Mr Martin appended to his report WBAI’s FY2020 cashflow projection, with FY2018 & 2019 comparatives (year-end is 30Sep). This was taken from ICFO Tamra Swiderski’s undated cashflow report presented to the Th19Sep private PNB meeting. (Why private you may rightly ask – but that’s the default obdurate & deep secrecy culture permeating almost everyone occupying a seat on a Pacifica committee.) That report has individual FY2020 cashflows, with the two comparatives, for each of the five stations, the Radio Archives & National Office, & then an aggregation of the seven (consolidation, in the jargon).
Cashflow statements must be interpreted carefully, not least because they ignore both expenses that have accrued (so not yet billed) & revenues that have been deferred (again, not yet billed). Given Pacifica’s activities, especially how revenues are generated, cashflow statements materially underestimate its accrued financial position, & therefore whether creditors are smiling or frowning, & how intensely.
Please note that given the ICFO’s assumptions, KPFA’s cumulative cashflow deficit for the three years to 30Sep2020 is $1 091 306, more than 2½ times that of WBAI’s. Lest anyone think this is just about the past, KPFA’s deficit for the year just startedisprojected to be $658 207. They don’t tell you those three facts in quite a few Pacifica forums. Such is the work of ideology, here that of California station chauvinism, exhibited as separatism, not solidarity.
Cited, & attached, is what’s purported to be ICFO Tamra Swiderski’s cashflow projection for FY2020 (so the year ending 30Sep2020), with FY2018 & 2019 as comparatives. It’s undated, but the original filename includes the phrase “Pacifica Cash Flow Presentation 9.19.19”.
Another worker in Switzerland had passed this to me at the beginning of the month, but that copy lacked explanatory notes, esp. assumptions, so it made no sense publishing it. GA’s copy has the list of assumptions, plus the data for National Office & Pacifica Radio Archives. So here it is:https://mega.nz/#!mmZUkICB!1c74TQ4oTKyQ6dHNB_h5eLYHspltLDujlGFbEcj-X_c.
Note that for WBAI alone, it says “Assumes not funding Central Services FY20” (page 4). Oh. In the absence of a recommendation by the PNB Finance Ctteeon the financial dimension of WBAI’s future, & no decision made by the PNB itself, why is this assumption in a fundamental planning document, such as Pacifica’s FY2020 cashflow projection? Who’s doing the planning here for a radically different WBAI?!? If this isn’t evidence of planning between the Interim Chief Financial Officer & the Interim Executive Director, I don’t know what is.
What was that date, again? “Pacifica Cash Flow Presentation 9.19.19”, Th19Sep2019. So perhaps presented at the private PNB session that evening. 2½ weeks later, home invasion station invasion. Will this be raised at the PNB, in a public session, calling these individuals to account? Don’t hold your breath.
I’ll discuss Ms Aaron’s piece in a summary post next week.
Wake Up Before Our Buildings are Sold!
Pacifica iED, John Vernile, has laid off all staff at WBAI, taken control of their transmitter and is broadcasting shows from other stations. This was done without Pacifica National Board approval. John Vernile never gave prior notice or a plan to every member of the PNB.
This action coupled with inaction to remedy financial shortfalls at all of our stations may very well result in the forced sale of our buildings.
Recent weak fund drives at all of our stations indicate that our financial crisis cannot be attributed solely to shortfalls at WBAI. Bequests in 2019 at KPFA, KPFK, WBAI and the National Office have kept the Foundation afloat. However, bequests are rare, so income projections cannot include them. See the attached cash flow report from our iCFO. Scroll down to see the actual income and expenditures for 2018 and 2019 as well as projections for 2020. Significantly increased spending on the Pacifica National level in 2019 of about $600,000 above 2018 must be factored in to any financial analysis. This increase in expenses dwarfs any WBAI shortfalls. Therefore, even if WBAI disappeared (ie- no income/no expenses) predicted fund drive underperformance at the other stations coupled with out of control spending at the national level will rapidly create a cash crisis that may very well result in the forced sale of our buildings.
1) To my knowledge as a PNB Director, Mr. Vernile has neither calculated nor communicated the financial ramifications of the shutting down of operations at WBAI. Initially, it will mean the loss of at least $200,000 to $300,000 in income from the WBAI fall fund drive. The laying off of staff without proper notification of the WBAI Union will most likely result in legal expenses, arbitration costs, etc. Severance payments will have to be made to employees who are laid off. Where will the money for that come from? Legal challenges have already ensued. Travel, hotel and other expenses are being incurred without PNB approval. Instead of ameliorating Pacifica’s cash flow crisis the shuttering of WBAI has exacerbated it.
