Data were given at the Tu11Aug PNB Finance Cttee that will circulate widely, despite their unacknowledged conceptual deficiencies. These necessarily make the data misleading, & so will misinform any decisions using them. (The deficiencies have been discussed in other posts, & will be elaborated in the revision of this post.) The data were in a written report by director Chris Cory (KPFA listener-delegate). The content wasn’t challenged by Chief Financial Officer Anita Sims. (Note, not a Pacifica employee but a key principal of NETA, Pacifica’s bookkeeper & accountant – so no possible conflict of interest there.) CC, not the Egyptian president, read the report to the Cttee: https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/finance/200811/finance200811a.mp3(10:37-19:34, then discussion).
The Cttee agreed to add the report to the minutes (19:46) – however, these won’t be agreed until Tu25Aug at the earliest. Of course, no-one had the crazy idea to post the report immediately to the meetings archive, https://kpftx.org/archive.php. Communication remains a problem for this communications business. So it’s just as well that later today R Paul Martin (WBAI treasurer) is likely to publish it, at https://glib.com/treasurers_reports.html, as an appendix to his usual written report delivered to tonite’s WBAI Local Station Board. [UPDATE: oddly, this report still not published as of 1000 EDT, F14Aug.]
It means the content of this post is temporary, not least because, given the limited info disclosed, there are unavoidable inconsistencies in some of the absolute numbers that have been derived: station net income/loss, Oct-Dec2019 (the first quarter, Q1); station income & expenses, Jan-June2020 (Q2-Q3); & Pacifica consolidated quarterly figures.
Management accounts are designed, they don’t fall from heaven. Social, not natural. They’re designed to assist decision-making concerning internal affairs, such as operating units of an organisation – here, the five stations, Pacifica National Office (PNO), Pacifica Radio Archives (PRA), & the affiliates programme. Design means there are options, different ways of arranging the recording of the monetary transactions of the organisation, even extending to the creation of accounting units (as happened recently with Rosemary’s Ursula’s Baby, the affiliates programme). These alternatives exist even if they’re not recognised. Being a choice, it’s conscious, even if unrecognised, ill-informed, or mistaken.
For example, by accident of history, an operating unit can benefit from not paying studio rent, office rent, tower rent, so effectively being subsidised by the other stations. This has the important effect of necessarily distorting the relationship between accounting units – and the harm is compounded, unfortunately, because cost-cutting decision-making often suffers the unthinking default of focusing on the wrong level, on accounting-unit info, whereas the rational level for this work is Pacifica-wide info. Decision-makers may treat Pacifica as a federation, but RealWorld treats it as a unitary entity, Pacifica Foundation, Inc.: no station has legal personality.
And concerning the cost structure, what sticks out like a sore thumb is personnel, ~52% of the annual total, with ~56% of that eaten up by KPFA & KPFK: ~30% of Pacifica’s total costs are workers & managers at the West Coast stations (in order, [1996377 + 1728425] / 12497805 = 0.2980, the last audited figures, FY2016). (The later annual figures, generated by Pacifica but unaudited, compute as >10% higher: FY2017, ~34% ([1887557 + 1854363] / 11024213 = 0.3394); & FY2018, ~33% ([2088089 + 1793587] / 11651268 = 0.3331).) And chopping these transforms those stations, turning them from paid-producer/presenter programming to volunteer programming. In a word, war. And hence the recent defensive attempts by KPFA station chauvinists to change the by-laws, making the composition of the national decision-making body, the Pacifica National Board, proportional to station membership.
But the truth is plain: there is no station property, only Pacifica property. A station-proprietary consciousness is a distortion of reality, it’s a mistake, it’s ideology, easily fuelling station chauvinism, especially in times of crisis. And it is in times of crisis that solidarity is needed, not separatism. Conceptualisations, like lives, matter. They have real effects.
It means all land, buildings, & towers, as well as such rents, should be stripped out of station accounts: they need to be in the National accounting unit (there is no office). And those rents, as a National expense, not a station expense, need to be paid from the central services fund, so by all stations. This simple procedure will end the double inequity suffered by WPFW & WBAI: (1) effectively subsidising KPFA, KPFK, & KPFT, allowing them to enjoy Pacifica property for free, whilst, (2), having to also pay their own rents for studios, offices, & towers. A double burden – why hast thou forsaken us, Pacifica?
Distortion of the assignment of expenses & income to accounting units, distorts the info available for decision-making concerning operating units. As noted, this is never more pertinent than when deciding on cutting costs, especially how much, & where – and smaller stations have less scope for cuts. Only comparing like-with-like is rational, & therefore fair.
Accounting matters. Accountancy is a means of control, helping to control the quality of the relations between people, not least the control of people’s access to ‘important stuff’. This makes accounting political. Accountancy is not purely technical, reducible to technique. Facts, numbers, never speak for themselves (the positivist illusion, as the epistemologists say): putative facts, claims to knowledge, need to be produced, put into a semantic context, before they have meaning. The clever Romans knew this: factum = an act, a deed. Yes, facts come out of factories, not picked up, in pristine condition, from the ground. Produced, not collected.
Nevertheless, there’s a crucial difference between the world & its representation: reality is mind-independent, not dependent on our recognition of it, & it’s discourse-independent, having its effects, even if the description is accurate. Facts are evidenced knowledge claims that have proven robust, crucially when tested in action rather than merely contested in discussion. It means descriptions, explanations, justifications, & prescriptions vary in their practical adequacy. Using facts simply improves the chance of making life easier.
Knowledge developers are fallible, but because they’re corrigible there can be growth in knowledge, improvement, & this includes being aware that accounting principles, methods, standards, & policies can be rationally challenged. This happened when the PNB majority insisted that the gain on the sale of the Nakapon building in FY2018, an income, be assigned not to KPFA but to National, thereby improving a Pacifica accounting policy. Yes, there is no station property, only Pacifica property.
Accountancy is social, a perspective on the world, & a practice in the world. And in being social, human made, it’s subject to evaluation, subject to critique. That’s the nature of accountancy, & the nature of humans.
