On January 26th, General Manager Valerie Van Isler revealed to the WBAI Local Advisory Board that the “deficit” which the Pacifica Foundation claims WBAI is running has risen to $204,000.
Those in the room who had been following the saga of this alleged deficit were amazed to hear this new, larger figure. In October, when news of the deficit first hit WBAI, Van Isler said that it was the result of cost overruns on premiums for the fund raising marathons, and she seemed to blame Staff for this.
People wondered how all of those successful marathons could result in a deficit. At a “special meeting” hastily called on December 2, Lynn Chadwick, newly installed Pacifica Executive Director, said that the deficit had reached $180,000. Chadwick said that Pacifica (which she referred to throughout the meeting as “the company”) didn't blame the Staff for the deficit but said, “Your success at fund raising costs money.”
During the course of the December 2, meeting Chadwick waffled on the role played by premium costs in creating the deficit. She had no hard information, but said that the final figures would be available by January.
Some WBAI Staff question whether the deficit is real or if it's just the result of some fancy bookkeeping by the Pacifica National Office. Others question how such a huge deficit could have built up in the first place without being noticed by Management. When asked if expenses from the move to 120 Wall St. played a part in the deficit Van Isler was adamant that the move was not to blame. Most people think that this is a lie intended to keep Van Isler, and her secretive, reality-denying management style, from looking bad. It has also been noted by many that the “Capital Campaign” to pay for the move has taken money away from WBAI's operating budget both by diverting donations from the operating budget to the Capital Campaign and by bookkeeping sleight of hand such as
|selling premiums bought with operating budget money and giving the proceeds of their sale to the Capital Campaign.
At a meeting with the Shop Committee on November 30, Van Isler and Chadwick couldn't come up with any hard figures but wanted the Union to agree to let the deficit be lessened by Staff cuts. The Shop Committee refused and demanded an accounting of the causes of this deficit. At this meeting Van Isler blamed “other [Management] people in the Development Department” for not seeing the deficit coming. At this meeting it was also revealed that Pacifica wants WBAI to pay off the deficit all at once.
At this time neither the Union nor the Staff have seen an accounting of this deficit, and no explanation of how it rose by an additional $24,000 in 7 weeks has been offered by Management. A “micro-thon” was held in December to retire this deficit, but Van Isler says that WBAI will spend the rest of Fiscal Year 1999, holding extra fund raising events in an effort to retire the deficit.
When the Pacifica National Board meets in Berkeley February 26-28, their main agenda item will be a bylaws change that will give the National Board itself the sole power to determine who sits on it.
This act would be the culmination of a trend begun in 1995, of slowly removing control of the Pacifica Foundation, which owns WBAI, from local entities such as the stations and the Local Advisory Boards and concentrating it in the hands of the National Board members themselves.
This will, in effect, make the National Board members the owners of the Pacifica Foundation which is estimated to hold between $200 and $300 million in assets. In 1996, Pacifica was offered $90 million for WBAI.
The National Board has been publishing a transcript of its meetings on the World Wide Web since Mary Frances Berry became Chair in 1997. Oddly,
Back to the Contract negotiations page.
Back to the Union page.
Back to my home page.
The contents of this Web page and subsequent Web pages on this site are copyright © 1999, R. Paul Martin