2) No income generating mechanism has been put in place to replace the income currently brought in by WBAI. In order to maintain the WBAI license it will have to be kept on the air. That means that the overhead of the transmitter rent owed to 4 Times Square of almost $18,000 per month will have to be paid by the National Office or the other stations. At least one WBAI staff member will have to be paid. This will most likely mean an additional $10,000 per month in expenses. Thus, overhead of about $28,000 per month will have to be paid without any income coming in from WBAI unless there is some plan that has not yet been communicated to the PNB for income generation.
3) The sale or swap of a signal is a lengthy process. A reasonable estimate is that it would take at least 1 ½ years and is, therefore, not an option that would prevent the forced sale of our buildings if we are not able to meet payroll at one or more of our stations or if a vendor or creditor takes legal action against us, which appears more likely than not in the next few months. Three National Board Directors, Nancy Sorden from WPFW, Lawrence Reyes from KPFK and myself, Grace Aaron from KPFK spoke with Marc Hand, who is an expert on signal sales and swaps. He verified that the sale or swap of a radio license is, indeed, a lengthy process. To explain, first a buyer or swap opportunity for a signal has to be found. Terms have to be negotiated. Next, the National Board has to agree to the swap or sale. Then the exact terms of the swap or sale have to be communicated to all members of the Pacifica Foundation and they must vote to approve the sale or swap. A 10% quorum has to be reached. If the membership approves, Pacifica would submit an application for approval of the specific swap or sale to the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC process takes a minimum of 90 days. In that 90 days is a 30 day public comment period. If there are any objections the FCC investigates them which adds at least 2 or 3 months to the process. Also, it is not legal to borrow money against a potential signal sale or swap. Bankruptcy would add another layer of approval to any signal sale or swap process, thus lengthening the process not expediting it.
4) Initially, if there is a lack of cash, vendor payments will be delayed. This is already happening at the National Level. The next step if income cannot meet expenses will be the inability of more stations or units to meet payroll. It can be predicted that the first step will be for the National Office to use the $200,000 set aside to make payments on the $3.2 million loan to meet payroll or emergency vendor payments. After that there will be no buffer whatsoever. There is no other reserve. Pacifica will not be able to make scheduled payments on the loan. Bankruptcy will be the only option. This will trigger the calling in of the loan by the lender to protect the lender’s interests from a Pacifica bankruptcy filing. Then our buildings will be foreclosured on and the forced the sale of our buildings will take place to cover the $3.2 million principal owed as well as pay employees and other pressing obligations.
Is there a Solution?
In times of great stress, it is tempting to reach for quick, magical solutions. Although these can sometimes pan out in rare instances, this would be a very risky course of action. Staff, Board members, volunteers and others should be encouraged to seek help from major donors, etc., but the most likely way to stave off the forced sale of our buildings is to do the usual, not the unusual. In that light I propose the following:
1) That the actions taken against WBAI be reversed immediately and that WBAI resume its fall fund drive.
2) That all efforts be made to improve the performance of fall fund drives across the network.
3) Our unions should be consulted and immediate union negotiations be started to help us reduce our salary and benefits expenses in a humane manner.
4) Plan and execute a network-wide national fund drive to bring in extra resources.
5) When finances permit, consider hiring a National Development Director to pursue grants and major donor fund raising.
Should We Seek Outside Help, Change the Board Structure, Replace Governance and Follow Experts?
Commercial and public radio, newspapers, public TV and internet media are in terrible shape. Experts galore have not found a solution to the changing media landscape which is causing the rapid decline in income of most traditional media sources with resources moving to social media.
There is also the demise of Air America, Current TV and Al Jazeera English.
I doubt that ‘experts’ are the answer. But, hey, someone at the LA Times reached out to a billionaire who bought that newspaper and is spending a lot to revive it. So if anyone knows a billionaire, please reach out!
That’s all for now.
