Is PNB Director Robin Collier undermining Pacifica by setting up Association of Affiliates, a non-profit, Tu24Sep?

. . . fishing for fish, not affiliates . . .

Please note that all eight links bar one are embedded in the text. I’m not wholly convinced that the pale blue stands out enough, so don’t be surprised if I revert to how things were.

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Things are moving fast in PacificaWorld.

Robin Collier isn’t from Laos, but Taos. New Mexico. He’s President of Cultural Energy which owns KCEI, a Pacifica affiliate. The PNB elected him one of the two Pacifica directors coming from the affiliates, & they took their seats 31Jan (19:28).

These days, Robin’s been going a lil freelance. Tuesday just gone, 24Sep, he submitted to the New Mexico Secretary of State the articles of incorporation of Association of Affiliates. The next day he got the rubber-stamp. Here’s what Maggie sent him, the certificate of incorporation (download, or read online via the Clouseau symbol).

Please note that “Pacifica National Foundation” (Article II; page 3 of the PDF) is not Pacifica Foundation, Inc., which holds the FCC licences for KPFA, KPFK, KPFT, WPFW, & WBAI. So, PNF? Cursory internet inspection drew a blank.

Hopefully Robin’ll soon explain what he has in mind.

Wonder if Ursula Ruedenberg, longstanding director of the Pacifica affiliate programme, is in the loop on this?

IED Vernile, too – or is this an IED for him & for those trying to stop Pacifica being broken up?

And things get even more interesting. The official history of the Pacifica affiliate programme says this in passing about the committee that made the successful proposal to the PNB back in 2003: “community radio station managers also served on the committee, including Norm Stockwell from WORT, Madison”. Yup. The same Norm Stockwell who’s one of the at-large directors carefully selected by the breaker faction.

Oh.

In this context it’s of note that Mr Collier, the last evening the PNB met, Th19Sep, supported the breaker faction candidate in the crucial, tied, vote for the temporary Chair (38:57).

(That was the meeting that spawned two fundraiser premiums for Pacifica, the ‘A’ Audiofile & the ‘B’ Audiofile. The gift-wrapped super-premium, in the sleeve notes, came with this unforgettable remark from the highlights of the lowlights: “Adrienne shows she’s having problems getting into the swing of things: fails to appreciate why electing a pro tem Chair to take over from the Vice-Chair is needed immediately before electing the new Chair – give her time”. https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/09/20/pacifica-release-their-latest-fundraiser-premium-after-the-bloodletting-the-rancour/)

So, Robin, what’s going on here? We all believe in transparency, don’t we, Robin? Spill the re-fried beans, dude.

The website of Cultural Energy has a “FFC” (sic) link, & this FCC page gives Cultural Energy’s as the station website. But, unlike Pacifica’s website, it carries no financial info, none whatsoever. KCEI’s FCC licence was granted 2016, expiring 31Jan next year.

(Just a minor detail on the topic of such licences expiring: that for WPFW is in half a week’s time, Tuesday next week, 1Oct. Obviously IED Vernile is on the case – Johnny’s such a tease, a real drama queen.) [UPDATE: an extension was applied for, & granted 1July, thru to 29Dec this year: https://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/getimportletter_exh.cgi?import_letter_id=91488. So it’s odd that the station’s FCC public file says the licence expires 1Oct, hence my note: https://publicfiles.fcc.gov/fm-profile/wpfw, the link that appears in the FCC section of one of this blog’s pages, ‘Sources on Pacifica’. So the FCC gives apparently contradictory info, apparent because, for example, the extension may have been revoked or shortened. Thanx to Tracy Rosenberg for giving, M30Sep, the link to the extension: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PacificaRadiowaves/permalink/1335091679979446/.]

First Maxie, now Grace: Grace Aaron deposed as Chair of the Pacifica Board, Th5Sep

Grace Aaron is no more – according to the Foundation’s website: “Chair election”, listed as one of the purposes of the Pacifica National Board meeting this Thursday, at 7.30pm EDT (note, it’s an hour earlier than usual).

https://kpftx.org/pacalendar/cal_show1.php?eventdate=20190919

It seems she met her demise not on the way to the Forum but at the PNB’s Th5Sep private meeting. In the tradition of the secrecy culture secreting from every pore of the beast known as Pacifica, this non-confidentiality matter wasn’t done in public, allowing members, staff, listeners, to hear the reasons & arguments made, & how directors voted. Oh, no. That would be transparency in action – anathema to the Pacifica way. Instead, her former allies turned against her, knives drawn, stabbing her. In the front, the sides, &, of course, the back. Cowards. All of them.

Greek tragedy this was not. Pacifican tragedy neither. It was simply what passes for daily life amongst The Chosen of Pacifica. Just a lil bit more raw.

