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Police theater probe reaches back to early '90s

Original post made on Feb 29, 2008

Leon Kaplan, who for two dozen years supervised the Palo Alto Children's Theatre operation until he retired in 2004, disclosed this week that a Palo Alto police detective and a forensic accountant flew to Texas in mid-November, unannounced, to interview him about possible financial crimes or irregularities in the theater. Questions extended back to a major theater revamping in the early 1990s.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, February 29, 2008, 6:53 AM

Comments (83)

Posted by Perp walk, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 29, 2008 at 8:35 am

Looks like the malfeasance at the Children's Theater stretches back quite a while.
Boy are the all the "friends" and "supporters" of the childrens theatre, who have been expressing outrage over the investigation , going to have egg on their faces when the staff is arrested and charged.
That is unless they knew things were not right and the "outrage" is just a cover to protect their own skins.
Let's see how deep this crime runs.


Posted by Dave, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 29, 2008 at 8:49 am

Please. Let's not jump to conclusions about guilt or innocence of any person - especially when information like this comes out piece meal. Wait until all the information is collected, sifted, and presented. More damage is done to reputations when one speculates without knowing the all the facts.


Posted by Perp walk, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 29, 2008 at 8:56 am

Dave--why not jump to conclusions? Friends of Childrens theatre have been jumping to conclusions for weeks about this--they have expressed outrage over the probe, vilified the police chief and her staff and basically claimed that no investigation in necessary since the staff are above suspicion and called the investigation a witch hunt.
It cuts both ways


Posted by Ann, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 29, 2008 at 9:34 am

"There have been 12 burglaries alone in the last week...
There have been 51 residential burglaries in Palo Alto since Jan. 1,"

How many police officers are involved in the Theatre investigation? With all the pressure from residents/theater folks/alumnus for the police speed up their investigations, has the investigation become the number one concern for the police.

The number of burglaries in Palo Alto is outrageous!!! Where is our police?


Posted by Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 29, 2008 at 10:06 am

> The number of burglaries in Palo Alto is outrageous!!!
> Where is our police?

This is true--but because of Palo Alto's prosperity--it is a magnet for thieves--from both outside the city .. and inside the city.


Posted by Lauren, a resident of another community
on Feb 29, 2008 at 10:37 am

This entire "investigation" is truly the most ridiculous I have ever heard. Is this what Palo Alto enjoys wasting their time, money, and resources on? I am ashamed of the police force and all those involved in this stupidity. Leave these people alone and allow them to continue serving the community by teaching our children the arts...if they even want to after this humiliation. These are not terrorists...they have not hurt anyone.

I am truly embarrassed to live near a community that involves themselves in such petty scandals. Find something important to do.


Posted by Fireman, a resident of another community
on Feb 29, 2008 at 10:57 am

Lauren;

Welcome to Palo Alto.. Yes it is really happenning. Has does that go? You can pick your friends but, not your ????

Just remember the Police get told what to do.. By Gary Braum?



Who, Who is calling the shots here. PAPD?? Who would that be??

Who is the head string puller in this 9 year quest???

Mr no written trail?. Frank, City Counsil??


Posted by Senor Blogger, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 29, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Maybe its time for a Citizens Review Board of Police Activities.
Mayor Klein--- Where are you?


Posted by Daniel, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 29, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Dear Perp Walk,

Did you actually read the article? Just in case you missed it, the article describes non-criminal activities which
BENEFITED the city. Where's the egg? Where's the basis of these future "arrests"?

The only thing that's criminal is the waste of tax payer money by the police on an investigation that went nowhere.




Posted by egads, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 29, 2008 at 3:53 pm

Yo Lauren

According to your logic, police investigations should only pursue terrorists and crimes where people were hurt, right?

So police should ignore home burglaries where no one is home?

They shouldn't respond when a bookkeeper's been caught embezzling a couple grand a year for 10 years (unless they're a terrorist)?

Or when someone swipes your empty parked car (again assuming hit-and-runner is no terrorist).

I've known Pat and Michael for several decades and I'd be dumbfounded if investigation turns up any mafeasance on their part. But I'm equally dumbfounded why you'd think police should disregard pursuing a case that doesn't hurt anyone or doesn't involve terrorists.

Actually when I think about it ... maybe you're onto something. Under your vision, we could cut abolish police force and solve any budgetary concerns facing the city.

Hooray - Lauen for Police Chief -whoops, my bad, we'll no longer have a police dept.


Posted by Jim H, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 1, 2008 at 3:22 am

Petty scandal? Tens of thousands of dollars is a petty scandal? Enough evidence to send a Police Officer and a forensic accountant to Texas, petty?

Enron was a "petty scandal" before the truth got out.

Let's not form opinions about individuals until we know the whole story. At the same time, let's not criticize a highly professional and educated Police Department until that entire story is in.

It sounds like something very serious has happened here. We're fortunate that we have the best in law enforcement to deal with it - and with the education and capability to do that. Can you imagine what would happen if some $25,000/year deputy in a rural county was in charge of this investigation???


Posted by Reno Bob, a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2008 at 3:33 am

Hey - I've got an idea. Send us your police, and we'll send you the team from "Reno 911". From what I've been reading here, we'll both be happy.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 1, 2008 at 8:13 am

What is the statute of limitations on the alleged crimes?


Posted by concerned-resident, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 1, 2008 at 9:50 am

I have nothing against the police investigation, but I worry about the priorities... and I would love to know how many officers are involved in this investigation... because with 12 burglaries per week occurring in Palo Alto, we definitely need to have more officers on our streets.

Did the police increased the number of officers in the investigation due to all the pressure from the community to speed up the process? Let's put pressure on the police to come up with a plan to stop this wave of burglaries.

The main problem that I see with burglaries is not the fact that they are taking our computers, iphones, or whatever else... the problem is that people can get hurt. We have been lucky so far that this 51 burglaries that happened in Palo Alto since January 1, 2008, did not have major consequences. But burglaries should be one of the main priorities of the police.


Posted by Failure-Always-Starts-At-The-Top, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2008 at 10:06 am

This mess at the Children's Theater is clearly one of asset management, accountability and a failure of general management.
From the tidbits that have been released from the police, money accountability seems to be the big issue. Given all of the equipment that a theater must use, it is not difficult to imagine that equipment theft is also being investigated.

The Chain-of-Command here is:

City Manager<-Parks-and-Recreation-Director<-Theater-Management

In a well organized municipal organization, the City Manager should be responsible for everything that goes on within the whole organization. Best organizational practices has Top Managers delegating these responsibilities to the Director level, which re-delegates down the organizational tree until all of the responsibilities are spread out to the lowest level of the organization.

