The History of PMR Printing Company

How Ken Kronberg’s firm was squeezed and squeezed by LaRouche until there was nothing left to squeeze

Factnet posting by “eaglebeak,” 05-04-2008, 06:32 AM:

Picking up where “xlcr4life” left off in his references to PMR, in his telling of the Tom Ascher story.

What Tom was “deployed” to do in the old 29th Street office was to work the mimeograph machine, etc.–before there was ever a PMR. Probably he was working the machine in the New York Regional Office–the National Office and Regional Office were both in the 29th Street building.[FN 1]

In those days our printer was an outfit in New Jersey, Vanguard Press. The owner was a sympathetic guy named Doug.[FN 2]

But of course, we ran into huge problems paying Doug, too. So some time in around 1977, PMR was founded–the founders were three people, one still in the org (“P”), whose name I will not use because this guy has had a tough enough time, and two who have since left (years ago): “M”–Martin K and “R”–Rudy N.

“P” never actually worked at PMR, but put his money into it.

(By the way, the founding of PMR had nothing to do with Ken Kronberg, who was in Detroit at the time.)

Once PMR was established, sort of, it got its own office in the 20s on the West Side in Manhattan–not far from the New York Regional Office.

By the way, when the org founded PMR, it stiffed Doug and Vanguard Press for at least 100K on back bills–a huge amount of money in those days.

PMR was not a dumping ground for burnt-out members (although its precursor in-house teeny printing operations may have been), but it was a place for more “apolitical” members. Over the years, a large number of people who have passed into history worked there–Norma S, Fred W, Sam S, etc., etc. At one point it was run by a guy called Ron [Kastner]. Later it was run by Uwe Henke/Parpart’s wife Julie.

Only some time after the founding of WorldComp did Ken Kronberg get involved in running PMR.

Ken and Molly Kronberg came back to NYC from Detroit in the fall of 1977–Molly was thrown out of the region by the chief honcho there, a character named Ken Dalto, and Ken following later that fall (thereby “deserting his post,” as the NEC put it).

Molly seems to have frequently run afoul of the leadership of the org, but interestingly, over the decades, Ken stayed with her despite the fact that she was obviously–as Molly herself told me–what his mother (an old Communist Party member) used to laughingly call “a recalcitrant cadre.”

Anyhow, the Kronbergs came back to New York in the fall of 1977. At that time, all the typesetting for the publications–books, magazines, newspapers, etc.–was being done in-house by members on shifts, in the 29th Street office.

But in 1978, Ken and Mike [Minnicino] founded WorldComp as a typesetting company with offices on Park Avenue South, the other side of town from the National and Regional Offices.

Gradually, over the years, Ken became responsible for PMR too, and long after the whole org moved to Virginia in 1985, the two companies were actually amalgamated in some way.

The people who worked at PMR and WorldComp were bright, energetic, and highly skilled (unlike the LaRouche org, Ken and Mike and the PMR people didn’t go for a business model where all the workers were burnt-out zombies, which could be very dangerous around big presses and other powerful, fast, and potentially lethal equipment).

But there was always, inside the org, a stigma attached to working at PMR or WorldComp–it meant you weren’t “political” enough….

Also, from a pretty early period, and certainly from 1985 forward, Ken’s policy was to hire outside employees—so ultimately, very few LCers worked at the companies. At PMR itself, not counting Ken, who by that time was president and owner, there were only two Labor Committee members working there–MS and DM.

One of them dropped out of the Labor Committee a number of years ago. He told Ken, but Ken never told the org; he didn’t want to get an earful about replacing the guy.

At the time of the closing of PMR, then, there was one Labor Committee member working there, plus Ken.

At WorldComp, there were about nine Labor Committee members, including Ken.

From my multiple sources there, I find that Ken did everything in his power to run these things like companies, not like Labor Cttee pseudopods.

That meant, for example, that in starkest contrast to LaRoucheCare, the employees–Labor Committee and outside employees both–had excellent medical insurance (Alliance PPO), dental insurance, etc.

That alone would have been a crime worth throwing Ken off a bridge for, in LaRouche’s eyes. The matter of health insurance has always been a vexed one for Lyn because, like the Schachtian model he’s always raving about, Lyn hates the idea of paying to sustain a bunch of relatively unproductive “useless eater” oldsters.

So to have WorldComp and PMR people with decent health care was like a thumb in the eye to Lyn.

And yet Ken did everything he could think of to keep the companies running for Lyn for years after the organization was objectively bankrupt, and therefore was bankrupting the companies too.

Not only didn’t he pay the withholding taxes in the last couple of years, thereby creating tremendous legal and financial jeopardy for himself, but he also signed personal guarantees on all equipment purchased and leased–also putting himself in financial and legal jeopardy for LaRouche.

LaRouche’s response, of course, was to turn around and stiff him, putting him in more jeopardy.

When Lyn discovered in 2006 that Ken had not been paying withholding taxes (a fact long known to the NEC, to that “special committee” Lyn had set up in fall 2004–the committee of Jeff [Steinberg], Nancy [Spannaus], Dennis [Small], and Gerry [Rose]–the one Lyn mentions in his November 2004 mail message to Ken that I posted earlier), he–Lyn–freaked.

He decided that he was going to jail. That’s when he sent in the BB twins, Bruce and Barbara, to take over the running of PMR, to beat Ken to a pulp, etc.[FN 3] Because of LaRouche’s inordinate, inveterate terror of prison.

Of course, the LaRouche connection to WorldComp/PMR is the reason that after WorldComp/PMR closed, the IRS went after various LaRouche entities for the money, including L04–LaRouche in 2004–which had to cough up a chunk of change to the IRS in summer/fall 2007.

I don’t know whether the IRS has gotten to EIR yet, or PGM, or Schiller Institute, or 21st Century, or….

Anyhow, that’s the printing story. Obviously the death of Ken, and of the companies, meant the death of printing for the org.

And now–just as the Washington Monthly editor in chief predicted when WM published Avi Klein’s article “Publish and Perish: The Mysterious Death of Lyndon LaRouche’s Printer”–it looks to me as if the death of Ken Kronberg did indeed mean the death of the org.[FN 4]

And there couldn’t be a fairer outcome than that.

Footnotes by Dennis King:

[1] This is a reference to a Factnet posting that told the sad story of Tom Ascher, a LaRouche follower who was shot during a street fight in May 1973 between the NCLC and persons associated with a Bronx drug rehabilitation program. Traumatized by his injury, and unable to continue as a street organizer, Ascher was redeployed to do menial work at the organization’s headquarters. “Eaglebeak” is disputing here the previous poster’s recollection that Ascher had been assigned to work at PMR.

[2] During the mid-1970s, I was the editor of a tenant newspaper on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that also used Vanguard as its printer. I would drive out to Vanguard’s plant in New Jersey to pick up the bundled papers hot off the presses–and would often see stacks of New Solidarity there.

[3] Emotionally, not physically.

[4] I am not yet convinced that the collapse of PMR heralds the end of the LaRouche organization. Have any of the remaining “boomers” actually quit since then? And would it matter if they did? LaRouche is now placing all his bets on the LaRouche Youth Movement–a lean and mean recruitment machine which, it seems to me, can function fairly well without most of the boomers and without a grotesque oversupply of printed matter (especially since the organization has built up an array of well-designed multimedia websites to compensate for its inability to continue its prior printing operations). And is there any hard evidence that the LYM itself is declining in size or falling apart?