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.
Pacifica listeners, unbeknownst to them, have been funding for weeks a coup, paying the wages of authoritarians, paying for security guards, paying for a secret plan, an action that is the very antithesis of what Pacifica stands for.
Bulldozering through the break up of Pacifica . . . “peaceful, informed dialogue” . . . the hypocrisy of dictators.
The rational response to this nonsense by the 11 anti-breaker directors on the Pacifica National Board:
• today, the 11 anti-breaker directors on the Pacifica National Board must issue an open letter condemning the unauthorised move by Vernile & his associates, such as the station manager of KPFA in the Bay Area, Quincy McCoy; &
• declare that all those involved will be fired for acting beyond their powers, not least in using members’ subscriptions & listeners’ donations to defy all that Pacifica stands for.
The rational response to this nonsense by the anti-breaker delegates on the three Local Station Boards that have their monthly meeting tomorrow, WBAI in New York, WPFW in DC, KPFT in Houston:
• the anti-breaker delegates must move a motion in support of the letter of the anti-breaker directors;
[This is a comment, sent in four parts, to Ken Mills’ blog, Spark News, on Th1Aug, published the next day. It remarked upon his F26July post, ‘What its like to work for Grace Aaron, Chair of the Pacifica National Board’ (yes, there’s a sic in there)http://acrnewsfeed.blogspot.com/2019/07/what-its-like-to-work-for-grace-aaron.html. I’d made a few comments there recently, & I was waiting for others to join in. A few did. As I had three points to make, I decided to send it to Mr Mills. The post here carries a few alterations, importantly correcting the declaration date of the nominal 2018 pseudo-election results: it happened M18Mar2019. For convenience, at the end of the piece, is a list, with links, of Mr Mills’ three posts on the Maxie Jackson disaster.]
Unfortunately there was little discussion here, so I don’t think I’ll be hogging things if I make three points: the Drew Precedent; choosing not a rational course, but administrative measures; & fermenting instability.
1) The Drew Precedent The end of Maxie Jackson’s first month delivered a stark warning of what he had let himself in for. He witnessed a considered, evidenced judgment, by an experienced & knowledgeable professional, being trampled into the dust by the Pacifica National Board (PNB). Why? It was simply politically inconvenient.
Pacifica were due for local station board elections (LSB’s) in late 2018, so iED Tom Livingston had hired Drew North Consulting to act as the National Elections Supervisor (NES). A company. Professional. “Our election teams are led by Graeme Drew, Certified Electoral Officer[,] whose experience includes general elections, by-elections, special elections, and membership ratification processes involving referendum votes to adopt Custom Election Codes, Land Codes, De-Annexation Agreements, Impact Benefit Agreements, and Constitutional Frameworks.” For Pacifica, this was a high-risk choice. http://www.drewnorth.com/ (‘Elections’ tab)
Sure enough, it soon ended in tears.
Mr Drew & his team started work, in the Pacifica National Office & the five stations. They soon found what the reality was, & it halted them in their tracks: on M29Oct, he found himself with no alternative but to terminate the election. Why?
The 10 elector rolls, listener & staff for each of the five stations, are principally derived from the c. 46k membership records – and these had proved inadequate. (Station staff rolls are largely derived from employment records.) The membership records weren’t materially accurate: lapsed members included; current members excluded; out-of-date contact details; & inadequate supporting evidence, of donations made, & of volunteer timesheets. Through a lack of maintenance, the records had become corrupted. The membership list was, in a word, corrupt. Damningly, this meant that the eligibility of not one candidate could be verified: “I am unable to reliably verify any of the applicants for candidacy due to the poor quality of elector lists” (his final, leaked, report to the PNB, Tu30Oct, page 2, my emphasis). He also determined that there was no prospect of this being remedied any time soon – as I’m sure we can all imagine. http://www.mediafire.com/file/s8eu60d26b3ame9/Pacifica_2018_NES_Final_Report.pdf/file
The most basic building block was absent. The process had self-destructed. Logically, he terminated the election process. After all, if a NES is empowered to declare a certification of the election results, just as logically they are empowered to declare a self-destruction of the election process. And this he was about to do.
He told the PNB in his Tu30Oct report that, “I plan to announce the end of the 2018 election on Wednesday, October 31, 2018” (p. 3). PNB Chair Nancy Sorden (WPFW, in DC) called an emergency private PNB meeting for that evening. The PNB majority chose to ignore the considered, evidenced judgment of the elections professional: they wanted voting to happen – any voting.
