Posted Mar2019

. . . not Robert Natkin, Untitled (Color-Bath), 1978 . . .

posted Mar2019 at Chris Albertson’s blog:

all the month’s comments, eight of them, referred to one post:

1) eight comments, 4-15Mar2019, re

1a) M4Mar2019 (1 of 2):

Thursday’s PNB revealed that the nominal 2018 pseudo-election chickens are coming home to roost: the KPFK listener pseudo-election will almost certainly have to be extended by upto four weeks (by-law Article 4, Section 5), with even then little prospect of reaching quorum. The KPFA listener pseudo-election may also fail when the polls close at Tuesday midnight (PacificaWorld, for RealWorld interactions, apparently uses Central Time). And as of Thursday’s PNB there were three other deficient pseudo-elections. The cost of each valuable vote? More than $50 (c. $200k / <4k). (14:36, the c. $200k)

Something else has passed most people by: if best practice has been exercised by the Executive Director then he will have started the 2019 elections by Saturday just gone. That’s because according to Art. 4, Sec. 4 he would have appointed the National Elections Supervisor “by a date no less than 90 days before nominations are set to open [on 1 June – Sec. 5]”. As of writing, it’s not publicly known whether the nominal 2018 NES has had the go-ahead from her psychiatrist.

So c. $200k is the estimated cost of the nominal 2018 pseudo-election – unless voting is extended. And now the 2019 is starting. To put these PacificaWorld-RealWorld interactions in perspective, $400k would, at FJC’s current interest rate of 8.5%, pay for 17.3 months of the 18 months’ payments that are due from Pacifica’s general account starting on c. 1Oct this year & running thru to c. 31Mar2021, when Pacifica is contracted to also pay FJC $3.265m. So with the likely KPFK extension, elections cost = FJC interest charge. The time is approaching when FJC decides that the Pacifica loan is “potentially impaired” (the term used in their auditor’s report, pages 12-13 of the PDF), requiring them to sell the loan to the Marty & Dorothy Silverman Foundation. Heady days.

The info provided by King Maxie III at Thursday’s PNB was perhaps an hour old (22:10). No explanation was given for the NES’ absence – perhaps Reneeeee Penaloza was too busy being the Local Elections Supervisor for KPFA, KPFK, & KPFT (yes, Reneeeee’s own website is in error). Remember, quorum is 10% for listeners, 25% for staff; & there’s no WPFW listener pseudo-election because the nine seats only had five verified candidates (they happen to be all the incumbents up for re-election). The listener turnout: KPFA 8.7%, KPFK 5.8%, KPFT 10.6%, WBAI 9.2%. Staff turnout: KPFA 37.8%, KPFK 19.5%, KPFT 37.2%, WPFW 26.6%, WBAI 23.8%.

So as of last Thursday, using these percentages, how many voters were needed to meet the quora? 884. Listeners: KPFA 205, KPFK 605, WBAI 55. Staff: KPFK 16, WBAI 3. And all in just over five days. It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that the NES pops out of a KPFA office, inadvertently leaving on her screen the list of staff at KPFK & WBAI who haven’t voted yet . . .

What happens to LSB seating if quorum isn’t made? “If no quorum of ballots is obtained by the extended date, then those Delegates whose terms would have expired upon the election of new Delegates shall remain in office until the next regularly scheduled Delegate election” (Art. 4, Sec. 5). In the nominal 2018 KPFK listener pseudo-election, six incumbents are running again: Grace Aaron, Ken Aaron, Jan Goodman, Steve Kaiser, Rob Macon, & Reza Pour. So they would keep their seats (eating into their possible six years in the job), but have to run again in June – disrupting not just their holidays but also making the next cohort of faction members wait until 2021 before they can compete for seats.

So much for the enthusiasm stirred up by the Gorgon faction in their lair, KPFK. So much for the future being safe in their hands.


1b) M4Mar2019:

Correction: at the very end, on the KPFK situation, I illogically deduced that it’s likely to make “the next cohort of faction members wait until 2021 before they can compete for seats”. No: the election for that half of the LSB listener-seats is just delayed until the summer, when the whole LSB is then up for election (possibly bar the three staff currently being voted on).


1c) M4Mar2019 (2 of 2):

Four other matters:

1) Pacifica’s listener membership seems to be 8.6% less than the estimate given in September by director Sabrina Jacobs (KPFA LSB, 15Sep2018, 2:27:16). She gave KPFA >17k, KPFK >15k, KPFT <6k, WPFW <6k, WBAI <7k. So c. 51k. All have proved to be over-estimates: the NES’ data, Tu26Feb, give perhaps 46 600: KPFA 15 717, KPFK 14 394, KPFT 4 282, WPFW say 5 400 (no pseudo-election), WBAI 6 804. (Let WPFW be 90% of the Jacobs figure, given that KPFT’s is 71% & WBAI’s is 97%.)

This makes Californians c. 65% – which serves as the justification for the current by-law amendment making PNB representation proportionate to station-level listener membership. Pacifica’s membership has almost halved since late 2003, a then 90k, when the first LSB elections were held under the current by-laws (Carol Spooner, then Secretary of the interim PNB). Incidently, does anyone have this 15-year time series of Pacifica’s descent into hell in a handcart (albeit now collateralised, with everything else, to FJC)?

