Pacifica: putting the pieces back together

pacifica logoLast month, we reported on the dire state of the books at Pacifica, the nonprofit that owns KPFA. Pacifica’s new CFO Raul Salvador and board chair Margy Wilkinson (a member of SaveKPFA) found an operation in disarray, after being locked out of the network’s National Office next door to KPFA for two months by ousted executive Summer Reese. Bookkeeping entries had not been made for nine months, and there were unpaid bills lying in large, unorganized stacks, some of which were slated to be shredded until Wilkinson intervened.

After weeks spent reconstructing financial data, Pacifica’s new staff have now issued the most complete network financial statements since Pacifica’s 2012 audit.

Stiffing pension to pay consultants

moneyThere was massive overspending at the National Office, which, according to a report from Pacifica National Finance Committee chair Brian Edwards-Tiekert “produced the largest loss the Pacifica National Office has posted since the height of Pacifica’s civil war in 2001.”

Adding injury to injury: while last year’s leadership was running up large bills with temp agencies, consultants, and law firms, they were skipping payments to the pension fund for Pacifica workers, and holding on to payroll taxes that were supposed to go to the IRS.

The good news: the overspending and deficits appear to have leveled out. So far this year, the network is basically breaking even, and there are more savings on the horizon. If Pacifica is able to restore its eligibility for Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding, it should run a healthy surplus. (CPB funding was suspended in 2013 over compliance issues, cutting the network’s revenues by over $1 million per year). | READ financial report, Excel financial spreadsheets (balance sheets, income statements, consolidated monthly sheet)

Crisis management

The biggest challenge facing Pacifica’s new leadership are the angry creditors they have inherited from the Reese era — several of which have initiated lawsuits.

But there is progress on this front as well: new interim executive director Margy Wilkinson negotiated a 21-month interest-free payment plan with an attorney who had been suing Pacifica over unpaid bills. And in early September, the Pacifica National Board voted to approve a 0% interest loan of $156,000 to cover an unpaid tax bill it inherited and head off further penalties. The loan comes from Aris Anagnos, co-founder of the Los Angeles Peace Center and the Humanitarian Law Project, as well as a long-time supporter of Pacifica’s KPFK in Los Angeles. (You can learn more about Anagnos by listening to this interview with him on KPFK). Anagnos had asked that the discussion of the loan and his name both be made public — to inspire other major supporters to join him in helping Pacifica through its current difficulties.

Now that Pacifica’s financial records are getting cleaned up, Wilkinson reports that it’s getting easier to push back on some claims by creditors. Recently, she talked down a vendor threatening to sue over money Pacifica had already paid.

Still unresolved is the money owed to Pacifica’s pension fund, and lawsuits over unpaid bills, including one from a temp agency Pacifica used heavily last year, and another from Free Speech Radio News, which was forced off the air in mid-2013 after Pacifica stopped making payments for its daily newscast.

RELATED STORIES:  Fixing Pacifica (includes financial report) | Lawyer representing board minority jumps ship | Finally, local control at KPFA

Posted in Aris Anagnos, Brian Edwards-Tiekert, budget, CPB, finances, KPFA, KPFK, KPFT, labor, Margy Wilkinson, Pacifica National Board, Raul Salvador, Summer Reese, WBAI, WPFW | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fund drive success at KPFA: Uprising brings in the bucks

Sonali Kolkathar

Sonali Kolkathar

KPFA’s recent fund drive ended ahead of schedule, and exceeded its goal by more than $20,000.

The station’s biggest fundraising totals came from its newest show:  Uprising with Sonali Kolhatkar, which airs at 8 am.  Following an ambitious off-air fundraising campaign, Kolhatkar is set to follow in the footsteps of Democracy Now! by launching her show as a national television program on Free Speech TV.

KPFA’s new general manager Quincy McCoy has announced to staff an ambitious campaign to shrink the length of KPFA’s next fund drive, scheduled to begin in October — listen for details in the weeks to come.

Meanwhile, check out KPFA’s newest book talks by Diane Ackerman, Naomi Klein, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Reese Erlich, Vandana Shiva, Molly Antopol and others here.

Posted in finances, fund drives, Quincy McCoy, Sonali Kolkathar | Leave a comment

Pacifica board votes 11-5 to censure Gray and Uzzell for role in secret contract

gotethicsThe Pacifica National Board (PNB) voted 11-5 on August 14 to censure members Heather Gray (affiliates rep) and Richard Uzzell (KPFT) “for the illegal, unauthorized, and irresponsible act of signing a secret contract with the former Interim Executive Director Summer Reese, which they dated January 30, 2014 and in which they made promises that exceeded the terms approved by the PNB, and which a judge has affirmed is invalid. Their action, the ill will and controversy it caused, and the continuing costs to defend against a lawsuit in which the false contract was used have caused serious damage to the Foundation.” | BACKGROUND on the secret contract here

During discussion of the motion made by board member Adriana Casenave (KPFT), SaveKPFA member and elected Pacifica financial chair Brian Edwards-Tiekert (KPFA) called their actions “an astonishing abdication of any commitment to the well-being” of Pacifica. The five members who voted against the censure motion were Heather Gray (affiliates), Richard Uzzell (KPFT), Janet Coleman (WBAI), Janet Kobren (KPFA) and Kim Kaufman (KPFK). | LISTEN to audio of Edwards-Tiekert (1:30 min); the entire board discussion is near the end this recording.

