Pacifica knew this: KPFA had sent charts detailing the financial contributions of the Morning Show to the entire Pacifica National Board five weeks prior to the layoffs. The truth is, Pacifica used KPFA’s finances as a pretext to eliminate its political enemies. | READ THE STORY HERE
One of the few powers KPFA’s Local Station Board (LSB) has under the Pacifica bylaws is to interview and choose a pool of candidates for the position of permanent general manager. Pacifica’s executive director is obligated, under the bylaws, to hire from the LSB’s pool. KPFA’s board interviewed and chose 3 highly-qualified candidates and forwarded their names to Arlene Engelhardt at the beginning of March.
The response from Engelhardt? She has not hired any of them, or returned calls from KPFA’s board members. So this past weekend, LSB members felt they had no option but to pass a formal resolution asking Engelhardt to report on the matter “within one week.”Engelhardt replied immediately, saying that she “had met with the top two candidates and am seriously considering them. I will be out of town from April 11-21, returning to the office on April 23 and will finalize and announce my decision that week.” KPFA’s current manager, Andrew Phillips, was appointed as “interim” by Engelhardt over a year ago, without even posting a job description, let alone seeking input from listeners, staff, or KPFA’s elected Local Board.
At the March 3rd Local Station Board meeting, treasurer Barbara Whipperman and KPFA business manager Maria Negret reported serious problems getting documentation from Pacifica for “bill-back” expenses being passed on to KPFA. Each of the five Pacifica-owned stations, including KPFA, are obligated to pay 19.5% of their income to the network for central services. “Bill-backs” are in addition to that.
Over the past 16 months, Pacifica has been receiving and keeping funds intended for KPFA, including grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, bequests, and stock donations — ostensibly to apply toward debt KPFA owes it. Often, KPFA doesn’t find out Pacifica has accepted money on its behalf until months after the fact.
The amount of KPFA funding that Pacifica has intercepted over the last 16 months adds up to about $681,700. KPFA has also been paying bills from Pacifica “bill-backs” for legal expenses, administrative services, and the like — if you add the money KPFA has paid directly to the amount Pacifica has intercepted, the total is approximately $854,000. Here’s the problem: Pacifica’s bills to KPFA over the same period only total to $700,000.
So what happened to the $154,000 KPFA overpaid? “Well, that’s what we would like to know,” the business manager said.
Meanwhile, the bills from Pacifica have been short on detail. For instance: Pacifica charged KPFA $115,000 in legal expenses relating to “labor issues” in the past 16 months, but has provided KPFA very little documentation on what the charges are for. In past years, Pacifica shared itemized billing statements from attorneys, and KPFA’s staff were able to catch items incorrectly charged to KPFA for expenses incurred at other stations. Now, KPFA’s staff don’t even know what the station is being charged for.
“If Visa were to send you a bill in the mail and say ‘you owe $10,000,’ would you just pay it without asking what that was about?” said Negret.
Pacifica’s financial statements also show that its National Office and other parts of the network still owe KPFA $1.4 million dollars in long-term debt. | LISTEN to 3 minute clip of business manager | LISTEN to the entire board meeting: part 1, part 2, part 3