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Summer theater director quits to protest firings

Original post made on Jul 8, 2008

Former Children's Theatre Director Pat Briggs has spent more than a week debating whether to challenge her recent termination, but hasn't reached a decision, according to her attorney, Jon Parsons.But Alex Perez, who had been hired to direct a summer Wingspread production, has resigned in protest of her firing.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, July 8, 2008, 8:09 AM

Comments (45)

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Posted by There-Are-No-Irreplaceable-People
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 8, 2008 at 10:44 am

> Perez said he thinks city administrators don't realize how
> critical Briggs is to the theater. She imbues participants
> with self-confidence, responsibility and "the ability to
> find our way for ourselves,

And what happens when she retires, or passes away?

The whole idea of a successful organization is that "there are no irreplaceable people". Sadly, this extremely important management credo is beyond the management skills of the City of Palo Alto.

This claim is another example of what the CT needs to go into the hands of a private entity.

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Posted by disgusted
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 8, 2008 at 10:56 am

"But Alex Perez, who had been hired to direct a summer Wingspread production, has resigned in protest of her firing, and Bill Liberatore, Gunn High School's choir director, has withdrawn permission to use his music in an upcoming production of "Pecos Bill.""

Who do Alex & Bill think they are hurting here? Do they want PACT to close completely? They are just giving more credence to people to those that want to remove funding for PACT completely. So much for the priority of doing this for the children.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 8, 2008 at 11:02 am

Perez said: "He thinks administrators don't realize how critical Briggs is to the theater." Nobody is irreplaceable not even Briggs. Time to clean house and move on.

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Posted by Bye Bye Briggs
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2008 at 11:04 am

Maybe Alex and Bill should hold their breaths until the city reinstates Pat.
For people who claim to care so much about children, this seems to be a pretty petty way of showing it.

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Posted by Senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 8, 2008 at 11:52 am

So Kelly M is now set up to take the fall.

Smooth move Frank.

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Posted by Susan
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2008 at 11:55 am

This sounds like the perfect time for the City to terminate its financial support of the operating budget of PACT. PACT old timers clearly feel entitled. Shut down PACT, and let the Friends of PACT re-launch it as a private volunteer organization, similar to many other youth activities.

This entire mess could have been avoided, if PACT was not a City-sponsored entity.

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Posted by Paul Wanless
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2008 at 12:32 pm

Billy taught me when I was at the PACT onstage as a kid, and was a mentor to me during my first opportunity to assist a musical director back in 1986. Alex, also, was a very influential figure for me during my time onstage there, and I had the privilege to work with him on a very successful production of The Fantasticks a few years ago. I have nothing but the highest respect and admiration for both these individuals and all their hard artistic work.

That said, I think withdrawing musical permission and resigning in protest are bad ideas that only hurt the kids and don't accomplish anything. While I too am extremely disappointed by the city's actions, I think it's more important than ever that such influential figures such as Billy and Alex, both of whom have shown as much dedication as Pat ever did in their projects at the theater, continue to maintain their presence in honor of the excellence the theater has always stood for, whether Pat is there or not.

That is a huge reason why I avidly petitioned to musical direct the Wingspread production of "The Dinosaur Musical" this year. I am sincerely giving it my all with the same dedication that Pat, Billy, Alex, or anyone else with such strong PACT presence would ever expect, to ensure that even if Pat herself is not present, the values and principles for which she always tirelessly worked for will still live on at the least for as long as I can play the keyboard.

There are plenty of other excellent regulars at the theater...Emika, Mike, Jim, Alison, Jeremy, Angelina, Deedra, Kim, members of the high school group, and members of Conservatory and Wingspread, as well as all the parents and temporary volunteers. Every one of them remains as dedicated as ever, and none will ever forget Pat or what she stood for during her 50+ years at the theater.

Don't let the miracles that Pat has worked over the years be forgotten just because she's no longer there. Instead, remember her by keeping the theater at the level of excellence it stood for, by continuing to contribute to its operation in the best way you can do so. I know I will.

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Posted by Tim
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Bye, bye Alex.

