In a separate post i’ll comment more narrowly on the KPFKD crisis thru consideration of two Pacifica meetings & a commentary: the Tu9June PNB Finance Cttee, & the W10June KPFKD Finance Cttee, & the W10June report by R Paul Martin to that evening’s WBAI Local Station Board (https://glib.com/treasurers_report_2020-06-10.pdf – 5pp. plus 3pp. appendices).
Strictly speaking, & this is the practical reality, KPFKD’s fate is Pacifica’s, not the station’s. A station owns nothing, not even the paper-clip being flipped across the station manager’s desk while he stares at the spreadsheet. Yes, the listeners think of the station as their own, they’re attached (Bowlby), & the station activists have not just a cognitive but an emotional involvement in the station, but in the famed last analysis, each station (1) is a custodian of Pacifica assets, administering them, (2) owns no debt, & (3) is an accounting unit.
This means that a revenue collapse at a station is Pacifica’s problem.
And this can cause a problem in a signal area when the self-understanding of what it is to support ‘my’ station, to love ‘my’ station, to be involved in Pacifica, is based on a falsehood, when, in the strictest sense (& so not to be thought unkind), the self-understanding isn’t up to the task, it’s practically inadequate.
As i’ve said elsewhere, all station accounting data, either as an aid for management decision-making or to inform the members & listeners, should allow a fair comparison between station performances, so of like with like. This requires the stripping out of the effects of historical accidents, which started in the Garden of Eden, when Pacifica & KPFA constituted an identity, the one & the same. The most glaring effect is that some stations are privileged, enjoying Pacifica buildings, land, & transmitters on a rent-free basis, thus being subsidisedby the other stations, which also have the extra burden of paying non-Pacificans simply to function. A double burden is a double shift (Arlie Hochschild).
And the political effect of this persisting deficiency in how some Pacificans self-conceptualise & live affectively? Station chauvinism; separatism; provincialism. Station chauvinism: breeding poison, fuelling resentment. Separatism: break up Pacifica, destroy the network. Provincialism: springing from an exclusory proprietary attitude, it’s simultaneously inward-looking & antagonistic to others, causing the living of an in-group/out-group perceived reality, friend versus foe (Carl Schmitt). All this, antithetical to the nature that is Pacifica.
In terms of getting out of Pacifica’s endemic crisis, this blog (& in prior comments at Chris Albertson’s http://wbai-nowthen.blogspot.com/) has consistently noted the obvious: the only plausible way to, in the current idiom, let Pacifica breathe, is to negotiate a signal-swap (two isn’t needed), thereby using cash both to settle debts & to pay for the implementation of a network development plan. Only this can give Pacifica a future.
The Gorgon Grace approach has always been intrinsically myopic. Preserving the $3.265m loan principal, thru either extending the loan term or finding a new lender, has never addressed Pacifica’s future. It has only condemned Pacifica to a perpetual present, a Sisyphean existence, perpetual firefighting mode, the living of a diminishing, & so debilitating, present. The Grace approach, accepted by the PNB by default, the typical Pacifica action of inaction, an act of omission, has choked Pacifica, presenting it with the living of a shrinking horizon.
Only by eliminating the constant firefighting is it possible, but not guaranteed, to (1) pay bills timely, (2) give management, staff, the PNB, & the local station boards the time to focus on the future, rather than the present, & (3) improve the appalling interpersonal interactions at four of the stations (WBAI is relatively pacific).
In terms of the politics (not morality) of practice, Pacificans need to grasp that money isn’t necessarily sinful, but instead can simply make life a lot easier & less stressful. (Ask the hundreds of millions of Chinese no longer in dire poverty.) Most so-called leftists fail to recognise the liberatory potential of money (& of marketing) in our current kind of society, one that’s necessarily mediated by money: there’s no way to avoid this, other than suffering the consequences even more. Regrettable, yes, but true. It means money is needed to allow Pacifica to regain health, & to not just grow (augment existing capacities) but to develop (acquire new qualities).
It’s time to flourish, not suffer.
But how to do that?
Money. And the only feasible source, other than Danny Glover, is a signal-swap. But that can be a two-year process, so in the meantime Pacifica needs to find a way to survive, & the depth of its cashflow crisis may require a two-stage response.
First, the only way to chop enough costs rapidly is to chop the staff at both KPFA & KPFKD, changing their character, making Pacifica as a whole volunteer-based. Second, its cashflow crisis may require the sale of a building, even two. (Note that as they’re collateralised to the Foundation for the Jewish Community, FJC, at a 3:1 asset-to-principal ratio, it means FJC gets a third of the valuation sum constitutive of the contract.)
Pacifica is in its current Laurel & Hardy mess because the PNB has been in denial since 1Apr2018. It had taken out the $3.7m loan from FJC but didn’t take responsibility for the future, grasping the monetary nettle by starting the process of doing a signal-swap.
In any case, a radio signal isn’t what it used to be. Digitisation has caused broadcasting to be transcended by providing. The broadcast schedule, transcended by the download list. The position on the dial, transcended by reputation, sustained by social media, enhanced by branding. The radio, transcended by mobile digital devices. Radio is 20th century, it’s passé. It’s one reason why the BBC since 2018 no longer speaks of radio but of “sounds”: not a device, but an output.
Yes, Pacifica’s listeners are, literally, a dying breed. If Pacifica is to avoid extinction it needs to grasp the future, it needs leadership, it needs a group to initiate a transformation. But do they exist? The breakers do. We know that. But can the Pacifica partisans rise to the occasion? As Primo said, thru his alter ego in the Belarusian forest, se non ora, quando?, if not now, when?
P.S. On the certificate, the word ‘abstain’ doesn’t have the ordinary meaning (77% of listener-members abstained in this referendum, & 48% of staff) but means invalid ballots (highly ambiguous paper-ballot, ballot full of vitriol, maybe the opportunity for a manifesto, plain blank, or any of the myriad of inventive ways a Pacif-I-can (nod to C Cuomo) can spoil a ballot).
[When this post was made, I added the below three points. Rather than add to this post, the remarks will appear as separate posts.
