Berkeley – This is a very happy update to send.
Friends of Pacifica in Southern California have now secured bridge loan funds of $2 million dollars to pay off the summary judgment amount to the Empire State Building. An escrow account has been set up and full payment will follow shortly afterwards. Full payment of the judgment due will remove the threat of asset seizure.
Huge thanks to the Southern California community which worked together to locate the much-needed funds in record time.
Pacifica members around the country, and especially here in Berkeley, have been inundated with disaster radio with virtually wall to wall broadcasting of imminent doom. It probably came as a significant surprise to much of the Bay Area that KPFA passed through Monday without incident, as listeners had been prepared in every newspaper in town for the station to explode in a hail of smoke come January 8th.
The propaganda blitz strove to build up public pressure for the filing of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition, a risky and expensive path that 85% of the organizations who try, do not survive. Attorney Jerry Manpearl wrote this warning letter to the Pacifica community a few days ago about the dangers of a bankruptcy filing and the urgency of making every attempt to avoid it. Larry Josephson, the award-wining producer of The Bob and Ray Public Radio Show, and a former WBAI manager and KPFA host also wrote to warn “Bankruptcy is rife with legal and illegal fraud. Most of the money from the sale of assets goes to the lawyers and the creditors, some of whom are political cronies of the judge. Pacifica would be lucky to realize any cash from a bankruptcy.”
But still the bankruptcy band played on.
In one of some 7+ different programs aired in Northern California in a single week, January 4th’s Upfront morning show spent a full two hours hammering away at the voluntary bankruptcy theme with IED Crosier. The show ended with a member calling in to say the bankruptcy talk was “crazy” and asking Crosier upfront if he thought there was a coup going on designed to grab broadcasting licenses away from Pacifica. The caller ended with “tell me it’s not true”. Crosier said that he could not.
Former and possibly future PNB member Bill Campisi (more on that below) again spent most of the KPFA local board meeting threatening lawsuits to involuntarily dissolve the Pacifica Foundation should it not willingly immolate itself and file Chapter 11 immediately.
The coming payment of the judgment will allow Pacifica’s CFO to move ahead with Pacifica’s 2015-2016 audit, which was due to the California Attorney General in June of 2017 and is now six months late. The AG’s charitable office had requested the audit be filed by February of 2018, but Pacifica has not yet brought in the auditor for what, under normal circumstances, is a twelve to sixteen week process. Current auditor Regalia and Associates, who completed the 2014-2015 audit earlier this year in 1/4 of the time and 1/2 of the price of the 2013-2014 audit, notified the audit committee they had sent the detailed list of the documents required to Pacifica management in July of 2017, and can begin as soon as Pacifica’s accounting department uploads the needed schedules.
The (now moot) bankruptcy debate rolled over into the KPFA local board’s governance process with a set of shenanigans designed to prevent any local board member who questioned the bankruptcy is desirable meme from being sent to the National Board in 2018. The machinations began with the unannounced seating of Susan Da Silva as an “appointed board member” (i.e. self-selected by the board). Da Silva was propped ahead of as many as a dozen write-in candidates whose names were placed on ballots by KPFA members in the last election, none of whom were contacted to see if they wished to take the seat. Pacifica’s bylaws state “If a Delegate position becomes vacant mid-term, that Delegate shall be replaced for the remainder of his/her term by the highest ranked candidate from the last election of Delegates who was not elected and who is available”.
After the board self-selected Da Silva, Bill Campisi declared himself a candidate for a 2018 national board seat on the organization he wishes to organize a lawsuit to try to dissolve. But no, not really. Campisi announced 5 minutes after the results were announced that he did not want the board seat and a new election should be held right after the first one. Rather than the seat going to the next runner up behind him. That person, Tom Vorhees, is not considered a bankruptcy loyalist. Board Chair Carole Travis admitted Campisi was a fake candidate who had no intention to join the national board, but ran as a “maneuver” to try to force a second election and insert Da Silva, and that “everyone who voted for Bill knew it”.
Late Monday night, after the election-rigging behavior induced groans across the network, Campisi reversed himself yet again, and said he would take the board seat instead of Da Silva. In his first attempt at serving on the national board 10 months ago, Campisi lasted six weeks before resigning, un-resigning and then re-resigning. His third attempt ended after five minutes. Bets are open about how long his fourth attempt in a calender year will last — if the national board allows it.
What happens now?
After the judgment is paid off in full, no creditor will have the ability to seize any financial asset or real estate property belonging to the Pacifica Foundation or any of its five radio stations. The bridge loan will be replaced by a longer term three year loan that will give Pacifica time to independently decide what assets to leverage to pay off long-term debts and what kind of structural reorganization to initiate – with autonomy. Maintaining independence is a very important part of independent media. Pacifica retains its ability to speak truth to power if it stays out of the grasp of the federal government and does not allow its creditors to determine its fate. Forces inside the organization hoping to redirect broadcasting assets to their own shell nonprofits (which unfortunately includes former executive directors, former corporate counsels and current local station board members) will be out of luck.
Challenges remain. Long-term debt (mostly caused by the foolish contracts with Democracy Now and the Empire State Building that drained more than $10 million dollars out of Pacifica) will have to be paid off, and ongoing operating deficits that have occurred at every one of the network’s five stations over the past 8 years, will have to be ended so each unit is self-sustaining. A new executive director with an impressive public media resume has been recruited and will be on board later this year to help meet those challenges.
The Southern California escrow fund will continue to accept short-term secured loans and donations to assist Pacifica with settling other debts.
In other news peripherally related to Pacifica, it was announced Dhillon Law Firm, the law firm employed by KPFA hosts Brian Edwards Tiekert, Mitch Jeserich and Lewis Sawyer and KPFK host Rodrigo Argueta to sue Pacifica in 2011 (and operated by the spouse of a KPFA representative national director from 2004 -2008) is continuing their banner record of representing every right-wing scoundrel in the news. The Dhillon law firm filed a lawsuit on behalf of two fired Google employees claiming the company was guilty of discrimination against white men. One of them is James Damore of the infamous Google anti-diversity screed.
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Started in 1946 by conscientious objector Lew Hill, Pacifica’s storied history includes impounded program tapes for a 1954 on-air discussion of marijuana, broadcasting the Seymour Hersh revelations of the My Lai massacre, bombings by the Ku Klux Klan, going to jail rather than turning over the Patty Hearst tapes to the FBI, and Supreme Court cases including the 1984 decision that noncommercial broadcasters have the constitutional right to editorialize, and the Seven Dirty Words ruling following George Carlin’s incendiary performances on WBAI. Pacifica Foundation Radio operates noncommercial radio stations in New York, Washington, Houston, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and syndicates content to over 180 affiliates. It invented listener-sponsored radio.