Now the data disclosed at the Tu11Aug PNB Finance Cttee meeting. The period covered by Chris Cory’s report was the financial year to 30June, so the three quarters since 30Sep2019, Q1-Q3. (Additionally, NETA has just done the July figures – in six working days?, why not 24hrs?) He gave two sets of station net income/loss: the last six months, so 1Jan-30June (Q2-Q3); & the year to date, so 1Oct2019-30June2020 (Q1-Q3). He also gave the Q2-Q3 net income/loss as a percentage of income.
From this can be derived: Q1 net income/loss; Q2-Q3 income; Q2-Q3 expenses. Hence these data:
Note: Cory said depreciation is excluded, & rounding is to the nearest thousand
‘Interesting’ Cory also gave some Q1-Q3 pan-Pacifica figures (‘consolidated’, in the jargon), so including PNO & PRA (oddly, he was silent on the affiliates programme, so presumably their fabled net income has disappeared). These data: Pacifica had a Q1-Q3 loss of $128k, 1.5% of income; with unit net incomes of $296k for PNO, & $36k for PRA. These net incomes presumably arise largely from charges to the stations; also, being balances of intra-organisation transactions, they all drop out when composing the consolidated financial statements (a station’s central services charge is income for PNO, the net effect for Pacifica being zilch). (Note, rounding error, −$2k, re consolidation of the Q1-Q3 station net income/(loss): [150k − 608k] + [296k + 36k] − 2k = (128k).)
From this info, these data ($k) can be derived:
period — income — expenses — net income/(loss):
Q1-Q3: 8 533 — 8 661 — (128) . . . includes the elimination of PNO & PRA balances, so consolidated
Q2-Q3: 5 097 — 5 820 — (723) . . . unconsolidated
Q1: 3 436 — 2 841 — 595 . . . unconsolidated . . . [in this squaring line, the 595 is inconsistent with the 265 net income derived above (please see the table); note, 595 − 265 + 2 = 332 = the PNO & PRA net incomes]
Making them all consolidated, & assuming uniform quarterly PNO + PRA net income (so Q1, $111k; Q2, $111k; Q3, $110k):
period — income — nominal expenses – (re PNO & PRA) – adjusted expenses — net income/(loss):
Q1-Q3: 8 533 — 8 993 – (332) – 8 661 — (128)
Q2-Q3: 5 097 — 5 820 – (221) – 5 599 — (502)
Q1: 3 436 — 3 173 – (111) – 3 062 — 374 . . . [in this squaring line, the 3 173 is inconsistent with the 2 841 derived above, a difference of 332; & the net income is different from the 265 in the table – but note, 374 − 111 + 2 = 265]
in squaring the figures, inconsistencies necessarily arose
it seems Q1 generated a very welcome surplus, perhaps of the order of an unconsolidated $265k (per the table). (The consolidation, also derived, includes an inconsistency in its computation.)
given this likely Q1 net income, & because anti-COVID-19 mobility restrictions started Tu17Mar, first in CA, then NY state, it’s a pity Chris didn’t split the Q2-Q3 figures into the quarters; as it is, the scale of the effect of the COVID-19 societal crisis upon Pacifica is concealed, as is, correspondingly, the possible pecuniary progress made in 11 of that quarter’s 13 weeks; a break with his routine of solely compiling a 6-monthly rolling report would have been illuminating
for devising an emergency financial plan, the crucial info needed is the size of the effects of the COVID-19 societal crisis on Pacifica, especially week-by-week listener donations; all this info has to be used in producing credible FY2021 station budgets: applying prudence requires reliance on the new info since mid March, not historical data even from last year.
R Paul Martin, long-standing WBAI treasurer, & Secretary of the PNB Finance Cttee, gives a written report to each meeting of his Local Station Board. This one, five pages, was a lot easier for him: usually the national Cttee meets the evening before, calling for a page or three of details. Small mercies in These Times of the Reign of the Lunatic.
These Times of the Reign of the Lunatic. Made possible by the opportunistic Republican Party. Made worse by renegades from their scientific & public health training, bringing their professions into disrepute, bending to the opinions of The Lunatic, discarding their duty to the public, diluting CDC public health policy. Sacrificing the public, collateral in a self-serving effort to keep their jobs. Colluding with the advocate of shining the light, cleaning with disinfectant. Betraying fidelity to evidenced reason. Capitulators. Yes, these enablers are led by Sideshow Bob–Debby–&–(less so)–Tony. Sad, horrible, as The Lunatic says in public. Wimps, cucks, as The Lunatic says in private.
. . . Amerikan Karnage . . .
Meanwhile, back in PacificaWorld . . .
Remarks on the report:
FY2018 audit delay: will do a separate post on this fiasco
re eligibility for money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, CPB, the lack of “the FY19 audit” (p. 3, emphasis added) largely misses the point: even if Pacifica can earn timely audited financial statements, & not an auditor’s report declaring their absence, the CPB has criteria for evidencedlistenership ‘in the community’ that’ll trip up Pacifica
“we can’t forget that the principal on the big loan is scheduled to come due in less than nine months” (p. 4) – much, much worse than that, Paul: not only is there no plan addressing FJC’s $3.265m, there hasn’t even been the preliminaries of a public Pacifica discussion to simply identify the options!
corrections: NETA is not Television (p. 1), but Telecommunications; & FJC quarterly interest, due 30Sep, 31Dec, & 31Mar, is not ~$70k (p. 3), but, since 16Mar2020, $51 016 ($3.265m x 6.25% ÷ 4).
Lastly, this teleconferenced meeting isn’t being streamed. No explanation is given in the notice on kpftx.org. It’s an open meeting, in the terms of the Communications Act of 1934, § 396(k)(4). This sub-section implies that if Pacifica is indeed receiving any money under the Act, then for a teleconferenced meeting to be compliant, Pacifica has to publicly stream the proceedings, not simply make public a recording of the meeting. That is, the meeting must be witnessed, even if only aurally; & witnessing means whilst it’s happening.
