As Seen in the San Fernando Valley
Believe me, I wouldn’t think of it!
Dateline: Orange County
As we reported earlier, the Los Angeles Times has some big plans to extend their newspaper monopoly to the entire Southern California region. In a previous article entitled: The Los Angeles Times, the Shameful Showboat of a Powerful Press Monopoly, we wrote that the Tribune Company, owner of both the San Diego Union and the L.A. Times, was sneaking around the bankruptcy court hearings offering to loan the owners of the Riverside Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register 3 million dollars at no interest to tide them over for a while until the bankruptcy court held an auction, where they planned to buy up the Register and the Press Telegram. Here’s what we said:
“Things have since become even stranger, when the Orange County Register filed for bankruptcy late last year. The same company also owns the Riverside Press Telegram. So here comes the Tribune, now owner of the Times and San Diego Union, offering a 3 million dollar loan at zero interest rate to the company that owns the Register and Press-Telegram. This would give them a crack at buying the two papers out of bankruptcy, and thus increase their monopoly over all of Southern California. If that works out, the Tribune will own the Times, the San Diego Union, The Riverside Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register. Any beginning psychic can see more layoffs, consolidated printing, consolidated news, and immense power over the entire Southland. Oh, and the big hurt on real freedom of the press.”
Plot Foiled by Alert Anti-Trust Attorneys
Luckily for the entire population of the Southland, the Anti-Trust Division of the Justice Department was paying attention to all this. Today, March 17, 2006, the Justice Department filed suit to block this outrageous monopoly grab by the Tribune Company. Below is the complete Press Release from the Department of Justice:
Acquisition Would Monopolize Newspapers in Orange and Riverside Counties in California
The Department of Justice filed a civil antitrust lawsuit today seeking to block the acquisition by Tribune Publishing Company, publisher of the Los Angeles Times, of Freedom Communications Inc., publisher of the Register in Orange County, California, and the Press-Enterprise in Riverside County, California. Tribune was selected as purchaser of Freedom’s newspapers following a bankruptcy auction and will seek bankruptcy court approval of its acquisition on March 21. The department is seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent the sale to Tribune from proceeding.
According to the department’s complaint, filed in federal district court in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times and the Register together account for 98 percent of newspaper sales in Orange County and the Los Angeles Times and Freedom’s newspapers together account for 81 percent of English-language newspaper sales in Riverside County. Tribune’s acquisition of its most significant competitor would give it a monopoly over newspaper sales in each county and allow it to increase subscription prices, raise advertising rates and invest less to maintain the quality of its newspapers.
“If this acquisition is allowed to proceed, newspaper competition will be eliminated and readers and advertisers in Orange and Riverside Counties will suffer,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “Newspapers continue to play an important role in the dissemination of news and information to readers and remain an important vehicle for advertisers. The Antitrust Division is committed to ensuring that competition in this important industry is protected.”
Tribune Publishing Company is a Delaware corporation headquartered in Chicago. It publishes 11 major daily newspapers across California, Illinois, Florida, Maryland, Connecticut, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
If Not Blocked, Newspaper Competition Will Be Eliminated
The Justice Department did make one small error in that in Los Angeles and San Diego, newspaper competition is already defacto non-existent and has been for decades due to the Times either buying up their competition or secretly financing certain owners of “competing” papers that won’t really compete. If this bankruptcy sale goes through, the Tribune will “own” the Southland. It’s not just the advertising revenue that is at stake, it is the cultural control and even more important, the political control. Which candidates, for instance, will get “press coverage”, and which candidates will be endorsed by the Tribune political tribunal? We sincerely hope that the Justice Department is successful in their efforts to prevent this press monopoly from going any further.
Dateline: Los Angeles
The incredible financial mess continues at Pacifica. Because they have blown the audit dates for 2 years and have lost about 2 million dollars in funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the network is danger of financial failure. The new June 2016 deadline for filing looks like a repeat disaster, possibly blowing close to another million, despite hiring a new Chief Financial Officer, Sam Agarwal, who is facing an uphill battle to literally pry basic financial information from the stations. Some of the Pacifica stations, like KPFK, do not even have regular bookkeepers at this point, and Agarwal has taken the financial records away from at least 2 stations, it was revealed by Fred Blair in his first KPFK financial report as the treasurer of the Listener Board.
Some serious financial information came out at the recent National Finance Committee, WBAI’s report, and the KPFK Listener Board meeting. Here’s a few bullet points:
—Only 2 of Pacifica’s 5 stations have full-time business managers. This in itself is insane behavior of management. They have been unable or unwilling to commit to straighten out the chaotic financial situation.
—Neither WPFW, Washington, D.C., nor WBAI, New York have had their draft FY16 budgets approved yet. FY16 began on October 1, 2015.
—The CFO said that cash flow is a major concern now, some stations can’t even meet the National Office’s payroll deadline and are critically behind on health care insurance payments, Central Services fees, and other expenses.
—The CFO said that Pacifica should not count on getting Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) grants for four to six months because of the lateness of the audit. He said that meeting the short range cash needs for those four to six months would be a challenge. (And this may not happen if the auditors cannot get the information.)
—The CFO has not been able to even access all the bank accounts, meaning a lot of information is not available.
—WBAI winter fund drive after the entire month of February and an additional week is only 65% of projected budget.
—CFO has not been able to get ANY information from WPFW. Financially he doesn’t know what is going on there.
—Pacifica has not sent the financial statements to the stations that were due in February.
—The amount of information that has been demanded from the auditors
I have written elsewhere how Lydia Brazon’s majority has approved deficit budgets for KPFK totaling approximately $1 million dollars the last two years. But what’s really telling about this year’s KPFK budget is that the majority of fund drive days – almost 2/3s – come in the first half of the year. There’s mostly smoke and mirrors in the second half. I wonder if they intend for KPFK to be in business in the second half of this fiscal year which starts April 1.
As Fred said, there is a new CFO. His last job was at a San Francisco non-profit. It was largely funded by various state department and law enforcement agencies that are usually associated with regime change in foreign countries. It’s an unusual choice for Pacifica one would think.
The CFO has been at Pacifica for less than two months and said he hasn’t reviewed most of the station’s budgets – but suggested they may be unnecessary and can be replaced by “innovative thinking.” He can’t possibly be familiar with all our operations in this short time and yet he’s decided our business model is no good. And that he and Lydia, without informing the board, have put out proposals for alternate funding. But he’s not prepared to get into specifics yet.
Such “innovative thinking” may be underwriting as was discussed at the last National Finance meeting. This seems to me to be a straw man – a sham argument set up to be defeated. It seems odd that after two years of the national board majority claiming how fantastic they were doing because they were in charge, now suddenly, there’s a financial disaster with the only choice being presented is to take underwriting. And the board saying nothing while the CFO says publicly that listener support should be dismissed as reliable or even desirable.
The majority on the national board have already forfeited $2 million dollars in lost funding because of two late audits filed to the State of CA and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The CFO seems really fuzzy about the next CPB deadline which he seems likely to miss which will cost Pacifica another one million dollars in lost grants. It seems odd that making that deadline in June to make sure we get that $1 million dollars isn’t his highest priority.
This is a straw man because first of all, our audience is simply too low to be attractive for any serious underwriting. Any business that would be aligned with our programming is not likely to provide much financial support relative to our low listenership. It won’t bring in significant funding and in exchange, it will upset our listeners at the mere idea of this. But perhaps that is the point. Say no to this scary underwriting and the alternative is… wind up in bankruptcy court? Sell off a license?
But why is no one talking about the real choices? What real management and leadership would do with a radio network would be to improve the programming, which is what we do to serve the public which is why we have non-profit radio licenses in the first place. We would get a plan to do appropriate marketing. And we would clean up the sloppy or outright fraudulent accounting and business practices.
In KPFK’s case, we would ask why is there unqualified management making obviously bad decisions… like taking off KPFK’s most popular programs and replacing them with cronies? Or why did the GM fire the webmaster and allow KPFK’s website to degenerate to a non-functional mess? That has cost us thousands, if not tens of thousands of listeners who used to listen on-line, download shows – and donate through the website. Rather than underwriting, how about re-hiring the webmaster and getting back those listeners?
