Tomorrow, Sunday, the Pacifica National Board meets at 6.30pm EDT with a single purpose, “Set Bylaws Amendments Notice Date”. (It hasn’t been given the necessary seven days’ notice – Article 6, Section 4; page 20 – but what’s new?) However, in the absence of a statement from the head of Pacifica’s administration, Interim Executive Director John Vernile, this PNB meeting puts the cart before the horse. The purpose of the meeting begs a number of questions, which only he is in a position to answer; &, as the principal administrator, to do so is his responsibility on behalf of Pacifica, not least the members. Moreover, to help give legitimacy to the process that’s started, they’re questions IED Vernile needs to answer unequivocally, & citing all the necessary evidence.
The questions concern two matters arising at the very start of this by-laws process: the Foundation Secretary, & petition validation. Does Pacifica have a properly installed Secretary to receive this petition? And has the petition been validated, not least establishing that c. 465 signatories are members in good standing?
This open letter is an attempt to cajole the IED, hitherto reticent, a man of few public words, into doing everyone a favour by making this process as transparent as possible. He may also be able to reassure everyone that the Foundation, in being rushed, isn’t being exposed to litigation.
Subject: Evidence that the Foundation has a properly installed Secretary; evidence of verification of the by-laws petition, not least the signatories
Dear Mr Vernile,
The cart is being put ahead of the horse. What are you going to do about it? The available evidence about the by-laws petition is unambiguous. Yes, you’re the servant of the Pacifica National Board, serving at its pleasure. But you also have the responsibility to protect the Foundation from litigation. Moreover, you have a responsibility not to carry out an ‘illegal’ order, one egregiously violating the by-laws of the organisation. As Pacifica’s principal administrator, the Interim Executive Director, you bear this double responsibility. So what are you going to do?
1) A highly disturbing petition has been published. To the unwary reader it’s promoted as an attempt to improve Pacifica’s governance. But this is disingenuous, given its authors & its content. Instead, the by-laws proposal is their chosen means to set in train decisions that irreversibly break up Pacifica, transform particular stations (WBAI is a prime target), & gut decision-making hitherto exercised by members, staff, & affiliates.
The nine authors of the petition, by their own statements & public associations, are the latest expression of those who work to break up Pacifica, destroying the network. Indeed, two of them have published plans detailing their intent: Peter Franck in September 2018, & Carol Spooner in 2012.
The movers of this petition, just like their words, cannot be trusted.
The proposal’s own title is misleading in saying it’s ‘amending & restating’ by-laws. No, it’s a complete set of new by-laws. What’s proposed isn’t narrow & shallow, but broad & deep: the scope of change is comprehensive. As such, it’s a new constitution, refounding the Foundation, making it a completely different organisation.
The proposal also requires ushering in an abhorrent, anti-Pacifican form of governance: a ‘100-day’ dictatorship, of between 92 & 114 calendar days, exercised solely by six outsiders to Pacifica, all handpicked by the breaker faction: “the At-Large Directors shall constitute the full Board of Directors and shall be authorized to take any and all actions they deem necessary” (proposed Article XV, Section 1; page 16, my emphases).
The movers of this petition can only have nasty surprises, anti-Pacifican surprises, up their sleeve.
This Board – the only one left after abolishing the five local boards – would be detached from the membership, from the staff, from the listeners. It would be able to invoke the much-misused blanket confidentiality provision. As such, it would be immune to scrutiny; be able to avoid meeting even once in public; be accountable to no-one. Ensconced from view, their deliberations would lack Pacifican participation, transparency, accountability.
The rallying cry of the breaker faction is clear: AntiDemocracyNow!
Breaking up Pacifica is dissolving Pacifica: it’s the Acid Bath Strategy.
2) There is a clear division of responsibilities, & so activities, between the Pacifica administration & the PNB. You are the principal administrator of Pacifica Foundation Inc. As such you have responsibilities concerning two matters arising immediately from this petition:
you must know that the Secretary of the Foundation, properly installed, is the only officeholder who can receive a petition; &
you’re responsible for verifying that a petition is bona fide, valid: this is not the responsibility of the PNB, nor of the Secretary of the PNB.
a) Concerning the first matter, the relevant by-law is clear: for the petition to be “considered ‘proposed’ [it] must be delivered to the Foundation’s Secretary” (Art. 17, Sec. 1(A); p. 42).
