Monday, January 4, 2021

No shame

No shame

There are times that one knows what one thinks, but has no idea what to say. 

Between our November KPFA Station Board meeting and the one we had on a Saturday in late December a group of board members from the majority setup some shell non-profit and then filed a lawsuit to put KPFA into receivership.

The reason I do not know what to say is because I am at a loss for words to describe how outrageous a thing that was to do.

First and foremost, this was outrageous because it boiled down to attempted theft of a member owned radio station by a number of board members acting on their own to get their hands on the considerable value of the station, the building, and above all it’s license.  They had a non profit all set up to sweep the wealth into; a non profit controlled only by them. 

It was also outrageous because this lawsuit was a surprise to the rest of the board, the rest of the KPFA community and the Pacifica Foundation to which KPFA and the other stations belong. If they had gotten away with it, a narrow majority at one station, KPFA, would have had control of all five Pacifica stations. 

It was outrageous because they acted in the dark and struck by surprise. 

Last meeting ended with us wondering if there was even going to be a December meeting.  The only reason to hold one would be if the bylaws said that we had to re-elect board officers before the end of the calendar year.  There was no mention of an impending lawsuit wanting to take control. 

So, this meeting had an extra item added to the agenda.  The motion was to censure and remove the three board members who had sued the organization that they claim to represent.

The meeting degraded into a shouting match. When people were not shouting, they were making harsh accusations.  A few people dominated the Zoom chat with nasty comments and attacks on each other’s personal histories on all sorts of subjects not related to the problem at hand. 

I have not seen such dogmatic, sectarian infighting since I was a young leftist in Montreal in the 1970’s.

If you have not seen Monty Python, The Life of Brian, watch it. 

Friends warned me about the so-called Save KPFA faction and I should have listened. That clique added some new members and now has a new name or two, but does not seem to change much.  Before I just disagreed with their proposals.  Now I question their sense of ethics. 

At the December Local Station Board meeting we heard a lot of why they think that they are the only ones to hold the right views, but as they went on, we got nothing about why they feel that their lack of respect for the process was helping anything, or what justified them acting unilaterally like that. 

So, what do I think?  For me, filing that lawsuit is sort of like suing for custody of the kid and then thinking that you can still sleep in my bed.  How could such a thing not wreck the relationship? 

In the course of the discussion, we were given all kinds of interesting arguments that if addressed differently would have been valuable.  Worthwhile discussion should have been held BEFORE throwing such a bomb.  There were also some strong accusations made by the majority that needed more support than Trump style belligerence. 

Among other things, we were told:

·        Pacifica’s board is not democratic, so it can be ignored
·        Only their faction is doing anything for the station
·        That everyone else has “never done jack shit” for KPFA
·        That people who oppose them are part of the Workers World Party (that I don’t even know)
·        That “somebody” had to stand up for the station because nothing is being done
·        The financial crisis risks losing the whole network (if so, show us the numbers)
What did not get an answer to, was the question “what gave them the right to unilaterally do this”?
Had the situation that they consider so dire been brought to the board with supporting documentation and then the board have been asked to back such a legal action, we would be talking a different story.
Somewhere in there would have been the step where the local KPFA board would file a well-documented complaint to the national Pacifica board, who actually manage the network. 
By the way, the judge seemed to think the same thing about these guys lack of standing and lack of support for their accusations, and then summarily threw the whole receivership request out. 
The December meeting then took a long time electing board officers because discussion of the lawsuit was all over the public comments period and the election comments period.  In the end, the majority faction fell into line like Republicans and voted in officers who included a lawsuit plaintiff.
A plaintiff in the receivership suit now leads the local board of the foundation that she just sued.
We had this in Oakland for many years on the school board, where the public schools were being run with a pro privatization majority backed by a billionaire’s movement.  It is only so analogous, but it feels like we are down a similar rabbit hole. 
And now we will have to finish discussing the motion to remove the 3 board members involved next month.  I asked for a written abstract from both sides with links to supporting documentation WELL BEFORE the next meeting.  I have no idea if we will get that.  I will write the board secretary. 
So what do I say? 
I have no idea because I don’t know how to talk to people who have done a thing like that. 
What will they do next?  Who will they do it to?
We have another week to find a way to talk to each other. 
Next meeting, Jan 9th, 11 AM
Meeting ID: 986 5391 8465

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

A stressful meeting

 A stressful meeting

The weekend before Thanksgiving I attended one of the most bizarre meetings in my short 30 years living in the East Bay and being somewhat active in local politics.  

It was the KPFA radio station’s Local Station Board. 

Most of this year I focused on the Oakland school board race, so I ask to be forgiven for not keeping the fact that I was first runner up on the KPFA board election the year prior at the front of my mind.  

