Is Pacifica about to get screwed?!? KPFA voting overperforming by ~70%, WBAI underperforming by ~29%

. . . 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.


Black milk.


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.


Black milk.


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).

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.!dN1VXLiQ!ywTPcyUP8SWg4BviRNx1xw (folder of NES’ updates of turnouts, starting M2Mar; regrettably, the NES has decided that members & listeners only need to see the latest such update)


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 8.59pm PDT, 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?

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:, p. 15 (p. 16 of the PDF); as things go missing in PacificaWorld, it’s also at!Yc83WCTT!fxdIWgniK1oLwMqPssGaWDt_qdkQfdaSoEBH0sOClUI

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). (its note 4);; & (there’s a ‘b’ file too)

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.

Black milk.

~~~ (recited by author)


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).!Yc83WCTT!fxdIWgniK1oLwMqPssGaWDt_qdkQfdaSoEBH0sOClUI

#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 . . .

#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.

#5 The 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.!Yc83WCTT!fxdIWgniK1oLwMqPssGaWDt_qdkQfdaSoEBH0sOClUI

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.!tRVwVCbT!9X4x8Oj_a3aREztTyc2FvcasfHY2mflp1XaZWy0QCDo (screenshot of a soon to disappear NES’ homepage)

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.

#6 The NES’ final report has quite a few errors, some, as here, contradicting the primary aggregating record, the voting raw data. For staff voting, her report understates by 85% the number of invalid ballots that she terms “abstain”, which are actually ballots listed in the raw data as having no preferences: she gives a total of 20 instead of the correct 37. Details in my 3Oct2019 blog post,

#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, 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.

Administrative measures, not open discussion – the Pacifica way

[This is a comment, sent in four parts, to Ken Mills’ blog, Spark News, on Th1Aug, published the next day. It remarked upon his F26July post, ‘What its like to work for Grace Aaron, Chair of the Pacifica National Board’ (yes, there’s a sic in there) I’d made a few comments there recently, & I was waiting for others to join in. A few did. As I had three points to make, I decided to send it to Mr Mills. The post here carries a few alterations, importantly correcting the declaration date of the nominal 2018 pseudo-election results: it happened M18Mar2019. For convenience, at the end of the piece, is a list, with links, of Mr Mills’ three posts on the Maxie Jackson disaster.]

Unfortunately there was little discussion here, so I don’t think I’ll be hogging things if I make three points: the Drew Precedent; choosing not a rational course, but administrative measures; & fermenting instability.

1) The Drew Precedent The end of Maxie Jackson’s first month delivered a stark warning of what he had let himself in for. He witnessed a considered, evidenced judgment, by an experienced & knowledgeable professional, being trampled into the dust by the Pacifica National Board (PNB). Why? It was simply politically inconvenient.

Pacifica were due for local station board elections (LSB’s) in late 2018, so iED Tom Livingston had hired Drew North Consulting to act as the National Elections Supervisor (NES). A company. Professional. “Our election teams are led by Graeme Drew, Certified Electoral Officer[,] whose experience includes general elections, by-elections, special elections, and membership ratification processes involving referendum votes to adopt Custom Election Codes, Land Codes, De-Annexation Agreements, Impact Benefit Agreements, and Constitutional Frameworks.” For Pacifica, this was a high-risk choice. (‘Elections’ tab)

Sure enough, it soon ended in tears.

Mr Drew & his team started work, in the Pacifica National Office & the five stations. They soon found what the reality was, & it halted them in their tracks: on M29Oct, he found himself with no alternative but to terminate the election. Why?

The 10 elector rolls, listener & staff for each of the five stations, are principally derived from the c. 46k membership records – and these had proved inadequate. (Station staff rolls are largely derived from employment records.) The membership records weren’t materially accurate: lapsed members included; current members excluded; out-of-date contact details; & inadequate supporting evidence, of donations made, & of volunteer timesheets. Through a lack of maintenance, the records had become corrupted. The membership list was, in a word, corrupt. Damningly, this meant that the eligibility of not one candidate could be verified: “I am unable to reliably verify any of the applicants for candidacy due to the poor quality of elector lists” (his final, leaked, report to the PNB, Tu30Oct, page 2, my emphasis). He also determined that there was no prospect of this being remedied any time soon – as I’m sure we can all imagine.

The most basic building block was absent. The process had self-destructed. Logically, he terminated the election process. After all, if a NES is empowered to declare a certification of the election results, just as logically they are empowered to declare a self-destruction of the election process. And this he was about to do.

He told the PNB in his Tu30Oct report that, “I plan to announce the end of the 2018 election on Wednesday, October 31, 2018” (p. 3). PNB Chair Nancy Sorden (WPFW, in DC) called an emergency private PNB meeting for that evening. The PNB majority chose to ignore the considered, evidenced judgment of the elections professional: they wanted voting to happen – any voting.

For the defenders of the Pacifica secrecy culture, trying to end something, that’s one thing; telling the public, quite another.

That meeting instructed Maxie to hire a new NES. The next day Mr Drew resigned. A pseudo-election took place, results declared 18Mar2019. Currently underway is another pseudo-election, for the other half of the seats of the five LSB’s. Sham elections because no evidence has ever been publicly presented showing that the membership list, & the derived electoral rolls, are no longer corrupt. The PNB majority feel they don’t have to reassure anyone, least of all the members.

So, unbeknown at the time, the Drew treatment set a precedent for Maxie. He had seen, in his first month, how professional judgment gets the Pacifica treatment. But he wasn’t cowered. He consistently defended professional standards. And so, over the subsequent months, hearing the wrong news, the core of the PNB majority planned, then engineered, the ousting of ED Maxie Jackson. If Pacifica is really good at one thing, this is it.

2) Choosing not a rational course, but administrative measures The Aaron Machine spent a lot of time & effort ousting Maxie. People working unpaid. Giving up their spring & summer evenings. Plus all those Skype preparation calls. Week after week . . . after week. Committed. Motivated. Determined. True dedication.

The proximate context is captured well by Ken’s audio compilation above, of excerpts from the exchange between Maxie & Grace, at the Tu19Mar2019 PNB Programming Cttee. Probably not a defining moment, but illustrative.

So what did they do?

Within a month, the wheels were in motion, ready to grind. The five-person PNB Personnel Cttee hadn’t met in Feb & Mar. But it was awoken from its slumber. And put to work. Starting Tu16Apr, it met each & every week, for 12 weeks. The last five meetings, from M3June, were all in private. M1July everything was ready, agreeing its ED evaluation report for the PNB. The next evening, the PNB ousted Maxie. Friday, he left his job. Sorted.

If Pacifica’s good at anything, this is it. (Yes, it bears repeating. Pacifica rarely gets complimented these days. Have a heart.)

[I should have included this in the original comment, now added here, F2Aug: Note, whilst doing the important business, nine FCC violations were committed: a written explanation to the public hadn’t been given as to why nine deliberative sessions had been private (this had only been done for those on 3June & 1July). Law requires that this occur “within a reasonable period of time”; the CPB’s own requirement is “within 10 days after each closed meeting”. Too late to be remedied, then. Par for the course, really. (Communications Act of 1934, §396(k)(4); page 216, &]

Much politics is not so much conflict resolution as it is conflict pacification. Suppressing the unacceptable. The Pacifica way is not evidence, but belief. Not open discussion, but secret manoeuvre. Not persuasion, but brute force. Not rational argument, but administrative practice.