2) Two batches of by-law amendments have been published, & can be voted on by the PNB &, if passed, then by the LSB’s. It takes three LSB’s for an amendment to be successful; at the LSB a simple majority is insufficient because it needs “the majority vote of all the Delegates”, so 13 for a full seating (Art. 17, Sec.1). There’s been hardly any LSB movement on the first batch, & the second hasn’t been voted on yet by the PNB.

3) Some of Thursday’s PNB audio has gone AWOL: the last 22 minutes of the first part of the meeting, the discussion of the failing nominal 2018 pseudo-election. It really comes to something when even the fake fails.

Of course, the web administrator doesn’t tell the visitor. Of course, no explanation is offered. Of course, no apology is offered. Of course, discourtesy prevails, effortlessly.

4) Lastly, a sad note. Bill Eisen, who was standing for election as a KPFK listener, died at the end of December. He was a CPA, & had written repeatedly to FJC asking for information on the $3.7m loan they made to Pacifica. FJC never once acknowledged his requests, let alone replied to them. He particularly wanted to find out why FJC had approved the loan when Pacifica did not satisfy the lending tests published by FJC themselves: what had Pacifica promised to make the loan possible?, were there guarantees made by persons or organisations unknown?, have the parties acted in bad faith, and why?

His death has passed by in silence. There is nothing on KPFK’s website. There is nothing on Pacifica’s website. There is nothing on the NES’ election website – except a created absence: his name was removed from the candidates list, his candidate statement was removed. NES Renee Penaloza ( has chosen not to inform readers of the site that one of their candidates has died. Values are to be practised. Pacifica bosses are showing all too clearly what Pacifica values mean to them, what ‘the Pacifica family’ means to them.


1d) M4Mar2019:

I should also have referred to the disastrous way the PNB meeting was ended by Chair Nancy Sorden. But like the antics of the Trumpanzee, after a while one simply loses the will to talk about them. Nevertheless, in defence of decorum, one should report that Wooden-as-a-Chair Chair Nancy flipped out yet again, summarily closing the meeting in a panic, completely disregarding her fellow directors (1:00:44).

She’d done the same at the 20Dec PNB (from 22:45), the infamous ‘FJC/Jehovah’ meeting, when Adriana twice mentioned the taboo word, ‘FJC’, causing Nancy to have a meltdown, summarily ending the public session, which had hardly begun.

At that time, she didn’t apologise to the directors & the public at the next PNB meeting, so she probably won’t do so this Thursday. Displays of ignorance just fuel the dysfunctionality, destroying the trust that springs from common decency.

Her time as Chair can’t end soon enough – which doesn’t mean her successor won’t be worse.


1e) Th7Mar2019:

You’re right about the membership lists, but the King is simply exasperated. How close he is to the end of his tether is hard to say. Contra the Gorgon faction, he has to continually defend the station bookkeepers & the multi-tasking Wandra at National Office, repeating again & again that they are all working flat-out in coordination with NETA, getting the FY2017 statements & records ready for the auditor. Grace Aaron et al. think they’re helping, but they’re making things worse. That’s why Maxie admonished her in public at last Thursday’s PNB (57:00, the below ‘b’ audio) when he rebuked her micro-managing motion. (I mistakenly thought this was at Monday’s Audit Cttee.)

It’s worth reflecting on what he said, especially his warning of the coming austerity for Pacifica, which will inevitably affect employees:

“I’ve managed a company in austerity man- [indistinct] – um, protocol before – um, that’s probably where we’re headed – um, I just – the big question to come to mind for me is the people – the person, I should say – who put this motion forward is the same person who negotiated the NETA agreement, um, for the most part, um, & is probably having some second thoughts about he – the amount of money we’re spending on that agreement, considering how inflated it is with respect to what I originally put forward &, um, how little we’re getting in re- exchange for that, um, that is upto this point.” (my emphasis)

He continued immediately, criticising the substantive irrationality of the Board majority, expressing his bewilderment:
“[…] NETA have made it very clear that until they are able to get accurate financial records – that are projecting March, early April – that there’s no value in them providing financial reports to this Board because they would be unreliable. And the fact that this Board wants to proceed with numbers that are not reliable is mystifying to me. Um, but, you know, vote your consciences, &, um, I’ll play the cards that are dealt.” (my emphasis)

His quiet exasperation. He likes a challenge, & he isn’t a quitter. But he needs those above him to behave correctly, he needs to believe that all the work he’s putting in isn’t a waste of time, he needs to be convinced that recovery can be achieved. Like all of us, he has his limits. He’s obviously not getting the support he needs. He’ll stay until he’s lined up his next job. It’s just a question of when.