For the defenders of the Pacifica secrecy culture, trying to end something, that’s one thing; telling the public, quite another.
That meeting instructed Maxie to hire a new NES. The next day Mr Drew resigned. A pseudo-election took place, results declared 18Mar2019. Currently underway is another pseudo-election, for the other half of the seats of the five LSB’s. Sham elections because no evidence has ever been publicly presented showing that the membership list, & the derived electoral rolls, are no longer corrupt. The PNB majority feel they don’t have to reassure anyone, least of all the members.
So, unbeknown at the time, the Drew treatment set a precedent for Maxie. He had seen, in his first month, how professional judgment gets the Pacifica treatment. But he wasn’t cowered. He consistently defended professional standards. And so, over the subsequent months, hearing the wrong news, the core of the PNB majority planned, then engineered, the ousting of ED Maxie Jackson. If Pacifica is really good at one thing, this is it.
2) Choosing not a rational course, but administrative measures The Aaron Machine spent a lot of time & effort ousting Maxie. People working unpaid. Giving up their spring & summer evenings. Plus all those Skype preparation calls. Week after week . . . after week. Committed. Motivated. Determined. True dedication.
The proximate context is captured well by Ken’s audio compilation above, of excerpts from the exchange between Maxie & Grace, at the Tu19Mar2019 PNB Programming Cttee. Probably not a defining moment, but illustrative. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw4asLVnet4
So what did they do?
Within a month, the wheels were in motion, ready to grind. The five-person PNB Personnel Cttee hadn’t met in Feb & Mar. But it was awoken from its slumber. And put to work. Starting Tu16Apr, it met each & every week, for 12 weeks. The last five meetings, from M3June, were all in private. M1July everything was ready, agreeing its ED evaluation report for the PNB. The next evening, the PNB ousted Maxie. Friday, he left his job. Sorted.
If Pacifica’s good at anything, this is it. (Yes, it bears repeating. Pacifica rarely gets complimented these days. Have a heart.)
[I should have included this in the original comment, now added here, F2Aug: Note, whilst doing the important business, nine FCC violations were committed: a written explanation to the public hadn’t been given as to why nine deliberative sessions had been private (this had only been done for those on 3June & 1July). Law requires that this occur “within a reasonable period of time”; the CPB’s own requirement is “within 10 days after each closed meeting”. Too late to be remedied, then. Par for the course, really. (Communications Act of 1934, §396(k)(4); page 216 https://transition.fcc.gov/Reports/1934new.pdf, & https://www.cpb.org/stations/certification/closed-meetings)]
Much politics is not so much conflict resolution as it is conflict pacification. Suppressing the unacceptable. The Pacifica way is not evidence, but belief. Not open discussion, but secret manoeuvre. Not persuasion, but brute force. Not rational argument, but administrative practice.
This is the Pacifica set-up. And the final element used in deciding the fate of this radio professional, a technician, knowledgeable & experienced, is a bedrock of Pacifica governance, the silent hands, the cttee members who say nothing, & prevent someone else occupying their seat, but who, crucially, vote with The Dear Leader. Pyongyang has captured Pacifica. One may as well call it the Pyongyang Foundation, Inc.
All this was too much for a woman of honour, Maskeelah Washington (WPFW). She had protested, in the public sessions, about the lengths being gone to by ‘the evaluation’. She resigned from the Personnel Cttee, & also as a director of Pacifica. Her last public attendance as a director was at the Th27June PNB, as it was for Maxie. Neither appeared at the next public PNB meeting, Th11July. As is normal in a secret society, Maskeelah’s resignations have not been announced publicly by Pacifica, not in writing, not orally. This means Maskeelah has never been thanked publicly for her service to the members & listeners. Her name was simply removed, without explanation, from lists. Name . . . delete. People just disappear in PacificaWorld.
Given this, is there any surprise that a blog like PacificaWatch, rooted in evidence, was started the evening Maxie’s ousting was announced by Grace, at the Th18July PNB? https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/
3) Fermenting instability The email to the PNB from the KPFK station manager, Anyel Zuberi Fields, that Ken kindly published, rightly focused on the further creation of instability. That has been exacerbated by two appointments, announced on M22 & M29July: John Vernile as Pacifica’s iED, & Jack Valinski as iGM of KPFT in Houston. 2 (JV), with the hyperbolic intent of (JV)².
Vernile has been a corporate careerist, in music, with Sony & EMI: Pacifica has presented no evidence that he’s ever headed a failed & failing organisation, let alone a radio network, nor that he’s succeeded in ever stabilising one. I say that, rather than turning one around, because he’s on a six-month contract – according to Jan Goodman, still Chair of the PNB Personnel Cttee, the one that delivered Maxie to the slab (Su21July KPFK LSB, 3:40, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/kpfk/190721/kpfk190721b.mp3).
As I said in another comment, the swiftness of his appointment shows that he’d already been lined up. And, politically, he would have been carefully chosen: Grace, having waited for over a decade to have the chance to become executive director, won’t be dislodged that easily. In fact, there’s every chance she pushed through Vernile’s temporary appointment because he’s happy to be a silent partner, relying on her knowledge of Pacifica, & she’ll be more than happy to do the work, poking her nose into each & every station. She’ll rope in her confidants, as subordinates, functioning as a collective shadow ED, call it Pacifica’s de facto executive cttee – pushing the PNB further away from where the decisions are actually made. In fact, surprise, surprise, when they can’t find a permanent ED, maybe Vernile extends, or Grace becomes iED again. Either way, there’s going to be no regime change any time soon. Just like with the son of the real Dear Leader.
But stability at the top won’t trickle down, because performance is not determined by agreement amongst friends but by the quality of radio output: do people want to listen, & then donate? Deteriorating performance is the fundamental cause of the instability that GM Fields wants to end. And in this, sadly, the PNB majority is an obdurate obstacle.
Turning to this Monday’s communique, the KPFT iGM hiring, its content is revealing – in what it left out. No mention of the LSB. They’re mandated to draw up a shortlist for the ED, who chooses the lucky one (by-law 7.3B). https://pacifica.org/indexed_bylaws/art7sec3.html So, had they done this? The silence poses four questions concerning her well-known dispositions: another example of Aaron’s authoritarianism?; of her willingness to steamroller by-laws when they get in the way?; of her disposition to misjudge politically?; &, dangerously, an example of her willingness to knowingly create more turbulence, this time in a locality? https://pacifica.org/documents/kpft_jack_valinski_190729.pdf
KPFT has no recent series of Nielsen ratings. But internally there is longitudinal evidence. Recently, membership has fallen precipitously: 25% in less than 2½ years, from 5 736 to 4 294 (the election record dates of 30June2016 & 19Nov2018 – National Elections Supervisor’s final report, 18Mar2019, pp. 19 & 17). And the LSB, highly factionalised for many years, split into two in early Jan this year. They met separately – and had never been happier. But now they’re back in the same room, &, perversely, keeping radio silence, with none of the last four meetings recorded & put in the Pacifica meetings archive. They can’t be happy bunnies, can they? So Pacifica’s default secrecy mode kicks in. http://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Pacifica-Election-Final-Report-2018-by-RAP-1-1.pdf
Into this Valinski has been thrown. But actually he’s part of the furniture: exec producer of ‘his’ show for 20 years. So he’ll have made lots of friends – and enemies. In a highly factionalised station, when ‘national’ recruits from within it sends the strongest signal of intent: war will be waged in the localities. Such as this, GM Fields was warning against. Maybe his own days are numbered.
To sum up Pacifica, fuelled by bequests, & with the iCFO skilfully judging which creditor to pay next, not least the $3.265m owed to the Foundation for the Jewish Community (FJC), the current structure is plain for all to see:
Pacifica = zombie radio + necro-economics
4) What does all this mean for any radio professional thinking of working for Grace Aaron? This isn’t personalising the matter because this is the substantive reality, a pigheaded authoritarianism that is based on belief, not upon radio knowledge, least of all upon radio success. Maxie was trying to create the conditions allowing Pacifica to turn itself around. The Board stopped him. What is any new ED at Pacifica supposed to do? What sort of radio professional will take the job? Does it really have to be someone who doesn’t really care, content to do whatever it takes to keep their job? Seems so. Rationally, that’s all that’s possible.
The ousting of Maxie proves that under this Pacifica Board there is no place for technique, no place for rationality.
Inverting what’s just been said leads to a highly disturbing question, one that any radio professional taking the ED job will have to live with: why does the Board majority, by its actions, let alone its inactions, not want Pacifica to improve?
[For convenience, here are Ken Mills’ three posts on the Maxie Jackson disaster. They were provoked by iED Chair Grace Aaron publicly announcing, for the first time, that Maxie had “resigned”. No: he was ousted. She was addressing the Th18July PNB (13:18, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb190718/pnb190718a.mp3).
[As an insight into how Pacifica works, it’s worth saying that even the writing up of a draft agenda can betray how crafty the praetorian guard can be. Presumably so as not to draw attention to the livestream, ‘iED report’ didn’t appear in the draft agenda published on the meetings website,https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb190718/pnb190718_6125_agenda.pdf. But the draft would have struck one as odd because Maxie isn’t listed as an expected attendee, & there’s no mention of an ED report. Yes, Kremlinology, Pyongyangology, they’ve now transmuted into Pacificaology. (Apologies to the cacao.)]
Maxie threw her the football & she promptly dropped it. Where’s the surprise? At this evening’s PNB Strategic Planning Cttee, Grace Aaron, Chair of the Board & now Executive Director, leaked to the public the name of her successor. It’s John Farneal (spelling).
Then, person or persons unknown at Pacifica attempted a coverup – but it failed. By law, decision-making meetings of charities have to be public, but because Pacifica use national conference calls they post the proceedings online. This recording was available within an hour or so at the Pacifica meetings archive, https://kpftx.org/archive.php – but as two audiofiles. You’ve guessed it, the most interesting part of the meeting had spilt all over the cutting-room floor. But don’t worry . . . it’s now in the clouds. For ever. The coverup failed.
Guess Grace is so used to private meetings, rarely speaking to the public, that she was in default secrecy mode. The Pacifica secrecy culture really is that entrenched & pervasive. The public are simply an inconvenient, annoying intrusion – except when they’re to be milked for cash.
Obviously the Federal Communications Commission will have to be informed, more so given the systemic unaccountability & the stymying of reform within Pacifica. This is a serious attempt to prevent the public hearing a meeting that they’re entitled, by law, to hear in full – to hear without censorship. It’s imperative that those doing work for Pacifica can be trusted, trusted to post recordings unadulterated – especially as they never have the integrity, & good manners, to explicitly explain on the archive website instances of the contrary.
The Pacifica National Board must open an inquiry conducted by lay members into this serious attempted coverup. The Pacifica members, staff, & listeners deserve to know who was practising non-Pacifica values. Censorship by the powerful must be opposed wherever it raises its ugly head. Those in Pacifica too, must be held to account.
It’s unusual for Pacifica to splice such a short recording, here 1:36:59. For example, Grace Aaron is a delegate to her Local Station Board, that of KPFK in LA. Their latest publicly available recording is Su23June, & it lasted 3:03:26 and it’s on the website, in all its glory – as a single audiofile. https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/kpfk/190623/kpfk190623a.mp3 (Maxie Jackson gave them a fascinating presentation and Q&A, his last recorded LSB appearance, just after 1:38:00; nine days later he supposedly resigned: bunkum)
A puzzle of Pacifica proceedings in recent months is why this focus on underwriting, the needless euphemism for advertising? Longstanding Pacifica discursive culture is officially vehemently anti-advertising, whilst the practical culture accepts it, even promotes it as an invaluable income stream. Hypocrisy in action. Again, what’s new?
The late departed ED Maxie Jackson, & various directors, spoke at PNB meetings explaining the need for Pacifica to have, supposedly for the first time, a written advertising policy. Individual stations, & their producers, could take up the opportunities circumscribed by the policy, or not. The policy would simply be used to regulate what is already happening within the network.
This was always presented as a necessary first step in preventing, or ending, violations of rules held dear by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) & the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). But that’s not new – unlike something more pressing: the loan contract with the Foundation for the Jewish Community (FJC).
Instead of Pacifica giving FJC money just for the privilege of paying FJC interest, for having a loan in the first place, what’s known in the trade as an origination fee, an expression of the powerlessness of the borrower, FJC has required Pacifica to enter into an advertising contract (pages 6-7 of the FJC loan contract). Pacifica has accepted contractually that the advertising contract is not formutual benefit butfor FJC’s benefit, what in Legalese is termed its consideration: “the Underwriting Agreement [is] for the benefit of Lender, as amended from time-to-time” (the introductory list of the contract’s definitions, Section 1.1(30); p. 4). The other pages in the loan contract explicitly on the topic of advertising are 6-7 & 25-7, & these will now be considered. https://mega.nz/#F!PloCiSqJ!9rLejSkttE7gCVCCq3q86g?b0IBlaiR (no need to download the PDF: click the three horizontal dots, then ‘preview’)
It is not known publicly why on earth FJC has done this. [Please see the postscript, where a reason is given.] It’s particularly odd because FJC is the manager of the charitable funds of donors, towards whom FJC is obviously in a relationship of trust, exercising a fiduciary responsibility. So rather than maximising the investment income of the donors’ accounts, by dividing the origination fee amongst them, FJC has pursued its own organisational goal.
Legally the accounts are not owned by the donors but by FJC. What a donor has is influence, the right to recommend to FJC the recipients of FJC money. That’s the law, the theory. In practice, for FJC to maintain, even increase its market share, it needs a good reputation, & that would be harmed if donors told others that their recommendations had not been carried out. So, as so often, capitalist law is one thing, capitalist life is another.
FJC has made Pacifica take advertising, $37 000-worth, 1% of the borrowed money, the $3.7m: “PACIFICA is obliged to provide underwriting credits on its Stations in the amount of 1% of the Loan Amount (the ‘Underwriting Credits’) to facilitate the placement of underwriting on the Stations.” (the FJC-Pacifica loan contract, Exhibit B: Underwriting Agreement, original capitalisation & bold; p. 25)
This is how it works. FJC receives no money; Pacifica receives no money, but bears the cost of the exercise. The exercise is Pacifica carrying adverts. An advertising broker, F. Y. Eye, Inc. (“a not-for-profit organization”, apparently – p. 25), acts as FJC’s agent, & is reimbursed for its expenses (“at Borrower’s cost and expense” – Sec. 3.1; p. 6), & the rest goes as credits to advertisers, “non-profit organizations mutually agreed upon by Borrower and Lender” (p. 7). But this doesn’t start as soon as the loan begins: “credits will be provided as Borrower develops the capacity over the term of the Loan. At such time, Borrower and Lender shall enter into an Underwriting Agreement substantially in the form of Exhibit B attached hereto [pp. 25-7].” (p. 7). This time is when “PACIFICA establishes an underwriting program at its radio stations.” (p. 25, original capitalisation).
To repeat: Pacifica contracted with FJC on 2Apr2018, for the sole benefit of FJC, to bring advertising to the radio stations. The PNB agreed to this without public discussion or debate on advertising. The PNB went behind the backs of the listeners, the members, the staff. The PNB deceived them all. It committed a crime.
Furthermore, but not surprisingly, this was not disclosed in the spurious loan summary distributed Sa16June2018 by then Chair Nancy Sorden, on the authority of the Pacifica National Board. This is what it said on the topic, in full:
“[a]n initial draft of the Underwriting Agreement would have required Pacifica, in lieu of an origination fee to LENDER, to pay 1% of the loan proceeds to a non-profit organization called F.Y. Eye, Inc. (FYEYE). That organization would, in turn, have made grants to non-profits who would then purchase underwriting credits to be aired on Pacifica stations. A revised version of the Underwriting Agreement does not require an initial set aside by Pacifica, but reserves LENDER’s right to propose underwriting credits for non-profits ‘as Pacifica develops the capacity over the term of the Loan.'” [original capitalisation, p. 3; https://mega.nz/#!vyBjgaSC!UQVkLUfLfLXuZHjQguWWaQSuJ2HAuEPJ0fK74_IGlvg (no need to download the PDF: click the magnifying glass symbol)]
No, this isn’t what the contract says. It doesn’t speak of “the LENDER’s right to propose underwriting credits for non-profits ‘as Pacifica develops the capacity over the term of the Loan'” (the spurious summary, my italics & bold), a slippery word because its implied meaning is simply to do with possibility, rather than the right to have advertising content as satisfaction of consideration, for having foregone an origination fee. The following is what’s in the contract signed by Pacifica ED Tom Livingston & FJC President Lorin Silverman: “the Underwriting Agreement [is] for the benefit of Lender” (p. 4), & “there is no origination fee due to Lender. However, in lieu thereof, the Borrower agrees that Lender will receive underwriting credits” (pp. 6-7, my italics & bold). Will, not propose. The matter is one of consideration & its satisfaction. It’s not plausible to believe that two experienced businesspeople would each sign a contract that doesn’t exist. Within the PNB, the deceivers are also cowards.
