Thursday, November 22, 2007

WBAI IN TOTAL TURMOIL


PACIFICA ELECTION FALLOUT: More Sleaze from the J-U-C?By Anonymous

Not all is quiet on the WBAI radio front this Thanksgiving, as allegations of election manipulation, and fraud, by the Justice and Unity Coalition (J-U-C,) the dominant faction at the New York station, rise to the surface with the recent discovery of a questionable invoice this week. The invoice calls for the Pacifica station to fork over more than $5, 000.00 thousand dollars to undisclosed parties for a service not authorized by official personnel.

It caught station insiders flat-footed.The ever changing twists and turns at the New York Pacifica Radio outlet, where thousands of ballots failed to reach subscribers last week, now focus on campaign material mailed to thousands of local subscribers, that did reach potential voters. It is alleged that J-U-C members now want the station to pay for their self-serving efforts. It is a questionable and, some say, illegal request that break (s) the rules of the non-commercial station's by-laws.

Other critics say this latest twist smacks of financial skulduggery advanced by a faction hell bent on controlling a radio network. The extraordinary discovery comes on the heels of last week's disputed Local Station Board vote, where at least two thousand blank ballots failed to reach subscribers who would cast their vote in the key election. A surprise bill of over five thousand dollars was issued to the New York station's business office this week, that demanded immediate payment.

The discovery was made by Mitchel Cohen, a member of the WBAI Local Station board and, J-U-C opponent. Cohen, who along with one dozen supporters, filed a suit in Manhattan Civil Court on Monday against the network, that charges election fraud. In the second of two E-mails mailed to concerned listeners and supporters this week, Cohen admitted shock to this recent discovery and issued the following statement:

"Attached is a scanned copy of an invoice to WBAI sent via US Mail to (the) attention of the (WBAI-FM) bookkeeper Yvonne Singh, from Pacifica's mailing house, for mailing the J-U-C flyer.

"It says that 15,294 pieces were mailed for Justice & Unity Campaign. Postage used (amounted to) $5,153.24, and paid by check #1037, with an additional balance due of $1,020.00 dollars for mailing services provided payable by the end of December 2007."

Cohen is not alone in his revulsion of the highly questionable demand for money.

As WBAI officials and staff grapple with a 300 thousand dollar financial short fall from the recent Fund Raising drive, this additional demand for cash, is yet another blow to the station. Proposed salary cuts, even staff lay-offs in the coming New Year, are very real possibilities it is feared. One WBAI staff member, speaking on the condition of anonymity said, "This shit is crazy! Here we have a suspended election, a staff reshuffling, threats on jobs, down over a quarter of a million, a demoralized work force and, these bozos are asking for 6 Grand???!!! What's next?" When told of the comments by the staffer, other employees nodded in agreement. November 29th is what comes next and it now looms large.

That is the date challengers to the disputed station board elections will argue their complaint in Manhattan Civil Court. Cohen and his supporters believe WBAI's dominant J-U-C faction is trying to steal more than an election here with the disclosure of the surprising invoice. His E-mail, continued below, raised key points in the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holidays.

Cohen listed a series of concerns that include: Questions:

1) Did WBAI pay for the J-U-C mailing? (Under Network and station By-Laws that) would be illegal.

2) Is WBAI (the) fiscal sponsor for the "Association Center of New York ," which is doing business at WBAI's address?

3) Does the use of the station's premises, resources, (and) personnel by (the) "Association Center of New York" to support one faction (the J-U-C) in the elections to the Local Station Board, constitute a breach of elections rules and, a violation of the law for not-for-profit corporations?

4) Who signed the (WBAI-FM) check?

He went on to propose:

1) (That) There be an immediate investigation to determine how it occurred that $5,153.24 (dollars) was billed to WBAI for postage for the Justice & Unity Campaign mailer, and paid (for) by ( and with) WBAI Check #1037, and that a scanned copy of WBAI Check #1037 be provided to the WBAI Local Station Board (L-S-B) and Pacifica Radio Network Board (P-N-B) and (including the) California Attorney General's office immediately, and

2) Once it is discovered which WBAI personnel or Pacifica national personnel approved payment of the bill for the Justice & UnityCampaign election mailer, those persons' employment and others' involved, will be immediately terminated for cause.

3) That the WBAI LSB and Pacifica prohibit payment of the $1,020.00 balance due to K/P Corporation for "mailing services" for the Justice & Unity mailing, and specifically directs that it not be paid by WBAI or Pacifica or by any funds held or administered for others by WBAI or Pacifica, and

4) That a cart be aired 8 times daily throughout the day so that it may be heard by a broad audience stating that: "The recent Justice & Unity Campaign election flyer was not authorized by WBAI. While members do have the right to use the WBAI mailing list to contact others about the election, they do not have the right to charge the expense to WBAI, and WBAI is prohibited by law from paying for any such mailings.

An investigation is underway to determine how it occurred that the bill for the Justice & Unity election flyer was sent to WBAI, and the amount that has been paid by WBAI for this mailing. Any sums paid by WBAI for this mailing must be immediately repaid to WBAI by the Justice & Unity Campaign."

The strongly worded E-mail notice has caused another buzz among long-time supporters, most of whom remain unaware over details of the political in-fighting behind the scenes. News of the remarkable turn of events over the past six days has not made the pages of New York's main stream press. Even the tabloids have shied away from this local side of the national story while the dust settles.

As a crucial date in Manhattan Civil Court draws near, there is real concern by some at WBAI-FM, that officials inside the non-profit corporation sympathetic to the J-U-C will allow this questionable billing to stand. There are also rumblings at two of Pacifica's West Coast stations, KPFA and KPFK, respectively, that what is taking place at WBAI-FM in New York, is being duplicated there, as well.

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