Release of police-investigation reports on the Palo Alto Children's Theatre was assailed as "outrageous" Friday by the attorney representing theater Director Pat Briggs for violation of her privacy and timing immediately prior to a crucial administrative hearing on her future job status.
Briggs' attorney, Jon Parsons of Palo Alto, said city officials failed to cross out Briggs' home address and personal information when the city decided to post the 120-page report on the city's Web site.
"I think it's absolutely outrageous" that the report was posted online with Briggs' birth date and home address and during the week preceding a crucial administrative hearing on her future status with the city, Parsons said in an interview with the Weekly.
But Parsons also expressed optimism about the outcome of the process.
"I still think the city's going to do the right thing before the figurative day is over," he told the Weekly.
The hearing was held Thursday and lasted several hours, he said.
The police summary report was released in response to state Public Records Act requests from the Palo Alto Weekly and Palo Alto Daily News. Names of city employees and others who were quoted in the report were blacked out ("redacted"), but Briggs' personal information was not obscured when the report was posted on the city's Web site.
Parson's full statement, dated June 6, follows:
"Pat Briggs welcomes the apparent release by the Police Department of the transcripts of interviews underlying Sgt. Yore's May 15, 2008 report. While it is unfortunate that the Police Department continues to release these materials in a piecemeal fashion while the administrative investigation remains underway, the transcripts permit the reader to see that the damning conclusions in the Yore report are not supported by the facts. The transcripts also confirm that Pat engaged in no intentional wrongdoing.
"In addition, the transcripts underscore that Pat never improperly used City money for personal purposes. A more detailed response to the Yore report will be forthcoming soon, but the transcripts show that Yore's report is factually misleading and unreliable. For example, the report accuses Pat of misusing City money for personal purposes. We now know that none of those charges is supported by the evidence.
"* The Allegation that Pat Spent City Money on Personal Items at Bazaar del Mundo Is False
"The Yore report at page 15 (stamped 00039) states that "Briggs and Litfin used City-funded traveler's checks for personal shopping while on three separate Theater trips to Southern California." This is untrue and Yore lacks any factual basis to say this.
"The children and staff would indeed go to Bazaar del Mundo on Southern California trips, but Pat did not buy any personal items there using trip-related traveler's checks. Every witness confirms that all personal items were purchased with personal funds.
"Pat believes that she may have purchased books for the Children's Theater at a bookstore at Bazaar del Mundo. Many people will attest that Pat bought books for the Children's Theater everywhere she went, particularly collections of fairy tales, folks legends, and local stories that could be used in acting and creative drama classes.
"Pat has not been shown any documents to support Yore's claim. Because Yore states as a fact that Pat made personal purchases at Bazaar del Mundo using City traveler's checks, he should have documents to support this claim. It is time for Yore to release copies of these receipts or other documents he relies on to support this statement, so the public can know who to believe.
"* The Allegation That Pat Deposited City Traveler's Checks Into Her Personal Account Is False
"The report at page 17 (stamped 00041) states in bold-faced type: "City-issued Traveler's Checks Deposited to Briggs' Personal Account." In fact, there is no evidence that Pat deposited city-issued traveler's checks into her personal bank account. All Yore can point to is that Pat's records (the City apparently has no records) show that one (1) traveler's check deposited by Pat had a number "in close proximity " to, but different from, a City-issued travelers check into her personal account. The evidence thus shows that this one check was not a City-issued check.
"The report does not provide any description of any evidence supporting Yore's conclusion. It relies instead on Yore's statement that Pat admitted "the traveler's checks she deposited were the result of her paying herself back (for expenses she paid while on the trips)." What that transcript says at pages 208-209 is garbled and largely unintelligible. It does not, however, support Yore's assertion that Pat deposited City-issued travelers' checks into her personal account. The public may now confirm for itself hat Yore's report does not accurately reflect the transcripts.
"* Pat Deposited City Warrants Into Her Personal Account To Obtain Travelers Checks for Trips Because of the Credit Union's Written Policy.
"Both the Yore report (page 6 stamped 00030) and Chief Johnson's May 5, 2008 press release try to make much of the fact that before Pat obtained traveler's checks for trips, she would deposit the City check (called a warrant) into her personal account at the Credit Union and then immediately take out traveler's checks. Pat did this because of the Credit Union's written policy that traveler's checks could not be purchased across the counter with a check, and the funds had to be taken out of the customer's account. Either the Police Department failed to obtain this Credit Union policy, or ignored it. The City checks had to be deposited before traveler's checks could be obtained. Once again, the complete record shows no misconduct on Pat's part.
"We will later have more o say on the Yore report and the Police Department's attempt to try this case in the press (after the District Attorney refused to proceed and publicly criticized the criminal investigation and work-up). For now, the community should read the transcripts that are available, see the job that Yore did in interviewing witnesses, and make their own conclusions. We believe that everyone who reads the transcripts will conclude that Pat did not engage in misconduct or intentional wrongdoing."
(Staff Writer Becky Trout can be e-mailed at email@example.com and Weekly Editor Jay Thorwaldson can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.)