A Timeline of the Coup

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

July 2012 – Former Pacifica ED Dan Coughlin (2003-2005) submits a secret bid for a lease management agreement for WBAI’s signal between Pacifica and Manhattan Neighborhood Network, the NY PEG channel he directs. The LMA proposal contains no independent facility for WBAI and would fold Pacifica’s NY operation entirely into Coughlin’s organization.

August 2013 – Pacifica opens up a formal RFP for a WBAI lease management agreement. There are six proposals in addition to Coughlin’s. The board talks about it for a long time, but never makes a decision.

September 2013 – KPFA-affiliated board member Margy Wilkinson and former corporate counsel Dan Siegel secretly incorporate the “KPFA Foundation” to scoop up KPFA’s license and maybe some others should they become loosened from Pacifica.

February  2014 – KPFA’s Margy Wilkinson declares herself the winner of a tie vote for board chair on the basis of a “fifth place vote” ranking when there were only two candidates running.

March 2014 – The board fires the executive director Summer Reese only 6 weeks after she signed a 3-year contract. Reese was pushing to get the audit done and cracking down on allegations of piracy at the NY station (and elsewhere throughout the network). Wilkinson appoints herself the new executive director. Corporate counsel Terry Gross, a famed attorney, resigns on March 25, stating the board majority did not respect his legal advice to them. Gross refused to pursue legal action against Reese and the national office occupation.

April-May 2014 – Reese occupies the national office until forced out by court order pursued by attorney Dan Siegel.  All but one of Pacifica’s national office accounting staff resign after the court order.  Initial complaint filed with the office of the California Attorney General by 8 former board members alleging wrongdoing, financial mismanagement, and bylaws violations. Dan Siegel is secretly retained as Pacifica’s lawyer by the board majority. Current independent board members also file suit in PDGG vs. Pacifica. Empire State Building returns WBAI rental checks, threatens them with eviction from their transmitter rental site and negotiations are reported to begin which to this day have not been completed. WBAI pays partial rent and accrues the remainder as debt in the amount of approximately $40K a month. The lease calls for 10% increases annually from 2015-2020.  Pacifica files for possible WBAI transmitter relocation to the Conde Nast Building at 4 Times Square, but does not move there.

June 2014 – New board majority tries to amend the bylaws and vote down 9 of 10 amendments, all suggested by themselves. The only one they pass is one that allows them to try amending them twice a year instead of once a year. Wilkinson loots the restricted fund for the renovation of KPFK’s music studio to pay operating expenses. Pacifica misses June 30 audit deadline and forfeits at least $750,000 in 2015 CSG and NPPAG funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

July 2014 – Former board majority member Hank Lamb calls for booting Wilkinson for dishonesty and withholding documents from the board. His motion is never heard by the board. Wilkinson dispatches experienced radio station manager Richard Pirodsky from KPFK and installs the former facilities manager as the GM to “save money”. The first comments about “amputating WBAI” are heard from board members.

October 2014 – The “call center” imposed on the California stations turns out to be run by a Tea Party politician in Oregon. Pacifica accepts a $156,000 loan, later a gift, from Southern CA real estate millionaire Aris Anagnos, the employer of board member Lydia Brazon. Brazon handles the gift/loan and does not recuse herself from the board vote to accept the money. Wilkinson loots the restricted fund for Uprising’s Indiegogo TV campaign to pay health benefits. Independent board members lawsuit PDGG vs. Pacifica is abandoned due to lack of funds.

December 2014 – Bill Fletcher declines an offer to become Pacifica’s new ED. Pacifica’s 2013 audit enters its 13th month undone, now six months past the legal limit. The year goes by with no board election held. The California Attorney General initiates an audit of the Pacifica Foundation.

March-April 2015 – 2013 audit finally appears, 18 months after the end of the fiscal year. John Proffittt, a Texas NPR exec agrees to be the new ED and to start in June.

May 2015 – Siegel/Brazon board majority passes motion extending their own terms and those of all other delegates elected in 2012 from three years to four years, violating the Pacifica bylaws that any extension of the terms of delegates or directors must be approved by Pacifica’s members by ballot. WPFW moves to new rental digs on K Street, DC’s Lobbyist Row.

June 2015 – Wilkinson appoints Siegel/Brazon board crony and community college speech teacher Leslie Radford the new GM of KPFK on her last day over the head of incoming ED John Proffitt. CFO Raul Salvador quits. Wilkinson’s “notepad” from 2013 appears with a list of her fellow board members categorizing them as “us”, “them” and “workables”. Pacifica misses June 30 audit deadline and forfeits at least $750,000 in 2016 CSG and NPPAG funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

September 2015John Proffitt quits as ED after 4 months on the job and is replaced by Lydia Brazon. 4 KPFK music programmers quit on air decrying Radford’s destructiveness and the entire station’s staff is put on involuntary half time.  Radford also lays off the KPFK webmaster and 4 unpaid music programmers depart in protest, including 3/5 of the station’s famed Global Village strip. SAG-AFTRA takes Pacifica to arbitration for labor violations. The secret 2013 filing of the KPFA Foundation paperwork comes to light. Election delayed a month because Pacifica says it cannot pay a $20,000 postage bill.

November 2015 – Board members talk about mortgaging buildings and former Dan Siegel employee Jose Luis Fuentes describes bankuptcy as “a beginning”. KPFA is asked to return a $400,000 bequest made out to Pacifica that KPFA’s GM signed for instead of Pacifica’s CFO and deposited in KPFA’s bank account. Emails released show Radford’s “security guard” Adam Rice, who she has made the station’s volunteer coordinator, is providing instructions about program changes to the GM. Rice is overheard talking about carrying guns on KPFK’s facility.