1f) W6Mar2019 [not chronological coz it was in a new comment thread]:

Monday’s PNB Audit Cttee had a surprise: the CFO seems to have walked out into the ocean. Everyone else was there: the National Office bookkeeper/accountant, the ED, NETA, & the auditor. But not Larry Dankner. Not even mentioned. In fact he’s never attended a recorded Pacifica meeting. (two other files too: ‘b’ & ‘c’)

The disappearing Dankner. The 6Dec PNB private session statement disclosed his appointment: “the Pacifica National Board hired an interim CFO, Larry Dankner, as a Pacifica employee”. The final words are there to make explicit what had been said at a meeting now in the archive: he’s seconded from NETA. The meetings archive also says he’s there for three months – so expiring today. Oh. But maybe there’s been an extension, as might also have happened c. 1Oct2018 to the six-month waiver granted by FJC at the very start of the loan (ED Livingston email, c. early April 2018).

As Larry’s been seconded from NETA it’s rather odd that, according to the (poorly worded) PNB statement, he was instructed by the PNB to negotiate a contract with . . . NETA: “[the PNB] authorized him, in conjunction with our Pacifica ED and NETA, to negotiate and submit a modified agreement with NETA to the PNB that includes hands[-]on staff to address deficiencies in our financial accounting at the station level and throughout our network.” NETA’s website still lists him as in the second highest stratum in the hierarchy, a Senior Controller, immediately below Anita from NETA. But no doubt NETA can be trusted to maintain that wall to prevent a conflict of interest, especially concerning Larry’s career prospects within NETA. After all, they keep telling us they are full of Southern hospitality. (Maxie also had a dig at Grace: he said she was largely responsible for the content of the NETA contract: a lot has been spent, for not that much.)

Even odder than the prima facie conflict of interest, & perhaps more important in the long run, some guys from the Kalahari seem to have got onto the call. It must be said that recording quality has deteriorated markedly over the last few months.


1g) Tu12Mar2019:

Two pieces of election news, courtesy of a coalition website (pejoratively, faction), the Grassroots Community Radio Coalition, which supported the candidature of Bill Eisen, who died in December.

1) The NES declared the day after polls closed that “[w]e have met quorum across the 5 stations”. The GCRC’s homepage used the same formulation: “[t]he election is over and all five Pacifica stations achieved quorom [sic]!”. But what the NES said doesn’t necessarily mean what one may think at first glance: re-read the NES’ words: she didn’t say ‘quorum was met in all nine elections’ (listener, staff – no WPFW listener election) – so what she said admits the possibility that one station, or more, may have met one quorum but failed another.

2) The site also has documentation on the firing of the second NES, Alma Viscarra, on Sa5Jan, the day after she had sent a revised timeline to the ED & PNB, made to protect, in her judgment, the integrity of the pseudo-election, thereby discharging her prime duty on behalf of the Pacifica membership. Ms Viscarra says she needed the membership lists to be improved, & for the whole pseudo-election process to be protected from the persistent political pressure of well-placed candidates: “[m]y ‘faults’ were to try to resist interference and directives on how to conduct the 2018 elections from individual directors (who are also nominees/candidates)”. (She was also fired as the KPFT LES on 15Jan.)

On 3Jan she obviously upset the ED &, especially, director Grace Aaron by announcing to them that she was revising the pseudo-election timeline, basing herself on the by-laws & “the advice of the Pacifica Counsel, Mr. Ford Greene”. The next day she sent the revised timeline to the ED, the PNB, & Mr Greene. The day after, fired. Makes sense, really. After all, director Grace Aaron seems to be acting as de facto Executive Director, even to the point of running that conversation when the ED called NES Viscarra two days before her firing.

At the crucial moments, again & again, King Maxie III takes the path of least resistance, towing the line of the Gorgon faction. The other week he provided a Stalinesque public denunciation, rubbishing Alma during a recorded Pacifica meeting, it now enshrined in the Short Course as his ‘AWOL’ speech. No-one stays long as a virgin in PacificaWorld. No wonder WPFW couldn’t even find four more listener candidates to slide straight into those empty LSB seats.


1h) F15Mar2019:

Not to hog things, just to say it was announced Tuesday that Pacifica got a $2.361m windfall: Amy’s board of directors unanimously agreed to write-off most of Pacifica’s debt. So Democracy Now! decided to reduce both their own net assets & their net income, causing Pacifica to reduce their net liabilities & to improve their net income/loss.

I had always wondered what was the age structure of Pacifica’s liabilities – the last mention of the DN! debt was in Pacifica’s FY2011 auditor’s report: c. 43% of accounts payable, & DN! causing c. 55% of programming costs (note 10, p. 18 – p. 21 of the PDF).

The King disclosed the gratifying news at Tuesday’s PNB Finance Cttee (17:53), repeating it at last night’s PNB. DN! did this “in honour of new leadership at Pacifica, & our continued support of Pacifica & community radio”. Incredibly this decision was made in October but only related to Pacifica last week when the King visited NYC. It also seems to be a belated response to a Pacifica begging request made in August 2017 by its auditor, Regalia & Associates. (I say “seems” because the DN! letter, read out by the King, was somewhat garbled at this point.) The write-off is for broadcast fees, presumably through to September or October 2018, not specified by either the letter or the King.

Another oddity: the King wasn’t sure whether Pacifica currently has a broadcast contract with DN!. Exclamation mark.


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