[UPDATE … question 28 of 31 did wonder, “And will the joining details for the December meeting be changed yet again, to keep the public out?” And sure enough, Queen Liz III couldn’t help herself: “Access via MaestroConference (Never a charge to the calling party) phone (323) 393-4046 access code 504 258 # (Same as last Month.) Access information will remain the same for future meetings until further notice. (Please disregard any other access information from any other source. Beth)” – sent out 40mins before the meeting, “Monday, December 27, 2021, 05:50:09 PM MST”. So that’s a promise, yes?
[Her unthinking authoritarian disposition was also on display again – not horizontal/collegiate but top-down, not an intercourse of equals but others as objects – enclosing what she described as “Agenda”, rather than ‘suggested agenda’. This email was forwarded to PacificaWatch by members of the inner circle & their confidants.
[What do they say about leopard & spots? And what is this problem she has with Joe & Joanna Public? Given that she’s shown yet again that she’s really more at home in the cosy world of appointed boards, secreted away from scrutiny, she should reconsider her position within an ostensibly democratic culture such as Pacifica, & do the decent thing, yes? She really is like a fish out of water here.]
. . . the new number & access code for the M27Dec meet, plus the inner circle of courtiers . . . remember the PacificaWatch mantra, its masthead: “helping to make the Pacifica radio network more transparent, making it easier to hold decision-makers to account” . . .
The next day the anti-Pacifican forces went to work, sending a new number to the inner circle, those personally invited by Chair Beth von Gunten. The new info going to the anointed ones:
2030 EST, M27Dec PNB Development Task Force: please join the call with 408-520-2444, access code 618 715#.
As per M20Dec2021 email to the email list of the PNB Development Task Force
The inner circle:
Fred Blair, Chris Cory, Heather Gray, Bruce Greif, Rosalie Hoffman, Eric Jacobson, Steve Kaiser, Kim Kaufman, Michael Novick, King Reilly, Lawrence Reyes, Ziri Rideaux, Cerene Roberts, Jeanine Rohn, James Sagurton, Anita Sims, Nancy Sorden, Tom Voorhees.
The current email list of the PNB Development Task Force
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has told Pacifica that if it wants any of its money then it has to “demonstrate full compliance with the [Radio Community Service Grants] General Provisions at the time of application”. So why is Chair von Gunten choosing to violate the CPB open meetings requirement, thereby ensuring disqualification?
Task Force Chair von Gunten has the added responsibility, as a director of Pacifica Foundation, Inc., of being a trustee of its assets, a so-called fiduciary. Her behaviour concerning the possibility of CPB funding endangers the viability of those assets. Doesn’t this warrant her disqualification as a director?
Doesn’t this certainly disqualify her candidature as a 2022 director?
Also, why is she choosing to violate the Pacifica by-law open meetings requirement, an institutionalised attempt to inculcate & maintain a culture of transparency & to prohibit opacity, this being the substantive content of by-laws Article 6, Section 7 & Art. 7, Sec. 6?
She says taskforce meetings don’t have to be open to the public – which poses the question, why has she never explained why she prefersmeetings to be secret?
Why does someone with a demonstrated secretive & exclusionary disposition not just want to be a Pacifica member but to be a Pacifica decision-maker, even one at the highest level?
More so than merely taking the opportunity to practice secrecy & exclusion, why is she so insistent on keeping Pacifica proceedings secret?
And why have something as basic as minutes not been posted on a Pacifica website – not even one set for a deliberative body that has been meeting since 24June2020?
What does she want to conceal? What information does she want to deny to Pacifica members, listeners, & staff? Why doesn’t she want them to be informed, to be educated, about what is happening in Pacifica? Why does she want to be the info gatekeeper?
Most worryingly, why do the invitees to these secret meetings, the inner circle, choose to collude in this anti-Pacifican behaviour?
Is it simply because they’re afraid they’ll lose the privilege of being emailed the joining details?
Are they afraid of upsetting Queen Liz III, losing their privileges, being banished from the realm, reduced to relying on the goss?
Don’t they realise they’ve allowed themselves to become dependants, the clients of a patron who’s in a position to disburse privileges?
Don’t they realise they’re helping to reproduce a corrosive political structure of bonding with some rather than others, encouraging loyalty to the leader, creating an in-group/out-group dynamic, setting Pacifican against Pacifican?
Don’t they realise this ferments a toxic atmosphere?
Don’t they realise that a bystander who remains silent is objectively colluding with the perpetrators of a wrong?
