Frank Dorrel, Prominent Peace Activist Profiled in New Video
Frank Dorrel has been an activist for Peace for decades. He has published books, participated in demonstrations, put out video documentaries, given interviews, and is a fixture at the Los Angeles Times annual Book Festival where he chats with thousands of visitors each year.
It seems that Frank is almost a lone voice against war these days. With the world careening toward new ultra destructive conflicts, he seems to be the last man standing and advocating for Peace. The anti-War movement seemed to stall when Obama became President, although he launched new wars in Africa, illegally sent drones and troops to interfere with nations around the world, his agents overthrowing the government of the Ukraine, blasting Libya out of existence, and arming the Saudis in their genocidal attack on Yemen. Things are getting worse under Trump, with the Saudis now not only continuing a massive bombing campaign in Yemen, but now getting ready to invade Qatar and possibly go to war in Iran. The U.S. still supports terrorist groups in Syria, shooting down Syrian government aircraft and bombing Syrian government positions. North Korea is in the sights of the Pentagon. Afghanistan continues to be an unending war, with thousands of civilian casualties.
Kudos to Frank Dorrel, standing up to all this madness.
An uninhabited house on Riverside Drive a block east of Laurel Canyon has taken a big hit as an untrimmed tree split and crashed onto the house. This property was supposedly purchased recently for around $900,000, but has sat empty for almost a year. Transients were living in it for a time this month, but they were finally evicted.
The tree could not grow to the east because of the apartment building that butts up against it, so it grew to the west until it became so unbalanced that it split and crashed into the house. It’s always interesting how much money some folks have to buy a house for almost a million dollars and then let it sit empty and rot. It proves the old adage “Money does not care who it belongs to.”
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:
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Justice Department Files Antitrust Lawsuit to Stop L.A. Times Publisher from Acquiring Competing Newspapers
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.
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 Auditors have concerns about WBAI’s rental agreement obligations to the Empire State Building. This is for transmission antennae and is said to be around $50,000 per month.
—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
Click on Box to view KPFK Treasurer’s Report. Keep watching entire video as last part is a Supplemental Report by former Treasurer Kim Kaufman.
Former KPFK Treasurer Outlines Dire Conditions
Kim Kaufman, former KPFK LSB Treasurer issued the following report
This is a supplemental report to what you’ve just seen on the video
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?
Supplemental Finance Report
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.
Despite Rio Tinto’s Slick Propaganda – Its Worldwide Mining Operations Are Exposed
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.
Pacifica Whistleblower Charges Ruling Board Withheld Gary Null’s Offer of Settlement Terms
Lawsuit To Be Turned Over To Feds
by Ed Murray
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 personalliability, 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.
Publisher Denies Sen. McCain Used as Model for Earth Thug in Novel
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!”
Whistleblower on Pacifica National Board Exposes Years of Fraud and Violations of FTC Rules at Pacifica Stations Across the Country.
by Ed Murray
Dateline: Sacramento, California
On February 20, 2016, Steve Brown, a member of the Pacifica National Board, filed a very serious complaint with the State of California Registry of Charitable Trusts. In his complaint, Mr. Brown asserts that there has been ” a continuing pattern of serious criminal activities at Pacifica (still going on) that has been condoned, abetted, and/or committed by members of Pacifica management and its board of directors during (at least) the past three years.”
Mr. Brown, after much agonizing, has decided to become a whistleblower, and expose the mail – order practices of several of the Pacifica radio stations and its management, who have chosen to look the other way and ignore Mr. Brown’s frequent demands that the practices stop. He outlines a consistant pattern of fraud at Los Angeles station KPFK, station WPFW in Washington D.C., and at WBAI in New York City.
The charges put forth by Mr. Brown relate to the millions of dollars these stations took in while promising the donors they would receive “premiums” in the mail, often they would be DVDs, or CDs. These charges have been ongoing in the internet media for some time. Other websites, such as www.PacificaInExile.com have also reported the anger of donors who did not receive product that they had ordered. These violations have amounted to thousands of dollars over the years, leaving angry donors.
Here is the complete text of the charges filed with the California Attorney General’s Office.
Deputy Attorney General
State of California
Department of Justice
Registry of Charitable Trusts
P.O. Box 903447
Sacramento CA 94203-4470
February 20, 2016
Re: Pacifica Foundation Radio Complaint # CT011303
Dear Ms. Mossler:
I write to inform you of new and even more serious violations of civil and criminal statutes by the persons originally named in Complaint # CT011303. They make intervention by your office more critical than ever. It may be the last chance to save the Pacifica Foundation.
Complaint # CT011303 was filed by 8 former Pacifica board directors (with my approval and support as a current director) because the foundation’s executive director, Margy Wilkinson (and her successors) – together with the foundation’s corporate counsel, Dan Siegel, and the board majority faction they control – had been colluding in a pattern of illegal activities that could not be blocked by normal internal controls.
However, now the situation has worsened. Because your office has not yet taken action (perhaps because our foundation is too small?), those persons have been emboldened to behave even more recklessly – and illegally – thereby placing the assets and safety of the Pacifica Foundation at even greater risk.
For example, a lawsuit (civil action no: 1:16-cv-241, united states district court, eastern district of new york) has just been filed by Gary Null against the foundation and three of its executive directors for violations of the FTC Mail Order Rule (16 CFR Part 435) and violations of federal criminal statutes dealing with intellectual property theft.
Although the current and former executive director, and the majority board members of their faction, had been put on notice, numerous times, by myself and other minority directors, that illegal violations were occurring (and had been occurring for at least 2 years), they refused to stop these activities or fire those responsible, apparently because the violations increased foundation revenue. If the above-referenced lawsuit against the foundation and its officers and directors prevails (as I believe it will, because its causes of action are valid), the statutory fines and penalties that can be imposed on the foundation – especially by the FTC, Justice Department, and US Postal Service – could amount to tens of millions of dollars. This would absolutely destroy the foundation. That it is why it is so important that your office intervene.
Here are only a few recent violations of law that have been abetted and/or committed by Pacifica’s management and controlling board faction, which neither I nor the foundation’s minority directors have been able to block or roll back.
1. Violations of the FTC Mail Order Rule (16 CFR Part 435)
by Pacifica Radio Station KPFK
In a recent fund drive, Pacifica Radio Station KPFK solicited on-air donations of approximately $800,000 from about 7,500 California residents by promising to send them a variety of merchandise (value: $50 to $300) in return for their donations. The FTC Mail Order Rule https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/mail-internet-or-telephone-order requires that such merchandise be delivered within 30 days of receiving payment, unless otherwise stated in the solicitation; or, if it is known that delivery will take longer (but not more than 60 days), a specifically worded notice specifying when delivery will take place, or offering a refund, must be sent to each recipient.
However, the station did not deliver any of the merchandise within 30 or 60 days, nor did it send the required delay notices. Instead, the station manager privately informed her staff – and also let it be known to the foundation’s executive director and board – that she had already spent the money intended for acquisition of the promised (and paid-for) merchandise, and therefore would not deliver that merchandise until a year(!) past the order date (with a good chance that it would not be delivered at all). This violates 16 CFR Part 435 in numerous ways, for which the station can be fined as much as $16,000 per violation. These statutory fines apply even if the merchandise is eventually delivered. And each late and/or undelivered item of merchandise counts as a single violation, making Pacifica’s possible exposure $16,000 x 7,500 = $120,000,000.)
2. Violation of the FTC Mail Order Rule (16 CFR Part 435)
by Pacifica Radio Station WPFW
In a recent fund drive, Pacifica Radio Station WPFW solicited on-air donations of between $300-$400,000 from approximately 4,000 Washington, DC, resident by promising to deliver a variety of merchandise (value $50-$300) in return for their donations. In this case, it is my understanding that — not only was no merchandise delivered and no notices sent — but station management knew, in advance of solicitation, that it did not have the money to acquire that merchandise, and would probably never deliver it to any of those who had paid for it. Because this is a “knowing violation,” in addition to the statutory fines (of up to $64,000,000), the matter could be referred to the Justice Department for further prosecution and penalties.
3. Violation of the FTC Mail Order Rule (16 CFR Part 435)
by Pacifica Radio Station WBAI
In a recent fund drive, Pacifica Radio Station WBAI solicited approximately $500,000 in donations by promising to deliver a variety of merchandise (value $50-$300) to approximately 5,000 New York City Metro Area residents in return for their donations. However, only a fraction this merchandise was delivered, and that was long after the 30- or 60-day limit allowed by the FTC. Moreover, no FTC-mandated delay notices were sent, and the balance of the merchandise has not, to my knowledge, been delivered, and may not ever be.
Hundreds of complaints about non-delivery of merchandise by this station have been received personally by me and others, after the donors were unable to elicit a response from the station. To verify for myself the station’s illegal delivery practices, I sent $200 to WBAI on February 2, 2015, in response to one of its numerous on-air fundraising solicitations; in return for my donation it was promised that I would receive a book and a DVD by Webster Tarpley (approximate value $50). It is now one year later, but I have not received this merchandise, nor do I expect that I ever will.
I estimate that, in the last 12 months, at least 5,000 orders have been unfulfilled by this station, and many more fulfilled late, in violation of FTC regulations. Those 5,000 orders alone risk statutory fines of up to $16,000 x 5,000 = $80,000,000. If solicitations from the past 36 months are included, the number of unfilled orders – merely at WBAI alone — could rise to 15,000 or more, risking statutory fines of up to $240,000,000.
The only way to determine the exact number of delinquent orders is to examine the records at all 5 Pacifica stations. However, when I requested these records at WBAI – and by law, as a director, I am entitled to examine all foundation records without exception – my requests were ignored and the records withheld. Absent action by your office, these records will remain hidden, and the defrauding of tens of thousands of residents in the foundation’s five broadcasting areas – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Washington DC, and New York – will continue.
4. Violation of federal criminal statutes against intellectual
property theft by Pacifica Radio Station WBAI
Much of the merchandise used by Pacifica radio stations to solicit donations consists of commercially produced CDs and DVDs, mostly feature-length films, documentaries, and self-help videos. Normally, the stations would purchase these items from reputable vendors at wholesale prices ranging from about $10-$20 each, and then deliver them to donors. But at Radio Station WBAI, in some cases (I do not know how many, because records have been withheld) the station manager would purchase only a few copies from vendors, then illegally duplicate tens or hundreds or thousands more to fulfill the balance of orders. This has been going on at WBAI and other Pacifica stations for many years. Because the practice can save the foundation up to $100,000 or more a year, it is not stopped by the foundation’s officers or the board faction in control, no matter how often the practice is brought to their notice and protested. Not only does this break the law; it also cheats the donors by sending them fraudulent substandard copies instead of the genuine merchandise they were promised in return for their money.
I and two other minority directors have first-hand personal knowledge of illegal CD and DVD duplication at WBAI. I collected some of these fraudulent copies myself, and know of two specific vendors whose copyrighted products have been illegally duplicated in this way. One of them, Gary Null (whose lawsuit I referenced at the beginning of this letter), has acquired some of these illegal copies on his own and identified them as fakes. Intellectual property theft is one of the causes of action in his lawsuit. I understand that statutory fines for theft of intellectual property are $250,000 per violation, and include prison terms of 5 years for first offenders.
I do not know how many vendors have been defrauded, or how many illegal copies have been made. The documents and records that would reveal these numbers have, as I noted, been withheld from me — either with the acquiescence of foundation officers and board members, or their active cooperation.
5. Pacifica’s attorney provides deceptive and destructive
advice to management and staff members
In response to one of my frequent protests against Pacifica’s ongoing FTC violations and illegal duplication of copyrighted material, a staff member at KPFK said she would cease to solicit donations for the station because of the risk of civil or criminal penalties against her and/or the foundation. In response, the foundation’s attorney, Dan Siegel, issued an email announcement saying that she should continue her solicitations, because Pacifica was exempt from punishment under the FTC Mail Order Rule. This was false and misleading advice, which Siegel had reason to know – as an attorney – since the statute explicitly states that non-profits and charities such as Pacifica are not exempt.
Siegel is not an FTC lawyer; he is an employment lawyer. Had he exercised reasonable fiduciary diligence and called the FTC for a Staff Opinion, he would have quickly been told that Pacifica is not exempt, and that its practices are indeed actionable violations of FTC law. Nor is there any exemption for Pacifica from federal criminal statutes that prohibit the theft of copyrighted material.
Sadly, Dan Siegel’s deceptive and (what I must regard as) self-serving advice to foundation staff members carried great weight, because Siegel, in addition to being the foundation’s attorney, has also served as its executive director. This willingness to wink at or deliberately violate state and federal law seems to be just one example of the recklessness with which Siegel and his faction have been running (and running down) the foundation.
In the earlier filing of this complaint, it was noted that the goal of Dan Siegel and his faction was apparently to bankrupt the foundation, so that its licenses and assets (estimated to be worth $100 million or more) could be acquired by a shadow corporation named “KPFA Foundation,” which Siegel and another board member had created for this purpose 27 months ago. This shadow corporation, I might add, was created in secret, its existence deliberately withheld from the foundation’s executive director and board of directors. However, as our corporate attorney, was not Siegel legally obligated to disclose to the board (1) the existence of that corporation, (2) its purpose, which was inherently antithetical to the welfare of Pacifica, and (3) his controlling interest in that corporation? But he never did so, until its existence was uncovered, accidentally, 4 months ago, by the secretary of the Pacifica board, to her great astonishment.
After its discovery, Siegel then admitted that the purpose of his shadow corporation, whose legal address is that of the law firm he owns, was indeed to acquire the licenses and assets of the Pacifica Foundation, in the event that it went bankrupt (an event that he and his faction were uniquely placed to engineer, and towards which they have apparently been working). Therefore, the only way Siegel’s secret corporation could succeed, is if Pacifica were to fail. Is this not an unacceptable conflict of interest for Pacifica’s attorney, and a reason for him to be severed from the foundation? Yet because his faction controls the board, he is impossible to remove, and therefore continues to exert what seems to be a deliberately destabilizing influence on the health of the foundation.
Although I am not an attorney, I would think that if a corporation’s officers and board of directors are made aware of illegal activities under their control, but refuse to use their authority to stop those activities, they are in effect abetting those activities – and are therefore accessories after the fact. As such, do you think they are appropriate custodians in whom to entrust the care of such a valued public asset as Pacifica?
The fines and penalties that Pacifica might suffer due to the reckless and illegal behavior of its management would be a number with so many zeroes that it could not fit on the output screen of my calculator. It would mean the death of Pacifica. I hope your office will not stand by and allow the current management faction to wreck our foundation. I hope, as well, that if you decide to act, it will not be too late.
Stephen M Brown
Director, Pacifica National Board
When contacted about this story Rachele Huennekens, Press Secretary of the Office of Attorney General Kamala D. Harris stated “We don’t comment on any potential or ongoing investigation, as a matter of law and policy.”