WBAI LSB Meeting — August 21, 2007

The sixty third WBAI Local Station Board (LSB) meeting was held on Tuesday, August 21, 2007, at the Harlem State Office Building at 163 W. 125th Street in Manhattan. This is not an official Web page of the LSB.

This meeting began 18 minutes late.

There was a lot of haggling over the agenda at this meeting. An attempt was made to put a memo about the proposed salary cuts into the record. That memo had come from Jose Santiago, who is the Shop Steward of AFTRA the Union that represents the Paid Staff at WBAI. The faction voted that down. Later on a motion to add Mr. Santiago's memo to the budget discussion was passed after the faction got shamed a bit. They also added a statement from the Unpaid Staff Organizing Committee (sic). The faction did plug in an agenda item about solicitation practices by a LSB member. This was about a member telling people that he'd make sure that their donations to the radio station were actually delivered and that they'd be guaranteed a ballot in the coming elections, as opposed to what's happened to so many others in previous elections.

We excused some absences and then went into a public comment session. Faction sycophant Martin Attarian attacked videographer Albert Solomon for having put video of one of Attarian's wacky rants on line. Apparently Mr. Attarian doesn't understand the concept of a Public Comment session of a public meeting. If he thinks that what he's saying is true why wouldn't he welcome it being made available to a wider public? And there were 2 more public commenters and that was it.

The next meeting date was set for September 18, 2007, at 7:00 PM, even after some non-faction LSB members said that they couldn't make Tuesdays due to their work schedule and that the LSB was putting a lot of meetings on Tuesday nights.

I had again tried to amend this motion to say that if we don't have a quorum by 8:00 PM that the meeting is canceled. This way people will get there closer to 7:00 PM instead of drifting in over time. I asked that if the faction didn't like it that I'd like to hear some argument about how setting a deadline for the meeting to begin was not a good idea. The faction leader then said that we didn't have a quorum for the July 14, meeting in Newark, New Jersey and that we'd managed to get things done. In fact we didn't get anything legally done at that meeting and months later most of what was brought up at that meeting has never been “ratified.” One non-faction member noted that if the faction leader's position was valid then we should start all meetings at 7:00 PM whether we have a quorum or not. The faction voted down my amendment. A motion to have the meeting on September 19, failed.

And then we got to the subject of WBAI's budget for fiscal year 2008 (FY08).

Unfortunately, interim General Manager Robert Scott Adams was not at this meeting. There had been a number of questions people had wanted to ask him about the proposed FY08 budget.

The Treasurer then brought the LSB through the 4th draft of the proposed FY08 budget. Some of us had seen this document the night before and had seen it evolve through the Finance Committee, but most LSB members were seeing all of this for the first time.

There was some debate with the Treasurer about money that WBAI owes that doesn't show up on the budget, but which should. Of course leaving that out makes the station's financial situation look better than it really is.

The issue of the “reserve” as brought up. Pacifica's Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Lonnie Hicks had required that all stations have a one month “reserve” in their budgets in order to better meet emergencies. This “reserve” was money that was supposed to be cash in the bank at the end of the fiscal year. WBAI has always had a problem with this requirement.

LSB members talked about the amount of the reserve and whether or not we could get a waiver and could we get a waiver for all of it or only half of it. A waiver in this case means that WBAI wouldn't have to do all or part of the reserve.

Part of the issue is that with a reserve in the FY08 budget WBAI would have to cut salaries. Some of us argued that if the reserve is there for emergencies then salary cuts are an emergency and we should waive the the reserve so that we don't cause an emergency by doing it! This got talked about for a while.

The Treasurer then said that WBAI would get a fulfillment rate of just over 82%. In fact the budget projected a fulfillment rate of about 83%, which is 5% more than we've been getting.

Jamie Ross asked what WBAI's debt was as of this meeting, the Treasurer said it was about $230,000.

When I asked if there were any funerals in this budget the Treasurer got upset. But I ask this question every year. Perhaps his memory is poor. Or perhaps he knows that the faction doesn't want to be reminded of some financial irregularities of the past around funerals. In the end he said that no, there were no funerals in this budget.

The viper tongued faction operative went on an attack against AFTRA and Paid Staff for a while. The faction indulged her in this.

Some LSB members, informed by Jose Santiago's memo, noted that WBAI ought to get some money from the grants that are being acquired in its name. Some of this sparked various interruptions by that viper tongued faction operative, and some of them even taxed the Chair's tolerance. A Paid Staff LSB member said that the viper tongued faction operative didn't know what she was talking about and said, “Don't speak of what you don't know.”

The Treasurer reported that a motion he'd made at the National Finance Committee meeting regarding WBAI getting most of the money from the rental of its sideband had been considered not serious. The Treasurer also reported that there was some consideration of installing a time clock at WBAI due to concerns raised in Shop Steward Jose Santiago's memo.

The Treasurer also said that ISDN use would be looked at and that no one at WBAI was using a car service that WBAI was paying for, and that we were getting closer to having a Development Director.

Carolyn Birden made a motion that would ask the interim General Manager to respond in writing to the LSB within 2 weeks about the concerns raised in Jose Santiago's memo. There followed some complaints about faction operatives not being able to hear the motion, amendments were made, the Chair demanded that Ms. Birden write her motion out after it had been under consideration for several minutes, it as the usual attempt to stop things by gumming up the parliamentary works.

Steve Brown said that it was difficult to consider a budget without seeing a cash flow statement. The Treasurer said that Pacifica's Chief Financial Officer, Lonnie Hicks, supplies a monthly balance sheet but no cash flow.

Some faction operatives started to attack Jose Santiago, who wasn't at the meeting. The problem, from their standpoint, was that Mr. Santiago was pointing out irrefutably that WBAI was in very bad shape financially, that there were things going on which were helping to drain the radio station's finances and that these things were not being adequately addressed.

The Treasurer brought a motion that had been passed at the Finance committee meeting the night before. It was a motion that favored his faction's view that WBAI could get through the next fiscal year by some minor adjustments.

The motion called for the LSB to “provisionally” approve the budget presented at the last LSB meeting earlier in the month and say that there would be no layoffs. Of course this was just an election ploy. The faction didn't want to admit that under their majority over the past years the radio station had experienced a steady decline in its income. Not only would that allow people to question their effectiveness as members of the LSB but it might also get people to thinking that maybe their faction boss couldn't do his job.

And then the time set for public comment arrived and we went to that agenda item.

One listener said that use of cell phones for remote audio was not a good idea; she said that some of what she heard on Wake Up Call was not understandable due to the low quality of the cell phone audio.

And then we went back to the Treasurer's Report. Steve Brown raised a question about the premiums that WBAI buys for the 'thons and wondered if there were some conflicts regarding the royalties people get for them. He noted that the budgeted expense for premiums in the proposed FY08 budget was $150,000. He suggested that maybe without royalties we could cut $15,000 to $18,000 from that. He said that Gary Null had always waived his royalties when he supplied premiums to the radio station.

The Treasurer said that the budget was a tricky process with lots of feedback from the Pacifica National Office.

Faction members went on about what a good idea their motion was. I said that I couldn't vote for this budget because it was not realistic. I moved to divide the motion.

After some more questioning language was added to the Finance Committee's motion to make sure that the General Manager and the Development Director who were in on the decisions about the allocation of $10,000 for the placement of ads about WBAI in various publications.

After some questioning by Jamie Ross the Treasurer said that as of the time of the LSB meeting WBAI's deficit was $76,448.

Alex Steinberg made an amendment to the motion that the LSB recommend that WBAI Management take a 25% pay cut to prevent layoffs of Paid Staff, and that Pacifica Management be asked to take a 10% pay cut for the same purpose. Of course this amendment failed by a vote of 6 for and 8 against.

We voted on the motion and the faction voted to pass all parts of it. Some of we non-faction members voted for some parts of the motion that weren't totally awful. Click here to see the motion as passed.

After the motion was passed Jamie Ross said to the faction members who'd voted for this phony budget motion, “You should be ashamed of yourselves.”

The LSB then passed Carolyn Birden's motion which strongly urged the interim General Manager to send the LSB a written response to Jose Santiago's memo within 2 weeks by a vote of 19 for and 0 against.

And then it was almost nine thirty and we had more public comment.

A guy who'd disrupted meetings in the past said that he applauded the faction for passing a budget with no layoffs. This idiot apparently can't tell reality from fantasy, but then this is just the sort of numbnut whom the faction currently in charge counts on for support.

A listener from Long Island said that the LSB has powers and responsibilities but that the General manager has the most power and responsibility. He said that a lot of the energy was counterproductive. He pointed out that WBAI WBAI exists without a recovery plan and with the four other Pacifica stations contributing to our operating budget. He said that the majority of the LSB was a problem and we should all be working together for the station, he urged us all to overcome past animosities and work together.

Next we had a report from the LSB Radio Report Committee. There was a motion to rescind the motion that created it. This was a motion that had been passed at a previous meeting where the actual committee's motion had been replaced by a motion from that viper tongued faction operative. The reason why this had been done was that the actual committee had not been dominated by the faction currently in charge.

There was some parliamentary wrangling and a motion to postpone this item to the next meeting was made and voted down, as was a motion to table it.

A faction operative made a motion to adjourn the meeting to September 19th, and then there was a motion to adjourn till September 9th, the Chair let things get a bit out of order.

It was pointed out twice that the time for the meeting to end had been reached, the faction didn't want to, however. And then a motion was made to continue the meeting on September 5th, with the LSB Radio Report Committee being the first agenda item. This required a two thirds vote because it changed the agenda. On the first vote it failed but the Chair then voted for this motion and it passed by the addition of her vote.

And then there was a bit of chaos as people argued about what was really going to be the first agenda item at that meeting. Some thought that the FY08 budget was far more important than the LSB Radio Report Committee's agenda.

It was requested that the Chair send out draft agendas for that meeting ahead of time, she replied that she'd try but her style was “last minute.”

The meeting adjourned at 9:57 PM.

Here's the page showing the attendance at the LSB meetings.

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