Don’t they realise that by their acts of commission & omission they themselves are perpetrating harm?
Why don’t they take advantage of the public comment portion of a local station board meeting to express any opposition they have to this practice?
Why won’t they bring a motion to their board, be it their local station board or the Pacifica National Board, to stop this harmful & destructive behaviour?
Why won’t people in a position to act try to stop this public charity being a private club?
So why don’t the invitees vote in a new Chair, someone who isn’t afraid of being both transparent & legal, someone even eager to post a notice allowing the public to witness proceedings, so peeps can find out what’s going on in their name?
How has Pacifica become reduced to this – and so quickly by a neophyte, the epitome of the voguish PMC, someone who proudly told the listeners of KPFK, in a ‘meet the LSB’ session in the summer with GM Moe Thomas, that “I was recruited onto the LSB by Grace Aaron”? . . . cult-like . . . creepy . . . bestowing heirs . . . a dynasty, a caste . . . a world of privilege . . . the sense of entitlement . . . – all so alien to Pacifica, yes?
And will the joining details for the December meeting be changed yet again, to keep the public out?
Why is Pacifica descending in this way?
How low can it go?
Why are people who do know better, colluding in this destructive, degenerative behaviour?
Below are the two sets of public comment made at this local station board continuation meeting. The spoken ‘quote/unquote’ have been removed, & occasional emphases & other italicisation added. At the end of each comment are the links evidencing what’s said.
PacificaWatch has been contacted by members worried about the PNB Development Task Force not noticing its meetings with either a stream or joining details. This violates the CPB open meetings requirement. Calling a Pacifica deliberative body a taskforce or working group doesn’t evade this rule. That’s why the CPB June 2021 Compliance Booklet passage on meetings of boards, committees, & the CAB’s adds the phrase, “but are not limited to”. This addition corresponds to the Communications Act of 1934 saying, “or any advisory body of any such organization”.
In fact this taskforce had an open meeting, at Zoom, on September 27th. This notice was indeed placed by director Beth von Gunten – but her October, November, & December notices exclude the public. However, one can join the call by dialling (323) 393-4046, access code 504 258 #.
On May 22nd, 2020, CPB told ED Lydia Brazon & PNB Chair Alex Steinberg that to get CPB money Pacifica has to “demonstrate full compliance at the time of application”.
Does choosing to violate this CPB rule, in the face of repeated public warnings, violate two legal duties of a director: (1) acting in the best interests of Pacifica, & (2) acting prudently? (California Corporations Code, paragraph 5231(a).)
Does this chosen behavior disqualify director von Gunten from her office? Does this disqualify her from running as a 2022 director? Isn’t such behavior alien to Pacifica?
#1, it is obvious that Pacifica will explode late January & into February. But, for the record, what was the date of the PNB closed session when the directors agreed to instruct ED Brazon to hire Rogers & Co. as the FY2021 auditor?
#2, the FCC broadcasting license for both KPFA & KPFK expired December 1st. The FCC webpages show that KPFA’s has been extended 8 years, but that for KPFK has no extension. What can KPFK do?
#3, a new Central Services expense policy was adopted by the PNB on February 18th, with immediate effect. I have estimated that this has saved KPFK about $80,000 thru September 30th. But this policy hasn’t been implemented. Why? And why has no director or any other delegate mentioned this publicly?
#4, the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, EIDL, accepted an application for a maximum top-up of $1.5m from September 8th. And the Small Business Administration website says, “the last day that applications may be approved is December 31st, 2021” – that is, if funds haven’t been exhausted. So why is ED Brazon still flapping about, 3½ months later? Simply unbelievable.
#5, Ms von Gunten is sorely mistaken in deeming my public comment “a personal attack”. Please re-read what I said: it’s a statement of facts & a set of questions.
Re #5, not a reference, but the blinding obvious: this is a matter of accountability – nothing to do with personalities. It’s called being scrutinised – for what one does & doesn’t do. Instead of assuming the role of the victim, the martyr, being precious, the rational response to public comment #1 would have been to reflect, & recognise the reality. It was an everyday exercise in encouraging the making accountable of an officeholder – and a signalling of the serious consequences of what is happening & being tolerated. Those acts of commission & omission objectively do the work of the breakers, even if the intent is otherwise. They cannot be allowed to pass in silence.
. . . transitioning from Joy Division to New Order . . .