(1) A few remarks will soon appear below; note that paper-voting, mainly East Coast, was way down.
(2) The remarks will also cover the need for the PNB to address two strategic matters:
(a) the $3.265m principal of the FJC loan, payable 1Apr2021; &
(b) the coming collapse in revenue, as the economic depression underway slashes listeners’ discretionary spend; the only obvious, yet highly regrettable, mitigation is that bequests will increase thru to, at least, Dec2021.
(3) A separate post will be made when the NES publishes her report, with station data, later this week (inshallah).]
Referenda voting ended Thursday, 19Mar, on the proposed new Pacifica constitution. A ‘no’ vote was rejecting the anti-democratic, authoritarian move by the breakers, longstanding campaigners to break up the Pacifica network.
expected listener-member turnout
predicted listener-member voting
the staff-member referendum
Expected listener-member turnout
The above table is an expectation of listener-member voting in the referendum, generated by the application of two assumptions upon published & reliable leaked data.
if the culture of high paper-voting on the East Coast persists, the NES’ data imply an unusually high total turnout from those stations, delivering big ‘no’ votes, 43% at WPFW & 51% at WBAI;
this compares with KPFA achieving 37%;
expected total turnout, 31%;
actual turnout by online-voters alone is twice that of each of last year’s two rounds of total LSB voting (so including their paper-voting); &
total turnout is expected to be x3 that of those 2019 LSB rounds.
the proportion of each station’s paper-voting (‘e:p’ in the table, the ratio) is the same as given in the last publicly available LSB data, per the nominal 2018 final report (the Jan-Mar2019 voting for all stations bar WPFW; that station in the 2016 LSB election; please see pp. 17 & 19); in all likelihood it’s less, with increased internet usage, but applying a factor of 10% or 20% (a deflator) would be unnecessarily speculative; &
final online-voting (‘e-voting’ in the table) is split between the stations in the same ratio as at F6Mar; so this assumes the KPFA online surge at 6Mar not only didn’t exhaust itself but was maintained, so keeping its 40% share of online-voting.
Predicted listener-member voting
Station . . . . No . . . . .Yes . . Yes %
KPFA . . . . . 2000 . . .2571 . . . 56
KPFK . . . . . 1400 . . . .748 . . . 35
KPFT . . . . . . .582 . . . .400 . . .41
WPFW . . . .2400 . . . . 162 . . . .6
WBAI . . . . .2800 . . . . 111 . . . .4
Total . . . . . 9182 . . . 3992
Two assumptions are made above, & in the 11Mar post a guess was made of the breakers’ core support, 1 200 – 1 500 KPFA & KPFT listener-members. Given this, the above rough prediction is made: a ‘no’ vote of 70% wins, rejecting the breakers.
Remember, the breakers need to win both referenda to effect their proposed change.
The electorate was 955. Paper-voting is likely to be immaterial; for example, it was only 4 out of 466 in the Jan-Mar2019 LSB voting. In the referendum, the NES says 51.4% voted, so 491. (Turnouts in last year’s LSB voting: 47.6% in Jan-Mar, 36.7% in Aug-Oct.) If all 491 are valid ballots, that means 246 wins – this is 32 more than the KPFA electorate. The station turnouts at F6Mar: KPFA 36%, KPFK 17%, KPFT 27%, WPFW 35%, WBAI 44%. Being so high, it makes no sense trying to estimate expected station final turnouts.
Could the breakers have garnered 246 staff? Unlikely.
POSTSCRIPT on the virus (SARS-CoV-2) causing the disease (COVID-19)
Article by Mike Davis, from last Saturday, 14Mar; hopefully he’s interviewed by KPFK, if not KPFA.
Public health officials, worldwide, knew a global health emergency was coming. The World Health Organization (WHO) even explicitly warned of highly infectious disease yet to come into existence, which it designated as Disease X: “[t]he needs for research preparedness for a new disease were also deemed to fit into the ‘urgent’ category” (report on 8-9Dec2015 workshop, page 2). WHO also made a very short vid on this, Mar2018. And it was even discussed 10 months before the COVID-19 outbreak, at the winter playground of the Masters of the Universe, Davos – discussed when the media were focusing on Greta.
Healthcare professionals also did their part preparing the public. In 2018, for example,Peter Piot, head of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, gave a Royal Institution lecture, ‘Are we ready for the next pandemic?‘.
the four tables sent by NES Penaloza to the PNB, Th5Mar (the first in the sequence) & F6Mar2020; elector & online-voting totals for Pacifica & stations, split for listeners & staff in the last two tables
The listener elector rolls for the referendum are drastically different from those used just nine weeks ago in the 2019 LSB pseudo-elections. There’s been a shocking, sudden change. A strange change. A Pacifica purge has been perpetrated, particularly at WBAI. And the Lord has delivered unto KPFT a heavenly host of new believers. Besides the practical implications for these existential referenda, there’s a lot here that needs explaining.
Highlights, the changes in only nine weeks:
listener-membership has fallen 3 581 (−7.84%, 1-in-13), from 45 690 to 42 109
KPFA listeners −13.6%, so 1-in-7 (14 334 → 12 385, so −1 949)
KPFT listeners +21.2% (3 569 → 4 327, so +758)
WBAI listeners −30.1% (8 240 → 5 761, so −2 479)
WPFW listeners −4.2% (6 293 → 6 029, so −264)
staff membership has fallen −1.5% (970 → 955, so −15)
Five topics are addressed:
the listener referendum online-voting data – including necessary revisions to last Wednesday’s blogpost
adding in estimated paper-voting
the staff referendum
predicted referenda turnout
final, regrettable point: the coronavirus societal crisis, Pacificans (not least re the age structure & existing ill-health conditions), & the $3.265m loan from the Foundation for the Jewish Community (FJC); this crisis of capitalist society will necessarily cause both the largest & the swiftest contraction in the world economy in human history.
[I’ll finish writing this, & its replacement will be posted on the blog a day late, so apologies, on Referendum Day, Th19Mar.