Identity. So no name, no street name. The rest can become public property – all that has to be surmounted is a not inconsiderable obstacle, a key feature of Pacifica, its entrenched & pervasive secrecy culture at the top. The top. What textbooks call the leadership. Those who direct; who exercise imagination & creativity; who take responsibility; who set an example; who inspire; who fulfil their legal, moral, & political duties.
Is it any wonder that people become so frustrated that they leak documents? Is it?
But maybe one’s being unfair, maybe there was a gentleman’s agreement between FJC & Pacifica? Well, the contract is explicit & unambiguous on the degree of legal force held by what is believed to be an oral understanding or agreement: none, in a word. The wording used:
“[t]his Agreement and the other Loan Documents embody the entire agreement and understanding between Lender and Borrower and supersede all prior agreements and understandings between such parties relating to the subject matter hereof and thereof. Accordingly, the Loan Documents may not be contradicted by evidence of prior, contemporaneous, or subsequent oral agreements of the parties. There are no unwritten oral agreements between the parties” (Article 10 Miscellaneous, Section 10.21 Entire Agreement, my emphases & italicisation; p. 18)
Maxie Jackson came. Then he was gone. No-one said a word. No-one raised an eyebrow. Most of all, no-one asked questions. Loose talk is more than dangerous. It’s terminal. And when the Head Honcho is disappeared, who wants to join him? So everyone plays along. Waiting for The Dear Leader to make it all official. To make the unsayable sayable. To know how to phrase things, with the right intensity. The Dear Leader sets the tone. The rest follow obediently. Everyone knows their place. The best of all possible worlds. Pangloss in Pacifica.
The end began with the Personnel Cttee being awoken from its slumber. In PacificaWorld it’s known as Madame. Madame Guillotine. An oft-used device to provide an invaluable service on behalf of the praetorian guard of the organisation: to terminate with extreme prejudice, as the CIA say.
This time it conducted a delayed six-month evaluation of the executive director, Maxie Jackson. It identified 79 parties to offer their opinion on Mr Jackson. Yes. So I repeat: 79. Only nine replied, but that was no problem, in fact it saved a lot of work. All that was needed was the right evidence to support the right conclusion (Robin Collier, Tu28May Personnel Cttee, 2:23 https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/personnel/190528/personnel190528a.mp3).
1) The 2019 Local Station Board elections, for half the seats, got underway whilst the nominal 2018 pseudo-elections were still in progress. All ten elections run this year, listener & staff for each of the five stations – last time there was no WPFW-listeners election as there were only five verified candidates for the nine vacated seats (please see https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/19/nominal-2018-pseudo-election/).
But are these 2019 elections bona fide, are they genuine? Or are they pseudo-elections? Yes, there’s lots of activity, 128 verified wannabe delegates, but what’s it based on? Station staff rolls are derived from employment records. On a much greater scale, how accurate is the most basic building block, the Pacifica membership list, used to generate the elector roll for each station’s listener-election? Are the elector rolls adequate?
Well, they weren’t at 29Oct2018, during the nominal 2018 election process. Yet, with a different National Elections Supervisor (NES), they were claimed to be accurate. No evidence has ever been publicly presented as to how this magical transformation was achieved – a turnaround to be immensely proud of, yes? Crucially, given Pacifica’s long history of lacking credibility, this magical transformation has never been independently verified. (One must say ‘nominal 2018 election’ because the voting was in 2019, 18Jan through 5Mar; the election used a ‘record date’ at 19Nov2018.)
So what about this year’s election? The record date is at Su30June. The elector roll gives name & contact details. That of a reasonably sized town: c. 46 000. How plausible is it that the famously dysfunctional Pacifica is as efficient as a Springfield city council, maintaining, without material inaccuracy, such information? Well, only if Homer were in charge – which makes my point.
2019 is the same as 2018: no evidence has been publicly presented that the 30June elector rolls are materially accurate. None. This creates a reasonable & strong doubt. The only rational conclusion: based on the balance of probabilities, the 2019 process is another pseudo-election.
To help restore credibility to Pacifica elections, an action, necessary but insufficient, is an independent evaluation of the material accuracy of both the membership list & the elector roll. Obviously this won’t happen: politically, the PNB majority would oppose it; economically, Pacifica, last making an annual net income in FY2006, has bills to pay before it can think about reputation.
2) So what happened in 2018? How was it revealed that materially accurate elector rolls didn’t exist? Moreover, how was it revealed that there was no expectation of their imminent creation, certainly not within the time constraint of the 2018 election cycle?
In Aug2018, ED Tom Livingston hired a firm, Drew North Consulting. Graeme Drew, an experienced elections supervisor, became the NES. He & his team started work, in the National Office & the five stations. They soon found what the reality was, & it halted them in their tracks: on M29Oct, he found himself with no alternative but to abandon the job. Why?
The membership records proved inadequate. They weren’t materially accurate: too many errors. Inadequate supporting evidence, of donations made, & of volunteer timesheets. Through a lack of maintenance, the records had become corrupted. The membership list was, in a word, corrupt. It had proven to be unusable, unable to function as the primary source of the elector rolls, the record of those enfranchised to vote. The eligibility of not one candidate could be verified.
The most basic building block was absent. The process had self-destructed. Logically, he terminated the election process. Just as logically, if a NES is empowered to declare a certification of the election results, they are empowered to declare a self-destruction of the election process. And this he was about to do.
He told ED Maxie Jackson, M29Oct. The day after, he also told the PNB, & said he was going to announce this publicly the next day. The PNB called an emergency private meeting for that evening. The PNB majority chose to ignore the considered, evidenced judgment of the elections professional: they wanted voting to happen – any voting.
These are the words of Graeme Drew, the very first sentence, in full, of his (leaked) NES report to the PNB, Tu30Oct2018: “[o]n Monday, October 29, 2018 I informed your Executive Director of my decision to terminate the 2018 election process.” (my emphases). But worse was to come. On the third, & final page, the news the PNB majority really didn’t want to hear: “I plan to announce the end of the 2018 election on Wednesday, October 31, 2018.” (my emphases). Trying to end something, that’s one thing; telling the public, quite another. http://www.mediafire.com/file/s8eu60d26b3ame9/Pacifica_2018_NES_Final_Report.pdf/file
Unbeknown at the time, this set a precedent, one of huge significance for the chances of the Pacifica Foundation being turned around. Over the subsequent months, hearing the wrong news, also caused the PNB majority to plan, then engineer, the ousting of ED Maxie Jackson. If Pacifica is really good at one thing, this is it.
Obviously, hiring a professional elections supervision firm had been a mistake. A big mistake. One not to be repeated. So an individual had to be hired. For credibility purposes, a Local Elections Supervisor has a certain plausibility about it. Enter the LES for KPFT, in Houston, Alma Viscarra. She found the same reality, equivocated to some extent, but tried her best to do the PNB majority’s bidding. But she didn’t pass the test, & so got chopped. In came the LES for all of KPFA, KPFK, & KPFT, Renee Penaloza. A proven superwoman. Now this was different. This changed things. All obstacles suddenly swept away. Unbridled progress on all fronts. Voting duly taking place. Certified results published. This is the sort of proof the PNB majority like.
So no surprise she’s the NES for these 2019 elections. A safe pair of hands. This is efficiency, Pacifica style.
Thing is, no evidence has ever been presented by NES Penaloza, or the PNB, of the adequacy of the elector rolls used in either set of elections. All we have is de factoassertion, a practical assertion, the carrying on of an activity labelled an election. In the absence of evidence, it is a matter of pure faith that the 2019 elections are bona fide.
The membership list has been magically purified. It would be an exaggeration to say Pacifica excels at the application of alchemy. What Pacifica has done, at least since Oct2006 when the annual losses started, is to muddle through, but not in the way dignified by Charles Lindblom in 1959. http://urban.hunter.cuny.edu/~schram/lindblom1959.pdf
And what is the only rational conclusion to draw? The corrupted membership list remains corrupt. It has been used within a year in two sets of elections. This is corruption. It is being perpetrated out of self-interest by two parties, for different reasons: politically, it’s what the PNB majority want; economically, the NES is happy to do it because she keeps getting paid by Pacifica’s members & listeners.
The only honourable & credible remedy is that there is an independent evaluation of the material accuracy of the membership lists & elector rolls used for both the nominal 2018 pseudo-election & the 2019 pseudo-election.
5) Ever wondered what those disembodied voices come from, what the decision-makers look like? Well, Pacifica has the answer – maybe the only one it has.
