David Janda
Josue Lopez
Evelina Molina
P.O. Box 4923
Santa Rosa, CA. 95402
October 27, 2008
Mr. Kenneth A. Konz
Inspector General
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
401 Ninth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20004-2121
Re: Minority Report Response to Special Review of Bilingual Broadcasting
Foundation, Inc. Report No. EPR803-804
Dear Mr. Konz:
This letter is in response to the Draft of the Special Review of BBFI/KBBF-FM dated July 3,
2008, the final report of the Special Review dated September 22, 2008, and the response to
your report by BBFI Board President Joseph Slali dated August 21, 2008.
Introduction
You may be aware from previous communications that the three authors of this report,
members of a community group named Voces Cruzando Fronteras (“Voces”), were seated on
the Board of Directors of BBFI by a ruling of the Honorable Mark Tansil in the case of our
lawsuit against the Foundation. A complete copy of his ruling is enclosed (Attachment 1).
The process that resulted in the lawsuit began more than two years ago, when we and other
community members perceived serious shortcomings in the ability or willingness of the
KBBF manager and the BBFI Board to follow established guidelines for CPB grant recipients
and FCC non-commercial licensees. As Voces, we were given a painfully clear view of the
BBFI’s lack of ethical standards when they unlawfully disenfranchised over 110 of our
supporters in the 2006 election. This view was repeated twice more in subsequent election
attempts that failed due to the incompetence and ill will of the incumbent group. During this
time we also witnessed many lapses that we believed endangered the integrity of the station,
but our urgent warnings went unheeded.
The most significant outcome of Judge Tansil’s order was that there be a new Board of
Directors election with serious continued involvement from him through a Court-appointed
Referee. The order also required that the incumbent Board of Directors and Voces establish
ground rules for carrying out the election, and the assignment of three plaintiffs to fill
vacancies on the Board.
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Despite the many obstructions and delays presented by the incumbent Board, the ballots are to
be counted on October 29, 2008. Although we cannot be certain of the outcome of the
election, we have reason to hope that a majority of the status quo Board will be turned out of
office and more responsible and capable members will be seated.
While much of the damage done to a fair and open election process by the incumbent Board
cannot be repaired, their more egregious actions are noticed by the Referee and appropriate
consequences applied. The decision by the Referee of October 22, 2008 (Attachment 2),
emailed to our counselor, removes the current Board President, Joseph Slali, as a candidate
for this election cycle. The “interim General Manager,” Jesus Lozano, who was identified by
Judge Tansil as “an overly sensitive troublemaker,” and by Voces as the principal instigator of
many of the problems facing KBBF, including those enumerated in the CPB Special Review
of BBFI, also opted not to run for a seat on the Board.
As a group of concerned community members, the goals of Voces have been, and continue to
be, to help the Bilingual Broadcasting Foundation to fulfill its founding principles and serve
the Latino community’s informational and educational needs, and the needs of all
communities to understand and connect with one another. We recognize that this cannot be
done if the BBFI does not meet its obligations to the various regulatory, oversight and funding
agencies that have such impact on its ability to survive, thrive and succeed.
Special Review of BBFI: A Minority Response
As we come to the end of the brief term on the BBFI Board of Directors so thoughtfully
afforded to us by Judge Tansil, we feel that we must contribute to setting the official record as
straight as we can.
In this section we will deal with those Special Review recommendations where we have some
knowledge or ability to respond. We will also comment on the responses to the Preliminary
Report submitted by Board President Joseph Slali.
General Overview
The majority of the incumbent Board of Directors has shown little interest in participating
actively in the governance of the Foundation or of the station, being content to rubber stamp
any position taken by the interim General Manager or the Board President, and consistently
opposing any proposal or suggestion by Voces or any other interested party. This has
extended to quashing discussion on any issue that the incumbents find against their interests,
and misrepresenting such information that is presented, if it serves their purposes.
One unfortunate outcome of this situation, and a cruel irony, is that most, if not all, of the
organization’s information to which the public is entitled is completely denied to them; the
public has been left out of this public radio station’s operation by the incumbent Board and
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management. A second unwelcome effect of information control is that neither the CPB
Special Review nor the response drafted by Mr. Slali were discussed in any detail by the
Board or Directors. As far as we know, the Slali response has never even been seen by the
majority of the Board, despite our clear insistence on being provided a copy before it was
submitted to the Inspector General’s office.