A number of hitherto reliable sources tell me the proximate reason for Ms Aaron’s end was her defence of WBAI’s station manager, He-of-the-Augsburger, Berthold Reimers. In this she was supported by Director Alex Steinberg, a WBAI listener-delegate. But a raging gale of retribution is blasting through Pacifica HQ 2.0, the virtual version, powered by CSC, Californian station chauvinism, & all those frightened forces who think that if WBAI is hacked off then their own station’s begging bowl has fewer competitors. So let’s all gang-up on WBAI, 4-on-1.

Hence the Alex Steinberg/James Sagurton report to the W11Sep WBAI LSB, warning that “the goal of these behind the scene machinations is not the revival of WBAI but its dismantling“. It’s just that in Stalinist style, Alex left out the lil detail of Gorgon Grace having her snakes slashed off a few days before. Old habits never die. Stalinists, nuns, indeed, Stalinist nuns, same-same-same. https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/09/13/the-goal-of-these-behind-the-scene-machinations-is-not-the-revival-of-wbai-but-its-dismantling-pacifica-directors-sound-the-alarm/

This Thursday there are three PNB meetings, with these stated purposes, etc.:

  • 7.30pm public session: “Set Bylaws Notice Date, ED report, Chair election, NES report[;] Special meeting called by Directors Crosier [KPFT listener-delegate], Sabbagh [KPFK staff-delegate], Goldmacher [KPFA listener]” (my italics & bold), posted by Bill Crosier, 10.54pm EDT (updated 11.41pm), Th12Sep;
  • 8.30pm private session: “Personnel Issues, Legal Issues, Governance Issues[;] Meeting called by Tom Voorhees [KPFA staff], Alex Steinberg [WBAI listener], Grace Aaron [KPFK listener]”, posted by Grace Aaron, 3.13pm, M9Sep; &
  • 10.30pm public session: “Governance, Committee Business[;] Meeting called by Tom Voorhees, Alex Steinberg, Grace Aaron”, posted by Grace Aaron, 3.17pm, M9Sep

https://kpftx.org/pacalendar/cal_show1.php?eventdate=20190919

So not just electing a new PNB Chair, but setting in motion the revision of the by-laws. The new majority are intent on fundamental change. Hence the Steinberg/Sagurton focus on the Pacifica break-up plans of Peter Franck & others (please see the posts of recent days).

So it needs to be emphasised that Grace’s passing is only part of a much more expansive move from within the PNB: (1) to instigate direct central control over WBAI, removing local management (principally GM Berthold Reimers & perhaps PD Linda Perry), & (2) to revise the by-laws, making it easier to dissolve the Pacifica network. Call it ABS, the Acid Bath Strategy.

Simultaneously, the monthly LSB meetings are being cancelled without explanation: KPFT’s W11Sep (announced at Meeting Archive, 11.38pm EDT, M9Sep), & also not just KPFA’s Sa21Sep (ditto, 1.32pm EDT, Sa14Sep) but the 19Oct too (ditto, 9.18pm EDT, W21Aug). KPFK’s was due to meet yesterday, Su15Sep (audio likely to be posted tomorrow, perhaps Wednesday, at https://kpftx.org/archive.php). Shutting down discussion isn’t part of the progressive playbook – but Pacifica is run by reactionaries, passionate about controlling access to information. Is a coordinated attempt being made to stymie opportunities to ask basic questions, to discuss, to express dissent?

Consistent with it all is the lack of mandatory posting of audiofiles for two recent public sessions of PNB cttees.: the Tu3Sep Strategic Planning Cttee, & the W4Sep Programming Cttee. As expected, no explanation for these violations is given at https://kpftx.org/archive.php. Manners maketh man, but obviously not P-man.

This makes the current Local Station Board elections more important than ever, as the cliché has it. Voting started Th15Aug, ends Tu15Oct, with results certified F1Nov. Will the commencement of ructions drive the 46k electors towards the polls or make them rip up their membership cards in despair? Latest from National Elections Supervisor Renee Penaloza, Th5Sep, with listener quorum 10%: KPFA 3.4%, KPFK 2.5%, KPFT 3.6%, WPFW 3.0%, WBAI 3.3%. Every chance we’ll see stuffing by blank ballots again. (The NES’ link for a later report, apparently dated Su15Sep, is as dead as a Pacifican parrot.) https://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/ (strapline, “Grassroots Democracy at Pacifica Radio”) & http://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Pacifica-Election-Report-09-05-19.pdf

Not to be outdone by the PNB, the same evening, the execution process proceeds apace at WBAI. Here the Management Evaluation Cttee sits (or is it smothers?): “[t]his meeting will complete preparations for the Management Evaluation Process”. The joy, the schadenfreude, of the rule of the offices. This, the station-level correlate of the PNB Personnel Cttee, the one chaired by Grace’s fellow Gorgon, Jan Goodman, that delivered Maxie to the slab. https://kpftx.org/pacalendar/cal_show1.php?eventdate=20190919

The bodies are beginning to pile up in PacificaWorld.

On a happier note, contradicting the meetings archive, of course, a more prominent Foundation webpage still lists Ms Aaron as the occupant: https://pacifica.org/pnb_members.php. Touching. As the lady puts it at the end of her own personal correspondence, peace . . .