The fact that one can not serve at KPFA in any function and also run for office or be an elected official slipped the mind of one of the KPFA board members as he ran for Richmond City Council. 

I got a call; he was off the board, and I was on, if I was still willing to serve.  

Of course I am willing to serve.  I feel that it is important to have at least one media outlet that is not corporate or non-profit corporate and really belongs to the community.  That might sound abstract, but in practice, it is not.  This is the one radio station in our area that the private sector has no influence over.  No ads, no donations, no underwriting.  That also means that the station does not have a lot of money.  The only cash it does have is the dues we members pay.  My own contribution is something like $10 a month on automatic payments.  That makes me a member and my spot on the board is as a member representative.  Staff is also represented.  

There are some things I would like to see us do better: 
Local news. 
Investigative reporting. 
Recruitment of youth. 
Renewal of the on-air cast. 
Volunteer reporters. 
And in all these things, I think we need to expand the listener base and the membership. 

As far as I am concerned, every show currently on the air should be actively doing each and every one of these things or at least actively working to help them happen.  

Well, we certainly did not talk about any of this during our November meeting.  

What did we talk about?  A good half hour was spent discussing if the public question and comment period would be the first half hour of the meeting or the last.  Finally, I proposed that we do it the way the public was expecting that day, and TRY the other way at the upcoming meetings and then discuss how it goes.  People went along and we got back to business.  

That was unnecessarily stressful.  

There was a part of the meeting that I am not allowed to divulge.  Let’s just say that emotionally when it was over that discussion reminded me of a couple’s quarrel where both kept circling back around to where they took offense, with the original molehill built into a mountain based on “how could you” and “this obviously means” type of talk as we all ran around like Asterix and Obilix covering our heads because the sky is about to fall.  

The offended harped on for a long time but yet did not seem to feel the need to moderate their own language as they decried a member’s language in the light of what they thought it implied.  

By the time we went back to regular session, it felt like a relief.  

And then we got to the big item of the day.  The report back from the Pacifica National Board.  

Each local station board elects members to the national board, where most of the administration of the network takes place.  I think KPFA had three, but hey, this was my first meeting.  

My friend, who talked me into running for KPFA board, reported back saying that he works on keeping the antennas working and such stuff, so did not have much to say about the financial crisis affecting the network. It felt as if his work was off topic.  Infighting was on topic, but broadcasting was not.  

Then what we got was not a report; it was an editorial.  If the harsh language from before was not enough, we got dismissive descriptions of national board business saying that the national board does not know what it is doing, has no plans and we got several repeats of how KPFA is the only station to raise any money and the other 4 stations are just riding along.  

By the time the meeting was over, all I really know about the National Board is that the majority of the Local Board really does not go along with the program. 

Over the past years I had heard a lot of different things about the local board majority at KPFA, most of which I did not pay much attention to.  Now I got to see it in person and was really disappointed.  There are a couple of people in there that I have known for years and once valued as positive assets to the local progressive community.  

I do not see how any of this dynamic helps us build unity around dealing with the financial issues or gets us on the track of building a renewed, 21st century radio station that means something to the youth of the San Francisco Bay Area.  

My 70 year old buddy who talked me into getting involved has told us all, several times, that when he was growing up in the Berkeley Area, KPFA was what people tuned into in order to know what was really going on. 

KPFA is still sort of that, but we could get off our high horses and do a better job. 

Next meeting this weekend.  

Thursday, December 12, 2019

New tenant on Piedmont Ave

There is a new tenant on Piedmont Ave

He has taken over the now vacant Starbucks on the corner of 41st.
I guess that there was not that enough money to be made there
By the hour, by the square foot, per barista
Selling coffee
For Starbucks

Across the side street
Gaylord’s coffee eeks out a living
Selling coffee that Russ roasts himself
And has very young people serve to us
Behind his censored mural
Along the wall
Where some guests sit outside and smoke

When it is raining,
There are no tables on 41st street
And the new tenant in the old Starbucks
Finds his shelter almost dry
With room for his bag and bicycle

His blonde hair
Half beard
Youthful face
And obvious distress
Are all familiar to me

I’ve seen him around
He has lived on Piedmont Ave. for a while
Just not at Starbucks
On a rainy day

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

850 words about our fires that the Chronicle did not print

We should be outraged to live in a state that alternates between fires and floods and yet does so little to prevent either. 

So, now it is fire.  Again.  

My former mother in law needs to be evacuated for her health because she needs to breath air without smoke and has health concerns that she uses electricity to cope with. People died in her town in their last fire. 

Last time I wrote on this it was about a flood.  