So, some elementary questions, given the complete absence of publicly available evidence:
who is the Secretary of Pacifica Foundation Inc.?
when did the PNB last elect the incumbent for their one year in office?
when did they assume office?
where is the relevant minute from a PNB meeting?
surprisingly, none of this info is on Pacifica’s website, so where is the official Foundation notice of all this?
Please send me a copy of all this evidence if, indeed, the Foundation has a current Secretary. In so doing you will be demonstrating that there can be no doubt that a properly constituted Foundation Secretary is in post (Art. 9, Sec. 2; p. 29).
Also, please note the following elementary point: the PNB annually electing its own Secretary is quite different from it annually electing the Foundation Secretary. Words matter, as we know all too well from court proceedings. The PNB Secretary may act as if they’re the Foundation Secretary (such as signing bank forms), but that doesn’t make them the Foundation Secretary (impersonator, comes to mind): only a specific annual election by the PNB can make someone the Foundation Secretary.
I think you’ll agree, this is so obvious it hardly needs stating.
b) After the petition is properly delivered to the Foundation, your second responsibility is supervising Pacifica’s administration as it tries to establish whether the petition is bona fide, genuine. It needs validating in all respects. Not least is gathering the evidence that c. 465 signatories are Pacifica members in good standing, evidence that can be inspected by any Pacifica director, evidence that safeguards the Foundation in any litigation. (465 is 1% of the 46 505 membership, per National Elections Supervisor Penaloza’s latest report that gives absolute numbers, 5Sep2019.) In this, as a first step, you obviously need to be satisfied that the 10 station membership rolls are materially accurate – and you’ll be aware that they weren’t at 29Oct2018, as declared by the then NES, Graeme Drew, orally on 29Oct to ED Maxie Jackson & in writing on 30Oct to the PNB.
c) Please note that proper receipt of the by-laws petition by the Foundation Secretary sets the record date for validating signatories. (This record date isn’t to be confused with the notice date of a proposed by-law amendment, which is established by decision of the PNB.)
Lastly, if this petition process progresses, I trust you will be receiving daily evidence from each station that they’ve made their three announcements, creating a time-stamped & station-stamped audiofile of the 675 announcements (3 x 5 x 45), the number required by by-law Art. 17, Sec. 1(B)(1); pp. 42-3.
3) As head administrator, as a minimum, you need to be in a position to tell any inquirer, not least a director:
the name of the Foundation Secretary, & when they were elected by the PNB into office for one year;
when the by-laws petition was received by the Foundation Secretary (setting the record date for the validation process);
the content of your plan for validating the petition;
who validated the petition;
when this started;
when it finished;
how many signatories were rejected, & why; &
which validating materials were used (e.g. station membership rolls), etc.
4) If the PNB do indeed set a notice date for the proposed by-law amendments, & instruct you to act upon it, then, given your responsibilities, you will have first validated the petition before money is spent & before on-air announcements are made. You need to have an evidenced belief that the by-laws proposal is proper, that it’s valid. And that requires, in part, Pacifica’s administration validating a minimum c. 465 signatories as Pacifica members in good standing.
As stated, you need no reminding that part of your job is protecting the Foundation from legal action. Before the PNB meets to determine a notice date for proposed by-laws amendments, you need:
to ensure that any petition has been received by a properly installed Foundation Secretary, thereby turning the petition into a potential by-laws amendment proposal; &
if that’s been established, to ensure that such a petition is bona fide, that it’s valid, thereby turning it into an actual by-laws amendment proposal.
Would you please convey your informed judgment on these two matters concerning the mentioned by-laws petition.
5) Given all that has been said, directors should decide on Sunday that the motion to set a notice date for proposed by-law amendments is void, as it puts the cart before the horse.
Directors should then vote (a) to ask the IED to confirm who’s the Foundation Secretary, voted into office by the PNB within the last 12 months; (b) to remind the IED that it’s his responsibility to produce all necessary evidence allowing him to decide the genuineness of the petition; & (c) to require the IED to give a full report, covering all the questions asked above.
6) As all the details asked of you are elementary, & simple, would you please send them before the PNB meets at 6.30pm EDT this Sunday, 29 September. This is a courtesy deserved by all in ‘the Pacifica family’, the members, the staff, the listeners.
This is copied, without alteration, from the website of WBAI Treasurer R Paul Martin: http://www.glib.com/sawaya_farewell.html. It starts with the preface Ms Sawaya wanted any re-publication to start with. (Peter Franck chose not to do this when he published her letter on his legal practice’s website; maybe that’s why it only carries a few lines, with no ‘read more’ hypertext, unlike his other pieces.https://culturelaw.com/special-information/.)