To make the organization functional and accountable, checks-and-balances/firewalls need to be put in place by the City Manager (and his advisory Staff). This means audits and inspections, at the least, as well as yearly reviews of organizations. Deficiency reports are generated by the reviewers, and these reports should work their way up the chain-of-command until the City Manager is aware of the deficiencies and what mitigations are on-going at the Department levels.

Sometimes the City Manager might want to direct these mitigations, sometimes he might let the Directors/Manager do the work, and sometimes he might want to re-organize in order to better manage the assets (human and non-human) of the organizational areas under consideration.

In all likelihood, checks-and-balances (meaning internal and external audits and reviews by the line managers) have NOT been going on in the Children's Theatre (and most likely the rest of the city government too).

Certainly the dollar amounts involved in this investigation will rise to the level of "Felony Theft". The City Manager (and the line managers) long ago should have put systems in place so that these sorts of problems could not have gone on so long without be detected.
Certainly this investigation calls into question the value of the Palo Alto Auditor and the outside Auditor that should have been reviewing the cash management of the Children's Theater ($300K has been suggested in various articles). And of course, the investigation calls into question the vision of the City Managers we've had over the years, as well as the City Councils which have been (nominally) involved in "oversight" of these city government.

But this is Palo Alto .. from reading many of the comments here .. so crime is OK as long as it's "For the Children"!
---


Posted by What if, a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 1, 2008 at 10:43 am

What if after all is said done there is "No Crime" Just questions of "Red Flags" that easily can be explained.What if all this is a wash and all are innocent? Then what? Will there be a public apology? This whole thing should have been handled under the radar by the City of Palo Alto. It never should have risen to this level.


Posted by let the police do their job, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2008 at 11:03 am

> What if after all is said done there is
> "No Crime" Just questions of "Red Flags"

Then the Police Chief will have a lot to answer for. However, too much work has gone into this investigation for a "no crime" result.

The Police Chief was a member of the Utility Scandal Probe. She has a fairly good idea where the skeletons are buried in this town.


Posted by phil harmonic, a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2008 at 12:38 pm

It is so funny how you want to Demonize and Judge Guilty of a 'CRIME" the Pillars of your Community that are beyond reproach and have given their Lives to enrich the Lives of the children of your town. Perhaps reviewing the cash management is more important than viewing a Children's Theatre Play.Hey "failure-starts-at-the-top" when was the last time you attended a Children's theatre Play? Years ? Never? You have alluded to the staff stealing or committing a crime.They are innocent until proven guilty. This kind of defamation of their Character has got to stop! What a Joke. It is the City's job  to support the theatre no matter what.Quibble about some meager amounts of money when the real crime is the Keystone Cops bungling this investigation and discrediting by proxy, wasting time and money with no charges for How Long? This is your local community you are hurting!   These are the Heroes and Sheroes of Palo Alto. The ones that Keep kids off the street, give vision and inspiration to the young, provide a place "TO BE OR NOT TO BE".  What is the monetary value in giving personal inner strength to conquer any challenge in life? What is the monetary value in a kind compassionate voice telling you "it will be OK just do your best" These people  Have given freely and lovingly for years and years to their dying day. Money? Burn it You cannot buy what these people have given they are worth ten times their salaries and anbody close to the theatre knows that. You penny pincher's want control? You want obedience? Get a Dog. Do not ruin a true and real gem of the Palo Alto experience. Oops, too late you already did!!!


Posted by Why investigate the sale of old costumes?, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 1, 2008 at 12:42 pm

The PAPD paid for a detective and a forensic accountant (at least 150 hour) to fly out regarding old costumes sold? And then the detective tried to frame that into embezzlement? Sounds like a set up. As for old travelers checks still in the office, some other posters have commented that Pat and Mike couldnt find their coffee cups, the checks were probably from years old trips.

Still not really seeing the "crimes" here....


Posted by fireman, a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Hey ,How much OVERTIME $$$$$$$$$ has gone into this one???


Posted by Steve, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 1, 2008 at 1:47 pm

I sure don't see the crimes here. The REAL investigation should be why the police so lack discretion - and why on earth they were allowed to pursue this for so long.

Nine months of investigation hasn't produced anything that a DA would press charges on. It would be nice if the police would just give up, apologize and let the theatre go on! Maybe the next city manager can insist that the police investigate real crime - like the rash of burglaries that has emerged while police have been otherwise employed.


Posted by Failure-Always-Starts-At-The-Top, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2008 at 4:15 pm

> The PAPD paid for a detective and a forensic
> accountant (at least 150 hour) to fly out
> regarding old costumes sold

Not certain where this information is coming from. Did the chief of police release this via a press release, or is it an "insider leak"?

At any rate--property that belongs to the city should be disposed of according to the proper procedure. It should be the role of the management chain to define, validate, disseminate these procedures, and then monitor that the employees are abiding by the procedures.

Such procedures usually involve the permission of an appropriate/designated manager to dispose of property. The property should be surveyed, "assessed" for value, and then either sold, transferred or thrown away.

If there are no procedures along these lines--then this represents a failure in the management chain.

> regarding old costumes sold

Assuming that something along these lines turns out to be true -- then the questions follow:

1) Who authorized the disposal of the inventory?
2) Who sold the inventory?
3) What happened to the money from the sold inventory?
4) Who assessed the value of the inventory that was sold?

Point (4) is important because it would not be hard for someone to sell off inventory/equipment at pennies on the dollar if there was no one assessing the value of the inventory/equipment being sold.

> Not seeing ..

So if someone in the Children's Theater sold old costumes and pocketed the proceeds--presumably this would be OK?


> Not seeing ..

There are none so blind as they who will not see ..


Posted by SH, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Mar 1, 2008 at 4:46 pm

Finally an article that tells us something about what is going on. So, selling old costumes is "embezzlement" if it benefits Children's Theatre? Curious. I wonder who mans those sales... Wait, is it volunteers from the Friends of the Theater? You mean the city doesn't man the sales themselves.... Hmmm. Ever hear of a book sale that benefits the library? Anyone ever call that embezzlement? I mean, COME ON!

Yes, I'd say we're definitely into the "tens of thousands of dollars" on this case. It's got to cost that much in tax payer money for little trips to Texas and the salaries of the people doing the "investigating". How many wasted hours- and at what hourly rate- have been consumed by this absurdity?!

In the meanwhile, devoted Children's Theater employees have had their lives turned upside down and their integrity questioned through vile innuendo. This farce of an investigation is holding up summer plans and future shows for our kids and besmirching the reputation of our city. It is time to stop hounding these fine people and let Pat, Alison and Rich get back to the work they love, not to mention the job of healing from losing their dear friend, Michael.