. . . Pacifica peace . . . doing it all for The Mission . . . Pacifica, where peace is war . . .

“the goal of these behind the scene machinations is not the revival of WBAI but its dismantling” – Pacifica directors sound the alarm

Wednesday’s Pacifica directors’ report to the WBAI Local Station Board was extraordinary. I’m sober, not one for hyperbole. And this is the only way to describe it.

The highlights of the lowlights:

  • “the goal of these behind the scene machinations is not the revival of WBAI but its dismantling
  • “We believe WBAI is in grave danger”
  • “a series of events has transpired in the past two weeks that should raise the alarm bells about the continued existence of WBAI as an independent radio station”
  • “a group of Directors on the PNB is intent on usurping the role of the WBAI LSB in evaluating management. They are intent on removing WBAI’s management team by executive fiat”
  • “we are once more hearing about why a team from California should be sent immediately to take over and manage WBAI”
  • “This report is meant to alert the WBAI LSB and WBAI staff, listeners and supporters to the dangers we are facing”

Once again, the real business of Pacifica is being done in secret, beyond the reach of scrutiny. And according to this account by Pacifica directors Alex Steinberg & James Sagurton, existential matters are being discussed, & decided, without the involvement of the Local Station Boards, the members, staff, & listeners. Central in this is the new Interim Executive Director John Vernile, a corporate music careerist, who was ghosted in by PNB Chair Grace Aaron, a KPFK listener-delegate, replacing ED Maxie Jackson, who had been served up on the slab by Pacifica hack & PNB Personnel Cttee Chair, Jan Goodman, a KPFK listener-delegate. IED Vernile has said absolutely nothing of substance in the few public appearances he has graced us with, gigs no doubt reluctantly made. He has already earnt, with laurels, his initials, John BS Vernile.

RealWorld is warming, & so is PacificaWorld. This blog, tipped off by federal health officials, has noted an increase in the incidence of CSC, Californian Station Chauvinism. And it wasn’t hard to predict this would increase political tensions. The latest public example is Wednesday’s counter-attack from Pacifica directors who are also WBAI listener-delegates.

Warnings of all this are already on the public record, for example at Tuesday’s PNB Finance Cttee meeting, 10Sep. PNB Secretary Bill Crosier, KPFT listener-delegate, the ring-leader according to Steinberg/Sagurton, was talking up the prospect of job losses in the context of an unargued need to not just pay the FJC interest but also to soon reduce the $3.265m principal (59:12). These jobs would mostly be in California (please see the blog link), a fact that can be used to fuel both Cali separatism & a push to raise cash from trading the FCC licence of a non-Cali station or three. Not to be outdone, KPFA Treasurer Sharon Adams (31:39), alleged to be a Crosier accomplice, floated the idea of financial penalties for stations unable to make their contribution to the c. $270k annual interest payment to the Foundation for the Jewish Community, FJC ($3.265m x 8.25%). Eat yer 💗 out, Yip Harburg. https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/finance/190910/finance190910a.mp3 & https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/09/11/station-listener-membership-to-split-the-67k-fjc-quarterly-interest-charge-question-mark/

The political dividing line is clear: it isn’t station versus station, it’s solidarity versus separatism: it’s defence of the Pacifica network or against the Pacifica network. SOLIDARITY versus SEPARATISM.

A word about the posting of this report at the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center (Indybay), part of the worldwide Indymedia project, https://www.indybay.org/. It’s not disclosed who put it up, all it says is “by Stop the Power Grab”; so rather than one of the Pacifica directors from WBAI they’re more likely to be a Californian supporter of the Pacifica network, an opponent of CSC, the corrosive Californian station chauvinism. The Indybay article is titled ‘Shock Doctrine: Power Grab At Pacifica To Destroy WBAI By KPFA Cabal’; only the words ‘shock doctrine’ appear in the directors’ report itself. The prefatory paragraph isn’t Mr Steinberg’s style he’s never been keen on a certain usage of the word cabal. After a repeat of the article’s title we have ‘September 11, 2019 – Director’s Report to the WBAI LSB – Presentation by Directors Rhodes, Sagurton and Steinberg – The future of Pacifica and “Plan B”‘. Please note, staff-delegate Shawn Rhodes didn’t sign the report, said by this headline to be also issued in his name; & the fourth director from WBAI, Ralph Poynter, a listener-delegate, isn’t mentioned. https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/09/12/18826188.php

The directors’ report refers to a creation of an Oakland media lawyer, Peter Franck’s ‘Plan B’ proposal, of 23Sep2018, to break-up the Pacifica network: it appears as a separate post here, https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/09/13/peter-franck-plan-b-a-friendly-divorce-to-save-the-stations-23sep2018/. ‘Breaker’ Franck uses as his starting-point the 5Aug2012 break-up proposal of former Pacifica director & KPFA stalwart, Carol Spooner; yes, that’s posted here too, https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/09/13/carol-spooner-time-for-an-amicable-divorce-at-pacifica-question-mark-open-letter-to-pnb-5aug2012/.