This is the Pacifica set-up. And the final element used in deciding the fate of this radio professional, a technician, knowledgeable & experienced, is a bedrock of Pacifica governance, the silent hands, the cttee members who say nothing, & prevent someone else occupying their seat, but who, crucially, vote with The Dear Leader. Pyongyang has captured Pacifica. One may as well call it the Pyongyang Foundation, Inc.

All this was too much for a woman of honour, Maskeelah Washington (WPFW). She had protested, in the public sessions, about the lengths being gone to by ‘the evaluation’. She resigned from the Personnel Cttee, & also as a director of Pacifica. Her last public attendance as a director was at the Th27June PNB, as it was for Maxie. Neither appeared at the next public PNB meeting, Th11July. As is normal in a secret society, Maskeelah’s resignations have not been announced publicly by Pacifica, not in writing, not orally. This means Maskeelah has never been thanked publicly for her service to the members & listeners. Her name was simply removed, without explanation, from lists. Name . . . delete. People just disappear in PacificaWorld.

Given this, is there any surprise that a blog like PacificaWatch, rooted in evidence, was started the evening Maxie’s ousting was announced by Grace, at the Th18July PNB?

3) Fermenting instability The email to the PNB from the KPFK station manager, Anyel Zuberi Fields, that Ken kindly published, rightly focused on the further creation of instability. That has been exacerbated by two appointments, announced on M22 & M29July: John Vernile as Pacifica’s iED, & Jack Valinski as iGM of KPFT in Houston. 2 (JV), with the hyperbolic intent of (JV)².

Vernile has been a corporate careerist, in music, with Sony & EMI: Pacifica has presented no evidence that he’s ever headed a failed & failing organisation, let alone a radio network, nor that he’s succeeded in ever stabilising one. I say that, rather than turning one around, because he’s on a six-month contract – according to Jan Goodman, still Chair of the PNB Personnel Cttee, the one that delivered Maxie to the slab (Su21July KPFK LSB, 3:40,

As I said in another comment, the swiftness of his appointment shows that he’d already been lined up. And, politically, he would have been carefully chosen: Grace, having waited for over a decade to have the chance to become executive director, won’t be dislodged that easily. In fact, there’s every chance she pushed through Vernile’s temporary appointment because he’s happy to be a silent partner, relying on her knowledge of Pacifica, & she’ll be more than happy to do the work, poking her nose into each & every station. She’ll rope in her confidants, as subordinates, functioning as a collective shadow ED, call it Pacifica’s de facto executive cttee – pushing the PNB further away from where the decisions are actually made. In fact, surprise, surprise, when they can’t find a permanent ED, maybe Vernile extends, or Grace becomes iED again. Either way, there’s going to be no regime change any time soon. Just like with the son of the real Dear Leader.

But stability at the top won’t trickle down, because performance is not determined by agreement amongst friends but by the quality of radio output: do people want to listen, & then donate? Deteriorating performance is the fundamental cause of the instability that GM Fields wants to end. And in this, sadly, the PNB majority is an obdurate obstacle.

Turning to this Monday’s communique, the KPFT iGM hiring, its content is revealing – in what it left out. No mention of the LSB. They’re mandated to draw up a shortlist for the ED, who chooses the lucky one (by-law 7.3B). So, had they done this? The silence poses four questions concerning her well-known dispositions: another example of Aaron’s authoritarianism?; of her willingness to steamroller by-laws when they get in the way?; of her disposition to misjudge politically?; &, dangerously, an example of her willingness to knowingly create more turbulence, this time in a locality?

KPFT has no recent series of Nielsen ratings. But internally there is longitudinal evidence. Recently, membership has fallen precipitously: 25% in less than 2½ years, from 5 736 to 4 294 (the election record dates of 30June2016 & 19Nov2018 – National Elections Supervisor’s final report, 18Mar2019, pp. 19 & 17). And the LSB, highly factionalised for many years, split into two in early Jan this year. They met separately – and had never been happier. But now they’re back in the same room, &, perversely, keeping radio silence, with none of the last four meetings recorded & put in the Pacifica meetings archive. They can’t be happy bunnies, can they? So Pacifica’s default secrecy mode kicks in.