[UPDATE: when this was written it seemed a good idea to publish monthly lists of certain kinds of apparent CPB violations. It no longer does.]
Given the continual egregious violations by our leaders of the form of the Communications Act of 1934 & the derivative rules of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, let alone of the Pacifica by-laws & California law, it makes sense to list the transgressions on a monthly basis, with the presentation of all available supporting evidence. One says form coz, currently, Pacifica Foundation, Inc. doesn’t receive CPB money, but on 22May2020, over 1½yrs ago, it was told by the CPB,
[t]o be considered for re-entry to the CSG program [Community Service Grant], the Radio CSG program must be open to new applicants, Licensees and Stations must demonstrate full compliance with the General Provisions at the time of application
letter from Kathy Merritt (Senior Vice President, Journalism & Radio) & Katherine Arno (Vice President, Community Service Grants & Station Initiatives) to ED Lydia Brazon & PNB Chair Alex Steinberg, 22May2020, unpaginated but page 1, emphases added – https://mega.nz/file/cY8XCYLb#4IGXyzfasCgfm-GdaYYm6WPn2XaD4UcMJR8ZPTo-Q8c … in the typical opaque practices of the usual Pacifica executive director & any PNB majority one cares to name, they’re not upfront with the members, listeners, & staff, not posting eagerly on the national & unit websites the documented reality & milestone plans, but instead they conceal & at best obfuscate; it means one has to look for scraps where one can – and collation is one function of PacificaWatch
So Pacifica managers have four short months to be fully compliant.
And with CPB disbursing federal money, & being subject to scrutiny by senators, it’s a sober, conservative body, so it won’t accept a snapshot: it’ll want a recent history showing that Pacifica has been transformed, from caprice to credibility. So for how long will CPB want evidence of the imperative that “Stations must demonstrate full compliance“? Six months? A year? A year – minimum.
The ongoing FCC & CPB violations are not solely perpetrated by the chosen secret behaviour of Pacifica advisory bodies labelled, in Pacificese, taskforces & working groups . . . choking the open meetings requirement, suffocating the transparency out of PacificaWorld. No. These insidious bodies simply protrude as heads wrapped in plastic bags.
The monthly lists will appear on the 11th day of the following month given that a CPB general provision is
Closed Meetings: Grantee must document why any meetings of its governing body, its committees, and CAB [“but are not limited to” these] were closed and make available to the public a written statement of the reason(s) within a reasonable time after the closed meeting (47 U.S.C. § 396(k)(4)). CPB also requires that the written statement be made available for inspection, either at Grantee’s central office or on its station website, within 10 days after each closed meeting.
The lists will first be done for this financial year, so from Oct. Then, in NETA-style, as we go forward those from the rest of calendar 2021 will be added. If a minion agrees to pay for the privilege of labouring at PacificaWatch, then calendar 2020 will be added.
This PacificaWorld self-harm documentary carries a parental guidance certificate.
As noted months ago on this blog, in early Jan2021, when discussing the expected completion dates of the FY2019 & FY2020 audits, a remark was made about the 26Oct2020 PNB Audit Cttee:
[n]o-one mentioned a crucial deadline: what may be mid Aug2021, applying for the big bucks disbursed from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Radio Community Service Grant Program, CSG. The annual date keeps changing: 13Aug2020, 24June2019, 11May2018, 12May2017, 16May2016. There’s never much time to apply: the last two application forms were dated the month before, July2020 & May2019. It’s also first-come, first-served: ‘[e]ligible applicants are accepted into the Radio CSG Program in the order their applications were received’.
And how big is the Radio CSG fund? In FY2021 it’s ~$92.1m (unrestricted $69.3m + restricted, for national programming, $22.8m); in FY2022 it’ll be ~$96.2m ($72.4m + $23.8m). Yes, CPB funding is rising, at last – to $465m from a stagnant ~$445m, FY2012-FY2021 (which suffered a 19% drop in real terms). And with a 3:1 TV-to-radio grants split, in FY2021, ~$99m went to radio; with 70% going to unrestricted CSG, & 23% to restricted CSG.
And how much did Pacifica used to get from the CPB? FY1993-FY2012, it varied from $1.946m in FY2006 to $1.098m in FY1994 (in June2021 money, that corresponds to $2.576m (32% inflation) & $1.962m (79% inflation)). As a proportion of Pacifica’s revenue, it was 10.8% in FY2006 ($18.016m), & 14.1% in FY1994 ($7.797m); by comparison, in FY2011, the CPB’s $1.154m was 8.2% of revenue ($14.135m).
