. . . the federal judge for the M21Oct WBAI v. Pacifica hearing, someone with form: in 2012 he ruled as lawful this advert on buses of NY’s MTA . . .
The judge at today’s hearing is Paul Adam Engelmayer. On 20July2012 he ruled against the NY Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA), after they had refused to carry on their buses an ad, shown above, that they saw violated their no-demeaning policy.
No prob for Paul, because the MTA’s no-demeaning policy was discriminatory, allowing the demeaning of those people not specifically denoted by the policy, &, anyway, this was a matter of core political speech, protected under the First Amendment.
So there you are. The group bringing the case got permission to carry out their plan, putting the ad on over 300 buses for four weeks. Free speech in action. A Pacifica value, yes?
AFDI is probably better known as SIOA, Stop Islamization of America. Again, a cutting-edge topic – as witnessed by urgent preemptory legislation carried in various state chambers west of the Appalachians. Keeping the citizenry safe.
SIOA came to prominence in 2010 when it protested a Muslim group planning to build a cultural & inter-faith centre a few blocks from the Twin Towers site. It gave plenty of free publicity to the two creators of SIOA, Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer.
But AFDI/SIOA do bring people together, perhaps unique in earning the condemnation of both the Southern Poverty Law Center & the Anti-Defamation League. No easy feat. But for judge Paul, the law’s the law.
We’ll see how Paul interprets the law today, be it in favour of the defenders of WBAI, or in favour of dictatorial wrecking by the Interim Executive Wrecker.
As Alex says, it augments his remarks made Tu15Oct on the steps of NY City Hall. Given the political points he makes, & his assessment that Vernile & McCoy are more than they might seem, it warrants being a separate post on this blog.
However, what I said on Tuesday still stands: we need, & deserve, an explanation of why a temporary Chair was elected in secret. Not only does this violate the transparency principle of democratic proceedings, it’s also contrary to the Communications Act of 1934 – §396(k)(4); page 216 of the PDF. https://transition.fcc.gov/Reports/1934new.pdf
Even when Pacificans are victims of egregious secret manoeuvring, they themselvesseem incapable of breaking with the unthinking obdurate & deep secrecy culture permeating the organisation. Yet, as passed down from the fathers to Primo Levi, if not now, when? The politics of ‘not in front of the children’ really has to end.
And this opens out into a much wider vista. It’s crucial that the new PNB majority speaks publicly – to members, staff, listeners, interested vendors, creditors, regulators, & potential donors & grantors. In a struggle, it’s essential to communicate. And the PNB minority seems to have control of Pacifica’s website & meetings archive. The new PNB majority must start a website or blog, not only posting their statements & reliable info, but also opening a discussion forum. Just in terms of disseminating the most basic info, it was absurd that the PNB tumult starting Th10Oct wasn’t made public by the PNB solidarians but by Tracy Rosenberg, in her Pacifica in Exile newsletter, released Su13Oct after the PNB sessions that day. That is the responsibility of protagonists, no-one else.https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/10/14/can-this-be-true-qm-has-pnb-reversed-wrecker-vernile-s-wrecking-qm-will-he-resign-in-disgust-qm/
In the meantime, Mr Steinberg . . .
I would have said something about the politics of the coup. But I was under pressure to finish my remarks quickly. The lineup at the Press Conference gave too much time to people who were talking in general about WBAI and not about the coup. We did not hear nearly enough from [the Chair of the WBAI Local Station Board], Carolyn McIntyre, or the WBAI GM, Berthold Reimers, or the WBAI Program Director, Linda Perry.
It is now obvious that John Vernile was selected for this job to do a corporate style takeover of WBAI and to drown up whatever radical voices remain on WBAI and afterwards the rest of the network. My guess is that there is big money and powerful people behind Vernile and Quincy McCoy [my emphases]. They are attempting a ‘cleansing’ operation to remove any dissident voices to the left of the Democratic Party establishment from having any say on the politics and culture of this country. It’s of a piece with Hillary Clinton’s attempt to demonize Democratic Party presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, who is the only consistently anti-imperialist candidate running as a Democrat.
