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Private eyes probing Children's Theatre case

Original post made on Mar 25, 2008

An "administrative investigation" involving private investigators -- separate from an ongoing criminal probe by police detectives -- has been launched into the actions of three Palo Alto Children's Theatre employees who are on suspensions pending the outcome of the investigations.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 25, 2008, 8:01 PM

Comments (12)

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Posted by In Utter Disbelief
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2008 at 8:13 pm

And what, pray tell, is an "administrative investigation"?

You'd think the Weakly would at least do its job and ask its "source" what this means?

What makes and "administrative investigation" different from a "criminal investigation"? Can an "administrative investigation" ever trigger a criminal investigation? If a "criminal investigation" results in an indictment, what does that do to an on-going "administrative investigation".

Will the "administrative investigation" ask questions like: "why was a high level employee of the Theater allowed to keep thousands of dollars on her desk without having to account for this money in some way?

If only residents could request the State Auditors to come to Palo Alto and do a full top-to-bottom Audit .. but the State Auditors will not respond to a referral request from citizens.

And the Santa Clara Grand Jury is useless ..

What a mess ..


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Posted by NeverTooOldForSchool
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2008 at 8:43 am

To Utter Disbelief,

The article does state what an administrative investigation looks at: whether or not any disciplinary actions should be taken against employees. Period.

"If discipline is recommended, in the form of a suspension or termination, following the investigation, all three employees would have the ability to appeal the decision within the city and then take a second appeal through an arbitration hearing.


The ultimate fate of Briggs, who is a management-level employee, not a union member, would be up to the city manager, Larkin said.


Larkin said the city is not investigating the actions of Litfin."

The reason that Mr. Litfin is not subject to the administrative investigation is he is no longer an employee of the City.

It would be foolish to discipline any employees, particularly union workers without an investigation and report on what the decision to discipline was based on.

In the meantime, all the subjects of the administrative investigation are being paid full wages and benefits. No one has jumped the gun in any way to harm these people and I believe the public is smart enough not to judge them before the facts are determined.

I think you'll find your other questions are also answered in the article. You might want to consider a basic English course at Foothill College as a refesher for your reading skills. It helped me.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Perp walk
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2008 at 9:20 am

Read today's guest "opinion" in the PA Daily News.
Talk about ham-fisted--this opinion piece , written by a member of the "children's theatre workers are saints and they NEVER could have done anything wrong and do not deserve this persecution" club--is the definition of that term

Web Link


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Posted by In Utter Disbelief,
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2008 at 9:45 am

> I think you'll find your other questions are also answered
> in the article. You might want to consider a basic English
> course at Foothill College as a refesher [sic] for
> your reading skills.

This is an issue not so much of what was said--but what was not said--in this article. What was not said is that these outside investigations typically are "privileged work product", and the City Government is under no obligation to the residents to reveal the contents of these reports. One has to only look at what amounts to "cover ups" of the Utility Scandal, or the "sand-bagging" of the City Manager's home during the Flood of '98, to understand the extent of the power the City has to suppress information about its operations to the public.

A paper could sue the City over access to the finished report; maybe they might win.. maybe they might not .. depending on the strength of their arguments. But short of such a suit--whatever this "administrative investigation" reveals will stay quite private. Basic questions like why was there no financial accountability for some of the funds in the possession of key employees of this department will not be made public by the city--unless pressed by the public. Do not look to the City Council to demand accountability, honesty or integrity from the government or its employees. They will stay as silent as the grave on this matter.

The City Council has very little power here. It is possible, that the City Council might hear some aspect of the finished report behind closed doors; however, the Council has no legal right to demand this information from the City Manager. And .. it is a felony for a City Council member to reveal contents of closed sessions to the public. Therefore by design--malfeasance, fraud and corruption on the part of government employees can pretty much be covered up by a City Government--protected by local policy/procedure and quite frequently, California State Law.

While it may be premature to allege "cover up" here, it is clear that virtually no information will be made available to the public about this matter--outside that which the city manager's office chooses to provide. Should the matter end in indictments, papers filed with the Court might shed a little light on things--unless the papers are sealed (say at the request of the Labor Unions).

It is also a little strange that all of the employees who put on suspension are not being investigated.

If suggestions for "school" are being made here--perhaps California Local/Municipal Government 101 should be suggested for those who seem to think that everything has been explained by this article.
---


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sue
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 26, 2008 at 11:04 am

"It is also a little strange that all of the employees who put on suspension are not being investigated."

All three suspended employees are being investigated.


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Posted by UtilitiesScandal
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 26, 2008 at 11:15 am

I doubt that an adminstrative investigation and the appeal process involving the City Manager will go on beyond June 30, 2008, when Frank Benest retires as City Manager.

Whether or not any Children's Theater employees need to be disciplined as the result of an administrative hearing, I suspect Benest wants to cut City staffing of the Children's Theater as part of the city budget scheduled for approval on June 9, 2008, and would like to bring the administrative hearing process to an end by that time, so the budget decision by the Council can be influenced by any decision Benest makes about the theater employees and any information Benest decides to disclose or leak to the public about the investigation.


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Posted by In Utter Disbelief,
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2008 at 11:20 am

> All three suspended employees are being investigated.

There were four employees originally put on suspension.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by response to utter/sue
a resident of another community
on Mar 26, 2008 at 12:28 pm

the "fourth" employee, died Feb 1,

"It is also a little strange that all of the employees who put on suspension are not being investigated."

If you dont know all the facts at least get informed before you ask questions. Read all the realted articles, they are not hard to find.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by In Utter Disbelief,,
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2008 at 1:02 pm

> the "fourth" employee, died Feb 1

And why shouldn't this former employee's actions also be investigated? Particularly since he was in a management position?

The facts are that this employee's actions will not be considered when this "investigation" is conducted--and his actions most assuredly should be studied and investigated.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by come on!
a resident of another community
on Mar 26, 2008 at 5:23 pm

In utter disbelief:

Do you just post on this forum to get answers to questions that you can find easily yourself?

The other employee that has since passed away was not Management. It is a waste of time and money to investigate alleged actions of someone who cannot defend themselves...get real!...and before you post here again, do your homework, this is not a Q & A forum.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by George
a resident of Southgate
on Mar 26, 2008 at 5:25 pm

The City is on fishing expedition to justify all the money they spent for nothing.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by In Utter Disbelief
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2008 at 10:08 pm

> It is a waste of time and money to investigate alleged
> actions of someone who cannot defend themselves...

Bank records, email, memos, letters, bills, storage containers, work files, letters of reprimand, work plans, memos-of-record, on-going police investigations ..

Even though this employee is dead, there is most certainly a path of paper about his activities which need to be considered prior to the closure of this investigation. Finding stolen property in a personal storage locker would be something that the police need to consider and investigate after the death of an employee. The same issues stand for "administrative investigations" too.

Getting at the truth is "getting real".


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