[Just noticed that the NES, after seven l-o-n-g days of silence, has just given a turnout update (online voting only, take note). The W11Mar one gave listeners 13.8% (~5 811) & staff 34.7% (~331). The one denoted an ambiguous 1.42am (EDT?), W18Mar, gives listeners 19.0% (~8 001) & staff 42.2% (~403). So, added votes of 2 190 listeners (+37.7%) & 72 staff (+21.8%). The listener surge is a whole week of 313 a day, compared with 232 a day for the difference between 9 & 11Mar, the previous updates.
. . . not Michael Wolgemut, Tanz der Gerippe [Skeletons], woodcut, c. 1493 . . .
Latest election news: unless Pacificans act swiftly, Pacifica may die.
Why? KPFA listener-members are massively out in force, seemingly close to half of all those who have voted. Th5Mar marked halfway thru the referenda voting, &, compared with that stage in the LSB voting this time last year, KPFA is overachieving by a full 70%. This contrasts with WBAI underachieving by 29%. (All workings given below.)
Also, after less than a mere 17 days of voting, KPFA-listener online voters alone, so not including paper voters, had already surpassed by 4% the total KPFA-listener vote in the 62 days of the last LSB voting, Aug-Oct2019; KPFT’s figure is even better, +16%. And WBAI? Way down, by over an eighth, a full −13%; with WPFW −1%, & KPFK −27%.
The activists of the breaker faction are spreading their tentacles amongst the winners here, the Bay Area & Houston. Their operation is in overdrive.
Without a dramatic increase in voting by 10.59pm CDT a week Thursday, 19Mar, in just eight days’ time, the well-oiled, well-funded, well-motivated breakers will seize Pacifica. Well, maybe.
That KPFA listeners are voting in highly disproportionate numbers was given in info provided by the National Elections Supervisor (NES) to the PNB, Th5Mar. And as the peculiar home of a station chauvinism, a politics of separatism rather than Pacifica solidarity, they’re not doing this to help Pacifica. It’s reasonable – and prudent – to infer that this dangerous anomaly is the result of the breakers successfully mining the huge numbers of KPFA listener-members who usually don’t vote. Just in the last year, they constituted 86.7% in the nominal 2018 LSB pseudo-election, voting 18Jan-5Mar2019, & 85.6% in the 2019 one, voting 15Aug-15Oct2019. That’s 13 513 & 12 275, respectively, so >12 000 KPFA listeners. And as one can reasonably expect ~8 000 to vote in the listener referendum, it taking 4 000 to win, this is an obvious road to victory. (There are separate referenda for listeners & staff – please see note #1.)
Spin a yarn about Make KPFA Great Again, KPFA for KPFA’ians, stop the subsidising of other stations, get rid of the Pacifica dysfunctionality, the perpetual factionalising, the bad publicity, all this by bringing in professionalism, objectivity, getting the grants back, investing in the future . . . just like the good olde days, when KPFA was great. Motherhood & apple pie. Wave that magic wand, & the bad stuff will all go away. Unicorns. Rainbows. Pink ponies. If free snake oil is offered to the tired & weary, will they gulp it down? Giving credit where credit’s due, even deceiving is a skilled accomplishment.
So what’s the evidence of this rallying in the Bay Area? NES Renee Penaloza, resident of the Bay Area & many times the Local Elections Supervisor for KPFA since 2009 (note #2), gave an appallingly bad ‘report’ Thursday night, even by her standard, & I’m not even referring to her keeping the directors waiting nine minutes once she was on the call (31:59), the lame excuse she gave (40:52), also later not being able to find relevant tabs to open, the chaotic concatenation & continual cascade of Biden moments, &, last but not least, her laughter throughout, as if performing une danse macabre, ein Totentanz – obviously all of which passes for professionalism, & courtesy, in her neck of the woods. And all achieved in less than 4½ minutes (42:52 – 47:13). https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb200305/pnb200305a.mp3
Nevertheless, she did say turnout (when?) is 11.7% for listeners & 30.1% for staff (46:46). (Monday, with a 2pm (EDT?) 9Mar timestamp, she updated this on her website to 12.7% listeners, 32.3% staff.) And, responding to a query from James Sagurton (WBAI listener-delegate), she eventually said the station-split for listeners who had voted online was KPFA 40%, KPFK 20%, KPFT 10%, WPFW 13%, & WBAI 17% (49:29 – 54:52). She gave no staff info, other than the turnout percentage. She gave no info on the online/paper voting split, on which more anon. She didn’t give the size of the electorates, those for the listeners & the staff. She didn’t coherently give station split for listeners, just a garbled spiel as if encountering her words for the first time, so bad she made Biden look good (note #3). And she didn’t give the record date for the referenda (used in establishing who’s a voter). In others words, she said very, very little. Which is how the NES, ever shy of the PNB, likes to operate – and it’s indicative of how lax the directors are that she’s allowed to persist. But as Cde Mujica no doubt thought, alone at the bottom of the well that was his prison, we are where we are.
So what can we do with the NES’ figures? A fair bit, surprisingly. We can derive other approximate numbers, compare the listener referendum with the last two sets of LSB pseudo-elections, & estimate what the breakers have to do to win. This will allow us to put in perspective what’s at stake in the next eight days, with voting closing, as stated, at 8.59pmPDT, Th19Mar.
But first, two important caveats:
the subject matter of voting is radically different, one, run-of-the-mill LSB elections, the other, existential for the network; &
radically different time scales; not just the voting period (31 days compared with 47 & 62 for the last two rounds of LSB pseudo-elections, so half of the last one), but the preparation for the event being so asymmetric, it coming out of the blue, sprung on the whole membership, it being the initiative of the breakers, of their planning (that is, scheming, conspiring, plotting), implemented as a sequence of creating – and sustaining – an atmosphere of impending doom, moving against WBAI within committees, then switching tack by launching the by-laws petition, before within weeks engineering the WBAI coup, back to the West Coast to litigate in California against Pacifica, & now systematically bombarding voters with their fairytales. Wolfowitz & Rumsfeld would be proud of this attempt at full-spectrum domination.
Concerning the listener quantitative data, two obvious comparisons can be made:
➀ how extraordinary is KPFA-listener referendum voting, relative to other stations, compared with typical LSB election voting, again expressed relatively? (This, being not just relative voting but relative voting over time (the relative voting at t2 compared with that at t1), is what’s important in trying to understand the significance of the voting happening now. This is the comparative we need for relative current voting, not the one offered up by the NES at the PNB, namely, station share of listener current membership. No. What’s at stake today is voting, not membership; action, not passivity. The comparison pushed by the NES is besides the point, a secondary phenomenon, a dangerous irrelevance: >85% of listener-members don’t vote!); &
➁ how unusually high is the number of listener referendum votes cast compared with the typical LSB election?
➀ We have to use the pretty graph found in the NES’ final report for the nominal 2018 LSB pseudo-elections (note #4). That’s because, even after four months, she’s failed to produce the 2019 one. (This fact obviously surprises Ms Penaloza herself, given what she said on her own website, 1Nov2019, ‘certifying’ the 2019 results: “[p]lease note the round by round results, raw votes and final [?] voter turnout #s will be posted together with the final report by November 15th, 2019” (added emphases). Rather than squirrelling it away as a footnote, it’s important to say that scare-quotes are needed in denoting her 1Nov2019 statement because she admits she’s unable to distinguish valid ballots from invalid ones: hence both her inability to give “final voter turnout #s”, & her need to entitle that column “Oct 16 Preliminary Numbers (Not Final)” (added emphases). By her choice of phrases she acknowledges that her statement isn’t a certification but a pseudo-certification. Oh. So have all the new LSB delegates legitimately taken their seats? Are some of them there illegitimately?https://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/2019-election-results/)
Note that because the graph doesn’t give a split between paper & online voting, & that on Thursday the NES gave no info on the paper ballots cast (except to say she doesn’t even know how many there are), one has to use referendum online voting as a proxy for total votes. This is particularly unfortunate because listener-member paper voting is much higher in PacificaWorld than in RealWorld, of the order of 20%, with WBAI over twice that – note #5.
The graph shows cumulative voting, as a percentage of that pseudo-election’s electorate, for each of the nine pseudo-elections (there wasn’t a WPFW-Listener one because there were only five verified candidates for the nine seats); voting started 18Jan2019 but the NES only depicted that from 30Jan; the staff elections are on top, the dotted lines:
So, which LSB voting date from a year ago should be used in comparing the referendum info given on Thursday? Assuming this info referred to the day of the PNB meeting, it was less than 24 hours after the halfway point of the voting period (W4Mar is day 16 of the 31, 18Feb-19Mar). So choose this. And the day halfway thru the voting a year ago is 10Feb2019 (day 24 of the 47, 18Jan-5Mar).
And at 10Feb2019, what was the station split for listeners? Inspecting the graph, station cumulative listener voting was KPFT 6.0%, WBAI 6.0%, KPFA 5.8%, KPFK 3.7%; that totals as 21.5 percentage points (pcp); & expressed as percentages, KPFT 27.9% (6 / 21.5), WBAI 27.9%, KPFA 27.0%, KPFK 17.2%.
Thursday’s figures (but ignoring WPFW because there’s no comparative) are, in pcp, KPFA 40, KPFK 20, KPFT 10, WBAI 17; that totals as 87; & as percentages, KPFA 46% (40 / 87), KPFK 23%, KPFT 11%, WBAI 20%.
Was this striking distribution expected? If referendum voting had behaved as the LSB voting 12 months before, one would have expected the numbers given two paragraphs above, namely, KPFA 27%, KPFK 17%, KPFT 28%, WBAI 28%. But that’s not what happened: KPFA overachieved by 70% (46 / 27 = 1.704), KPFK overachieved by 35% (23 / 17 = 1.353), KPFT underachieved by 61% (11 / 28 = 0.393), & WBAI underachieved by 29% (20 / 28 = 0.714). (And I don’t even like baseball.)
This distribution alone required this blogpost.
➁ The first comparative exercise concerned station share. Now we compare the absolute numbers achieved by the stations: how unusually high is the referendum turnout compared with the typical LSB one?
As noted, the latest publicly available listener-member data are at an unspecified date, given in the 1Nov2019 LSB results pseudo-certification, a total of 45 690. Assuming it’s now 45 700, with the NES telling Thursday’s PNB that online listener-member turnout was 11.7%, & the voting station split being KPFA 40%, KPFK 20%, KPFT 10%, WPFW 13%, WBAI 17%, the listener ballots cast come in as a total of ~5 347, the split being KPFA 2 139, KPFK 1 069, KPFT 535, WPFW 695, WBAI 909.
The 1Nov2019 corresponding figures: a total of 5 729, with KPFA 2 059, KPFK 1 457, KPFT 461, WPFW 703, WBAI 1 049.
So, comparing now with then: KPFA +3.9%, KPFK −26.6%, KPFT +16.1%, WPFW −1.1%, WBAI −13.3%, & the total is −6.7%. Bit different from the non-threatening comparison made by Renee, yes?
A surprise here is KPFT. How is it that it has underperformed 61% relative to other stations re the comparison with the Jan-Mar2019 LSB voting, yet is one of only two stations increasing its number of voters, by a very healthy 16%, compared with its own Aug-Oct2019 LSB voting? A different comparative, yes, but KPFT is overperforming in getting out the referendum vote (the KPFT breakers mining their own 87% of habitual abstainers, all 3 105 of them) whilst at the same time it’s dragged down in its comparison with the other stations because the extraordinary surge at KPFA, & the lesser one at KPFK, are snatching pcp from the other stations. That’s why.
Lastly, what do the breakers have to do to win? Where would their votes come from?
As mentioned, Monday the NES updated last Thursday’s listener turnout, up 1.0 pcp to 12.7% (another ~457 votes, >100 a day, so making ~5 804). And inspecting the graph, even when recognising the lower participation rate depicted, there may be in the last 10 days of voting a maximum of 4.5 – 5.5 pcp of listener voters still to come (2 200, say). That would make the turnout 17.2% – 18.2%. Applied to an electorate of 45 700, that’s 7 860 – 8 317 voters; making the winning vote 3 931 – 4 159, so ~4 000.
Can the breakers achieve this? Just considering their base, the last two rounds of LSB voting were KPFA ~2 000 & KPFT ~500. If the breakers can count on 1 200 – 1 500 faithful, is it beyond the bounds of plausibility that the breakers can mine 2 500 – 2 800 abstainers, which is 16% – 18% (1-in-6, say) of the ~15 500 abstainers at those two stations? 1-in-6 is a tall order, don’t you think, more than a bridge too far? But the 10-year-old Barron thought the same.
Crucially, to seize Pacifica, the breakers also have to win the staff referendum. And how many may that be?
The latest publicly available figure (per the 1Nov2019 pseudo-certification) gave 970 staff: KPFA 237, KPFK 285, KPFT 139, WPFW 110, WBAI 199. Staff turnout in the Jan-Mar2019 LSB votings was 47.6% (466 / 978 – note #6), the station range 43% (WPFW) – 53% (KPFA); & in Aug-Oct2019 voting, a turnout of 36.7% (356 / 970), station range of 30% (KPFT) – 44% (KPFA). The latest referendum turnout info is 32.3% (NES, Monday); so, looking at the pretty graph again, if it reached 50%, & there are 970 staff, then 243 staff votes win – a mere six votes more than those available at KPFA during the last LSB voting.
Given this, with Pacifica jobs always on the line, wasn’t it super-convenient that last nite’s PNB Finance Cttee was full of doom? It was the correlate of the Dem party bosses orchestrating the spectre of ‘Firebrand’ Bernie frightening Amerika, crouching down, about to spark the prairie fire. Besides Chief Financial Officer Anita Sims being there, Chair Chris Cory (KPFA, of course, a listener-delegate) usurped the work of the PNB Audit Cttee by wheeling in the auditor, Jorge Diaz.
Jorge Diaz. It had been thought the auditors had fled PacificaWorld, it now being seven long months, at the M19Aug2019 Audit Cttee, since they were last mentioned in public. This was indeed the last time the Cttee met, inexplicably so because Jorge had told them that the FY2018 audit’s, effectively, almost wrapped up: “he [George Walter, NETA senior controller] informed me he should be getting the vast majority of what is still outstanding to us by the end of this week [… and] by at least the end of this month we’ll certainly probably be in a really good position in terms of – and really know where we stand in terms of how getting the deliverables to y’all & getting done” (7:32; full transcription at note #7). So it seems, surprise, surprise, ED Venal Vernile, then ED Lawrence Reyes, then ED Lydia Brazon, didn’t prioritise paying them, even if it took a special pan-Pacifica 24hr fundraiser. Last nite, Jorge says now they’re only owed ~$6 550, so that’s not a prob – which is why he was happy to attend an evening meeting after a hard day in the office (8:25).
Finally, it’s worth remembering that the difficult task of the breakers winning the staff referendum would have been made easier if the WBAI coup had succeeded: it would have not just wiped out one of the five staff constituencies but the one most opposed to breaking up the Pacifica network.
And, yes, voting closes 11.59pm EDT a week Thursday, 19Mar.
This is just the beginning of the current phase. If the breakers don’t win this time, they’ll be back. And they’ll continue pursuing their war of attrition on all sorts of other fronts, as they have already shown. Like a hydra, slice off a head, another grows. They’re not going away any time soon. Welcome to the new normal.
Notes – some longish, but worth a read unless you really have to watch another Weekend at Biden’s vid
#1 Why are there separate member referenda for listeners & staff, rather than a single one? This hasn’t been explained publicly by Pacifica, & no elected representative has raised the absence of this basic courtesy. Nevertheless, the reason why there are two was explained by this blog six months ago, 17Sep2019. A by-law steps in because the proposed new constitution adversely affects, in different respects, both classes of Pacifica members: “such adoption, amendment or repeal also requires approval by the members of a class if such action would materially and adversely affect the rights of that class as to voting or transfer in a manner different than such action affects another class” (Article 17, Section 1(B)(iii), added emphases). The different respects: “[o]ne contest is for listener-members, as what’s proposed adversely affects them more than staff-members, facing the loss of the right to elect three directors per station rather than the staff’s one. The other separate contest is for staff, as they’re adversely affected by the loss of the right itself to become a director (proposed by-laws, Article V, Section 1; page 5).”
#2 Remember, NES Penaloza aligns with the breakers: witness her recommendations in the last final report she issued (undated, but published 18Mar2019 on the NES website), the one for the LSB pseudo-elections this time last year. She advocates (a) dissolution of the Local Station Boards, (b) less frequent elections, (c) a correlate, extending the director term by either x3 or x4, & (d) abolition of paper balloting. Sample quote: “Transform the Governance structure – Have 5 simultaneous elections every 3 or 4 years, electing representatives directly to the Paciﬁca National Board – Replace Local Station Boards with active Community Advisory Boards” (p. 20, emphases removed from title; p. 21 of the PDF).
#3 NES Penaloza’s unfortunate incoherence, splitting her mind whilst trying to produce speech on some split or another, suggested a disturbing Pacifica fact. She had given one split, without saying what it was, one adding up to 98 percentage points (pcp), with KPFK higher than KPFA (32 cf. 29), before promptly scrubbing it. Then she tried another, this time with KPFK at 30 & KPFA at 29, a split adding up to 97. If there’s some truth here, perhaps about relative station listener membership, it’s that compared with the last publicly available membership data (her 1Nov2019 LSB results pseudo-certification), WBAI’s share has dropped 4 pcp, being picked up by KPFA +1, KPFK +1, & KPFT +2, this whilst Pacifica is suffering a continuing downward trend in total listener membership. The other slither of truth may be that KPFA is actually 32%, plausible because it was 31.4% in the 1Nov2019 data – the NES simply repeating KPFA’s 29 from the scrubbed split. Anyway, applying the prudence principle beloved by the accountancy profession, one should recognise that Renee is disorientated, perhaps having caught bidenavirus, BIDVID-20, from ideologically enthusiastic Pacificans.)