Lew Hill, the founder of the Pacifica Foundation, which owns the five radio licenses, was very clear in his writings. Popular programs would get listener support. Unpopular ones wouldn’t. This the integrity of listener sponsor radio. That’s why it’s a public service not a private broadcasting club. Why is the national board majority so allergic to talking about this? Why are they allowing management to drive away KPFK’s listeners? Who benefits?
As of Wednesday, the February fund drive total was: $261,469 after 15 days/ $17,431 per day. The budgeted goal is $600,000 for 22 days/ $27,272 per day. To reach the goal, the drive would have to be extended to 34 days (assuming per day doesn’t decline).
The budgeted goal for December was $400,000 at 15 days/ $26,666 per day. Two days were added. The pledged amount was $316,752 for 17 days/ $18,632 per day. Novick and the GM assumed in the budget the rest of the days of December would be “quiet drive days” to achieve the goal. That leaves the “quiet drive” magic dust to make up the $83,248 difference.
This February drive is the last drive in this half of the year. 102 fund drive days were budgeted for FY2016, 63 in the first half of the fiscal year (October-March). With the addition of 8 days already added, the total drive days are now up to 110 days with 71 in the first half, assuming no more days are added to the February drive (a not-likely assumption).
There are only 39 budgeted fund drive days in the second half of the year (April-September) at an average of $23,111 per day (an overly rosy number based on actuals). The rest of the listener support comes from 92 budgeted “quiet drive” days at $5,400 per day to raise about $500,000 in the months of April, June, August and September.
The LSB or Treasurer should ask management for the results of the quiet drive days in December. How many days did it run and how much was pledged/ paid per day? This was supposed to all go through the website. It does not show up in MEMSYS.
It’s important to see how realistic these quiet drive number are going forward. My estimate is the December quiet drive brought in something over $1,000 per day which falls far short of the $5,400 per day budget. December is historically the best month for this kind of pitch
This appears to leave a $400,000+/- gap in fundraising for the second half of the year for the quiet drive days, plus the much lower than budget per day $ in these first three drives.
The NFC approved FY2016 budget was created entirely by Treasurer Novick, iED/Chair/NFC rep Brazon and GM Radford on the NFC. An earlier draft was approved by the LSB majority with a $1 million deficit. This draft is an improvement but is still a severely deficit budget.
While I would not preclude a severe financial crisis before the end of March, it appears extremely likely after March.
Secretary, Finance Committee
Former KPFK LSB Treasurer
February 19, 2016
As if we don’t already know enough about Rio Tinto and their proxy Resolution Copper in their role of manipulating Sen. John McCain’s “land swap” deal into last year’s National Defense Authorization Act, new information has surfaced about their horrible record of treatment of their own workers world wide in a study released by IndustriALL Global Union. Now that Resolution has its hands on the ancient Apache land of Oak Flat and the 160 billion dollars of copper underneath it, what can be expected from the company in dealing with its workers?
A recent report entitled “Rio Tinto: The Way It Really Works“, documents how the stated propaganda and public relations spin in the mainstream press ignores the facts on their dealings with indigenous peoples around the world. Rio Tinto was slammed in the report for their “systematic failures in environmental, social and governance factors.” Rio Tinto is charged with anti-union behavior, failures in worker health and safety, including their role in many deaths of workers around the world, irresponsible political activity, and failure to respect indigenous peoples’ rights, among many other charges. This report should give pause to the U.S. Senate, and hopefully help the Apache Native Americans reverse the unethical “land-swap” deal. Here is the entire report:
As Ron Johns, an editor on the graphic novel “Red Eden a Vision of Mars” has stated about the Rio Tinto copper scheme in Arizona: “Really, it’s like the last straw in a 200 year rampage against (Native Americans), broken treaties, banishment to desert so-called reservations, starvation, slaughter. And now this Oak Flat thing, where McCain gives away something that even President Eisenhower said should be left to the Apaches and the public forever, untouched. You can’t even make up this kind of stuff in fiction, nobody would believe it,” Johns said.
The clock has been ticking on the Pacifica Foundation legal front, but for them there are clocks ticking in every room of the building. First, there are matters under investigation by the State of California, Attorney General, including the fraud charges filed by Pacifica Board member and whistleblower Steve Brown. Then there is allegedly an investigation of Pacifica’s long-time attorney Dan Siegel that is at the California Bar Association, although a quick check on their website does not reveal any pending case. Thirdly is a lawsuit filed by Gary Null, charging fraud, and violations of the F.T.C. Mail Order Rule, Intellectual Property Theft, Trademark Infringement, Trademark Counterfeiting, Copyright Infringement, and False Advertising.
