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

Tomorrow, Sunday, the Pacifica National Board meets at 6.30pm EDT with a single purpose, “Set Bylaws Amendments Notice Date”. (It hasn’t been given the necessary seven days’ notice – Article 6, Section 4; page 20 – but what’s new?) However, in the absence of a statement from the head of Pacifica’s administration, Interim Executive Director John Vernile, this PNB meeting puts the cart before the horse. The purpose of the meeting begs a number of questions, which only he is in a position to answer; &, as the principal administrator, to do so is his responsibility on behalf of Pacifica, not least the members. Moreover, to help give legitimacy to the process that’s started, they’re questions IED Vernile needs to answer unequivocally, & citing all the necessary evidence.

The questions concern two matters arising at the very start of this by-laws process: the Foundation Secretary, & petition validation. Does Pacifica have a properly installed Secretary to receive this petition? And has the petition been validated, not least establishing that c. 465 signatories are members in good standing?

This open letter is an attempt to cajole the IED, hitherto reticent, a man of few public words, into doing everyone a favour by making this process as transparent as possible. He may also be able to reassure everyone that the Foundation, in being rushed, isn’t being exposed to litigation.

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Subject: Evidence that the Foundation has a properly installed Secretary; evidence of verification of the by-laws petition, not least the signatories

Dear Mr Vernile,

The cart is being put ahead of the horse. What are you going to do about it? The available evidence about the by-laws petition is unambiguous. Yes, you’re the servant of the Pacifica National Board, serving at its pleasure. But you also have the responsibility to protect the Foundation from litigation. Moreover, you have a responsibility not to carry out an ‘illegal’ order, one egregiously violating the by-laws of the organisation. As Pacifica’s principal administrator, the Interim Executive Director, you bear this double responsibility. So what are you going to do?

1) A highly disturbing petition has been published. To the unwary reader it’s promoted as an attempt to improve Pacifica’s governance. But this is disingenuous, given its authors & its content. Instead, the by-laws proposal is their chosen means to set in train decisions that irreversibly break up Pacifica, transform particular stations (WBAI is a prime target), & gut decision-making hitherto exercised by members, staff, & affiliates.

The nine authors of the petition, by their own statements & public associations, are the latest expression of those who work to break up Pacifica, destroying the network. Indeed, two of them have published plans detailing their intent: Peter Franck in September 2018, & Carol Spooner in 2012.

The movers of this petition, just like their words, cannot be trusted.

The proposal’s own title is misleading in saying it’s ‘amending & restating’ by-laws. No, it’s a complete set of new by-laws. What’s proposed isn’t narrow & shallow, but broad & deep: the scope of change is comprehensive. As such, it’s a new constitution, refounding the Foundation, making it a completely different organisation.

The proposal also requires ushering in an abhorrent, anti-Pacifican form of governance: a ‘100-day’ dictatorship, of between 92 & 114 calendar days, exercised solely by six outsiders to Pacifica, all handpicked by the breaker faction: “the At-Large Directors shall constitute the full Board of Directors and shall be authorized to take any and all actions they deem necessary” (proposed Article XV, Section 1; page 16, my emphases).

The movers of this petition can only have nasty surprises, anti-Pacifican surprises, up their sleeve.

This Board – the only one left after abolishing the five local boards – would be detached from the membership, from the staff, from the listeners. It would be able to invoke the much-misused blanket confidentiality provision. As such, it would be immune to scrutiny; be able to avoid meeting even once in public; be accountable to no-one. Ensconced from view, their deliberations would lack Pacifican participation, transparency, accountability.

The rallying cry of the breaker faction is clear: AntiDemocracyNow!

Breaking up Pacifica is dissolving Pacifica: it’s the Acid Bath Strategy.

2) There is a clear division of responsibilities, & so activities, between the Pacifica administration & the PNB. You are the principal administrator of Pacifica Foundation Inc. As such you have responsibilities concerning two matters arising immediately from this petition:

  • you must know that the Secretary of the Foundation, properly installed, is the only officeholder who can receive a petition; &
  • you’re responsible for verifying that a petition is bona fide, valid: this is not the responsibility of the PNB, nor of the Secretary of the PNB.

a) Concerning the first matter, the relevant by-law is clear: for the petition to be “considered ‘proposed’ [it] must be delivered to the Foundation’s Secretary” (Art. 17, Sec. 1(A); p. 42).

So, some elementary questions, given the complete absence of publicly available evidence:

  • who is the Secretary of Pacifica Foundation Inc.?
  • when did the PNB last elect the incumbent for their one year in office?
  • when did they assume office?
  • where is the relevant minute from a PNB meeting?
  • surprisingly, none of this info is on Pacifica’s website, so where is the official Foundation notice of all this?

Please send me a copy of all this evidence if, indeed, the Foundation has a current Secretary. In so doing you will be demonstrating that there can be no doubt that a properly constituted Foundation Secretary is in post (Art. 9, Sec. 2; p. 29).

Also, please note the following elementary point: the PNB annually electing its own Secretary is quite different from it annually electing the Foundation Secretary. Words matter, as we know all too well from court proceedings. The PNB Secretary may act as if they’re the Foundation Secretary (such as signing bank forms), but that doesn’t make them the Foundation Secretary (impersonator, comes to mind): only a specific annual election by the PNB can make someone the Foundation Secretary.

I think you’ll agree, this is so obvious it hardly needs stating.

b) After the petition is properly delivered to the Foundation, your second responsibility is supervising Pacifica’s administration as it tries to establish whether the petition is bona fide, genuine. It needs validating in all respects. Not least is gathering the evidence that c. 465 signatories are Pacifica members in good standing, evidence that can be inspected by any Pacifica director, evidence that safeguards the Foundation in any litigation. (465 is 1% of the 46 505 membership, per National Elections Supervisor Penaloza’s latest report that gives absolute numbers, 5Sep2019.) In this, as a first step, you obviously need to be satisfied that the 10 station membership rolls are materially accurate – and you’ll be aware that they weren’t at 29Oct2018, as declared by the then NES, Graeme Drew, orally on 29Oct to ED Maxie Jackson & in writing on 30Oct to the PNB.

c) Please note that proper receipt of the by-laws petition by the Foundation Secretary sets the record date for validating signatories. (This record date isn’t to be confused with the notice date of a proposed by-law amendment, which is established by decision of the PNB.)

Lastly, if this petition process progresses, I trust you will be receiving daily evidence from each station that they’ve made their three announcements, creating a time-stamped & station-stamped audiofile of the 675 announcements (3 x 5 x 45), the number required by by-law Art. 17, Sec. 1(B)(1); pp. 42-3.

3) As head administrator, as a minimum, you need to be in a position to tell any inquirer, not least a director:

  • the name of the Foundation Secretary, & when they were elected by the PNB into office for one year;
  • when the by-laws petition was received by the Foundation Secretary (setting the record date for the validation process);
  • the content of your plan for validating the petition;
  • who validated the petition;
  • when this started;
  • when it finished;
  • how many signatories were rejected, & why; &
  • which validating materials were used (e.g. station membership rolls), etc.

4) If the PNB do indeed set a notice date for the proposed by-law amendments, & instruct you to act upon it, then, given your responsibilities, you will have first validated the petition before money is spent & before on-air announcements are made. You need to have an evidenced belief that the by-laws proposal is proper, that it’s valid. And that requires, in part, Pacifica’s administration validating a minimum c. 465 signatories as Pacifica members in good standing.

As stated, you need no reminding that part of your job is protecting the Foundation from legal action. Before the PNB meets to determine a notice date for proposed by-laws amendments, you need:

  • to ensure that any petition has been received by a properly installed Foundation Secretary, thereby turning the petition into a potential by-laws amendment proposal; &
  • if that’s been established, to ensure that such a petition is bona fide, that it’s valid, thereby turning it into an actual by-laws amendment proposal.

Would you please convey your informed judgment on these two matters concerning the mentioned by-laws petition.

5) Given all that has been said, directors should decide on Sunday that the motion to set a notice date for proposed by-law amendments is void, as it puts the cart before the horse.

Directors should then vote (a) to ask the IED to confirm who’s the Foundation Secretary, voted into office by the PNB within the last 12 months; (b) to remind the IED that it’s his responsibility to produce all necessary evidence allowing him to decide the genuineness of the petition; & (c) to require the IED to give a full report, covering all the questions asked above.

6) As all the details asked of you are elementary, & simple, would you please send them before the PNB meets at 6.30pm EDT this Sunday, 29 September. This is a courtesy deserved by all in ‘the Pacifica family’, the members, the staff, the listeners.

Yours sincerely,

Jara Handala

Can Pacifica cope with young peeps? The Red Wave slate for the WBAI Local Station Board

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!

https://www.socialists.nyc/events/2019/3/21/revolutions-per-minute-monthly-meeting

Seems becomes definitive, the statement heading RPM’s Twitter page:

*The official* radio show and podcast of NYC Democratic Socialists of America @nycDSA. [my emphases]

https://twitter.com/nycRPM

There is no mention of this on their WBAI webpage: https://www.wbai.org/program.php?program=306

That page was augmented today, three links, & a pretty logo.

One link is to the RPM website, which archives the weekly programmes. The inaugural broadcast was M7Jan this year, & it carried an interview with State Senator Julia Salazar, a DSA member, impressively 27-years-old, & more impressively said to be the first socialist in the Senate for well on 100 years (35:31): https://revolutionsperminute.simplecast.com/episodes/january-7th-noamazonnyc. RPM do outreach, having had their first monthly public meeting in March; they also publish a weekly newsletter. The three links: RPM website, http://revolutionsperminute.simplecast.com; their nest, https://twitter.com/nycRPM; & http://bit.ly/rpm-newsletter. [UPDATE: as of Tu27Aug, the logo & three links have been deleted, without explanation, from the programme’s WBAI page. Quite odd.]

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)

A to-&-fro between WBAI listener-candidates featured four of their number, Cdes. Albaiti, Albrecht, Palmieri, & Zerbe. They acquitted themselves well, especially Cde. Albaiti (she is indeed, astutely, ranked #1 on their listener-slate). The video was published this Thursday, 22Aug, on the YouTube channel of National Elections Supervisor Renee Penaloza, & on her website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpYa0DhFGB4 & https://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/wbai-forum-stephen-finkelstein-david-andersson-dee-dee-halleck-jack-de-palma-jez-zerbe-william-heerwagon-safia-albaiti-rosa-palmieri-charlotte-albrecht/ (snappy URL – it’s ‘Heerwagen’ too). All nine candidates, bar Cde. Palmieri (perversely so, as she’s an actress), have a vid of their one-minute statement at the two sites.

Oddly, not one of their statements mentions that they constitute a slate, nor do they mention each other. Demonstrates they’re new to electioneering. https://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/wbai-candidate-statements/wbai-listener-statements/ & https://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/wbai-candidate-statements/wbai-staff-statements/

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.

If word of their slate spreads, with the positive message that they are part of Pacifica’s & WBAI’s future, they have every chance of getting at least five elected. They really need to hammer home their comparative advantage. The recent past shows that a listener can get elected at WBAI with what seems to be little campaigning. Eve Moser did so with nine votes in the first round of the 4Jan2016 election, out of 920 voting (election report, pages 2 & 56), winning out only in the penultimate round of redistributing the votes (p. 56). https://mega.nz/#!3rxxjAAa!WX4Jz65LkNJC3NYFQyArJwptK1dGX8USofVIq4qRCxM (this substitutes for the public link, broken without notice, presumably by NES Penaloza, c. Mar-June this year, http://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/wpcontent/uploads/2016/01/UPDATED-13Jan-16-WBAI-Listener-Results-Certification-LetterSimply-Voting.pdf)

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!)

On Monday, 19Aug, Red Wave had an intro to Pacifican morality, having to issue a denial statement because the dastardly Steve Brown had put their candidates as endorsers on one of his mailers. A leopard never changes its spots; a slug never loses its slime. Did he ever know Jeff, one may wonder? https://www.facebook.com/notes/red-wave-wbai/red-wave-statement-on-the-stephen-brown-endosement-mailer/113899156636566/

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.

Whither Pacifica?

And the Gezi Park penguin graffito? There are very few green spaces, let alone parks, in much of Istanbul, population c. 20m, especially in the built-up retail areas. Gezi was to be destroyed, turned into shops & a barracks (where’s the surprise). People protested. When the rioting police moved in at 1am, Su2June2013, CNN International covered the attacks live; CNN Türk carried on showing their documentary, Penguins: Spy in the Huddle, starring 50 spycams. (Would have brought a smile to the face of Gil Scott-Heron.) Penguin graffiti ensued, along with a popular chant, responding to a police supply problem: ‘the people demand the old tear gas’.

The main Facebook group, ‘Pacifica Radiowaves – past, present and future of Pacifica Radio’

[UPDATE: I was mistaken in calling this the main FB group on Pacifica: as of 11Sep, it has c. 390 members, whereas Pacifica Radio Supporters has c. 840.] Below is my inaugural post, made today, at [one of] the main Pacifica group on Facebook, Pacifica Radiowaves – past, present and future of Pacifica Radio. For readers here the post is banal, merely a repetition, but the FB group seems to be a noticeboard, a lil sleepy, undisturbed by discussion: even so, last month, Don Davis, warmed by a pleasant, minor disagreement, was moved to say, “I for one am glad to see threads of substance on this page at long last”.

Somewhat surprisingly, the FB group, on W26June, had leaked Pacifica documents, notably the loan agreement borrowing $3.7m from the Foundation for the Jewish Community, FJC, signed by iED Tom Livingston & President Lorin Silverman on M2Apr2018. At the time of the leak, the group was co-administered by Nalini Lasiewicz & Chair of the Pacifica board, Grace Aaron. The latter left her FB post a week or so after becoming iED during the evening of F5July, after successfully engineering, over many, many weeks, the ousting of ED Maxie Jackson – please see https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/08/01/administrative-measures-not-open-discussion-the-pacifica-way/.

I obviously wanted to thank the poster of the documents, & make substantive comments on what, unbelievably, has even been kept from the many non-directors on the PNB Finance Cttee, these including all five station treasurers! Yes, the PNB majority has chosen for 16 months now to prevent the Finance Cttee making fully informed rational decisions concerning Pacifica’s future, to prevent all the Cttee members discharging their fiduciary duty, as required by California corporation law. One can’t be a dutiful trustee, a diligent servant, when kept in wilful ignorance by the information gatekeepers, one’s ostensible colleagues.

However, in order to comment in this FB group one needs to be a member, & so I applied the same day, W26June. After a long silence, then more silence after two FB messages, finally last Monday, on 12Aug, after almost seven weeks, Comrade Nalini finally welcomed me – speaking as if I’d asked the same day. Gracias, caudillo. Who couldn’t love ‘the Pacifica family’?

P.S. My open letter referred iED Vernile to the deficiencies of the public Pacifica financial reports archive, noting to him that this blog had all the missing material, bar a single page. Even 15 days later, Pacifica’s archive lacks three auditor’s reports – FY2006, 2009, 2010 – & FY2011 is sneakily hiding behind the FY2009 ‘button’. C’est la vie.

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Hi, all. By way of intro, here’s an open letter to Pacifica’s new executive director, John Carlo Vernile. Haven’t had a reply yet, nor even an acknowledgement – so much for the Pacifica ‘fam’. https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/08/04/open-letter-to-pacifica-executive-director-john-vernile-what-s-your-plan-why-s-maxie-gone/

We’re lucky to finally have a music corporate careerist with us, who can devise a comprehensive strategic plan to bring stability to our failing network. It’s what we need after the ousting of that experienced radio professional, Maxie Jackson. After all, he’d only been making progress in laying a sound foundation.

With Vernile, will our decision-makers systematically allow technique to flourish at Pacifica? They certainly crushed Maxie as soon as they could.

Rationally, intent & action should spring from evidence- & argument-based communications science, not from tradition, prejudice, & hearsay. Pacifica needs to transform from a broadcaster focused on radios to an audio content provider focused on digital devices [emphases added].

Nevertheless, Pacifica is likely to muddle thru, sustained by the necro-economics of the golden corpses, the bequests. Yes, appropriately distasteful – & true in both senses.

Pacifica Financial Recovery Plan – 28Feb2012, not today

This is the first of a series of documents, drawing attention to the sort of work that Pacifica’s national decision-makers not only used to produce but were also happy to share with all members, staff, & the listening public more generally. As these documents show, the current decision-makers fail both tests.

Some Pacifica officials have ideas, as shown by the public sessions of PNB sub-cttees, but there are hardly any arguments, certainly not evidence-based, & certainly nothing that shows that either individual or collective research has taken place – not even the first necessary step, a perfunctory literature review, showing some awareness of the sciences of both programme production & delivery, & how to relate to, ‘to serve’, one’s audience, the famed ‘community’. Saying that the PNB keeps trying to re-invent the wheel is overstating even their intent: they’re idling, not even re-creating. The desperate question persists, one never asked by any Pacifica decision-maker: why?

This first document is the Pacifica Financial Recovery Plan of 28Feb2012. It was written by the Financial Recovery & Audit Taskforce. Headings used: the problem; increasing revenue; maintaining subscribers; increasing audience; digital distribution/mobile device access; e-commerce; controlling expenses; conclusion. The range of relevant areas, this alone, displays an adequacy of conceptualisation missing from any PNB public discussion occurring since the 2Apr2018 signing for the $3.7m loan, now reduced to $3.265m, from the Foundation for the Jewish Community, FJC. The document is 10 pages long.

https://mega.nz/#!emgXjaYA!JrZeD6CTN26XyDWSc-ZoNoTWAiD__dGef6buW5uYTpM (click the magnifying glass to read online, without having to download)

Two excerpts: the causes, the expectation.

The causes, second line of the summary:

The deficits were a product of many factors, among them declining listener support, failure to make programming changes to retain and grow listenership, and poor management of our budgets and financial reserves, both on the national and local station levels.

Yea, the sun riseth each morn.

The expectation, first line of the conclusion:

With the above strategies in place to increase revenue and control expenses Pacifica expects to pay off debts and become financially stable within 5 years, 2012 – 2016.

Pious wish.

This plan is dated Feb2012. Seven-and-a-half years ago. At the time, a run of five years of successive losses. Instead of ‘the expectation’ there was this realisation: five more years of successive audited losses, thru FY2016; then the 2017 audit that demonstrated that those year’s financial statements, in not being supported by adequate documentation, are in effect worthless (& so can’t be relied upon by potential donors); & there’s every chance that the FY2018 auditors will come to the same conclusion whenever it is this year, now that NETA, in the person of the iCFO, announced to the latest PNB, Th1Aug, that they’ve ditched the pretence of a timeline. The FY2019 audit, the first of financial statements for which NETA have also done the bookkeeping, will presumably be a ‘clean’ audit, that is, the auditors issue an unmodified opinion. Which is progress.

(The latest, vaguest of vague, public iCFO report on the FY2018 accounts, by Tamra Swiderski, in effect recognises the hopelessness of the state of the financial records & supporting evidence, as NETA try to develop the trial balance into the two principal financial statements for evaluation by the auditors – please see the quote, & the Audit Cttee Chair’s unjustified silence, at https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/18/pacifica-annual-auditor-s-reports/.)

With all five Spring Fund-drives failing this year, & with no PNB-approved budgets guiding station financial decision-making, despite any sizeable bequests it’s only prudent, & so rational, to expect another loss this year. So, given the evidence, no-one doubts that thru FY2019, on top of the situation detailed in the Feb2012 report, this will be eight more years of successive losses, making the run 13 years, from 1Oct2006 to 30Sep2019.

And the response at the top, the directors supposedly directing? The PNB has proved unwilling to ‘bite the bullet’, to be rational about Pacifica’s financial crisis – so much so that it proved unable to accept that technique, as personified by ED Maxie Jackson, has any place in the work that has to be done. The PNB majority demands a supplicant, not a radio professional.

When a decision-making body has consistently proven both unwilling & unable to respond adequately to an obdurate chronic financial crisis, acute except when meliorated by a golden corpse, its members don’t deserve to be there.

Pacifica = the necro-economics of the golden corpses

But will the current LSB pseudo-elections, voting starting next Thursday, results due F1Nov (sic), usher in the necessary change? Hold your breath, then expire – but only after writing in that bequest. Forget those joke write-in votes, this is a serious matter, deadly serious: Pacifica’s life depends on you, Pacifica’s life depends on your death.

