Posted by Mary Catherine Blazzard Williams, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Feb 2, 2008 at 9:22 am
Pat and Michael have been mentors and vital forces in the community for decades. As an alum of Wingspread, I am saddened that their years of service are repaid in this way. In the event that the investigators "find" any wrongdoing, the years they devoted to so many of us growing up and coming of age should not be overlooked. We all saw how they lived their lives. There was no extravagance... just hours and hours spent in the theater, directing and supporting kids.
Michael's family is in our thoughts during this time. I mourn his passing.
Posted by Bill, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2008 at 4:37 pm
Saddened. How can you believe that good people doing their job in any way caused Mr. Litfin to pass away? Has a doctor issued a statement to that effect? I understood he had serious medical problems and could have died at any time.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Feb 3, 2008 at 6:59 pm
JBG, Michael waited until the opening night of The Giver for his departure. We will never know if he was watching the kids perform from where he was, but he found strength to stay alive until the curtain call. He wanted the show to go on!
And Bill, I am saddened by the fact that Michael had to face the pain of an investigation and the closure of the theater during his final days.
He was fighting for his life and at the same time he had to be dealing with this entire mess created by who knows who.
The Police says that the City Manager is responsible for the closure of the theater, but in todays' paper the City Manager says that the police has "offered no insight into the matter."
Posted by Leon Kaplan, a resident of another community, on Feb 4, 2008 at 8:04 am
While I have not been privy to all the information surrounding the alleged “criminal activity” at the Children’s Theatre I do know this much: The only thing of which Michael, Pat, Alison, and Rich could possibly be guilty is that they stole our hearts. They have educated, nurtured, protected, and inspired generations of young people. At the same time they have also provided community leadership in helping to raise more than a million dollars of non-City dollars to expand a facility to accommodate even more children than could be served by the original theatre and to add air conditioning for the comfort of the children who sweltered under the theatre lights during the hot summers. This very same staff also turned out at 2am in the morning to save the theatre’s historic costumes when the theatre basement flooded, as well as deploying themselves immediately to the EOC, minutes after the 1989 earthquake, to lend whatever assistance they could. The true crime here seems to me to be that the reputations of these gifted, loving, creative, and selfless individuals, who have done nothing more than dedicate their lives, literally, to the children of Palo Alto, has been stolen by slander and suspicion. It is fitting to recall Marc Antony’s famous speech on the assassination of Julius Caesar:
For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel.
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar lov'd him!
This was the most unkindest cut of all;
For when the noble Caesar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors' arms,
Quite vanquish'd him: then burst his mighty
heart. . . .
William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar Act 3 scene 2
What has happened to Michael, Pat, Alison, and Rich is most assuredly the unkindest cut of all
Posted by Reality Check, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Feb 4, 2008 at 4:00 pm
For all those who have such blind faith in Michael, Pat, Allison and Rich...ignorance is bliss. Think with your minds, why would these people be put on administrative leave, yet have nothing to do with the financial crimes being investigated? Just because these people have been so helpful to the children of the theater doesn't mean at all that they have not been stealing from the theater and the city!
Please don't get me wrong, I feel sad that Michael has passed on, but I wish he could have lived longer to teach the children one more lesson. When you choose to break the law, you also choose to accept responsibility and punishment when you are caught.
Posted by Jacob, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Feb 4, 2008 at 8:38 pm
I usually read through these things and just laugh. But this comment I could not pass up. You are blaming the City of Palo Alto for a man's death? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]. People at the beloved Children's Theatre are suspected a committing crimes. The police are investigating. You see Very Sad, when someone calls the police or the police observe a crime, they do this thing called investigate. They are trained and paid to do that. That is why you and I pay taxes. We pay them to keep our families and homes safe. It is a shame that this man died and as a life time resident of Palo Alto, I am thankful for his service. But the City of Palo Alto did not cause this man's death. I am hopeful that this investigation ends soon and I would love for these people to be cleared of charges but to blame the City of Palo Alto [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff].
