Putting the cart before the horse. Why’s there no public record of the Foundation having a Secretary, the only person authorised to receive this by-laws petition? Has the petition been validated, not least that c. 465 signatories are members in good standing? – open letter to Pacifica IED John Vernile

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.

Yours sincerely,

Jara Handala

How did Maxie miss this talent?

There was me, being a lil sceptical about Ms Aaron’s abilities. She really does have an eye for talent. Talent, along with best practices, watchwords of the dearly departed Maxie Jackson. Ms Aaron, with no history of radio management, radio achievement, radio network success, really does know how to surround herself with the right people.

Here, on audio, is captured Ms Aaron’s first appointment. In full flow. The interim General Manager of KPFT, Houston. On his first day. Mr Jack Valinski. This evening, Jack was the first guest on ‘his’ show, Queer Voices, where until a week ago he’d been exec producer, for over 17 years.

But tonight Jack showed why he’s stepped up. And now Jack says he’s trying to prove himself as station manager, as at the mo he only has the ‘interim’ label, you understand. Don’t worry, Jack, the way you lay it on the line here, you’ve clearly got all the talent, all the technique, all the best practices needed to succeed in today’s Pacifica.

When Jack was vetted by Ms Aaron it was obviously his ideas on ‘the vision thing’ that clinched the job (2:10, 11:17). Here is Jack’s big interview, 4:30 – 25:51. Too many highlights even to list, so please enjoy the full KPFT experience:

https://mega.nz/#!DrIHBY5Z!o8j-mUPSgJz-thJwPPI0eYgiXnsuTArg1iH-Ngv6g-c (26:13, 12 MB, the archive’s original 64 KBps); temporarily, with same timestamps, in these station archives: https://archive.kpft.org & https://kpft.org/programming/newstalk/queer-voices/

Another intern – sorry, interim – is the executive director, Mr John Vernile. His job’s been made a lot easier with Ms Aaron’s judicious elevation of Jack. Texas is all sown up now. John won’t have to get his hands around the Houston issues, & take a deep dive into the options. (I know John’s from the music industry, but in the age of #MeToo he’d better be careful with his catchphrases.)

All this leaves Jack hardly able to contain himself, like Willy Wonka on meth, as he’s left alone to devise his multi-dimensional integrated plan for the station. That vision thing, again.

The surrealness of it all was unintentionally captured with the outgoing music, The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy. Pure genius. Enjoy these 20 minutes of Jack at his most impressive.

Thank Allah we’ve got Ms Aaron, Pacifica’s living, breathing deity.

Remind me, what was all that fuss about, some Maxie guy or someone, right?

Open letter to Pacifica Executive Director John Vernile: what’s your plan? why’s Maxie gone?

4 August 2019

Subject: The intensifying Pacifica crisis; & the financials archive at pacifica.org

Dear Mr Vernile,

You arrive at a momentous time for Pacifica. The majority of the directors has chosen to reject rationality, in this case, to reject technique. It has chosen to halt the initiative that was underway to create the multi-dimensional necessary & sufficient conditions that can arrest Pacifica’s decline, thereby bringing stability, this as preparation for allowing the network to improve & grow. This initiative was designed, monitored, & managed by Executive Director Maxie Jackson.

Not surprisingly, a public discussion of Pacifica’s irrationality is underway. For example, Ken Mills, a well-known radio professional, published three posts in the space of eight days. One of these posts was visited over 3 000 times within four days. This is public news amongst radio professionals. This is not Pacifica gossip. (For your convenience, one of the posts, that even refers to you, with photo: http://acrnewsfeed.blogspot.com/2019/07/what-its-like-to-work-for-grace-aaron.html.)

When you are better acquainted with the evidence, I’m sure you’ll agree that it was a serious mistake to oust Executive Director Maxie Jackson. And, unfortunately, not least for your own tenure, the consequences are not going away any time soon.

This is the situation you have become part of, & irretrievably so. But mitigation can be made. 

You are currently touring the stations, gathering information, hopefully knowledge. When you have devised your own evidence-based initiative, stated as your plan, the one to be implemented during your six-month tenure, I would very much appreciate you sending me a copy. As you know, being transparent helps make it possible for decision-makers, such as yourself, to be judged in an informed way by Pacifica members, staff, listeners, & others. It also helps generate confidence in your tenure.

The Pacifica Foundation has, bafflingly, chosen not to explain why Executive Director Maxie Jackson is no longer at his post. No-one believes he simply resigned, that he simply gave up. The air needs to be cleared. Honesty needs to be nailed to the Pacifica mission statement, in furtherance of its “educational purposes”. Confidence in your tenure, at this crucial early stage, will be raised if you are able to bring openness here. Pacifica members, staff, & listeners deserve to know the truth. I beseech you to do your best endeavours, if only for your own sake, making your job easier, earning respect through your action.

Finally, I want to raise a National Office matter. I do so with you because an email page or address for ‘National Office’ isn’t at pacifica.org, & you are the principal administrator of the Foundation.

I’m glad that, at last, the financials webpages of pacifica.org are being improved. However, there are a number of deficiencies, currently displayed, that may inadvertently be left there: they include the absence of auditor’s reports; & a crucial page missing from another of these reports, the auditor’s narrative. The deficiencies are listed in a post at PacificaWatch: https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/18/pacifica-annual-auditor-s-reports/.

All users of these webpages will look forward to the completion of this improvement. Not an immediate priority, but a review should be made of the utility of all Pacifica websites. And wider still, an evaluation of Pacifica’s attempt to communicate using the internet. Yes, the Pacifica radio network needs an evidence-based communications strategy.

Yours sincerely,

Jara Handala

Administrative measures, not open discussion – the Pacifica way

[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.)]

Mr Mills’ posts:

F19July ‘Maxie Jackson out as Pacifica executive director’ http://acrnewsfeed.blogspot.com/2019/07/maxie-jackson-out-as-pacifica-executive.html (as of F2Aug, two comments – a two-parter of mine, the points made being incorporated in this blog’s inaugural ‘Welcome!’ post, https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/18/welcome/)

M22July ‘Pacifica alert: Maxie Jackson is out & Grace Aaron has taken over’ http://acrnewsfeed.blogspot.com/2019/07/pacifica-alert-maxie-jackson-is-out.html (five comments – including a two-parter of mine, posted here as https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/24/maxie-jackson-pacifica-the-politics-of-technique-a-tragedy-for-both/)

F26July ‘What its like to work for Grace Aaron, Chair of the Pacifica National Board’ http://acrnewsfeed.blogspot.com/2019/07/what-its-like-to-work-for-grace-aaron.html (five comments – including my above four-parter. Mr Mills re-posted his piece later that day; as of F2Aug that has no comments.)

John Carlo Vernile, Pacifica’s new corporate careerist ED – & previous premiums vendor to KPFK

The man on the left (well, standing there, at least) . . . then a fit, spritely 51-year-old, a Rebel Without a Tie; in 2010, then Vice-President, EMI Music North America, with Ma. Ve.

So the new Pacifica executive director is John Carlo Vernile. So not /Farneal/, as pronounced by Chair & current ED, Grace Aaron, in her unintended leak at Monday’s Strategic Planning Cttee. That faux pas was revealed by this blog, as was Pacifica’s bungled, failed coverup. The Pacifica ‘leadership’ is so inept it can’t even deceive properly. Persons unknown engineered to excise that part of the audiofile of the meeting, thereby violating a Federal Communications Commission rule that exists to help make decision-makers accountable. Thing is, it had already been livestreamed. Oh, dear. https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/22/grace-aaron-leaks-name-of-new-ied-john-farneal-sp-then-pacifica-splices-the-audiofile-in-failed-coverup/

Maxie Jackson was hired as ED in very late Sep2018, after a lengthy search by the recruitment firm of the then ED, Tom Livingston. Nine months later the PNB majority, & their staff allies, had made Maxie’s life unbearable, pushing him out. That was done at the private Tu2July PNB meeting. That Friday he removed his labels from inside the fridge.

PNB Chair Grace Aaron became ED. The ‘recruitment search’ for her own replacement never existed: Mr Vernile was already lined up. Maybe the Personnel Cttee was never involved: chopping up Maxie had worn them out. So by the weekend everything was sorted. Then Grace blurted his name out at Tuesday’s Finance Cttee – she thinks every meeting she’s in is secret. Importantly, she also said he won’t be coming any time soon, indicating no sense of urgency, even that he won’t be hanging around all that long; maybe in a particular month he’ll be here, maybe he won’t:

“John Vernile will be giving input, er, well, within a matter of weeks, or a month or two [interrupted by Chair Alex Steinberg]” 0:34, https://upload.cat/b7d888611c2d5295 (1:43, 2.2 MB)

Having waited over a decade to have the chance to become executive director, Grace 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, with Grace doing the work . . . lento . . . lento . . . even largo . . .

But this tardiness is contradicted by the announcement of his appointment in yesterday’s Pacifica press statement, now on its homepage, https://pacifica.org/; the linked PDF just adds a blurb, https://pacifica.org/documents/press_vernile_190724.pdf

That paints quite a different picture, of a myriad of superhuman efforts about to be unleashed upon the Pacifica Foundation:

“I will be focused on activity that engages audiences, expands opportunities for financial support and stabilizes national operations […] I will assist our General Managers and staff to develop resources that help our stations and affiliate network better serve our communities […] the critical mission of making great radio first and foremost” (my emphases)

After reading that, I think we all need to take in a deep breath, a really deep breath . . .

Once we’ve restored our composure, & digested the presso’s platitudes & generalities, we can consider a few specifics about Super John, ones that are quite easy to find.

Basically, Super John is a corporate careerist, mostly with Sony Music: a salesman, a promoter. No evidence, whatsoever, that he’s had any experience of turning round a basket-case like Pacifica. There is no evidence that he’s suited for the ED task that needs to be carried out in the next six months. Note that the necessary enabling conditions for this period were being patiently put into place not by Super John but under the direction of Maxie Jackson.

Pacifica: out of the frying pan, into the fire.

Everything under Heaven is in utter chaos, the situation is excellent – as a librarian once said.

Specifics about Super John:

corporate careerist, mostly with Sony Music, “at Sony Classical, Columbia and Legacy, ending up as SVP of Artist & Catalog Development” (below interview). Also VP, EMI Music North America.

the premiums supplier to KPFK https://www.forestincentives.com/about

retired from Forest Incentives, Ltd. as president in 2017, replaced by Greg Dumont, when the Pennsylvania company re-structured, registering also in California & New York https://www.corporationwiki.com/p/2z4s61/john-vernile

he started Forest Music Express https://current.org/2014/08/new-service-gives-station-donors-choice-of-digital-music-premiums/

a firm he set up https://publicmediaservice.com (yup, single webpage – for the whole site; just a contact page – maybe that’s why he was glad to take this very temporary Pacifica gig . . . maybe this is how Grace contacted him)

an interview, published July2014; the most informative of the material, in a way (fave band is The Clash, apparently) https://www.allaccess.com/triple-a/10-questions/archive/19586/10-questions-with-john-vernile

when Vice-President for Promotions, Sony Classical, 2007 https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10947973&t=1564073222321