The serious charges do not end there. Pacifica in Exile reported recently that the new Chief Financial Officer had discovered the possibility of internal fraud. Here’s the text: Berkeley-While Pacifica waits and waits and waits for an audit of the 2014 fiscal year, which ended 17 months ago, new CFO Sam Agarwal informed the national finance committee that “fraud was a major concern of the auditor”, which is currently Armanino LLP. In fact, he said it twice in a minute and a half. Agarwal added that “we don’t know if all the donations have been accounted for” and that “it would be very easy for anyone to open up a bank account and deposit the donations and that would not be recorded in the Pacifica books”.
As whistleblower Steve Brown points out in his recent document sent to Pacifica Board members and the entire Pacifica community, Gary Null’s offer has been withheld from the greater board by the ruling clique, so it will be turned over to the FTC and possibly the FBI. The Pacifica Board has not even bothered to launch an internal investigation, or offer an apology to Null, or even to acknowledge the lawsuit. This could mean serious consequences for members of the Board.
Here’s the document sent by whistleblower Steve Brown:
Attached is a letter that was sent by Gary Null’s attorney to Dan Siegel (Pacifica’s attorney) on March 2. It concerns Gary Null’s lawsuit against Pacifica management (civil action no: 1:16-cv-241, united states district court, eastern district of new york).
The letter offered a settlement that might help Pacifica’s officers, station management, and national board members avoid facing federal prosecution, paying thousands of dollars in fines, and serving prison sentences of up to 5 years.
Because the letter affects not only the welfare of Pacifica (which could face multi-million-dollar fines), but also the welfare of at least 12 members of the Pacifica National Board (who could be fined personally for refusing to stop criminal activities of which it had been made aware), every board member has a legal right to read this letter – and, as Pacifica’s ultimate governing body, a legal duty to decide how to respond to it.
But you were not allowed to exercise that right. That is because Gary Null’s letter (along with other important information about the risk to Pacifica and its board members) was not shared with you as board members. Ooops, sorry. That is too mild a description. What I meant to say is that this information was deliberatelywithheld from you as board members. This means that decisions that only the board is legally empowered to make, in the open, are being made, in secret, by Dan Siegel, Lydia Brazon, and their tiny “inner circle,” who have been making fools out of you for the past three years. And may soon make you defendants in a federal prosecution as well.
In addition, Dan Siegel, the foundation’s attorney, has issued (either knowingly or stupidly) dangerously incorrect and misleading information about the federal statutes that Pacifica has violated. He says that those statutes do not apply to Pacifica. As an attorney, he ought to know better, and I suspect that he does. Nevertheless, he is telling Pacifica staff members to go right on committing more of the same illegal actions.
Because Gary Null has received no response to this or prior letters, let alone assurances that Pacifica management will agree to stop the commission of criminal acts and fire those responsible (regardless of whose friends they are or whose factions they belong to), this matter will be turned over to the federal government for prosecution.
When that happens, none of the members of this board will be shielded from personal liability, since you were all put on notice, multiple times, about the nature and scope of the criminal activities at Pacifica, and urged to stop them – which you would not do. Moreover, a majority of this board, whose names are on record, also deliberately voted to defeat a board motion that would have compelled an investigation into these criminal activities.
Why is Gary Null suing Pacifica and its management?
Although Gary Null has suffered financial and related damages as a result of the illegal activities that were condoned and apparently deliberately committed by members of management, he is not seeking monetary gain from this lawsuit (even though his statutory reimbursement for compensatory and punitive damages could be at least $600,000 and possibly as much as $3 million). Instead, as he has told me (and as his letter clearly states in Item 9), his only purpose is to bring about a cessation of illegal activities at Pacifica and the dismissal of those responsible — who have by their actions shamed and dishonored the foundation to which he has devoted more than 40 years of his life.
However, because the settlement offer in his letter has not been accepted (that is, because Pacifica management refused to stop the illegal activities or dismiss those responsible), this matter will be turned over to the federal authorities. At that point, Gary Null will no longer have control over the prosecution or the penalties, which will be in government hands. Federal statutes dictate fines of up to $16,000 per violation by the FTC, and since there are at least 5,000 violations already in evidence — and perhaps 25,000 more that could be added in discovery – well, do the math; your calculator probably can’t even count that high. There are also fines of up to $250,000 per violation for the criminal intellectual property thefts committed by management, which carry prison terms of 5 years (even for first offenders).
But I guess none of you board members give a damn. Or maybe you feel bullet proof. In any case, it looks like you will continue to twiddle your thumbs, evade your responsibility to guide the foundation, and let Siegel, Brazon, Wilkinson & Co. drag you and the Pacifica down with them.
That is why I am distributing this message along with Gary Null’s letter to the entire Pacifica community, so that they will know whom to blame for whatever fines are levied on Pacifica – and whom to sue, in a shareholder’s derivative suit, in order to recover those fines for Pacifica, out of your pockets and those of management. Which is likely, because a quick search on Google reveals that, in such lawsuits, the courts are being increasingly attentive to the claims of shareholders seeking reimbursement from negligent and/or lawbreaking management and boards of directors. Especially in non-profit corporations.
In fact, the wheels are already turning. For the past 11 months or more, Dan Siegel has been under investigation by the California Bar Association for professional misconduct in this and other matters (Case No. 15-0-15488); and Pacifica management is also under investigation, for this and other matters, by the Office of the Attorney General of California (Case Filename: Pacifica Foundation Radio CT011303). Soon, it appears, the federal government may join them.
So sleep soundly, Dan Siegel, Lydia Brazon, Margy Wilkinson, and the majority board members who voted down the motion to investigate the criminal behavior in Pacifica. You may soon be trying to cover your faces with a hat as you are “perp-walked” out of Pacifica headquarters in handcuffs by an FBI SWAT team.
Stephen M Brown
Director, Pacifica National Board
Greg Simay, Author and Publisher of Red Eden – A Vision of Mars, the graphic novel of Native Americans going to Mars to set up a new civilization and leaving behind the years of broken treaties, genocide, and reservation living, has denied that Sen. McCain was used as a model for the evil character Drex, who was the head henchman for Earth’s crime syndicate that invaded Mars to take over the new Native paradise. “There is a resemblance,” said Simay, on a vacation swing through Southern California, “but it’s only a coincidence”.
The charges came out because of Simay’s support of the Apache Stronghold in Arizona, where Sen. McCain secretly gave away National Park land to foreign mining corporations. The area, known as Oak Flat, was protected land, but is sitting on a mountain of copper that has been a decades-long target of Rio Tinto an international mining corporation. Simay has been on the radio with Wendsler Nosie, an Apache leader who is fighting the Oak Flat give-away.
Sen. McCain secretly attached a “rider” on to last year’s National Defense Authorization Act that totally went against Congress and did a “land swap” that traded 160 billion dollars worth of copper under Oak Flat for some desert land owned by the massive foreign mining company Rio Tinto. The sad record of Rio Tinto includes being charged in lawsuits with genocide and crimes against humanity, bodes ill for the land swap deal, pushed into law by McCain.
Ron Johns, an editor on the Red Eden project, said that “six or seven years ago when we were writing and working on the project we didn’t know anything about Sen. McCain’s involvement in the Oak Flat deal. But I really wish we had, because what he did was so evil, so despicable, that we could have used that as back story for Red Eden. I can’t think of anything that would have been as much of a catalyst for the Native Americans to leave Earth and head to Mars to start over. Really, it’s like the last straw in a 200 year rampage against them, broken treaties, banishment to desert so-called reservations, starvation, slaughter. And now this Oak Flat thing, where McCain gives away something that even President Eisenhower said should be left to the Apaches and the public forever, untouched. You can’t even make up this kind of stuff in fiction, nobody would believe it,” Johns said.
As far as Red Eden goes, Johns said “In my opinion, McCain is a worse person than our character thug Drex in our story. Can you imagine what would have happened if he had been elected President? I’m now thanking God every day that didn’t happen!”
Mars Red Eden website, Click here.
Apache Stronghold, Click here.
Documentary on Rio Tinto Mining Co., “Coconut Revolution”, Click here.
posted by unclepaulie