Renee’s problems persist, because at the Th5Mar PNB she promised the directors, the members, & the listeners, that she’d post on her website the referendum voting report. Of course, now six days later, it isn’t there. Just like the promised final report for the 2019 LSB pseudo-elections & the certification of the final voting numbers. Waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting . . . https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/19/the-godot-page-waiting-for-good-news/
#4 The two sets of LSB electoral activity in 2019 have to be designated as pseudo-elections, given the complete absence of publicly available evidence that the elector rolls are materially accurate. In Oct2018 the then NES, the outsider Graeme Drew, judged Pacifica’s record-keeping to be so poor he couldn’t validate even one candidate. He found the membership rolls used to generate the elector rolls to be so corrupted they were unusable. He decided “to terminate the 2018 election process” & told the PNB he would make a public announcement the next day. So, of course, he got fired that evening, at an emergency PNB meeting. Since then, only Pacifica insiders have been the NES, & they have failed to publish any contrary evidence, only bare assertions. This creates a reasonable & strong doubt about the legitimacy of the process.So the only rational conclusion, based on the balance of probabilities, is that the two 2019 electoral processes were pseudo-elections.
#5The latest publicly available data on the popularity for paper voting come from the LSB pseudo-elections this time last year (NES final report, p. 17; p. 18 of the PDF). For staff, it was smaller than negligible, 4 ballots across the five stations (466 voted). For listeners, 20% exactly (1 044 / 5 219; remember, no WPFW election). The stations: KPFA 17% (358 / 2 072), KPFK 13% (201 / 1 585), KPFT 11% (70 / 661), & WBAI 46% (415 / 901). Yes, 46% of WBAI listener voters used paper ballots, almost x3 the rate at KPFA.
And for WBAI listener-members it has even risen. Compared with the 2016 LSB election, almost 2½ years before, paper voting went up from ~381 (derived figure) to 415, increasing the paper voting share by a (rounded) 1 pcp – same report, pp. 17 & 19. So if this much truncated referendum process makes it harder to vote with paper rather than online, it’s perhaps unintended but still voter suppression . . . Exacerbating this is that tomorrow, Th12Mar, is the last day to request a paper ballot from the NES – and the convenient cut-off time is mid-afternoon on the East Coast, 3pm. Nice. After that, online voting only. So, for the last week of voting, Pacifica’s rush, quite a few listener-members will be faced with having to break the habit of a lifetime & vote online – or not vote at all.
Please note that the NES’ final report gives station online & paper voting as a percentage of the particular electorate, be it listener-members or staff, so not as a percentage of those who voted – sound familiar? This missed the opportunity of giving publicity to the fact that within PacificaWorld, effectively half of station voting can be by paper – see pp. 17 & 19.
Lastly, the NES did her best last Thursday to explain to the directors, & the listeners of the proceedings, why she has no info on the paper ballots cast (51:50). Why the custodians of these ballots can’t give the running total (each day) to the NES is unfathomable – and, yes, no director thought to ask her. https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb200305/pnb200305a.mp3
#7 Jorge Diaz (auditor, Rogers & Co, M19Aug2019): “We’re making good headway with the [FY2018] audit. Um, there are still a few things that we’re waiting on […] I spoke with [George Walter, NETA senior controller] today – we have a status call every Monday – and, urgh, he informed me he should be getting the vast majority of what is still outstanding to us by the end of this week [F23Aug2019]. At that time it will probably take us, you know, um, three to five business days [so by F30Aug] to urgh, urgh, analyse & look at what’s going on, &, um, provide any follow-up questions or items of that nature, so, you know […] I think, um, you know, argh, by at least the end of this month we’ll certainly, probably, be in a really good position in terms of – and really know where we stand in terms of how getting the deliverables to y’all & getting done” (7:59 – 8:58, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/audit/190819/audit190819a.mp3). So, Jorge presenting the draft auditor’s report to the PNB Audit Cttee & the PNB, within a month, yes, mid Sep? That’s Sep2019, not Sep2020.
Here are a few notes on the KPFA property tax debt, ~$487k. To be exact, it’s $486 750.86. It means an online public auction of the Pacifica building in Berkeley, at 1929 MLK Jr. Way, has been ordered for 20-23Mar – a building, one should add, that KPFA enjoys rent-free, so effectively receiving a subsidy, year after year, from the other four stations. Some thanks.
1) Almost half a million $$$? But aren’t charities exempt from this tax? Indeed: if a non-profit organisation is a registered charity, say, & the property in question is solely used for charitable purposes, then no tax is due, it’s exempt – but only if the organisation jumps thru the hoops set up by the taxwoman. Hoops such as annually applying for the exemption. Hoops such as providing the required evidences. OK, so administrative ABC, right? – or so one would think.
KPFA has to deal with the Alameda Co. taxwoman. As expected, the exemption’s on their website. It’s called the Welfare Exemption (it’s been around since 1944), & to apply the organisation needs an Organizational Clearance Certificate. The relevant introductory webpage even has this coaxing prompt, hypertexted: “Welfare Exemption for Non-Profit Organizations”. https://www.acgov.org/assessor/decreasetax/exemptions/other-exemption.htm
ABC. The basics. Basic admin. The sort of thing the average 14-year-old can do. If Pacifica had a Young Pioneers wing, they could have been charged with the responsibility. After all, kids have been known to run even more complicated things: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyermekvas%C3%BAt.
2) As of 29Jan this year, the last payment made to Alameda for 1929 MLK was 3Apr2013 – almost seven years ago. (Primary documents are linked at https://pacificainexile.org/.) The itemised bill has property tax due, to 30June2020, of ~$373k. But the debt is ~$487k? Yes: penalties, interest, & fees is the difference, ~$114k. $114 000. Oh.