And what counts as a meeting? ln the opinion of the CPB, “[n]ote that deliberations do not require any formal action or vote. Any discussion of public broadcasting issues that may influence the opinions of members makes it a meeting” (all emphases added). So much for the view expressed at the 11Mar2020 LSB meeting that, in the past, decisions had been ratified at a subsequent meeting.
Have any audiofiles been posted on kpftx.org? In 2020, prior to today’s meeting, there’s been six LSB open meetings, one each month, with the last four being teleconferences. But only the March has a publicly available recording – and although the box says “Archive Soon” it’s actually there, as a URL, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1RnIDQDCaO1mGn5z-Zph0eluonkbQvTdm/view?usp=drive_web – so no, it’s not the proposed agenda. Hidden gems do exist in PacificaWorld.
The public can obviously attend in-person open meetings, & posting a recording is a courtesy to members & listeners, & an exercise in transparency. The April/May/June teleconferences may indeed have been streamed, even allowing public comment, but Pacifica has offered no evidence that this was so. In fact, only the April & May notices show such an intention. Let’s hope that if the CPB comes auditing for compliance then the evidence exists. And if there are audiofiles, why aren’t they posted in the meetings archive, kpftx.org?
As the other Bill wrote, about the land where Chris Albertson spent some of his childhood, “TikTok or Tick-Tock, that is the question” . . . Given Pacifica’s age structure, we know the answer. The foundation now has exactly a year to pay $3.265m to another foundation, the Foundation for the Jewish Community, that operates as FJC.
For two whole years, the directors have sat on their paws. See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil. FJC loan? Excuse me? How many millions? Due when? Why worry? Thoughts & prayers. Thoughts & prayers. It’ll just go away. One day we’ll wake up & it’ll be gone. Like a miracle. It’ll just disappear. Yes. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear. Thoughts & prayers. Thoughts & prayers. The loan, under control. Things. This FJC thing, it’ll just run its course. Let it rip. It’ll all work out well. Victory. The next PNB election. Incredible. Leadership. Be appreciative. A lot. A lot. This is what winning looks like. Stronger. Better. Victory. PacificaWorld, RealWorld. Country with a stockpile? Or all pile & no stock – a pile of BS, & a pile of gravestones. (But always a stockpile of nuclear weapons: priorities.) Vicious. Carnage. Keeping Amerika great. USA! USA! USA! Ode not to joy but to the United Scarves of Amerika.
Meanwhile, back in PacificaWorld, it’s from the ballot to the bullet – and the bullet has to be bitten. And now. How to pay the principal of $3.265m has to be decided now. And, rationally, that requires knowledge of the options Pacifica has.
The directors, since 2Apr2018, have lacked not foresight on this but due diligence. It didn’t even require vision; just plain diligence. Everyone knew what has to be re-paid, & when. The question was, how. The 2018 directors, by agreeing to the contract, identified two particular ways of getting the money to FJC: signal swap or sale of assets. The third way was generic, “other sources that will become available” – such as cash provided by another lender. So what’s it going to be: signal swap? buildings sales? extend the loan? find new lender? maybe the Jesse James approach, improving on the Symbionese Liberation Army?
There’s no evidence that research was done on any of this by the then executive director, Tom Livingston. Nor by ED Maxie Jackson III, or ED Grace Aaron, or ED Lawrence Reyes, or the current ED, Lydia Brazon.
So, obviously, the PNB needs to immediately direct ED Brazon to conduct or commission an authoritative report on Pacifica’s options. The PNB meets on Thursday, 2Apr. Will a director make the necessary motion?
Thoughts & prayers. Thoughts & prayers.
Since 2Apr2018, Pacifica’s being & future had been structured most forcefully by the FJC loan. No more. Since mid March, that’s been replaced by the spread of disease, of COVID-19. It’ll collapse Pacifica’s revenue. And well before the principal is due. Pacifica’s executive & national governance aren’t noted ballerinas, nimble. And confirmed cases are cascading. NYC’s first was Su1Mar. 1Mar. The Bay Area shelter-in-place started 0001, Tu17Mar. The US’ first 100k confirmed cases took 68 days, M20Jan to F27Mar. The second took 5 days[UPDATE, W1Apr]. It was as if federal officials were watching Fox & CNN rather than the world news. (Guess Al Jazeera America was ahead of ‘the market’, one suffused with national chauvinism.)
The set of loan documents are linked from the below webpage (it consists in the 19July2019 PacificaWatch summary of the loan, including details of the attendant advertising contract Pacifica’s directors agreed to, worth $37 000):
Please note, as of tomorrow, W1Apr, the $3.265m owed to FJC is no longer a long-term liability: it becomes a current liability. In so doing it significantly worsens Pacifica’s illiquidity quotient, the measure of Pacifica’s incapacity, in terms of current assets, to pay current liabilities, that is, those falling due within 12 months. Even before this $3.265m became a current liability (albeit mitigated by the $2.361m written off by Democracy Now!, announced to Pacificans by ED Maxie at the 12Mar2019 PNB Finance Cttee), Pacifica was last liquid, according to audited balance sheets, at 30Sep2009. Yes, 2009. Pacifica’s latest audited balance sheet is at 30Sep2016 (the FY2017 one, proffered by NETA, wasn’t audited thru lack of supporting documentary evidence). That’s exactly 3½ years ago. And the illiquidity ratio was 11.54: that means every Pacifica $ of current assets was being chased by $11.54 from the short-term creditors (7 356 997 / 637 716 per auditor’s report, p. 2). Micawber would be cheered, yet saddened, seeing someone worse off than himself – splendidly cheered, m’boy.
In a vote, it’s usual that the absolute numbers are made public. They even do that in The Other Land of the Dear Leader, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. But that’s RealWorld. In PacificaWorld, the NES, Renee Penaloza, chose not to. Why, a director or three may be able to find out.