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Posted by Patty Dingle
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 8, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Pat Briggs has given more to the Palo Alto Community than most people I can think of. She worked tirelessly for years teaching Theater and all of its components to thousands of children. The lessons learned, have given my two girls the best foundation for life. The learned to work together with others, how to handle stress, rejection, even success.They learned public speaking,dance, music, to build, paint and sew. The cost was free. Palo Alto needed a scape goat, I feel and chose the one person who has given a great gift to all children who walked into the door of the Childrens Theater.Her door was open 6 days a week and often from 9am to 11pm. She has guided children though tough times in their personal life and was always there. Congratulations, Palo Alto City for destroying a person who has given so much.
Patty Dingle

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Posted by Refreshing
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 8, 2008 at 1:37 pm

It's refreshing to see someone resign on a matter of principle.
If more people did that we wouldn't be in a useless wasteful war now.

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Posted by Blacklisted Morons!!!
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Good luck getting someone to hire you as a director again or performing your music!

Your actions are not fully thought out. The only people you are punishing are the children (who seem to be more mature than you two).

The children of the theatre deserve professionalism as well as passion. Good riddence.

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Posted by narnia
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2008 at 1:55 pm

"Who do Alex & Bill think they are hurting here? Do they want PACT to close completely? They are just giving more credence to people to those that want to remove funding for PACT completely. So much for the priority of doing this for the children.
Posted by disgusted, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, 2 hours ago"

That will be the end result. Having failed to prepare succession, of course, the initial confusion will achieve their end: to prove that Briggs is immortal and doesn't respond to earthly concerns. Ensuring that there would be chaos while a replacement I sought will comfort them and will bring back the usual financial management a la Briggs? What Perez and Liberatore did is irresponsible. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2008 at 2:42 pm

So the argument that the PACT supporters gave of thinking of the children's best experiences, are now null and void when it comes to the inner politics of PACT. In any well run business, the organisation comes through to support the business in a time of management upheaval. This petty support of one demigod shows that really it was not about the children at all. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]. All workers are due a personal life, but it sounds that this didn't happen here. Also at 71, how long did she seriously consider going on doing the job. As an active volunteer I could see her being appreciated more. As a has been director her shoes should have been filled years ago with younger more able bodied managers.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by another anti-Narnia
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 8, 2008 at 2:49 pm


Perez and Liberatore both withdrew with full knowledge that their actions wouldn't shut down their respective productions.

Both shows will go on this summer, much as the 49ers went on when Joe Montana was sent away.

What won't go on are the two normally scheduled Wingspread shows that were cancelled months and months ago.

What Perez and Liberatore did showed principle and neither act represented them hurting children in order to make their point.

Your solutions would do that.

If anything, the absence of Perez and Liberatore represents a silent lesson to children in the values of principles. Had they both remained there, it would have sent a lesson to continue in the face of oppression and to abet it if necessary.

Your points might be valid if their withdrawals cancelled a production
or sent children home without activity but that clearly isn't the case [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff].

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Posted by Cuban PACT
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 8, 2008 at 2:51 pm

Parent of previous post:

Your post reminds me of Fidel Castro.
Been there done that, and then done that, and still done that, and done that - did I say done that, more done that. Move on.

Like this comment
Posted by Watson
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2008 at 3:34 pm

I am quoting Narnia from his or her post from earlier today
on another active thread.

"What you said in the quoted lines and others linking me to TheaterWorks ( I have never been even to a play, let alone being linked to it) is outrageous. It's ALL OF IT, pure invention. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

---and NOW I quote a post that Narnia made from THIS PAST
May 23rd in response to a May 20th story:

"Kelly (Robert Kelly) founded the theater 38 years ago brought it to the outstanding level that it is today. Briggs is really not as well known as Robert Kelley and the PACT doesn't have the scope, the fame or indeed the professionalism of TheaterWorks. TheaterWorks is an outstanding company. So, to begin with we are talking about very different venues and of a very different scale..But now let us look the at the rest.