3) Is KPFA the only part of Pacifica paying – or not paying – property tax, when, on its face, there should always be an exemption? No. Consider, arbitrarily, the period since 1Oct2009, the start of Pacifica’s financial year 2010, FY2010. There are seven sets of audited figures, plus the financial statements in the FY2017 auditor’s report, statements which are not audited because the auditor, Rogers & Company, said they lacked sufficient evidence in order to express an opinion on the statements’ material accuracy. In the jargon, The Black Spot is a ‘disclaimer of opinion’. (As repeated Pacifica mtg. audios reveal, no delegate, even no director, seems to appreciate that the FY2017 statements, so all the figures in them, are effectively worthless. However, for prospective donors & lenders, & the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, they are not worthless but valuable: they are a bigger red flag than the one gracing Tiananmen Square, alerting anyone reading the auditor’s report that Pacifica is out of control, lacking even the basic financial controls.) https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/19/fy2017-auditor-refuses-to-declare-that-the-statements-are-materially-accurate/
For these eight years, FY2010 thru FY2017, total charge for property tax = $502 187. Yes, talk again of half a million. Almost all of it was for KPFA: 91.9%, $461 334. (The others: KPFK, $23 624; KPFT, $15 126; & ‘National Division’, the auditor’s term, $2 103.)
Pacifica owns properties housing KPFA, KPFK, & KPFT. Not every station has been charged property tax each & every year. The annual charge for each station, & National Division, starting with FY2010, are as follows. KPFA: $13 854, 0, 14 208, 13 036, 9 929, 14 354, 337 826 (sic), 58 127 (unaudited) … KPFK: $0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 9 762, 9 202, 4 660 (unaudited) … KPFT: $29 453, 14 354, 0, 0, refund of 28 686, 5 (sic), 0, 0 (unaudited) … National Division: all zero bar $2 103 (FY2014). There’s a lot of explaining to be done here. Not least the KPFA FY2016 charge of ~$338k. Since the statements include National Division in their analysis, this figure can’t have anything to do with the Berkeley ‘Nakapon’ building, 1921-1925 MLK, that housed the national office. (Coincidently, that auditor’s report, by Regalia, is dated 31May2018, & it addressed a post-balance sheet event, the sale of that property. Please note, if the ~$338k charge were to largely refer to previous years, perhaps even to the sold property, then that would have been disclosed as an adjustment to the opening balances, with an explanatory note, not as a FY2016 expense.)
4) Then there’s the Foundation for the Jewish Community, operating as FJC. Pacifica have to pay them $3.265m by 31Mar next year. A condition of the loan is paying all taxes when they fall due. A condition of the loan is getting FJC’s permission before any asset is sold. A condition of the loan is adhering to the conditions. FJC also have the legal right to sell on the loan, their asset, whenever it suits them. And this they have done in recent years, even of a loan comparable in size to Pacifica’s. And they don’t wait for a borrower to default; no, they sell it on when the loan is “potentially impaired”, as disclosed in any of their auditor’s reports. And we know who they sell it to: the Marty & Dorothy Silverman Foundation. Is this latest debacle the straw that finally broke the camel’s back? https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/20/has-fjc-sold-the-3-265m-loan-is-the-owner-the-marty-and-dorothy-silverman-foundation/ & https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/what-fjc-has-made-pacifica-do/ (this also has a link to the root contract, the ‘loan agreement’, signed 2Apr2018 by Pacifica ED Tom Livingston & FJC President Lorin Silverman)
If the Pacifica building in Berkeley is indeed sold, it better go for in excess of $1.5m because FJC will want their $1m or so. That’s because it’s collateralised against the loan, which was made on a 3:1 value-to-loan basis. If Pacifica loses an asset, FJC gets its corresponding cash back immediately. “Cash back, Ma’am?”, “Why, I’ll have a million plus, thank you, young lady”, “Have a nice day, y’all!”
5) Money & debt aside, what about the politics of all this? Two democratic virtues are at stake: transparency & accountability.
A written public explanation must be provided by ED Lydia Brazon.
And who was responsible for this debacle? The KPFA GM, dear Quincy? The KPFA business manager, Maria Negret, who has exalted the financial performance of the station at every LSB mtg. she has graced? The KPFA treasurer, Sharon Adams? The KPFA Finance Cttee? What about the PNB as a whole, since 1Jan2014, say? Then there’s the current chair of the PNB Finance Cttee, Chris Cory, also on the KPFA LSB? The PNB Finance Cttee since 1Jan2014? The PNB Audit Cttee? And all the ED’s of the last six years? Indeed, whilst Breaker Bill Crosier was ED for almost a year, 2017-8, he supervised, by a continual act of omission, an increase in this property tax debt, including penalties, interest, & fees.
And, last but not least, what about Pacifica’s bookkeeper, accountant, & provider of the Chief Financial Officer since Sep2018, NETA, the expensive National Educational Telecommunications Association? How long did it take NETA in its early precautionary overview of Pacifica’s assets (& their attendant liabilities) & Pacifica’s aged creditors, to identify KPFA’s property tax debt, one accumulating since 2013??? A week? Two weeks? A month? When did NETA notify Pacifica’s ED of the seriousness of this debt? . . . this debt which, in the absence of contrary info, is an existential threat to KPFA?
So, besides the members & listeners, who will pay for this debacle? In neglecting the oft-cited fiduciary responsibility, who will pay the price? Is there evidence that GM Quincy McCoy continually disclosed & appealed to successive ED’s that KPFA was both living beyond its means & jeopardising a key asset of the Foundation? Is there? Or, as GM, does he deserve to pay the ultimate Pacifica price?
This Wednesday, 16Oct, a group was again outside the Pacifica building in Berkeley, protesting the breakers’ coup against WBAI & Pacifica. (Vid is 15:58.)
