(Nina Bernstein, ‘Unearthing the secrets of New York’s mass graves’, New York Times, 15May2016)
Just over six long weeks ago, on Tu10Mar, New York State had 173 confirmed COVID-19 cases. 108 were in Westchester County, all in New Rochelle. It’s just beyond the Bronx, within sight of Hart Island. Hart Island.As was said of something else way back in 1848, ein Gespenst, a spectre. Home of a million people, corpses, neatly arranged in unmarked trenches, watched over until last year by the NYC Dept of Correction, a nice lil earner, an economic opportunity, Rikers prisoners used, at 50¢ the hour in 2016, to dispose of the city’s unwanted. Public service at its best.
(superbly written by Nina Bernstein; a chilling section is on the NYC corpse market;
has three embedded vids)
In the same cold vein, we have the quality of decision-making by Governor Cuomo. He thought he had to do something about the New Rochelle case cluster, so on Tu10Mar he imposed some restrictions on the humans roaming about. But fair being fair, Andrew the Cuomo gave Viro the Virus some leeway, letting the measures come into force two days later, on the Thursday. Fair’s fair. Even Viro has rights in the land of the free. After all, it wasn’t as though anything was at stake, something urgent, some sort of public emergency. As NYS Health Commissioner Dr Howard Zucker said, sitting alongside Cuomo at the daily media briefing, & spreading the sugar, “we believe that the risk generally to New Yorkers is low”. Note that his NYS Dept of Health participated in the major 2019 Crimson Contagion simulation that showed how seriously deficient the US system would be in responding to a virus pandemic. Oh.
Thing is, Viro’s a virus. No cognitive capacity. No sense of reasonableness. Unable to recognise give & take. Viro simply lacked the capacity to wait 48 hours before carrying on doing what a virus does. So carry on it did. Whilst Cuomo waited to apply his measures. Viruses, eh. And the folly of humans. (Not least in accepting a positivist conception of scientific knowledge, especially of a new object.)
While Cuomo was waiting, the next day, W11Mar, the World Health Organization, those pesky globalists, declared that the disease was so wrapped around our mortal coil that it had to be recognised as a pandemic. Oh. Then two days later, F13Mar, the Very Stable Genius declared a national emergency. “Two very big words”, said he, in the Rose Garden, fresh from having kicked around in his playroom these additions to his lexicon.
New Rochelle was a healthcare disaster – for the town, the state, & beyond. The containment attempt failed miserably. This has not been adequately described & explained by any journalist. There were 108 known infected individuals. But what proportion of their ‘close contacts’ was identified, traced (found), & then tested for infection? What proportion of these was infected, subsequently placed in supported & monitored isolation? (If diagnostic tests were unavailable, were those close contacts all placed in supported & monitored quarantine, to use the CDC’s specific jargon?) In turn, what proportion of their identified ‘close contacts’ was tested, etc.? What did the rapid containment force consist in? Why did it fail? Indeed, for the ~20m of the NY Metro Area, was there a pre-existing, well-drilled, coordinated network of rapidresponse teams for identify-trace-test-isolate/quarantine, ITTIQ (or IFTIQ), the first line in avoiding containment? If not, why? One could go on. By comparison, with no-one to learn from, Wuhan City alone, from 23Jan, the start of the virus-suppression operation, used at least 9 000 field tracers, organised as 1 800 teams of five or more (28Feb WHO report, page 8). Who’s the ‘Third World’ country?
Cuomo’s star may be rising, contrasted with the darkening shadow of The Don, but his partial responsibility for the New Rochelle failure remains. And don’t forget, this is the man who decided in January to effectively chop future Medicaid funding for the state’s residents, shovelling responsibility, the cost, onto the cities & counties. Refusing to raise taxes, this was the thrust of his response to NYS’ fiscal crisis, announced 21Jan in his fiscal 2021 plan (year-end 31Mar2021 – the day by which Pacifica has to pay the $3.265m principal to the Foundation for the Jewish Community, FJC).
Meanwhile, WBAI carried on being WBAI. That was until M30Mar, 20 days after Cuomo’s New Rochelle announcement, when WBAI started a new programme, Going Viral. It broadcasts live each weekday, so now in its fourth week, at 8.45pm EDT (7.45pm CDT, 5.45pm PDT), for roughly 1½ or 2 hours. Helpfully, it’s linked from the homepage of the Pacifica meetings archive, with a ‘button’ to listen live. It also has an archive (there’s no programme for Tu14Apr).
Going Viral is presented by Jim Dingeman, Local Station Board listener-delegate, & it’s obvious from the PNB Programming Cttee he chairs that he’s a wannabe presenter, so this was his chance. Cometh the moment, cometh the man.
It started off a bit rough, made on the fly. And it’s still a bit rough. Not what Maxie Jackson, former ED, would call best practice. It’s a live conference call, with the usual four or five co-presenters all trying to speak over one another, with Otis Maclay, Pacifica’s technician-who-never-sleeps, also being asked what he thinks about the topic in hand. If Michelle were around, she’d be asked for her opinion too. But it’s more civil than the usual PNB meeting, & it is gratifying not to hear the continual grating of a ‘point of point, Madam Chair’, & suchlike.
Going Viral is admittedly a low tech production, but no other Pacifica station runs a COVID programme. So why not ask your local station manager to consider it?
P.S. On the certificate, the word ‘abstain’ doesn’t have the ordinary meaning (77% of listener-members abstained in this referendum, & 48% of staff) but means invalid ballots (highly ambiguous paper-ballot, ballot full of vitriol, maybe the opportunity for a manifesto, plain blank, or any of the myriad of inventive ways a Pacif-I-can (nod to C Cuomo) can spoil a ballot).
[When this post was made, I added the below three points. Rather than add to this post, the remarks will appear as separate posts.
(1) A few remarks will soon appear below; note that paper-voting, mainly East Coast, was way down.
(2) The remarks will also cover the need for the PNB to address two strategic matters:
(a) the $3.265m principal of the FJC loan, payable 1Apr2021; &
(b) the coming collapse in revenue, as the economic depression underway slashes listeners’ discretionary spend; the only obvious, yet highly regrettable, mitigation is that bequests will increase thru to, at least, Dec2021.
(3) A separate post will be made when the NES publishes her report, with station data, later this week (inshallah).]