Today, the PNB Technology Task Force met: “[p]urpose: [d]iscuss 2021 CPB requirements, for June 30th deadline application” – https://kpftx.org/.
A PacificaWatch minion attended. They stressed that the application deadline for the CPB’s Radio Community Service Grant Program had passed on 19May, giving the link cited above. Twice they asked what this 30June deadline is, its purpose, what has to be provided. Twice the Chair, Jim Dingeman (associated with WBAI, but not a LSB delegate), responded, but, unfortunately, proved unable, or unwilling, to answer these obvious questions.
• when Pacifica submits an application to the CPB it has to already be compliant with both CPB rules & federal law (22May2020 CPB letter to ED Lydia Brazon & PNB Chair Alex Steinberg);
• an obvious, elementary one, is that whenever a deliberative meeting is closed to the public, a written explanation is not just published but done so within 10 days; currently, for calendar year 2021, only one is posted on the Foundation’s website, https://pacifica.org/notices_home.php – and that’s from Feb, of a LSB meeting!
• evidence of streamingeach open meeting, or of having had a conference phone call accessible to the public, so including evidence that online joining details were published beforehand (obviously, a posted notice of an upcoming meeting is something quite different; as is a published audiofile of proceedings: the open meeting requirement is about attending, witnessing, so whilst it’s happening);
• evidence of community advisory boards meeting publicly “at regular intervals”, per Communications Act of 1934, § 396(k)(8)(A) . . . by early Jan2021, the Pacifica meetings archive provided no evidence, none at all, that any of the five CAB’s had met in 2020 – https://kpftx.org/archive_2020.php; &
• a biggy: having enough listeners . . . Note, a mid May2022 application needs Nielsen listening data from spring 2020 & spring 2021. These are for Apr-May-June, but those for the 1st quarter are known, for each station. So, obvious questions: how far off is each station? what strategy is each station manager pursuing to rectify their situation? crucially, what are the intermediary, measurable goals in each strategy? what is the URL of each published station listenership strategy, so that Pacifica is transparent in this key matter, making it easier to hold the station manager & the station programme director to account for both their action & inaction? when did ED Brazon instruct station managers to address this matter strategically, rather than piecemeal & ad hoc at best? What are the answers to these obvious questions? Importantly, will any Pacifica decision-maker, a LSB delegate or Pacifica director, ever ask them?!? . . . another Godot moment in PacificaWorld?
Also, CPB is doing unannounced website audits, praps Feb thru Sep2021:
I also want to inform you that we will be undertaking a new initiative this fiscal year to further address station accountability. Specifically, we will be conducting limited scope evaluations of station requirements to post information to its website of various Communication Act and transparency requirements per our Annual Plan. The evaluations will be unannounced engagements conducted by our office of the information posted to your website and are not full scope audits of your CSG agreements. These limited scope evaluations will be conducted in accordance with the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency[‘s] Quality Standards for Inspection and Evaluation. [new paragraph:] These engagements will begin any time after January as staff is available and will continue throughout the fiscal year.
ED Lydia Brazon will be aware of this. Also Otis Maclay, Pacifica’s Compliance Officer – amongst other jobs.
Yes, Pacifica receives no CPB monies, but it has to be fully compliant before any application is even looked at.
On top of all this, there’s also the Pacifica decision-makers, local & national, always going on about ‘getting the audits done’. They offer no awareness, whatsoever, that they fail to make a crucial distinction between form & content: between an auditor’s report & audited financial statements. The two pertinent facts: the latest auditor’s report is for FY2019, dated 29Apr2021; the latest audited financial statements are for FY2016, dated 31May2018. FY2016 ended on 30Sep2016 – almost five years ago.
Audited financial statements are deemed by the auditor to be, in the jargon, fair, that is, materially accurate. Hence the auditor saying of the FY2016 financial statements provided by Pacifica, “the financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of The Pacifica Foundation as of […]” (p. 1b; p. 4 of the PDF – https://pacifica.org/finance/audit_2016.pdf). (This opinion included a scope limitation, making it a qualified opinion, but we’ll let that complication pass.)
This contrasts with FY2017, FY2018, & FY2019 when the new auditors, Rogers & Company, given what they found, had to say, ‘fair? not fair? materially accurate? materially inaccurate? . . . can’t say, can’t say one way or the other, so we’ll have “to issue a disclaimer of opinion” – but thanks for the $100k or so . . . better luck next time’.