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(Nagasaki Remembrance Day . . . 11.02am local time, mass murder from 5½ miles up)

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

FY2017 auditor refuses to declare that the statements are materially accurate

The auditors of the FY2017 financial statements, Rogers & Company, presented their report, in person, to the M24June Audit Cttee & to the Th27June PNB. The Audit Cttee recommended its acceptance to the PNB, which duly obliged. The published report is dated Th27June. https://pacifica.org/documents/financial/2017/PACIFICA-17-FS_Final.pdf

No member of either the Audit Cttee or the PNB displayed any awareness of how harmful to Pacifica’s fundraising is the decision of the FY2017 auditors to offer no opinion on the material accuracy of the financial statements presented to them. I explained this harm in a piece written 26June (please see the link at the end).

The auditors started their work, then realised that Pacifica was finding it impossible to reconstruct & provide sufficient evidence, both quantity & quality, in support of the figures in the financial statements. Pacifica could have spent another six, nine months on the task, with no guarantee they’d come up with enough of what the auditors needed.

Also, fundamentally, no-one on the Audit Cttee & PNB displayed any awareness of how serious it is that the auditor’s opinion had deteriorated from the FY2016’s “qualified opinion” (also termed a ‘scope limitation’), Pacifica’s first, to FY2017’s “disclaimer of opinion”, again, a Pacifica first. (The third kind of ‘modified opinion’ is an ‘adverse opinion’.) So, no-one displayed knowledge of what’s made plain, made explicit, by AU-C section 705, the auditing clarification re ‘modifications to the opinion in the independent auditor’s report’: https://www.aicpa.org/content/dam/aicpa/research/standards/auditattest/downloadabledocuments/au-c-00705.pdf

The FY2017 financial statements presented by NETA, on behalf of Pacifica, were rejected by the auditor – not because they judged them materially inaccurate (in that case, according to auditing rules, they would have publicly issued an ‘adverse opinion’) but because there was insufficient supporting documentation to allow them to make a judgment (hence the refusal to issue an opinion; in the obscuring ‘diplomatic’ jargon of the profession, they publicly issued a ‘disclaimer of opinion’).

In plain language, not disclaiming, but refusal & hence rejection.

The auditors refused to validate the financial statements, refused to validate them to even the slightest degree.

The statements remain unvalidated. For all the money spent by Pacifica’s listeners, paying NETA to prepare them, and Rogers & Co. to audit them, what are they worth?

The auditors were saying, in effect, three things:

  • take these financial statements as you find them – because they have inadequate support;
  • rationally, one can only take them on faith; &
  • so, how strong is your faith in Pacifica, both in 2016-7 & now?

My three-page discussion, originally sent to Chris Albertson’s blog: http://www.mediafire.com/file/rw9nofuwsbnr3k1/FY2017_Auditors%2527_Disclaimer_of_Opinion_W26Jun19_3pp.pdf/file

Welcome!

“Excellent!”, exclaimed Mr Burns . . .

[Please note the convenient tabs at the top of each page of this blog: the blog feed (replicated vertically, top right of each page); sources on Pacifica & its operating environment, with many links; annual auditor’s reports, covering the period from 1Oct2004 to present; &, lastly, details of the $3.7m loan from the Foundation for the Jewish Community, FJC, taken out on 2Apr2018.]

[Welcome! This blog started Th18July2019. This was the day the Pacifica ‘leadership’ told the world they’d blown it – again. They’d discarded an executive director, Maxie Jackson, who had been trying to give the radio network a sound foundation, & therefore the possibility of a sustained future, rather than being in perpetual firefighting mode, quenched somewhat by the occasional shower of a bequest. Listeners, after all, can only take so much ZR, Zombie Radio. And they deserve so much better. Pacifica needs its renaissance. Bio-economics, not necro-economics.

Please also note the pages at the top. One is Sources on Pacifica, carrying links to documents that are usually forgotten about – or some wish didn’t exist at all, & certainly not spoken about. You’re welcome to add links or make suggestions (please either make a comment to any post – it’ll be held as pending – or send an email to jara.handala@yahoo.com, or, for end-to-end encryption, to pacificawatch@tutamail.com). https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/sources-on-pacifica/

When I can make the time, I’m adding, as context, older material that I’ve written. Most of that comes from the blog of Chris Albertson, a former station manager of Pacifica’s WBAI in NYC, https://wbai-nowthen.blogspot.com/. Sadly, Chris died in April this year. He was a gentle man, kind, and decent. This blog is dedicated to him.]

. . .

