LSB voting, 13 days to go: can the 3.8-5.5% listener-member turnouts at 20Sep reach the required 10%?

. . . not Robert Natkin, Untitled (Color-Bath), 1978 . . .

Beneath dark clouds, besides frantic factionalising, foreboding mounts in PacificaWorld. Voting soon ends in the 10 Local Station Board pseudo-elections (spoiler), raising the perennial question, will quora be met, 10% for listeners, 25% for staff? We’re over six weeks in, with 13 days remaining. The ‘boxes’ get sealed at the stroke of oriental midnight, Tu15Oct, then carted off for counting, not to Renee’s basement but to a secure, hardened facility in RealWorld. No expense sparred for ‘Grassroots Democracy at Pacifica Radio’, as had by the strapline of the website of the National Elections Supervisor, the one & only battler, Reneeeeeee Pennnnnnnaloza.

So, what’s the scale of the problem? The NES has been stingy with info – and carefully avoided attending even one public PNB session (& presumably no private ones). Since voting has started, she has issued only three of what she calls “progress reports” – compared with six in the prior period. They’re all undated, &unnumbered, but one can refer to them by the latest info they give: 28Aug, 5Sep, & 20Sep (her 15Sep link is dead). Only the 5Sep gives the absolute number of voters, the others just giving percentages (to one decimal place). The 20Sep’s percentages aren’t even in numerical form: they’re pretty blobs on a graph (although KPFA-Listeners is missing). Hence estimates have had to be made. https://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/election-progress-reports-2019/

So, the scale of the problem? At the end of 20Sep, with 25 days to go, quorum had only been met by KPFA-Staff, & listener quora satisfaction were roughly half or worse (ranging from 55% to 38%). Effectively, listener turnout needs to double in those 25 days to achieve the five quora.

(The 20Sep report gave no info whatsoever about KPFA-Listeners (neither did its blue blob appear on the 5Sep graph). For calculation purposes, it’s prudent, & so reasonable, to assume it holds its 5Sep station rank, closer to WBAI than to KPFT. Given the greater unreliability of this number, it’s preceded with a ‘?’, as is any number it helps generate.)

Given the inadequate info made public by the NES, what’s the estimate of the number of listeners that still need to vote? At F20Sep, it was ?2 480 (staff being ~71), meaning aggregate listener turnout had only reached ?47% of the aggregated quora (?2 147 out of 4 556). These are the station deficiencies, totalling the needed ?2 409 listener voters: KPFA ?688, KPFK 819, KPFT 160, WPFW 308, WBAI 434.

From the graph, these are the estimated data at F20Sep for the 10 pseudo-elections, in this order: electorate (#) — quorum (#) — turnout (%, #) — voters needed (#):

KPFA-Listeners: 14 311, 1 432, ?5.2, ?744, ?688 . . . so ?48% of quorum still needed at F20Sep

KPFA-Staff: 233, 59, 27.5, 64, quorate

KPFK-Listeners: 13 210, 1 321, 3.8, 502, 819 . . . so 62% of quorum still needed at F20Sep

KPFK-Staff: 279, 70, 9.4, 26, 44 (so 63% of staff quorum still needed at F20Sep)

KPFT-Listeners: 3 549, 355, 5.5, 195, 160 . . . so 45% of quorum still needed at F20Sep

KPFT-Staff: 140, 35, 19.2, 27, 8

WPFW-Listeners: 6 289, 629, 5.1, 321, 308 . . . so 49% of quorum still needed at F20Sep

WPFW-Staff: 109, 28, 23.0, 25, 3

WBAI-Listeners: 8 186, 819, 4.7, 385, 434 . . . so 53% of quorum still needed at F20Sep

WBAI-Staff: 199, 50, 16.9, 34, 16

Doesn’t look too good, does it. But are appearances deceptive? No need to talk here about appearances & essences (Moor from the Luxembourg border, volume 3, chapter 48). Instead, we can consider this appearance, this generated outcome, with that of the previous LSB pseudo-election, nominally 2018, when voting occurred this year, F18Jan to Tu5Mar.