Why is this difference so important? What grantors want, nay, what they demand, is audited financial statements – not auditor’s reports. They want financial statements vouched for by auditors, so deemed materially accurate by a competent, trusted third party – not bald statements offered by a wannabe grantee. An applicant needs credibility, nay, proven credibility. Grantors demand substance, verified substance.
Well, the FY2020 audit is likely to be completed in August, perhaps July. 30June is unlikely, not least because the trial balance that generates the financial statements wasn’t produced until this week (CFO Anita Sims, Th3June2021 PNB – no audiofile posted as of today . . . UPDATE: CFO Sims: “on, urgh, June the first, George [Walter, NETA Senior Controller] was able to deliver to the auditors the trial balance – the re-sent – and also the, argh, [derived] financial statements” (24:30), “so we are on schedule. Urgh, we’re hoping that their process will take about two weeks [sic]” (25:04) . . . about two weeks??? . . . so finishing Tu15June??? – https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb210603/pnb210603a.mp3).
Let’s be frank. Let’s call a spade a spade. The only way to conjoin ’30June’ & ‘auditor’s report’ is with a nod & a wink: rush the sampling; stamp the statements with a disclaimer of opinion; praps a 5% discount on the agreed price; &, keeping things in-house, come back in November for one more year, even if the auditors can hardly stomach it. Business. Scratching. Win-win. Capitalist ‘professionalism’, capitalist ethics, in action.
The FY2020 statements will almost certainly get a 4th disclaimer of opinion from the auditors because there hasn’t even been an inkling that the many outstanding pension audits (perhaps six) have been done since 29Apr2021, when the general auditors last gave their opinion: “[a]s of the date of the Independent Auditors’ Report, April 29, 2021, audits of the plans for years 2019 and 2018 had not been completed” (p. 1; p. 3 of the PDF). And this deficiency was the sole reason for giving the disclaimer: “[w]e were thus unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence about the correct pension accruals, penalties, and fines for the years ended September 30, 2019 and 2018” (‘Basis for Disclaimer of Opinion’, p. 1; p. 3 of the PDF). https://pacifica.org/finance/audit_2019.pdf
The point is, there’s so much uncertainty with the material accuracy of the pension accounts (so based on the personnel & payroll records, sigh), that the auditors found themselves unable to accept an estimate of the liability from NETA, which would have allowed the auditors to give a scope limitation to the offered financial statements, assigning them a qualified opinion: instead they felt they had to give a disclaimer of opinion. No-one on either the PNB Audit Cttee or the PNB has ever asked why, of either CFO Sims or the auditors. It’s as if they’re unaware of what’s happening, unaware of the decision-making involved. Incroyable. Unglaublich. Unbelievable.
The pee-pee, the pension problem, isn’t new. There were warning signs. The FY2016 auditors gave a scope limitation to those financial statements because, at 31May2018, when their report was issuable, “(a) audits of the [pension] plans for 2016 had not been completed, (b) an audit of one of the plans for 2015 had not been completed, and (c) an audit of one of the plans for 2015 was not required” (pp. 1a-1b; pp. 3-4 of the PDF – https://pacifica.org/finance/audit_2016.pdf). Oh. So by 31May2018, the last ones finished were FY2014. Oh. This was the scale of the deficiency made public three years ago. (Since then, thankfully, there has been progress: completed are those for FY2015, FY2016, & FY2017, as inferred from the cited 29Apr2021 statement by the general auditors.)
The directors since the end of FY2015, 30Sep2015, have been seriously remiss in their exercise of oversight re (a) the preparation for the annual pension audits, & (b) the conduct of those audits. They have never given an adequate explanation of (1) why the problem of pension administration arose during FY2015 (even the dates of completed pension auditor’s reports aren’t publicly available), & (2) whythe dual persisting problem of pension administration & pension audit wasn’t, & hasn’t been, remedied.
So, given that the FY2020 audit is likely to get yet another disclaimer, the earliest Pacifica can earn two sets of audited financial statements will be re FY2021 & FY2022, with the latter’s auditor’s report being issuable, at the very earliest, mid Jan2023. That would allow Pacifica to apply, c. May2023, for the fiscal 2024 CSG Program, with a first payment, the 70%, in Oct2023 (30% coming in Mar2024).
So, treading water for at least another two years, 2⅓ years. Inshallah.
But Pacifica may be able to persuade other grantors with just one set of audited financial statements. Inshallah.