Spreading knowledge to improve transparency & accountability all too often a conceit, a pious hope even. Many know what’s best but refuse to act. But when one cares, other than trying, what else can one rationally do? This is steadfastness, sumud.

So, yes, it’s often banging one’s head up against a brick wall, or the breakfast table. And, yes, given that normal people are quite limited in their incompetence & cock-ups, & for how long they let things go before seriously addressing what’s going wrong, one occasionally does have the sneaky suspicion that just a tad of Pacifica’s dysfunctionality might be intended, simply left to fester, making it easier to break up the network to the benefit of any station happening, against all the odds, to be making an operating surplus. Yes, Mr Burns is the metaphoric elephant in the studio.

This blog will assemble mostly publicly available info on the Pacifica radio network, known legally as Pacifica Foundation, Inc. The info will be commented upon, particularly for the gaps, &, importantly, a special striving will be made to ask the most illuminating questions, especially about what is not being said by decision-makers & the documents.

Pacifica entered a new, critical, phase in its history on 2Apr2018 when it signed the largest loan in its history, with the Foundation for the Jewish Community, known legally as FJC. The loan was $3 700 000 (albeit now reduced to $3 265 000), pretty onerous for a now annual $11m organisation that last made an audited annual net income in fiscal 2006. Yes, 2006. That run of consecutive losses, through fiscal 2017 (the latest statements), has totalled at least $12 745 968. (‘At least’ because the 2017 auditors refused to declare whether the statements were materially accurate: they found insufficient supporting evidence.) Pacifica last had audited net assets at 30Sep2012; & last had audited net current assets (that is, liquidity) at 30Sep2009. Yes, 2009. Not surprisingly, to get the loan, it had to give FJC as collateral all its property, every chair & coffee cup, besides the station buildings used by, not owned by, KPFA, KPFK, & KPFT (those in Berkeley, LA, Houston).

Pacifica decision-makers come & go, but the institution is noted for its obdurate & deep secrecy culture. Nevertheless, the co-signed loan contract between Pacifica & FJC was leaked on W26June2019, published with other documents on a public Facebook group, co-moderated & -administered at the time by Grace Aaron (she chaired her first public Pacifica National Board, PNB, meeting on Th9May this year). As an aside on the matter of info flow & speech advocacy, supposedly Pacifica values, my application to join that FB group, thereby acquiring the right to comment, has remained “pending” for three weeks now; two FB messages have gone unanswered, even unacknowledged; as context, this year just six people have joined. https://www.facebook.com/groups/PacificaRadiowaves/permalink/1264765520345396/ [UPDATE: the remaining gatekeeper let me in M12Aug, as if I’d wandered up the same day – rather than almost 50 days before.]

The leaked documents are linked from the original FB post, plus here: https://www.mediafire.com/folder/e1lo0t30pd4wc/ (the original drop); & https://mega.nz/#F!PloCiSqJ!9rLejSkttE7gCVCCq3q86g (convenient one-click download of the folder; also ‘preview’ allows reading online)

Pacifica power is now even more concentrated because Grace Aaron became the executive director on the evening of F5July: yes, Maxie Jackson left his job that day, “resigning”, according to Aaron’s statement, ‘Executive Director Transition’, at the Th18July PNB (13:18, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb190718/pnb190718a.mp3). Committee meetings M8 & Tu9July had quietly disclosed, without using his name, that he had been disappeared. The most contemptuous was from director Mansoor Sabbagh, a KPFK staff delegate, to the PNB Finance Cttee: “we have got rid of our Executive Director” (44:46, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/finance/190709/finance190709b.mp3; unbelievably, R Paul Martin, WBAI’s stalwart treasurer, didn’t seem to know that Maxie had gone). With Pacifica being Pyongyang, without word from The Dear Leader this must have been unrestrained hubris. Quite pathetic, really, coming from Pacifica’s Uriah Heep. Yes, all human life, & much more, is found in PacificaWorld.

Well, be that as it may. The Personnel Cttee’s ED evaluation had stitched Maxie up M1July; the next day’s private PNB gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse; & Ken ‘I-can’t-help-it-if-I-sound-like-an-associate-of-Jimmy-Hoffa’ Aaron did the rest.