Here are figures for the stations, albeit approximate, not least because the NES only gave whole number percentages, presumably rounded.
[When I have nothing better to do, I’ll post the below as tables. Before that, in another post, I’ll comment on what the figures reveal.]
Info is in this order:
(a) electorate (#);
(b) respect for those members not taking part in the process: abstainers (#,%) — voters (#,%); &
(c) the voters: ‘no’ voters (#,%) — ‘yes’ voters (#,%) — invalid ballots (#,%). Some of the Total voter info gives two percentages: of the electorate, & of the ballots cast.
Station staff-voting summary (‘no’ — ‘yes’ — invalid ballots):
KPFA: ….. 49 — 68 — 1 — ‘yes’ win by 19
KPFK: ….. 45 — 61 — 1 — ‘yes’ win by 16
KPFT: ….. 19 — 37 — 0 — ‘yes’ win by 18
WPFW: .. 72 — 4 — 1 — ‘no’ win by 68
WBAI: .. 146 — 7 — 1 — ‘no’ win by 139
Note: the staff electorates are small compared with the listeners’ – and given the paucity of info from NES Penaloza this causes a slight computational problem. Absolute numbers are derived from the voting percentages, & being provided by the NES they’re treated as authoritative (Final Report, p. 10); squaring the figures has meant that the occasional number tips over into a contiguous percentage point.
NES Penaloza’s refusal to disclose absolute numbers (Referendum Final Report, Su29Mar2020, p. 10)
IMPORTANT CORRECTION (M30Mar) . . . The lack of info provided by the NES is even worse than I thought: the station voting percentages she gave (the “Voted (%)” column in the above tables) aren’t the station turnouts, as I mistakenly took them to be, but each station’s share of the total vote – that’s why, in the tables, one adds to 99 & the other to 100 (it’s 100 in the “Electors (%)” column of each table). Note, the heading “Voted (%)” is misleading: it should have been ‘Voting Share (%)’.
(I’m working out all the absolute numbers, which necessarily have a margin of error, not least because the percentages given are whole numbers; I’ll post them later today, M30Mar.)
M23Mar, NES Renee Penaloza posted on her website’s homepage the two referendum result certificates, issued by Simply Voting Inc. the same day. These stated the ‘yes’/’no’ numbers, as well as the percentages.
What was missing were station data. Obviously these would be in today’s NES’ report. As absolute numbers, & as percentages. But no. Just percentages, rounded to, presumably, the nearest whole number.
Hopefully, one or three Pacifica directors will persuade the NES to include them in the report. Those numbers should be prominently & proudly displayed. After all, this is the go-to document on a Pacifica high: “[v]oter turnout was higher than in any prior Pacifica election” (p. 1).
More importantly, not least for voters, the raw data, anonymised by each voter’s receipt code, haven’t been disclosed. They’ve been kept secret. Why? Why have voters been prevented from checking if their vote was properly recorded? Why? . . . More work for directors who care.
(awkward to read the NES’ posting of the report (viewing its pages at 67% may be adequate) – why no PDF? Note, to turn the pages of the doc on the webpage, hover just below the ‘0’ at the bottom, which is the page number. Also, the downloadable zip file, oddly, doesn’t include the NES’ report – as efficient as the US’ ‘Third World’ capitalist response to the work of the SARS-CoV-2 virus . . . somewhat worse than the usual ‘market failure’.)
P.S. On the certificate, the word ‘abstain’ doesn’t have the ordinary meaning (77% of listener-members abstained in this referendum, & 48% of staff) but means invalid ballots (highly ambiguous paper-ballot, ballot full of vitriol, maybe the opportunity for a manifesto, plain blank, or any of the myriad of inventive ways a Pacif-I-can (nod to C Cuomo) can spoil a ballot).
[When this post was made, I added the below three points. Rather than add to this post, the remarks will appear as separate posts.
(1) A few remarks will soon appear below; note that paper-voting, mainly East Coast, was way down.
(2) The remarks will also cover the need for the PNB to address two strategic matters:
(a) the $3.265m principal of the FJC loan, payable 1Apr2021; &
(b) the coming collapse in revenue, as the economic depression underway slashes listeners’ discretionary spend; the only obvious, yet highly regrettable, mitigation is that bequests will increase thru to, at least, Dec2021.
(3) A separate post will be made when the NES publishes her report, with station data, later this week (inshallah).]
the four tables sent by NES Penaloza to the PNB, Th5Mar (the first in the sequence) & F6Mar2020; elector & online-voting totals for Pacifica & stations, split for listeners & staff in the last two tables
The listener elector rolls for the referendum are drastically different from those used just nine weeks ago in the 2019 LSB pseudo-elections. There’s been a shocking, sudden change. A strange change. A Pacifica purge has been perpetrated, particularly at WBAI. And the Lord has delivered unto KPFT a heavenly host of new believers. Besides the practical implications for these existential referenda, there’s a lot here that needs explaining.
Highlights, the changes in only nine weeks:
listener-membership has fallen 3 581 (−7.84%, 1-in-13), from 45 690 to 42 109
KPFA listeners −13.6%, so 1-in-7 (14 334 → 12 385, so −1 949)
KPFT listeners +21.2% (3 569 → 4 327, so +758)
WBAI listeners −30.1% (8 240 → 5 761, so −2 479)
WPFW listeners −4.2% (6 293 → 6 029, so −264)
staff membership has fallen −1.5% (970 → 955, so −15)
Five topics are addressed:
the listener referendum online-voting data – including necessary revisions to last Wednesday’s blogpost
adding in estimated paper-voting
the staff referendum
predicted referenda turnout
final, regrettable point: the coronavirus societal crisis, Pacificans (not least re the age structure & existing ill-health conditions), & the $3.265m loan from the Foundation for the Jewish Community (FJC); this crisis of capitalist society will necessarily cause both the largest & the swiftest contraction in the world economy in human history.
[I’ll finish writing this, & its replacement will be posted on the blog a day late, so apologies, on Referendum Day, Th19Mar.
