said to be ‘true and fair’, and these feed through to necessarily affect both the net income statement and the balance sheet (and the cash flow statement).

NETA have tried their best to avoid this eventuality, but, as the Audit Committee heard at their previous meeting, NETA could spend more time trying to patch things up and still get a scope limitation, so what would be the point of delaying the audit even more?

The auditor made no mention of the ‘going concern’ test. Why? Because everyone knows the answer: the last two auditor’s reports carried a “substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern”, so with the current facts why would this one be different?


3) Two comments, 25-28Feb2019, re

3a) M25Feb2019:

On quilt v. strip programming, no-one on the Prog. Cttee or PNB or LSB’s has mentioned whether anyone, esp. unpaid, is available for a yearly 48 x Mon. thru Fri.

Also no-one has put forward, even as an illustration, a bundle of existing programs (‘shows’ in the infotainment jargon) to fill one hour for M-F. For example, Richard Wolff (Economic Update) – Doug Henwood (Behind the News) – Suzi Weissman (Beneath the Surface) – … where do the other two hours’ come from? Do some double-up? Or doesn’t that theme get an hour slot, instead are their 20 or 30 mins segments distributed under some wider umbrella? In just this one example there are multiple matters to dispute — as if station managers & anyone national has the time to make all these decisions & do all the requisite preparatory work. Without hiring staff the task is beyond the incumbents. And besides that aspect, do they have the management & negotiating skills? What’s likely is the Buns & Gutter approach: administrative order, delivered summarily. Trump-style ‘management’: the workplace as a dictatorship — even when profits, or net income, aren’t at stake. With the prospect of a programmer strike.


3b) Th28Feb2019:

Ambiguous is talk of ‘the five inherited properties’, and if this refers to the Federal Communications Commission licenses then we need scare-quotes for both words. That’s because a FCC license, in most circumstances, isn’t property but a permission (a ‘right’ in Legalese), one granted by the FCC. That’s why the licenses aren’t capitalized (as an asset) by Pacifica, and so don’t appear on Pacifica’s balance sheet; and that’s why they couldn’t be collateralized by Pacifica when getting the $3.7m loan last March from the Foundation for the Jewish Community (operating as FJC; its 990 will be filed any day now in NY).

Note that the nature of a license determines, in part, what happens with a signal-swap. If Pacifica is to raise cash this way, it swaps a license with that of another licensee, and it’s no surprise that the FCC must agree to this.

Which brings us to a crucial matter hitherto absent from the public discussion: if Pacifica wants a signal-swap, can it demonstrate to the FCC that it’s a going concern? Licensees are subject to oversight by the FCC. When a licensee wants a change of conditions, such as swapping its license, it attracts greater scrutiny – akin to an audit. Pacifica’s good intentions cut no ice when its last two auditor’s reports carried “a substantial doubt” about it continuing as a going concern. On top of this, the report due in April can only be expected to make it three thumbs-down in a row. This FCC-danger has not been acknowledged by any recorded public meeting of the PNB, its committees, the LSB’s.

And there’s another FCC-danger: the “substantial doubt” will soon enter stage left at the FCC Theater. Why? Because WPFW’s license expires on October 1 this year. Remember, WPFW’s financial performance is irrelevant: the license is Pacifica’s. The going concern test interrogates Pacifica. And public objections can also be made – and not just at renewal time. (The other expiry dates: KPFT, August 1, 2021; KPFA and KPFK, December 1, 2021; WBAI, June 1, 2022.)

WPFW is under threat. And no-one’s talking about it publicly.

King Maxie III has disclosed he has connections with CPB. FCC too? (an olde discussion!)


4) One comment, Th28Feb2019, re

Small world: Geraldo & Willowbrook . . . who would think this would lead to Pacifica & FJC? The other month I quoted from a puff-piece on FJC which disclosed that the letters denote Foundation for the Jewish Community. This article starts with our intrepid reporter, & before getting to FJC this excerpt refers to the fund that spawned it, the Marty & Dorothy Silverman Foundation – which, as I noted at the time, buys FJC loans that are “potentially impaired” (any FJC auditor’s report):

“[i]n 1972 a relatively unknown reporter named Geraldo Rivera released a documentary highlighting the abuse and neglect of disabled patients at Staten Island’s Willowbrook School. Public outcry led to a signed consent decree by New York State transferring Willowbrook’s patients to 200 smaller group homes for better care. United Cerebral Palsy of New York (UCP), a leading nonprofit organization advancing the rights of people with disabilities, played a key role building the new group homes.

“To finance the construction, UCP received bridge loans from local banks. Upon completion of a group home, New York State would issue bonds to repay the bridge loans. At the height of the Savings & Loan Crisis in the 1980s, the banks providing bridge loans failed, and UCP was in desperate need of financing. UCP leadership turned to their donors for help and [Lorin Silverman] stepped up to provide a bridge loan from his family foundation’s investment capital [the Marty & Dorothy Silverman Foundation] to support the continued construction. The loan was repaid and the foundation began to develop a reputation as a lender to the nonprofit sector.

“A few years later, [Lorin’s] family was approached by United Jewish Appeal (UJA), a philanthropic umbrella organization. As large numbers of Russian Jews were immigrating to the United States, UJA organized a successful fundraising campaign for re-settlement efforts. However, UJA urgently needed cash for housing, food, language training and childcare and couldn’t wait for the collection of pledges. [Lorin’s] family also had a donor-advised fund (a charitable giving vehicle) administered by UJA and he suggested that the fund would be an excellent source of short-term capital to support Russian Jewry. It had long frustrated [Lorin] that the only investment option UJA provided to donor-advised fund holders was two-­year treasury notes. UJA declined his suggestion and instead requested a loan from [Lorin’s] family foundation. The foundation loaned $10 million to UJA against the pledges at a prime plus 3% interest rate, or approximately 10% at the time.

“In light of UJA’s reluctance to use donor-advised fund capital for mission-related investments, [Lorin] decided to pursue the idea on his own. A new community foundation was created to pool donors’ funds and permit investments for social good before the funds were eventually used for charitable donations. [Lorin’s] family and others officially launched FJC (Foundation for the Jewish Community) in 1995.”

Julie Hammerman, JLens Investor Network, Oct 2013


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