Posted by Failure-Always-Starts-At-The-Top, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2008 at 6:05 pm

> Ever hear of a book sale that benefits the library?

The library routinely gives away City-owned property to the Friends. It is not clear that they have a right to do this. If we had a decent City Manager, and City Attorney, they would have set a procedure in place long ago that would have clarified the rights of the library/library staff to dispose of City property.

Best guess is they haven't.

The Friends of the Library have, however, been very good (and very visible) about recycling the proceeds of their book sales back into the library--usually in very large dollar amounts (50-100K over the past few years). These dollar amounts are so large that an amendment to the City budget has to be approved by the City Council.

The Friends claim, by the way, that the bulk of the books sold at their sales come from private donations to the Friends directly--and do not involve the City in any direct way.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 2, 2008 at 4:26 am

There is a reason for statutes of limitations - the difficulty of remembering what happened years ago.


Posted by failure starts at the top of your Head, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 2, 2008 at 7:28 am

Can't you read? You do not Know Palo Alto History. It is not about a few sold costums its about the Police Running slip shot thru the most beloved of Palo Alto Institution. Or perhaps Uptight "NEW PALO ALTANS" think the money going to the Children's Theatre is way too much and want to spend City money on the projects they want. Well if that's the case then it sure worked. You Greedy "New Palo Altans" Have effectively Broken the theatres Heart and are holding its soul for Ransom. You wear your Ignorance on your sleeve read the article quoting LEE.
1) He authorized the disposal of costumes.
2) Again Read the news and you will see the friends sold the props.
3) the money was given to your own community you greedy person
4)Who assessed your mental faculties. This one is important. You act and talk like a insider with an evil agenda. Or just want the funding curtailed. Greed and defamation shold be your name


Posted by Failure-Always-Starts-At-The-Top, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2008 at 11:26 am

> You do not Know Palo Alto History.

Palo Alto History? You must be joking!

> It is not about a few sold costums its about
> the Police Running slip shot thru the most
> beloved of Palo Alto Institution.

So far, there is no evidence of Police wrong doing. Until they finish their investigation, it is not clear that they are operating outside of their own procedures. The Palo Alto Police have no history of running "rough shod" over private (or city) organizations. So, until someone files a suit against them for whatever reasons, this would seem like another ordinary investigation--except that it involves employees of the City Government.

> Or perhaps Uptight "NEW PALO ALTANS" think
> the money going to the Children's Theatre is way too
> much and want to spend City money on the projects they want.

Perhaps you are suggesting projects like: city building refurbishments, street repair, replacement of IT equipment city-wide, periodic upgrading of parks, re-opening of the harbor, timely replacement of city vehicles, traffic calming, energy management programs, funding San Francisquito Creek repairs, re-laying of broken sidewalks that have become dangerous to pedestrians--such as the increasing number of seniors in Palo Alto?

There is little reason for $1M a year of public money being spent on this activity that is NOT open to all children--and which actually caters to a significant number of non-residents. At this point, almost 1% of the City's general fund is being spent on this activity!

The postings in this thread have been aimed at pointing out that the problems that the Palo Alto Police are currently investigating might well have been avoided if the management chain had a policy of accountability for the various departments of the city government. If such a policy had been in place, then the managers up and down the line would have had a "paper trail" to account for the dollars and "consumables"/"disposables" which were in their care.

Since the Police have not accused any one--most of those critical of this operation have stayed on the side of prudence and not blamed anyone for anything at this time. The comments in this thread are suggesting that a lack of organizational methodology has contributed to this "problem", whatever that problem might be.

The City Manager, on the other hand, is responsible for everything that goes on under the "big tent"--so he can be blamed for problems that might be uncovered at any department under his control.

> You Greedy "New Palo Altans" Have effectively
> Broken the theatres Heart and are holding
> its soul for Ransom.

Spoken like the well-oiled lines delivered by a true "thespian". But is there any substance to this claim? Or just more "sound and fury--signifying nothing" ..

If you people who claim to treasure this "institution" so much really loved it--you would long ago have found a way to take it private and then all of the issues that the Police are currently sifting through--and are being "dribbled" to the public piecemeal--would never again be in the public domain unless you chose to make them so.
If you really cared about this "institution" you would take it private, figure out what you want to do with it behind closed doors, and give plays to your hearts delight--leaving the money of the hardworking public out of your affairs.


Posted by Failure-Always-Starts-At-The-Top, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2008 at 11:27 am

> There is a reason for statutes of limitations -
> the difficulty of remembering what happened years ago.

That's why organizations should keep records to provide the necessary accountability when necessary. People's memories may fade--but paper never lies.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 2, 2008 at 1:16 pm

are there records?


Posted by OIled up thespian, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 2, 2008 at 8:00 pm

The harm is already done they have discredited the institution and will now dismantle it.


Posted by logical, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2008 at 8:08 pm

Walter,

Your points about statues of limitations are well taken, but let me add another.

So that years old actions cannot be taken as crimes when is suits a personal vendetta/political agenda...

And that certainly seems to be what's at play here.


Posted by Leah S., a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2008 at 8:58 pm

Having performed in several stage productions during the mid sixties (with very fond memories), I sincerely hope that the allegations are unfounded, and that Pat and her staff can continue to produce more superb shows.


Posted by oIled up thespian, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 2, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Don't you Undrestand these guys want to cut all funds to the theatr and the only way the could do it is to discredit the staff first then some policy wonking and shazam no Childrens theatre. Just read FSATT clearly stating the motavation for discrediting the theatr and its staff. They want it to be Privatized.


Posted by litebug, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 3, 2008 at 12:27 am

I want to make it clear that I have no dog in this fight. The closest I've come to the Children's Theatre was to take my children (in the 70s) and grandchildren (in recent years) to a few productions there. I know no one that is involved on any side of it. All I know is what I've been reading in the Weekly. Based solely on that, it seems to me that we need an investigation of the investigation. I am far removed from the whole bruhaha but am starting to smell a bad odor coming from this investigation. Learning that it goes all the way back to the early 90s has made the stink increase. Is there one or more hidden agendas at play? I, for one, sure do wonder. This outsider's take is that something sure seems "half a bubble off" about all this.