Uzzell is currently facing an effort to recall him from the Pacifica National Board at his home station of KPFT in Houston. Gray will face re-election in December, when the same board that voted to censure her will decide whether she can continue to represent Pacifica’s affiliate stations.

RELATED STORIES:  Pacifica: putting the pieces back together (includes financial report) | Lawyer representing board minority jumps ship | Finally, local control at KPFA

Posted in Heather Grey, KPFA, legal, Pacifica, Richard Uzzell, Summer Reese, United for Community Radio | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

Fixing Pacifica

Margy Wilkinson

Margy Wilkinson

Pacifica is the nonprofit that owns KPFA and 4 other radio stations across the country. When this summer started, it was in chaos. Recently-terminated executive Summer Reese had barricaded herself in Pacifica’s offices, blocking elected board members’ access to Pacifica financial records. Her supporters were suing to reinstate her and throw some elected members off Pacifica’s board. And vendors whose bills Reese had left unpaid for more than a year were starting to file lawsuits to collect.

SaveKPFA‘s members and representatives have been hard at work to put things to rights. In May, long-time civil rights attorney (and SaveKPFA member) Dan Siegel took on Pacifica’s legal woes, winning a court decision that rejected each and argument by Reese’s supporters, and securing a court order that forced her to leave the building.

By late June, Pacifica’s chief financial officer, Raul Salvador, whom Reese had also locked out, had re-secured access to all of Pacifica’s accounts and electronic records. In July, Pacifica Board Chair (and SaveKPFA member) Margy Wilkinson became Pacifica’s de facto executive director, a job she’s doing on a volunteer basis while she works to get a permanent replacement into that position.

In a recent report, Wilkinson described an office left in complete disarray. “The staff in the national office is working hard. They are 5 (plus me) at this point – trying to locate files, reconstruct financial records, getting papers in their proper places, fielding calls from anxious vendors and trying to get a fix on how much money we owe and how many bills we can pay.”

The silver lining: by volunteering her time, leaving some recently-vacated positions unfilled, and whittling away at unnecessary bills, Wilkinson has already made significant cuts to spending at Pacifica’s national office. Wilkinson also reports progress resolving union/management conflicts at WPFW in Washington DC, and on making major reductions in the rental costs for the antenna of WBAI in New York, Pacifica’s most financially-distressed station.

Financial committee chair reports

pacifica logoThe new chair of Pacifica’s national finance committee, KPFA staff representative (and SaveKPFA member) Brian Edwards-Tiekert, has issued a report on the state of Pacifica’s books. “Most of Pacifica’s cash transactions (deposits and wire transfers, especially transfers between Pacifica’s stations and the national office) have not been recorded in its accounting system since the beginning of the fiscal year (October 2013). Beginning with the National Office takeover in March 2014, all payrolls went unrecorded. There is some evidence that inappropriate and unauthorized payments were made during this time.”

“Meanwhile,” Edwards-Tiekert’s report continued, “it appears few spending controls were in place at Pacifica: during a period when the Pacifica National Office was adding staff and raising salaries, it was also racking up large unpaid bills with vendors, attorneys, and consulting firms — the folks now working in the national office have discovered unpaid bills going back to last year that were never disclosed to the board, many of which were never recorded in Pacifica’s accounting system either. The poor state of the books makes it difficult to determine which past-due bills need to be prioritized. Two vendors have filed lawsuits against Pacifica to collect on what’s owed to them.”

But, Edwards-Tiekert added, he has confidence in the people working to clean things up. Their top priorities: completing a long-overdue audit to help secure the release of Pacifica’s Corporation for Public Broadcasting grants, and publishing long-overdue financial statements for the current fiscal year so that Pacifica can take stock of what it needs to do to bring its budget into balance and start catching up on unpaid bills.

RELATED STORIES:  Pacifica: putting the pieces back together (includes financial report) | Lawyer representing board minority jumps ship | Finally, local control at KPFA

Posted in CPB, finances, fund drives, KPFA, KPFK, KPFT, PDGG, Programming, Quincy McCoy, Uprising, WBAI, WPFW | Comments Off

Finally: local control at KPFA

Former Pacifica executive Summer Reese had also stalled the hire of a permanent general manager for KPFA, which has had a series of interim appointments since early 2010. (The difference: “permanent” managers are hired with participation of KPFA’s elected board, which also gets a say in whether they’re terminated. “Interim” managers are installed and removed at the whim of Pacifica — making it much more difficult for them to protect the interests of the station.)

KPFA’s elected Local Station Board had submitted a pool of candidates for the position last fall — but Reese failed to hire from it, opting instead to keep the position filled by “interim” appointments until the end of her tenure.

At the end of June, KPFA finally announced the hire of a new permanent GM: veteran broadcaster and nonprofit manager Quincy McCoy. McCoy will be delivering his first report to KPFA’s Local Station Board this Saturday, which will be held at the SEIU Local 1021 hall, 155 Myrtle St., Oakland, from 11 am to 4 pm. The public is welcome. [Meeting recording is here.] Now that he’s in place, KPFA’s Local Station Board is moving forward with hiring a permanent Program Director — something the station hasn’t had for 15 years.

McCoy’s first email to KPFA’s membership went out this week — praising KPFA’s coverage of the war in Gaza, and appealing for financial support during the station’s summer fund drive.

SaveKPFA heartily supports that call: for the first time in years, Pacifica has leadership that is bringing transparency and accountability to its finances, and allowing KPFA’s elected board a meaningful role in choosing the station’s leadership. The financial mess left by previous management is daunting, but manageable — if KPFA and the other Pacifica stations can meet their fundraising goals. Please donate at www.kpfa.org.

Posted in fund drives, Programming, Quincy McCoy | Comments Off

Judge’s decision order Pacifica exec to leave offices

Here’s where you can read Judge Ioana Petrou’s decision on the terminated Pacifica executive.

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KPFA’s new general manager: Quincy McCoy

Quincy McCoy

Quincy McCoy

After years of interim management, KPFA will finally have a permanent general manager: Quincy McCoy, a radio veteran with 30 years of experience in a diverse range of positions.

Pacifica issued this press release with the news, noting that McCoy currently serves as executive director of the Museum of Children’s Arts in Oakland, having previously worked as chief of operations for Salon Studio at Salon.com and vice president of Radio for MTV Networks and Rhapsody America. McCoy was also on the board of Youth Radio International, and published No Static: A Guide to Creative Radio Programming (2002).

Pacifica’s interim executive director Bernard Duncan chose McCoy from a pool of candidates put forward by KPFA’s Local Station Board (LSB), as per Pacifica’s bylaws. Duncan said McCoy’s “combination of experience and personal attributes is rare, and we are pleased to see him move KPFA through the next successful phase of its development as a key component in the Bay Area’s media landscape.”

Duncan announced late last week he will be moving back to his native New Zealand; Pacifica will begin a search to replace him. Interim KPFA general manager Richard Pirodsky will continue to serve as iGM of KPFK in Los Angeles.

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KPFA listeners stick around for Uprising at 8AM

uprisingThe new 8AM lineup featuring award-winning Pacifica programmer Sonali Kolhatkar‘s Uprising Radio is doing well. Uprising follows Upfront with Brian Edwards-Tiekert at 7AM. Since the program began in late May,audience retention from the hours of 7 to 8 has improved.

KPFA’s interim general manager Richard Pirodsky said he put Kolhatkar’s show in the 8AM slot for just that reason — to solidly keep KPFA’s audience listening during peak drive time of 7 to 9AM, and it appears to be working. The previous morning hosts have been given airtime in the afternoon.

Pirodsky delivered a report to last Saturday’s LSB meeting describing his reasoning, and asking critics to take a step back and consider the needs of KPFA’s entire listening community. | LISTEN to iGM’s report, READ iGM’s report, LISTEN to LSB meeting: part a, part b, part c

Posted in Brian Edwards-Tiekert, fund drives, Richard Pirodsky, Sonali Kolkathar, UpFront, Uprising | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Lawyer representing board minority jumps ship

Members of the Pacifica board minority, who sued over the termination of former executive Summer Reese, have lost on every issue they have brought into Alameda Superior Court before Judge Ioana Petrou. The judge last week also issued a tentative ruling denying the group’s attempt to disqualify SaveKPFA activist and attorney Dan Siegel from defending Pacifica Radio. | READ the legal background, Judge Petrou’s 17-page decision, Siegel’s declaration, list of who’s on which side

Now, the lawyer for the so-called “Pacifica Directors for Good Governance” (PDGG) has asked the court allow her to quit the case, in heavily-redacted public papers filed June 19. Sources close to the case tell SaveKPFA that the attorney is tired of footing the PDGG plaintiff’s growing legal bill, as well as with members of the PDGG group giving her conflicting “instructions” that are illegal.

This is the same group that is circulating a petition falsely accusing the new board majority of “dismantling” the network. “The new Pacifica board majority is working overtime to undo the deep financial damage that Reese and her followers have caused to Pacifica,” said Sasha Futran, a SaveKPFA activist and former KPFA LSB member. “We hope to find a way for us to all work together in rebuilding Pacifica and ensuring a long future for KPFA,” she added.

Posted in Dan Siegel, legal, Pacifica Directors for Good Governance, PDGG, Sasha Futran, Summer Reese | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Talks to benefit KPFA in the works

Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz in BerkeleyA stellar lineup of authors and activists are on the list to deliver KPFA benefits this summer, from Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz on indigenous history, Ralph Nader on the corporate state, and Fritjof Capra and Diane Ackerman on science and nature.

Check out all the events here, and make a point of attending as many as you can.  Your donation helps KPFA survive and prosper.

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