What’s happening to Pacifica? (And why do lefty outfits always seem to crash and burn like this?

March 3, 2015

For Immediate Release

Corporation For Public Broadcasting Not Recognizing Pacifica Management

Berkeley-At the last Pacifica board meeting, CFO Raul Salvador revealed that Pacifica management has been unable to access the Corporation for Public Broadcasting online submission site for, apparently, the last ten months, as the federally funded agency has demanded a letter signed by all 22 board members in order to reauthorize access to the Isis system. It is impossible for Pacifica to formally request an extension with no log-in capability. Pacifica’s FCC/CPB attorney John Crigler was reported to be out of town. The board passed a motion stating Wilkinson and Salvador were authorized representatives with the votes of 15 of the 22 board members in the affirmative. There is no indication the motion will have any impact on CPB’s request for a written authorization with board member signatures. Salvador stated that Pacifica remains in ineligible status and stated there has been no indication Pacifica has been or will be reinstated as an eligible CPB grantee.

It’s been reported a draft audit report for the year ending 9-30-2013 has finally been produced. Pacifica’s audit committee will review the document on March 10th, although it will have to be forwarded to the directors and officers liability insurance provider prior to that date to avoid loss of insurance, which is on an emergency 6-month extension that expires on the 10th. The deadline for Pacifica to submit audited financial reports for the year ending 9-30-2014 (the next year) was at the end of February, although a 45 day extension to April 17th is routinely granted. Further extensions are discretionary and not likely to be granted. Per previous public statements by Armanino and other auditing firms used by Pacifica in the past, audit preparation takes a minimum of 8 weeks by the audit firm. It does not look possible for a second annual audit to be completed in the next 44 days, especially during tax season, a busy time for audit firms. Armanino had declined to sign an engagement letter for the next audit when presented with one last month.

Pacifica’s open meeting announcement problems, identified in a CPB review that looked at operations beginning in 2008, have not been completely ameliorated, with CPB identifying problems with the websites of at least 4 of the stations, WPFW, WBAI, KPFA and KPFT.

At Thursday’s board meeting, which was beset with telephone interference, the board of directors launched a rushed bylaws amendment process, declaring that all bylaws amendment proposals are due in by March 20th, seventeen days from now. The board forgot to notify anyone but themselves, placing no announcement on the pacifica.org website and failing to notify the members or the local station boards. Since bylaws amendment proposals can also be submitted by local station boards or by organizational members via a petition signed by 1% of the members, the hurried hidden process constitutes disenfranchisement of non-board members and leaves the amendment process totally in the hands of a rogue board of directors, several of whom are sitting on the board long after their elected terms expired without the permission of the members.

Election supervisor L. Joy Williams, hired on January 1st, has yet to provide any information in writing or in person to the board of directors or to the board’s election committee. When asked what the employee had been doing for two months, Wilkinson replied that she had written a report. The board asked for the report to be forwarded to them. As of the date of this bulletin, the report has not been forwarded.

Also at Thursday’s board meeting, in line with Matthew Lasar’s theory of creative destruction, the board agreed to explore the possibility of taking out of a mortgage on the building of Texas station KPFT to finance the purchase of new transmitting equipment. KPFT is on its sixth consecutive temporary stay to operate at partial power and is not able to relicense until it resumes operating at full capacity. A substitute motion by LA director Kim Kaufman to explore the possibility of taking out a mortgage on the mouse-infested former restaurant property in Berkeley which has been vacant for the past 15 years, was defeated, with all 4 KPFA directors voting no. The board, who has steadfastly insisted that “management had the KPFT situation under control” for the past year, discussed the loss of fund drive income in Texas due to the reduced number of people who can hear the station and admitted they could “lose the Texas station” or be “permanently knocked down to half power”, a loss of millions of dollars in the value of the license. The cost of the new equipment is less than $200,000 and can be financed with a 33% down payment from the manufacturer. Texas board member Adriana Casenave cautioned that she didn’t want the “restricted funds to disappear like they did before”, referring to a previous fundraising effort for the equipment.

Board members are still waiting for copies of the documents sent to the California Attorney General on February 17th in response to a December 17th letter. The documents were sent on a jump drive which Wilkinson claims is difficult for Pacifica to reproduce and will only be sent via postal mail to board members.

The board’s long-delayed executive director hire process has been silent since the redo election on February 17th after the board’s first choice of executive director, labor writer Bill Fletcher Jr, declined the position. The board then refused to offer the position to the then-runner-up and went through another selection process whose results have not been disclosed two weeks later.

In New York, popular hacker program Off The Hook, went public with long-simmering complaints about undelivered premiums. Specifically the show’s producers provided a large quantity of jump drives containing all the talks at the 2014 Hope X conference, a cutting edge technology gathering. The large box of premiums, entirely self-produced by the show’s volunteer producers and provided to the station at no cost and with permission to distribute the material, disappeared at WBAI with not a single one ever delivered and the whereabouts of the boxes unknown. The blog post, which can be seen here resulted in on-air pre-emptions for a number of weeks.

Pacifica’s board continues to try to meet in person, with the latest dates proposed for May of 2015. The board has not met except by telephone since February of 2014. In the board meeting on Thursday, board members quizzed CFO Salvador on the plans to pay for the $25,000 meeting costs. Salvador stated the plan was to place the meeting costs on Pacifica’s Visa credit card.

Pacifica has settled its financial dispute with Pacifica Reporters Against Censorship (Free Speech Radio News) for un-received Corporation for Public Broadcasting grants that Pacifica had agreed to subcontract out to the program. The settlement requires Pacifica to make monthly payments for the next three years for programming it will not receive. The payments constitute less than 1/5 of the production budget FSRN needs to return to production of a daily 30-minute newscast.

The PDGG vs Pacifica injunction request, which was not granted by Alameda Superior Court, has been dismissed as per the wishes of the plaintiffs, against Pacifica Foundation Radio, but remains in effect against the 12 board defendants individually with another hearing scheduled for March 23rd. Pacifica continues to move ahead with its complaint against former executive director Summer Reese.

Pacifica in Exile readers may write to the board at pnb@pacifica.org.

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