Posted by oIled up thespian, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 3, 2008 at 5:08 am

Good Morning,
This is a case of using the Police to achieve a political goal; Shuting down funds to the theatre. We all know that the Staff was and is completley innocent of any wrong doing. This political agenda is not hidden the only thing hidden is the dark soul of "failure starts at the top".This person makes no quilms about it they do not want the theatre to be funded with public money. ruin the good name of the theatre staff.
When you yes you knew all along that nothing was stolen thats why the police can not bring charges. The charges should be leveld against "Failure starts at the top". using the Police to achieve a political end. Do Not let them win!!!! Stand Up for the Childrens theatre Where it counts.Make sure the same amount of money is allocated for the theatre that it has been getting, Do not let them kill the theatre!That is their agenda.


Posted by IF THE CITY MANAGER KNEW OF THE COSTUME SALES SINCE THE 90s, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 3, 2008 at 11:57 am

Why didn't he or the departing auditor develop some retiring policy of these valuable "fabric assets" which are so important to the city that they incur a multithousand dollar investigation to investigate the PACT theatre rummage sales from years ago? Why wait until the eve of Jan 15, 2008 and shut down the theater utilizing PA police in front of the children like it was an issue of national security? Was President George W Bush in town that night?


Posted by litebug, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 3, 2008 at 12:46 pm


The Weakly should be scratching more beneath the surface of this story rather than taking as fact everything the PAPD and city officials say about it. This has gone on entirely too long. Some light needs to be shone under this rotten log so we can see the nature of the creepy crawly things hiding there. Even to an outsider this investigation is starting to look ridiculous, smells increasingly bad and looks very suspiciously like an extended fishing expedition and sustained pattern of harassment by the PAPD.

Seeing the havoc and ruin that has been caused across this country by the free market, neo Con-artists, it would not surprise me a bit if this were a plot to discredit and starve the Children's Theatre of funds. That is indeed the underhanded, scurrilous manner in which they move to achieve their hidden agendas. We've seen it played out over and over again on a national scale. These people have no use for "the commons" or the common good, and no community pride. They have no shame. They replace civic responsibility with personal greed. Many of us are hoping that the election will be a huge slap-down of this sick, selfish philosophy, which is ruining the country and may very well be ruining the Children's Theatre too.

I will defnitely be making a donation to the Children's Theatre Defense Fund, even though it will, of necessity, be modest.

When I moved here in 1970 I was told with pride how Palo Alto had been the first, or one of the first, cities in the country to have their own Children's Theatre. The Children's Library and Junior Museum/Zoo were also unique facilities which attracted us to the city and we never failed to brag about them and to feel very good about an enlightened, cultural city which would provide such things. Yes, we were happy to pay extra taxes for such amenities. That was back when Palo Alto, and the kind of people who lived here, were indeed rather special. It has become much less so. The McMansions and damnable rabbit warren housing projects seem to be populated by a different breed of resident. They seek to destroy everything that was so patiently and caringly built. They would have us auction everything off to the highest bidders (which will be corporations), plaster the buildings with corporate logos and names and be done with it. Then they can take their tax dollars and spend them for conspicuous consumption luxury items at all the upscale stores which have replaced those for regular people (which is why so much sales tax goes elsewhere). I once thought I would never want to leave Palo Alto but I increasingly feel that Palo Alto has left me.


Posted by Jacob, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 3, 2008 at 2:34 pm

I can see by what I am reading that a lot of you do not feel the police should be spending time on this suspected crime. What do you suggest they do? Should we as a community make a list of crimes the police should investigate and should not investigate? Here is a list that I think most of you would create.

1. Only investigate crime when the crime occurs with my stuff and my house.
2. Do not investigate crime when we like the people being investigated.
3. Do not investigate the crime if it costs money.
4. The community should vote to decide which crime gets investigated.

Some of you people are nuts. Let the police do their job. As I have said before, I am hoping for a positive outcome to this investigation but the police have to investigate. If the police had to fly out to another state to investigate something that occurred at your home, I am pretty sure you would not tell the police not to go.

Jacob


Posted by fireman, a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Jacob; What are you talking about.. It is not the time or investigation... or money

Its about the cover ups,about doing there jobs well,fast accurate and following the LAW.. Common sense... Drink horsie.... Drink.. and huge $$$$ overruns...


Posted by What about the 15 residential burglariies?, a resident of Professorville
on Mar 3, 2008 at 3:34 pm

To you stalwart defenders of the inquisition: Do you care how much police man hours were taken to thumb through old storage bins looking at childrens costumes? Meanwhile actual potentially life threatening crimes in the community are being committed, with no task force assigned to the burglary uprise. You must be thinking that these costumes are made of velvet and jeweled as in Natalie Portman's latest movie The Other Boleyn Girl. In the most recent performance before the closure they wore drab gray unis-would you really pay money for a size 12 of gray linen nehru coats in The Given? We are not talking consignment shop valuables here.

Put the police manhours on real crimes.


Posted by oIled up thespian, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 3, 2008 at 4:46 pm

Wake UP!! They want to kill the funds for the CHILDRENS THEATRE. First discredit the staff then remove the funding. Just open your eyes and see what has happened. Do Not let them KILL THE CHILDRENS THEATRE For pot holes


Posted by fireman, a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2008 at 6:39 pm

olled up thespian.


You should have both. You could have it all but, Frank,Gary,Russ and the rest have it all. Well they eat first.

Wasted most of the rest.

So you see there is not much left for you,the other citizens,the employee's, THE CHILDREN.


How do you think this would play if FRANK's kids were in the play??? Russ have kids. What about you Gary..


Posted by oIled up thespian, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 3, 2008 at 7:55 pm

Thank you LITEBUG We Love YOu


Posted by Katie Christman, a resident of Professorville
on Mar 3, 2008 at 11:14 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but as I understand it the costume sale
is part of the 'public-private partnership' to benefit the Children's Theater. So, they take both old costumes, and new donations, and sell them at the sale, and the money goes to the Friends fund and is used along with other donations for such things as million-dollar additions to the building, which is owned by...wait for it...
the city of Palo Alto. How is this 'pocketing' the proceeds? And whether the checks of those who buy the costumes are made to the city or to the friends, as long as the money ends up funding the theater, where is the problem? And if there were a problem, would not a simple memo fix it? Or a decision by the city council that the city would get back some portion of the sale, if absolutely necessary? Or perhaps an audit if really necessary? There certainly has been no secret about how this has worked, at any rate. And furthermore, the sale is actually a lot of work, done by volunteers (I have helped staff it more than once). Like, you know, the library sale to benefit the library.

I think it makes sense for the Friends to help fund things...so the city doesn't have to. So now that they have donated so much time and effort, and even raised money for two substantial additions to the building which they will never own, lets call it 'embezzlement'? I'm sorry, but as I understand it embezzlement is money taken by an employee...these are volunteers RAISING money. They aren't financial whizzes and may not have done their paperwork properly, but they are not city employees and don't personally benefit unless they find a cute costume for their kid for ten bucks. Waitl...if the Mayor found a cute costume for his kid and raised money for the city would that be a conflict of interest? How about if the city secretary bought a bottle of hot sauce to raise funds for the fire department at a hot dog show...in the ballroom with a candlestick!

