1) The 2019 Local Station Board elections, for half the seats, got underway whilst the nominal 2018 pseudo-elections were still in progress. All ten elections run this year, listener & staff for each of the five stations – last time there was no WPFW-listeners election as there were only five verified candidates for the nine vacated seats (please see https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/19/nominal-2018-pseudo-election/).
But are these 2019 elections bona fide, are they genuine? Or are they pseudo-elections? Yes, there’s lots of activity, 128 verified wannabe delegates, but what’s it based on? Station staff rolls are derived from employment records. On a much greater scale, how accurate is the most basic building block, the Pacifica membership list, used to generate the elector roll for each station’s listener-election? Are the elector rolls adequate?
Well, they weren’t at 29Oct2018, during the nominal 2018 election process. Yet, with a different National Elections Supervisor (NES), they were claimed to be accurate. No evidence has ever been publicly presented as to how this magical transformation was achieved – a turnaround to be immensely proud of, yes? Crucially, given Pacifica’s long history of lacking credibility, this magical transformation has never been independently verified. (One must say ‘nominal 2018 election’ because the voting was in 2019, 18Jan through 5Mar; the election used a ‘record date’ at 19Nov2018.)
So what about this year’s election? The record date is at Su30June. The elector roll gives name & contact details. That of a reasonably sized town: c. 46 000. How plausible is it that the famously dysfunctional Pacifica is as efficient as a Springfield city council, maintaining, without material inaccuracy, such information? Well, only if Homer were in charge – which makes my point.
2019 is the same as 2018: no evidence has been publicly presented that the 30June elector rolls are materially accurate. None. This creates a reasonable & strong doubt. The only rational conclusion: based on the balance of probabilities, the 2019 process is another pseudo-election.
To help restore credibility to Pacifica elections, an action, necessary but insufficient, is an independent evaluation of the material accuracy of both the membership list & the elector roll. Obviously this won’t happen: politically, the PNB majority would oppose it; economically, Pacifica, last making an annual net income in FY2006, has bills to pay before it can think about reputation.
2) So what happened in 2018? How was it revealed that materially accurate elector rolls didn’t exist? Moreover, how was it revealed that there was no expectation of their imminent creation, certainly not within the time constraint of the 2018 election cycle?
In Aug2018, ED Tom Livingston hired a firm, Drew North Consulting. Graeme Drew, an experienced elections supervisor, became the NES. He & his team started work, in the National Office & the five stations. They soon found what the reality was, & it halted them in their tracks: on M29Oct, he found himself with no alternative but to abandon the job. Why?
The membership records proved inadequate. They weren’t materially accurate: too many errors. Inadequate supporting evidence, of donations made, & of volunteer timesheets. Through a lack of maintenance, the records had become corrupted. The membership list was, in a word, corrupt. It had proven to be unusable, unable to function as the primary source of the elector rolls, the record of those enfranchised to vote. The eligibility of not one candidate could be verified.
The most basic building block was absent. The process had self-destructed. Logically, he terminated the election process. Just as logically, if a NES is empowered to declare a certification of the election results, they are empowered to declare a self-destruction of the election process. And this he was about to do.
He told ED Maxie Jackson, M29Oct. The day after, he also told the PNB, & said he was going to announce this publicly the next day. The PNB called an emergency private meeting for that evening. The PNB majority chose to ignore the considered, evidenced judgment of the elections professional: they wanted voting to happen – any voting.
These are the words of Graeme Drew, the very first sentence, in full, of his (leaked) NES report to the PNB, Tu30Oct2018: “[o]n Monday, October 29, 2018 I informed your Executive Director of my decision to terminate the 2018 election process.” (my emphases). But worse was to come. On the third, & final page, the news the PNB majority really didn’t want to hear: “I plan to announce the end of the 2018 election on Wednesday, October 31, 2018.” (my emphases). Trying to end something, that’s one thing; telling the public, quite another. http://www.mediafire.com/file/s8eu60d26b3ame9/Pacifica_2018_NES_Final_Report.pdf/file
Unbeknown at the time, this set a precedent, one of huge significance for the chances of the Pacifica Foundation being turned around. Over the subsequent months, hearing the wrong news, also caused the PNB majority to plan, then engineer, the ousting of ED Maxie Jackson. If Pacifica is really good at one thing, this is it.