Grace Aaron, Pacifica National Board Director from KPFK
Former Pacifica Treasurer, Tracy Rosenberg, had her take today on what’s happened, & happening, ‘Supreme Court of New York Stops Pacifica’s Attack on WBAI’. She claims that IED ‘Venal’ Vernile turned up at WBAI with (unnamed) Pacifica directors:
In the morning, a crew of Pacifica Foundation board members led by brand new IED John Vernile, locked out the staff at WBAI-FM in New York and then fired them all, told the landlord to rent the space to someone else, and started piping in content from the West Coast over mid-Manhattan [my emphases]
Accountability requires that these Pacifica directors are named. Perhaps it will take the court proceedings of F18Oct – unless they’re such proud breakers they’ll come clean. It’s been reported that one of them was Bill Crosier, having flown in on Sunday. He’s a former IED & current PNB Secretary, besides being a KPFT listener delegate in Houston.
No expense spared – just keep those charitable contributions rolling in, folks, doesn’t matter whether they’re membership subs or listener donations. The main thing is just keep funding the planned chaos so break-up happens almost organically, in the greenest way possible.
Tracy also notes that WBAI are currently in fund-drive! They’re bigger wreckers than I thought!
The lockout interrupted a fund drive in process that would normally book around $300,000 [my emphases]
Ms Rosenberg has had a blog, https://pacificainexile.org/, since July2015. Regrettably, there have been few posts since Feb2018, when Pacifica was getting ready to borrow $3.7m from the Foundation for the Jewish Community, FJC. I made a few comments there, & tried early last year to get on her mailing list, & I’m still waiting. I tried again the other week, so yes, I live in hope.
It seems that at the mo there’s a lag between a newsletter article & it being posted at Pacifica in Exile. Given circumstances, it makes sense to post the latest one here, today. Hopefully, Tracy will soon put me on her list.
The quality of discussion by Pacifica decision-makers has, how can one put it, left much to be desired. This is especially so since 2Apr2018, when Pacifica borrowed $3.7m from the Foundation for the Jewish Community, FJC.
The PNB Finance Cttee meets tonite, & it’s being livestreamed from 8.30pm ET at https://kpftx.org/ (best bet is probably ‘Direct Link’). It’s chaired by director Chris Cory, who was the breakers’ nominee for temporary Chair of the Board at the Th19Sep PNB meeting, the first after the launch of the breaker petition for a new Pacifica constitution, & the first display of paralysis, the vote splitting 11-11. The PNB itself meets this Thursday, livestreamed from 7.30pm ET, an hour earlier than usual, same webpage; this had been called last Thursday, so before the venal Vernile house invasion station invasion.
. . . 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:
(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
[I misunderstood the PNB Finance Cttee motion, mistaking “station membership” for listener-members only. I was misled by the discussion focusing on listeners, not members consisting in listeners plus staff. Apologies. However,my points are unaffected, as are the computations; the text has not been revised. The motion is given correctly by WBAI Treasurer R Paul Martin in his report: “The NFC recommends that the quarterly interest payments starting with December 2019, be apportioned by station membership as of December 1, 2019, and revised annually according to changes in membership” (page 4, link given below).]
Last night’s PNB Finance Cttee decided that station listener-membership alone should decide the split of the $67k going each quarter to the Foundation for the Jewish Community, FJC. So, KPFA 31%, KPFK 29%, KPFT 8%, WPFW 14%, WBAI 18%. This was the Cttee’s recommendation to the Pacifica National Board about the $3.265m loan (46:52; the vote was 7-2-1, that is, 7 for (including KPFA listeners-delegate/Pacifica director/Finance Cttee Chair Chris Cory, & KPFK listeners-delegate/Treasurer Fred Blair), 2 against (KPFK staff-delegate/Pacifica director Mansoor Sabbagh, & WPFW listeners-delegate/Treasurer Nick Arena), 1 abstained (KPFA listeners-delegate/Treasurer Sharon Adams)). The PNB next meets Th19Sep. https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/finance/190910/finance190910a.mp3
How feasible is it that WPFW & WBAI, in particular, will make these contributions? Contributions due to FJC, contractually within five days, on 2Jan2020, 2Apr2020, 2July2020, 2Oct2020, 2Jan2021, & 2Apr2021? Contributions, at the current 8.25% annual interest rate, totalling $56 568 by WPFW & $72 726 by WBAI?
There are three obvious sets of facts indicating that they won’t make their contributions:
1) In June-July, neither WPFW nor WBAI could pay either payroll or health insurance (Interim Chief Financial Officer Tamra Swiderski, 32:19, Tu9July PNB Finance Cttee, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/finance/190709/finance190709a.mp3). She was ‘economical with the truth’: they both had to borrow from the Foundation’s national account.
