The New Day Pacifica (NDP) bylaws campaign was launched August 22 with an Urgent Message from Staff, encouraging you to sign the New Day Pacifica bylaws petition. Hundreds of Pacifica members have already signed and volunteered to help.
Members are asking lots of good questions.
Please skim through the list of questions below and click on the ones of interest to you, for detailed answers.
- What is NDP’s relationship to the bylaws that were defeated in March?
- How much did the March bylaws referendums cost, around $50,000 or “over $150,000”?
- Will Pacifica have to pay for an extra election for a New Day Pacifica referendum?
- What did you think of Pacifica’s recent Good News report?
- What hard evidence is there that Pacifica is in a severe financial crisis?
- What have the auditors said about Pacifica’s finances?
- What are the New Day bylaws in a nutshell?
- How specifically do the current bylaws result in dysfunction at Pacifica?
- Who is opposing the New Day bylaws so far?
- Why are there no East Coast staff on the first New Day Pacifica mailer?
Answers for each of the above questions:
What is NDP’s relationship to the bylaws that were defeated in March?
The Pacifica membership voted down a set of unrelated bylaws in March. Some of us involved in New Day Pacifica (NDP) supported the last set of bylaws and voted yes. Other New Day Pacifica supporters voted no on the last bylaws for various reasons, but now support the newly-written NDP bylaws. We spent a lot of time talking to members since the first bylaw referendum to understand their concerns and viewpoint, and tried to write the NDP bylaws based on the concerns and goals we heard.
The NDP bylaws are a totally different set of bylaws than the ones that were voted down in March.
Big changes in the bylaws are still needed so Pacifica can survive for future generations. That’s why we are doing bylaws again now. Pacifica is heading towards financial collapse. See the hard evidence. The current dysfunctional bylaws make it impossible organizationally to bring Pacifica back from the brink.
How much did the March bylaws referendums cost, around $50,000 or “over $150,000”?
Even though it is still a lot of money, the March election cost $53,034, according to Pacifica’s National Election Supervisor Renee Penaloza in page 11 of the March 2020 final report from Pacifica’s National Election Supervisor:
The total cost of the referendum was $53,034.12.
● NES fee $21,000
● Simply Voting – $13,853.72
● Honest Ballot – $18,030.40
● Simultaneous translation contractor $150.00
The above cost breakdown for the earlier bylaws referendum is an exact quote from that final bylaws referendum report, which you can also find at https://elections.pacifica.org/wordpress/pacifica-bylaws-final-report-2020/ See Costs on page 11.
However, the Vote No literature and the “Good News” email from the Board majority erroneously say the referendum cost over $150,000. This is not true. They are adding in the huge and unnecessary legal bills when the Board majority violated both California law and their own bylaws, and ordered the Pacifica attorney to block the referendum. By the time the members took Pacifica to court to enforce the members’ rights to petition for new bylaws, and to get the referendum date set, the judge was very angry at Pacifica for going to court rather than just following their bylaws, and the members were left with the bill.
Will Pacifica have to pay for an extra election for a New Day Pacifica referendum?
Not if New Day Pacifica (NDP) wins. If New Day Pacifica wins, Pacifica won’t have to pay for an extra election because the 2021 Delegates/LSB elections will be cancelled.
In the short term the election costs even out. But during the next ten years (2022-2031) NDP will save Pacifica over two hundred thousand dollars in election costs (four pre-scheduled elections will be cancelled).
What did you think of Pacifica’s recent Good News report?
We are happy that Pacifica applied for and received corona virus relief funds from the federal government (and hopefully will receive a sizable low-interest loan in addition). This will not solve Pacifica’s financial crisis, but it will give us some breathing room.
Other than the corona virus relief funds, the Good News report raised more questions that it answered, and left out a great deal of important context. Here’s a few of those questions:
- No minority report. Why did the National Board block the inclusion of a minority report from the eight directors who refused to sign the report because they felt members should be told about both the bad and the good news? (The report was only signed by 14 of the 22 directors.)
- Audit was 19 months late. Why was the just completed audit 19 months late?
- Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant problems. Why is Pacifica only now re-paying a 7-year-old overpayment from the Corporation for Public Broadcast of $137,000 to which Pacifica was never entitled? Why has Pacifica forfeited nearly $7 million dollars in Corporation for Public Broadcasting grants over the last seven years?
- $3.2 million loan payment due April 2021. Why is there no mention of the $3.2 million dollar loan payment due next April that threatens to destroy Pacifica financially? Why hasn’t Pacifica developed a plan on how to put enough money aside to pay the upcoming $3.2 million dollar loan payment? How will Pacifica avoid default on its three remaining buildings? (KPFA, KPFK or KPFT)
- No stable executive leadership. Why has Pacifica burned through seventeen different executive directors in the last eighteen years? Why have over half of Pacifica’s executive directors had no professional experience running a multi-million dollar media organization? Why has the Board committee tasked with finding an experienced executive director just now begun its search, even though the interim ED has been at Pacifica since the fall of 2019?
