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NO on PAL building wins

Original post made by PAL member, another community, on Nov 30, 2007

Well, NO on PAL building has won. Funny, not exactly democratic, I mean for all we know they were 20 people out of 600. But they got their way. Never got to test a vote.

What is their next move?

Comments (28)

Posted by Tyranny of the minority
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2007 at 10:23 am

That is the Palo Alto way--you do not have to be in the majority--you just have loud, vocal and persistent.

Also according to the PA Daily article it helps if you intimidate, yell and curse:

Web Link

Posted by Dont mislead
a resident of another community
on Nov 30, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Why didn't the Weekly cover this local story?
The Art League building is right near their offices.
I understand there were many many people opposed. Why are you saying 20? That's misleading and untrue.

Posted by PAL member
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2007 at 3:35 pm

I said 20 as in, for all we know it is 20 out of 600. I did not say it was 20 for certain. So, hardly anything untrue.

All I know is that shutting down an election as a way to stop something is not very democratic. And spreading lies about the board and developer as a method of fear is unclassy. So there might have been 100 out of 600 against, but most have them would be victims of the lies. Which brings us back to the core 6 running this, who really ought to just leave the PAL. Because they are bringing the whole place down.

I mean you won now. So where is your followup on this. Do you have a plan other than make people sick and get them to quit?

All I heard last night were more complaints. You WON. Stop complaining. Do something positive.

For simple starters with your better building plans. OK, so we get money to retrofit. Then what happens while that is happening? Where is the league? That was covered with the retrofit AND new building plan. You better be ready to answer, as we will be asking questions.

You are so good at tearing down, try building up.

Posted by Leslie McLaren
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 30, 2007 at 7:55 pm

I couldn't agree with the last writer more...I'm really appalled with the behavior of a number of these people I used to think I knew, and called friends!? Where is your concern over the effects of the nastiness on the HEALTH of others? The treatment of Carol Nast and other VOLUNTEER board members has been discusting to say the least. Staff members leaving because they feel UNSAFE? What are you thinking? You know who I am talking to....and what has gotten you into such a state that these types of behaviors are allowed? I have removed my art and myself from the league as I do not wish to have ANYTHING to do with people who think that this type of treatment of others is in any way acceptable. You should all be ashamed !!! The Board as well as the staff deserves nothing less than an apology, as well as a HUGE thank you for all of their hard work and donations of time AND money. The League deserves nothing less than well meaning folks who will work together in harmony and RESPECT. I do not have to use the vile language found in Donnasue Jacoby's letters to the editor which appear in every newspaper from Palo Alto to San Mateo, nor the rude behavior [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Carol Nast described Nancy's efforts as heroic. Nancy's committee's findings deserved to be heard and considered. Carol Nast's unfailing decorum and civility should be an example to all of you who have made the League an uncomfortable place to work or even be, she has been a teasure and I would hate to see her leave...but then..........well, who will respond to these comments of mine? Are there other members who are as saddened at this turn of events as I am? I hope so, and if so, now is the time to voice your opinion about what kind of League you want to be a part of and do something to elevate this discussion of the future of the League into an ADULT CONVERSATION with kindness and respect for those that see things differently. Robert Reich ( democrat) has commented on the vehemence now felt in our political system, but he and his dear friend Alan Simpson( very staunch tall drink of water republican) continue to have a very deep friendship while disagreeing on all things political. RESPECT is the key. May we stop the present childishness and behave as responcible adults? I certainly hope so, but until I witness or hear otherwise count me out....

Posted by Whats the backstory
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 1, 2007 at 2:31 pm

Clearly there is a lot of pain and conflict in these events that needs to be healed.
I am not an artist and not a member of the Art League, I just read the papers.
As an outsider, what I have found to be even more interesting than the conflict itself, is the Weekly's bare minimum coverage.
This story is made in heaven for a newspaper: local artists vs major developers Jim Baer and SanHill Properties. David vs Goliath and David wins! Local people vs local people. You'd think it would be Page 1 news.
But to find out what happened I had to read the Daily News. Web Link
It wasn't even on Town Square until PAL member put it on.
Also, why is the story buried here under Around Town when exploding turkeys is under Palo Alto Issues.
What's the back story with the Weekly? Do we have to go elsewhere to read about the city's biggest developer when Edgewood comes up?
These are the developers of Edgewood Plaza. Will we have to go to other sources to get the news on that one? What's the back story here.