2) WBAI forecast that FY2019 (so to 30Sep) will be a loss of $318k, & they’ve budgeted FY2020 as a $316k loss. Honest, one may say, but no less worrying for that. This info comes from today’s WBAI Treasurer’s report (p. 5).
3) The much trumpeted coming recession.
Intention & action are unavoidable in both PacificaWorld & RealWorld. But in PacificaWorld they tend to be more independent of the means at hand. But even in PacificaWorld there comes a time when RealWorld intrudes so much that the train hits the buffers: the state & the market discipline all, not least by the inevitable onset of capitalist slump.
In these urgent times, there’s more talk now in Pacifica public meetings of cost cutting, rather than just raising revenue. Reality is biting. The acute cashflow can only be alleviated temporarily by The Golden Corpses, the bequests. Because relentless are the costs of the living: workers, 53% of expenses (FY2016 auditor’s report, p. 5a, https://mega.nz/#F!6uwhAQIY!-QW2NXuAc6rRdWE5KbNb6w?mqw32KrI – FY2017’s financial statements are effectively worthless because their material accuracy wasn’t vouched for by the auditors due to insufficient auditable evidence; please see https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/19/fy2017-auditor-refuses-to-declare-that-the-statements-are-materially-accurate/). And the paid workers are mainly in California: KPFA, 30%of wage costs; KPFK 26%; KPFT 8%; WPFW 9%; WBAI 9%; with 5% at Radio Archives & 11% at National Office (FY2016 auditor’s report, p. 26; two percentage points lost by rounding).
So firings will be largely in California – fuelling both Californian station chauvinism & its correlate, Californian resentment. This affective dynamic splinters clear thinking, unleashing centrifugal forces, ripping at those ties that still hold the network together.
The core of the PNB majority has been counting on not having to make any fundamental decisions. It was hoping to muddle through, & then re-finance the FJC loan during summer 2020, relying on the three Pacifica buildings as collateral, & using as positive evidence the auditor’s reports of FY2017, FY2018, & FY2019. But RealWorld reality intruded, & I’m not talking about FY2006 being the last annual net income: the 2017 statements were rendered effectively worthless, & the auditor told the M19Aug PNB Audit Cttee (20:15) that the same fate beckons for the 2018 ones. Maybe the 2019 statements, the first with NETA either doing or supervising the bookkeeping, will earn an auditor’s unmodified opinion. https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/audit/190819/audit190819a.mp3; https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/auditor-s-reports-from-fy2005/ (notes 3(b) & 4)
1) WBAI listeners-delegate/Pacifica director James Sagurton had asked at Tuesday’s PNB Finance Cttee if figures were available for ‘station revenue per member’ (42:53). None was at hand. Now they are.
The matter isn’t as transparent as it seems; for example, the FY2016 stations statement includes “[g]rants and contributed income” & “[o]ther revenue”. It’s not apparent how members are involved in these categories of fundraising. Given this, an obvious approximation is the ratio, for each station, between “[l]istener support and donations” & number of members (total of listeners & staff). Data are publicly available for FY2016, & one can use the 2016 LSB elections record date at 30June.
2) Ability to perform, a kind of capacity, is a socialist, humanist, rational criterion of expected just contribution to collective human endeavour. That a station raises money shows it has the ability to somewhat pay the network’s bills, & it’s a crude measure of this capacity. So, in 2016, the latest FY we have audited figures for, what proportion did each station contribute? KPFA 34.7% (2836208/8178486, the five-station total of ‘listener support & donations’ – see the above p. 25), KPFK 30.6%, KPFT 9.2%, WPFW 10.8%, WBAI 14.7%. These certainly share a PacificaWorld ballpark with the Finance Cttee’s 31-29-8-14-18 that use data three years later, those of the late Aug2019 membership. (That even now there is no evidence available to members & listeners that the membership records, & elector rolls, are materially accurate, we’ll leave to one side. And, given this, any assertion by NES Penaloza will be treated for what it is.)
Last week some striking membership data were made public by Pacifica. The National Elections Supervisor Renee Penaloza published her latest report, &, reading it in conjunction with her final report of the nominal 2018 pseudo-election, one has a time series of station membership at 30June2016, 19Nov2018, & the-PacificaWorld-present, which corresponds roughly to RealWorld’s 30June2019 (more on that anon).
And being PacificaWorld, some of what she calls her progress reports are undated & some are unnumbered. This one is undated, but the URL includes “08.28.19”. It’s also unnumbered, but it’s the 7th. It’s thin, two pages. It came after a very long gap: six had been published in seven weeks, the last on c. 13June, then we had to wait c. 76 days for this one. Very odd, not least because two fundamental sets of facts should have been established, & made public: the list of the over 100 verified candidates, & the size of the 10 elector rolls (listeners & staff for the five stations). Only the former has been published.
What is most distinctive, & worrying, about this report is that it doesn’t give the record date membership figures, the jargon for the day when a snapshot is taken of the enfranchised. Yes, NES Penaloza spoke of “# electors” (unpaginated page 1), but added, “note that this number will fluctuate over the course of the election due to membership additions or deletions”. Yes, there will always be challenges to the elector rolls, but why has the NES not made public the record date elector roll totals? Are the rolls so chaotic – again – that the NES was unable to take the snapshot at 30June? One has no rational alternative but to assume this is the case, given (1) the unexpected words chosen by the NES, (2) her inability to give a progress report for 11 very long weeks, & (3) the absence, even now, of the 10 totals of the elector rolls at the record date, 30June.
the membership lists & volunteer records were so chaotic, unreliable, that the NES was unable to extract elector rolls at the record date, Su30June;
this is prima facie evidence that the NES has been unable to make the elector rolls materially accurate;
the NES is doing what’s done in PacificaWorld, she’s muddling through – and trying to cover herself by being careful with her language;
given this, it behoves any diligent director, or candidate, to see the unadjustedrecord date elector rolls, & publish those 10 aggregate figures – data that members & listeners have a right to know;
if indeed the NES was unable to extract elector rolls at 30June, then she needs to explain publicly, in writing, why this was so;
given the lack of anypublic evidence in the last 10 months (!) showing an improvement upon the Oct2018 judgment of the then NES, Graeme Drew, that materially accurate elector rolls don’t exist, the only rational conclusion is that the 2019 election, just like the nominal 2018 one, is a pseudo-election; &
if evidence to the contrary exists, then there is every good reason for NES Penaloza to publish it – otherwise Pacifica elections, regrettably, continue to lack credibility. But concerning this, do any Pacifica ‘leaders’ care?
Putting these current travails to one side, what was Pacifica’s membership, say, at the beginning of the century? Remember when the Iraqis were invaded? (It’s almost misanthropic to use the impersonal abstraction, Iraq.) A few months after this, in Sep2003, Pacifica was getting ready for its own major event:
About 90,000 of Pacifica’s listeners and 700 of its volunteers and staffers are eligible to vote in the first election under the bylaws, estimates Carol Spooner, secretary of the network’s interim national board. Elections are scheduled to end by Jan. 30.
Here are the more recent figures for Pacifica’s five stations, as provided for the last three LSB elections.
The numbers: listener-members; staff-members; all members
1. Quantitative data: listener-members
This is the headline put in yesterday’s Facebook post:
over the last three years to 30June2019, West Coast stations’ membership fell 9.5% (2 881) whilst the East Coast rose 13.8%(1 752); & over the last 7½ months to 30June2019, KPFA fell by 8.2%, so by 1-in-12 (1 285), KPFK fell by 8.1% (1 163), whilst WBAI grew by 20.2%, so by 1-in-5 (1 375)
(the 2019 figures are assumed as at 30June, the intended record date; please note the correction of the West Coast fall: I had mistakenly used the Texas demise)
Should have added:
for Pacifica, a three-year fall of 6.8%, roughly 1-in-15 (48 836 − 45 520 = 3 316)
The raw figures at the record dates of the last three elections, 30June2016, 19Nov2018, 30June2019 (assumed), with some computation:
[there was no nominal 2018 WPFW-listener election because there were only five verified candidates for the nine seats – better than a Drumpf deal]
The changes, election-on-election, & for the three years:
KPFA: declines of 1.5%, then 8.2% (so 1-in-12 lost in 7½ months, 1 285), a three-year decline of 9.6%; KPFK: declines of 1.4%, then 8.1% (another 1-in-12 in 7½ months, 1 163), a three-year decline of 9.4%; KPFT: declines of 25.1%, then 17.3% (1-in-6 lost in 7½ months, 745), a three-year decline of 38.1%; WPFW: no election-on-election computation because the middle figure is missing, but a three-year rise of 23.5% (1 198); WBAI: a decline of 10.8%, then a rise of 20.2% (1-in-5 gained in 7½ months, 1 375), a three-year rise of 7.3%.
The three 7½-month falls, West Coast plus Texas, totalled 3 193 – an annualised loss of 5 108 members.
Regional comparison, the three-year change:
West Coast fell 9.5% (2 881), Texas fell 38.1% (2 187), East Coast rose 13.8% (1 752). [15815+14569=30384, 14300+13203=27503; 5089+7627=12716, 6287+8181=14468]
The changes, election-on-election, & for the three years: not computed because they’re less meaningful than those for listener-members only. The main reason is that our focus is on examining Pacifica’s contraction, & of much more interest isn’t committed listener-members floating in & out of the stations, acquiring staff status, but the mass, those more inclined to stop funding the whole shebang. In any case, with staff being c. 2% of all members, the all-members’ decline values would be very much the same, just a tad higher because the staff rate of decline is roughly twice as fast.
2019: KPFA 31.4%, KPFK 29.0%, KPFT 7.8%, WPFW 13.8%, WBAI 18.0% (agrees with the 31-29-8-14-18 apportioning of the FJC interest charge, recommended by the PNB Finance Cttee to the PNB, Tu10Sep – formula calculated by the PNB Finance Cttee Chair, Chris Cory)
Below is an eight-point post made today to the Pacifica Radiowaves group on Facebook. It views the appalling display of Californian station chauvinism at the Tu27Aug PNB Finance Cttee in the light of facts about Pacifica’s five stations provided the next day by National Elections Supervisor Renee Penaloza. California isn’t as healthy as the chauvinists like to think.
The Pacifica Chair, Grace Aaron, was in attendance at the Finance Cttee meeting. She heard the absurd station chauvinism, & the derision it evoked in others. She chose to maintain a deafening silence throughout.
This is of the greatest significance. In so doing,
she refused to rebuke the station chauvinists;
she refused to remind the station chauvinists that their job (1) as a delegate of a Local Station Board (it’s a standing cttee of the Pacifica National Board) & (2) as a member of a PNB cttee, is not to supposedly represent ‘their’ station but to represent Pacifica, which means promoting the interest of Pacifica, a supra-station interest;
she refused to exercise leadership, to insist on the promotion of the Pacifica interest;
in choosing silence she behaved cowardly, not least as she’s a delegate of a Californian LSB, that of KPFK; &
in failing in all these ways, she refused to discharge the duties of not just a delegate & a director of the Foundation but, moreover, the chair of its Board.
Any self-respecting Pacifica chair, with a sense of honour & responsibility towards the offices they hold, having committed all these failures so effortlessly, would resign as a delegate, as a director, & as chair of the Board.
But this applies to a person of honour – so we know what’ll happen.
1) With all the Californian station chauvinism on display last week, at Tuesday’s PNB Finance Cttee, one could easily be misled, in two senses. But National Elections Supervisor Renee Penaloza, in particular, came to the rescue with her progress report the next day: over the last three years to 30June2019, West Coast stations’ membership fell 9.5% (2 881) whilst the East Coast rose 13.8%(1 752); & over the last 7½ months to 30June2019, KPFA fell by 8.2%, so by 1-in-12 (1 285), KPFK fell by 8.1% (1 163), whilst WBAI grew by 20.2%, so by 1-in-5 (1 375). So, how to explain this anomalous growth of 20.2%? Has WBAI been flooded by the DSA, the Democratic Socialists of America, as their Red Wave slate of nine competes for the 12 Local Station Board seats currently up for grabs? Are they upsetting the coconut cart?
2) The Tu27Aug PNB Finance Cttee was, frankly, embarrassing. But what’s new. This time it was Sharon Adams, KPFA Treasurer, & Mansoor Sabbagh, KPFK staff-delegate & Pacifica director, coming out with the tired chauvinist assertions we’ve heard for years (a taster is 14:51 & 19:28, with 30:03 carrying a spoiler alert, ‘b’ audiofile). It took Nick Arena, WPFW Treasurer, to remind them that all station chiefs are appointed nationally (28:00, ‘b’ file). He could have added that the most significant negotiations aren’t done by the station – such as the small matter of the Empire State contract to house the WBAI transmitter. Yes, even something as important as having to pay rent or not has never been in the gift of a station. And, importantly, a station isn’t responsible for the size of the disposable income of its listeners, be it either per person or in total, nor for their wealth.
So, station financial performance is largely determined from without. And given the minimal powers of a LSB – they can’t even require the general manager to attend a LSB meeting – there’s even less justification for turning one’s ire upon fellow delegates from ‘enemy’ stations. (The theatrical Sabbagh couldn’t help embarrassing himself further by seeking an apology from Comrade Nick (30:03, ‘b’ file). No wonder he’s earnt the moniker ‘Spade’ Sabbagh.)
Only the naive or disingenuous will infer much from station-specific financial data.
3) Station chauvinism & the way the chauvinists talk about ‘station responsibility’ is not just facile but dangerous. Besides being unwarranted by the facts, & excessive pride being rather unseemly, comical, in a word, self-debasing, it’s also politically highly divisive. It’s the most destructive force produced within Pacifica, gnawing away at the ties binding the stations together.
Not to be ageist, but station chauvinism is juvenile, politically immature, trying to reduce a pan-Pacifica political matter to a combination of inter-station & interpersonal invective. Representatives of Pacifica have a responsibility to practise the best politics they can, & not degenerate, capitulate, collapsing into an easy station chauvinism.
4) Layered on top of all this is the proprietary reality: a station owns nothing, not even one paper-clip. There is no such thing as a KPFA building: it is a Pacifica building, which Pacifica has decided to let KPFA use. This is not proverbial ‘semantics’, but the substantive reality, which demonstrates how misleading everyday expressions can be. All assets, & liabilities, are Pacifica’s, that of the Foundation as a whole. It’s simply a historical accident that some stations use Pacifica buildings; moreover, it’s a historical accident that, at the beginning, Pacifica & KPFA were one & the same.
5) Just take a step back. How does a Pacifican view the recipient of a trust fund or a set of genes? To whom & to what does a Pacifican assign (causal) responsibility? Does a Pacifican practise the pervasive blame culture? So-called progressives shouldn’t forget that the principle they should uphold is that a later generation is to be neither condemned nor rewarded for the endowment conferred upon them by the ancestors. We can do without a second PEP, Progressive Except on Pacifica.
Conclusion: station chauvinism is a politics that has no place in Pacifica.
If a station is being maladministered then ultimate responsibility lies with a majority of directors, for the PNB to act if it deems the executive director has lost control. A LSB, let alone an individual delegate, is irrelevant.
6) One needs to be humble about what a Pacifica station is. A station is a production & dissemination unit for Pacifica. A station is an organising node for recruiting & retaining listener-members of Pacifica. A station is an accounting unit of Pacifica. (Pacifica’s management accounting policy could be different, stripping rent & other contingencies out of station accounts.) A station should also do all the other things in the Mission that are hardly ever done. This wouldn’t have to be said if, to the fore, was coordinated Pacifica action, with a correlate of a Pacifica ideology & sentiment, all co-existing with justified local pride.
7) Instead, the political problem of station chauvinism festered whilst the PNB proved unable to steer Pacifica through the financial & audience crisis starting in 2007, so long ago that this was even before the last slump. The PNB failed to devise adequate policies & to exercise persuasive leadership. As a result it lacked moral authority & political trust. So localism grew at the expense of a network response, even out of despair with a lack of direction from the centre.
8) When the Foundation is most stressed, this localism is expressed as station chauvinism, & most dangerously as separatism, an anti-solidaristic politics. More anti-progressivism within Pacifica. Ayn Rand with a Pacifica face as it were, with the perceived strong going it alone, leaving the weak to wither & die. This found organised expression c. 2013, when moves were made to prepare & engineer a break-up of Pacifica.
As the financial pressures intensify at Pacifica, with cashflow now so acute that “KPFK [is] facing layoffs” (James Sagurton, WBAI listener-delegate, Tu27Aug PNB Finance Cttee, 2:44; he was challenged by no-one, including KPFK delegates such as Pacifica Chair Grace Aaron), some Californian station chauvinists will clamour for separatism, although they possess neither the building nor the FCC broadcasting licence. This politics was on display at KPFA’s recent town hall, Sa17Aug (for example the first speaker, Tess, 1:26). It’s not going away any time soon.