Posted by Pam Brewer, a resident of another community, on Feb 5, 2008 at 1:28 pm
First, I would like to send my condolences to Michael's family and those of the Palo Alto Children's theatre, as well as Pat and the staff. Michael will be deeply missed by many, many people. My son is a former participant/actor of the Children's theatre and has been in many plays there during his younger years. He was involved with the theatre from age 9 to age 18, and has come away with many wonderful memories, as well as I, that these hard working, dedicated and wonderful human beings (AKA Pat, Michael and Allison) have brought to his life. They not only taught him discipline, but how to accept rejection, be a better person, how to work hard, and at the same time have fun and make friends. He has come away from there a better person in many ways and I, as a parent, am thankful for all their countless hours and energy that they put in to teach and mentor these children. They have helped bring out the creativeness in him over the years and gave him confidence to believe in himself. Because of the Childrens' theatre, he has had many people, as well as teachers, notice and admire his work. I thank them all, as a parent who has enjoyed many years watching my son act as well as other kids grow and become better people in this world. Thanks Pat, Michael (in spirit), Allison, Rich and staff of the Children's theatre.
Posted by James T., a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Feb 5, 2008 at 9:30 pm
I understand that the theater and the staff were a great asset to our community and i am deeply saddened by the loss of Michael. My heart goes out to his family, the staff, and the children. But I question many responses on this and many other blogs. Why would we not want the police to investigate potential financial crimes of city money? If there was something that indicated that there may be "financial crimes" then as a resident I would expect them to investigate. If they didn't, i would immediately think that they were covering up something. When did we change the rules to allow some people to potentially commit crimes while others we would chastise. Don't get me wrong, I hope that they are cleared and that the investigation is done promptly, but as residents we should expect it to be thorough before they go public with conclusions about what was going on. Just don't quite understand some views.
Posted by Katie Christman, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Feb 7, 2008 at 11:19 am
To Michael's family,
We can never express to you our thankfulness to have known and worked with Michael. We know you will miss him, probably more than we will, which seems impossible.
Dear James T,
Of course we want the police to investigate. However, they have not offered sufficient cause to us, the community, to justify the investigation. I am not aware of any formal charges or court dates, but that does not mean they do not exist. Aren't charges a matter of public record? I could be wrong on this one. Everyone seems to be confused at this point, including the police, if we believe everything we read in the weekly.
I read initially in the weekly that the Friend's organization was not implicated. Now we understand that they have been included in the investigation. The curious point to me seems that no one has been cleared of suspicion, that no clear idea of what is suspected has been communicated to the public, and that the employees of the theater are not allowed to do the jobs WE ARE PAYING THEM to do.
I must contend that the likelihood of moneys being stolen is doubtful, but possible, where the likelihood of moneys being wasted is frankly impossible, given what our community has received in return.
I am hearing from the press and from word-of-mouth that of concern are STOLEN travelers checks, and the donations made to the theater for their annual garage sale.
I suspect the amount of money 'missing' is less than we are spending on the investigation, the amount of money we are paying the employees placed on leave (now we are paying them to NOT do their jobs, which is better than not paying them, but a WASTE of money since all they want to do is what they live for, to help our children.)
The reason the outcry is so loud is that a vital community service that keeps countless kids engaged and learning has been interrupted. No 'substitutes' could be found or have been offered for the staff who are on leave. The outcry is so loud because our city is suffering as a result of the course of this investigation, the lack of communication, and the failure of the police department and city manager to realize what is at stake. The impact of the children's theater on my life and on the lives of my siblings and on the lives of most of my friends and of my daughter's friends' lives is unmeasurable.
I spoke this morning with a fellow CT allum out in Pennsylvania, and he was saying was what was so amazing about Michael and the theater was the preparation for life he received; "Michael said, 'I don't expect you to be famous, and I'm not sure I even want you to, but you need to be comfortable speaking in front of people'". My friend is now a Minister and Chaplain at a college out in PA.
I want to apologize for any errors in my writings; this is an emotional and difficult time for my family and for my extended theater 'family'. But as I look around I see that we seem pretty comfortable speaking in front of people! (I actually used to be shy).