Frequently Asked Questions
If Pacifica’s boards and governance have so many problems, should we continue donating to our favorite station? A: Yes, absolutely! Your station needs donations to continue bringing programming that you can’t hear anywhere else. Our stations are doing important work for peace and justice, for the community, for people whose stories don’t get adequate attention by other broadcasters. Please continue to donate to your Pacifica station! And vote!
We’ve been running deficits for a number of years and all of our stations are still operating. Why should we worry now? A: Our growing debt has put all of our stations at serious risk. The lawsuit that Empire State Realty Trust filed, because of unpaid tower rent, put all of our stations at risk. ESRT even got a summary judgment that would have allowed them to seize assets (including equipment, transmitters, buildings) at any or all of our locations and put them up for auction to pay the judgment. We managed to settle with ESRT, but only by selling the National Office building and borrowing over $3 million. But that loan uses all of our remaining buildings as collateral. If we fail to pay back that loan with interest, our buildings will again be put at risk and some or all will probably be sold. We are also vulnerable to lawsuits from other creditors at any time, and should not continue to assume that those creditors will wait indefinitely. Some others to whom we owe money have already sued and/or demanded payment plans. We are even under investigation by the US Department of Labor for money that Pacifica owes to our employee Retirement Plan – money that should have been put in over the last 6+ years but which has not been.
Is the financial situation really that serious? Can’t we wait until we can figure out how to get more revenue? A: Yes, it’s very serious. Yet our boards are paralyzed with indecision – what to do about it (other than blaming others, and saying someone else should raise more money), and how to make things happen. Management at every station have confirmed that dysfunction on our boards has scared off major donors, and the refusal of many board members to help with fund raising (despite a Bylaws requirement for them to do so) has made it worse. We have to start getting the revenue up, and/or expenses reduced, as soon as possible, so that we can fully fund our employee Retirement Plan, pay back that $3.2 million loan, pay the $1 million (approx.) in expenses for that loan, and pay back the debt we owe to other creditors, before we have to do so by the courts. Our boards have been talking for years about doing better financially the next year, but it has not happened. All we’ve been able to do, some years, is to slow (but not reverse) the deficit spending. So the longer we wait, the worse it gets.
If those of you organizing this effort are on our boards, why can’t you fix the problems with our governance? A: We have tried – repeatedly. But we’ve found that too many board members don’t want to change (especially how our boards are constituted and how board members are chosen), do not want to accept responsibility, and won’t support removing disruptive board members or ones who refuse to help with station fund raising. Regarding Bylaws reform — the only Bylaws amendments we’ve managed to get approved are ones with relatively minor changes. Amendments with more major changes either don’t get voted on at all (as happened last year), or are not approved by our boards.
Is it time to give up? A: Definitely not! Pacifica, and our stations and programming, are needed more than ever. We have hundreds of dedicated volunteers at each station doing wonderful work. The Pacifica mission must survive. We need to make sure that Pacifica will be there for future generations. But our current governance does not have to stay the same, especially as it’s interfering so much with our mission. It’s time for change, not giving up!