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September 11, 2019

Director’s [sic] Report to the WBAI LSB
Presentation by Directors Rhodes, Sagurton and Steinberg
The future of Pacifica and ‘Plan B’

We, the undersigned Directors from WBAI, wish to bring to the attention of the WBAI LSB and the public that a series of events has transpired in the past two weeks that should raise the alarm bells about the continued existence of WBAI as an independent radio station beaming a powerful signal in the largest media market in the country. We believe WBAI is in grave danger. Some of these events we cannot discuss explicitly because they took place in a closed session of the Pacifica National Board while other events involve confidential personnel issues. What we can tell you, based on discussions with a number of individuals that are not covered by confidentiality rules, the proceedings of open sessions of the PNB and its committees, as well as a paper trail of documents and emails and past actions by certain individuals with a history within Pacifica, is that a group of Directors on the PNB is intent on usurping the role of the WBAI LSB in evaluating management. They are intent on removing WBAI’s management team by executive fiat. Furthermore the goal of these behind the scene machinations is not the revival of WBAI but its dismantling. The group of Directors behind these actions are led by Bill Crosier from KPFT, who is currently the Secretary of the PNB. Crosier has the strong backing of Director Adrienne LaViollette [LaViolette] from KPFT, Mansour [Mansoor] Sabbagh from KPFK, Donald Goldmacher from KPFA, Chris Cory from KPFA and Sabrina Jacobs, the Vice-Chair of the PNB, also from KPFA a network of individuals from the Bay Area long associated with KPFA. The general outlines of their plan for WBAI and Pacifica are no mystery. A recent document by long-time KPFA insider Peter Franck, called ‘Plan B’ makes clear exactly what they want to do.

Franck’s ‘Plan B’ (see the appendix to this document) calls for the dismantling of Pacifica as a network and the devolution of each of the radio stations into its own legal entity. This will be accomplished by essentially scrapping the current bylaws either through a lawsuit or through the intervention of the California Attorney General. Democratically elected Local Station Boards will be gone. They will be replaced by purely advisory bodies appointed by management. The Pacifica National Board will be left to preside over a ghost of what the Pacifica Foundation has been, being left with a modest programming service. The new PNB will be smaller and weaker, ceding much more authority to the Executive Director. It will also have at least some members who are appointed rather than elected. Franck’s document makes the case that starting the new legal entities and energizing the stations will take a lot of start-up cash. How is this cash going to be raised? He says the solution is simple, we can easily raise between $10 to $15 million by “swapping or selling one of our signals.” Guess which signal he has in mind to finance his reorganization plan? Hint, it’s not KPFA.

A little bit of recent history

It is public knowledge that Director Crosier, when he was interim Executive Director in 2017, was a strong advocate of the sale or swap, first of the WPFW license, and then of the WBAI license. Crosier was also a strong advocate, along with then CFO Sam Agarwal, of Pacifica going into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Crosier and Agarwal opposed all efforts to find an alternative to bankruptcy in dealing with the ESRT lawsuit.

Crosier and Agarwal strongly opposed the loan that made possible the settlement of the ESRT lawsuit and the move to 4 Times Square. The people most involved in negotiating that loan, Directors Nancy Sorden, Jan Goodman and Grace Aaron, did their work in spite of the hostile reception from Pacifica’s iED at the time, Bill Crosier, and CFO Sam Agarwal. Let us remind this audience that the settlement with ESRT saved us $1.9 million that would have been due if we had not gotten out of the remainder of our lease. It also reduced our monthly tower rent costs from something between $60-$70K per month to approximately $18K per month. Not only did we see a 400% saving on our Tower Rent in moving to 4 Times Square but we kept 100% of our listener coverage area and actually have a better signal than we had at Empire State thanks to a brand-new transmitter that was part of the deal with 4 Times Square.

So Crosier, who was proved dead wrong in 2017 when he said there was no good alternative to bankruptcy, is back at it again in 2019. He has once more bought into the idea, originating from some quarters in KPFA, indeed it appears he never really abandoned it, that all the problems of Pacifica could be solved by sacrificing WBAI.

The game plan

How do the group of Directors on board with Peter Franck’s ‘Plan B’, intend to force the liquidation, one way or another, of WBAI? We already know their game plan by once more looking at some recent history. Back in the summer of 2017, Pacifica was without question in a genuine crisis. We were facing a lawsuit from Empire State for Tower rent that had not been paid in over a year and considerable penalties. WBAI, along with some other stations, also had a very poor fund drive. iED Crosier decided that the way to deal with this crisis was to send a “rescue team” [ambiguous whether these are scare-quotes or quotation marks] to WBAI. The ostensible purpose of this “rescue team” was to help management fix WBAI. But the real purpose, it soon became clear, was to replace the WBAI General Manager and interim Program Director with a hand-picked team from KPFA. Director Sabrina Jacobs, who had absolutely no management experience, was supposed to lead this “rescue team”. When we found out about this plan it struck some of the Directors at the time, notably Directors Steinberg and Aaron, as a completely irrational and panic-driven approach to a real problem. How in the world would a team from California, who knew nothing about WBAI and its culture and who had no management experience, be able to fix a problem that had been festering for years. And while it is certainly legitimate to critique the management of WBAI, it should be kept in mind that the bulk of the problems at WBAI were due to outside events about which WBAI management had no control, namely the impossible Empire State lease approved by a past PNB 15 years previously and the stripping down of three quarters of WBAI’s staff by a previous PNB shortly after hurricane Sandy, leaving WBAI with less than a skeleton crew. It seemed to some of us that this plan, if it were carried out, could only destabilize WBAI and deepen its crisis further. It made absolutely no sense and we managed to shut down this idea literally at the last minute before it was launched.

Is WBAI a ‘failed station’?

Now move forward two years to the late summer of 2019. The Pacifica Foundation in 2019 and WBAI are in much better shape now than they were in 2017 prior to the settlement with ESRT, when things looked so bleak. We completed our 2017 audit and are close to completing our 2018 audit. Once that is done, we will be current with our audits and work can begin on the 2019 audit as soon as we close out the 2019 fiscal year at the end of September. We have pretty much paid all obligations that we owed on our pension plans, debts that had triggered off a Department of Labor investigation in 2017. Democracy Now, to whom we owed several million, forgave us that debt, thereby immediately improving Pacifica’s financial profile. We have an accounting and financial infrastructure in place now that was sadly lacking in 2017 as a result of hiring NETA to do our books and provide us with other services that were once handled by the National Office. When the 2018 audit is completed and we are current with our audits, will be in a position to try to regain our CPB funding, the lack of which for the past 5 years has cost us $4-$5 million. We will also be in a position to approach foundations and major donor who all require up to date audits before considering grants. That’s the situation at the national level.

At the local level we have seen some significant improvements at WBAI. The number of members rose by 1,400 over last year. That’s a gain of roughly 20%. Not only is our membership up, but listenership is also up as confirmed by Nielsen ratings. This is largely due to a series of programming changes aimed at improving their quality, especially of drive time programs. And for the first time in a long time, an influx of producers has joined the WBAI staff who are under 60. In fact many of them are in their 20’s and 30’s. Overall this is good news for WBAI.

As for the purely financial picture at WBAI, it is considerably better than it was in 2017. Yet, WBAI is still not where we would like it to be. The improvements in members and listeners have not yet translated into significantly increased contributions from our listeners. WBAI is today still running a deficit, though one that is dramatically reduced compared to the nightmare scenario of 2017. Our general manager estimates that the total deficit for 2019 will be approximately $160K [this contradicts the WBAI Treasurer’s report, at the same meeting: “the projected approximately $318,000 deficit on the draft FY19 budget that the General Manager had sent”, page 5, https://glib.com/treasurers_report_2019-09-11.pdf]. A significant figure to be sure, but not an intractable one. To put that number into perspective, if we had our CPB funding restored to the levels we used to receive, that deficit would turn into a surplus of approximately $160K. Our monthly deficit is less than our Tower Rental expenses which are approximately $18K monthly. That is an expense that none of the California stations have. Their Tower rent is close to zero. In addition we have an expense of approximately $6,500 in studio rent. That is also an expense that the California and Houston stations do not have since they own their buildings. In addition, WBAI has recently been the recipient of significant bequests. The bulk of those bequests were given to Pacifica to use as they wish while the remainder went to paying off some past debts at WBAI. Yet despite these signs of improvement at WBAI when you consider its health in the context of other Pacifica stations, we still hear a narrative emanating from Berkeley that WBAI is “underperforming” [again, ambiguous, but probably scare-quotes], that it is a “failed station” and that only a drastic solution can turn WBAI around. They simply ignore the incremental changes that have taken place.

WBAI is actually improving

To be sure WBAI is underperforming in the sense that it is performing well below its potential. But if you consider WBAI in relation to the other Pacifica stations, then you can hardly say it is “underperforming”. All measurable criteria that we have indicates that WBAI is actually improving. It is performing better than KPFT, a station whose membership and listeners have shrunk dramatically. It is performing better than KPFK, a station that was once the power-house of Pacifica when it came to fund drives but is now facing huge shortfalls. In any case, the purpose of an assessment of the health of WBAI is not to compare it to other Pacifica stations, but to see how it can be improved further to realize its great potential.

Back to the Future

In spite of all these signs of significant improvement in the overall health of Pacifica and of WBAI, we are faced with a very real cash flow crisis that reached a critical point in September of 2019. In addition, an incident involving one WBAI producer who, according to the opinion of Pacifica’s counsel, stepped over the line in terms of certain regulations, has been used to drum up an atmosphere of panic. We are hearing things like “WBAI is out of control”. While these problems – the cash flow crisis, and possible violations of regulations are real enough – they are being used as a wedge in order to convince a number of Directors that the aborted Crosier plan from 2017 should be replayed in 2019. Thus we are once more hearing about why a team from California should be sent immediately to take over and manage WBAI. The goal, we believe, based on our observations not only of the words, but also of the actions of the principal players in this drama, is to turn WBAI into either a repeater station, without any local programming or staff, or to sell or swap the signal, thereby fulfilling an important part of Peter Franck’s ‘Plan B’. They are using the atmosphere of crisis in order to convince a number of other Directors to go along with their scheme, Directors who otherwise would be more prudent.

The shock doctrine

The mechanism of achieving consensus based on exploiting a crisis has been well documented in Naomi Klein’s best-selling book from 2007, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Klein’s brilliant insight was to examine how crises and disasters can be used by businesses and governments to their advantage. Under conditions of crisis, whether real or manufactured, many people are prone to let their natural defenses down and convince themselves that they must listen to ‘experts’ who can help lead them out of the crisis by agreeing to accept harsh measures that under normal conditions they would never agree to. That is how unions are convinced to scrap decades old pension plans and benefits in order to ‘save jobs’. That is how international financial institutions convince governments to sign onto decades of austerity. The same methods can be used on a much smaller scale, to convince a Board of Directors to take actions that are destructive of the organization in order to overcome a crisis. Indeed Klein showed that often it is advantageous to those exploiting the atmosphere of crisis to deliberately stoke the crisis and make it worse. Can this be happening at WBAI?

What about that loan?

A final footnote to this report. There has been a lot of discussion about the loan and what plans the PNB and Pacifica management have for repaying the loan. At the National level much of these discussions have been occurring on the Strategic Planning Committee, of which Director Steinberg is the Chair. Most of these discussions have been in open session and the recordings are available to anyone who wishes to listen. A plan introduced by Steinberg had been discussed for several weeks. The plan consisted essentially in holding a series of national fund drives, similar to the national fund drive in 2017 that raised significant funds to allow us to hire auditors. It was also recognized that these fund drives and other initiatives were not likely to come up with the entire balance of the loan by the time it is due. The remainder of the balance were to be handled by refinancing that portion of the loan. It is always possible to refinance a loan and is considered a standard business practice. The terms and conditions for refinancing the loan vary widely, depending on the financial condition and credit-worthiness of the borrower. We felt that since Pacifica is on the precipice of being up to date with our audits and showing other signs that our financial situation has improved, that we may be able to get some relatively good terms for a refinanced loan. We were surprised however at the reaction of our new iED, John Vernile, to this plan. He stated at the last Strategic Planning Committee meeting [Tu3Sep; audiofile still hasn’t been posted to the Pacifica meetings archive] that the goal of fund drives should be for the entire balance of the loan, not just the $1 million projected by us. It’s certainly a nice goal, but how realistic is it? Not only that but somehow this goal would be achieved on a greatly reduced schedule of national fund drives, perhaps only two Christmas special fund drives. When the question was asked how this goal can be achieved Mr. Vernile answered that the fund drives can be supplemented by approaching major donors and having a more systematic approach to soliciting bequests. It seemed to some of us that was this not a realistic plan. We also wondered why Mr. Vernile appeared to take the option of refinancing a portion of the loan off the table. It leads us to wonder where iED Vernile stands on the core issues facing Pacifica and WBAI [we all wonder].

What next?

This report is meant to alert the WBAI LSB and WBAI staff, listeners and supporters to the dangers we are facing. The ideological divide is between those who think the future of Pacifica is to circle the wagons in order to protect their own turf, even at the expense of a key player in the most important media market in the country, and those who think the future of Pacifica lies in revitalizing all the stations we now have and work much more closely toward becoming a genuine nation-wide network while at the same time maintaining close ties to their local communities. We believe that Pacifica and WBAI can have a real influence on the politics and culture of this country which is now plagued by a rise of neo-fascism, a newly invigorated racism and anti-Semitism, attacks on the working class, the poor and immigrants, denial of climate change and science and the rise of authoritarian, anti-democratic values. The mainstream media is not part of the solution. Indeed they are part of the problem. As is NPR. This is where Pacifica can make a difference – if it has the courage and the vision and rejects all the tribalistic pressures to only tend to one’s ‘own’ garden.

Alex Steinberg
James Sagurton

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.)

Grace Aaron leaks name of new iED, John Farneal (sp.) – then Pacifica splices the audiofile in failed coverup

This was published, with very minor alterations, Tu23July, by the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center (Indybay), part of the worldwide Indymedia project: https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/07/23/18824944.php

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.

Audioclip of the leak, the pre-censored portion of the public broadcast: https://upload.cat/b7d888611c2d5295 (1:43, 2.2 MB)

And for comparison, the adulterated posting: https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnbstratcomm/190722/pnbstratcomm190722a.mp3 (58:07) & https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnbstratcomm/190722/pnbstratcomm190722b.mp3 (38:52)

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)

Underwriting section of FJC loan contract drives Pacifica’s urgency for an advertising policy

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 for mutual benefit but for 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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Postscript . . . F.Y. Eye, Inc. – a corporation founded by its president, Lorin Silverman . . . yes, the President & Treasurer of FJC, and President & Treasurer of the Marty & Dorothy Silverman Foundation, which buys FJC loans that are “potentially impaired”, not even in default (FJC policy, disclosed in any of their auditor’s reports & IRS form 990’s – the latest: pp. 10-11, pp. 12-13 of the PDF, http://fjc.org/uploads/user-uploads/image/FJC%203-31-18%20FINAL.pdf; & Schedule O, p. 90 of the PDF, http://fjc.org/uploads/user-uploads/image/file/990%20FY17%20-%20For%20Distribution.pdf). And, yes, it was Lorin’s signature that lent the money to Pacifica. https://www.fyeye.org/about-us/our-team/

Pacifica COULD have, & CAN publish the FJC loan contract: the confidentiality clause only consists in FJC’s name & street address!

The loan contract with the Foundation for the Jewish Community (FJC) has a two-sentence clause on what confidentiality binds the parties. This is the relevant, second sentence, in full:

“[b]orrower shall not publicly disclose the identity of the Lender, except with the Lender’s written approval” (Article 10 Miscellaneous, Section 10.16 Promotional Material, my emphasis & italicisation; page 18 – https://mega.nz/#F!PloCiSqJ!9rLejSkttE7gCVCCq3q86g?b0IBlaiR (can be read without downloading: just click on the three horizontal dots, then ‘preview’))

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)

The topic of the importance of getting an agreement in writing came up at the M15July Audit Cttee meeting, with a question asked by Polina Vasiliev (KPFK staff delegate). Please see this post: https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/20/why-may-the-marty-dorothy-silverman-foundation-be-buying-pacificas-3-265m-loan/.

Has FJC sold the $3.265m loan? Is the owner the Marty & Dorothy Silverman Foundation – or have they in turn sold it on?

charities as capital, M-M´ . . . richer charities (non-profits, of course) making money out of poorer ones

The questions arise because of the secrecy culture that Pacifica is notorious for. Pacifica office-holders, since the end of last summer, have consistently chosen not to utter the word ‘FJC’, the Foundation for the Jewish Community which lent Pacifica $3.7m on M2Apr2018. At that time Pacifica proudly issued a press statement, & not only named FJC but devoted a paragraph to their activities. The websites of Pacifica stations proudly carried it, two of them to this very day. (The word ‘FJC’ also appears in two other publicly available documents, ones that Pacifica paid for – more precisely, have been invoiced for: the auditor’s reports for FY2016, dated 31May2018, & FY2017, dated 27June2019.)

https://www.kpfk.org/blogs/kpfk-and-pacifica-news/post/pacifica-announces-settlement-with-empire-state-building-and-empire-state-realty-trust/; https://www.wbai.org/articles.php?article=3570; https://pacifica.org/documents/financial/audit_2016.pdf (p. 19; p. 23 of the PDF); https://pacifica.org/documents/financial/2017/PACIFICA-17-FS_Final.pdf (p. 13; p. 15 of the PDF – lazily cut-&-pasted (!) by the new auditors from their predecessor’s page just mentioned)

Given this, it’s reasonable, & diligent, to ask whether FJC still own the loan.

The Marty & Dorothy Silverman Foundation (MDSF) was almost wholly responsible for creating in 1995 the Foundation for the Jewish Community (FJC). The president of FJC is Lorin Silverman, the son. FJC has a policy, declared in their auditor’s reports, of not going to court when a borrower defaults. No, no, nothing as unsavoury as that. Bad publicity too. Money-men pursuing charities. That wouldn’t do. No. Best keep things quiet, keep everything civil. Instead, FJC sells to MDSF, at no discount, the loans they assess as being only “potentially impaired”, the phrase used in their auditor’s reports; this is the latest one, year-end 31Mar2018, dated 22Aug2018: http://fjc.org/uploads/user-uploads/image/FJC%203-31-18%20FINAL.pdf (pages 10 & 11, pp. 12 & 13 of the PDF)

It was disclosed at the M15July Audit Cttee that, quite remarkably, Pacifica has nothing in writing from FJC (or whoever is now the lender) permitting Pacifica to be currently violating the loan conditions. Oh. That’s quite different from when the loan started on 2Apr2018: ED Tom Livingston said in an Apr2018 email, kindly sent to me by Grace Aaron, that “[t]he Board has been told it has a 6 month waiver of the loan covenants.” (Bear in mind, he didn’t say ‘has received a written waiver’ – only “told”.) So that ran out 1Oct2018. It is important to note that in no publicly available document or audiofile has there been mention of this topic – until the 15July meeting.

At this meeting was George Walter, a Senior Controller at NETA, the National Educational Telecommunications Association, which since Sep2018 has done Pacifica’s bookkeeping & accounting. Also present was Jorge Diaz, a Principal Auditor at Rogers & Co., which did the FY2017 audit & are currently doing the 2018. The George & Jorge Show. And they both take a nice pic, yes? https://www.netaonline.org/OurStaff (last Controller pic) & https://www.rogerspllc.com/about/leadership/jorge-diaz-cpa/

George, when asked by Marilyn Vogt-Downey (WBAI listener delegate) about the submission of Pacifica documents within 120 days to the lender of “the $3.2m loan”, replied, “we’re, we’re off, but they know, & they’re urgh, urgh, they’re, they’re content” (16:45, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/audit/190715/audit190715a.mp3). Not surprisingly he was pushed further – and, for recent Audit Cttee meetings, it was in a totally unexpected direction. Polina Vasiliev (KPFK staff delegate) asked about “our New York lender” being OK with the loan condition violations: “do we have that in writing?” (21:39). George was as decisive as ever: “[pause] um, [pause] no, urgh, that’s my, urgh knowledge” (22:04).

Then Audit Chair Eileen Rosin dived in, prompting the witness. Tut-tut. Auditor Jorge then tried to assist. Polina persisted, & George, to his great credit said, “[r]ight, & so, t-to my knowledge there’s no, no written waiver. Um, urgh-urgh, it’s very possible that we’ll, urgh, urgh, get one” (23:05). Which only raises the question, why hasn’t a request for a written waiver been made?!? Why has this situation been allowed to arise, & to persist? And was there a written waiver for 2Apr-1Oct2018? And a written waiver for 2Oct2018-1Apr2019? There’s something not quite right here. Something fishy . . . Oh. So, nothing in writing. Oh. And the annual default interest rate is the lesser of either 18% or the maximum legal rate (clause §1.1(10) of the FJC loan contract). https://mega.nz/#F!PloCiSqJ!9rLejSkttE7gCVCCq3q86g?b0IBlaiR (no need to download the PDF: click the three horizontal dots, then ‘preview’)

One could have done a separate post on the Eileen & George Double Act that followed, doing a spiel with such gems such as, “the lender is actually a non-profit lender, it’s not like any ordinary bank, I guess […] I’m guessing they would tend to be a bit more lenient than, you know – more willing to work with their clients” (Eileen, 24:14), & “it doesn’t help them to er, to er, to, to threaten default on the loan […] that would be, urgh, not in their interest” (George, 24:44). And FJC’s fiduciary duty towards the donors whose money (& other assets) it now manages? Get real. That’s why FJC’s dodgy & troublesome loans, when they’re simply “potentially impaired”, not even defaulting, are sold on to the Marty & Dorothy Silverman Foundation.

Lastly, Marilyn reminded everyone (25:11), that it had been said, mistakenly, that Pacifica had been promised orally by Empire State Realty Trust that they didn’t have to pay all the monthly rent for housing the WBAI transmitter (Marilyn could have been explicit, saying that the determination of this belief as false was by the court). But to return to the main matter: why won’t people be upfront, & speak of FJC’s business relationship with the Marty & Dorothy Silverman Foundation?

Recorded Pacifica public meetings – less so the very few published Pacifica documents – have been full of misdescriptions, being misleading, false, even what can only be deemed deliberate falsehoods, intended to reassure, placate, obscure, confuse, & mislead. From the naive to the wilful. This sorry state of affairs refers to both the $3.265m loan conditions & FJC.

Just in case one may think ‘a nod & a wink’ will suffice, just check the FJC contract. It’s 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 pertinent passage:

“[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 italics & bold; p. 18) https://mega.nz/#F!PloCiSqJ!9rLejSkttE7gCVCCq3q86g?b0IBlaiR

A final, crucial point which will be addressed later. Except when the loan was taken out, those in the know have consistently never said who owns the loan FJC may have sold it on. It may have already been sold to the Marty & Dorothy Silverman Foundation. Indeed, that foundation may even have sold it on. We simply don’t know. Secrecy culture breeds suspicion. It corrodes trust. It undermines the organisation. It’s simply destructive.

Was the 2Apr-1Oct2018 waiver in writing? If not, why? Was there a written waiver for 2Oct2018-1Apr2019? If not, why? Why hasn’t there been a written waiver for 2Apr-1Oct2019? Why did NETA, Pacifica’s supposed competent accountant, not tell ED Maxie Jackson that one was needed? Why didn’t Jackson insist on one? Why didn’t the Pacifica directors do likewise?

The Pacifica National Board needs to disclose who owns the $3.265m loan. Is it still FJC?

Or, if names are not to be named, has Pacifica’s lender changed, & if so, how many times?

The Maxie Jackson Mystery

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).

Ken Mills reported the appointment of Maxie. Now that of his departure. On M22July he gives his own view: http://acrnewsfeed.blogspot.com/2018/10/maxie-jackson-is-pacificas-new.html & http://acrnewsfeed.blogspot.com/2019/07/maxie-jackson-out-as-pacifica-executive.html [His view: https://acrnewsfeed.blogspot.com/2019/07/pacifica-alert-maxie-jackson-is-out.html ]