Obviously, hiring a professional elections supervision firm had been a mistake. A big mistake. One not to be repeated. So an individual had to be hired. For credibility purposes, a Local Elections Supervisor has a certain plausibility about it. Enter the LES for KPFT, in Houston, Alma Viscarra. She found the same reality, equivocated to some extent, but tried her best to do the PNB majority’s bidding. But she didn’t pass the test, & so got chopped. In came the LES for all of KPFA, KPFK, & KPFT, Renee Penaloza. A proven superwoman. Now this was different. This changed things. All obstacles suddenly swept away. Unbridled progress on all fronts. Voting duly taking place. Certified results published. This is the sort of proof the PNB majority like.
So no surprise she’s the NES for these 2019 elections. A safe pair of hands. This is efficiency, Pacifica style.
Thing is, no evidence has ever been presented by NES Penaloza, or the PNB, of the adequacy of the elector rolls used in either set of elections. All we have is de facto assertion, a practical assertion, the carrying on of an activity labelled an election. In the absence of evidence, it is a matter of pure faith that the 2019 elections are bona fide.
The membership list has been magically purified. It would be an exaggeration to say Pacifica excels at the application of alchemy. What Pacifica has done, at least since Oct2006 when the annual losses started, is to muddle through, but not in the way dignified by Charles Lindblom in 1959. http://urban.hunter.cuny.edu/~schram/lindblom1959.pdf
And what is the only rational conclusion to draw? The corrupted membership list remains corrupt. It has been used within a year in two sets of elections. This is corruption. It is being perpetrated out of self-interest by two parties, for different reasons: politically, it’s what the PNB majority want; economically, the NES is happy to do it because she keeps getting paid by Pacifica’s members & listeners.
The only honourable & credible remedy is that there is an independent evaluation of the material accuracy of the membership lists & elector rolls used for both the nominal 2018 pseudo-election & the 2019 pseudo-election.
3) The latest NES report on the current pseudo-elections, the sixth, was published Th13June: http://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Elections-Report-6-6-13-19.pdf (2 pages) [NO LATER PUBLIC REPORT AS OF
F19JULY Sa27JULY Tu6AUG (Hiroshima Remembrance Day . . . 8.15am local time, mass murder from six miles up). A report, of sorts, was posted, & although undated is said to be of W28Aug. http://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Election-Report-08.28.19.pdf]
4) The NES’ public website, with the statements of all 128 verified candidates for the 60 seats: https://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/ [As of W7Aug, reduced to 123 (details below).]
5) Ever wondered what those disembodied voices come from, what the decision-makers look like? Well, Pacifica has the answer – maybe the only one it has.
Pacifica has hardly publicised it, but an elections YouTube channel was created in July 2015. Oddly, it’s named ‘National Election [sic] Supervisor 2019’ although it carries vids for both the current pseudo-election & the one voted on earlier this year, the nominal 2018 pseudo-election. (Note that these older candidate discussion vids, some chaired by NES Renee Penaloza, are packaged away in playlists; not dated, but the aesthetic is noticeably different.)
As of W7Aug2019, the channel has nine subscribers, & has had 1 298 views; this compares with Pacifica having c. 46k members (also, the enfranchised at the last staff elections numbered 978). The channel has 81 vids: 60 one-minute candidate statements (some are discarded edits), & 21 discussions between candidates (12 from this pseudo-election, nine from the last). Since the weekend, the curator has helpfully aggregated most of the vids as 13 topical playlists.
The discussions, in Pacificanese, are candidate forums, bringing together between two & five wanabee delegates, the Pacificanese for those sitting on the local station board. These pseudo-elections, for each station, are for nine listener-seats & three staff-seats, so half the board.
The number of verified candidates, published by the NES on the elections website, has been reduced by five. Originally 128 were declared: 105 listeners (16 KPFA, 23 KPFK, 21 KPFT, 13 WPFW, 32 WBAI), & 23 staff (6 KPFA, 5 KPFK, 4 KPFT, 4 WPFW, 4 WBAI). As of W7Aug, the only changes in the figures concern listener-candidates: up by two at WPFW; & down by seven, two at KPFK (one being the LSB Chair until March this year), one at KPFT, & four at WBAI.
No explanations have been offered by the NES, & a report is long due: there were six in seven weeks, but nothing in the last eight weeks, nothing since Th13June. This fact has not been mentioned in any public PNB meeting. Queen Grace the First, who ousted King Maxie the Third, has displayed no displeasure. Obviously not a problem for her & her minions. However, the silence does not inspire confidence in either NES Penaloza or, more importantly, the electoral process. All reports are work-in-progress, & there has been progress, not least the verifying of the candidates. Puzzling.
Here on the YouTube silver screen are the Paccywood stars of 2019:
KPFA listeners (16 verified candidates, 11 discussants as of W7Aug): Marilla Arguelles, Fred Cook, Lily Kimura, Mantra Plonsey, & Mark Van Landuyt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uF4dRjuVRo (in-vid caption has ‘Arguiles’, 1:57)
Craig Dunkerley, Christina Huggins, & Akio Tanaka https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7zZXqHCLPk (in-vid caption has ‘Dunklerly’, 4:37)
Marilyn Langlois, Andrea Turner, & Carol Wolfley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smOozi_CxpQ (did Carol edit this? The vid is 31:16, & the in-vid caption of her name pops up four times before any other candidate’s, monopolising over 2/3rds of the vid, before Marilyn’s makes an appearance at 21:39! But of course Carol’s comes next, & with less than five mins to go Andrea’s finally makes a showing. Fair’s fair. The last three are Andrea, then Marilyn, with Carol finishing off, just in case we’d forgotten her name. Unbelievable. Who are these people who reproduce Pacifica, day after day?)
KPFA staff (6 candidates, 2 discussants): Ann Garrison & Steve Zeltzer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBhzZ-qMCg8
KPFK listeners (21, 10): Michael Atkins, Doug Barnett, & Eric Jacobson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpUZ7VvBVyA (misdescribed at YT as ‘KPFA’. The three KPFK listener vids all lack in-vid captions: they were the first discussions to be published, M5Aug)
Jaime Gomez, Jim Osborne, Paul Roberson, & Elizabeth von Gunten https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6c5qvk4E-mI (however, Jaime isn’t listed as a verified candidate at the NES’ website, & has no statement there; YT has ‘Jamie’, & ‘van’)
Ralph Hawkins, Barbara Marbach, & Robert Payne https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymUTbWfkfsU
KPFK staff (5, 0): none
KPFT listeners (20, 11): Anisa Faruqi & Nancy Saibara-Naritomi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NByajQCLvsM (YT has ‘Naitomi’)
Robert Gartner, Paula Miller, Rick Pothoff, Ted Weisgal, & Vaniecia Williams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za5fwn0sMlc (in-vid caption has ‘Garner’, 3:14; ditto has ‘Vaneicia’, 4:05, & the vid’s title too; the elections site has ‘Potthoff’ but KPFT LSB minutes consistently give ‘Pothoff’)
Raka Ghosh & Susie Moreno https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZ9diZxHumI
Deb Shafto & Richard Uzzell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_f0GnuISYw
KPFT staff (4, 4 – bingo!): Lilian Guttinger Care, Wally James, Mike Lewis, & Sandy Weinmann https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BU0-00pP5aM (YT has ‘Lillian’)
WPFW listeners (15, 0): none (nor any candidate statements, maybe camera shy)
WPFW staff (4, 0): none (nor any candidate statements)
WBAI listeners (28, 0!): none (but lots of candidate statements)
WBAI staff (4, 0): none (but some candidate statements)
Somewhat worrying, given that the NES is responsible for the accuracy of the elector rolls, & for practising basic human respect, is the number of misspelt names, nine, for 38 people, a 24% error rate – and that’s just the names. Why am I not surprised?