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Why did these 5 board members vote to kill Pacifica last week?
Published in an email from Steve Brown on Board in New York, WBAI. Dan Siegel, mentioned in this letter, can be found at - https://www.facebook.com/danmsiegel
Why did these 5 board members vote to kill Pacifica last week?
Dear Pacifica Supporter –
In the last three years, Pacifica has lost grants from the CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting) totaling more than $3 million, which has crippled it badly. In addition, the Attorney General of California has threatened to take away Pacifica's non-profit tax-exempt status, which could destroy it entirely.
Why has Pacifica lost its CPB funding, and why has the Attorney General threatened to take away its non-profit tax-exempt status? The reason is that Pacifica failed to file yearly audits with the California Attorney General, as required by law.
Filing yearly audits is usually a simple administrative matter, and Pacifica has never failed to file the required audits during its more than half a century of existence. So its sudden default in filing – not just one – but three successive yearly audits was, for many, not only astonishing but inexplicable. So inexplicable, in fact, that many believed the default to be deliberate – that is, part of a strategy to destabilize the foundation in order to break it up and reassemble it, under different ownership, for private gain.
Suspicion that a deliberate destabilizing strategy was indeed in effect was directed at then-board member Margy Wilkinson, who, in her position as Board Chair and Interim Executive Director, had repeatedly failed to file timely audits, despite numerous pleas from worried board members. Suspicions about Wilkinson were intensified when it was discovered that she, together with Pacifica’s former Corporate Counsel, Dan Siegel, had created, in secrecy (that is, without informing the rest of Pacifica’s board or its newly appointed Executive Director John Proffitt), a “shadow” entity called KPFA Foundation. This entity took over Pacifica’s trademarked call letters without permission, which seemed to be a violation of the law. Its corporate charter had also plagiarized, word for word, the entire mission statement from Pacifica’s own corporate charter. The purpose of this shadow KPFA Foundation, as later admitted by Siegel (after its existence had been brought to light), was to acquire for its owners (Wilkinson and Siegel) one or more of Pacifica’s broadcasting licenses (valued at approximately $200 million), in the event that Pacifica lost its non-profit tax-exempt status, became inoperable, or entered bankruptcy.
Because a failure to file audits was so serious, and so dangerous, Pacifica’s membership voted overwhelmingly, in the most recent election, to throw out the delinquent national board and its (apparently corrupt) Wilkinson-Siegel-Brazon management team. The board then promptly appointed a new Executive Director whose first order of business was to immediately bring Pacifica’s audits up to date, so that (1) the foundation could regain millions of dollars in future CPB grants, and (2) it would no longer be under threat of losing its non-profit tax-exempt status (which the California Attorney General promised would happen if it did not file an approved FY2015 audit with his office by the “drop dead” deadline date of August 27).
So what happened? (Suspenseful, right?) Well, you will be happy to know, if you haven’t heard, that by dint of extraordinary efforts, the new Executive Director, Bill Crosier, and Chief Financial Officer, Sam Agarwal, managed to dig through the chaotic jumble of disorganized financial information left to them by Pacifica’s prior management, and then hire a top auditing firm that succeeded in completing the FY2015 audit ten days ahead of the Attorney General’s deadline.
Only one crucial step remained.
Before an audit can be filed with the Attorney General, it has to be formally approved by a vote of the Pacifica National Board. One might think that this was a no-brainer. Because if the audit were not approved, Pacifica would be dead. So the board took a vote on August 17. Did it approve the audit?
The answer is -- yes, of course. But with one big surprise. Five board members actually voted No -- that is, voted against approving the audit, against letting Pacifica regain its CPB grants, and against letting it keep its non-profit tax-exempt status.
Unbelievable? Sure. But not if one understands that those five board members – the ones who, in effect, voted to kill Pacifica – were hold-over members or supporters of the same Wilkinson-Siegel-Brazon team suspected of trying to destabilize and dismember Pacifica in order to funnel its $200 million worth of broadcast licenses into their own shadow KPFA Foundation (whose legal address is the law offices of Dan Siegel).
The rest of the board was so upset by the No vote of these five members – which it viewed as a betrayal of fiduciary responsibility to the foundation -- that it did something unprecedented. Although the vote whether to approve the audit was cast in executive (that is, closed) session, the board decided to waive the privacy of executive session and publicly reveal how each member voted. So that those five members – who thought their No votes would remain private – will now be forced to explain themselves to the angry local station boards that appointed them. (Do I see tar and feathers in their future?)
Anyway, this is how each board member voted, by station. Check out the 5 who voted No, and let them know what you think of them.
VOTING YES --
For KPFK: Jonathan Alexander (Board Chair), Grace Aaron, Mansoor Sabbagh
For KPFT: Bill Crosier (Pacifica’s Executive Director), Robert Mark, Rhonda Garner
For WBAI: Kathryn Davis, Ken Laufer
Sabrina Jacobs, Akio Tanaka, TM Scruggs
VOTING NO --
For WPFW: Jim Brown, Benito Diaz
FOR KPFT: Adriana Casenave
FOR WBAI: Cerene Roberts
FOR UHURU RADIO AFFILIATE: Themba Tshibanda
Typo in the article: Three directors from KPFA voted Yes, but missing is that they were from KPFA: Sabrina Jacobs of the staff, Aki Tanaka of United for Community Radio, and T.M.Scruggs also of United for Community Radio.
Who was the 4th KPFA director? Did she not vote?
I believe it was Carol Travis, the "Save" KPFA member, one of the 3 along with with Margy Wilkinson and Dan Siegel, mentioned in the above article, who designated themselves as officers of the shadow corporation the KPFA Foundation, which has positioned itself to take over and privatize KPFA in the event of a bankruptcy. Travis also was discovered contacting potential "public figures" secretly to donate money to an organization she called "The Big Tent" and become members of its elite "Board". Or maybe this is the same "KPFA Foundation"? In any case they were told they would not have to meet more than once a year. So not a governing board, as other, unnamed persons would do the governing - rather than the listeners and staff elected representatives who now share the decision under the present bylaws.
The interim Executive Director Bill Crosier was understandably horrified that Travis, a member of the KPFA and Pacifica National Boards, would be scheming to appropriate KPFA, instead of supporting it and the Pacifica Foundation, which she as a board member is supposed to do. He wrote her an open letter, asking her to resign, but he has no power to do so, and she refused. It is up to her Local Station Board to sanction her by removing her from the local board, or from her position on the Pacifica National Board, or at least as KPFA LSB chair, or to otherwise express their disapproval. But this has not happened, due to her faction, "Save KPFA", being in the majority on that board.
KPFA listeners should make sure they are voting members and vote out this destructive faction in the next local board election, coming up towards the end of next year. Vote instead for the other slate of candidates, that of the delegates who voted Yes to accept the audit which is needed to gain needed CPB funding and non-profit status to keep KPFA and Pacifica's 4 other stations and 200+ affiliates alive and telling the truth, exceptions in a sea of commercial media.
Support United for Community Radio.