Posted by Art-War-Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2007 at 4:28 pm

Web Link

Board Member Linda Adreveno, the human relations liaison, said
the organization's staff no longer feels comfortable working at the
league, where they have been cursed, yelled at and intimidated.

"The staff said they are afraid to work here," said Adreveno, noting
a spate of recent employee departures from the organization.

And they told us: "Art is a religion of peace" ..

Posted by Whats the backstory
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 1, 2007 at 6:46 pm

Of course bad behavior is a problem, tell us what led up to it? People don't just get rude and curse for no reason. I sure wouldn't like being cursed at, but I don't think it is as horrifying as you do. We are grownups, aren't we? Sometimes people focus on the behavior so they can avoid talking about the issues.
I only know the building was to be sold without having any place to move to. They must have assumed this was the only deal they could get. That doesn't make sense to me in the rough and tumble real estate market. But I am listening.
There has to be much more to this story, and I am waiting to hear or read about it. I mean, what was it about the deal that was so upsetting to them?

Posted by Array
editor emeritus
on Dec 1, 2007 at 7:21 pm

Hi --

The following story appeared Oct. 19 on Palo Alto Online, fairly early in the process. Those in the opposition at the time declined to be quoted by name, so we initially reported the opposition and controversy in a generic sense.

I will check on subsequent coverage on Monday.


Jay Thorwaldson
Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Friday, October 19, 2007, 3:26 PM

Pacific Art League deal finalized
Ramona Street building to be rehabbed, league will retain first floor

by Becky Trout
Palo Alto Online Staff

The Pacific Art League has inked a deal with local developer Jim Baer to purchase and rehabilitate its nearly 80-year-old Ramona Street building, a spokeswoman announced Friday.

The league will sell the three-story structure for $3.4 million to Premier Properties Management and Sand Hill Property Company, according to spokeswoman Jill Arnone with The Arnone Group.

The developers will seismically stabilize the unreinforced building -- made of hollow clay bricks -- and add accessibility and code compliance features, Arnone said.

The league will purchase a 3,250-square-foot first floor for an expanded gallery and classroom. The top two floors will be subdivided and sold as commercial condominiums, according to Arnone.

The project sparked controversy within the 600-member organization and rumors spread that the league planned to move from its downtown location.

Board Chair Carol Nast had emphasized the leadership's intention to keep the art organization downtown.

The sale would finance needed upgrades and additional gallery and classroom space for the league, Nast said.

Members will have an opportunity to vote on the deal Nov. 29.

About $2.5 million from the sale will be used to purchase a larger facility for classes and offices.

Nast and Baer could not be reached Friday.

"We are looking for a building with between 8,000 and 10,000 square feet within 10 miles of the Ramona site," a FAQ statement on the league's Web site states.

The league can remain in the building until the end of 2008 or possibly longer and will be able to return by 2010, according to the statement.

Find this article at:
Web Link

Posted by Art-War-Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2007 at 8:15 pm

Sorry .. but there is nothing in any of the stories published yet that justifies all of the screaming, hair-pulling and name calling. "What's the backstory" is correct to keep pointing this out.

There is clearly a lot of intrigue which has either been left on the editor's desk, or not seen the light-of-day yet.

Posted by An observer
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2007 at 3:35 am

Behind the scenes story? One man has protested any major change in the building for years and was asked to leave a committee due to his antagonistic behavior, an instructor has been upset with the staff about her declining enrollment, a third person has spent quite a bit of energy on all sorts of issues, sort of like a professional protester, perhaps they all found each other and with others of like minded protesting behavior, kaboom!

Posted by Whats the backstory
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 2, 2007 at 11:24 am

As an outsider I am not that interested in the people, but in the substance of the issues.
People say the public is not interested in elections. If the newspapers don't tell them what is really going on, what is there to pay attention to.
So have become more interested in why the Weekly continues to bury this interesting local story that is literally right under its nose.

Posted by Just guessing
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 2, 2007 at 12:14 pm

Maybe the Weekly was planning to buy the building from Jim Baer after it was renovated. It is just a block or two from their current office.

Posted by Art-War-Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2007 at 1:50 pm

> Maybe the Weekly was planning to buy the building
> from Jim Baer

Given the close association, political and financial, to the real estate agents and property developers enjoyed by all of the local papers, it's difficult to believe that any of these organizations would ever dig into a Jim Baer deal.

Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 2, 2007 at 3:32 pm

I am rather enjoying this cat fight. A bunch of lefty penninsula 'artists' are having a squabble. A capitalist real estate guy offers to save the day for them, and they can't stand it.

Let them stew in their own juices. Who cares?

Posted by For truth in media
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2007 at 4:04 pm

Just guessing and ArtWarObserver are on the right track.
Here is a BIG CLUE as to why the Weekly is burying the Art League story.

The Weekly is working with developer Jim Baer to construct a 3 story building at 450 Cambridge Ave. one block from California Ave. Construction may already have begun. So the enmeshing of the Weekly with this developer involves some pretty big dollar signs.

People looking for news about Edgewood Plaza where Baer and Sand Hill Properties are also the owners may have to look elsewhere for the real story, as well as about the Art League. Don’t expect the Weekly to look too closely at Jim Baer’s developments.

Posted by Fed up
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 4, 2007 at 8:47 am

I agree that there must be a significant 'back story' and it's worth pursuing, but don't dismiss unacceptable treatment of one human being toward another with a statement such as, "Of course bad behavior is a problem, tell us what led up to it? People don't just get rude and curse for no reason." Is that not akin to musing about a rape victim -- "But what was she wearing ... why was she in that part of town ... was she asking for it?..."

Pursue the back story, but don't let conspiracy theories negate the human interest. To the writer of "sure wouldn't like being cursed at, but I don't think it is as horrifying as you do. We are grownups, aren't we?" I ask, when is it horrifying enough to you. Not after one staff member's car window was shattered from pellet shot after confronting one of these people? Not after one hardworking individual was reduced to tears at the Volunteer picnic by an instructor who spends much of her teaching time ranting about not being appreciated and repeating like a mantra, "My behavior has always been above reproach." Not after two of three full-time staff resign specifically because of consistent disrespect, badgering, and
prima donna behavior culminating in profane phone messages, emails and on site tantrums? Not after the executive director is taken from the building by ambulance after collapsing? Not after the character, motivations and integrity of board members is assailed relentlessly?

There may be a back story on why the local paper does not cover the story adequately, but don't dismiss the back story at the organization. This is about a sense of entitlement. This is about a small group of vocal bullies who can't abide change and want "their art league" to stay just the same. Who are these people who think they can justify their intolerable behavior and incivility simply because they are "members?" Are they major donors? Do they volunteer on committees? Do they offer solutions or only complaints?
Do they have a reputation for general dissent and disruption? Why don't they go form their own art club sitting together grumbling about everyone else and creating mediocre art? Wouldn't last for long. These kinds of people eat their own.

Posted by For truth in media
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2007 at 11:37 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by proof or leave
a resident of Woodside
on Dec 4, 2007 at 6:10 pm

simple solution to this
personal accusations have been made towards Nast and Baer
come forward with proof, and then Nast should resign

if have no proof, then all members of the NO group should leave the Art League
Connaway Culpepper Gardner Jacobi Gordon Offenbacker Scholl Smith Tobin Vinogradova Jones

how about it, let us see your proof

if not all of you on the NO side were involved in the personal accusations then please demand same of your group who were

Posted by Leslie McLaren
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 4, 2007 at 7:57 pm

It appears that some members not involved in the 'No' protest seem to be speaking out...and some of the circumstances that have occurred are coming to light as well. I'm afraid all that has been reported is in fact true regarding the treatment of the staff. That is very good news, sad but necessary. Are there enough members who seek a peaceful organization to stop the ugliness? I suggest that those who are interested seek some answers in the PAL policies and proceedures manual, that not being available, or needing clarification, cordially submit to the board that a policy towards rejecting members who exhibit this ( harrasing) type of behavior have their membership revoked. There are civilized ways to address these difficulties, lets please utilize them. I also respectfully request that as a member and a donor, I be allowed to vote my preference regarding the future of the league. If my preference is not in the majority, fine, I will defer to the majority as is our democratic process. I do not however wish to defer to the vigilanty behavior...isn't that a not so great form of government?

Posted by Donnasue Jacobi
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 5, 2007 at 8:29 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

you have violated almost all of our bylaws
you have not followed due diligence is protecting our assets
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
you eliminate people from the email list
you created a bogus ballot tricking people into only being able to sign on the back thereby negating their vote on the front
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
refusing to accept accurate and true information from your own task force
refusing to answer questions when members call or write (I get copies of EVERYTHING)
creating bogus mailing lists to prevent the TRUTH from getting out --- but we have correct those lists from the artists that did get our letters, and they helped to passs on the emails we sent

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by For truth in media
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2007 at 10:49 am

It is noteworthy that the Weekly is only censoring the No postings and not the postings of supporters of the development.

Posted by Peter
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2007 at 1:01 pm

For truth: perhaps because the "No posters" are engaging in abusive speech, which is one of the charges against them.

That said, this whole mess is typical of organizations like this, particularly those that enlist volunteers, have instructors that have been around for a while, and students who repeat classes again and again. Some of the various factions assume they have legitimate ownership claims to the institution -- whether that's true or not -- and resist change of any kind to "their" organization.

Often people like this would rather sabatoge the future of the organization rather than allow change. They can become quite emotional.

I think that the local papers have done a good job covering the spat. I certainly felt adequately informed, and, to an outsider the arguments of the "pro" people seemed to provide a well-founded and reasonable solution to a difficult problem. Nothing I have heard from the "No" people seems convincing.

Posted by Whats the backstory
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 5, 2007 at 5:50 pm

Several things drew my attention to this conflict.
I saw the ballot and was amazed at how deceptive it was. There was only one place to sign to indicate you are a member, and that signature was under the Proxy form. It isn't hard to design a clear ballot but they managed to mush the ballot and proxy forms together. If I were a member I'd call my lawyer immediately.
The early information was that the Art League would retain ownership of the first floor after it was remodelled.
Then they said it wasn't quite the whole floor, a small part would be used for something like a small office or was it for utilities, something like that.
Now it turns out they would only get HALF of the first floor? This gets more and more interesting.
And there are secret parts of the agreement they can't divulge? in a non-profit organization??
Jim Baer and Sand Hill are well known major local developers. People in Palo Alto will most certainly want to know more.

Posted by oil
a resident of Los Altos
on Dec 6, 2007 at 9:37 am

"Now it turns out they would only get HALF of the first floor? This gets more and more interesting."

shared toilet does not add up to HALF of the first floor.

How about this for interesting. Someone stands up to the rudeness of the NO cadre. And finds the window of their car shot out. Stands up to them again, and finds the phone lines cut of the building they are all supposed to care about. That alone cost thousands to fix.

And the person who stood up? No longer there. She quit.

Posted by For truth in media
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2007 at 9:57 am

What is interesting about this story is the Weekly's determination to bury it. Again. No doubt about it anymore.
First it was located under "Around Town." Now these comments are
attached to the early story, not the more recent follow up on Dec. 5.
Web Link

Posted by Tyler Hanley
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Dec 7, 2007 at 2:29 pm

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

Sorry, but these comments have been on this thread the entire time. In response to a reader suggestion, the category was changed from Around Town to Palo Alto Issues. If you wish to post comments to the Dec. 5th story, feel free.

If the Weekly were interested in burying this story we wouldn't have opted to cover it.

Posted by Watercolor
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 8, 2007 at 12:01 pm

What most people are not aware of is one of the tactics of the NO group, or at least some of them, is a continual ongoing harassment of the staff.

Even though the building sale was cancelled they continue the harassment.

This needs to STOP RIGHT NOW.

There is a current show with sales for the holiday. The hours the store are open have been cut back and this hurts everyone. Why are the hours cut back? Because so many staff have left.

Why have they left? Because of continual harassment.

So this is a call to everyone. Go to the PAL, support the staff. Be helpful. And if you see harassment, demand that is stop.

Why are they doing this? It seems their sole goal in life is to just constantly pick on people and anything tiny thing they find wrong.

Posted by Mixed Media
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 11, 2007 at 4:52 pm

This so called Committee to Vote NO is no better than a terrorist organization. They got their pound of flesh. They badgered and intimated a board that wanted to see PAL grow and become more than just a vanity club for retirees nostalgic for the past. If you haven't been around on a regular basis you can't possibly understand the demands they have put on the staff, never bothering to set an appointment, but regularly dropping by to ask for copies of endless documents.

The one who is always in the red sweatshirt is there everyday poking around. The dog walker lurks outside. The old guy sends handwritten letters and faxes that go on and on and on. They say they want to get rid of the existing board and all professional staff.

They won. They defeated a great proposal and they're driving out a group of professionals and volunteers who gave a ton of time and money to attract new blood to PAL. What then? Will these masters of negativity step up and actually do something positive. Will they become donors? Will they bring in new significant supporters?

How will they have time? Even after their miserable victory, they are out there writing letters, visiting offices, stirring up trouble. They say they want to save PAL. I think they want to create their own little white-bread club. Maybe their big fundraising plan is to sue the current board which they are convinced are all megamillionairs just toying with PAL. They've driven out board members and executive directors before, fantasizing most recently about suing the most recent past ED and board chair. That would be consistent with their scorched earth tactics.

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