Comparing the voting periods, for 25 days to go, 20Sep corresponds to 8Feb. Here are the station listener data, for turnout at the end of 8Feb, & how many days spare after quorum was actually made; they’re taken from the NES’ graph in her final report:

KPFA, 5.0% & 1Mar, 4+ days before voting closed; KPFK, 3.1% & 1+ days; KPFT, 5.2% & 7+ days; WBAI, 5.3% & 4+ days. (There was no WPFW-Listeners event as there were only five verified candidates for the nine vacant seats.) https://mega.nz/#!fyAwGICZ!-4uWYMHZW3CHxt6yCOITu006SVZ4AyNPjT9bWw6csb0, page 15; page 16 of the PDF

(Odd graph: the vertical axis has 11 lines for each 10 units; also note that the horizontal axis starts each week with a Sunday, privileging Christian mores, which one may think is surprising for Pacifica, but such peeps obviously don’t know the majority of Pacifica’s posted schedule grids, KPFK, KPFT, & WPFW.)

So, pulling these two data sets together, listener turnout (%) at 20Sep compared with 8Feb: KPFA, ?5.2 (cf. 5.0); KPFK, 3.8 (cf. 3.1); KPFT, 5.5 (cf. 5.2); WPFW, 5.1 (no comparative); WBAI, 4.7 (cf. 5.3). (Also the laggard staff pseudo-election: KPFK-Staff, 9.4 (cf. 8.0).)

At this stage, with 25 days to go, the estimate is that all, bar WBAI, are better than earlier this year.

Conclusion: no need to be over-confident, but, on balance, things are slightly better, not worse.

So it’s not just sororities that have rush. It’s just that PacificaWorld seems to have a special kind of rush: ballot-box stuffing – of blank ballots. The NES’ final report (pp. 2-9) gives the station figures for “[a]bstain”, just a few percentage points. This is odd, because with the absence of a glossary one has to rely on the ordinary usage, where abstaining means not participating – which in PacificaWorld is usually of the order of 85-90% for listener members & 55% for staff members. But the NES also published primary data files, termed ‘Raw Results’ or ‘ChoicePlusPro’, giving the ordered preferences of each voter, who is anonymised by a code. By inspecting these, one realises that the number of ballots lacking preferences matches the number of ‘abstainers’ (except when the NES’ final report is in error, as shown below).

The NES’ material, surprisingly, doesn’t disclose how many ballots had write-ins, were defaced, etc. In fact, no definitions are offered of a valid or invalid ballot. What one can say, however, is that the NES’ “abstain” percentage = (# “abstain” x 100) ÷ (# ballots with preferences + # ballots without preferences).

Listener ‘abstentions’ given in the NES’ final report: KPFA, 113, 5.5%; KPFK, 141, 8.9%; KPFT, 44, 6.7% (as corrected; see below); WPFW didn’t have a contest; WBAI, 71, 7.9%. Without ‘abstentions’, KPFK-Listeners would still have made quorum – by a mere seven ballots: 14 366 listener-members; 1 437 for quorum; turnout 1 585; ‘abstentions’ 141, leaving 1 444. So, better to be safe. Protect the organisation. Carry Pacifica insurance. Then put it into action.

Note that the NES’ final report gave wrong ‘abstention’ figures for KPFT-Listeners, a typo, simply repeating those for the preceding contest in her list, KPFK-Staff – pp. 5-6. As noted, the authoritative source is the ‘Raw Results’: for KPFT-Listeners, amongst the 661 ballots listed, the 44 ‘abstainers’ were voter 2KKB (line 20 of the spreadsheet), 34YW (34), 3Q35 (45), …, & Z7QC (642).

https://mega.nz/#!jrhXTaAA!AWxpxNVLJE-HK1so56NlCZGvLv4pd1pR4hJkMjEsQkU

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.

https://mega.nz/#!qr4FHSIQ!WB7O9wnNsSGB8scCNm7DwgDOQuqJk4m_dJKVMAqWXwk

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

Ever wondered what those disembodied voices look like?

