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Richard James urges city 'to do what's right'

Original post made on Jul 8, 2008

After enjoying a standing ovation Monday night in honor of his 29 years with the City of Palo Alto, departing Community Services Director Richard James spoke out in defense of recently fired Children's Theatre Director Pat Briggs.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, July 8, 2008, 8:19 AM

Comments (7)

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Posted by Audit-James-Too
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2008 at 10:29 am

It's time that Richard James and Leon Kaplan be added to probe. How these two guys could have overlooked this mess for so long needs to be investigated and documented.

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 8, 2008 at 12:37 pm

I question the propriety of doing/saying this. We have processes in place, including police investigations, etc. that ought to go forward unhindered by special interests. Whether you "know" or "like" someone is irrelevant.

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Posted by Chandler
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Palo Alto is investigation ridden. The first response of the City Attorney's Office and Human Resources Department is a formal, costly investigation. No wisdom, no judgement, just legal overkill wherever possible.

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Posted by What-A-Mess!!!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2008 at 2:06 pm

> Leif Erickson — executive director of the nonprofit
> Youth Community Service, son of founding members of
> the Friends of the Palo Alto Children's Theatre
> (and husband of former auditor Sharon Erickson)

Astounding .. now we find out that the former City Auditor is linked by marriage to the "insiders" of the Children's Theater crowd ..

No wonder she was blind to what was going on there ..

It's been weeks that this matter has been in the public eye .. and just now we're finding out about this linkage between a high City Official and this mess at the Children's Theater.

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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2008 at 2:36 pm

So Richard James thinks “The fault lies in the traditions and processes set in place more than three decades ago and continued through institutional momentum."

James had 29 years to fix these “traditions and processes.” Now he urges the city to “do what’s right.”

What exactly is “right” after this long fiasco in which Briggs, Litfin, Curtis and our police department have been dragged through the mud? At this point, everyone – including council members Morton and Klein – looks guilty of something.

Although Briggs was obviously careless with money, it would have been less traumatic for her and her many admirers to let her retire. Her managers are as much to blame for the financial mess as she is.

Leif Erickson said “this incident could compound the skepticism and mistrust of government found in young people.”

Nonsense! How can government be trusted if it doesn’t hold people accountable? Young people will be best served by learning there are consequences to bad behavior. Briggs mismanaged public funds. Kids need to learn that when you have a job and you fail in an important aspect of it, you are not nominated for sainthood.

Taxpayers will be best served by having the council find out why we’ve had such sloppy financial “institutional momentum” for 30 years.

With a new city manager, now is the time to guarantee that the right policies and procedures are in place – and are being followed.

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Posted by Clean House Now
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 8, 2008 at 2:40 pm

City of Palo Alto is ONE HAPPY FAMILY. Everyone looking out for each other.

To hell with laws, rules regulations. Who cares !
Oh heck the Auditor did'nt care, two city council members had their fingers stuck in the cookie jar.

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Posted by Anon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 9, 2008 at 6:36 am

The facts are that no one administrator can be blamed. The City had sloppy policies. The Council admitted this Monday night when, after decades, they finally asked that an auditor put something in place. It wasn't just Briggs, but many depts. in the City who constantly went nuts because City policies weren't clear. Supervisors did the best they could with what they had. James didn't speak out when he was employed because he probably would have had his head chopped off. It's too bad he waited, but it is understandable .
The Council had other priorities through the years. The accounting problems were just that--accounting problems. But rather than looking at their own sloppy administration, and rather than really checking out facts about what the police found, management let an investigation go forward that did NOT include an investigation of themselves--easier to blame one or two people in a sub-dept. The whole city administration is guilty as are the city councils of the past 20 or 30 years. The police had reason to ask questions about what they found. But they didn't look in the right place for answers.

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