What hard evidence is there that Pacifica is in a severe financial crisis?
- Pacifica has failed every audit since 2015.
- Pacifica was just kicked out of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant program for failing to pay a seven-year-overdue bill. CPB is not taking new applicants at this time, including from Pacifica.
- Pacifica is heading toward a partial default on a $3.2 million loan balloon payment due April 2021. We could lose Pacifica’s last three buildings if the full $3.2 million payment isn’t made.
- Pacifica has used up all its financial reserves.
What have the auditors said about Pacifica’s finances?
“The Foundation has suffered recurring losses from operations and has a net deficit that raises substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.” Page 2, Auditor’s Report for Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2018
“In accordance with applicable accounting and auditing standards, substantial doubt about an entity’s ability to continue as a going concern exists when conditions and events, considered in the aggregate, indicate that it is probably that the entity will be unable to meet its obligations as they become due within one year after the date that the financial statements are issued (or within one year after the date that the financial statements are available to be issued, when applicable).
“Principal Conditions or Events that Raise Substantial Doubt About the Entity’s Ability to Continue as a Going Concern
“As a consequence of entering into a settlement agreement with ESRT, the Foundation has amassed new debt exceeding $3 million (as disclosed in earlier footnotes). These financing commitments will eventually require repayment in full, placing a significant strain on the cash flows and operating activities of the organization.
“Although the lender on the $3.265 million loan has set aside interest payments for the first 18 months of the loan, it is not entirely clear how the remaining funds will materialize. In order to sustain operations, funds will need to be generated from contributed income and earned revenue streams in order to ensure loan repayments. Additionally, it appears that certain loan covenants will be difficult (if not impossible) to be complied with. For example, the Foundation will be facing an event of default unless audited financial data is submitted within 120 days of the end of the fiscal year. Other violations of certain loan covenants also appear to be likely, which puts the Foundation at risk of having the loan called prematurely, which also puts at risk property and equipment pledged as collateral.” Page 25, Auditor’s Report for Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2018
See the Pacifica audits.
What are the New Day bylaws in a nutshell?
- The National Board size will be significantly smaller.
- Pacifica listeners & staff will directly elect the top policy-makers in Pacifica, including the national Board Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer, ensuring accountability and democracy.
- Listeners from each station will directly elect a Director to the National Board.
- Paid staff will directly elect one national Board Director. Volunteer staff will directly elect another national Board Director.
- Sharon Kyle will be Pacifica’s top national officer for the 2021-2023, bringing much-needed media professional expertise to Pacifica. Sharon also brings a strong business background having been a financial manager at NASA/JPL for over 20 years.
- Three At-Large “expert” Directors.
- Elections every three years.
- Local Station Boards will focus on building critical listener support for their stations.
- Most of the current bylaws are unchanged.
Read the full bylaws.
Why do you say the New Day Pacifica bylaws are more democratic than the current bylaws?
Under the current bylaws, members are not allowed to elect either the National Officers or anyone on the National Board directly. Instead, members are only able to elect 110 Delegates (to form the LSBs), who later on by themselves choose the National Board. The Pacifica Delegates play a similar role as the Electoral College, preventing the popular election of the National Officers and National Board. This is not direct democracy.
With the New Day Pacifica (NDP) bylaws, Pacifica members will for the first time in Pacifica history directly elect Pacifica’s top officers and nearly all of the Board: listeners and staff together directly elect the four national officers, listeners alone directly elect their station director, staff alone directly elect the staff directors, and affiliates alone directly elect the affiliates director. This is direct popular democracy.
Read the detailed description of the new bylaws.
How do the NDP bylaws simplify Pacifica’s elections?
New Day Pacifica (NDP) elections will be much less complicated and less expensive than the current ones. Elections will occur only once every three years, instead of twice every three years.
With NDP, members will get one short ballot to elect the National Officers and National Board, the actual leadership of Pacifica. Listeners vote for the four National Officers, their Station Director and five LSB officers. Staff votes for the four National Officers, their Staff Director, and two LSB reps.
Under the current setup, there are two national elections every three years, with members only allowed to vote only for the 120 delegates, not for the actual leadership of Pacifica.
Read the detailed description of the new bylaws.
How do the New Day bylaws return power from the Local Station Boards (LSBs) to the members?
The LSB’s power to choose the National Board is returned to the members. The LSBs will also no longer be part of management of the stations (whether direct or indirect), as they are presently. Our current Bylaws give a certain amount of power over personnel, budget and programming to the LSBs (and to the Board as well as the Executive Director). This has resulted in gridlock and power struggles in the network and in chronic strife between the General Manager and the LSB at each station, rather than the goal of improving the stations together. The LSBs will for the first time focus on providing the critical support needed by the stations, such as community outreach and membership/fundraising.
Read the detailed description of the new bylaws.
How specifically do the current bylaws result in dysfunction at Pacifica?
- Criss-crossing lines of authority mean experienced Executive Directors don’t stay long.
- Constant National Board turnover from the 12-month term of office means Pacifica’s National Officers and Board never have the focus to address the Pacifica’s problems. This is not about personalities, it’s a structural bylaws problem.
- Accountability to the members is minimal because the Pacifica’s top officers are chosen in a 2-step antiquated process; they are not directly elected by Pacifica’s members.
Who is opposing the New Day bylaws so far?
- Grace and Ken Aaron and the Social Uplift Foundation (SUF). Grace Aaron is the current Board Secretary from KPFK. They used the non-profit Social Uplift Foundation that they started to send out a national anti-NDP mailer. The Aaron’s SUF sent out eight national mailers to oppose the March bylaws.
- Pacifica Fightback. A group called Pacifica Fightback has sent out their first mailer against the NDP bylaws. It is unclear who exactly from Pacifica Fightback is opposing the NDP bylaws.
- Tracy Rosenberg, who writes the “Pacifica in Exile” blog.
Why are there no East Coast staff on the first New Day Pacifica mailer?
Tragically Pacifica’s staff is quite divided at this point. For the last bylaw referendum, the proposed bylaws were supported by the California and Texas station staffs, but opposed by the East Coast staffs. We expect similar divisions this time. There are some very legitimate reasons for the divisions, including the disastrous WBAI shutdown last October. The divisions however have also been fueled by organizational dysfunction from our dysfunctional bylaws.
Isn’t NDP’s real goal to sell WBAI’s signal to fund the California stations? What does NDP think about the WBAI shutdown last October?
For some, the answer to whether New Day Pacifica (NDP) wants to sell WBAI’s signal will always be a conspiratorial yes. For the rest of us, think about it. Why would any group leading Pacifica want to get rid of the station in the largest media market in the country and a center of progressive and social justice activism?
The October 2019 WBAI shutdown was disastrous in every possible way. Some of the NDP supporters backed the Executive Director’s actions at the time. The shutdown turned out to be a big mistake.
For those who haven’t heard, when the former Executive Director of Pacifica, who was hired to be a change-maker, saw that WBAI was losing huge amounts of money every month and was repeatedly unable to meet their own payroll, the Executive Director decided the way to address his fiduciary responsibilities as Executive Director and to get WBAI’s budget to balance was to change the locks and lay off the staff.
Staff arrived at WBAI October 7 to find the locks changed. Listeners turned on the radio and couldn’t find their WBAI programs. It took several weeks to get the WBAI programs and staff back on the air.
Because this same thing happened to KPFA in 1999, we can appreciate how deeply angry WBAI listeners and staff are, how long it will take to rebuild trust, and that rebuilding trust will take NDP’s actions not just words.
It is common knowledge that WBAI has lost money every year since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and is currently losing about $20,000 every month.
How do members rate the various Pacifica stations, specifically WBAI?
A 2018 Pacifica listener-donor survey taken by the National Election Supervisor showed that a whopping 35% of surveyed WBAI listener-donors were somewhat or very dissatisfied with WBAI’s programming. This compares to less than 15% dissatisfaction at the other Pacifica stations.
See the results of the member surveys: WBAI KPFA KPFK KPFT (WPFW did not have a survey this year.)
What evidence is there of inappropriate behavior by WBAI’s management?
A few examples:
- The GM falsified the fall 2019 fund drive report. Discrepancies in the report raise unsettling questions. Why is the data for November 18-22 listed and counted twice in the report? Why do November 16’s statistics (number of pledges, amount of total pledges, amount payment authorized and amount to be collected) exactly match the income figures and statistics for November 23? Ditto November 17 and 24. Why hasn’t this been investigated by Pacifica?
- Voter intimidation of staff. WBAI management in March ordered all staff to provide written proof that they voted no in the secret ballot March bylaws referendum. The clear message was ‘if you want to keep your program at WBAI you’ll vote no.’ The GM is already on record opposing the NDP bylaws. Why isn’t he being properly supervised by Pacifica?
- The WBAI general manager recently “discovered” $50,000, money he claims was owed to WBAI by its credit card clearing house. For the GM to suddenly discover $50,000 that no one else knew about is at minimum gross incompetence (he has been GM for many years) and he should be further investigated by Pacifica, rather than just uncritically lauded in the Pacifica newsletter.
- Financial supporting documentation needed for the audits is missing. This reflects incompetence if not worse. Why isn’t the WBAI GM being properly supervised by Pacifica? See the Pacifica audits.