[Just noticed that the NES, after seven l-o-n-g days of silence, has just given a turnout update (online voting only, take note). The W11Mar one gave listeners 13.8% (~5 811) & staff 34.7% (~331). The one denoted an ambiguous 1.42am (EDT?), W18Mar, gives listeners 19.0% (~8 001) & staff 42.2% (~403). So, added votes of 2 190 listeners (+37.7%) & 72 staff (+21.8%). The listener surge is a whole week of 313 a day, compared with 232 a day for the difference between 9 & 11Mar, the previous updates.
R Paul Martin’s latest diligent endeavour. Mr Martin is the only Pacifica treasurer to publish for members & listeners the report they make to their Local Station Board. Not only that, it’s posted online within hours of the meeting. His courtesy & service is unequalled amongst the $$$ p$$ps of Pacifica.
Also please note that by an accident of the Pacifica calendar, his LSB usually meets less than 24hrs after the PNB Finance Cttee, details of which are always part of his report.
Mr Martin’s dedication is exemplary, his judgment astute.
[Remarks to be added, esp. re the Tu10Mar PNB Finance Cttee that Paul discusses, one addressed by both Chief Financial Officer Anita Sims & auditor Jorge Diaz of Rogers & Co. With the breakers busy with their breaking, Paul was perhaps at his most pessimistic, wondering whether “this will be my final Treasurer’s Report” (p. 4), a small matter compared with his fearing for the future of WBAI. Unless the breakers pull some stunt, Tuesday’s showpiece was the last national Pacifica meeting on financial/audit matters before the referendum voting ends next Thursday, 19Mar, at 8.59pm PDT, 10.59pm CDT, & 11.59pm EDT.]
. . . not Michael Wolgemut, Tanz der Gerippe [Skeletons], woodcut, c. 1493 . . .
Latest election news: unless Pacificans act swiftly, Pacifica may die.
Why? KPFA listener-members are massively out in force, seemingly close to half of all those who have voted. Th5Mar marked halfway thru the referenda voting, &, compared with that stage in the LSB voting this time last year, KPFA is overachieving by a full 70%. This contrasts with WBAI underachieving by 29%. (All workings given below.)
Also, after less than a mere 17 days of voting, KPFA-listener online voters alone, so not including paper voters, had already surpassed by 4% the total KPFA-listener vote in the 62 days of the last LSB voting, Aug-Oct2019; KPFT’s figure is even better, +16%. And WBAI? Way down, by over an eighth, a full −13%; with WPFW −1%, & KPFK −27%.
The activists of the breaker faction are spreading their tentacles amongst the winners here, the Bay Area & Houston. Their operation is in overdrive.
Without a dramatic increase in voting by 10.59pm CDT a week Thursday, 19Mar, in just eight days’ time, the well-oiled, well-funded, well-motivated breakers will seize Pacifica. Well, maybe.
That KPFA listeners are voting in highly disproportionate numbers was given in info provided by the National Elections Supervisor (NES) to the PNB, Th5Mar. And as the peculiar home of a station chauvinism, a politics of separatism rather than Pacifica solidarity, they’re not doing this to help Pacifica. It’s reasonable – and prudent – to infer that this dangerous anomaly is the result of the breakers successfully mining the huge numbers of KPFA listener-members who usually don’t vote. Just in the last year, they constituted 86.7% in the nominal 2018 LSB pseudo-election, voting 18Jan-5Mar2019, & 85.6% in the 2019 one, voting 15Aug-15Oct2019. That’s 13 513 & 12 275, respectively, so >12 000 KPFA listeners. And as one can reasonably expect ~8 000 to vote in the listener referendum, it taking 4 000 to win, this is an obvious road to victory. (There are separate referenda for listeners & staff – please see note #1.)
Spin a yarn about Make KPFA Great Again, KPFA for KPFA’ians, stop the subsidising of other stations, get rid of the Pacifica dysfunctionality, the perpetual factionalising, the bad publicity, all this by bringing in professionalism, objectivity, getting the grants back, investing in the future . . . just like the good olde days, when KPFA was great. Motherhood & apple pie. Wave that magic wand, & the bad stuff will all go away. Unicorns. Rainbows. Pink ponies. If free snake oil is offered to the tired & weary, will they gulp it down? Giving credit where credit’s due, even deceiving is a skilled accomplishment.
So what’s the evidence of this rallying in the Bay Area? NES Renee Penaloza, resident of the Bay Area & many times the Local Elections Supervisor for KPFA since 2009 (note #2), gave an appallingly bad ‘report’ Thursday night, even by her standard, & I’m not even referring to her keeping the directors waiting nine minutes once she was on the call (31:59), the lame excuse she gave (40:52), also later not being able to find relevant tabs to open, the chaotic concatenation & continual cascade of Biden moments, &, last but not least, her laughter throughout, as if performing une danse macabre, ein Totentanz – obviously all of which passes for professionalism, & courtesy, in her neck of the woods. And all achieved in less than 4½ minutes (42:52 – 47:13). https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb200305/pnb200305a.mp3
Nevertheless, she did say turnout (when?) is 11.7% for listeners & 30.1% for staff (46:46). (Monday, with a 2pm (EDT?) 9Mar timestamp, she updated this on her website to 12.7% listeners, 32.3% staff.) And, responding to a query from James Sagurton (WBAI listener-delegate), she eventually said the station-split for listeners who had voted online was KPFA 40%, KPFK 20%, KPFT 10%, WPFW 13%, & WBAI 17% (49:29 – 54:52). She gave no staff info, other than the turnout percentage. She gave no info on the online/paper voting split, on which more anon. She didn’t give the size of the electorates, those for the listeners & the staff. She didn’t coherently give station split for listeners, just a garbled spiel as if encountering her words for the first time, so bad she made Biden look good (note #3). And she didn’t give the record date for the referenda (used in establishing who’s a voter). In others words, she said very, very little. Which is how the NES, ever shy of the PNB, likes to operate – and it’s indicative of how lax the directors are that she’s allowed to persist. But as Cde Mujica no doubt thought, alone at the bottom of the well that was his prison, we are where we are.