Alex Steinberg WBAI Director to the Pacifica National Board [Sa19Oct2019]
Th10Oct, IEW Vernile, using the name of Pacifica Foundation Inc., got the NY court to remove almost all the temporary restraining order against him
Below is a note by Tom Hillgardner. The WBAI peeps got a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the evening of the coup, M7Oct, to both reverse the firings & allow restoration of local programming. IEW Vernile, in the name of Pacifica Foundation Inc., then used members’ subscriptions & listeners’ donations to hire a Wall Street legal firm – literally, at #100, no less, on the 20th floor. https://www.foster.com/pp/bio-kara-steger.pdf?11341(doubt if she has a corner office, just yet)
But on Th10Oct the court watered down this TRO, merely prohibiting staff firings (document #26, page 344 – yes, the photocopying alone is costing members & listeners a fortune).
There was no court proceeding today [F18Oct]. The hearing on the TRO [temporary restraining order] that originally was scheduled to be heard in state court on 10/18 was cancelled by operation of law when defendant Pacifica removed the case to federal court. The federal judge then continued that TRO, as modified by the Appellate Division, until October 21 when the court has scheduled the initial court conference, the hearing of Pacifica’s motion to preliminarily enjoin the effectiveness of motions passed by a majority of directors at a 10/13 board meeting, and the hearing of the plaintiff’s motion to remand this action back to NYS Supreme Court. This last item will have priority as it involves the question of whether the federal court has jurisdiction, which I believe the court will rule that it does not [emphases added]. Such a ruling would vacate the federal court TRO temporarily restraining the effectiveness of the motions passed by a majority of directors at the October 13 meeting of the Pacifica Board and would require withdrawal by Pacifica attorneys from representing Pacifica in that action.
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
. . . screenshot of the homepage, taken the day of the coup, M7Oct2019 – the sole webpage WBAI has, showing the audio button of the relay, https://www.wbai.org/ . . .
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 broadcaster:
[…] 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 audio “Pacifica website”. But WBAI has a 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.
Mr Martin appended to his report WBAI’s FY2020 cashflow projection, with FY2018 & 2019 comparatives (year-end is 30Sep). This was taken from ICFO Tamra Swiderski’s undated cashflow report presented to the Th19Sep private PNB meeting. (Why private you may rightly ask – but that’s the default obdurate & deep secrecy culture permeating almost everyone occupying a seat on a Pacifica committee.) That report has individual FY2020 cashflows, with the two comparatives, for each of the five stations, the Radio Archives & National Office, & then an aggregation of the seven (consolidation, in the jargon).
Cashflow statements must be interpreted carefully, not least because they ignore both expenses that have accrued (so not yet billed) & revenues that have been deferred (again, not yet billed). Given Pacifica’s activities, especially how revenues are generated, cashflow statements materially underestimate its accrued financial position, & therefore whether creditors are smiling or frowning, & how intensely.
Please note that given the ICFO’s assumptions, KPFA’s cumulative cashflow deficit for the three years to 30Sep2020 is $1 091 306, more than 2½ times that of WBAI’s. Lest anyone think this is just about the past, KPFA’s deficit for the year just startedisprojected to be $658 207. They don’t tell you those three facts in quite a few Pacifica forums. Such is the work of ideology, here that of California station chauvinism, exhibited as separatism, not solidarity.
. . . veridically, the Nielsen rating on this? . . .
Apologies for delay in posting this unbelievable news from Tracy Rosenberg: I wrongly assumed the weekend would witness more onslaught. But why don’t the Pacifica solidarians communicate directly with those interested in Pacifica? What’s the problem in being frank, removing uncertainty as to what’s happening?