Therefore, as we have done with other documents, we propose to make this response available
to the general public on our website,
www.VozFuerte.info
. It will also be distributed to all
current Board members, as well as to the newly elected cadre.
In general, we concur in great part with the findings in the CPB Special Review and its
recommendations. They confirm the validity of assertions we have made about the
negligence of the majority Board. As stated earlier, it is our earnest purpose to reform the
governance of the station under the new Board, and drive toward resolving the many issues
presented in the Special Review.
A Note about Subpoena for Documents
Although some unsigned documents were included among the Exhibits in Mr. Slali’s response
to the Preliminary Report, we did not see the records you requested from the Board Secretary,
Ms. Irma Ramirez. We only obtained a copy of Mr. Slali’s response after repeated requests
and much delay, and have never been given copies of those supporting documents. We do not
know if the Secretary complied with your request since no report has been made to the
general Board.
We have a deep concern about accurately documenting the history of KBBF. The documents
listed in your subpoena are of interest to us as well. If they were provided to you we would
appreciate receiving copies.
Recommendations and Responses
Unresolved Recommendations 1) – 5)
Fundraising for public radio stations presents a well-known and severe problem: it is
compounded in the case of a station like KBBF that strives to serve a community plagued
with low incomes, poor grasp of English and U.S. cultural practices such as public
broadcasting, and high mobility. It is no surprise that the management and accounting of
funds has also been a problem for KBBF, especially in the light of few trained and
experienced resources within the station’s community of service.
Despite all this, KBBF can access resources if it chooses to do so. Voces has pointed out that
there is local help available: one of us, Josué López, also sits on the Board of Directors of
KRCB TV and FM, a well-managed public broadcast organization, which has always been
willing to lend a hand to the struggling sister radio station. This help has consistently been
refused by the current KBBF management and Board.
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Report No. EPR803-804
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In fact, the response submitted by Mr. Slali is an example of the hostility expressed by the
incumbents toward people who try to contribute. In his description of the dire financial straits
KBBF faced, he attempts to impugn the abilities and qualifications of any individual who
tried to put into practice reasonable and honest operations:
A “GM was hired who had minimal qualifications… proved inadequate to the
position… and resigned… before being terminated.” This refers to a highly
experienced union organizer who resigned in protest after being demanded by Jesus
Lozano to pay expenses that were not authorized by the Board.
Individuals who were appointed “… as officers of the Board… had self-serving
agendas that caused more harm than benefit to the Foundation…” In every case, the
unnamed individuals were vocal in their demands for accountability and adherence to
the requirements of CPB, FCC and honest accounting principles. The individual
against whom Jesus Lozano made the false accusation of having “…removed, and
never returned, several records” was in fact the person most responsible for the effort
to renew the license of KBBF. The license renewal is later cynically claimed as an
accomplishment by the incumbent Board.
In a stunning example of “double-speak”, his “Constructive Results” paragraph is a
broadside of false accusations against Voces, culminating in a charge that “To
respond to … these individuals substantial KBBF resources have been dedicated…”
The substantial resources consist of a single memo by the corporate counsel about a
single misunderstanding by Voces of the requirements of California’s Brown Act.
In his “Four Areas of Focus” section, Mr. Slali attempts yet another of the defenses of
the incompetent and irresponsible with regards to the accounting requirements of
CPB: “I didn’t know, nobody told me.” This in spite of the fact that the “IGM”
Lozano claimed in his testimony to Judge Tansil that he is a business owner and
spends at least 30 hours weekly “managing” the affairs of KBBF. It should also be
noted that Corporation Attorney Gregory Wonderwheel has worked on the local
Pacifica station’s past elections and claims noncommercial radio as his area of
expertise.
Last in this section, we note that the claim that BBFI is in negotiation with NPR and Pacifica
for the acquisition of national programming is a surprise to us. We have made repeated
requests during Board meetings to have written reports of any programming policy or grant-
seeking activities and have never received one.
Unresolved Recommendations 13) – 17)
In this group, number 13 is the most critical in the entire report, asking that CPB management
evaluate KBBF’s fitness to continue receiving CSG funding. The response offered by Mr.
Slali is telling in its lack of self-awareness: “BBFI/KBBF is unclear as what is meant by the
recommendation…” Any organization that does not have the willingness and ability to look at
itself with a positively critical eye, and amend obvious deficiencies, will not long survive.
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Voces believes that if the upcoming election results in the replacement of the complacent
contingent with individuals oriented toward responsible involvement, KBBF stands a good
chance of making a change for the better. Its place in the heart of the Latino community is
unchallenged – it remains to be seen if enough commitment can be found to restore it to
competence and integrity.
Resolved but Open Recommendations 6) – 12)
Despite Mr. Slali’s claims in many of these areas, close attention will be required to ensure
compliance, which will have to be provided by the newly elected Board members.
In Voces’ view, the shallowness of the manager’s and the current Board’s commitment to
responsible action is evident in several facts:
The suggested written policies regarding financial recordkeeping and documentation,
open meetings, and the sharing of financial information with the public have amounted
to copies taken from other organizations, in English, and distributed to only the
minority of Board members who have email. None have been translated into Spanish,
nor have any been discussed at any Board meeting, again despite repeated requests by
Voces members.
The claim that the Community Advisory Board members appointed in 2006 “never
met” is an unqualified falsehood. In fact, the majority of the people who originally
comprised Voces Cruzando Fronteras were the members of the CAB (refer to page
thirteen of OIG Special Review of BBFI-KBBF 89.1-Community Advisory Board not
Functioning – states, “However, KBBF did establish written policies governing the
operations of their CAB in 2006. Board Resolution 2006-5, titled “Establishment of
the Community Advisory Board, that outlined CAB responsibilities and appointed
eight persons to the CAB” five of those persons that were appointed to the CAB and
are also currently Voces are Evelina Molina, Alfredo Sanchez, Omar Malfavon, Jose
Gonzalez, Ellen Licht and Antonio Lara (four of these ex-CAB members are plaintiffs
in the current law suit.) After being assigned to the CAB, they met on a weekly basis
for at least three months, they attended Board meetings and made written and verbal
requests to be given time to present the results of their discussions. They requested
financial and programming policy information to use in their deliberations, all of
which were ignored by the Board and IGM Lozano. No report has ever been given of
the dissolution of the former CAB or the establishment of a new one. None of the
listed “new” CAB members are known to us. We were appointed to the Board in April
’08 before the new 2008 appointments to the CAB would have been made and
attended those meetings: none of those appointments were made in our presence.
The IPA has repeatedly made many recommendations that if followed, could have
prevented problems or improved the governance of the organization. When Board
officials and members seeking to act responsibly requested many of the same items,
they were vehemently opposed by Jesus Lozano and his supporters. They were
eventually exhausted into resigning by the unrelenting harassment and demoralizing
mistreatment.
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Conclusion
Many more of the claims made in the response to the Preliminary report can be questioned,
and as the unofficial gadfly and loyal opposition of the BBFI, Voces will continue to raise
those questions.
It is Voces’ sincere belief that open, above-board management and cooperation with
community and industry resources can bring huge improvements in the capacity of KBBF to
understand and adhere to the financial accounting requirements of CPB. Observing the
restrictions on expending grant funds is a matter of devoting time and attention to
understanding those guidelines. Observing the operational requirements expected of any CSG
grant recipient is a matter of accepting and implementing guidelines that can only result in
better contact with the community and improvements in service. However, none of this will
be possible without a manager who understands and appreciates the value of these changes. In
addition, the new Board must be closely monitored and assisted in developing and
implementing these activities.
We request that CPB management take into account the results of this Board of Directors
election when issuing a final determination on your findings. We feel that the BBFI has lost
its bearings, but we fervently hope its course can be corrected. A major change in the
composition of the Board of Directors could go a long way toward resetting the BBFI’s
direction on a path of ethical and competent operations. A new Board may be able to effect
the change implied by the Special Review’s very crucial recommendation 13), as it strives to
redesign KBBF’s management to ensure that the new “…governance structure is adequate
and sufficiently responsible to continue as a CPB grant recipient.”
Sincerely,
David Janda Director of BBFI
Josué López Director of BBFI
Evelina Molina Director of BBFI