All I can say is, they better come up with something better than tens of thousands of garage sale money over fifteen years that was raised and used as agreed...and maybe some travelers checks that were temporarily lost right when something else was stolen.

I think it is quite possible that a simple audit would have been much more in keeping with the situation, and that a criminal investigation was overkill. I guess we'll find out....some day.

Katie


Posted by Renee Deutsch, a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2008 at 3:25 am


Would everybody not willing to sign their letters with their full names please abstain from sending them. Renee.


Posted by no, a resident of Stanford
on Mar 4, 2008 at 7:29 am

no


Posted by Perp walk, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2008 at 8:01 am

Renee Deutsch--you are way out of line with your demand. Read the terms of use for this forum and learn to respect them.


Posted by SATAN, a resident of Woodside
on Mar 4, 2008 at 8:10 am

I HAVE REMOVED THE STAFF NOW I WII CUT OFF FUNDING TO YOUR LITTLE THEATRE HA, HA, HA


Posted by So Palo Alto doesn't have a police dog?, a resident of Stanford
on Mar 4, 2008 at 11:10 am

One had to be driven over from Sunnyvale to catch the burglar Monday. If you took some of the officers off the costume sniffing beat and called that investigation a day, you might be able to develop a dog team here for Palo Alto.
Which is more important?


Posted by Max Levin, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 4, 2008 at 8:04 pm

Here's the eye-catching sequence:

November 2007: Leon Kaplan, former head of Palo Alto Children's Theatre, is interviewed in Texas by a police investigator from the City of Palo Alto and a forensics accountant concerning financial improprieties at the Theatre. According to Kaplan, he is told not to discuss the case with any of the principals.

December 2007: Richard James, current head of Community Services and Leon Kaplan's successor in heading up the Children's Theatre, somewhat surprisingly announces his retirement.

January 2008: Police close the Children's Theatre due to suspicions of serious malfeasance.

I'm just saying…


Posted by The Play's The Thing, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2008 at 7:19 am

> Seeing the havoc and ruin that has been caused
> across this country by the free market,
> neo Con-artists, it would not surprise me a
> bit if this were a plot to discredit and starve
> the Children's Theatre of funds.

If the recent "Writers' Strike" (and the upcoming Actors' Strike) has left any TV writers out of work, there is more than enough melodrama and craziness in this thread alone to provide the plot and character development material for at least one good made-for-TV movie.


Posted by Take It Private, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2008 at 7:31 am

> Do Not let them KILL THE CHILDRENS
> THEATRE For pot holes

The City Charter does not authorize the use of money for entertainment. It does authorize the city to run and maintain a public road system.
It is clear from reading these posts that the people who have been gorging at the public trough for so many years have no idea what the purpose of government is--other than to fund their pet projects.

Take this operation private--then you can do anything you want with YOUR MONEY!


Posted by Keep it Public, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2008 at 10:18 am

"Take this operation private--then you can do anything you want with YOUR MONEY!"

Perfect solution, Private... why spend ANY public money supporting the children of our community. After all, they have arts programs in the public schools - oh, no, wait, we've cut funding to those, too.

This is not money for "entertainment" it is money for EDUCATION and CHILDREN and COMMUNITY (and not very much money, at that).


Posted by investigate everyone, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 5, 2008 at 10:42 am

The police obviously need to investigate the Friends of the Library as well. Something odd must be going on there.


Posted by Sunlight is Best, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2008 at 11:28 am

> The police obviously need to investigate
> the Friends of the Library as well.

Really?

The Palo Alto library provides about 5,000 books to the Friends yearly; The Friends also collect tens of thousands of other books from private sources. The Friends has open book sales, which are announced all over town. The prices for the books are clearly posted. Every one who is interested can come and buy what interests them.

The money is made available to the library through a gift, which requires a budget amendment--approved in an open council session. Some times representatives of the Friends come to one open meeting or another to present a check to a representative of the City--usually covered by cable TV.

If the Theater people had run their operation as openly and cleanly as "The Library Friends", there probably would be no investigation of this matter.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2008 at 11:30 am

I agree with Take It Private. The Children's Theater is a "nice to have," not a necessity. If everything else in the city was in perfect running order, then I wouldn't mind paying for this nicety.

From Web Link :
"According to the city's budget, the theater has 7.5 fulltime equivalent employees, with at least five fulltime staff members. The theater has been led by Patricia Briggs since 1961, with Michael Litfin as assistant director for the last 32 years. Briggs earned $104,000 and Litfin earned $103,000 in 2006, according to city records."

I mean no disrespect, and I'm sorry for Michael Litfin's tragic death, but even if the directors walked on water, $200,000 is way too much to pay to manage a children's theater. Directors of professional theater groups make less. I know an artistic director of a well-known San Francisco dance group whose salary is less than $70K -- and he doesn't have a pension plan.


Posted by Outsider, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2008 at 11:47 am

Pat

I agree with you on this one. $200k is way too much for what amounts to a couple of drama teachers, even very good ones. Politics aside, these two "wonderful" people were little more than drama teachers. You might give them fancy titles of director and assistant director, but in business terms, they were not directing anything. If they were running a department in any business sector, they would have had to be accountable. They would have had to have accurate records, particularly in areas of money in and money out plus stocktaking and management accountability. If they were not up to doing this type of work, then we should have one artistic director and one business director.

Not to blame the people, they were just not up to the task. The ones to blame are the City who hired two arty people when really they should have hired one business manager. They should then have expected the accounts to be audited properly each year and if there were problems, then heads should have rolled then.

This sounds like closing the stable door after the horses ran out. In this case, the horses ran out long ago and the stable door is so fixed open that it couldn't be closed without dismantling the whole stable.

So, whether or not there was deliberate embezzlement and whether the wonderful directors are found innocent or guilty, the management of the future theatre must be carried out in a businesslike fashion. Whether or not my tax dollars are funding this is a different debate, the fact that there was never any accountability appears to be one of the root causes.


Posted by investigate everyone, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 5, 2008 at 12:21 pm

>The money is made available to the library through a gift, which >requires a budget amendment--approved in an open council session. Some >times representatives of the Friends come to one open meeting or >another to present a check to a representative of the City--usually >covered by cable TV.

Is all the money from these sales accounted for? How many times are their books audited and by whom? If they are innocent, they (you) would have no problems in a forensic accountant looking at their (your) books.


Posted by PACT Kid, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2008 at 1:27 pm

"$200k is way too much for what amounts to a couple of drama teachers, even very good ones. Politics aside, these two "wonderful" people were little more than drama teachers."

Obviously, you have never met these wonderful people. Otherwise, you would know that they dedicated their entire lives to the thousands of Palo Alto children they taught. They not only taught us theatre, but also teamwork, responsibility, self respect...

This is not a 9 to 5 gig. Pat and Michael literally spent their entire day at the theatre, 6-7 days a week - often from early in the morning until very early the next morning - teaching and supporting us.

So, I disagree, $200K is not "way too much" for these remarkable people - it is hardly enough. Especially when you consider how many years they have each spent in service of children of this community. Pat has led this theatre for more than 45 years, and Michael served us for 32 years before his tragic and sudden death.


Posted by Outsider, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2008 at 3:36 pm

PACT Kid

I am not saying that these people did not do as you say, or that they were not as wonderful as you say, but was that their job description?

Does their job description expect them to be there for the hours you mention? Does the job description require them to be surrogate parents?

If the answer is yes, then they were probably not only underpaid, but foolish to enter the position. If the answer was no, we should ask ourselves what they were actually hired to do. If it was to teach drama, put on plays and run a theatre, then they should have been doing just that. It seems that they did well on the teaching drama and putting on plays, but running a theatre, no.

I am not saying that these are not nice, hard working people. I am saying that they were not and should not have been expected to be all things to all kids and not be accountable for their expenses. In the real world (outside the theatre) these things are important, not just important but the nuts and bolts of running anything.


Posted by PACT Kid, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2008 at 3:59 pm

No, it probably wasn't in their job description, which makes their contribution and their efforts even greater. We are lucky the city didn't find two stiffs who simply did what was listed in the job description. Instead, they found two individuals (more, if you want to include the rest of the amazing staff - some also "under investigation") who contributed an extraordinary effort into creating a program that is unique to Palo Alto and that deeply touched the lives of thousands of children.


Posted by Sethro, a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2008 at 4:34 pm

If the amount of funds raised and donated does not match the amount of funds LEGITIMATELY spent by the staff then I declare "shenanigans"!

Travelers checks are in essence the same as cash (unless reported stolen). Finding missing cash in an individual's office raises legitimate questions, as would finding missing traveler's checks.

As a child I participated in "Babes in Toyland", and the Palo Alto Police planted a marked bill in a dressing room to try to determine who had been stealing money from the children's clothing. They then searched the area and all of the children after the bait money was gone. None of the staff was searched.

Every single child was cleared in this investigation. Only the staff wasn't searched. The marked bill was never recovered.

This was never reported by the press at the time. It occurred under Ms. Brigg's watch.

Ironically, the play "Babes in Toyland" was the longest running play in the history of the Children's Theater. It was a benefit to raise funds for the medical expenses of a Palo Alto Police officer's family who's son accidently shot himself in the head with his service revolver. I believe we did 30 performances. and raised quite a bit of money.

This is not the first investigation of the Children's Theater. Just of the staff.


Posted by Outsider, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2008 at 4:47 pm

PACT Kid

You may think it was lucky that the City hired two people with no business acumen for running a City department, and for the children who went there, it was probably a good idea.

But, the City would have done a much better job of housekeeping if one of the people was a stiff (your word not mine) who did the job that was required of them and managed the City assets.

I am not against people who work hard, above and beyond the call of duty, become role models and mentors, surrogate parents, and any of the other things that these people have been acclaimed to. What I am against is putting people in a position whereby they look on their workplace their own demesne without the normal accounting practices which makes a business orderly and efficient. Arty type people running a theatre is one thing if they do it well. Running a theatre with no stocktaking, audits, recordkeeping and general end of year reports on how the money was balanced, in and out, is not on. The blame should probably go to the City official who oversaw the the theatre and allowed the state of affairs to go on for so long.


Posted by PACT Kid, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2008 at 5:07 pm

Outsider,

Once again, your understanding of the situation is insufficient. According to the article (above, in case you haven't read it yet): "each year Briggs would individually list all costumes that were to be surplused -- until she was asked by the city's purchasing department to be more general in her accounting of them."

Hmm... sounds like this "arty type" (your word, not mine) was pretty well versed in record keeping and management.


Posted by Outsider, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2008 at 5:35 pm

If costume sales comes under bookkeeping, then I agree she did a good job. I would be pretty surprised if all we were talking about was costume management.

I have read about missing travellers checks. These were missing, only to be found on an untidy desk. The person in charge of petty cash in any business has to be able to account for all petty cash (including travellers checks) which are company assets.

I have read about sloppy accounts, lost ticket sale receipts and so on. Petty cash and money lost in the office is not good bookkeeping practice.

I am not saying that anything in the way of deliberate money mishandling went on. I don't know about any of the details. What I have surmized however is a sloppiness that is inexcusable by the manager of a government department which in essence is what the theatre is. Arty people is one thing, business management is another. The City should have hired at least one of the team to be in charge of business. That is my point.

I have nothing against Pat Briggs, don't know her. I just think that her bosses should have hired someone over her to do the business thing. Their fault, not hers.


Posted by Art lover, a resident of Los Altos
on Mar 5, 2008 at 10:41 pm

If Picaso or Van Gough or Georgia Okeef were to teach at the Palo Alto Comunity Center You would say they arent worth $100k. Hell I have seen people blow more cash on their Kichen remodel.
Pony Up the Cash You Cheapskates without recognition of the Arts we are as ignorant as animals.
+Without the Arts we are as low as an ameaba.

+Withuot the Arts life is worth nothing.

+ Withou the arts The louvre would be empty,.

+Without the Arts The MOMA would be deserted.

+Without Playwrites the Royal Shakespear Company would be Silent.

+ And Silence at the MET and Carnagie Hall.

+ And what of our Talented Brilliant Children of Palo Alto? Don't they deserve Picasso? Van Gough? Georgia OKeef? Dali? Rodan? Di Vince? Shakespeare? Arther Miller? Aeschlus,Sophocles, Euripides? George Abbot? Oh I forgot you you do not know who I am talking about do you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mabe if you had spent some time at the Childrens Theatre You would


Posted by litebug, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 6, 2008 at 12:58 am

Art Lover, I'm as much of an art lover as the next person...in fact I'm an amateur artist myself... but I think that posting such an excessively long list was inconsiderate of the other users of this blog because now everyone has to scroll through all that each time one wants to read the later entries. Otherwise, I support your post.