December-January 2016. The board majority consolidates its voting bloc by sequentially filling the two Affiliate Director board seats, thereby avoiding the even factional split of the bylaws-mandated proportional voting method.  It is soon revealed that neither appointee is from a qualified Pacifica Affiliate station. Board majority members Cerene Roberts, Tony Norman, Adriana Casenave, Jose Luis Fuentes and Brian Edwards Tiekert return to the Pacifica National Board after voting to extend their terms six months earlier, joined by new members Wesley Bethune and Vinisha Patel-Adams who are also overstaying elected terms. Something’s Happening, the highest rated program on KPFK is shrunk to half its former time and is replaced by a program strip anchored by Rice that is premised on using profanity in the late night. KPFK rejects the board majority in an unprecedented landslide victory for the independents, but the rest of the stations end up with majority-affiliated or closely split boards, mostly due to having half their members overstay their 3-year elected terms.

Feb-March 2016 – Board majority insists on filling a NY vacant seat with last place finisher from 2012. When NY rebels, national board refuses to seat them on national board at all. New CFO is hired. 2014 audit now becomes latest audit ever. Two straight board meetings disrupted with music and noise-making in acts of civil disobedience. CFO announces that NY and DC stations may face liquidation and sale in as little as 60 days.

April 2016 – Two requests for injunctive relief are filed against Pacifica by members: one in California demanding board members whose terms have expired step down and one in New York demanding national board representation for WBAI-FM.

June 2016 – SAG-AFTRA wins union arbitration on all counts. against Pacifica including failure to consult, layoffs in violation of contract and withholding of severance pay.  National Archives withdraws support of the Pacifica Archives after long-time director Brian De Shazor resigns.  ED Brazon, board chair Tony Norman and treasurer Brian Edwards-Tiekert try to cancel an emergency board meeting called after CFO Agarwal said payroll won’t be met within weeks or months and there is no plan in place for when that occurs.

July 2016 – The board’s 4 minority directors convene two special meetings on the financial crisis. The Siegel/Brazonites attempt to cancel both, and then boycott them. The four minority directors are joined by WBAI’s 4 elected national board members who have been excluded from national board meetings for the entire year.

August 2016 – Pacifica loses director’s and officer’s liability insurance. A bridge 60-day transition policy with an insolvency exemption runs out October 11 2016.

September 2016 – CFO Sam Agarwal resigns, citing mismanagement. KPFK loses arbitration proceeding with SAG-AFTA and owes close to $300K in back pay and penalties. KPFA GM Quincy McCoy says the Berkeley station is “on the brink of collapse”. IED Brazon presents a one-page financial recovery plan. Armed guards return to Pacifica board meetings after Houston’s local station board brings in a police officer with a weapon to a meeting. Pacifica archival master tapes are being auctioned off on Ebay after Pacifica failed to pay rental fees on a storage unit.

October 2016 – Raul Salvador, former CFO, returns as a “consultant”.  Pacifica board deliberately fails to stream meeting and willfully violates open meeting requirements. Resounding victories for the independent slates in NY, LA and Houston in Pacifica’s board elections.

December 2016 – The board majority votes to throw out the results of the 2016 board elections and have them “recounted”and declares newly elected delegates, any officers and national directors they elect and any business they transact is “provisional” until further notice. They follow that up by twice throwing out elections held at WBAI by the newly-elected delegates to fill the vacant NY slots on the national board. This is done to prevent NY independent directors from voting in the affiliate director elections, as if their votes were counted, the majority of the national board in 2017 would no longer belong to the Siegel/Brazonites. Election teller Terry Goodman publicly issues a tally including the votes of the disenfranchised directors and describes it as “more legitimate”. Former PNB director David Beaton is the winner with 7 first place votes of the 16 cast. Beaton is not notified by the board’s Siegel Brazon majority that he has won the election.

January 2017- The 2017 board is seated. 2016 officers Adriana Casenave and Janet Kobren declare themselves “acting officers” and prevent the 2017 board from selecting its own officers.  Empire State Building files a lawsuit for $1.8M in unpaid rental fees. The California Attorney General calls in the Pacifica board for a meeting. IED Brazon and Siegel and Yee attorney Alan Yee conceal the meeting from the board of directors and attend with the outgoing 2016 officers. Tony Norman leaks the meeting (after it happened) to KPFA’s Bill Campisi, who makes it public. Dan Siegel registers the KPFA Foundation with the Registry of Charitable Trusts after designating himself as its chief executive officer and chief financial officer and Margy Wilkinson as its secretary.

February 2017 – The 2017 board  preempts Casenave’s attempt to prevent the February 10th PNB meeting from going forward and terminates Lydia Brazon as interim executive director, appointing independent-affiliated William Crosier to replace her, ending the Siegel/Brazon coup after 35 months.

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

6 thoughts on “A Timeline of the Coup”

  1. Hey, Tracy — Good timeline. You might want to mention the $1 million CPB loss for each late audit,

    1. Will do. I have a few other suggestions for stuff to add to it too, so a new and improved version will come….

      1. I heard something awhile back about someone at KPFA changing locks on the doors of some people’s offices, over the weekend, so they couldn’t get in to their offices. That story might add some “humor” to the saga!

  2. Thank you for your tireless work exposing “the other side point of view”. Wish I could send money but I haven ‘t any. BET acknowledged first 2 meetings were invalid because of “disruptive” NY members, but passed the minutes of the meetings anyway. KPFA folks are entirely too “uppity.” Ever hear of Team Work?

  3. thanks for summarizing and pulling together some essential moves happening, endangering Our Radio Stations.
    Good work ! your efforts are appreciated by many.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *