Pacifica Foundation Office Move to Berkeley Stopped

This motion was reversed and the move approved again at the iPNB meeting in Houston, TX, on September 22, 2002.

Another raucous meeting with member of the hijacker faction Bertram Lee showing that he can't behave well in civilized company.

Early on the Chair ruled in order a motion that told the Executive Director to cease all preparations to move the Pacifica National Office back to Berkeley, CA. This was a questionable ruling.

The motion passed by a 7 to 4 vote.

For Stopping the Move Against Stopping the Move
Bertram M. Lee, Sr.
Jabari Zakiya — iPNB Treasurer
Rob Robinson
James Ferguson
Teresa Allen
Ray Laforest
George Barnstone
Leslie Cagan — iPNB Chair
Carol Spooner — iPNB Secretary
David Fertig
Pete Bramson



This meeting came about from a memo signed by six iPNB members. It's on this page, so you can judge its merits for yourself.

Most of the people trying to prevent the move back to Berkeley are from Washington, D.C. The Pacifica National Office was originally spirited away from Berkeley to Washington, D.C. in January 2000, as the former Pacifica Management tried to further its hijacking of the Pacifica Foundation by getting away from the rambunctious listenership of KPFA and seeking the silence of the jazz station WPFW. Some of the current iPNB members are seen as trying to profit from the old hijackers' move.

Here is a link to the audio of this iPNB meeting.

Below is a public E-mail with attachments, from the iPNB's Secretary about why she was not going to vote for this motion.

Subject: [NewPacifica] Why I TOO will vote NO on Friday
Date: Thu, 29 Aug 2002 18:28:08 -0700
From: "Carol Spooner" <wildrose@pon.net>
Reply-To: NewPacifica@yahoogroups.com
To: "Teresa Allen" <reall@wt.net>,"Rob Robinson" <robrobin@erols.com>,"Ray Laforest" <RAYLAFOREST@MINDSPRING.COM>,"Pete Bramson" <prbram@aol.com>, "Marion Barry" <RWLC@aol.com>,"Janice K. Bryant" <jkaybryant@aol.com>,"James Ferguson" <jferguson@cnbc.org>,"James Ferguson" <voterparticipate@netscape.net>,"Jabari Zalkiya" <jzakiya@hushmail.com>,"George Barnstone" <gbarnstone@pdq.net>,"Fertig Dave" <DFertig@workerlaw.net>,"Dick Gregory" <dick@dickgregory.com>,"Carol Spooner" <wildrose@pon.net>,"Cagan Leslie" <lesliecagan@igc.org>,"Dave Fertig" <dfertig@mail2.workerlaw.net>
CC: "Dan Coughlin" <danc@igc.org>
References: <LYRIS-56-13817-2002.08.29-14.33.55--wildrose#pon.net@lists.freespeechnow.org>

Please feel free to share this with others ...

I want to thank my sister in struggle, Leslie Cagan, for her honest, honorable and straightforward statement. We have come a long and exhausting way together, and we have a long way yet to go.

I too will vote NO tomorrow on the issue of stalling the move of the National Office back to Pacifica's birthplace in Berkeley ... for all the reasons that Leslie has given, and a few more ...

I do believe it is important for Pacifica to remain an “outside-the-beltway” organization, not only because the fascistic agenda of the Ashcroft/Bush regime I believe poses a clear and present danger to Pacifica ... and we need to be quit of that place quickly ... but also as statement of our perspective as a news organization and political observer and live and kicking member of the Fourth Estate.

Some members of the Board have taken exception to this view, and have asserted that it is a insult to the good people who live in Washington DC, and Rob Robinson has even asserted that it is racist because Washington DC has a largely black population. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, and such inflammatory arguments do cause me grave concern as they occur with increasing stridency throughout Pacifica in places “high” and “low.” But, of course, Pacifica is in deep sympathy with the goals of the good citizens of Washington DC for statehood, and the plight of a largely black population that is being driven from their homes by “gentrification.” I believe Pacifica stations must make real commitments to the cause oppressed communities we serve in all of our five radio station areas.

But I am reminded of the comments our current ED, Dan Coughlin, made about his experiences as the Washington-based Pacifica Radio News Director to an audience in Berkeley in April of 2000 ...

“As Pacifica Radio News Director last year, I found myself in meetings with representatives from Microsoft, from Public Radio International, from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. [They were] telling Pacifica about news coverage or how to restructure the network or how to sell stations or how to subcontract out station management if a sale is not politically possible or why to receive corporate underwriting, or why to shift entirely to webcasting.

“Perhaps this might be shocking to some of you since Pacifica's whole ethos is independent noncommercial listener-sponsored radio with a distinct civil libertarian and anticorporate culture. But in fact, it is the Federal Government, Corporate America, and powerful broadcasters that were and are shaping many Pacifica policies. And I just want to be clear; I'm not talking about a conspiracy or that Pacifica is going corporate. What I'm describing is the political context within which senior Pacifica managers are operating today in this country under these kind of conditions. So, at the barbecues, at the cocktails, at the public radio conferences these are the people who you're meeting and talking with who are trying to shape Pacifica policies and what is happening with all of radio broadcasting in the country, not just public broadcasting.

“But there is, of course, an alternative for public broadcasters, for media workers and community activists. We do not have to become allied with private interests, with private corporations or with public agencies, or become Washington-centered.”

I would also like to say what Leslie did not say about the nasty innuendo of the memo from the six directors calling for this special meeting tomorrow ... the implication is that our Chair, Leslie Cagan, has an improper relationship with the founders of Friends of Free Speech Radio, because as almost everyone knows, FFSR raised the money from the KPFA community to pay the legal expenses for directors Cagan, Bramson & Moran in the recently settled lawsuits. Barbara Lubin, Co-Founder of FFSR, stood up in a crowded to overflowing room in New York at the iPNB meeting last January and told the board that FFSR and the KPFA community would raise the money to cover the costs of the move back to Berkeley. This is hardly new information, nor is there anything improper about it ... No more improper than the community raising the money to repair the KPFK or WPFW broadcasting towers or any other legitimate need of the Foundation. FFSR has raised money by throwing public events, concerts, etc., supported by the KPFA community since 1999 and throughout this long fight. In fact, they raised the money to pay about $10,000 in legal expenses for Directors Robinson & Kriegel in 1999 when they first began studying their legal options. But there is nothing shady about FFSR and the Berkeley community raising the money to cover the costs of the move ... just as there was nothing shady about the Berkeley community raising the money to build the Pacifica headquarters building in Berkeley 10 years ago. And to make such insinuations lowers those who make them, not those at whom they are leveled who love Pacifica and have tirelessly raised money in its defense.
There are some pretty fantastic figures being bandied about as the “costs” of moving the office. As Leslie points out, Bekins has provided an estimated the air-freight shipping costs for the office files and computers at about $4,100. (Jabari estimated the packing and moving costs at $50-$100,000.) We will not be moving furniture, and can obtain used office furniture in Berkeley at a cost of about $3,500 per the estimate Leslie cited from a used office furniture dealer.

Pacifica Treasurer Jabari has estimated “Direct financial costs”, with no details as to how these figures were derived.
- -----------------------

Moving & Shipping 50K-100K

New furniture 1K-5K

Computers & Associated Equipment 10K-30K

Communication lines & facilities 5K-20K

Employees severance packages 10K-20K

Increase in yearly salaries 25K-100K

Accounting software training 25K-50K

Increase in office operations 4K-10K

Buyout of leases 5K-15K
---------
Estimated Total Direct Costs 135K-350k

The question of severence packages for approximately 4-6 national office employees who will not be making the move ... may be $10,000 to $20,000 as Jabari estimates. That may be fair, and we should treat our employees fairly. However, the national accounting office has been seriously understaffed for months ... we need to hire a CFO, and we need to hire and train more accounting staff (whether in Washington or in Berkeley). There should be no increased training costs or salaries, whether new employees are hired in Washington or Berkeley. Delaying the move delays bringing our accounting staff up to full complement and full efficiency. Our current controller has agreed to stay on as a consultant through June 2003, so the dire predictions of loss of financial knowledge are unfounded. We do not need new computers in Berkeley as we will be moving the old ones from Washington. Some new phone lines will be needed in Berkeley ... but the national office/KPFA building is already “fully wired”. What increased office operations? We will most likely make money on sub-letting the office space in Washington, and buying out the lease there will not be necessary. So, these estimates are simply way out of line and include costs that would be incurred with or without the move.

Dan Couglin and the National Office staff have been planning and preparing for this move since March, and they are highly competent people capable of orchestrating a smooth transition, at minimal expense and with minimal disruption to Foundation activities. The move will provide us with a great opportunity to structure and tailor national staffing to the needs Dan has identified over the past eight months ... and to put together a new team for the new Pacifica ... in the multi-cultural ethnic community of the San Francisco Bay Area.

We have not made a mistake, we have made a commitment to the vision of the new Pacifica our communities fought long and hard to win ... the vision Dan Coughlin articulated eloquently when we hired him for the permanent ED position and we placed our confidence in him.

Finally, the new Pacifica must keep faith with our base in the communities who support us ... we have kept our promises to the fired & banned at WBAI and to the Houston iLAB, we have replaced the station managers at KPFK, KPFT, & WPFW and are working to transform those stations to something better and stronger than the pre-corporate takeover days ... the move back to Berkeley is not merely “sentimental” ... it is keeping faith with the communities that built this Foundation over the past 53 years and that stand ready to support and defend it for the next half century ... so long as we deserve it. Let us show that we do deserve all that our communities have given us this past 3 years of struggle, and who placed us in this temporary office of interim directors during this momentous period of transition ... by answering their simple request that we restore Pacifica headquarters to the home we built for it.

Sincerely, Carol Spooner
----- Original Message -----
From: "Leslie Cagan" <lesliecagan@igc.org>
To: "Alliance" <alliance@lists.freespeechnow.org>
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2002 3:35 PM
Subject: [alliance] Why I will vote NO on Friday

> Please feel free to share this with others.
> ------------------------------------------
>
> Why I will vote NO on Friday.
>
> Tomorrow, 8/30/02, the IPBN will convene in a specially called meeting
> to discuss whether or not the issue of moving Pacifica's national office
> back to Berkeley should be re-considered at the board meeting in Houston
> the third weekend of Sept. I will vote no on this question, and want to
> explain some of my reasons for doing so. (The conference call/meeting
> will be webcast on www/.wbix.org beginning at 2 pm east coast time on
> 8/30/02.)
>
> To begin, and very importantly, the IPNB already made this decision. At
> our meeting in NYC in mid-January the issue was raised, but because
> there was not enough time for the Board members to consider the issue
> and discuss it fully, the item was put on the March meeting in Los
> Angeles. There was open discussion of the issue at that meeting and a
> vote was taken. The decision was made to move the office as soon as it
> was feasible and no later than the end of this calendar year.
>
> Some on the IPNB now say there was not enough time for a thorough
> discussion of the issue. In addition to the time at two meetings, any
> and all Board members were free to discuss their concerns between those
> meetings. Perhaps even more importantly, the issue of moving the
> national office back to its home in Berkeley was on the movement's
> agenda since January, 2000 when those formerly in charge of Pacifica
> packed it up one night and moved everything to Washington, DC.
>
> In the year or so before the settlement agreement a series of “demands”
> were brought together. These demands had wide agreement and deep support
> throughout the five listening areas. One of those demands was the return
> of the national office to Berkeley. So, while the issue was on the IPNB
> agenda twice, it actually was on the movement's agenda a lot longer!
>
> One of the arguments now used to re-open the issue was that there was
> not full enough investigation into the costs and other details related
> to a move. I believe the IPNB does have a responsibility to make
> decisions that are in the best interests of the Foundation...and that
> does mean taking into account the financial implications of our
> decision. It also means grounding our projections costs in reality.
>
> While I have not been able to investigate all of the specifics, here are
> some initial estimates I've gotten:
>
> (a) Bekins, a bonded moving company estimates that 100 boxes of files &
> 8 computers should come to a total weight of about 3080 pounds. They
> would package everything and ship it via air for a total cost of $4,100.
> So, even if we end up with 200 boxes and 20 computers, the shipping
> would be no more than $10,000.
>
> (b) There is no need to move office furniture - it is much more cost
> effective to buy used furniture in the Bay Area. One distributor gave me
> these figures:
> used desks run about -- $127/each X 8 = $1016
> used office chairs with arms - about $69/each X 8 = $552
> used File cabinets - about $65/each X 15(?) = 975
> Total estimated office furniture cost = approximately $2543.
> Again, assume the office needs double this amount of furniture. We are
> then talking about $5,000. Of course, we can probably get a great deal
> of the furniture and other office items donated.
>
> Yes, there are other costs related to a move - severance packages for
> present staff in Washington, DC, setting up new phone systems, etc. But
> there is no way this can come to the hundreds of thousands of dollars
> that some people are claiming.
>
> By the way, we really cannot forget the commitment made by activists in
> the Bay Area to raise the money needed for the move. I assume they meant
> the immediate costs of shipping, etc. but this is a serious commitment
> and one that will certainly deal with many of the real expenses.
>
> I also believe, very strongly, that our decisions must be guided by our
> political commitment. How does this translate to the issue of moving the
> office?
>
> One of our responsibilities as the IPNB is to help right the wrongs that
> were committed in recent years, to help bring Pacifica back as a
> mission-driven network. In this context, it made perfect sense that we
> decided in January to return the fired and banned to WBAI in NYC and to
> call for the combining of the ILAB with the old LAB in Houston. It made
> perfect sense that we took action to change the managers at the radio
> stations. And it also makes perfect sense that we return the office to
> Berkeley. This is one more step in re-claiming Pacifica and undoing the
> wrongs so we can start out in a new, forward looking direction.
>
> I believe we have a very competent national staff. I have no doubt that
> they will take every step possible to make sure the move is done in an
> orderly fashion with as little disruption to the ongoing work as
> possible, and as cheaply as possible. The IPNB made its decision - now
> we need to turn the implementation over to the staff.
>
> Some have argued that we can move the national office to Berkeley, but
> we should leave the finance office in Washington, DC. I do not agree. I
> believe our financial realities bear on our programmatic decisions (not
> be confused with programming), and that our financial decisions must
> reflect our organizational priorities and commitments. While in the past
> the finance office was in LA and the rest of our national operation was
> in Berkeley, I do not agree that is the model for the new Pacifica. We
> need a more integrated approach to all aspects of our work and so
> keeping the various parts of the national office in one location makes
> the most sense to me. (That is not to say that all functions must always
> come out of one office - just that at this time in the life of Pacifica
> I believe the financial office and the executive office should be
> together.)
>
> The IPNB meeting in Houston in three weeks will have to address several
> major, and most likely time consuming, issues: bylaws, FY03 budgets and
> other financial matters, work around the network on issues of race and
> nationality, etc. I believe our time should not be used re-visiting a
> decision that has already been made. We, the new Pacifica, need to make
> decisions and then implement them. We need to be forward looking and not
> always going back over items already discussed and voted on.
>
> Finally, the issue came up two weeks ago when several members of the
> IPNB sent me (and everyone else on the board) a memo requesting a
> special meeting to discuss this. When I became chair of the IPNB I
> promised everyone on the board that I would honor requests for special
> meetings, and have done so in each instance. That request came in the
> form of a memo which went much further than asking for a meeting...a
> copy of the memo is included below. That memo was riddled with innuendo
> and assumptions and the signers of the memo have been asked to both
> apologize for their attacks and be specific if they have charges to make
> against anyone. To date, neither of those has happened.
>
> I raise this here because I think everyone should have a full picture of
> the context that tomorrow's conference call will take place in. No, I do
> not want to aggravate an already difficult process - but I do want to
> encourage honesty and directness as we discuss this issue.
>
> For sure, I will not be the only member of the IPNB voting no tomorrow.
> I want to encourage those members of the board who are not sure to also
> vote no. Let's move on.
>
> Leslie Cagan
> -----------------------------------
> Subject: Request for Special Meeting
> Date: Fri, 16 Aug 2002 01:25:23 -0400
> From: "Rob Robinson" <robrobin@erols.com>
> To: <LeslieCagan@igc.org>
> CC: <prbram@aol.com>, <wildrose@pon.net>, <dfertig@mail2.workerlaw.net>,
> <jzakiya@hushmail.com>, <reall@wt.net>, <gbarnstone@pdq.net>,
> <voterparticipate@netscape.net>, <robrobin@erols.com>,
> <raylaforest@mindspring.com>, <jkayBRYANT@aol.com>,
> <dick@dickgregory.com>, <RWLC@aol.com>, <danc@igc.org>
>
>
> August 16, 2002
>
> Dear Leslie:
>
> This is to request that a special meeting of the board be convened after
> the one scheduled for August 23. We propose to discuss matters
> pertaining
> to the proposed move of the Pacifica Headquarters.
>
> The February, 2002 report to the Board by Ross Wisdom of Kimerling,
> Margulies and Wisdom, Ltd., states on page 5, in sections 1.4.3 a-d:
>
> 1. 4.3 Accounting Staff: It was apparent that the changes in management,
> accounting systems, offices, financial stability and computer systems
> has put a strain on the current staff . . . to complete their
> responsibilities in a timely manner . .
>
> d.d Management should refrain from making system changes or relocating
> accounting offices until the accounting department has had a chance to
> catch up.
>
> The Board's Treasurer, Jabari Zakiya has repeatedly advised Board
> members against proposals to move the Headquarters until financial and
> management stability have been realized.
>
> During last June's Pacifica Foundation national meeting, Mr. Wisdom was
> unequivocal in cautioning the Board not to move its financial offices
> before the process of financial restructuring is complete. He counseled
> the
> chair, specifically, when you asked if the process would be completed in
> six
> months that, “it will take as long as it takes.”
>
> Many of us took exception to the rushed and arbitrary manner in which
> the vote was taken on moving Pacifica's headquarters from D.C. back to
> Berkeley. It prevented the board from being able to consider and debate
> its
> fiduciary responsibilities in this matter and calculate the impact of
> the move.
> We need not remind you of the inflammatory language and rabid behavior
> that
> were necessary to browbeat members of the Board into taking this action
> - an action that even our independent accountant has cautioned the board
> against.
>
> Now, it has come to our attention that members of the board are dangling
> offers by certain parties to loan or contribute large amounts of money
> to
> Pacifica in order to effect the move immediately. (The direct costs of
> a
> headquarters move have been estimated by the Treasurer as being in the
> $200,000 to $300,000 range - at a minimum.) Indeed, these offers appear
> very much like the familiar practices of offering
> “bucks-for-legislative-and-regulatory giveaways” that corporations use
> to co-opt national legislators, who should be doing the peoples'
> business here in Washington.
>
> We are also concerned that Pacifica listeners for whom this move has
> become a causus belli may have established financial relationships with
> board
> members as a result of monetary contributions made to defray the costs
> of lawsuits, prior to December, 2001. If this is the case, we feel such
> financial transactions should be fully disclosed. It's also of
> considerable
> concern, if well-heeled listeners - no matter how well-intentioned - are
> indirectly influencing policy matters or are perceived to be determining
> critical decisions that belong under the sole jurisdiction of the Board.
>
> Further, Dan Coughlin has circulated a memorandum to Pacifica staff in
> the national office, to the effect that, the move to Berkeley, which
> must be
> completed by January, must begin in September - in other words, staff
> must begin looking for other work immediately. This has created an
> environment of tension and anxiety that has already led to the
> precipitous exit of
> at least one employee whose absence compromised the office's operations
> during the week of August 14th.
>
> In sum, we regard attempts to press the Board into approving this move,
> without full consideration of its fiduciary responsibilities, as being
> in
> direct conflict with the Foundation's health and well-being. The offers
> of payment by “anonymous” parties to pay for such a move does not pass
> the
> “smell test”.
>
> Accordingly, we request that the board convene a special meeting to
> consider our proposal that the Board instruct the Executive Director to
> suspend
> all discussion of such a move until the Board has a chance to discuss
> the
> timing and conditions of such a move at the upcoming meeting in Houston.
>
>
> Sincerely,
> Rob Robinson
> Jabari Zakiya
> Teresa Allen
> George Barnstone
> James Ferguson
> Bertram M. Lee, Sr.


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