Into this Valinski has been thrown. But actually he’s part of the furniture: exec producer of ‘his’ show for 20 years. So he’ll have made lots of friends – and enemies. In a highly factionalised station, when ‘national’ recruits from within it sends the strongest signal of intent: war will be waged in the localities. Such as this, GM Fields was warning against. Maybe his own days are numbered.

To sum up Pacifica, fuelled by bequests, & with the iCFO skilfully judging which creditor to pay next, not least the $3.265m owed to the Foundation for the Jewish Community (FJC), the current structure is plain for all to see:

Pacifica = zombie radio + necro-economics

4) What does all this mean for any radio professional thinking of working for Grace Aaron? This isn’t personalising the matter because this is the substantive reality, a pigheaded authoritarianism that is based on belief, not upon radio knowledge, least of all upon radio success. Maxie was trying to create the conditions allowing Pacifica to turn itself around. The Board stopped him. What is any new ED at Pacifica supposed to do? What sort of radio professional will take the job? Does it really have to be someone who doesn’t really care, content to do whatever it takes to keep their job? Seems so. Rationally, that’s all that’s possible.

The ousting of Maxie proves that under this Pacifica Board there is no place for technique, no place for rationality.

Inverting what’s just been said leads to a highly disturbing question, one that any radio professional taking the ED job will have to live with: why does the Board majority, by its actions, let alone its inactions, not want Pacifica to improve?


[For convenience, here are Ken Mills’ three posts on the Maxie Jackson disaster. They were provoked by iED Chair Grace Aaron publicly announcing, for the first time, that Maxie had “resigned”. No: he was ousted. She was addressing the Th18July PNB (13:18,

[As an insight into how Pacifica works, it’s worth saying that even the writing up of a draft agenda can betray how crafty the praetorian guard can be. Presumably so as not to draw attention to the livestream, ‘iED report’ didn’t appear in the draft agenda published on the meetings website, But the draft would have struck one as odd because Maxie isn’t listed as an expected attendee, & there’s no mention of an ED report. Yes, Kremlinology, Pyongyangology, they’ve now transmuted into Pacificaology. (Apologies to the cacao.)]

Mr Mills’ posts:

F19July ‘Maxie Jackson out as Pacifica executive director’ (as of F2Aug, two comments – a two-parter of mine, the points made being incorporated in this blog’s inaugural ‘Welcome!’ post,

M22July ‘Pacifica alert: Maxie Jackson is out & Grace Aaron has taken over’ (five comments – including a two-parter of mine, posted here as

F26July ‘What its like to work for Grace Aaron, Chair of the Pacifica National Board’ (five comments – including my above four-parter. Mr Mills re-posted his piece later that day; as of F2Aug that has no comments.)

Nominal 2018 LSB pseudo-elections

These elections became a pseudo-election when the PNB obstinately fired the National Elections Supervisor (NES), Graeme Drew, & carried on regardless. This happened Tu30Oct2018, the evening before he was going to publicly declare that he’d called off the elections, having determined that the elections couldn’t take place because the membership list was so poor that “I am unable to reliably verify any of the applicants for candidacy due to the poor quality of elector lists” (his final, leaked, report to the PNB, Tu30Oct, page 2, my emphasis – a week after its publication he kindly sent it to me). He also determined that there was no prospect of this being remedied any time soon.

Two pieces, one long, one short, downloadable as PDF’s:

A summary of what happened, & what it reveals about the Pacifica ‘leadership’, is given as an introduction to the 2019 LSB pseudo-elections. On the balance of probabilities, these are more sham elections, because they’re also based on a membership list for which there is no publicly available evidence that it is materially accurate: all we have is a practical assertion that there’s no problem, an assertion that’s to be taken on trust. Well, those days are long over.

(The results were declared M18Mar2019. An analysis of the NES’ final report (undated, but said to be M18Mar) will follow.