Berkeley-At Thursday’s Pacifica National Board meeting, the growing extent of the financial disarray at Pacifica was revealed. In a brief question and answer session with auditor Armanino McKenna regarding the network’s last 990 annual tax return, significant problems were uncovered. As mentioned in a previous issue of Pacifica in Exile, the tax return is hundreds of thousands of dollars out of whack with income and expense totals on the audit, released only a few weeks later. Worse, the return contains a certification that missing Schedule B is not required because Pacifica is not a publicly-supported organization. A publicly-supported organization is one that receives at least 33% of its support from gifts, grants or donations from members whose basic purposes are to support the organization. Pacifica has always been one.
In addition, the state return leaves out Form 100, whose omission years earlier resulted in a Franchise Tax Board suspension in 2012-2013 that cost the Pacifica Foundation its name (which resulted in rebranding as “Pacifica Foundation Radio” after the name “Pacifica Foundation” was snatched up by a quickie LLC).
Affiliate director Janis Lane-Ewart, formerly the board treasurer at the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB), stated the tax return appeared to be “distorted” during the board call. The full call can be heard here.
Instead of attending to the immediate submission of an amended return for fiscal year 2012, the rogue majority on the board of directors appears to be digging in their heels with board chair Wilkinson instructing the auditor to speak only to “management” and other board members describing the questions about the return’s inaccuracies as “political attacks”.
Executive Director Summer Reese, who has stated she believes her abrupt firing earlier this year was linked to her attempts to clean up financial reporting, correctly identified most of the problems with the tax return and signed it under protest.
This summary of 7 Reasons Why Pacifica Needs An Investigation breaks out the reckless and irresponsible actions of the 2014 board. A complaint filed with the California Attorney General by 8 former board members can be found here.
The San Francisco Labor Council passed a resolution on the evening of June 9th calling on KPFA/Pacifica management to reinstate the Morning Mix drive-time radio show to the 8:00am slot at Berkeley’s Pacifica station. The resolution states “the rotating hosts of the Morning Mix radio shows on KPFA have featured the voices of Bay Area working people and their issues, to a degree not found on any other Northern California station with the reach and power of KPFA. This included regular reporting on labor and community struggles – about the postal workers’ fight against privatization; the concerns of teachers, dockworkers, transit and healthcare workers, and immigrant workers; as well as the community fight in the city of Richmond against toxic pollution by Chevron Corporation”
The resolution described the program change as a “tremendous loss for the radio listeners in the Bay Area”. The full text of the resolution can be found here.
KPFA’s next local station board meeting will be held on June 14, 2014 at the North Berkeley Senior Center at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr Way and Hearst Street in Downtown Berkeley. Public comment begins at 11:00am sharp. The meeting agenda had not yet been produced at press time.
The audit of the fiscal year ended 9/30/2013 has still not begun. The dwindling number of employees in the national office (two have already quit and the CFO remains barred from the national office in an accomodation to workplace complaints) are trying to catch up on the year’s worth of undone bank reconciliations from KPFA and track down missing data from other stations. Interim ED Bernard Duncan is reported to plan the rehires of two individuals let go for cause in the previous year to fill the accounting vacancies: one who was let go for moonlighting as a tax preparer for H&R Block on company time, and another, who was let go after the unauthorized release of dozens of employee’s payroll data and social security number information to national board member Lydia Brazon via an unsecured email.
The intimidation of network staffers is continuing. After the month-long suspension of Berkeley news anchor Anthony Fest for this brief announcement, popular late night LA host Roy of Hollywood was hit with a warning letter after interviewing the executive director on his late night program. The warning letter from interim program director Alan Minsky cited “dirty laundry rules”. The letter was ironic as Minsky himself participated in an hour-long program with Background Briefing host Ian Masters in December that discussed Pacifica matters at length and resulted in a 2-day suspension for Masters, which MInsky, among others, protested. The LA program director is not known to have issued a warning letter to himself for violating the dirty laundry rule.
Pacifica listeners swarmed a new petition put out by the “PDGG” group of board directors (Pacifica Directors for Good Governance) with encouraging comments: Here are some samples:
“We need to preserve Pacifica and not allow those with secret motives to push Pacifica into insolvency and force us to sell off Pacifica assets to their friends at bargain basement prices”.
“Please do not permit this unruly faction to destroy Pacifica and most specifically WBAI in NYCity. This is an obvious attempt to silence what precious few “voices” there are in major media which question the “machine”. Don’t let this happen”.
“Pacifica is one of the most important independent media outlets in this country. It is unthinkable to dismantle it and/or weaken it in any way through the selling off of any of its 5 stations. The recent actions of the Dan Siegel faction seem to lead in that direction; these actions have been incompetent (firing an excellent and hardworking ED); short sighted (having no viable replacement)–and worse. I hope the Court will stand up for the survival of Pacifica–a critically necessary independent and non-commercial free institution in a world rapidly succumbing to total corporate control”.
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-supported radio.