|WBAI GM Berthold Reimers|
WBAI GM Berthold Reimers told station listeners on Monday (7/10) that the station will hold a rally and press conference on Thursday (7/13) at 1:00pm.
Reimers plans to announce how the station will respond to a motion for summary judgment filed by the Empire State Building (ESB).
In that motion, ESB is demanding immediate payment of $2.2 million of missed rent payments for WBAI’s antenna on the top of the building. WBAI has not paid the rent since July 2014.
The summary judgment asks for immediate payment of the amount due or ESB will seize some of our Pacifica’s assets, meaning its FCC licenses. Therefore, the debt is a problem for Pacifica’s entire national organization.
During an appearance on Michael Haskins’ morning drive program, Reimers told listeners to gather on the south side of New York’s City Hall at 12:30pm and walk together to the site of press conference.
|WBAI's Empire State Building coverage|
Reimers said he will announce on Thursday:
1. WBAI demands that ESB withdraw their motion for summary judgment.
2. Demand that ESB let WBAI out of the lease agreement and negotiate a new cheaper agreement.
3. If ESB refuses, WBAI will leave the ESB and move their transmitter and antenna to another location.
Reimers does not discuss what WBAI plans to do about the $2.2 million debt they owe ESB. It appears that Reimer’s strategy is to create a public outcry that somehow will convince ESB to drop their lawsuit and motion for an immediate judgment.
Reimers summed up his rationale:
“WBAI is being asked to pay for rights to the air, which already belongs to the people.”
You can hear an aircheck of Reimers appearance on WBAI here.
CONFUSION OVER THE ROLE OF PACIFICA’S NATIONAL OFFICE
Reimer’s muddies the situation even further by throwing Pacifica’s national office under the bus. He said the ESB lease was negotiated, and signed in 2005, by management of Pacifica Foundation, the organization that owns the five Pacifica stations. Each station operates semi-autonomously with its own Board.
Then Reimer’s backtracks and talks about an alleged resolution he negotiated with ESB in July 2014. He told WBAI listeners:
I said [to ESB] we cannot afford to pay $12,000 a month – it would force us to go bankrupt. ESB said if WBAI would make token payments, they wouldn’t take us to court of anything. It was a verbal agreement, nothing was written down or anything. It was a handshake understanding.
ESB said such an agreement was never made. Plus, ESB said Reimers was not authorized to negotiate on behalf of Pacifica’s national office because he wasn’t a member of the national organization’s Board of Directors.
Haskins opened WBAI’s one phone line for listener questions:
Listeners also pressed Reimers about related matters. One asked about WBAI’s fundraising strategies other than frequent, endless pledge drives. Reimers replied:
“We are living in New York City and there is loads of money out here. We have not received funding for some grants because we do not have a current audit to show them.”
“I think all of our paperwork is in order but sometimes in an audit you need to provide justification and it takes a while to find the documents. We don’t have enough staff to organize all that stuff. We should do that on a regular basis.”
Another listener pointed out that when the ESB/WBAI lease was signed in 2005, the WBAI staff knew fully what the cost of the lease was and agreed to pay that amount. Now WBAI is saying that the ESB took unfair advantage of WBAI.
Others said WBAI and Pacifica are in an impossible situation regarding the $2.2 million they owe. Dwayne, a WBAI listener from the Bronx said:
“ESB’s motion for summary judgment is impossible for Pacifica to defend. It is an issue of material facts. There is no doubt they owe the money.
Reimer’s had no reply.