So what can we do with the NES’ figures? A fair bit, surprisingly. We can derive other approximate numbers, compare the listener referendum with the last two sets of LSB pseudo-elections, & estimate what the breakers have to do to win. This will allow us to put in perspective what’s at stake in the next eight days, with voting closing, as stated, at 8.59pmPDT, Th19Mar.
But first, two important caveats:
the subject matter of voting is radically different, one, run-of-the-mill LSB elections, the other, existential for the network; &
radically different time scales; not just the voting period (31 days compared with 47 & 62 for the last two rounds of LSB pseudo-elections, so half of the last one), but the preparation for the event being so asymmetric, it coming out of the blue, sprung on the whole membership, it being the initiative of the breakers, of their planning (that is, scheming, conspiring, plotting), implemented as a sequence of creating – and sustaining – an atmosphere of impending doom, moving against WBAI within committees, then switching tack by launching the by-laws petition, before within weeks engineering the WBAI coup, back to the West Coast to litigate in California against Pacifica, & now systematically bombarding voters with their fairytales. Wolfowitz & Rumsfeld would be proud of this attempt at full-spectrum domination.
Concerning the listener quantitative data, two obvious comparisons can be made:
➀ how extraordinary is KPFA-listener referendum voting, relative to other stations, compared with typical LSB election voting, again expressed relatively? (This, being not just relative voting but relative voting over time (the relative voting at t2 compared with that at t1), is what’s important in trying to understand the significance of the voting happening now. This is the comparative we need for relative current voting, not the one offered up by the NES at the PNB, namely, station share of listener current membership. No. What’s at stake today is voting, not membership; action, not passivity. The comparison pushed by the NES is besides the point, a secondary phenomenon, a dangerous irrelevance: >85% of listener-members don’t vote!); &
➁ how unusually high is the number of listener referendum votes cast compared with the typical LSB election?
➀ We have to use the pretty graph found in the NES’ final report for the nominal 2018 LSB pseudo-elections (note #4). That’s because, even after four months, she’s failed to produce the 2019 one. (This fact obviously surprises Ms Penaloza herself, given what she said on her own website, 1Nov2019, ‘certifying’ the 2019 results: “[p]lease note the round by round results, raw votes and final [?] voter turnout #s will be posted together with the final report by November 15th, 2019” (added emphases). Rather than squirrelling it away as a footnote, it’s important to say that scare-quotes are needed in denoting her 1Nov2019 statement because she admits she’s unable to distinguish valid ballots from invalid ones: hence both her inability to give “final voter turnout #s”, & her need to entitle that column “Oct 16 Preliminary Numbers (Not Final)” (added emphases). By her choice of phrases she acknowledges that her statement isn’t a certification but a pseudo-certification. Oh. So have all the new LSB delegates legitimately taken their seats? Are some of them there illegitimately?https://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/2019-election-results/)
Note that because the graph doesn’t give a split between paper & online voting, & that on Thursday the NES gave no info on the paper ballots cast (except to say she doesn’t even know how many there are), one has to use referendum online voting as a proxy for total votes. This is particularly unfortunate because listener-member paper voting is much higher in PacificaWorld than in RealWorld, of the order of 20%, with WBAI over twice that – note #5.
The graph shows cumulative voting, as a percentage of that pseudo-election’s electorate, for each of the nine pseudo-elections (there wasn’t a WPFW-Listener one because there were only five verified candidates for the nine seats); voting started 18Jan2019 but the NES only depicted that from 30Jan; the staff elections are on top, the dotted lines:
So, which LSB voting date from a year ago should be used in comparing the referendum info given on Thursday? Assuming this info referred to the day of the PNB meeting, it was less than 24 hours after the halfway point of the voting period (W4Mar is day 16 of the 31, 18Feb-19Mar). So choose this. And the day halfway thru the voting a year ago is 10Feb2019 (day 24 of the 47, 18Jan-5Mar).
And at 10Feb2019, what was the station split for listeners? Inspecting the graph, station cumulative listener voting was KPFT 6.0%, WBAI 6.0%, KPFA 5.8%, KPFK 3.7%; that totals as 21.5 percentage points (pcp); & expressed as percentages, KPFT 27.9% (6 / 21.5), WBAI 27.9%, KPFA 27.0%, KPFK 17.2%.
Thursday’s figures (but ignoring WPFW because there’s no comparative) are, in pcp, KPFA 40, KPFK 20, KPFT 10, WBAI 17; that totals as 87; & as percentages, KPFA 46% (40 / 87), KPFK 23%, KPFT 11%, WBAI 20%.
Was this striking distribution expected? If referendum voting had behaved as the LSB voting 12 months before, one would have expected the numbers given two paragraphs above, namely, KPFA 27%, KPFK 17%, KPFT 28%, WBAI 28%. But that’s not what happened: KPFA overachieved by 70% (46 / 27 = 1.704), KPFK overachieved by 35% (23 / 17 = 1.353), KPFT underachieved by 61% (11 / 28 = 0.393), & WBAI underachieved by 29% (20 / 28 = 0.714). (And I don’t even like baseball.)
This distribution alone required this blogpost.
➁ The first comparative exercise concerned station share. Now we compare the absolute numbers achieved by the stations: how unusually high is the referendum turnout compared with the typical LSB one?
As noted, the latest publicly available listener-member data are at an unspecified date, given in the 1Nov2019 LSB results pseudo-certification, a total of 45 690. Assuming it’s now 45 700, with the NES telling Thursday’s PNB that online listener-member turnout was 11.7%, & the voting station split being KPFA 40%, KPFK 20%, KPFT 10%, WPFW 13%, WBAI 17%, the listener ballots cast come in as a total of ~5 347, the split being KPFA 2 139, KPFK 1 069, KPFT 535, WPFW 695, WBAI 909.
The 1Nov2019 corresponding figures: a total of 5 729, with KPFA 2 059, KPFK 1 457, KPFT 461, WPFW 703, WBAI 1 049.
So, comparing now with then: KPFA +3.9%, KPFK −26.6%, KPFT +16.1%, WPFW −1.1%, WBAI −13.3%, & the total is −6.7%. Bit different from the non-threatening comparison made by Renee, yes?
A surprise here is KPFT. How is it that it has underperformed 61% relative to other stations re the comparison with the Jan-Mar2019 LSB voting, yet is one of only two stations increasing its number of voters, by a very healthy 16%, compared with its own Aug-Oct2019 LSB voting? A different comparative, yes, but KPFT is overperforming in getting out the referendum vote (the KPFT breakers mining their own 87% of habitual abstainers, all 3 105 of them) whilst at the same time it’s dragged down in its comparison with the other stations because the extraordinary surge at KPFA, & the lesser one at KPFK, are snatching pcp from the other stations. That’s why.
Lastly, what do the breakers have to do to win? Where would their votes come from?
As mentioned, Monday the NES updated last Thursday’s listener turnout, up 1.0 pcp to 12.7% (another ~457 votes, >100 a day, so making ~5 804). And inspecting the graph, even when recognising the lower participation rate depicted, there may be in the last 10 days of voting a maximum of 4.5 – 5.5 pcp of listener voters still to come (2 200, say). That would make the turnout 17.2% – 18.2%. Applied to an electorate of 45 700, that’s 7 860 – 8 317 voters; making the winning vote 3 931 – 4 159, so ~4 000.
Can the breakers achieve this? Just considering their base, the last two rounds of LSB voting were KPFA ~2 000 & KPFT ~500. If the breakers can count on 1 200 – 1 500 faithful, is it beyond the bounds of plausibility that the breakers can mine 2 500 – 2 800 abstainers, which is 16% – 18% (1-in-6, say) of the ~15 500 abstainers at those two stations? 1-in-6 is a tall order, don’t you think, more than a bridge too far? But the 10-year-old Barron thought the same.
Crucially, to seize Pacifica, the breakers also have to win the staff referendum. And how many may that be?
The latest publicly available figure (per the 1Nov2019 pseudo-certification) gave 970 staff: KPFA 237, KPFK 285, KPFT 139, WPFW 110, WBAI 199. Staff turnout in the Jan-Mar2019 LSB votings was 47.6% (466 / 978 – note #6), the station range 43% (WPFW) – 53% (KPFA); & in Aug-Oct2019 voting, a turnout of 36.7% (356 / 970), station range of 30% (KPFT) – 44% (KPFA). The latest referendum turnout info is 32.3% (NES, Monday); so, looking at the pretty graph again, if it reached 50%, & there are 970 staff, then 243 staff votes win – a mere six votes more than those available at KPFA during the last LSB voting.
Given this, with Pacifica jobs always on the line, wasn’t it super-convenient that last nite’s PNB Finance Cttee was full of doom? It was the correlate of the Dem party bosses orchestrating the spectre of ‘Firebrand’ Bernie frightening Amerika, crouching down, about to spark the prairie fire. Besides Chief Financial Officer Anita Sims being there, Chair Chris Cory (KPFA, of course, a listener-delegate) usurped the work of the PNB Audit Cttee by wheeling in the auditor, Jorge Diaz.
Jorge Diaz. It had been thought the auditors had fled PacificaWorld, it now being seven long months, at the M19Aug2019 Audit Cttee, since they were last mentioned in public. This was indeed the last time the Cttee met, inexplicably so because Jorge had told them that the FY2018 audit’s, effectively, almost wrapped up: “he [George Walter, NETA senior controller] informed me he should be getting the vast majority of what is still outstanding to us by the end of this week [… and] by at least the end of this month we’ll certainly probably be in a really good position in terms of – and really know where we stand in terms of how getting the deliverables to y’all & getting done” (7:32; full transcription at note #7). So it seems, surprise, surprise, ED Venal Vernile, then ED Lawrence Reyes, then ED Lydia Brazon, didn’t prioritise paying them, even if it took a special pan-Pacifica 24hr fundraiser. Last nite, Jorge says now they’re only owed ~$6 550, so that’s not a prob – which is why he was happy to attend an evening meeting after a hard day in the office (8:25).
Finally, it’s worth remembering that the difficult task of the breakers winning the staff referendum would have been made easier if the WBAI coup had succeeded: it would have not just wiped out one of the five staff constituencies but the one most opposed to breaking up the Pacifica network.
And, yes, voting closes 11.59pm EDT a week Thursday, 19Mar.
This is just the beginning of the current phase. If the breakers don’t win this time, they’ll be back. And they’ll continue pursuing their war of attrition on all sorts of other fronts, as they have already shown. Like a hydra, slice off a head, another grows. They’re not going away any time soon. Welcome to the new normal.
Notes – some longish, but worth a read unless you really have to watch another Weekend at Biden’s vid
#1 Why are there separate member referenda for listeners & staff, rather than a single one? This hasn’t been explained publicly by Pacifica, & no elected representative has raised the absence of this basic courtesy. Nevertheless, the reason why there are two was explained by this blog six months ago, 17Sep2019. A by-law steps in because the proposed new constitution adversely affects, in different respects, both classes of Pacifica members: “such adoption, amendment or repeal also requires approval by the members of a class if such action would materially and adversely affect the rights of that class as to voting or transfer in a manner different than such action affects another class” (Article 17, Section 1(B)(iii), added emphases). The different respects: “[o]ne contest is for listener-members, as what’s proposed adversely affects them more than staff-members, facing the loss of the right to elect three directors per station rather than the staff’s one. The other separate contest is for staff, as they’re adversely affected by the loss of the right itself to become a director (proposed by-laws, Article V, Section 1; page 5).”