Referenda voting ended Thursday, 19Mar, on the proposed new Pacifica constitution. A ‘no’ vote was rejecting the anti-democratic, authoritarian move by the breakers, longstanding campaigners to break up the Pacifica network.
expected listener-member turnout
predicted listener-member voting
the staff-member referendum
Expected listener-member turnout
The above table is an expectation of listener-member voting in the referendum, generated by the application of two assumptions upon published & reliable leaked data.
if the culture of high paper-voting on the East Coast persists, the NES’ data imply an unusually high total turnout from those stations, delivering big ‘no’ votes, 43% at WPFW & 51% at WBAI;
this compares with KPFA achieving 37%;
expected total turnout, 31%;
actual turnout by online-voters alone is twice that of each of last year’s two rounds of total LSB voting (so including their paper-voting); &
total turnout is expected to be x3 that of those 2019 LSB rounds.
the proportion of each station’s paper-voting (‘e:p’ in the table, the ratio) is the same as given in the last publicly available LSB data, per the nominal 2018 final report (the Jan-Mar2019 voting for all stations bar WPFW; that station in the 2016 LSB election; please see pp. 17 & 19); in all likelihood it’s less, with increased internet usage, but applying a factor of 10% or 20% (a deflator) would be unnecessarily speculative; &
final online-voting (‘e-voting’ in the table) is split between the stations in the same ratio as at F6Mar; so this assumes the KPFA online surge at 6Mar not only didn’t exhaust itself but was maintained, so keeping its 40% share of online-voting.
Predicted listener-member voting
Station . . . . No . . . . .Yes . . Yes %
KPFA . . . . . 2000 . . .2571 . . . 56
KPFK . . . . . 1400 . . . .748 . . . 35
KPFT . . . . . . .582 . . . .400 . . .41
WPFW . . . .2400 . . . . 162 . . . .6
WBAI . . . . .2800 . . . . 111 . . . .4
Total . . . . . 9182 . . . 3992
Two assumptions are made above, & in the 11Mar post a guess was made of the breakers’ core support, 1 200 – 1 500 KPFA & KPFT listener-members. Given this, the above rough prediction is made: a ‘no’ vote of 70% wins, rejecting the breakers.
Remember, the breakers need to win both referenda to effect their proposed change.
The electorate was 955. Paper-voting is likely to be immaterial; for example, it was only 4 out of 466 in the Jan-Mar2019 LSB voting. In the referendum, the NES says 51.4% voted, so 491. (Turnouts in last year’s LSB voting: 47.6% in Jan-Mar, 36.7% in Aug-Oct.) If all 491 are valid ballots, that means 246 wins – this is 32 more than the KPFA electorate. The station turnouts at F6Mar: KPFA 36%, KPFK 17%, KPFT 27%, WPFW 35%, WBAI 44%. Being so high, it makes no sense trying to estimate expected station final turnouts.
Could the breakers have garnered 246 staff? Unlikely.
POSTSCRIPT on the virus (SARS-CoV-2) causing the disease (COVID-19)
Article by Mike Davis, from last Saturday, 14Mar; hopefully he’s interviewed by KPFK, if not KPFA.
Public health officials, worldwide, knew a global health emergency was coming. The World Health Organization (WHO) even explicitly warned of highly infectious disease yet to come into existence, which it designated as Disease X: “[t]he needs for research preparedness for a new disease were also deemed to fit into the ‘urgent’ category” (report on 8-9Dec2015 workshop, page 2). WHO also made a very short vid on this, Mar2018. And it was even discussed 10 months before the COVID-19 outbreak, at the winter playground of the Masters of the Universe, Davos – discussed when the media were focusing on Greta.
Healthcare professionals also did their part preparing the public. In 2018, for example,Peter Piot, head of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, gave a Royal Institution lecture, ‘Are we ready for the next pandemic?‘.
the four tables sent by NES Penaloza to the PNB, Th5Mar (the first in the sequence) & F6Mar2020; elector & online-voting totals for Pacifica & stations, split for listeners & staff in the last two tables
The listener elector rolls for the referendum are drastically different from those used just nine weeks ago in the 2019 LSB pseudo-elections. There’s been a shocking, sudden change. A strange change. A Pacifica purge has been perpetrated, particularly at WBAI. And the Lord has delivered unto KPFT a heavenly host of new believers. Besides the practical implications for these existential referenda, there’s a lot here that needs explaining.
Highlights, the changes in only nine weeks:
listener-membership has fallen 3 581 (−7.84%, 1-in-13), from 45 690 to 42 109
KPFA listeners −13.6%, so 1-in-7 (14 334 → 12 385, so −1 949)
KPFT listeners +21.2% (3 569 → 4 327, so +758)
WBAI listeners −30.1% (8 240 → 5 761, so −2 479)
WPFW listeners −4.2% (6 293 → 6 029, so −264)
staff membership has fallen −1.5% (970 → 955, so −15)
Five topics are addressed:
the listener referendum online-voting data – including necessary revisions to last Wednesday’s blogpost
adding in estimated paper-voting
the staff referendum
predicted referenda turnout
final, regrettable point: the coronavirus societal crisis, Pacificans (not least re the age structure & existing ill-health conditions), & the $3.265m loan from the Foundation for the Jewish Community (FJC); this crisis of capitalist society will necessarily cause both the largest & the swiftest contraction in the world economy in human history.
[I’ll finish writing this, & its replacement will be posted on the blog a day late, so apologies, on Referendum Day, Th19Mar.
[Just noticed that the NES, after seven l-o-n-g days of silence, has just given a turnout update (online voting only, take note). The W11Mar one gave listeners 13.8% (~5 811) & staff 34.7% (~331). The one denoted an ambiguous 1.42am (EDT?), W18Mar, gives listeners 19.0% (~8 001) & staff 42.2% (~403). So, added votes of 2 190 listeners (+37.7%) & 72 staff (+21.8%). The listener surge is a whole week of 313 a day, compared with 232 a day for the difference between 9 & 11Mar, the previous updates.
. . . not Michael Wolgemut, Tanz der Gerippe [Skeletons], woodcut, c. 1493 . . .
Latest election news: unless Pacificans act swiftly, Pacifica may die.
Why? KPFA listener-members are massively out in force, seemingly close to half of all those who have voted. Th5Mar marked halfway thru the referenda voting, &, compared with that stage in the LSB voting this time last year, KPFA is overachieving by a full 70%. This contrasts with WBAI underachieving by 29%. (All workings given below.)
Also, after less than a mere 17 days of voting, KPFA-listener online voters alone, so not including paper voters, had already surpassed by 4% the total KPFA-listener vote in the 62 days of the last LSB voting, Aug-Oct2019; KPFT’s figure is even better, +16%. And WBAI? Way down, by over an eighth, a full −13%; with WPFW −1%, & KPFK −27%.
The activists of the breaker faction are spreading their tentacles amongst the winners here, the Bay Area & Houston. Their operation is in overdrive.
Without a dramatic increase in voting by 10.59pm CDT a week Thursday, 19Mar, in just eight days’ time, the well-oiled, well-funded, well-motivated breakers will seize Pacifica. Well, maybe.
That KPFA listeners are voting in highly disproportionate numbers was given in info provided by the National Elections Supervisor (NES) to the PNB, Th5Mar. And as the peculiar home of a station chauvinism, a politics of separatism rather than Pacifica solidarity, they’re not doing this to help Pacifica. It’s reasonable – and prudent – to infer that this dangerous anomaly is the result of the breakers successfully mining the huge numbers of KPFA listener-members who usually don’t vote. Just in the last year, they constituted 86.7% in the nominal 2018 LSB pseudo-election, voting 18Jan-5Mar2019, & 85.6% in the 2019 one, voting 15Aug-15Oct2019. That’s 13 513 & 12 275, respectively, so >12 000 KPFA listeners. And as one can reasonably expect ~8 000 to vote in the listener referendum, it taking 4 000 to win, this is an obvious road to victory. (There are separate referenda for listeners & staff – please see note #1.)
Spin a yarn about Make KPFA Great Again, KPFA for KPFA’ians, stop the subsidising of other stations, get rid of the Pacifica dysfunctionality, the perpetual factionalising, the bad publicity, all this by bringing in professionalism, objectivity, getting the grants back, investing in the future . . . just like the good olde days, when KPFA was great. Motherhood & apple pie. Wave that magic wand, & the bad stuff will all go away. Unicorns. Rainbows. Pink ponies. If free snake oil is offered to the tired & weary, will they gulp it down? Giving credit where credit’s due, even deceiving is a skilled accomplishment.
So what’s the evidence of this rallying in the Bay Area? NES Renee Penaloza, resident of the Bay Area & many times the Local Elections Supervisor for KPFA since 2009 (note #2), gave an appallingly bad ‘report’ Thursday night, even by her standard, & I’m not even referring to her keeping the directors waiting nine minutes once she was on the call (31:59), the lame excuse she gave (40:52), also later not being able to find relevant tabs to open, the chaotic concatenation & continual cascade of Biden moments, &, last but not least, her laughter throughout, as if performing une danse macabre, ein Totentanz – obviously all of which passes for professionalism, & courtesy, in her neck of the woods. And all achieved in less than 4½ minutes (42:52 – 47:13). https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb200305/pnb200305a.mp3
Nevertheless, she did say turnout (when?) is 11.7% for listeners & 30.1% for staff (46:46). (Monday, with a 2pm (EDT?) 9Mar timestamp, she updated this on her website to 12.7% listeners, 32.3% staff.) And, responding to a query from James Sagurton (WBAI listener-delegate), she eventually said the station-split for listeners who had voted online was KPFA 40%, KPFK 20%, KPFT 10%, WPFW 13%, & WBAI 17% (49:29 – 54:52). She gave no staff info, other than the turnout percentage. She gave no info on the online/paper voting split, on which more anon. She didn’t give the size of the electorates, those for the listeners & the staff. She didn’t coherently give station split for listeners, just a garbled spiel as if encountering her words for the first time, so bad she made Biden look good (note #3). And she didn’t give the record date for the referenda (used in establishing who’s a voter). In others words, she said very, very little. Which is how the NES, ever shy of the PNB, likes to operate – and it’s indicative of how lax the directors are that she’s allowed to persist. But as Cde Mujica no doubt thought, alone at the bottom of the well that was his prison, we are where we are.
So what can we do with the NES’ figures? A fair bit, surprisingly. We can derive other approximate numbers, compare the listener referendum with the last two sets of LSB pseudo-elections, & estimate what the breakers have to do to win. This will allow us to put in perspective what’s at stake in the next eight days, with voting closing, as stated, at 8.59pmPDT, Th19Mar.
But first, two important caveats:
the subject matter of voting is radically different, one, run-of-the-mill LSB elections, the other, existential for the network; &
radically different time scales; not just the voting period (31 days compared with 47 & 62 for the last two rounds of LSB pseudo-elections, so half of the last one), but the preparation for the event being so asymmetric, it coming out of the blue, sprung on the whole membership, it being the initiative of the breakers, of their planning (that is, scheming, conspiring, plotting), implemented as a sequence of creating – and sustaining – an atmosphere of impending doom, moving against WBAI within committees, then switching tack by launching the by-laws petition, before within weeks engineering the WBAI coup, back to the West Coast to litigate in California against Pacifica, & now systematically bombarding voters with their fairytales. Wolfowitz & Rumsfeld would be proud of this attempt at full-spectrum domination.
Concerning the listener quantitative data, two obvious comparisons can be made:
➀ how extraordinary is KPFA-listener referendum voting, relative to other stations, compared with typical LSB election voting, again expressed relatively? (This, being not just relative voting but relative voting over time (the relative voting at t2 compared with that at t1), is what’s important in trying to understand the significance of the voting happening now. This is the comparative we need for relative current voting, not the one offered up by the NES at the PNB, namely, station share of listener current membership. No. What’s at stake today is voting, not membership; action, not passivity. The comparison pushed by the NES is besides the point, a secondary phenomenon, a dangerous irrelevance: >85% of listener-members don’t vote!); &
➁ how unusually high is the number of listener referendum votes cast compared with the typical LSB election?
➀ We have to use the pretty graph found in the NES’ final report for the nominal 2018 LSB pseudo-elections (note #4). That’s because, even after four months, she’s failed to produce the 2019 one. (This fact obviously surprises Ms Penaloza herself, given what she said on her own website, 1Nov2019, ‘certifying’ the 2019 results: “[p]lease note the round by round results, raw votes and final [?] voter turnout #s will be posted together with the final report by November 15th, 2019” (added emphases). Rather than squirrelling it away as a footnote, it’s important to say that scare-quotes are needed in denoting her 1Nov2019 statement because she admits she’s unable to distinguish valid ballots from invalid ones: hence both her inability to give “final voter turnout #s”, & her need to entitle that column “Oct 16 Preliminary Numbers (Not Final)” (added emphases). By her choice of phrases she acknowledges that her statement isn’t a certification but a pseudo-certification. Oh. So have all the new LSB delegates legitimately taken their seats? Are some of them there illegitimately?https://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/2019-election-results/)
Note that because the graph doesn’t give a split between paper & online voting, & that on Thursday the NES gave no info on the paper ballots cast (except to say she doesn’t even know how many there are), one has to use referendum online voting as a proxy for total votes. This is particularly unfortunate because listener-member paper voting is much higher in PacificaWorld than in RealWorld, of the order of 20%, with WBAI over twice that – note #5.
The graph shows cumulative voting, as a percentage of that pseudo-election’s electorate, for each of the nine pseudo-elections (there wasn’t a WPFW-Listener one because there were only five verified candidates for the nine seats); voting started 18Jan2019 but the NES only depicted that from 30Jan; the staff elections are on top, the dotted lines:
So, which LSB voting date from a year ago should be used in comparing the referendum info given on Thursday? Assuming this info referred to the day of the PNB meeting, it was less than 24 hours after the halfway point of the voting period (W4Mar is day 16 of the 31, 18Feb-19Mar). So choose this. And the day halfway thru the voting a year ago is 10Feb2019 (day 24 of the 47, 18Jan-5Mar).
And at 10Feb2019, what was the station split for listeners? Inspecting the graph, station cumulative listener voting was KPFT 6.0%, WBAI 6.0%, KPFA 5.8%, KPFK 3.7%; that totals as 21.5 percentage points (pcp); & expressed as percentages, KPFT 27.9% (6 / 21.5), WBAI 27.9%, KPFA 27.0%, KPFK 17.2%.
Thursday’s figures (but ignoring WPFW because there’s no comparative) are, in pcp, KPFA 40, KPFK 20, KPFT 10, WBAI 17; that totals as 87; & as percentages, KPFA 46% (40 / 87), KPFK 23%, KPFT 11%, WBAI 20%.
Was this striking distribution expected? If referendum voting had behaved as the LSB voting 12 months before, one would have expected the numbers given two paragraphs above, namely, KPFA 27%, KPFK 17%, KPFT 28%, WBAI 28%. But that’s not what happened: KPFA overachieved by 70% (46 / 27 = 1.704), KPFK overachieved by 35% (23 / 17 = 1.353), KPFT underachieved by 61% (11 / 28 = 0.393), & WBAI underachieved by 29% (20 / 28 = 0.714). (And I don’t even like baseball.)
This distribution alone required this blogpost.
➁ The first comparative exercise concerned station share. Now we compare the absolute numbers achieved by the stations: how unusually high is the referendum turnout compared with the typical LSB one?
As noted, the latest publicly available listener-member data are at an unspecified date, given in the 1Nov2019 LSB results pseudo-certification, a total of 45 690. Assuming it’s now 45 700, with the NES telling Thursday’s PNB that online listener-member turnout was 11.7%, & the voting station split being KPFA 40%, KPFK 20%, KPFT 10%, WPFW 13%, WBAI 17%, the listener ballots cast come in as a total of ~5 347, the split being KPFA 2 139, KPFK 1 069, KPFT 535, WPFW 695, WBAI 909.
The 1Nov2019 corresponding figures: a total of 5 729, with KPFA 2 059, KPFK 1 457, KPFT 461, WPFW 703, WBAI 1 049.
So, comparing now with then: KPFA +3.9%, KPFK −26.6%, KPFT +16.1%, WPFW −1.1%, WBAI −13.3%, & the total is −6.7%. Bit different from the non-threatening comparison made by Renee, yes?
A surprise here is KPFT. How is it that it has underperformed 61% relative to other stations re the comparison with the Jan-Mar2019 LSB voting, yet is one of only two stations increasing its number of voters, by a very healthy 16%, compared with its own Aug-Oct2019 LSB voting? A different comparative, yes, but KPFT is overperforming in getting out the referendum vote (the KPFT breakers mining their own 87% of habitual abstainers, all 3 105 of them) whilst at the same time it’s dragged down in its comparison with the other stations because the extraordinary surge at KPFA, & the lesser one at KPFK, are snatching pcp from the other stations. That’s why.
Lastly, what do the breakers have to do to win? Where would their votes come from?
As mentioned, Monday the NES updated last Thursday’s listener turnout, up 1.0 pcp to 12.7% (another ~457 votes, >100 a day, so making ~5 804). And inspecting the graph, even when recognising the lower participation rate depicted, there may be in the last 10 days of voting a maximum of 4.5 – 5.5 pcp of listener voters still to come (2 200, say). That would make the turnout 17.2% – 18.2%. Applied to an electorate of 45 700, that’s 7 860 – 8 317 voters; making the winning vote 3 931 – 4 159, so ~4 000.
Can the breakers achieve this? Just considering their base, the last two rounds of LSB voting were KPFA ~2 000 & KPFT ~500. If the breakers can count on 1 200 – 1 500 faithful, is it beyond the bounds of plausibility that the breakers can mine 2 500 – 2 800 abstainers, which is 16% – 18% (1-in-6, say) of the ~15 500 abstainers at those two stations? 1-in-6 is a tall order, don’t you think, more than a bridge too far? But the 10-year-old Barron thought the same.
Crucially, to seize Pacifica, the breakers also have to win the staff referendum. And how many may that be?
The latest publicly available figure (per the 1Nov2019 pseudo-certification) gave 970 staff: KPFA 237, KPFK 285, KPFT 139, WPFW 110, WBAI 199. Staff turnout in the Jan-Mar2019 LSB votings was 47.6% (466 / 978 – note #6), the station range 43% (WPFW) – 53% (KPFA); & in Aug-Oct2019 voting, a turnout of 36.7% (356 / 970), station range of 30% (KPFT) – 44% (KPFA). The latest referendum turnout info is 32.3% (NES, Monday); so, looking at the pretty graph again, if it reached 50%, & there are 970 staff, then 243 staff votes win – a mere six votes more than those available at KPFA during the last LSB voting.
Given this, with Pacifica jobs always on the line, wasn’t it super-convenient that last nite’s PNB Finance Cttee was full of doom? It was the correlate of the Dem party bosses orchestrating the spectre of ‘Firebrand’ Bernie frightening Amerika, crouching down, about to spark the prairie fire. Besides Chief Financial Officer Anita Sims being there, Chair Chris Cory (KPFA, of course, a listener-delegate) usurped the work of the PNB Audit Cttee by wheeling in the auditor, Jorge Diaz.
Jorge Diaz. It had been thought the auditors had fled PacificaWorld, it now being seven long months, at the M19Aug2019 Audit Cttee, since they were last mentioned in public. This was indeed the last time the Cttee met, inexplicably so because Jorge had told them that the FY2018 audit’s, effectively, almost wrapped up: “he [George Walter, NETA senior controller] informed me he should be getting the vast majority of what is still outstanding to us by the end of this week [… and] by at least the end of this month we’ll certainly probably be in a really good position in terms of – and really know where we stand in terms of how getting the deliverables to y’all & getting done” (7:32; full transcription at note #7). So it seems, surprise, surprise, ED Venal Vernile, then ED Lawrence Reyes, then ED Lydia Brazon, didn’t prioritise paying them, even if it took a special pan-Pacifica 24hr fundraiser. Last nite, Jorge says now they’re only owed ~$6 550, so that’s not a prob – which is why he was happy to attend an evening meeting after a hard day in the office (8:25).
Finally, it’s worth remembering that the difficult task of the breakers winning the staff referendum would have been made easier if the WBAI coup had succeeded: it would have not just wiped out one of the five staff constituencies but the one most opposed to breaking up the Pacifica network.
And, yes, voting closes 11.59pm EDT a week Thursday, 19Mar.
This is just the beginning of the current phase. If the breakers don’t win this time, they’ll be back. And they’ll continue pursuing their war of attrition on all sorts of other fronts, as they have already shown. Like a hydra, slice off a head, another grows. They’re not going away any time soon. Welcome to the new normal.
Notes – some longish, but worth a read unless you really have to watch another Weekend at Biden’s vid
#1 Why are there separate member referenda for listeners & staff, rather than a single one? This hasn’t been explained publicly by Pacifica, & no elected representative has raised the absence of this basic courtesy. Nevertheless, the reason why there are two was explained by this blog six months ago, 17Sep2019. A by-law steps in because the proposed new constitution adversely affects, in different respects, both classes of Pacifica members: “such adoption, amendment or repeal also requires approval by the members of a class if such action would materially and adversely affect the rights of that class as to voting or transfer in a manner different than such action affects another class” (Article 17, Section 1(B)(iii), added emphases). The different respects: “[o]ne contest is for listener-members, as what’s proposed adversely affects them more than staff-members, facing the loss of the right to elect three directors per station rather than the staff’s one. The other separate contest is for staff, as they’re adversely affected by the loss of the right itself to become a director (proposed by-laws, Article V, Section 1; page 5).”
#2 Remember, NES Penaloza aligns with the breakers: witness her recommendations in the last final report she issued (undated, but published 18Mar2019 on the NES website), the one for the LSB pseudo-elections this time last year. She advocates (a) dissolution of the Local Station Boards, (b) less frequent elections, (c) a correlate, extending the director term by either x3 or x4, & (d) abolition of paper balloting. Sample quote: “Transform the Governance structure – Have 5 simultaneous elections every 3 or 4 years, electing representatives directly to the Paciﬁca National Board – Replace Local Station Boards with active Community Advisory Boards” (p. 20, emphases removed from title; p. 21 of the PDF).
#3 NES Penaloza’s unfortunate incoherence, splitting her mind whilst trying to produce speech on some split or another, suggested a disturbing Pacifica fact. She had given one split, without saying what it was, one adding up to 98 percentage points (pcp), with KPFK higher than KPFA (32 cf. 29), before promptly scrubbing it. Then she tried another, this time with KPFK at 30 & KPFA at 29, a split adding up to 97. If there’s some truth here, perhaps about relative station listener membership, it’s that compared with the last publicly available membership data (her 1Nov2019 LSB results pseudo-certification), WBAI’s share has dropped 4 pcp, being picked up by KPFA +1, KPFK +1, & KPFT +2, this whilst Pacifica is suffering a continuing downward trend in total listener membership. The other slither of truth may be that KPFA is actually 32%, plausible because it was 31.4% in the 1Nov2019 data – the NES simply repeating KPFA’s 29 from the scrubbed split. Anyway, applying the prudence principle beloved by the accountancy profession, one should recognise that Renee is disorientated, perhaps having caught bidenavirus, BIDVID-20, from ideologically enthusiastic Pacificans.)
Renee’s problems persist, because at the Th5Mar PNB she promised the directors, the members, & the listeners, that she’d post on her website the referendum voting report. Of course, now six days later, it isn’t there. Just like the promised final report for the 2019 LSB pseudo-elections & the certification of the final voting numbers. Waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting . . . https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/19/the-godot-page-waiting-for-good-news/
#4 The two sets of LSB electoral activity in 2019 have to be designated as pseudo-elections, given the complete absence of publicly available evidence that the elector rolls are materially accurate. In Oct2018 the then NES, the outsider Graeme Drew, judged Pacifica’s record-keeping to be so poor he couldn’t validate even one candidate. He found the membership rolls used to generate the elector rolls to be so corrupted they were unusable. He decided “to terminate the 2018 election process” & told the PNB he would make a public announcement the next day. So, of course, he got fired that evening, at an emergency PNB meeting. Since then, only Pacifica insiders have been the NES, & they have failed to publish any contrary evidence, only bare assertions. This creates a reasonable & strong doubt about the legitimacy of the process.So the only rational conclusion, based on the balance of probabilities, is that the two 2019 electoral processes were pseudo-elections.
#5The latest publicly available data on the popularity for paper voting come from the LSB pseudo-elections this time last year (NES final report, p. 17; p. 18 of the PDF). For staff, it was smaller than negligible, 4 ballots across the five stations (466 voted). For listeners, 20% exactly (1 044 / 5 219; remember, no WPFW election). The stations: KPFA 17% (358 / 2 072), KPFK 13% (201 / 1 585), KPFT 11% (70 / 661), & WBAI 46% (415 / 901). Yes, 46% of WBAI listener voters used paper ballots, almost x3 the rate at KPFA.
And for WBAI listener-members it has even risen. Compared with the 2016 LSB election, almost 2½ years before, paper voting went up from ~381 (derived figure) to 415, increasing the paper voting share by a (rounded) 1 pcp – same report, pp. 17 & 19. So if this much truncated referendum process makes it harder to vote with paper rather than online, it’s perhaps unintended but still voter suppression . . . Exacerbating this is that tomorrow, Th12Mar, is the last day to request a paper ballot from the NES – and the convenient cut-off time is mid-afternoon on the East Coast, 3pm. Nice. After that, online voting only. So, for the last week of voting, Pacifica’s rush, quite a few listener-members will be faced with having to break the habit of a lifetime & vote online – or not vote at all.
Please note that the NES’ final report gives station online & paper voting as a percentage of the particular electorate, be it listener-members or staff, so not as a percentage of those who voted – sound familiar? This missed the opportunity of giving publicity to the fact that within PacificaWorld, effectively half of station voting can be by paper – see pp. 17 & 19.
Lastly, the NES did her best last Thursday to explain to the directors, & the listeners of the proceedings, why she has no info on the paper ballots cast (51:50). Why the custodians of these ballots can’t give the running total (each day) to the NES is unfathomable – and, yes, no director thought to ask her. https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb200305/pnb200305a.mp3
#7 Jorge Diaz (auditor, Rogers & Co, M19Aug2019): “We’re making good headway with the [FY2018] audit. Um, there are still a few things that we’re waiting on […] I spoke with [George Walter, NETA senior controller] today – we have a status call every Monday – and, urgh, he informed me he should be getting the vast majority of what is still outstanding to us by the end of this week [F23Aug2019]. At that time it will probably take us, you know, um, three to five business days [so by F30Aug] to urgh, urgh, analyse & look at what’s going on, &, um, provide any follow-up questions or items of that nature, so, you know […] I think, um, you know, argh, by at least the end of this month we’ll certainly, probably, be in a really good position in terms of – and really know where we stand in terms of how getting the deliverables to y’all & getting done” (7:59 – 8:58, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/audit/190819/audit190819a.mp3). So, Jorge presenting the draft auditor’s report to the PNB Audit Cttee & the PNB, within a month, yes, mid Sep? That’s Sep2019, not Sep2020.
RealWorld has Super Tuesday. PacificaWorld has Super Wednesday. (BidenWorld, apparently, has Super Thursday.) That’s halfway thru the voting period on the proposed new Pacifica constitution devised by the breakers.
And quora seem to have already been met. The National Elections Supervisor, the PNB-shy Renee Penaloza, posted an undated webpage on the official election site giving data for yesterday, M2Mar at 2.23pm (presumably ET):
This Wednesday, 16Oct, a group was again outside the Pacifica building in Berkeley, protesting the breakers’ coup against WBAI & Pacifica. (Vid is 15:58.)
One speaker is Tom Voorhees, a Pacifica director, & KPFA listeners-delegate (1:36). The breakers are trying to oust him as a director, replace him by a breaker, turning the PNB back into a 11-11 paralysis. Two weeks or so after the launch of their petition for a new Pacifica constitution, the breakers on Th26Sep called a KPFA delegates assembly to oust Mr Voorhees. This takes place Sa26Oct. It’s crucial that he’s supported both within the meeting & outside. https://kpftx.org/pacalendar/cal_show1.php?eventdate=20191026
This video was made by the Labor Video Project. They also published another one today, on Monday’s home invasion station invasion. Steve Zeltzer spoke with Chair Carolyn McIntyre & Vice-Chair Michael White of the WBAI Local Station Board, & station manager Berthold Reimers. (Carolyn was misdescribed in early court documents as a “McGuire”.): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyamU2dvvtU (11:56)
It’s important to note that the action by IED Vernile violates the union agreement, according to Becky Hayes from Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, SAG-AFTRA:
From: Becky Hayes
Sent: Monday, October 7, 2019 5:52 PM
SAG-AFTRA demands to bargain over the effects of WBAI and Pacifica’s decisions to cease assigning work to SAG-AFTRA members employed at WBAI, effectively laying them off as of today’s date. We request to meet at the earliest availability.
In addition, in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, SAG-AFTRA demands immediate payment of the following for all covered bargaining unit members:
• Four (4) weeks’ notice pay under Article XVI(A)(4)
• Severance of one day of pay per month of service (up to a max of 125 days) under Article XVI(A)(5)
• Payout all accrued and unused time, including, but not limited to, vacation, comp time, etc.
• Payment of any and all other monies owing to each SAG-AFTRA member in connection with his or her employment.
We would also like to highlight other applicable sections of the contract including Article XVI(A)(7) which provide that the Company “shall recall all employees on layoff within the previous eighteen months” “before hiring new employees” to perform the work covered by the collective bargaining agreement.
The demands above are on behalf of any and all covered employees, including, but not limited to, Michael Haskins, Reggie Johnson, Max Schmidt, Shawn Rhodes, Leonard Lopate, Jesse Lent, Ilana Levinson, Juliana Forlano, Graceon Challenger, Barry Brooks, Andrea Katz, and Ian Foster.
Additionally, we believe the Company has already violated Article XVI(A)(1) by failing to inform the Union at least four weeks in advance before the layoff took place, thereby depriving us of the opportunity to “economic alternatives to the proposed layoffs,” of any nature.
Finally, please see the attached information request [not included], made in connection with the above demands.
This is copied, without alteration, from the website of WBAI Treasurer R Paul Martin: http://www.glib.com/sawaya_farewell.html. It starts with the preface Ms Sawaya wanted any re-publication to start with. (Peter Franck chose not to do this when he published her letter on his legal practice’s website; maybe that’s why it only carries a few lines, with no ‘read more’ hypertext, unlike his other pieces.https://culturelaw.com/special-information/.)
September 24, 2008
To: Pacifica National Board, Local Station Boards, All management and staff, Affiliate stations, collaborators, and stakeholders in Pacifica Fr: Nicole Sawaya, executive director/CEO
On August 3rd I gave notice to the Pacifica Board that I would be leaving. September 30th (end of our fiscal year) will be my last day. Concurrently, I had written myself out of the FY09 budget, as the Foundation is hard-pressed to support two well-paid executives. You lead from the top.
Lew Hill is the founder of Pacifica, now almost a 60 year old non-profit media organization. If I could have a conversation with anyone to explain my departure, it would be with Lew Hill. So, I decided to write him a letter.
Feel free to read it, and to share with others who care about Pacifica. All I ask is that this preface always accompany the letter as it sets the context.
I thank you for the opportunity to serve!
September 23, 2008
Dear Lew Hill,
Greetings. My name is Nicole Sawaya, and currently, I’m the executive director and chief executive of the radio endeavor you started called Pacifica. It’s changed a lot.
You wouldn’t believe what your ‘killer app’, as some might portray it in 21st century lexicon, has spawned. Now there are 5 stations licensed to Pacifica in densely populated and roiling urban areas – millions of human beings within ear shot, all with easy access to the cheapest and most accessible broadcast mediums on the planet, radio. Yes, the planet. There is an Archive of programming and folios spanning decades – a repository and collection of voices that truly belongs to the people as part of the history of our country and the world. And, there are over a hundred smaller stations scattered through rural and urban settings — cities and towns and ridge tops — affiliated with Pacifica and broadcasting our programming – a network that has been in place for quite awhile.
Beyond that, your notion that the listeners would voluntarily financially support radio, journalism and cultural exchange, created a model for many, many non-commercial educational radio stations to apply. Your vision of public ownership of the airwaves put into practice with the radio license you applied for and grew as the first non-profit community licensee station, gained great traction and has been replicated exponentially.
We don’t exchange The Subscriber radios anymore for pledges, and you wouldn’t recognize how the fundraising marathons have changed – it’s a bit like an on-air shopping experience. But listeners continue to support us voluntarily with their hard earned money, and they’re not necessarily just bound to radios to listen to us.
An aside: When I was (briefly) general manager of your first station, KPFA, there was a Subscriber radio in the office, but it was tucked away and dusty. When I discovered it, soon after taking the job, I was so excited to learn of its history. It completely inspired me as Pacifica was heading to its 50th anniversary. So elegant, so innovative for its time, so smart.
Mr. Hill, what you conceived has had one of the highest impacts in media history. Not just the staunch belief in listener support, but your notions that journalistic enterprises should remain unfettered from any sort of business support in order to maintain credibility; that to help in striving for a more peaceful and just world, radio (or what we now refer to as media) programming should give access to myriad viewpoints and in-depth news, coupled with an exposure to the arts and to cultures and happenings from all over the world; that innovation is vital, have all lived on. You were a pioneer.
Fast forward to today.
Our country is at war. Our government is a death machine abroad and a fear machine at home. Our broadcast media is, in general, mind-numbingly useless, filled with shameless propagandists and completely profit driven. The earth’s climate is changing radically and the gap between rich and poor is larger than the Grand Canyon, with by far the larger group on the poor end. I could go on, but it would take a while.
Your Pacifica is showing signs of stress as well.
Sadly, it is no longer focused on service to the listeners but absorbed with itself and the inhabitants therein. I call it Planet Pacifica, a term I coined during my hiring process. There is an underlying culture of grievance coupled with entitlement, and its governance structure is dysfunctional. The by-laws of the organization have opened it up to tremendous abuse, creating the opportunity for cronyism, factionalism, and faux democracy, with the result of challenging all yet helping nothing. Pacifica has been made so flat, that it is concave – no leadership is possible without an enormous struggle through the inertia that committees and collectives and STV’s (no, not sexually transmitted viruses, but single transferable votes) can engender.
Pacifica calls itself a movement, yet currently it is behaves like a jobs program, a cult, or a social service agency. And oftentimes, the loudest and most obstreperous have the privilege of the microphone. There are endless meetings of committees and ‘task forces’– mostly on the phone – where people just like to hear themselves talk. Sometimes they get lucrative contracts from their grandstanding. It’s been grueling for someone in my position, someone like me who is not a process person, much less a political gamer. I keep asking: what’s the endgame? Paralysis has set in, coupled with organizational drift.
The programming isn’t attracting many listeners anymore, either. It skews towards the narrow in its editorial stance, leans towards the niche, and change to the programming can’t occur without a fight. The listening audience is small, in other words, the stations have yet to grow into their large signals.
Business practices are oftentimes shoddy and opaque and mirror the culture of our times – lots of self-interest with a focus on individual needs as opposed to performance, affordability, or the common good. And we’ve hit some tough economic times without having the general will to do the hard work necessary in order to ensure sustainability– contracting rather than continually expanding the size of our financial obligations. Basically, resources and airtime have been allocated for internal political purposes at the expense of service to audience, innovation, or the care and feeding of our broadcast physical infrastructure. Some of this has to do with the fact that very few people either on air or off air actually have radio experience, other than being part of Pacifica.
That was not the case with you, nor is it with me.
Conversely, there are many dedicated and smart people working within Pacifica. They may not work at full speed – it is rather ‘comfortable’ especially for those who work unsupervised – but they make a consistent effort to give voice to the voiceless and hold government and power accountable. And those who work without self-interest or giving constant grief to management (a four-letter word in Pacifica) are to be applauded.
The overall media landscape has changed fundamentally. I find it exciting and wanted very much to bring Pacifica into the 21st century. The demographic of our country has changed as well, not to mention all the new generations now active and alert to the world around them. It is, to quote Victor Hugo, the best of times and the worst of times. Apparently, it’s always been like that.
Pacifica could take advantage of technology, both at the front end (content and programming) and the back end (infrastructure and business applications), but that would require the general will of the internal stakeholders, and that general will is not cohesive enough or even amenable to altering the status quo.
I have given notice and will be leaving Pacifica shortly. Despite my best intentions and determined and focused efforts, I was continually thwarted to do the job I was hired to do. I did my best to apply my knowledge, expertise, and creativity to Pacifica, and we made some forward progress.