As for Take it Private...this is the type of person I referred to as a "neo con-artist". One can easily spot these people by the way they think. This person referred to "...people who have been gorging at the public trough for so many years..." Just who are these gorging people? Oh, Look! They are actually TAXPAYERS like me, who PAID for and then USED those services!

That statement by Take it Private illustrates the way these people distort the facts. I've been living in Palo Alto since 1970 and I have paid taxes to support not only street maintenance and sewers, but also schools, libraries, community theatres, parks, and other services and facilities. Then I have used those services and facilities. This is not "feeding at the public trough"! I take personal offense at this characterization! These things were paid for, collectively, by we the people for we the people. Who do you think "the public" is? We agreed, as a community, that we wanted these things and we agreed, as citizens, to pay for them through our taxes...probably long before you came on the scene. My children are grown and gone from Palo Alto but I still can see the value of providing for other children what was provided for mine, because I believe that it is in our collective best interests for all children to thrive. If I were a neo con-artist I would instead complain about all these current children using my tax money to "feed at the public trough" by utilizing the schools and children's facilities I'm paying for, although I have no personal need for them now.

The taxes we pay to support the Children's Theatre, for example, aren't being used for entertainment as you erroneously suggest. They are being used for education and cultural development of our children. The people who buy tickets to see the productions are the ones paying for entertainment. Is this distinction not understood?

There is a desperate need for education here, with an emphasis on civics, a subject that hasn't been taught for awhile, to the great detriment of our country. We can see the result: ill-informed people with no sense of citizenship or its rights or responsibilities. For a very long time, and in many places, the people have decided to tax themselves to provide, collectively, what they could not provide individually, and for the common good...a concept totally foreign to all of those who have bought into the selfish and self-centered neo-con philosophy. And what a depressing, ugly, base and destructive belief system it is.


Posted by non theatre parent, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 6, 2008 at 5:00 am

Um, litebug, it has been pointed out previously that there are OTHER children's cultural groups, esp long-running Music nonprofits serving hundreds headquartered in PA and these are not receiving local taxpayer's money. You make it sound like PACT is the only game in town for our children's cultural enrichment.


Posted by Take It Private, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2008 at 5:36 am

And just what is a "neo-con"?

Here's a short and sweet definition:

Neoconservative – A "neocon" is more inclined than other conservatives toward vigorous government in the service of the goals of traditional morality and pro-business policies. Tends to favor a very strong foreign policy of America as well.

And a slightly longer treatment of the term --

Web Link

So .. if people in Palo Alto believe in the "goals of traditional morality" (such as honesty and integrity in local government), and that government should play a limited role in their lives --then they are "neo-cons" (at least to those inclined to sling pejorative labels at their neighbors).

Hopefully there is still room for a belief in honesty and integrity (and the other aspects of traditional morality) in our town, and folks who believe in "traditional morality" will accept this slight a compliment.


Posted by KEEP IT PUBLIC, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 6, 2008 at 6:04 am

Look I think the only solution here is to start a Grand Jury Investigation. The City Atorney and Police have put themeselves in an awkward position. Tearing the Theatre to Shreds, No Charges? Whats the Motavation? just ask take it private. Who's name should be KILL THE THEATRE


Posted by Art lover, a resident of Los Altos
on Mar 6, 2008 at 6:11 am

Soory Litebug but I think if they want to stop funding the theatre they should see what they will be missing these were just a few hundred of the most well known. Hey I dident even mention Kabuki theatre that has a rich 400 year old tradition.


Posted by Take It Private, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2008 at 6:13 am

> Look I think the only solution here is to start
> a Grand Jury Investigation

This is actually a good idea .. but the Civil Grand Jury won't touch this while there is an on-going police investigation, and there isn't any reason for a Criminal Grand Jury investigation until the police allege criminal wrong doing.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2008 at 9:35 am

To Litebug and anyone else who thinks similarly.

As a parent of non Theatre kids, I really do not mind too much that you get your theatre involvement for very little whereas I have to pay for my kids equally wholesome after school activities. I don't mind that you think that the theatre teaches them so much more than just acting when my kids get the same from their activities. I don't even mind that you appear to get free after school care for your kids almost every day of the school year.

What I do object to, is that you don't seem in the slightest bit grateful to the taxpayers of Palo Alto for this. You seem to look at it as a God given right that your children should benefit whereas the rest of us get nothing from the City for our activities. A fairer method of handling this may seem fairer to us, but you can't get it.

How about the theatre running on similar lines as any of the other local organizations. Yes, let the city provide the venue and perhaps pay for a couple of administrative and creative (yes, I mean both) staff and do the rest with volunteers, like other organizations. Then perhaps the City could donate a small amount say, $5,000 to organizations like AYSO, Little League, NJB, YBall, Bobby Sox, Babe Ruth, so that they could offer scholarships to poorer kids and help them with their equipment and running costs. Do you realise that these organizations have to rent space from the City to do their stuff? Even that costs more than what anyone imagines as we are competing against adult leagues willing to pay more.

If we could all work together benefitting all the children of Palo Alto (and getting the outside residents to pay their share), we might feel much more inclined to listen to some of the tirades about how good the theatre really is. As it stands, I feel that I am watching the old boys' network clamming up together and not the slightest appreciation of what the rest of us see so clearly.


Posted by PACT Kid, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2008 at 12:29 pm

Parent,
No need to worry about all of your tax dollars being used by the city to support children with interests that differ from your own.

From the Palo Alto City Website:
"Palo Alto has an array of recreational amenities unusual for its size, including a Junior Museum and Zoo, a Children's Theatre, and 53 tennis courts.

Soccer is increasingly popular, and the City and Stanford University partnered to build a brand new facility on the corner of page Mill Road and El Camino Real to meet the growing demand for playing fields.

Thirty-four City parks ensure lots of space for running around and working off youthful energy.

Palo Alto isn't just for jocks, however. The City organizes classes for every interest, from Architectural Design for Kids to Japanese Brush Painting to Fishing With a Ranger. Classes are open to residents and non-residents on a reservation basis.

If culture is your bag, visit the Palo Alto Art Center for top notch exhibitions and instruction. Or search out books and DVDs in one of Palo Alto City Library's five branches.

Name an activity. Swimming, boating, hiking, painting, sculpting, lawn bowling…whatever you can think of, Palo Alto provides a venue and learning opportunities. It's 26 square miles of fun."


Posted by litebug, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 6, 2008 at 3:20 pm

To Parent: Did you even READ my posts?

1. My children are long grown. They are not using any children's facilities in Palo Alto, nor is anyone in my family. And yet here I am defending and protecting these community resources. Imagine that! What a psycho-ceramic I must be!