This is #5 of the running commentary on the 2019 pseudo-election. The need for the qualifying prefix is explained there: https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/19/2019-lsb-elections-are-another-pseudo-election-no-public-evidence-that-elector-rolls-materially-accurate/

Ever wondered what those disembodied voices come from, what the decision-makers look like? Well, Pacifica now has the answer – maybe the only one it has.

Pacifica has hardly publicised it, but an elections YouTube channel was created in July 2015. Oddly, it’s named ‘National Election [sic] Supervisor 2019’ although it carries vids for both the current pseudo-election & the one voted on earlier this year, the nominal 2018 pseudo-election. (Note that these older candidate discussion vids, some chaired by NES Renee Penaloza, are packaged away in playlists; not dated, but the aesthetic is noticeably different.)

As of W7Aug, the channel has nine subscribers, & has had 1 298 views; this compares with Pacifica having c. 46k members (also, the enfranchised at the last staff elections numbered 978). The channel has 81 vids: 60 one-minute candidate statements (some are discarded edits), & 21 discussions between candidates (12 from this pseudo-election, nine from the last). Since the weekend, the curator has helpfully aggregated most of the vids as 13 topical playlists.

The discussions, in Pacificanese, are candidate forums, bringing together between two & five wanabee delegates, the Pacificanese for those sitting on the local station board. These pseudo-elections, for each station, are for nine listener-seats & three staff-seats, so half the board.

The number of verified candidates, published by the NES on the elections website, has been reduced by five. Originally 128 were declared: 105 listeners (16 KPFA, 23 KPFK, 21 KPFT, 13 WPFW, 32 WBAI), & 23 staff (6 KPFA, 5 KPFK, 4 KPFT, 4 WPFW, 4 WBAI). As of W7Aug, the only changes in the figures concern listener-candidates: up by two at WPFW; & down by seven, two at KPFK (one being the LSB Chair until March this year), one at KPFT, & four at WBAI.

No explanations have been offered by the NES, & a report is long due: there were six in seven weeks, but nothing in the last eight weeks, nothing since Th13June. [UPDATE: a report, undated, was finally published on what seems to be W28Aug.] This fact has not been mentioned in any public PNB meeting. Queen Grace the First, who ousted King Maxie the Third, has displayed no displeasure. Obviously not a problem for her & her minions. However, the silence does not inspire confidence in either NES Penaloza or, more importantly, the electoral process. All reports are work-in-progress, & there has been progress, not least the verifying of the candidates. Puzzling.

Here on the YouTube silver screen are the Paccywood stars of 2019:

KPFA listeners (16 verified candidates, 11 discussants as of W7Aug): Marilla Arguelles, Fred Cook, Lily Kimura, Mantra Plonsey, & Mark Van Landuyt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uF4dRjuVRo (in-vid caption has ‘Arguiles’, 1:57)

Craig Dunkerley, Christina Huggins, & Akio Tanaka https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7zZXqHCLPk (in-vid caption has ‘Dunklerly’, 4:37)

Marilyn Langlois, Andrea Turner, & Carol Wolfley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smOozi_CxpQ (did Carol edit this? The vid is 31:16, & the in-vid caption of her name pops up four times before any other candidate’s, monopolising over ⅔ of the vid, before Marilyn’s makes an appearance at 21:39! But of course Carol’s comes next, & with less than five mins to go Andrea’s finally makes a showing. Fair’s fair. The last three are Andrea, then Marilyn, with Carol finishing off, just in case we’d forgotten her name. Unbelievable. Who are these people who reproduce Pacifica, day after day?)

KPFA staff (6 candidates, 2 discussants): Ann Garrison & Steve Zeltzer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBhzZ-qMCg8

KPFK listeners (21, 10): Michael Atkins, Doug Barnett, & Eric Jacobson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpUZ7VvBVyA (misdescribed at YT as ‘KPFA’. The three KPFK listener vids all lack in-vid captions: they were the first discussions to be published, M5Aug)

Jaime Gomez, Jim Osborne, Paul Roberson, & Elizabeth von Gunten https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6c5qvk4E-mI (however, Jaime isn’t listed as a verified candidate at the NES’ website, & has no statement there; YT has ‘Jamie’, & ‘van’)

Ralph Hawkins, Barbara Marbach, & Robert Payne https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymUTbWfkfsU

KPFK staff (5, 0): none

KPFT listeners (20, 11): Anisa Faruqi & Nancy Saibara-Naritomi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NByajQCLvsM (YT has ‘Naitomi’)

Robert Gartner, Paula Miller, Rick Pothoff, Ted Weisgal, & Vaniecia Williams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za5fwn0sMlc (in-vid caption has ‘Garner’, 3:14; ditto has ‘Vaneicia’, 4:05, & the vid’s title too; the elections site has ‘Potthoff’ but KPFT LSB minutes consistently give ‘Pothoff’)

Raka Ghosh & Susie Moreno https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZ9diZxHumI

Deb Shafto & Richard Uzzell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_f0GnuISYw

KPFT staff (4, 4 – bingo!): Lilian Guttinger Care, Wally James, Mike Lewis, & Sandy Weinmann https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BU0-00pP5aM (YT has ‘Lillian’)

WPFW listeners (15, 0): none (nor any candidate statements, maybe camera shy)

WPFW staff (4, 0): none (nor any candidate statements)

WBAI listeners (28, 0!): none (but lots of candidate statements)

WBAI staff (4, 0): none (but some candidate statements)

Somewhat worrying, given that the NES is responsible for the accuracy of the elector rolls, & for practising basic human respect, is the number of misspelt names, nine, for 38 people, a 24% error rate – and that’s just the names. Why am I not surprised?

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) http://acrnewsfeed.blogspot.com/2019/07/what-its-like-to-work-for-grace-aaron.html. 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. http://www.drewnorth.com/ (‘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. http://www.mediafire.com/file/s8eu60d26b3ame9/Pacifica_2018_NES_Final_Report.pdf/file

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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw4asLVnet4

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 https://transition.fcc.gov/Reports/1934new.pdf, & https://www.cpb.org/stations/certification/closed-meetings)]

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? https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/

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, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/kpfk/190721/kpfk190721b.mp3).

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). https://pacifica.org/indexed_bylaws/art7sec3.html 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? https://pacifica.org/documents/kpft_jack_valinski_190729.pdf

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. http://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Pacifica-Election-Final-Report-2018-by-RAP-1-1.pdf

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, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb190718/pnb190718a.mp3).

[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, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb190718/pnb190718_6125_agenda.pdf. 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’ http://acrnewsfeed.blogspot.com/2019/07/maxie-jackson-out-as-pacifica-executive.html (as of F2Aug, two comments – a two-parter of mine, the points made being incorporated in this blog’s inaugural ‘Welcome!’ post, https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/18/welcome/)

M22July ‘Pacifica alert: Maxie Jackson is out & Grace Aaron has taken over’ http://acrnewsfeed.blogspot.com/2019/07/pacifica-alert-maxie-jackson-is-out.html (five comments – including a two-parter of mine, posted here as https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/24/maxie-jackson-pacifica-the-politics-of-technique-a-tragedy-for-both/)

F26July ‘What its like to work for Grace Aaron, Chair of the Pacifica National Board’ http://acrnewsfeed.blogspot.com/2019/07/what-its-like-to-work-for-grace-aaron.html (five comments – including my above four-parter. Mr Mills re-posted his piece later that day; as of F2Aug that has no comments.)

2019 LSB elections are another pseudo-election: no public evidence that the elector rolls are materially accurate

1) The 2019 Local Station Board elections, for half the seats, got underway whilst the nominal 2018 pseudo-elections were still in progress. All ten elections run this year, listener & staff for each of the five stations – last time there was no WPFW-listeners election as there were only five verified candidates for the nine vacated seats (please see https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/19/nominal-2018-pseudo-election/).

But are these 2019 elections bona fide, are they genuine? Or are they pseudo-elections? Yes, there’s lots of activity, 128 verified wannabe delegates, but what’s it based on? Station staff rolls are derived from employment records. On a much greater scale, how accurate is the most basic building block, the Pacifica membership list, used to generate the elector roll for each station’s listener-election? Are the elector rolls adequate?

Well, they weren’t at 29Oct2018, during the nominal 2018 election process. Yet, with a different National Elections Supervisor (NES), they were claimed to be accurate. No evidence has ever been publicly presented as to how this magical transformation was achieved – a turnaround to be immensely proud of, yes? Crucially, given Pacifica’s long history of lacking credibility, this magical transformation has never been independently verified. (One must say ‘nominal 2018 election’ because the voting was in 2019, 18Jan through 5Mar; the election used a ‘record date’ at 19Nov2018.)

So what about this year’s election? The record date is at Su30June. The elector roll gives name & contact details. That of a reasonably sized town: c. 46 000. How plausible is it that the famously dysfunctional Pacifica is as efficient as a Springfield city council, maintaining, without material inaccuracy, such information? Well, only if Homer were in charge – which makes my point.

2019 is the same as 2018: no evidence has been publicly presented that the 30June elector rolls are materially accurate. None. This creates a reasonable & strong doubt. The only rational conclusion: based on the balance of probabilities, the 2019 process is another pseudo-election.

To help restore credibility to Pacifica elections, an action, necessary but insufficient, is an independent evaluation of the material accuracy of both the membership list & the elector roll. Obviously this won’t happen: politically, the PNB majority would oppose it; economically, Pacifica, last making an annual net income in FY2006, has bills to pay before it can think about reputation.

2) So what happened in 2018? How was it revealed that materially accurate elector rolls didn’t exist? Moreover, how was it revealed that there was no expectation of their imminent creation, certainly not within the time constraint of the 2018 election cycle?

In Aug2018, ED Tom Livingston hired a firm, Drew North Consulting. Graeme Drew, an experienced elections supervisor, became the NES. He & his team started work, in the 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 abandon the job. Why?

The membership records proved inadequate. They weren’t materially accurate: too many errors. 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. It had proven to be unusable, unable to function as the primary source of the elector rolls, the record of those enfranchised to vote. The eligibility of not one candidate could be verified.

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

He told ED Maxie Jackson, M29Oct. The day after, he also told the PNB, & said he was going to announce this publicly the next day. The PNB called an emergency private 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.

These are the words of Graeme Drew, the very first sentence, in full, of his (leaked) NES report to the PNB, Tu30Oct2018: “[o]n Monday, October 29, 2018 I informed your Executive Director of my decision to terminate the 2018 election process.” (my emphases). But worse was to come. On the third, & final page, the news the PNB majority really didn’t want to hear: “I plan to announce the end of the 2018 election on Wednesday, October 31, 2018.” (my emphases). Trying to end something, that’s one thing; telling the public, quite another. http://www.mediafire.com/file/s8eu60d26b3ame9/Pacifica_2018_NES_Final_Report.pdf/file

Unbeknown at the time, this set a precedent, one of huge significance for the chances of the Pacifica Foundation being turned around. Over the subsequent months, hearing the wrong news, also caused the PNB majority to plan, then engineer, the ousting of ED Maxie Jackson. If Pacifica is really good at one thing, this is it.

Obviously, hiring a professional elections supervision firm had been a mistake. A big mistake. One not to be repeated. So an individual had to be hired. For credibility purposes, a Local Elections Supervisor has a certain plausibility about it. Enter the LES for KPFT, in Houston, Alma Viscarra. She found the same reality, equivocated to some extent, but tried her best to do the PNB majority’s bidding. But she didn’t pass the test, & so got chopped. In came the LES for all of KPFA, KPFK, & KPFT, Renee Penaloza. A proven superwoman. Now this was different. This changed things. All obstacles suddenly swept away. Unbridled progress on all fronts. Voting duly taking place. Certified results published. This is the sort of proof the PNB majority like.

So no surprise she’s the NES for these 2019 elections. A safe pair of hands. This is efficiency, Pacifica style.

Thing is, no evidence has ever been presented by NES Penaloza, or the PNB, of the adequacy of the elector rolls used in either set of elections. All we have is de facto assertion, a practical assertion, the carrying on of an activity labelled an election. In the absence of evidence, it is a matter of pure faith that the 2019 elections are bona fide.

The membership list has been magically purified. It would be an exaggeration to say Pacifica excels at the application of alchemy. What Pacifica has done, at least since Oct2006 when the annual losses started, is to muddle through, but not in the way dignified by Charles Lindblom in 1959. http://urban.hunter.cuny.edu/~schram/lindblom1959.pdf

And what is the only rational conclusion to draw? The corrupted membership list remains corrupt. It has been used within a year in two sets of elections. This is corruption. It is being perpetrated out of self-interest by two parties, for different reasons: politically, it’s what the PNB majority want; economically, the NES is happy to do it because she keeps getting paid by Pacifica’s members & listeners.

The only honourable & credible remedy is that there is an independent evaluation of the material accuracy of the membership lists & elector rolls used for both the nominal 2018 pseudo-election & the 2019 pseudo-election.

3) The latest NES report on the current pseudo-elections, the sixth, was published Th13June: http://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Elections-Report-6-6-13-19.pdf (2 pages) [NO LATER PUBLIC REPORT AS OF F19JULY Sa27JULY Tu6AUG (Hiroshima Remembrance Day . . . 8.15am local time, mass murder from six miles up). A report, of sorts, was posted, & although undated is said to be of W28Aug. http://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Election-Report-08.28.19.pdf]

4) The NES’ public website, with the statements of all 128 verified candidates for the 60 seats: https://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/ [As of W7Aug, reduced to 123 (details below).]

5) Ever wondered what those disembodied voices come from, what the decision-makers look like? Well, Pacifica has the answer – maybe the only one it has.

Pacifica has hardly publicised it, but an elections YouTube channel was created in July 2015. Oddly, it’s named ‘National Election [sic] Supervisor 2019’ although it carries vids for both the current pseudo-election & the one voted on earlier this year, the nominal 2018 pseudo-election. (Note that these older candidate discussion vids, some chaired by NES Renee Penaloza, are packaged away in playlists; not dated, but the aesthetic is noticeably different.)

As of W7Aug2019, the channel has nine subscribers, & has had 1 298 views; this compares with Pacifica having c. 46k members (also, the enfranchised at the last staff elections numbered 978). The channel has 81 vids: 60 one-minute candidate statements (some are discarded edits), & 21 discussions between candidates (12 from this pseudo-election, nine from the last). Since the weekend, the curator has helpfully aggregated most of the vids as 13 topical playlists.

The discussions, in Pacificanese, are candidate forums, bringing together between two & five wanabee delegates, the Pacificanese for those sitting on the local station board. These pseudo-elections, for each station, are for nine listener-seats & three staff-seats, so half the board.

The number of verified candidates, published by the NES on the elections website, has been reduced by five. Originally 128 were declared: 105 listeners (16 KPFA, 23 KPFK, 21 KPFT, 13 WPFW, 32 WBAI), & 23 staff (6 KPFA, 5 KPFK, 4 KPFT, 4 WPFW, 4 WBAI). As of W7Aug, the only changes in the figures concern listener-candidates: up by two at WPFW; & down by seven, two at KPFK (one being the LSB Chair until March this year), one at KPFT, & four at WBAI.

No explanations have been offered by the NES, & a report is long due: there were six in seven weeks, but nothing in the last eight weeks, nothing since Th13June. This fact has not been mentioned in any public PNB meeting. Queen Grace the First, who ousted King Maxie the Third, has displayed no displeasure. Obviously not a problem for her & her minions. However, the silence does not inspire confidence in either NES Penaloza or, more importantly, the electoral process. All reports are work-in-progress, & there has been progress, not least the verifying of the candidates. Puzzling.

Here on the YouTube silver screen are the Paccywood stars of 2019:

KPFA listeners (16 verified candidates, 11 discussants as of W7Aug): Marilla Arguelles, Fred Cook, Lily Kimura, Mantra Plonsey, & Mark Van Landuyt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uF4dRjuVRo (in-vid caption has ‘Arguiles’, 1:57)

Craig Dunkerley, Christina Huggins, & Akio Tanaka https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7zZXqHCLPk (in-vid caption has ‘Dunklerly’, 4:37)

Marilyn Langlois, Andrea Turner, & Carol Wolfley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smOozi_CxpQ (did Carol edit this? The vid is 31:16, & the in-vid caption of her name pops up four times before any other candidate’s, monopolising over 2/3rds of the vid, before Marilyn’s makes an appearance at 21:39! But of course Carol’s comes next, & with less than five mins to go Andrea’s finally makes a showing. Fair’s fair. The last three are Andrea, then Marilyn, with Carol finishing off, just in case we’d forgotten her name. Unbelievable. Who are these people who reproduce Pacifica, day after day?)

KPFA staff (6 candidates, 2 discussants): Ann Garrison & Steve Zeltzer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBhzZ-qMCg8

KPFK listeners (21, 10): Michael Atkins, Doug Barnett, & Eric Jacobson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpUZ7VvBVyA (misdescribed at YT as ‘KPFA’. The three KPFK listener vids all lack in-vid captions: they were the first discussions to be published, M5Aug)

Jaime Gomez, Jim Osborne, Paul Roberson, & Elizabeth von Gunten https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6c5qvk4E-mI (however, Jaime isn’t listed as a verified candidate at the NES’ website, & has no statement there; YT has ‘Jamie’, & ‘van’)

Ralph Hawkins, Barbara Marbach, & Robert Payne https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymUTbWfkfsU

KPFK staff (5, 0): none

KPFT listeners (20, 11): Anisa Faruqi & Nancy Saibara-Naritomi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NByajQCLvsM (YT has ‘Naitomi’)

Robert Gartner, Paula Miller, Rick Pothoff, Ted Weisgal, & Vaniecia Williams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za5fwn0sMlc (in-vid caption has ‘Garner’, 3:14; ditto has ‘Vaneicia’, 4:05, & the vid’s title too; the elections site has ‘Potthoff’ but KPFT LSB minutes consistently give ‘Pothoff’)

Raka Ghosh & Susie Moreno https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZ9diZxHumI

Deb Shafto & Richard Uzzell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_f0GnuISYw

KPFT staff (4, 4 – bingo!): Lilian Guttinger Care, Wally James, Mike Lewis, & Sandy Weinmann https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BU0-00pP5aM (YT has ‘Lillian’)

WPFW listeners (15, 0): none (nor any candidate statements, maybe camera shy)

WPFW staff (4, 0): none (nor any candidate statements)

WBAI listeners (28, 0!): none (but lots of candidate statements)

WBAI staff (4, 0): none (but some candidate statements)

Somewhat worrying, given that the NES is responsible for the accuracy of the elector rolls, & for practising basic human respect, is the number of misspelt names, nine, for 38 people, a 24% error rate – and that’s just the names. Why am I not surprised?