How was the PNB’s 11-11 paralysis broken? It seems one person switched, Ron Pinchback (WPFW staff-delegate). The only publicly available authoritative & sourced evidence I have found on this question is the audio of the Su13Oct PNB public session. It only lasted 2:46 because quorum wasn’t made, & consisted in roll-call & a few telling remarks. The acting Chair was Alex Steinberg (WBAI listeners-delegate); roll was taken by Grace Aaron (KPFK listeners-delegate), conventionally a job of the PNB Secretary. Only 11 directors were present, but included the prize, Mr Pinchback. https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb191013/pnb191013a.mp3
Oddly, Tom Voorhees (KPFA listeners-delegate), a Pacifica solidarian, wasn’t. The session ended saying (2:29) they were going back into private session again. This suggests that there was no intention of having public proceedings, it merely being a useful way to let the public know (1) important things were happening in private, not least because (2) Mr P had switched sides, & so (3) Mr Voorhees was on the evening’s call but held in reserve.
There’s strange language in what is said to be the passed motion: “3) That all actions and plans for WBAI and our other stations be provided by an iED to the full PNB for review and approval, prior to their execution” (my emphases). Not ‘the’. There’s no mention of IEW Vernile having been fired, so is this imminent?
In any case, music corporate careerist IEW Vernile isn’t the sort of guy to hang around when lil peeps rebut him, is he?
Ms Rosenberg put the below report in her newsletter, & then on her blog, Pacifica in Exile: https://pacificainexile.org/archives/2781. For your convenience, each of her webpages has a newsletter subscription application box.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sunday October 13, 2019
Majority of Pacifica Board Votes to Restore WBAI
Berkeley – On the evening of Sunday October 13th, the majority of the Pacifica Board of Directors voted to restore WBAI-FM to local content and staffing and undo the heist that occurred on October 7th. This vote also occurred on Saturday, October 12th, but on that day the perpetrators decided to “not count” the votes of five members of the national board from three different signal areas and then muted their telephone lines so they could not participate in the board proceedings.
The twelve directors who met on Sunday night, who represent an absolute majority of the Pacifica National Board and include at least one director from each of the five signal areas, also did the following:
1. Removed the vice chair of the board from the vice chair position [Sabrina Jacobs, KPFA-Staff delegate]
2. Removed the secretary of the board from the secretary position [Bill Crosier, KPFT-Listeners delegate]
3. Instructed law firm Foster Garvey to withdraw from all litigation on behalf of Pacifica
All 12 board members, who represent a quorum of the nonprofit’s board of directors formally waived notice requirements for the special meeting and convened on a conference line that did not permit the involuntary muting of participants.
The perpetrators of the unauthorized shutdown failed to show up for the Sunday night meeting after only mustering nine votes in their Saturday night attempt to retroactively authorize their actions.
Here is the motion that restored community radio to New York:
MOTION to Restore WBAI – from Alex Steinberg, James Sagurton, Shawn Rhodes, Tom Voorhees, Grace Aaron and Lawrence Reyes
Due to the severe financial stress being placed on Pacifica because of loss of revenue from the interruption of the WBAI fall fund drive on the one hand, and the unusual severance, legal, and administrative costs incurred by the closing of the WBAI studios and operations on the other, be it resolved:
1) That WBAI be immediately restored to its fully functional state as it was prior to Oct. 5, 2019;
2) That all funds, equipment, files, computer access, the ENDEC required for emergency broadcasting by the FCC, studio to transmitter link, website and email access, bank accounts and credit card access, and any other actions or materials needed to restore WBAI to its previous condition be restored or returned, as the case may be, immediately.
3) That all actions and plans for WBAI and our other stations be provided by an iED to the full PNB for review and approval, prior to their execution;
4) That financial reports be submitted to the full PNB by the iCFO as soon as possible after the relevant period close. The iCFO should devise a set of reports that includes monthly P&L statements, quarterly balance sheets and cash flow, cash flow projections by quarter if not by month, plus any additional analytical reports that the PNB and management would find helpful for planning purposes; and
5) That a plan be drawn up for reducing expenses by the PNB with the participation of the iCFO and presented to the PNB in writing before the next regular PNB meeting (scheduled for November 7, 2019).
WBAI is expected to return to local control after the federal holiday on Tuesday October 15, 2019.
The board minority continues to insist the meeting was illegal and their takeover of WBAI was sanctioned, but they have never on a single occasion been able to demonstrate authorization of their actions by a majority of the board of the Pacifica Foundation .
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?