Kobert Kelly is the artistic director (not the managing director) and the founder . The company stands on its own feet financially. The annual report is published on the web for all to see. The company has a strong educational component and the new works every season are an innovative development. As a non-profit company the enterprise is regulated by the law (and the IRS) and responds to its board. It is the board who decides the fate of its artistic director. Kelly is fully accountable to the board .

On the other hand PACT is a municipal department and because of that is accountable indirectly to taxpayers. So we have a say (not in an executive manner) but we do have the right to demand accountability.

It's not any of my business to tell the board of TheaterWorks Palo Alto whether or not to renew Kelly's contract ( I would in a heart beat). They are the sole judges. Kelly doesn't have secure employment. At the end of each contract the board approves a new contract or if they were to feel he wasn't performing no doubt he would be replaced. Briggs had no such contract renewing problems. Even if her performance is not stellar the city will have to employ her. In other words Briggs offers no accountability. That is why I said in one of my above posts that the position (Briggs position) should be assigned a renewable contract. So why is 47 too long ? Because Briggs has been without accountability for a long time and if we were to believe her supporters we shouldn't even ask her to account for funds. Her tenure is a problem. In a way palo altans perform indirectly the role of Board and judge her performance . We don't know where kelly will be in 11 years but no doubt he will have a board to see that he is in the right place (even though he is the founder)

If Robert Kelly for some reason is not the TheaterWorks director it is possible for the theater to go on without him without interruption despite the loss. So, the 38 years of Kelly are acceptable by definition-the TheaterWorks said so."


Who here on this thread believes Narnia has even an ounce of credibility left?

Clearly, Sherlock's theory he posted yesterday on the other thread
has gained credence;
that Narnia is actively working to destroy the Children's Theatre
so that Theatreworks can take over that juicy facility
that Briggs and Litfin had built up next door to it.

Like this comment
Posted by Nelson
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2008 at 4:15 pm

Watson-- that was beautiful.

Just beautiful.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I suppose the lesson here is to always question an anonymous source while constantly asking yourself WHY they are telling you what they are telling you.

If Narnia's cause is so truly important, she will shed her anonymity,
but she won't--even though her children are grown.

The reason? Well, I would bet dollars to donuts that her association with TW would come out.

Overall though---

The King Solomon solution is simple.

Hire two full-time people to run the theatre at a reduced salary as compared to what Briggs and Litfin pulled down but give them the opportunity for upgrades should they reach goals, one of whom has
an accounting background and then bring Pat briggs back as an emeritus director who consults on a strict 40 hour work limit with no opportunity for overtime and who no longer handles money.

As for the million dollar budget, let's instead focus on how much money the theatre actually costs each year (its net basis).

Every single year, have the City Council vote as to whether adjust the budget up 10%, down 10% or to maintain it as is.

Much has been made of the million dollar budget, but it wasn't always like that.

The reason it eventually grew to that level was because the city and community were so pleased with the results that the preceding budgets caused, and in essence, demand was such to give more children exposure to the excellent programs that additional money was voted into its budget.

Comparing the Palo Alto model to other public models may prove to be fruitless because it has no true equal.

There have been children who have experienced public models in other cities before hitting Palo Alto and found the Palo Alto experience to be of a far higher quality and/or far more comprehensive.

Restore what was once good.

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Posted by Take-It-Private
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2008 at 5:01 pm

> that Narnia is actively working to destroy the Children's Theatre

What is being proposed is that the CT operations (and expenditures) be transferred to a private entity. This is not intended to "destroy" the CT, just get it off the public dole.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 8, 2008 at 6:13 pm

Pat was on salary, she didn't get paid overtime. She worked overtime on her own dime. The other employees received overtime. This fact was in the Weekly back in the beginning of the whole debacle.

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Posted by narnia
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2008 at 6:53 pm

My goodness I, a sole person who has NO DIRECT KNOWLEDGE of TheaterWorks or any of its people,( only by their wonderful with reputation all over the country, I never even attended a play) can "destroy" PACT?
What I said about theaterworks and the role of management of 501 c3 institutions is true. The board decides who to put in charge provided that they are abiding by the law and charter. PACT is different because it is a governmental branch and as such it has to abide by certain criteria, transparency and sunshine laws to name some.
What I get from the watson's hateful and twisted post is that he continues to make ad hominem attacks. If some posters cannot show the most elementary discernment I cannot help them.
this forum is about the Perez and liberatore's actions and their repercussions. If you cannot maintain the focus on the subject I cannot help you either. It is very convenient to try to move focus to a person or persons because in that way there is never a discussion of the forum. We all know how that works.

I am as anonymous as you all-sherlock, non-descript watson, ect. If those advocating that they should know who I am had a little bit of intellectual honesty they would sign their own names since they are asking for mine.
Indeed, the tactic used by some posters which consist in attacking the messenger is used by dictators as to make the message of disagreement not credible.

Please keep on focus. This is a forum about the summer program quiters, not anything else.

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Posted by narnia
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2008 at 7:20 pm

Resident, there are many reasons why most of us work either overtime or are exempt . Briggs was probably exempt, I don't know. Most of us that are exempt are expected to work any number of hours to fulfill our contracts. It's not overtime but it's well over 40 hours/week.

One of the possible reasons to work overtime is completing duties for example. Another is to be always controlling everything. That happens with control freaks....they generally don't want to let go.
I for one thank Briggs for her many hours. I too want to thank all volunteers (myself included) profusely for volunteer hours (and they don't even require perks from that).

As for Perez, of course he can resign from the job. I think it's not all right but he is entitled to do it.
But Liberatore withdrew his word that the his music could be used for no reason related to it. The children weren't going to use his music for any purpose that was not the purpose for which he gave his word of consent . I do not think well of somebody who behaves this way. What is he going to do next? Going around the campfire and checking for
allegiance to Briggs before a few bars of his "pecos bill" can be on the children's lips?

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Posted by PACT parent
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2008 at 10:12 pm

I have tickets to Pecos Bill, will there be a show or should I ask for my money back? This is a Mickey Mouse operation, is this Pat's legacy? Oey Wey! I now have real reservations about the future of PACT in this community.

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Posted by Don't worry
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 8, 2008 at 10:46 pm

PACT parent, Don't worry. This thing with Alex and Bill happened weeks ago. The weekly was late on reporting. A different version of Pecos Bill has been rehearsing for weeks and Anything Goes has had a different director for a long time as well. The kids are all doing a great job and the theatre is as busy as ever.

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Posted by MIlton Nelson
a resident of Atherton
on Jul 8, 2008 at 10:52 pm

Is there anyone who wants to take the Children's Theatre private who will actually stand up and use their actual name to do so?

Say what you will about Alex Perez and Billy Liberatore, but they are going on record and affixing their name to a cause they fully
believe in.

Their courage dwarfs that of their detractors.

Those that oppose their viewpoint do so anonymously with no monetary penalty and with an absence of full conviction.

Ye detractors, where is your courage or lest ye merely Machiavellian sycophants to the Prince?

Is the movement to take the Children's Theatre private so dangerous
or vile that no one can sign their actual name to the petition?

I read Sherlock's excellent post on the Briggs thread and I can indeed sense why the detractors stay anonymous whereas
Briggs retains plenty of supporters of the non-anonymous variety.

How many among Pat Briggs' thirty most familiar acquaintances
have turned on her?

Perhaps she rests easy knowing that she was done in by the faraway ignorant and not by those who knew her best.

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Posted by renee deutsch
a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2008 at 6:23 am

Dear Alex and Billy,
Thanks and love from the Hague, Renee.

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Posted by Japan
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jul 9, 2008 at 8:45 am

Hmm ... the Hague..
Were there international crimes involved?

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Posted by narnia
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 9, 2008 at 12:28 pm

comment from poster:
"Is there anyone who wants to take the Children's Theatre private who will actually stand up and use their actual name to do so?"

You are asking to know the name of ONLY (anyone who wants to take the Children's Theatre private) those who want to transform the PACT into a 501 (c) 3 institution.

First you distort my and others points of view. Maybe you just don't know what a "private" institution is.
A private company is one whose ownership is private. A non-profit institution (theaters and other similar) are under 501 tax code. These are NOT PRIVATE institutions. They are not under private ownership. They are not owned by anybody. They are ORGANIZATIONS, not companies and certainly not private. They must abide by their own approved charter.
( Friends of the PACT are also not "private"). So, please stop distorting the issue. NOBODY is advocating turning PACT into a private company. Nobody. Some of us just think it's not right that it consumes exclusively so much of the budget for our children while serving so few. So we would like it to not be a city department. We would like it to become a non-profit and self sustaining. I am sure it can.

Now that we clarified this, for the first and last time I have this to say about your need to know names of those who advocate transforming PACT into a non-profit organization:

there is a reason for people's votes to be private, that is, you don't know what or who I am voting for. It's done to avoid finger pointing, ostracism, bulling ( many times their families and friends too).
In communist countries ( and in the remaining communist parties) ordinary people are required to state their opinion publicly and this leads to the intimidation of those whose thoughts are non-conforming.

I wish to remain private (like many others including sherlock and other PACT adepts) because I have already been at the receiving end of straight lies ( also the vilification of third parties who haven't even expressed any thoughts on the matter) bulling, distortion and among others things having comments about me that have nothing to do with the forum subject and are ad hominem . If some people (one of which defines herself/himself improbably as being against me) are not happy to have a free exchange of ideas and analysis- ( do they want to vilify people for their non-conforming evaluations?) that's their problem. Not only do we not need to identify ourselves to the public (including those many nom de plume PACT supporters) we are also not public figures.. Pat Briggs is a public figure.

Why a name would be relevant for these types of debate escapes me. What do you want to do with my name? I don't want you digging into my private life (and that of my loved ones by extension). And I don't want to become a punching bag publicly. Call that smart and self preserving. These forums are a preview of what would happen if some of you would know our names.

The fact that a public forum should be a debate about ideas and thoughts escapes many PACT supporters. They have already confused Pat Briggs with the PACT. They have confused people with ideas. And they want to marshall some of us into silence for fear of
public reaction to not so beloved ideas ( not so expensive either).

Forums are not courts of law. For a public exchange of ideas to take place it is necessary that those ordinary people who choose to express them feel free to do so without the fear of retaliation, intimidation and public personal attacks. It is the same reason (only one of the reasons) why journalists do not divulge their sources to the public in order to protect them. There would be no freedom of the press otherwise. It is for that reason that public forums' sponsors do not require a legal name. Freedom of discussion would be curtailed, because, invariably, there are those who cannot argue without being personal.

If the PA weekly starts asking for the name of ALL forum participants I will decide whether or not to participate. For the time being I will continue not signing Narnia in public debates and I urge all to do sign with whatever name you choose.
One day when you are on the "wrong" side of the fence you will see why.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 9, 2008 at 1:26 pm

Oh my! I thought we'd already seen enough of this strange behavior! Briggs continues to divide the community and damage the whole concept of 'Children's Theater'. The key word here being Children's. Pat, haven't you done enough? Can you bow out gracefully? You had a great run. It's time to move on to that great theater in the twilight. We all make mistakes. Surely if I'd made the one you did, that is getting caught being irresponsible with the money of this community I'd try and have the dignity, the class, the respect for a community that has given you so much, to admit your shortcomings, step down and let someone else take the lead. Life can be tough. show the children how to exit the stage without taking it down with you.

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Posted by Anti-Narnia
a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2008 at 2:33 pm

If some people (one of which defines herself/himself improbably as being against me) are not happy to have a free exchange of ideas and analysis-

if you are referring to me, Narnia, you have failed to understand the small joke in my screen name. I am not against you (although I do not agree with you.) I am simply the opposite of everything you seem to be.

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Posted by narnia
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 9, 2008 at 2:34 pm

Sorry ( a cutting and pasting error)
"I will continue not signing Narnia in public debates and I urge all to do sign with whatever name you choose."

It should have read: I will continue signing Narnia in public debates and I urge all to do sign with whatever name you choose.

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Posted by Susannah
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Jul 9, 2008 at 3:11 pm

You know, I'm pretty sure Michael would have said (*@#%*@%) the politics, just let me do my job. And the Job is directing and though I can certainly see all sides of this part (and the entire) situation surrounding the theatre, bottom line though, I have to say, haven't the kids involved in the theatre had enough disruption lately? There are other ways to fight, other ways to make a point, other ways to have an impact and show support. Better examples I think to set. The show must go on, right? Now I happen to know they found a great replacement, so no harm no foul ultimately and yes they looked adversity in the eye again, and the staff and kids are going to make it work, but honestly...the time for REACTION is past, it's time for ACTION, and moving forward, not stagnating or taking two steps further back. Making the best of a situtaion no matter how you feel about it, no matter who you feel needs to be blamed, punished, made an example of, or exonerated is the simple fact of life here. Life baby, that's one of the lessons the theatre teaches you over, and over again. Commitment. Collaboration. Problem Solving....

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 9, 2008 at 3:15 pm

I agree with the option of anonymity on forums (and what's to say someone's real-sounding name is real anyway?)
PACT has an influential group of parent supporters and two city council members. Some of us are new to this city, or not members of certain influential social groups, etc. There are all kinds of people here and we all have a right to our opinions. SOme of us, indeed, do not choose to sign our names on all occasions owing to the extreme reactions of some Palo Altans protecting their turf (another example would be the library branches vs. no branches debate)
Some of us others don't have a horse in the race (a child involved with children's theatre - whichever theatre one may remark about-) HOWEVER we feel it is totally unfair that PACT is getting 1M/year of our taxpayer money when we are well aware of numerous other highly worthy chidren's groups/activities. Some of us were not previously aware of this cozy arrangement.

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Posted by Elizabeth Chase
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 9, 2008 at 6:30 pm

Did anyone read any of the allegations against Pat? She was treating City coffers like her own personal ATM machine. Just because she's been with CT for a long time doesn't make it her's and doesn't mean she does not have to be accountable for her use of funds.

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Posted by Chandler
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 9, 2008 at 9:22 pm

To resign in protest over an injustice is moral courage in action.

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Posted by John Peterson
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 9, 2008 at 10:00 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Children's Theater Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 10, 2008 at 12:55 am

Is Emika Abe a new Director? She is fantastic, friendly, organized and energetic. Children and parents related well to her. If she is not, does any one know if she is being considered for the position? She would do an excellent job uniting the theater.

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Posted by Pro-Narnia
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 10, 2008 at 2:59 pm

I am solidly with Narnia--

Anonymity has its advantage because it allows the truth to come out.
Secret grand juries often find testimony that public hearings do not.

Of course, I am not an idiot and I can fully well see that NOT being anonymous also has a serious advantage. After all, reputable editors only post letters that come from verifiable citizens so as to not be manipulated.

I am not AT ALL for exposing the secret identities of anyone and it is clear to me that SOME people can choose the anonymous route so as to further a secret agenda but overall, being anonymous has more reward than risk.

But there is a problem that I will admit to:

People are quicker to throw rocks if they know they won't be held accountable.

Yes, going anonymous promotes free and open discourse, but let us not forget that this country was based on people attaching their very names and reputations to their causes. If you will all recall, the Declaration of Independence was not a silent petition.

I do find it curious that the cause to take the children's theatre off the city budget is one no thinks highly enough of to stand front and center with it.

Is there no one to become the public face of this debate?

If I were to become that face, would you Narnia, wish to talk me out of it for my own safety?

What can I expect to have happen to me?

Is there some sort of precedent of what people who oppose the friends and the children's theatre have gone through.

Is there precedent?

As for Narnia, I am very sad for her. She has worked tirelessly for a cause that smart people beliebve in and has not received credit.

I feel bad that she must live in a city and in a place of dread where she knows she is surrounded by people who would never accept and or respect for her actual viewpoints. How hard it must be to wear a fake face and to hold her tongue in public. How hard it must be to feel like you are living in Communist Russia.

But she is RIGHT not to be front and center and to invite public criticism. After all, her children could be targeted and people
might personally villify her without evidence or cause.

People would seek to assassinate her character. Even people who didn't even know her or work with her.

Some would do it to Narnia's face and others would try to bull and distort silently on the internet with no accountability attached to their assassinations.


Narnia is right to stay under a rock.

It may not sound heroic, but it IS better to live as a mouse than to die as an elephant.

Thank you Narnia.

Someone else will rise to take your fight.

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Posted by Anti-Narnia
a resident of another community
on Jul 10, 2008 at 3:56 pm

I think you make excellent points, PN, regarding anonymity. I have never been overly concerned about Narnia's, or for that matter anyone else's choice (including my own)to remain anonymous. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] In Narnia's case he/she consistently uses the drum beat of such emotional phrasing such as "1 million dollar subsidy" or its "time for a change" (referring to the Children's Theatre director longevity." It is my belief, that if one is going to debate issues they should be debated with facts, not half-truths and misinformation as has so frequently been the case here (sadly, on both sides of the issue.) Maybe its unrealistic, and maybe I am idealing Palo Alto, but I would have expected better from the caliber of people that constitute the Palo Alto community.

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Posted by narnia
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 10, 2008 at 8:18 pm

I am sorry to disappoint but the PACT problems are not a "cause" for me . I don't think it raises to the level of struggle. I simply state my opinion as a taxpayer and resident. I also believe that I never wrote "1 million dollar subsidy" or its "time for a change" as AN says, but if he can show me that I did I will be happy to concede that I cannot recall and AN is right. What about it AN?

Most of us are not public figures like Briggs. Newspaper editors of the best papers will on occasion publish letters to the editor without showing the writer's name if are satisfied that they they know who the writer is and if publishing the name would cause unduly hardship for the writer.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I would like to know what power or popularity can someone gain if you don't know who that person is? Are those who share my views on PACT stupid or unable to think for themselves as AN seems to believe? And what are the prejudices...?
Obviously, those of us who believe PACT should be a non-profit organization have been somewhat effective with our arguments.
It's a little to late for AN to ask "that if one is going to debate issues they should be debated with facts, not half-truths and misinformation as has so frequently been the case here". [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
In any case from now on I will not write on any forum about a subject or argument that's off forum or only tangential to it (with the exception of rebutting some invention about me if I think that's called for).
I think we need focus on these debates or chats otherwise they are rants (go to craigslist if you want to rant).
This forum is "Summer theater director quits to protest firings". I think that there has been enough said about it.

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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 10, 2008 at 9:26 pm

AN, you know I like you but I have to disagree. While I don't always agree with N, I don't find her appealing to emotion particularly - I believe Obama's campaign theme is "it's time for a change" and no-one is accusing him of being a demagogue. And the $1M subsidy - I have to say that it is a fact, anyone can look it up in the budget and see $1.3M of spending against $0.3M of revenue. You don't like the term "subsidy" but I think calling it anything else is just semantics.

AN, I am curious about one thing - are you really not a PA resident (as your "resident of another community" says)? If not, how do you have a dog in this fight? Why so concerned about what PA does with its kids theater program? I am still happy to hear your views but curious what the context is.

Enough of the ad hominem - let's get back to the issues (if there are any still to discuss). What would be wrong with TheaterWorks taking over our program? I don't know anything about them, but that sounds like it could be a good solution.

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Posted by Geoffrey Pope
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 10, 2008 at 9:39 pm

Good for Alex and Bill! They have certainly not targeted the young participants in these productions; their resignation and witholding, respectively, is morally laudable.

As for those who think they will be "blacklisted" by creative organizations, let me say that their actions are ideologically supported by such parties. Furthermore, Perez and Liberatore are themselves significant figures in the California and New York theatre worlds, whose reputations, like Briggs', are based in part on their service to the community. Also to their advantage is the fact they have not been singled out and slandered by vitriolic and irresponsible administrators for "failure[s] to account, safeguard and manage," "inexcusable neglect of duty," and "theft."

Thank you both, sincerely.

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Posted by narnia
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 11, 2008 at 9:02 am

Geoffrey Pope,

..... irresponsible administrators?

The Daily news reports that the OUTSIDE investigator Douglas Freifeld concluded that Briggs wasn't able to account for thousands of dollars and had turned in duplicate copies of receipts for reimbursement more than 100 times.

(from the daily news): "Freifeld noted that after a June 2007 burglary at the theater, Briggs and her staff showed a selective ability to do proper accounting by submitting a highly detailed list of the stolen property. "

Briggs didn't declare monetary gifts from the Friends in the form of expense payments (tax law also requires that declaration because such gifts Briggs accepted were related to her work) and on reporting forms, Briggs informed "no reportable interests on any schedule".

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Posted by guy
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2008 at 2:05 am

narnia - when you get robbed it's pretty easy to figure out exactly what's missing pretty quickly, especially tools, printers, cash and the like. it's a theatre with a functioning set shop, you think a tech director isn't going to know exactly what's missing when he uses it on a daily basis? that's a really stupid argument: "they are bad because they accurately reported missing property!" (I know you're just repreaing the Daily's argument, it's not your own, but its dumb in both original and regurgitated forms)

also, as far as the "gifts" issue goes, we could simply be looking at different definitions of the word "gift". As far as I understand it, a gift is when you get something just because. Getting something as a reimbursement would not be a gift, it has its own term: reimbursement. i'm not aware of any time that the friends just gave pat a check... do you?

lastly... i don't know if you read pat's responses to the letter informing her of a recommendation for termination, but most of the duplicate receipts were not submitted by pat twice, they were submitted by michael litfin on pat's behalf. moreover, pat has both readily apologized for any wrongdoing and agreed to repay any monies she received as a result of these mistaken submissions.

one more thing i forgot earlier: for someone who pulls a Hillary and weeps about getting attacked after a relatively mild post suggesting a more than plausible link you may have and who then berates people to remain on topic, I don't see anything about protesting contract workers in your previous post... maybe the rules you dictated for the forum you don't run for other posters you don't know just don't apply to you? that seems logical, at least as logical as every other post you've ever made...

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Posted by Sarah Young
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 14, 2008 at 7:21 am

As one of the many children who went through the programs at PACT, I too was able to find my niche in the world there and in many ways find myself. To address those who say "no one is irreplacable", Pat is irreplaceable, she works harder than anyone I've known for the children of this community. Which is not to say she is without her faults, but her love and dedication to inspiring children and giving them the freedom to explore, learn, grow and just play is something severly lacking in this community. I personally applaud both Billy and Alex for their choices. They are setting the kind of example we all need to set for the children of this community, to take action in the course of our beliefs.

As is clearly illustrated even in just this forum, there are very few people who are willing to put themselves on the line for their feelings; Very few people who will sign their names to their words.

If you belive it enough to write the words for all the world to see, shouldn't you believe them enough to stand behind them?

I believe that those who choose not to vote don't have the right to complain. Same concept, those who are scared to back up their own words, probably should keep it to themselves.

The kids in this community need to learn how important it is to think freely (even if not everyone shares your feelings) and back up what they feel. And the best way to teach them is to lead by example.

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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 14, 2008 at 10:37 am

Sarah, you are idealistic, which is good, but I don't think you are right. If Pat is truly "irreplaceable" (no-one else can do her job and the place can't function without her) - that seems unlikely and highly undesirable. What if she were to be injured or pass away? In general it is very bad for institutions of any size to have anyone who cannot be replaced. If you mean simply "we could never find another quite like her" that might be true, but as they say, when one door closes, another opens, and everything evolves. It happens all the time.

On whether people should sign their names - secret voting is obviously well-established and for a reason. It is not always prudent, or even safe, to speak one's mind publicly. I don't feel anonymous posting is a mark of cowardice - it is just that people feel they have something to lose and not much to gain, especially when speaking out against the "establishment" such as those who support PACT (including a couple outspoken members of our City Council). Readers can judge anonymous posts as they see fit.

Personally I would prefer a more respectful and constructive tone in posts, regardless of what name is used to sign them. That would be a good example to set for our young people.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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