. . . not Robert Natkin, Untitled (Color-Bath), 1978 . . .
Beneath dark clouds, besides frantic factionalising, foreboding mounts in PacificaWorld. Voting soon ends in the 10 Local Station Board pseudo-elections (spoiler), raising the perennial question, will quora be met, 10% for listeners, 25% for staff? We’re over six weeks in, with 13 days remaining. The ‘boxes’ get sealed at the stroke of oriental midnight, Tu15Oct, then carted off for counting, not to Renee’s basement but to a secure, hardened facility in RealWorld. No expense sparred for ‘Grassroots Democracy at Pacifica Radio’, as had by the strapline of the website of the National Elections Supervisor, the one & only battler, Reneeeeeee Pennnnnnnaloza.
So, what’s the scale of the problem? The NES has been stingy with info – and carefully avoided attending even one public PNB session (& presumably no private ones). Since voting has started, she has issued only three of what she calls “progress reports” – compared with six in the prior period. They’re all undated, &unnumbered, but one can refer to them by the latest info they give: 28Aug, 5Sep, & 20Sep (her 15Sep link is dead). Only the 5Sep gives the absolute number of voters, the others just giving percentages (to one decimal place). The 20Sep’s percentages aren’t even in numerical form: they’re pretty blobs on a graph (although KPFA-Listeners is missing). Hence estimates have had to be made. https://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/election-progress-reports-2019/
So, the scale of the problem? At the end of 20Sep, with 25 days to go, quorum had only been met by KPFA-Staff, & listener quora satisfaction were roughly half or worse (ranging from 55% to 38%). Effectively, listener turnout needs to double in those 25 days to achieve the five quora.
(The 20Sep report gave no info whatsoever about KPFA-Listeners (neither did its blue blob appear on the 5Sep graph). For calculation purposes, it’s prudent, & so reasonable, to assume it holds its 5Sep station rank, closer to WBAI than to KPFT. Given the greater unreliability of this number, it’s preceded with a ‘?’, as is any number it helps generate.)
Given the inadequate info made public by the NES, what’s the estimate of the number of listeners that still need to vote? At F20Sep, it was ?2 480 (staff being ~71), meaning aggregate listener turnout had only reached ?47% of the aggregated quora (?2 147 out of 4 556). These are the station deficiencies, totalling the needed ?2 409 listener voters: KPFA ?688, KPFK 819, KPFT 160, WPFW 308, WBAI 434.
From the graph, these are the estimated data at F20Sep for the 10 pseudo-elections, in this order: electorate (#) — quorum (#) — turnout (%, #) — voters needed (#):
KPFA-Listeners: 14 311, 1 432, ?5.2, ?744, ?688 . . . so ?48% of quorum still needed at F20Sep
KPFA-Staff: 233, 59, 27.5, 64, quorate
KPFK-Listeners: 13 210, 1 321, 3.8, 502, 819 . . . so 62% of quorum still needed at F20Sep
KPFK-Staff: 279, 70, 9.4, 26, 44 (so 63% of staff quorum still needed at F20Sep)
KPFT-Listeners: 3 549, 355, 5.5, 195, 160 . . . so 45% of quorum still needed at F20Sep
KPFT-Staff: 140, 35, 19.2, 27, 8
WPFW-Listeners: 6 289, 629, 5.1, 321, 308 . . . so 49% of quorum still needed at F20Sep
WPFW-Staff: 109, 28, 23.0, 25, 3
WBAI-Listeners: 8 186, 819, 4.7, 385, 434 . . . so 53% of quorum still needed at F20Sep
WBAI-Staff: 199, 50, 16.9, 34, 16
Doesn’t look too good, does it. But are appearances deceptive? No need to talk here about appearances & essences (Moor from the Luxembourg border, volume 3, chapter 48). Instead, we can consider this appearance, this generated outcome, with that of the previous LSB pseudo-election, nominally 2018, when voting occurred this year, F18Jan to Tu5Mar.
Comparing the voting periods, for 25 days to go, 20Sep corresponds to 8Feb. Here are the station listener data, for turnout at the end of 8Feb, & how many days spare after quorum was actually made; they’re taken from the NES’ graph in her final report:
KPFA, 5.0% & 1Mar, 4+ days before voting closed; KPFK, 3.1% & 1+ days; KPFT, 5.2% & 7+ days; WBAI, 5.3% & 4+ days. (There was no WPFW-Listeners event as there were only five verified candidates for the nine vacant seats.) https://mega.nz/#!fyAwGICZ!-4uWYMHZW3CHxt6yCOITu006SVZ4AyNPjT9bWw6csb0, page 15; page 16 of the PDF
(Odd graph: the vertical axis has 11 lines for each 10 units; also note that the horizontal axis starts each week with a Sunday, privileging Christian mores, which one may think is surprising for Pacifica, but such peeps obviously don’t know the majority of Pacifica’s posted schedule grids, KPFK, KPFT, & WPFW.)
So, pulling these two data sets together, listener turnout (%) at 20Sep compared with 8Feb: KPFA, ?5.2 (cf. 5.0); KPFK, 3.8 (cf. 3.1); KPFT, 5.5 (cf. 5.2); WPFW, 5.1 (no comparative); WBAI, 4.7 (cf. 5.3). (Also the laggard staff pseudo-election: KPFK-Staff, 9.4 (cf. 8.0).)
At this stage, with 25 days to go, the estimate is that all, bar WBAI, are better than earlier this year.
Conclusion: no need to be over-confident, but, on balance, things are slightly better, not worse.
So it’s not just sororities that have rush. It’s just that PacificaWorld seems to have a special kind of rush: ballot-box stuffing – of blank ballots. The NES’ final report (pp. 2-9) gives the station figures for “[a]bstain”, just a few percentage points. This is odd, because with the absence of a glossary one has to rely on the ordinary usage, where abstaining means not participating – which in PacificaWorld is usually of the order of 85-90% for listener members & 55% for staff members. But the NES also published primary data files, termed ‘Raw Results’ or ‘ChoicePlusPro’, giving the ordered preferences of each voter, who is anonymised by a code. By inspecting these, one realises that the number of ballots lacking preferences matches the number of ‘abstainers’ (except when the NES’ final report is in error, as shown below).
The NES’ material, surprisingly, doesn’t disclose how many ballots had write-ins, were defaced, etc. In fact, no definitions are offered of a valid or invalid ballot. What one can say, however, is that the NES’ “abstain” percentage = (# “abstain” x 100) ÷ (# ballots with preferences + # ballots without preferences).
Listener ‘abstentions’ given in the NES’ final report: KPFA, 113, 5.5%; KPFK, 141, 8.9%; KPFT, 44, 6.7% (as corrected; see below); WPFW didn’t have a contest; WBAI, 71, 7.9%. Without ‘abstentions’, KPFK-Listeners would still have made quorum – by a mere seven ballots: 14 366 listener-members; 1 437 for quorum; turnout 1 585; ‘abstentions’ 141, leaving 1 444. So, better to be safe. Protect the organisation. Carry Pacifica insurance. Then put it into action.
Note that the NES’ final report gave wrong ‘abstention’ figures for KPFT-Listeners, a typo, simply repeating those for the preceding contest in her list, KPFK-Staff – pp. 5-6. As noted, the authoritative source is the ‘Raw Results’: for KPFT-Listeners, amongst the 661 ballots listed, the 44 ‘abstainers’ were voter 2KKB (line 20 of the spreadsheet), 34YW (34), 3Q35 (45), …, & Z7QC (642).
Note that for the staff pseudo-elections, the raw data show that the NES, in her final report, double-counted the numbers she had for ballots without preferences, thereby inflating the “Total Ballot Return” (p. 17), although none affected the meeting of quora. Checking the raw data, for the ballots without preferences in the six smaller elections, the NES in her final report got one right out of six: KPFA-Staff, raw data 7 (final report 3); KPFK-Staff, 15 (7); KPFT-Listeners, 44 (7); KPFT-Staff, 6 (5); WPFW-Staff, 4 (4); WBAI-Staff, 5 (1).
Lastly, why do the two exercises this year deserve being recognised as pseudo-elections? On 29Oct2018 the then NES, Graeme Drew, told ED Maxie Jackson of his “decision to terminate the 2018 election process” (letter to PNB, 30Oct2018, p. 1, my emphasis). Why? “I am unable to reliably verify any of the applicants for candidacy due to the poor quality of elector lists” (p. 2, my emphasis). “Poor quality” is the polite term for the technical one: not materially accurate. Oh.
Not materially accurate elector lists. That means they’re corrupted. That means any process using them becomes corrupted. It makes that process corrupt. Any putative election process relying on such corrupted means is rendered corrupt. It’s not an election but a pseudo-election.
Pacifica has chosen not to reassure members, staff, listeners, grantors, donors, & vendors by making evidence publicly available, proving that the evaluation of NES Drew is no longer true. Instead, we’ve seen a Local Elections Supervisor make a heady rise, becoming dizzy with success: starting out as the KPFA LES, combining that with becoming the KPFK LES, then also the KPFT LES when she took her fourth concurrent job, as the NES, all this during the nominal 2018 pseudo-election. Having successfully stitched that up, where was the surprise when she was appointed the 2019 NES – moreover, chances of being challenged from within the apparatus were minimised because there was no apparatus: no LES’s have been hired, possibly steamrollering by-law Article 4, Section 4(B). In the politics of administration, NES Penaloza is the definition of a safe pair of hands. https://pacifica.org/indexed_bylaws/art4sec4.html