Pacifica has hardly publicised it, but an elections YouTube channel was created in July 2015. Oddly, it’s named ‘National Election [sic] Supervisor 2019’ although it carries vids for both the current pseudo-election & the one voted on earlier this year, the nominal 2018 pseudo-election. (Note that these older candidate discussion vids, some chaired by NES Renee Penaloza, are packaged away in playlists; not dated, but the aesthetic is noticeably different.)
As of W7Aug2019, the channel has nine subscribers, & has had 1 298 views; this compares with Pacifica having c. 46k members (also, the enfranchised at the last staff elections numbered 978). The channel has 81 vids: 60 one-minute candidate statements (some are discarded edits), & 21 discussions between candidates (12 from this pseudo-election, nine from the last). Since the weekend, the curator has helpfully aggregated most of the vids as 13 topical playlists.
The discussions, in Pacificanese, are candidate forums, bringing together between two & five wanabee delegates, the Pacificanese for those sitting on the local station board. These pseudo-elections, for each station, are for nine listener-seats & three staff-seats, so half the board.
The number of verified candidates, published by the NES on the elections website, has been reduced by five. Originally 128 were declared: 105 listeners (16 KPFA, 23 KPFK, 21 KPFT, 13 WPFW, 32 WBAI), & 23 staff (6 KPFA, 5 KPFK, 4 KPFT, 4 WPFW, 4 WBAI). As of W7Aug, the only changes in the figures concern listener-candidates: up by two at WPFW; & down by seven, two at KPFK (one being the LSB Chair until March this year), one at KPFT, & four at WBAI.
No explanations have been offered by the NES, & a report is long due: there were six in seven weeks, but nothing in the last eight weeks, nothing since Th13June. This fact has not been mentioned in any public PNB meeting. Queen Grace the First, who ousted King Maxie the Third, has displayed no displeasure. Obviously not a problem for her & her minions. However, the silence does not inspire confidence in either NES Penaloza or, more importantly, the electoral process. All reports are work-in-progress, & there has been progress, not least the verifying of the candidates. Puzzling.
Here on the YouTube silver screen are the Paccywood stars of 2019:
KPFA listeners (16 verified candidates, 11 discussants as of W7Aug): Marilla Arguelles, Fred Cook, Lily Kimura, Mantra Plonsey, & Mark Van Landuyt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uF4dRjuVRo (in-vid caption has ‘Arguiles’, 1:57)
Marilyn Langlois, Andrea Turner, & Carol Wolfley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smOozi_CxpQ (did Carol edit this? The vid is 31:16, & the in-vid caption of her name pops up four times before any other candidate’s, monopolising over 2/3rds of the vid, before Marilyn’s makes an appearance at 21:39! But of course Carol’s comes next, & with less than five mins to go Andrea’s finally makes a showing. Fair’s fair. The last three are Andrea, then Marilyn, with Carol finishing off, just in case we’d forgotten her name. Unbelievable. Who are these people who reproduce Pacifica, day after day?)
KPFK listeners (21, 10): Michael Atkins, Doug Barnett, & Eric Jacobson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpUZ7VvBVyA (misdescribed at YT as ‘KPFA’. The three KPFK listener vids all lack in-vid captions: they were the first discussions to be published, M5Aug)
Jaime Gomez, Jim Osborne, Paul Roberson, & Elizabeth von Gunten https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6c5qvk4E-mI (however, Jaime isn’t listed as a verified candidate at the NES’ website, & has no statement there; YT has ‘Jamie’, & ‘van’)
Robert Gartner, Paula Miller, Rick Pothoff, Ted Weisgal, & Vaniecia Williams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za5fwn0sMlc (in-vid caption has ‘Garner’, 3:14; ditto has ‘Vaneicia’, 4:05, & the vid’s title too; the elections site has ‘Potthoff’ but KPFT LSB minutes consistently give ‘Pothoff’)
WPFW listeners (15, 0): none (nor any candidate statements, maybe camera shy)
WPFW staff (4, 0): none (nor any candidate statements)
WBAI listeners (28, 0!): none (but lots of candidate statements)
WBAI staff (4, 0): none (but some candidate statements)
Somewhat worrying, given that the NES is responsible for the accuracy of the elector rolls, & for practising basic human respect, is the number of misspelt names, nine, for 38 people, a 24% error rate – and that’s just the names. Why am I not surprised?