. . . not Michael Wolgemut, Tanz der Gerippe [Skeletons], woodcut, c. 1493 . . .
Latest election news: unless Pacificans act swiftly, Pacifica may die.
Why? KPFA listener-members are massively out in force, seemingly close to half of all those who have voted. Th5Mar marked halfway thru the referenda voting, &, compared with that stage in the LSB voting this time last year, KPFA is overachieving by a full 70%. This contrasts with WBAI underachieving by 29%. (All workings given below.)
Also, after less than a mere 17 days of voting, KPFA-listener online voters alone, so not including paper voters, had already surpassed by 4% the total KPFA-listener vote in the 62 days of the last LSB voting, Aug-Oct2019; KPFT’s figure is even better, +16%. And WBAI? Way down, by over an eighth, a full −13%; with WPFW −1%, & KPFK −27%.
The activists of the breaker faction are spreading their tentacles amongst the winners here, the Bay Area & Houston. Their operation is in overdrive.
Without a dramatic increase in voting by 10.59pm CDT a week Thursday, 19Mar, in just eight days’ time, the well-oiled, well-funded, well-motivated breakers will seize Pacifica. Well, maybe.
That KPFA listeners are voting in highly disproportionate numbers was given in info provided by the National Elections Supervisor (NES) to the PNB, Th5Mar. And as the peculiar home of a station chauvinism, a politics of separatism rather than Pacifica solidarity, they’re not doing this to help Pacifica. It’s reasonable – and prudent – to infer that this dangerous anomaly is the result of the breakers successfully mining the huge numbers of KPFA listener-members who usually don’t vote. Just in the last year, they constituted 86.7% in the nominal 2018 LSB pseudo-election, voting 18Jan-5Mar2019, & 85.6% in the 2019 one, voting 15Aug-15Oct2019. That’s 13 513 & 12 275, respectively, so >12 000 KPFA listeners. And as one can reasonably expect ~8 000 to vote in the listener referendum, it taking 4 000 to win, this is an obvious road to victory. (There are separate referenda for listeners & staff – please see note #1.)
Spin a yarn about Make KPFA Great Again, KPFA for KPFA’ians, stop the subsidising of other stations, get rid of the Pacifica dysfunctionality, the perpetual factionalising, the bad publicity, all this by bringing in professionalism, objectivity, getting the grants back, investing in the future . . . just like the good olde days, when KPFA was great. Motherhood & apple pie. Wave that magic wand, & the bad stuff will all go away. Unicorns. Rainbows. Pink ponies. If free snake oil is offered to the tired & weary, will they gulp it down? Giving credit where credit’s due, even deceiving is a skilled accomplishment.
So what’s the evidence of this rallying in the Bay Area? NES Renee Penaloza, resident of the Bay Area & many times the Local Elections Supervisor for KPFA since 2009 (note #2), gave an appallingly bad ‘report’ Thursday night, even by her standard, & I’m not even referring to her keeping the directors waiting nine minutes once she was on the call (31:59), the lame excuse she gave (40:52), also later not being able to find relevant tabs to open, the chaotic concatenation & continual cascade of Biden moments, &, last but not least, her laughter throughout, as if performing une danse macabre, ein Totentanz – obviously all of which passes for professionalism, & courtesy, in her neck of the woods. And all achieved in less than 4½ minutes (42:52 – 47:13). https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb200305/pnb200305a.mp3
Nevertheless, she did say turnout (when?) is 11.7% for listeners & 30.1% for staff (46:46). (Monday, with a 2pm (EDT?) 9Mar timestamp, she updated this on her website to 12.7% listeners, 32.3% staff.) And, responding to a query from James Sagurton (WBAI listener-delegate), she eventually said the station-split for listeners who had voted online was KPFA 40%, KPFK 20%, KPFT 10%, WPFW 13%, & WBAI 17% (49:29 – 54:52). She gave no staff info, other than the turnout percentage. She gave no info on the online/paper voting split, on which more anon. She didn’t give the size of the electorates, those for the listeners & the staff. She didn’t coherently give station split for listeners, just a garbled spiel as if encountering her words for the first time, so bad she made Biden look good (note #3). And she didn’t give the record date for the referenda (used in establishing who’s a voter). In others words, she said very, very little. Which is how the NES, ever shy of the PNB, likes to operate – and it’s indicative of how lax the directors are that she’s allowed to persist. But as Cde Mujica no doubt thought, alone at the bottom of the well that was his prison, we are where we are.
https://mega.nz/#F!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? https://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/2019-election-results/)
Note that because the graph doesn’t give a split between paper & online voting, & that on Thursday the NES gave no info on the paper ballots cast (except to say she doesn’t even know how many there are), one has to use referendum online voting as a proxy for total votes. This is particularly unfortunate because listener-member paper voting is much higher in PacificaWorld than in RealWorld, of the order of 20%, with WBAI over twice that – note #5.
The graph shows cumulative voting, as a percentage of that pseudo-election’s electorate, for each of the nine pseudo-elections (there wasn’t a WPFW-Listener one because there were only five verified candidates for the nine seats); voting started 18Jan2019 but the NES only depicted that from 30Jan; the staff elections are on top, the dotted lines:
https://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Pacifica-Election-Final-Report-2018-by-RAP-1-1.pdf, p. 15 (p. 16 of the PDF); as things go missing in PacificaWorld, it’s also at https://mega.nz/#!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).
https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/auditor-s-reports-from-fy2005/ (its note 4); https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/audit/190819/audit190819a.mp3; & https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/finance/200310/finance200310a.mp3 (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.
https://www.lyrikline.org/de/gedichte/todesfuge-66 (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).
#3 NES Penaloza’s unfortunate incoherence, splitting her mind whilst trying to produce speech on some split or another, suggested a disturbing Pacifica fact. She had given one split, without saying what it was, one adding up to 98 percentage points (pcp), with KPFK higher than KPFA (32 cf. 29), before promptly scrubbing it. Then she tried another, this time with KPFK at 30 & KPFA at 29, a split adding up to 97. If there’s some truth here, perhaps about relative station listener membership, it’s that compared with the last publicly available membership data (her 1Nov2019 LSB results pseudo-certification), WBAI’s share has dropped 4 pcp, being picked up by KPFA +1, KPFK +1, & KPFT +2, this whilst Pacifica is suffering a continuing downward trend in total listener membership. The other slither of truth may be that KPFA is actually 32%, plausible because it was 31.4% in the 1Nov2019 data – the NES simply repeating KPFA’s 29 from the scrubbed split. Anyway, applying the prudence principle beloved by the accountancy profession, one should recognise that Renee is disorientated, perhaps having caught bidenavirus, BIDVID-20, from ideologically enthusiastic Pacificans.)
Renee’s problems persist, because at the Th5Mar PNB she promised the directors, the members, & the listeners, that she’d post on her website the referendum voting report. Of course, now six days later, it isn’t there. Just like the promised final report for the 2019 LSB pseudo-elections & the certification of the final voting numbers. Waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting . . . https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/19/the-godot-page-waiting-for-good-news/
#4 The two sets of LSB electoral activity in 2019 have to be designated as pseudo-elections, given the complete absence of publicly available evidence that the elector rolls are materially accurate. In Oct2018 the then NES, the outsider Graeme Drew, judged Pacifica’s record-keeping to be so poor he couldn’t validate even one candidate. He found the membership rolls used to generate the elector rolls to be so corrupted they were unusable. He decided “to terminate the 2018 election process” & told the PNB he would make a public announcement the next day. So, of course, he got fired that evening, at an emergency PNB meeting. Since then, only Pacifica insiders have been the NES, & they have failed to publish any contrary evidence, only bare assertions. This creates a reasonable & strong doubt about the legitimacy of the process. So the only rational conclusion, based on the balance of probabilities, is that the two 2019 electoral processes were pseudo-elections.
#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.
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.
https://mega.nz/#!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. https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb200305/pnb200305a.mp3
#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, https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/10/03/lsb-voting-13-days-to-go-can-the-3-point-8-to-5-point-5-pc-listener-member-turnouts-at-20sep-reach-the-required-10-pc/.
#7 Jorge Diaz (auditor, Rogers & Co, M19Aug2019): “We’re making good headway with the [FY2018] audit. Um, there are still a few things that we’re waiting on […] I spoke with [George Walter, NETA senior controller] today – we have a status call every Monday – and, urgh, he informed me he should be getting the vast majority of what is still outstanding to us by the end of this week [F23Aug2019]. At that time it will probably take us, you know, um, three to five business days [so by F30Aug] to urgh, urgh, analyse & look at what’s going on, &, um, provide any follow-up questions or items of that nature, so, you know […] I think, um, you know, argh, by at least the end of this month we’ll certainly, probably, be in a really good position in terms of – and really know where we stand in terms of how getting the deliverables to y’all & getting done” (7:59 – 8:58, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/audit/190819/audit190819a.mp3). So, Jorge presenting the draft auditor’s report to the PNB Audit Cttee & the PNB, within a month, yes, mid Sep? That’s Sep2019, not Sep2020.