A town where I like to catch dinner was under a few feet of water.  Many businesses were damaged, some residences too. That town has been flooded several times. 

Both the fires and the floods are made worse by bad land management coupled with ineffective building codes.  Our state’s response to these long-understood problems of fire ecology and watershed protection is the same as our nation’s response to climate change: insufficient.  

We blame climate change, we blame Trumpian budget cuts, we blame PG&E, all with some justification.  

But the bigger picture is formed with long standing inconvenient truths.  

We need to set little controlled fires to avoid larger blazes that get totally out of hand.  

The native peoples have been saying this, the forestry people have been saying this and environmental biologists have been saying this since before I was born, and I am not young.  

We need to reforest and replant a buffer distance out from all of our rivers and streams. 

When it rains it should be an opportunity, not an emergency.  Water needs to slow down in forested land as it runs off.  When you see high water that is brown with dirt, that is our topsoil washing away out of an unhealthy watershed.  We need strategically placed reforestation and wetlands to keep the water and land both healthy, let water seep back into the depleted aquifers, give us fish runs and become natural fire brakes.  And sometimes water just needs to rise, so don’t build there. 

Why do these two simple fixes not happen? 

My guess is because it requires that two powerful economic groups be regulated and pay a good share of the cost of change.  

They are the agricultural sector and the building sector.  

On the one hand, the kinds of land use zoning and building code upgrades that would turn our regular fire and flood seasons into non-emergency events will cut into profits. 

And on the other hand, those with large amounts of private property have a habit of resisting any and all kinds of regulation.  They keep us all asking why they should not be allowed to do what they want with their own land and real estate projects.  

The question deserves an answer because nobody should be regulated or restricted without due cause.  

In this case, they should not be allowed to manage lands or build buildings that easily burn, and there are places where we never should build, farm or graze cows.  In many parts of the state we have developments that were permitted directly in harms way, or in ways that make harm.  

The reason the rest of us should have a right to keep business from repetitively burning down our state is part of the same thinking that does not allow anyone near a school to build a dynamite factory. 

To be fair, if one thinks about it, a lot of us have benefited from the housing business and the farm production and have participated in the lifestyles they afford us. The fixes are simple to understand, but will have all kinds of complex local issues to deal with when put into effect. 

We will all have to help pay for the change.  

Now that the state is on fire again, let’s take a moment to think about how bad it really is.  We need to get out of denial and do as much as we can, the same way we have prepared for earthquakes.  

Of course, the technical and political part is in no way easy. We will end up moving whole communities, retrofitting homes, setting aside land and finding better use for our waste waters as we manage other difficult changes. Our old water and fire problems exist in a time of other challenges. 

In many ways climate change, fire ecology and seasonal rain patterns along with everything we need to do to get off fossil fuels add up to a serious, statewide rebuild. 

That rebuild is also a great opportunity, but we have hardly even started.  

Don Macleay,

The author has written more extensively on this subject

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Converting a 98 Moto Guzzi V11ev to all LED bulbs

Tools needed:

·        Metric Allen wrench set 
·        Philips and straight edge screwdrivers 
·        Needle nose plyers 
·        Wire cutters 
·        Razor blade

Materials needed with the links for where I found them 

left to right, tai/brake light, instrument lights, tachometer/speedometer 
illumination and turn signals, each with original and LED replacement
Note that the normal advice is to use the same color LED as the lens.  In this case all the instrument lights, headlight, tachometer - speedometer - front running lights and tail/brake lights are natural-white lights.  

The only colored LED is the amber turn signal. 

Note #2: I was able to get everything from Gregory Bender at and from Super Bright LED’s 

Mr Bender knows his motorcycles and their wires and is who I recommend first for any electrical work and parts on a Moto Guzzi.  

The Super Bright people have a wide range of parts, most of which Mr. Bender does not carry.  

LED tail and turn signal

The tail and brake lights are the easiest part.  Just change the bulbs for the equivalent LED’s. For the V11, I chose the natural white LED’s because the back fixture includes a clear window to illuminate the rear license plate.  Otherwise somewhat better brightness results come from matching the LED color to the red lens color. These are the kind that have a twist lock cylinder and two bottom tips.

Original headlight bulb
   The headlight is fairly easy.  Just note that one has to find a place for the voltage converter and that the back of the light has a round black heat sink that sits outside of the bulb mirror.  
LED headlight kit 

There was room for both inside the V11 headlight assembly.  Be careful to not place the converter or any wires in contact with the heat sink.  The wires on the kit are long enough to also mount the converter outside the headlight assembly, but there was no need on the V11.  