September 24, 2008
To: Pacifica National Board, Local Station Boards, All management and staff, Affiliate stations, collaborators, and stakeholders in Pacifica Fr: Nicole Sawaya, executive director/CEO
On August 3rd I gave notice to the Pacifica Board that I would be leaving. September 30th (end of our fiscal year) will be my last day. Concurrently, I had written myself out of the FY09 budget, as the Foundation is hard-pressed to support two well-paid executives. You lead from the top.
Lew Hill is the founder of Pacifica, now almost a 60 year old non-profit media organization. If I could have a conversation with anyone to explain my departure, it would be with Lew Hill. So, I decided to write him a letter.
Feel free to read it, and to share with others who care about Pacifica. All I ask is that this preface always accompany the letter as it sets the context.
I thank you for the opportunity to serve!
September 23, 2008
Dear Lew Hill,
Greetings. My name is Nicole Sawaya, and currently, I’m the executive director and chief executive of the radio endeavor you started called Pacifica. It’s changed a lot.
You wouldn’t believe what your ‘killer app’, as some might portray it in 21st century lexicon, has spawned. Now there are 5 stations licensed to Pacifica in densely populated and roiling urban areas – millions of human beings within ear shot, all with easy access to the cheapest and most accessible broadcast mediums on the planet, radio. Yes, the planet. There is an Archive of programming and folios spanning decades – a repository and collection of voices that truly belongs to the people as part of the history of our country and the world. And, there are over a hundred smaller stations scattered through rural and urban settings — cities and towns and ridge tops — affiliated with Pacifica and broadcasting our programming – a network that has been in place for quite awhile.
Beyond that, your notion that the listeners would voluntarily financially support radio, journalism and cultural exchange, created a model for many, many non-commercial educational radio stations to apply. Your vision of public ownership of the airwaves put into practice with the radio license you applied for and grew as the first non-profit community licensee station, gained great traction and has been replicated exponentially.
We don’t exchange The Subscriber radios anymore for pledges, and you wouldn’t recognize how the fundraising marathons have changed – it’s a bit like an on-air shopping experience. But listeners continue to support us voluntarily with their hard earned money, and they’re not necessarily just bound to radios to listen to us.
An aside: When I was (briefly) general manager of your first station, KPFA, there was a Subscriber radio in the office, but it was tucked away and dusty. When I discovered it, soon after taking the job, I was so excited to learn of its history. It completely inspired me as Pacifica was heading to its 50th anniversary. So elegant, so innovative for its time, so smart.
Mr. Hill, what you conceived has had one of the highest impacts in media history. Not just the staunch belief in listener support, but your notions that journalistic enterprises should remain unfettered from any sort of business support in order to maintain credibility; that to help in striving for a more peaceful and just world, radio (or what we now refer to as media) programming should give access to myriad viewpoints and in-depth news, coupled with an exposure to the arts and to cultures and happenings from all over the world; that innovation is vital, have all lived on. You were a pioneer.
Fast forward to today.
Our country is at war. Our government is a death machine abroad and a fear machine at home. Our broadcast media is, in general, mind-numbingly useless, filled with shameless propagandists and completely profit driven. The earth’s climate is changing radically and the gap between rich and poor is larger than the Grand Canyon, with by far the larger group on the poor end. I could go on, but it would take a while.
Your Pacifica is showing signs of stress as well.
Sadly, it is no longer focused on service to the listeners but absorbed with itself and the inhabitants therein. I call it Planet Pacifica, a term I coined during my hiring process. There is an underlying culture of grievance coupled with entitlement, and its governance structure is dysfunctional. The by-laws of the organization have opened it up to tremendous abuse, creating the opportunity for cronyism, factionalism, and faux democracy, with the result of challenging all yet helping nothing. Pacifica has been made so flat, that it is concave – no leadership is possible without an enormous struggle through the inertia that committees and collectives and STV’s (no, not sexually transmitted viruses, but single transferable votes) can engender.
Pacifica calls itself a movement, yet currently it is behaves like a jobs program, a cult, or a social service agency. And oftentimes, the loudest and most obstreperous have the privilege of the microphone. There are endless meetings of committees and ‘task forces’– mostly on the phone – where people just like to hear themselves talk. Sometimes they get lucrative contracts from their grandstanding. It’s been grueling for someone in my position, someone like me who is not a process person, much less a political gamer. I keep asking: what’s the endgame? Paralysis has set in, coupled with organizational drift.
The programming isn’t attracting many listeners anymore, either. It skews towards the narrow in its editorial stance, leans towards the niche, and change to the programming can’t occur without a fight. The listening audience is small, in other words, the stations have yet to grow into their large signals.
Business practices are oftentimes shoddy and opaque and mirror the culture of our times – lots of self-interest with a focus on individual needs as opposed to performance, affordability, or the common good. And we’ve hit some tough economic times without having the general will to do the hard work necessary in order to ensure sustainability– contracting rather than continually expanding the size of our financial obligations. Basically, resources and airtime have been allocated for internal political purposes at the expense of service to audience, innovation, or the care and feeding of our broadcast physical infrastructure. Some of this has to do with the fact that very few people either on air or off air actually have radio experience, other than being part of Pacifica.
That was not the case with you, nor is it with me.
Conversely, there are many dedicated and smart people working within Pacifica. They may not work at full speed – it is rather ‘comfortable’ especially for those who work unsupervised – but they make a consistent effort to give voice to the voiceless and hold government and power accountable. And those who work without self-interest or giving constant grief to management (a four-letter word in Pacifica) are to be applauded.
The overall media landscape has changed fundamentally. I find it exciting and wanted very much to bring Pacifica into the 21st century. The demographic of our country has changed as well, not to mention all the new generations now active and alert to the world around them. It is, to quote Victor Hugo, the best of times and the worst of times. Apparently, it’s always been like that.
Pacifica could take advantage of technology, both at the front end (content and programming) and the back end (infrastructure and business applications), but that would require the general will of the internal stakeholders, and that general will is not cohesive enough or even amenable to altering the status quo.
I have given notice and will be leaving Pacifica shortly. Despite my best intentions and determined and focused efforts, I was continually thwarted to do the job I was hired to do. I did my best to apply my knowledge, expertise, and creativity to Pacifica, and we made some forward progress.
I gave to those responsible for the governance and oversight, plans, clarity, and transparency. They cannot deny knowledge of the state of the network. Whether they act on it, or just call in consultants to tell them what time it is, is another issue. I tried to dispel magical thinking in all arenas and was relentless in my attempts to get some best practices and collaborations in place.
I had some success.
It’s not necessary for me to alliterate those successes. Despite being handed an enfeebled situation and having no resources to work with, I gave it my best shot and worked hard. And despite having to fight for every inch of standing, not to mention authority, I have enjoyed working with those who actually work and accomplish bona fide deliverables of consequence and service.
We stand now on the shoulders of hundreds, if not thousands of those who have contributed internally. And Pacifica is much loved and valued by its listener supporters. Pacifica will carry on, and it has been a challenging opportunity to, albeit briefly, help out.
I hope that all stakeholders remember that Pacifica is a public trust, a veritable weapon of mass information, and keep a big vision in play rather than petty politics.
Red Wave gets the Gezi penguin of approval from PacificaWatch
Can Pacifica cope with the youfff, here we’re talking about people under 35?
We’ll soon find out, because something’s happening in New York. The organisation that benefited most from #feeltheBern was the DSA, the Democratic Socialists of America, a middle-of-the-road social democratic group. They grew perhaps tenfold, & much more in terms of active members. It’s become the principal home in the US of anti-capitalists who aren’t anarchists.
The DSA’s largest chapter is NYC. And they’re in WBAI. A weekly one-hour, drive-time programme, 5pm Tuesdays, Revolutions Per Minute (RPM), is usually hosted by two members, Jack Devine & Lee Ziesche. In fact, it seems to be de facto proprietary – and I’m not talking Pacifica:
NYC-DSA now has a weekly radio program, Revolutions Per Minute on 99.5 WBAI. If you are interested in getting involved come join! There’s room for everyone, no experience necessary!
Not surprisingly they’ve got a slate of candidates, the Red Wave, in the current WBAI Local Station Board elections.
They have seven listener-candidates & two staff-candidates, here in ranked order: Safia Albaiti, Michael Mordowanec, Charlotte Albrecht, Rosa Palmieri, Simone Norman, Jez Zerbe, & David Torcivia; Jack Devine, & Amy Wilson. (As for the competition, there are 26 verified candidates for the nine listener-seats, & four for the three staff-seats, so Red Wave will win at least one of the latter.) “We’ll have a website up soon with a detailed platform and vision”, in the meantime, https://www.facebook.com/RedWaveWBAI/ & https://twitter.com/RedWaveWBAI (luv the Pisa transmitter, non-Stalinesque socialist realism, in the honest sense). https://airtable.com/shrnu59exwc0rRKad (gives the rankings, & also has a form for email updates from the Red Wave Collective)
It’s also surprising that no statement stresses that the candidate isn’t a grandparent or great-grandparent, making the slate a fresh broom for WBAI. This isn’t to be ageist, simply drawing attention to perhaps the biggest persuasive plus they have: voters, one suspects, don’t plumb so much for candidate politics as they do for personal characteristics, & with everyone knowing that Pacifica is getting even older, lots of voters will be pleased that under-40s, even those in their 20s, are running. Letting voters know this will certainly not harm their chances.
Then on 5Mar this year (results certified 18Mar), Hazel Pinder did the same with three such votes, out of 830 voting (other low achievers, likewise getting elected, were Dacio Quintana with five; Michael White, nine; Jim Dingeman, 12; Carolyn McIntyre, 13; & King Downing, 14). You see how even being a parent comes in useful? Remarkably, our Hazel was then elected in the second round, the only candidate to do so, having picked up 88% of Errol Maitland’s 198 redistributed votes! So, sadly, all down to the slate, not Hazel’s magnetism. The first & last rounds of the nominal 2018 pseudo-election: https://mega.nz/#!yz4lEChK!AzaYP0_nv9b30hYQGb3xr3O71DnY7msBracGaajIkhg & https://mega.nz/#!6zxxHajY!J2dOgxN6paySjOENYqugm8A2hMBAdwkXKjY0lnxaCaM
Redistributed votes. The Pacifica voting system meant that March this year, for the WBAI listener pseudo-election, once one got 60 votes one got elected, be it the first round, the 25th round. (For the staff, it was 17 votes.) And how many in the NYC chapter of DSA? . . . “5 500+”. (At the 19Nov2018 ‘record date’, there were 6 806 WBAI listener-members & 177 staff.) https://www.socialists.nyc/ & https://mega.nz/#!fyAwGICZ!-4uWYMHZW3CHxt6yCOITu006SVZ4AyNPjT9bWw6csb0 (Election Final Report 2018, pp. 7-9, 9, 1, 19; in Stalinist style, no longer publicly available on a Pacifica site – with Pacifica, its pervasive & entrenched anti-transparency culture, integral to its unthinking common sense, download written records whilst you can!)
Red Wave have set things up nicely, giving the WBAI members a test. How will they respond to the shock of the new, the shock of the youfff?
Will the Red Wave sweep all before it? Or will it be dammed, reduced to a ripple?
Can WBAI cope with this injection of youfff?
Or will WBAI carry on, undisturbed, confirmed & contented in its alienation, as if #feeltheBern never happened?
WBAI is fortunate to be presented with this opportunity, for Red Wave to bring a two-generation shift to the LSB. But will it be a step too far for the WBAI members?
This is a test of Pacifica’s capacity to change with the times, to embrace a harbinger of the future.
What transpires will be a portent, evidence of Pacifica’s capacity to re-new.
And the Gezi Park penguin graffito? There are very few green spaces, let alone parks, in much of Istanbul, population c. 20m, especially in the built-up retail areas. Gezi was to be destroyed, turned into shops & a barracks (where’s the surprise). People protested. When the rioting police moved in at 1am, Su2June2013, CNN International covered the attacks live; CNN Türk carried on showing their documentary, Penguins: Spy in the Huddle, starring 50 spycams. (Would have brought a smile to the face of Gil Scott-Heron.) Penguin graffiti ensued, along with a popular chant, responding to a police supply problem: ‘the people demand the old tear gas’.
The Pacifica advocates of the loan from the Foundation for the Jewish Community, FJC, have presented it as a good Samaritan, doing it out of the kindness of its heart. In fact, FJC is in a competitive market as a manager of donor-advised funds, a sector of the charity industry. One of its money-making operations is running a fund that lends at prime-plus, the Agency Loan Fund, ALF. Donors to FJC can lodge money with ALF, as can outsiders, all hungry for those extra percentage points of interest earnt.
FJC had been having problems finding borrowers for these prime-plus loans: only 46% of ALF had been converted into loans at 31Mar2018, the very time of the 2Apr Pacifica loan (its latest auditor’s report, year-end 31Mar2018, page 20; page 22 of the PDF). So, of course, Pacifica was welcomed with open arms. Sentiment this was not. http://fjc.org/uploads/user-uploads/image/FJC%203-31-18%20FINAL.pdf
The greatest aid to Pacifica transparency, on this or any matter, has not come from the National Board, the PNB. No, this came with the documents leaked W26June2019 on a Facebook group, then co-moderated & -administered by Grace Aaron. She was then, as now, Chair of the Pacifica Foundation. Most of the documents concern the loan from FJC. https://www.facebook.com/groups/PacificaRadiowaves/permalink/1264765520345396/
There’s also an advertising (underwriting) contract as part of the loan, signed 23Mar2018 by iED Livingston; please see below.
The $3.7m loan was reduced to $3.265m loan when Pacifica was unable to collateralise the KPFK transmitter site lease, at Mount Wilson. This was because it’s federal land administered by the Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service, & they wouldn’t give the necessary permissions. (The documentary evidence is contrary to the story being told in 2018 by Grace Aaron et al. that the attempt was to collateralise the transmitter, not the site lease – please see the loan agreement, Sec. 2.1(d); p. 5.)
What did the Pacifica National Board (PNB) commit the members to when it accepted FJC’s offer of the money?
the signed loan agreement is dated 2Apr2018, & it has a three-year term;
significantly, Pacifica directors agreed to a contract that details only two ways to pay the principal by 2Apr2021: selling as many broadcasting licences & station buildings as it takes: “a swap or sale of one or more radio licenses or a sale of other Pacifica owned assets” (Recital B; page 1);
annual interest at three percentage points above US prime rate (Section 2.2; p. 5). (So, an annual 7.75% when the loan started; 8%, effective 14June; 8.25%, 27Sep; 8.5%, 20Dec2018. [UPDATE: 8.25%, effective Th1Aug2019; 8%, Th19Sep; 7.75%, Th31Oct; 7.25%, W4Mar2020; 6.25%, M16Mar.] The three-year interest charge, with the coming recession dragging down the rate, will be less than $800k.);
the default rate, such as after a late payment – not least the paying of the principal on time (Sec. 8.1; p. 13) – is the lower of either 18% a year or the maximum under law (Sec. 1.1(10); p. 2);
Pacifica directors, with no public discussion, agreed to carry advertising, & on 23Mar2018 signed a contract with an advertising broker, F. Y. Eye, Inc.; FJC chose to make Pacifica do this “in lieu” of its “origination fee” (Sec. 3.1(2); pp. 6-7), & you may wonder why – details below; &
FJC never waits for a loan to default: it sells the loan on when it’s only “potentially impaired”, to the Marty & Dorothy Silverman Foundation; details below.
Pacifica’s immediate future is structured more by this contract than anything else.
PACIFICA’S $37 000 ADVERTISING CONTRACT with A FJC ‘DAUGHTER’ CORPORATION
As part of the FJC contract, on 23Mar2018 iED Tom Livingston signed an underwriting contract on behalf of Pacifica, for it to carry advertising. This hasn’t been acknowledged publicly by any Pacifica body, not least the Pacifica National Board (PNB). The details now follow.
Appended to the loan agreement, signed by Pacifica & FJC, is an unsigned underwriting contract (pp. 25-7). It is “substantially in the form” that Pacifica has agreed to sign with the NYC advertising broker, F.Y. Eye, Inc. (Sec. 3.1(2); pp. 6-7 & 25-7) – a corporation founded by its president, Lorin Silverman . . . yes, the President & Treasurer of FJC, and President & Treasurer of the Marty & Dorothy Silverman Foundation (of which, more anon). And, yes, it was Lorin’s signature that lent the money to Pacifica.
The language here is odd because IED Tom Livingston actually signed an advertising contract a week earlier, on 23Mar2018. The contract is with F. Y. Eye, Inc., & it’s dated 2Apr2018 (linked below). Signing for the latter was its President, Lorin Silverman (yes, a busy guy). Pacifica has publicly issued no document demonstrating that Livingston had been authorised by the PNB to do this. Likewise, there is no public Pacifica document showing that the PNB had agreed to advertising via the FJC loan. Such is the life of a secret society – moreover, one funded directly by the members, members who were never consulted on this matter. Moreover, members who have never shown any evidence, at any time in Pacifica’s 73-year history, of being enamoured to advertising on the Pacifica airwaves. Such is the anti-democratic disposition of the PNB majority. Shameless authoritarians. Eat yer heart out, Lew.