One speaker is Tom Voorhees, a Pacifica director, & KPFA listeners-delegate (1:36). The breakers are trying to oust him as a director, replace him by a breaker, turning the PNB back into a 11-11 paralysis. Two weeks or so after the launch of their petition for a new Pacifica constitution, the breakers on Th26Sep called a KPFA delegates assembly to oust Mr Voorhees. This takes place Sa26Oct. It’s crucial that he’s supported both within the meeting & outside. https://kpftx.org/pacalendar/cal_show1.php?eventdate=20191026
With the coup at WBAI by the breakers, a new phrase entered the lexicon of PacificaWorld. Everyone wondered what it was, where it came from. It may surprise people, but Pacifica Across America, both the term & the idea, was mentioned seven weeks before, by KPFA station manager, Quincy McCoy. The occasion was the Sa17Aug2019 KPFA Local Station Board. In response to what proved to be a serendipitous question, McCoy referred to Pacifica Across America in connection with Interim Executive Wrecker John Vernile & SiriusXM:
[…] a series of programs that we want to put together called, er, I think – the working title is Pacifica Across America, & that would be a list of the best shows of Pacifica that would run on, on Sirius & also on the Pacifica website”
Audio feed? There is no “Pacifica website”. But there is a WBAI website. It’s now a single webpage, emblazoned with Pacifica Across America. Beneath it is an audio button of the 24-hour alienation organised by the PAA “Consulting Programmer”. A certain Quincy McCoy. (And, of course, it’s not being pumped out on https://pacifica.org/.)
Seven weeks. And how long had IEW Vernile been in the job? 17 days, having started 1Aug. Now why would the IEW prioritise starting this Pacifica Across America project in his first two weeks? Before visiting the stations? Without having raised this idea in a publicly recorded Pacifica meeting? Why?
The clue lies in the months before. In the planning of how to oust ED Maxie Jackson:
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.)
Four weeks later, Vernile appeared out of the blue. Or so it seemed.
And the personnel of the Personnel Cttee? Chair Jan Goodman (KPFK listeners-delegate), Sabrina Jacobs (KPFA staff-delegate), Donnie Grumpf (KPFA listeners-delegate), Adrienne LaViolette (KPFT listeners-delegate), Robin Collier (affiliates) . . . more than a majority – and all breakers.
It seems IEW Vernile came into the job already knowing what he was going to do.
In response to that post, Kim Kaufman noted, “Kathy Davis was on the PNB when Summer asked for a vote of the PNB to lay off/fire a majority of the WBAI staff in 2012 or 2013. Kathy voted for it, even though she knew she would lose her job. She voted for what’s best for Pacifica.” Ms Rosenberg replied, “Absolutely. No staff representative has ever been excluded from a vote regarding layoffs for expense-cutting in the history of Pacifica democratic governance. Until now” (my emphases).
My own comment was posted at that FB group, with this as the final sentence of the intro:
Tracy, why do you say “Board directors representing WBAI’s 8,000 voting members prevented from voting” (my emphasis)? Who, making what decision, has done this? When was this decision made? How can such a decision be made by other than a legally constituted meeting of the PNB, at which those alleged to have a conflict of interest are (1) able to hear the reasoning against them, before (2) being given time to get advice (legal & otherwise), & then (3) having the opportunity to present at a PNB meeting an evidenced counter-argument?
Let me note, because no-one mentioned it in this FB group, that since the Th10Oct PNB public & private sessions there have been two more private sessions: 8.30pm (all ET), F11Oct, “Purpose: discuss confidential personnel, legal, and contractual matters”, “Continuation of Oct. 10 Executive Session”, called by Bill Crosier, 11.07pm, Th10Oct; & 8.30pm, Sa12Oct, “Purpose: To discuss confidential personnel,legal,and contractual matters [original, rushed typing]”, called by Crosier, 11.24pm, F11Oct. These notices only appeared on the grid calendar, not on the linear list that is the homepage of Pacifica Calendar & Meeting Archive, https://kpftx.org/.
On its face, there are two themes in this by-law that make it inapplicable here:
it only applies when “financial or business interests” are involved; &
it only applies to “proposed contract or transaction”, so prospective action by Pacifica, not retrospective justifications of unauthorised actions by IEW Vernile, the Interim Executive Wrecker.
I’ll go thru the by-law in its sequence.
By-law 13(2) speaks of a conflict of interest as involving “financial or business interests”. Greene gives no evidence that this applies to directors Steinberg & Sagurton. Concerning staff director Rhodes, he has as much of a monetary interest as any of the other paid staff directors, as the claimed benefit of shuttering WBAI is to monetarily help the other stations.
By-law 13(3) starts by saying, “An Interested Person must disclose in writing all material facts related to an actual or potential Conflict of Interest to the Board and/or the members of a committee considering a proposed contract or transaction to which the Conflict of Interest relates” (my emphasis). Have the three accused submitted anything in writing?
But the whole of by-law 13 only refers to prospective action by Pacifica, “proposed contract or transaction”, not retrospective action, such as Vernile’s wrecking on Monday.
13(3) then speaks of “after the Interested Person responds to any questions that the Board may have regarding the Conflict of Interest, the Board shall discuss the matter, outside the Interested Party’s presence, and vote on the contract or transaction in question” (my emphases): so this occurs during a PNB meeting, not an exchange of emails – and anyway, the possible conflict of interest refers to prospective action, not retrospective.
Furthermore, 13(3) says, “In order to approve the contract or transaction, the Board must in good faith after reasonable investigation make the following determinations [blah, blah]” (my emphases): no evidence has ever been presented that shuttering WBAI was merely one option amongst a number of considered, thought through, &, furthermore, costed options; indeed, there is no evidence that the PNB has ever directed the IEW & ICFO to document such options, & no evidence that the PNB has ever discussed such options.
13(4) starts this way: “If the Board or committee believes that an Interested Person has failed to disclose an actual or potential Conflict of Interest, it shall inform the Interested Person of the basis for such belief and afford the Interested Person an opportunity to explain the alleged failure to disclose” (my emphases). Greene’s letter to PNB Vice-Chair Sabrina Jacobs, KPFA-staff delegate, is dated F11Oct. So how long was this opportunity, the one given to the three accused? Five hours? Five minutes?
The next & final paragraph, indeed, the last of this by-law: “If, after hearing the response of the Interested Person and making any further investigation, the Board reasonably believes is warranted in the circumstances, the Board determines that the Interested Person has in fact failed to disclose an actual or potential Conflict of Interest, it shall take that action it, in its sole discretion, believes to be appropriate in light of the circumstances.” Again, all this done in five minutes?