And being Pacifica, for over two weeks, no public announcement of the dismissal. No press statement. No statement to staff. No statement to listeners. Nothing on the website, https://pacifica.org/ (except ‘Contact>Foundation’ had a change, “Interim Executive Director”, but then gave “Bill Crosier”, which was true upto 23Jan2018 still there as of F19July; no surprise, as the latest item in the ‘News’ section is dated 25Feb2015). And even now there’s no explanation. Contempt for listeners & staff alike. A complete lack of manners. Just milk them for cash. Last night’s words, or lack of them, an insult. The behaviour, cowardly. A board of directors, lacking in integrity. But what’s new?

The Pacifica ‘leadership’ had a real opportunity with Maxie, but didn’t seem to recognise this, & now they have blown it. Despite their repeated words of receptivity, they actually couldn’t cope with the prospect of change, fundamental change. In two posts I have examined what happened & why, & what it means for Pacifica’s future: https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/07/24/maxie-jackson-pacifica-the-politics-of-technique-a-tragedy-for-both/ & https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/08/01/administrative-measures-not-open-discussion-the-pacifica-way/

Pacifica’s inability to cope with an ED determined to bring industry norms to the network, comes on top of all five Spring Fund-Drives failing, & cashflow becoming seriously more acute than usual in June. Unable to generate an annual net income since FY2006, & now with the added burden of the c. $300k annual FJC interest charge, Pacifica now finds itself descending into necro-economics: relying on rich corpses to offer up bequests.

Pacifica, through its actions, & inactions, is faced with declining & ageing listenership, declining membership, declining listener-fundraising, & grants cut off through lack of listeners & audited financial statements (the FY2017 auditor made things worse Th27June by refusing to declare that the statements were materially accurate, having no alternative given the acute lack of supporting financial records). To cap it all, the PNB majority has now driven out a moderniser & technician, ED Maxie Jackson. He was behaving in a completely, not just un-Pacifican, but anti-Pacifican way: trying to raise standards, trying to lay the basis for Pacifica to improve its competencies, structures, & processes in broadcasting, programming, community involvement, fundraising, bookkeeping & accounting, & governance.

This was never going to end well. Being told home truths, & pushing for best practices rather than the same-olde-same-olde, just ruffled too many feathers, just upset too many people. The whiff of NPR-lite. The ED simply didn’t understand Pacifica. The ED simply had to go.

So what’s the plan? “[The] Pacifica Foundation is in the process of hiring a highly qualified radio, television, & multimedia professional to hold the interim position of executive director. More information will be forthcoming. A formal search for a permanent executive director is already in progress” (‘Executive Director Transition’, Th18July PNB; 14:00, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb190718/pnb190718a.mp3). Sounds reasonable. The sort of thing a normal radio network would say. But what are the prospects?

Consider the evidence. There were seven ED’s 2004-2009; since then, with Aaron, there have been another nine. So 16 in 15 years. Maxie lasted nine months. How many other outsiders, since 2009, have lasted longer than Maxie? One: Arlene Engelhardt, 2009-2012. Pacifica is so toxic for outsiders that there were only two others amongst these nine: John Proffitt, five months; Tom Livingston, eight months. Maxie was the second-choice: Numero Uno, at the last minute, decided to tune in to a PNB livestream. He immediately withdrew his application. Today, as yesterday, which media professional will risk their career with Pacifica?

So much for the current goings-on. This blog, in an attempt to give context & coherence, will begin with posts of work written in 2018 & 2019, corrected to remove the few errors pointed out to me. They were kindly published by Chris Albertson, a former station manager of WBAI, at his longstanding blog, https://wbai-nowthen.blogspot.com/. Sadly Chris died in April this year, & his blog cannot be added to. He was a gentle man, kind, and decent. This blog is dedicated to him.

But first I post the materially objective quantitative starting point, the annual auditor’s reports, here those covering the period from 1Oct2004. (These don’t include the reports by the pensions’ auditor, which I have been unable to obtain.)

Readers are heartily invited to comment, of course, & it would be even better if you also submitted posts & shared ideas on what should be covered & discussed. Please email me at either jara.handala@yahoo.com or, for end-to-end encryption, pacificawatch@tutamail.com.

For convenience, the main longer pieces I’ve written are downloadable as PDF’s here (I had sent them to all delegates of the five Local Station Boards on 16Nov2018): https://www.mediafire.com/#mr2t6dtdeknsd