[Please note the convenient tabs at the top of each page of this blog: the blog feed (replicated vertically, top right of each page); sources on Pacifica & its operating environment, with many links; annual auditor’s reports, covering the period from 1Oct2004 to present; &, lastly, details of the $3.7m loan from the Foundation for the Jewish Community, FJC, taken out on 2Apr2018.]
[Welcome! This blog started Th18July2019. This was the day the Pacifica ‘leadership’ told the world they’d blown it – again. They’d discarded an executive director, Maxie Jackson, who had been trying to give the radio network a sound foundation, & therefore the possibility of a sustained future, rather than being in perpetual firefighting mode, quenched somewhat by the occasional shower of a bequest. Listeners, after all, can only take so much ZR, Zombie Radio. And they deserve so much better. Pacifica needs its renaissance. Bio-economics, not necro-economics.
When I can make the time, I’m adding, as context, older material that I’ve written. Most of that comes from the blog of Chris Albertson, a former station manager of Pacifica’s WBAI in NYC, https://wbai-nowthen.blogspot.com/. Sadly, Chris died in April this year. He was a gentle man, kind, and decent. This blog is dedicated to him.]
. . .
Spreading knowledge to improve transparency & accountability – all too often a conceit, a pious hope even. Many know what’s best but refuse to act. But when one cares, other than trying, what else can one rationally do? This is steadfastness, sumud.
So, yes, it’s often banging one’s head up against a brick wall, or the breakfast table. And, yes, given that normal people are quite limited in their incompetence & cock-ups, & for how long they let things go before seriously addressing what’s going wrong, one occasionally does have the sneaky suspicion that just a tad of Pacifica’s dysfunctionality might be intended, simply left to fester, making it easier to break up the network to the benefit of any station happening, against all the odds, to be making an operating surplus. Yes, Mr Burns is the metaphoric elephant in the studio.
This blog will assemble mostly publicly available info on the Pacifica radio network, known legally as Pacifica Foundation, Inc. The info will be commented upon, particularly for the gaps, &, importantly, a special striving will be made to ask the most illuminating questions, especially about what is not being said by decision-makers & the documents.
Pacifica entered a new, critical, phase in its history on 2Apr2018 when it signed the largest loan in its history, with the Foundation for the Jewish Community, known legally as FJC. The loan was $3 700 000 (albeit now reduced to $3 265 000), pretty onerous for a now annual $11m organisation that last made an audited annual net income in fiscal 2006. Yes, 2006. That run of consecutive losses, through fiscal 2017 (the latest statements), has totalled at least $12 745 968. (‘At least’ because the 2017 auditors refused to declare whether the statements were materially accurate: they found insufficient supporting evidence.) Pacifica last had audited net assets at 30Sep2012; & last had audited net current assets (that is, liquidity) at 30Sep2009. Yes, 2009. Not surprisingly, to get the loan, it had to give FJC as collateral all its property, every chair & coffee cup, besides the station buildings used by, not owned by, KPFA, KPFK, & KPFT (those in Berkeley, LA, Houston).
Pacifica decision-makers come & go, but the institution is noted for its obdurate & deep secrecy culture. Nevertheless, the co-signed loan contract between Pacifica & FJC was leaked on W26June2019, published with other documents on a public Facebook group, co-moderated & -administered at the time by Grace Aaron (she chaired her first public Pacifica National Board, PNB, meeting on Th9May this year). As an aside on the matter of info flow & speech advocacy, supposedly Pacifica values, my application to join that FB group, thereby acquiring the right to comment, has remained “pending” for three weeks now; two FB messages have gone unanswered, even unacknowledged; as context, this year just six people have joined. https://www.facebook.com/groups/PacificaRadiowaves/permalink/1264765520345396/[UPDATE: the remaining gatekeeper let me in M12Aug, as if I’d wandered up the same day – rather than almost 50 days before.]
Pacifica power is now even more concentrated because Grace Aaron became the executive director on the evening of F5July: yes, Maxie Jackson left his job that day, “resigning”, according to Aaron’s statement, ‘Executive Director Transition’, at the Th18July PNB (13:18, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb190718/pnb190718a.mp3). Committee meetings M8 & Tu9July had quietly disclosed, without using his name, that he had been disappeared. The most contemptuous was from director Mansoor Sabbagh, a KPFK staff delegate, to the PNB Finance Cttee: “we have got rid of our Executive Director” (44:46, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/finance/190709/finance190709b.mp3; unbelievably, R Paul Martin, WBAI’s stalwart treasurer, didn’t seem to know that Maxie had gone). With Pacifica being Pyongyang, without word from The Dear Leader this must have been unrestrained hubris. Quite pathetic, really, coming from Pacifica’s Uriah Heep. Yes, all human life, & much more, is found in PacificaWorld.
Well, be that as it may. The Personnel Cttee’s ED evaluation had stitched Maxie up M1July; the next day’s private PNB gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse; & Ken ‘I-can’t-help-it-if-I-sound-like-an-associate-of-Jimmy-Hoffa’ Aaron did the rest.
And being Pacifica, for over two weeks, no public announcement of the dismissal. No press statement. No statement to staff. No statement to listeners. Nothing on the website, https://pacifica.org/ (except ‘Contact>Foundation’ had a change, “Interim Executive Director”, but then gave “Bill Crosier”, which was true upto 23Jan2018– still there as of F19July; no surprise, as the latest item in the ‘News’ section is dated 25Feb2015). And even now there’s no explanation. Contempt for listeners & staff alike. A complete lack of manners. Just milk them for cash. Last night’s words, or lack of them, an insult. The behaviour, cowardly. A board of directors, lacking in integrity. But what’s new?
Pacifica’s inability to cope with an ED determined to bring industry norms to the network, comes on top of all five Spring Fund-Drives failing, & cashflow becoming seriously more acute than usual in June. Unable to generate an annual net income since FY2006, & now with the added burden of the c. $300k annual FJC interest charge, Pacifica now finds itself descending into necro-economics: relying on rich corpses to offer up bequests.
Pacifica, through its actions, & inactions, is faced with declining & ageing listenership, declining membership, declining listener-fundraising, & grants cut off through lack of listeners & audited financial statements (the FY2017 auditor made things worse Th27June by refusing to declare that the statements were materially accurate, having no alternative given the acute lack of supporting financial records). To cap it all, the PNB majority has now driven out a moderniser & technician, ED Maxie Jackson. He was behaving in a completely, not just un-Pacifican, but anti-Pacifican way: trying to raise standards, trying to lay the basis for Pacifica to improve its competencies, structures, & processes in broadcasting, programming, community involvement, fundraising, bookkeeping & accounting, & governance.
This was never going to end well. Being told home truths, & pushing for best practices rather than the same-olde-same-olde, just ruffled too many feathers, just upset too many people. The whiff of NPR-lite. The ED simply didn’t understand Pacifica. The ED simply had to go.
So what’s the plan? “[The] Pacifica Foundation is in the process of hiring a highly qualified radio, television, & multimedia professional to hold the interim position of executive director. More information will be forthcoming. A formal search for a permanent executive director is already in progress” (‘Executive Director Transition’, Th18July PNB; 14:00, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb190718/pnb190718a.mp3). Sounds reasonable. The sort of thing a normal radio network would say. But what are the prospects?
Consider the evidence. There were seven ED’s 2004-2009; since then, with Aaron, there have been another nine. So 16 in 15 years. Maxie lasted nine months. How many other outsiders, since 2009, have lasted longer than Maxie? One: Arlene Engelhardt, 2009-2012. Pacifica is so toxic for outsiders that there were only two others amongst these nine: John Proffitt, five months; Tom Livingston, eight months. Maxie was the second-choice: Numero Uno, at the last minute, decided to tune in to a PNB livestream. He immediately withdrew his application. Today, as yesterday, which media professional will risk their career with Pacifica?
So much for the current goings-on. This blog, in an attempt to give context & coherence, will begin with posts of work written in 2018 & 2019, corrected to remove the few errors pointed out to me. They were kindly published by Chris Albertson, a former station manager of WBAI, at his longstanding blog, https://wbai-nowthen.blogspot.com/. Sadly Chris died in April this year, & his blog cannot be added to. He was a gentle man, kind, and decent. This blog is dedicated to him.
But first I post the materially objective quantitative starting point, the annual auditor’s reports, here those covering the period from 1Oct2004. (These don’t include the reports by the pensions’ auditor, which I have been unable to obtain.)
Readers are heartily invited to comment, of course, & it would be even better if you also submitted posts & shared ideas on what should be covered & discussed. Please email me at either email@example.com or, for end-to-end encryption, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For convenience, the main longer pieces I’ve written are downloadable as PDF’s here (I had sent them to all delegates of the five Local Station Boards on 16Nov2018): https://www.mediafire.com/#mr2t6dtdeknsd