The front running light is also in the front headlight assembly.  It is easy to change.  Note that the LED is slightly wider than the bulb we are replacing, but fits through the hole when aligned correctly.  Gently wiggle, but DO NOT FORCE the light in.  There is a small rubber ring at the base of the light that requires a small push, but that is after the rest of the light is all the way inserted. 

The tachometer and speedometer lights also only require changing the bulbs.  This is the same bulb and LED as the front running light, so gently find the path to get the LED in without forcing it in any way.  

The six instrument lights on a v11 are high beam, turn signal, neutral, oil, generator and low fuel.  The turn signal is discussed below.  

For all the others you must change the bulbs for LED’s with the bulb on.  If the LED does not light up, take it out and reverse it.  It should light. This is because LED’s are DIODES and electricity only flows one way through them.

Do not change out the low fuel light.  Even when off, the level sensor allows enough current to flow through it that the low fuel light will always come on, even with a full tank. 

I used a straight edged screwdriver to wiggle the rubber bulb holders out, and changed them one at a time so as not to get them confused.  A bit of spit and the same screwdriver got them wiggled back into place. 

empty turn indicator socket
The turn signals are the tricky part.  

One can easily do it only half way by only swapping out the
rear bulbs for LED’s. That works, but the front bulbs and the instrument panel bulb have to stay as they are.

To make everything LED requires an electronic flasher and to change the way the dash indicator bulb works using diodes.  It is a little complicated, but not that complicated and all the materials are readily available. 

1.       Pull out the turn signal instrument light holder out and remove the bulb.  

       2.       Replace all 4 turn signal bulbs with the LED equivalents.  The V11 has amber lenses so use amber LED’s. 

Electronic and standard flashers'
       3  Replace the flasher unit with an electronic flasher.  Crimp on tabs and plug into the same connections.  Note that red is positive.  The V11 wiring harness had a red striped positive female connection.

        4   Test.  The left and right should flash when the switch is in the right  place.  If they come on and do not flash or if nothing comes on, the electronic flasher might be reversed.  (don’t forget to turn on the key)

5.       Plug the incandescent indicator bulb back in.  Normally, all 4 turn signals will flash, no matter which side the turn signal switch is clicked on.  Unplug the incandescent bulb and it should work correctly. You have now verified that the indicator bulb is connected between the two circuits. 

connecting the diode kit to indicator bulb socket
holding what is to become the ground wire      
      6.       Cut both of the bulb’s mount leads off leaving enough extra wire in both directions to strip and make connections. 

      7.       Temporarily attach the two positive sides of the diodes to the two wires that used to go to the indicator bulb socket assembly.

      8.       Temporarily attach the negative sides of the two diodes to one side of the bulb socket holder.

      9.       Now test the whole thing. Connect the other side of the bulb assembly to ground ( I ran the ground wire down to the frame), put the incandescent bulb back in again, and try both turn signals.  Now left and right should work as normal and the indicator bulb should work for both.  If the system does not work, go back and check the diode polarity and all connections.

     10.   Replace the incandescent instrument bulb with the LED with the turn signals on and flashing. Same as all other instrument bulbs, the LED will only work one way and may need to be reversed. 

     11.   Make all the connections permanent using some kind of crimp connectors.

     12.   Close the cover, check that ALL instrument lights are working correctly before screwing it down.

Notes on the optical results.

Instrument lights are much easier to see during the day, especially on clear days when the sunlight directly shines on the dash and one has sun glasses on under the helmet visor.

Part of the reason to go though the trouble for the turn signals is that one ends up with an indicator so bright that you will not miss it to remind the driver to turn the signal back off. 

The speedometer and tachometer dials are much easier to see at night, especially when driving in the city and competing with street light glare. 

Brake, tail and turn signals are much more visible to other drivers day and night. 

Headlight results are significant, especially with the high beams at night hitting reflective signs. 

Notes on the electrical circuits.

The LED’s use much less power in all cases and produce less heat. 

Such things as the headlight relay become less necessary, and now are serving less amperage (flow) than they were designed for, but this will not cause any functionally problems. 

The biggest draw for power on the bike is still the starter motor. 
Second was the headlight, but after the LED change, is probably now the horn. 

The turn signal description and advice is for an MG v11, but is the same for most motorcycles that use a normal DOT flasher that clicks and have a single bulb indicator light.  (see schematic below)

Resistors are sold to make the turn signals work on the same old flashers.  Despite the name, what they do is sit parallel to the LED lights and put MORE power through the wires so that there is enough current for the flasher to work.  When only using LED’s in the rear, the front bulbs are playing that resistor role, and the flash is a little slower.  There is really no advantage to using the resistors and they produce heat. It is no more trouble to just change the circuit.  

This is a schematic of the difference between the LED turn signals and the incandescent ones that it is replacing: