Monday, March 24, 2014

Tracy Rosenberg's Response to Bob Lederer

Hi Bob,
I'm always leery of the "facts not fiction" posts. They almost always indicate "fiction not facts."  In my humble experience IMHO.
Since I'm in possession of Ms. Reese's resume as it was provided to the PNB personnel/ED search committee, I wonder why you consider a six month position 16 years ago as an office manager to be a "long association". I worked for a few months at Bloomingdales in New York selling hosiery in my early twenties, but I wouldn't say I had a "long association with the upscale retailer". I had a job. Used to supply very expensive pantyhose to the wife of the UN Chair at the time, Javier Perez De Cueller, who had a fondness for Dior. I also worked at Burger King for a few months in high school, but I wouldn't say I had a "long association with the corporate fast food industry". This is the kind of thing the world makes fun of Pacific for. Stretching things absurdly to try to make a predetermined in advance point. We should stop doing it. It's the opposite of our mission statement. 
It is true that Ms. Reese laid off 70% of the staff at WBAI. When you, Bob, were on the PNB, WBAI was also losing hundreds of thousands of dollars every year and people were known to observe that WBAI could not pay it's bills, yet somehow nothing was done. In 2008, Brian Edwards Tiekert even made a loud speech about how we were falling off the edge of the financial cliff, but nothing was done. Five years later, something was, and by an interim ED at that, who somehow had more courage than all the ED's and PNB's before her and admitted the obvious. Had it been done five years earlier, the severance would not have been a problem because Pacifica still had cash reserves, but 5 more years of WBAI hemorrhaging took care of that last $1.5 million dollars or so. It's a lesson for the whole organization to deal with problems when they are occurring, not after the fact, because people suffer when no action is taken until it is almost too late.
I was on the board in both 2012 and 2013 when WBAI fell behind (again) on the Empire antenna lease - (WBAI is basically always delinquent on the antenna lease - it's a question of how many months delinquent) and nothing was hidden from me. We talked about it on the finance committee in open session. WBAI's entire fund drive basically dissolved in the aftermath of the storm, and there were no funds to pay for anything. Where did you think the funds were going to come from without a fund drive? It surprises me that anyone who was awake would have felt it was a secret that WBAI could not pay for the antenna and would lose it if they did not pay for it. 
The first secret LMA proposal came from Dan Coughlin and MMM, not WFMU. Somewhat unsolicited. I can't really see why if one entity submitted an un-asked for proposal, another entity would be denied the opportunity to submit an equally un-asked for proposal. Just like a few entities regularly submit signal swap and sale proposals. That's what happens when you have a deeply troubled asset sitting around with constant newspaper stories about how you can't afford to keep it. 
Hirings and firings may seem arbitrary and maybe a few were, but those are the decisions a CEO has to make. Of the ones I remember, one involved an employee who was charging personal handbags on the company credit card in the national office, a deeply unpopular manager in DC whose program changes did incite a station civil war at WPFW, another national office employee who accidentally sent about 60 employee's social security numbers in an unencrypted email, exposing each of those people to phishing, identity theft or worse, and another employee who was running a side business doing tax returns for H&R Block on the company's computers and on company time. Sounds defensible to me, and while firing decisions are always hard to make, they come with the job. 
Chris Condon speaks for Chris Condon. Not for other people. For himself. I certainly disavow his call to violence. I think he's a hothead and he's far from alone in that on Pacifica list-servs. But when the board acts recklessly and endangers money that we all don't have (*especially WBAI*), people do get upset. It's very problematic when the board is so unhinged it can't even trouble itself to do a performance evaluation or consult with their lawyer. 
The board majority of 12 has several members salivating to swap or sell WBAI. Houston KPFT director Hank Lamb is in a virtual frenzy about it and has posted at least 100 messages on the Pacifica Radiowaves group about his eagerness to do the deal. He doesn't even want to do a lease arrangement because there's not enough money in it to pay all of Pacifica's debts. No need to be cynical. He says it all the time. As does Save KPFA stalwart Dan Siegel, now replaced on the PNB by his employee Jose-Luis Fuentes. Siegel puts forward the theory of "Organizational Darwinisn". That means some stations die so others may live. In that world, we're not all in it together. 



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