2. I don't think God has anything to do with any of this. I don't believe in "God-given rights". I believe in Constitutional and legal rights, thank you very much.

3. The only connection we had to the C.T. when they were growing up was to attend some productions. My children were never involved in any of them. In no way did I use the C.T. for baby-sitting and after-school care. I did that myself (novel idea that). We also didn't schedule activities for every waking moment of our children's lives back then, another trend I deplore.

3. At no time have I begrudged funds for activities just because no one in my family happened to utilize them. I personally have absolutely no interest in sports yet I don't squawk about the portion of my taxes going to sports facilities...well, maybe just a little grumbling in private. ;-)

4. I have never said I objected to some arrangement between the city and supporting citizen's group(s). I do object to corporate sponsorship.

5. Certainly the most amazing thing you said is that I'm "not grateful to the taxpayers of Palo Alto for providing" it! HELLO!! I AM A TAXPAYER IN PALO ALTO AND HAVE BEEN SINCE 1970! I have been quite grateful that the citizens of Palo Alto, MYSELF INCLUDED, were enlightened and generous and caring enough, as had been those who came before us and established things like the C.T., to pay taxes for these wonderful and unique amenities, and the C.T. is just one of them.

6. Should you perhaps encourage and assist your children with increased participation in and support of these wonderful resources so you'd benefit more from them personally, rather than complaining about other people using them? ...just asking a rhetorical question.


Posted by litebug, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 6, 2008 at 3:45 pm

How long did it take to investigate and resolve the complex and international mess that was Enron, as opposed to the mysterious 15-or-so year Children's Theatre case? Just asking!

I am happy to see some others are looking at what might be done. This investigation just smells bad. It's gone on far too long, gone on in all kinds of directions, respected people have been treated with harsh, draconian measures, yet no charges, no indictments, no nothing to show for it. Some people balk at having their tax dollars go for the Children's Theatre. I, on the other hand, am balking at having my tax dollars go for an endless witch-hunt and series of fishing expeditions. The PAPD should either put up or shut up.

I would like a little civics lesson from people who know (lawyers, city officials). Suppose that questions arose about the propriety and/or conduct of a city police investigation in the hypothetical city of Olap Otla, which, just coincidentally, operated under the exact same laws and rules as Palo Alto. Who would look into this? What is the mechanism/process? Is it up to the City Attorney? Is it a matter for a civilian police review board? Is it a matter for the District Attorney? Is it a matter for a Grand Jury? If so, can any citizen with "probable cause" evidence request a Grand Jury investigation? I have no idea of the answers to these questions but would like to learn what they are.

Of course, a vigorous investigative press could also do wonders but...


Posted by Take It Private, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2008 at 6:15 pm

> I don't believe in "God-given rights". I believe
> in Constitutional and legal rights, thank you very much.

From the Declaration of Independence:
Web Link

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, ---Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
---
While the US Constitution does not specifically claim that "God" is the source of our "rights", the Declaration of Independence certainly seems to leave little doubt about that fact. Given that the same crew that wrote the Declaration also was responsible for the Constitution--it's a little hard to take one without the other.

> I AM A TAXPAYER IN PALO ALTO AND HAVE BEEN SINCE 1970!

Because of Prop.13, people living in Palo Alto pay about 1/10th the property taxes that someone does who moved here after 1995.


Posted by Keep it public, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 6, 2008 at 8:42 pm

I pay more TAXES than you do! I am Richer smarter and better looking too.Wake up we all pay taxes some of us have been doing so since 1963! Big deal. Waiving the Declearation in our face with some holyier than thou attitude while you new commers ruin our fair city piece by peice


Posted by Tim, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 6, 2008 at 9:28 pm

Litebug,

Or perhaps you should just be patient and in your words, "shut up." On what basis does the investigation "smell bad." What experience do you have conducting financial crimes investigations? What do you even know about the case? I can safely speculate that your answer to these questions is little or nothing, but yet you conclude that this is nothing but a witch hunt. It sounds like the PAPD is being thorough, not rushing to judgment, and trying to respect the privacy of those involved. All this in what must be a complex, difficult case to investigate. Be patient, reserve judgment either way, and let the professionals do their job.


Posted by litebug, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 6, 2008 at 11:33 pm

Take it Private: I don't intend to get into any God discussions here with you or anyone else. Nice try.

As for Prop 13: I VOTED AGAINST IT (and my own pocketbook) AT THE TIME. I thought it was a bad and unfair idea then and I still do. However, it was passed and I have benefited from it...until now, that is. When it's time to downsize, and you're under Prop 13, your options are affected. You can end up paying less mortgage and more property tax as opposed to more mortgage and less property tax, and be living in a dump (given the property values here) with the tradeoff. The other alternative is to leave the state. When your roots are here that is not an easy decision to make. Like everything else in life, it is a 2-sided coin.

Now, for Tim: I refer you to my remark about the length of the Enron investigation compared to that of the Children's Theatre investigation. Doesn't it seem somewhat ridiculous to you? It does to me. Is this case the "rocket surgery" of crime? If so, I sure look forward to seeing it on one of those real-crime TV shows some day. It should be quite absorbing. +/- 15 YEARS?? No, we wouldn't want to rush them. I hope they get it solved before everyone involved dies of old age.

I have no experience conducting investigations and never claimed to. Do you? I have no inside information of any kind and made that clear a long time ago. I said that, as an outsider, it smelled bad to me (or maybe "funny" would be a better word) and I'm sticking with that. It's just a personal opinion, that's all. I believe I'm entitled to have one. I doubt that anything I've said has in any way inhibited the investigation. Give me a break.


Posted by Tim, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 6, 2008 at 11:48 pm

Litebug,

I don't have that experience, and neither do you. All the more reason to reserve judgment. Again, you have absolutely no idea how complex this case happens to be, nor are you qualified to comment on it's length, any more than I. The fact that you're looking forward to the "real crime TV show" illustrates where you draw your perspective from. This is real life, and a real investigation, which isn't wrapped up in the confines of a one hour episode. Spare us the armchair criticism.


Posted by litebug, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 8, 2008 at 12:31 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by litebug, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 8, 2008 at 4:28 pm

It is unfortunate that there are a very few people in these Children's Theatre case discussion threads who attempt to bully, denigrate, impose a litmus test upon, or silence other participants with whom they disagree. The interesting thing is that these tactics are selectively employed. Some people are making some very strong statements, and even naming names, with no repercussions from these bully participants, while others of us have gotten slammed more than once for less. Go figure.

btw...a belated thank you to Art Lover for removing the long list. Maybe the list could be re-formatted to take less physical space. I did think you made a valid statement.


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