I gave to those responsible for the governance and oversight, plans, clarity, and transparency. They cannot deny knowledge of the state of the network. Whether they act on it, or just call in consultants to tell them what time it is, is another issue. I tried to dispel magical thinking in all arenas and was relentless in my attempts to get some best practices and collaborations in place.
I had some success.
It’s not necessary for me to alliterate those successes. Despite being handed an enfeebled situation and having no resources to work with, I gave it my best shot and worked hard. And despite having to fight for every inch of standing, not to mention authority, I have enjoyed working with those who actually work and accomplish bona fide deliverables of consequence and service.
We stand now on the shoulders of hundreds, if not thousands of those who have contributed internally. And Pacifica is much loved and valued by its listener supporters. Pacifica will carry on, and it has been a challenging opportunity to, albeit briefly, help out.
I hope that all stakeholders remember that Pacifica is a public trust, a veritable weapon of mass information, and keep a big vision in play rather than petty politics.
Red Wave gets the Gezi penguin of approval from PacificaWatch
Can Pacifica cope with the youfff, here we’re talking about people under 35?
We’ll soon find out, because something’s happening in New York. The organisation that benefited most from #feeltheBern was the DSA, the Democratic Socialists of America, a middle-of-the-road social democratic group. They grew perhaps tenfold, & much more in terms of active members. It’s become the principal home in the US of anti-capitalists who aren’t anarchists.
The DSA’s largest chapter is NYC. And they’re in WBAI. A weekly one-hour, drive-time programme, 5pm Tuesdays, Revolutions Per Minute (RPM), is usually hosted by two members, Jack Devine & Lee Ziesche. In fact, it seems to be de facto proprietary – and I’m not talking Pacifica:
NYC-DSA now has a weekly radio program, Revolutions Per Minute on 99.5 WBAI. If you are interested in getting involved come join! There’s room for everyone, no experience necessary!
Not surprisingly they’ve got a slate of candidates, the Red Wave, in the current WBAI Local Station Board elections.
They have seven listener-candidates & two staff-candidates, here in ranked order: Safia Albaiti, Michael Mordowanec, Charlotte Albrecht, Rosa Palmieri, Simone Norman, Jez Zerbe, & David Torcivia; Jack Devine, & Amy Wilson. (As for the competition, there are 26 verified candidates for the nine listener-seats, & four for the three staff-seats, so Red Wave will win at least one of the latter.) “We’ll have a website up soon with a detailed platform and vision”, in the meantime, https://www.facebook.com/RedWaveWBAI/ & https://twitter.com/RedWaveWBAI (luv the Pisa transmitter, non-Stalinesque socialist realism, in the honest sense). https://airtable.com/shrnu59exwc0rRKad (gives the rankings, & also has a form for email updates from the Red Wave Collective)
It’s also surprising that no statement stresses that the candidate isn’t a grandparent or great-grandparent, making the slate a fresh broom for WBAI. This isn’t to be ageist, simply drawing attention to perhaps the biggest persuasive plus they have: voters, one suspects, don’t plumb so much for candidate politics as they do for personal characteristics, & with everyone knowing that Pacifica is getting even older, lots of voters will be pleased that under-40s, even those in their 20s, are running. Letting voters know this will certainly not harm their chances.
Then on 5Mar this year (results certified 18Mar), Hazel Pinder did the same with three such votes, out of 830 voting (other low achievers, likewise getting elected, were Dacio Quintana with five; Michael White, nine; Jim Dingeman, 12; Carolyn McIntyre, 13; & King Downing, 14). You see how even being a parent comes in useful? Remarkably, our Hazel was then elected in the second round, the only candidate to do so, having picked up 88% of Errol Maitland’s 198 redistributed votes! So, sadly, all down to the slate, not Hazel’s magnetism. The first & last rounds of the nominal 2018 pseudo-election: https://mega.nz/#!yz4lEChK!AzaYP0_nv9b30hYQGb3xr3O71DnY7msBracGaajIkhg & https://mega.nz/#!6zxxHajY!J2dOgxN6paySjOENYqugm8A2hMBAdwkXKjY0lnxaCaM
Redistributed votes. The Pacifica voting system meant that March this year, for the WBAI listener pseudo-election, once one got 60 votes one got elected, be it the first round, the 25th round. (For the staff, it was 17 votes.) And how many in the NYC chapter of DSA? . . . “5 500+”. (At the 19Nov2018 ‘record date’, there were 6 806 WBAI listener-members & 177 staff.) https://www.socialists.nyc/ & https://mega.nz/#!fyAwGICZ!-4uWYMHZW3CHxt6yCOITu006SVZ4AyNPjT9bWw6csb0 (Election Final Report 2018, pp. 7-9, 9, 1, 19; in Stalinist style, no longer publicly available on a Pacifica site – with Pacifica, its pervasive & entrenched anti-transparency culture, integral to its unthinking common sense, download written records whilst you can!)
Red Wave have set things up nicely, giving the WBAI members a test. How will they respond to the shock of the new, the shock of the youfff?
Will the Red Wave sweep all before it? Or will it be dammed, reduced to a ripple?
Can WBAI cope with this injection of youfff?
Or will WBAI carry on, undisturbed, confirmed & contented in its alienation, as if #feeltheBern never happened?
WBAI is fortunate to be presented with this opportunity, for Red Wave to bring a two-generation shift to the LSB. But will it be a step too far for the WBAI members?
This is a test of Pacifica’s capacity to change with the times, to embrace a harbinger of the future.
What transpires will be a portent, evidence of Pacifica’s capacity to re-new.
And the Gezi Park penguin graffito? There are very few green spaces, let alone parks, in much of Istanbul, population c. 20m, especially in the built-up retail areas. Gezi was to be destroyed, turned into shops & a barracks (where’s the surprise). People protested. When the rioting police moved in at 1am, Su2June2013, CNN International covered the attacks live; CNN Türk carried on showing their documentary, Penguins: Spy in the Huddle, starring 50 spycams. (Would have brought a smile to the face of Gil Scott-Heron.) Penguin graffiti ensued, along with a popular chant, responding to a police supply problem: ‘the people demand the old tear gas’.