#2 Remember, NES Penaloza aligns with the breakers: witness her recommendations in the last final report she issued (undated, but published 18Mar2019 on the NES website), the one for the LSB pseudo-elections this time last year. She advocates (a) dissolution of the Local Station Boards, (b) less frequent elections, (c) a correlate, extending the director term by either x3 or x4, & (d) abolition of paper balloting. Sample quote: “Transform the Governance structure – Have 5 simultaneous elections every 3 or 4 years, electing representatives directly to the Paciﬁca National Board – Replace Local Station Boards with active Community Advisory Boards” (p. 20, emphases removed from title; p. 21 of the PDF).
#3 NES Penaloza’s unfortunate incoherence, splitting her mind whilst trying to produce speech on some split or another, suggested a disturbing Pacifica fact. She had given one split, without saying what it was, one adding up to 98 percentage points (pcp), with KPFK higher than KPFA (32 cf. 29), before promptly scrubbing it. Then she tried another, this time with KPFK at 30 & KPFA at 29, a split adding up to 97. If there’s some truth here, perhaps about relative station listener membership, it’s that compared with the last publicly available membership data (her 1Nov2019 LSB results pseudo-certification), WBAI’s share has dropped 4 pcp, being picked up by KPFA +1, KPFK +1, & KPFT +2, this whilst Pacifica is suffering a continuing downward trend in total listener membership. The other slither of truth may be that KPFA is actually 32%, plausible because it was 31.4% in the 1Nov2019 data – the NES simply repeating KPFA’s 29 from the scrubbed split. Anyway, applying the prudence principle beloved by the accountancy profession, one should recognise that Renee is disorientated, perhaps having caught bidenavirus, BIDVID-20, from ideologically enthusiastic Pacificans.)
Renee’s problems persist, because at the Th5Mar PNB she promised the directors, the members, & the listeners, that she’d post on her website the referendum voting report. Of course, now six days later, it isn’t there. Just like the promised final report for the 2019 LSB pseudo-elections & the certification of the final voting numbers. Waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting . . . https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/19/the-godot-page-waiting-for-good-news/
#4 The two sets of LSB electoral activity in 2019 have to be designated as pseudo-elections, given the complete absence of publicly available evidence that the elector rolls are materially accurate. In Oct2018 the then NES, the outsider Graeme Drew, judged Pacifica’s record-keeping to be so poor he couldn’t validate even one candidate. He found the membership rolls used to generate the elector rolls to be so corrupted they were unusable. He decided “to terminate the 2018 election process” & told the PNB he would make a public announcement the next day. So, of course, he got fired that evening, at an emergency PNB meeting. Since then, only Pacifica insiders have been the NES, & they have failed to publish any contrary evidence, only bare assertions. This creates a reasonable & strong doubt about the legitimacy of the process.So the only rational conclusion, based on the balance of probabilities, is that the two 2019 electoral processes were pseudo-elections.
#5The latest publicly available data on the popularity for paper voting come from the LSB pseudo-elections this time last year (NES final report, p. 17; p. 18 of the PDF). For staff, it was smaller than negligible, 4 ballots across the five stations (466 voted). For listeners, 20% exactly (1 044 / 5 219; remember, no WPFW election). The stations: KPFA 17% (358 / 2 072), KPFK 13% (201 / 1 585), KPFT 11% (70 / 661), & WBAI 46% (415 / 901). Yes, 46% of WBAI listener voters used paper ballots, almost x3 the rate at KPFA.
And for WBAI listener-members it has even risen. Compared with the 2016 LSB election, almost 2½ years before, paper voting went up from ~381 (derived figure) to 415, increasing the paper voting share by a (rounded) 1 pcp – same report, pp. 17 & 19. So if this much truncated referendum process makes it harder to vote with paper rather than online, it’s perhaps unintended but still voter suppression . . . Exacerbating this is that tomorrow, Th12Mar, is the last day to request a paper ballot from the NES – and the convenient cut-off time is mid-afternoon on the East Coast, 3pm. Nice. After that, online voting only. So, for the last week of voting, Pacifica’s rush, quite a few listener-members will be faced with having to break the habit of a lifetime & vote online – or not vote at all.
Please note that the NES’ final report gives station online & paper voting as a percentage of the particular electorate, be it listener-members or staff, so not as a percentage of those who voted – sound familiar? This missed the opportunity of giving publicity to the fact that within PacificaWorld, effectively half of station voting can be by paper – see pp. 17 & 19.
Lastly, the NES did her best last Thursday to explain to the directors, & the listeners of the proceedings, why she has no info on the paper ballots cast (51:50). Why the custodians of these ballots can’t give the running total (each day) to the NES is unfathomable – and, yes, no director thought to ask her. https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb200305/pnb200305a.mp3
#7 Jorge Diaz (auditor, Rogers & Co, M19Aug2019): “We’re making good headway with the [FY2018] audit. Um, there are still a few things that we’re waiting on […] I spoke with [George Walter, NETA senior controller] today – we have a status call every Monday – and, urgh, he informed me he should be getting the vast majority of what is still outstanding to us by the end of this week [F23Aug2019]. At that time it will probably take us, you know, um, three to five business days [so by F30Aug] to urgh, urgh, analyse & look at what’s going on, &, um, provide any follow-up questions or items of that nature, so, you know […] I think, um, you know, argh, by at least the end of this month we’ll certainly, probably, be in a really good position in terms of – and really know where we stand in terms of how getting the deliverables to y’all & getting done” (7:59 – 8:58, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/audit/190819/audit190819a.mp3). So, Jorge presenting the draft auditor’s report to the PNB Audit Cttee & the PNB, within a month, yes, mid Sep? That’s Sep2019, not Sep2020.
RealWorld has Super Tuesday. PacificaWorld has Super Wednesday. (BidenWorld, apparently, has Super Thursday.) That’s halfway thru the voting period on the proposed new Pacifica constitution devised by the breakers.
And quora seem to have already been met. The National Elections Supervisor, the PNB-shy Renee Penaloza, posted an undated webpage on the official election site giving data for yesterday, M2Mar at 2.23pm (presumably ET):