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Richard Curtis to challenge theater firing

Original post made on Jun 23, 2008

Richard Curtis, former program assistant at the Palo Alto Children's Theatre, was fired Monday afternoon, former union leader Phil Plymale said. Director Pat Briggs has not heard from the city yet, attorney Jon Parsons said Tuesday morning.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, June 24, 2008, 2:33 PM

Comments (83)

Posted by Some guy, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 23, 2008 at 5:48 pm

He's going to challenge it? I thought he didn't care!


Posted by Miss Reality, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 23, 2008 at 5:59 pm

Hope you don't believe everything you read.

Posted by Missed Reality?, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 23, 2008 at 6:19 pm

The supporters of the CT are still not able to face reality.
As the previous poster calls herself Miss Reality and still has not come to grips with reality.
Reality sucks - does it not !?!
Miss Reality - Missed reality!

Posted by the_resident, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2008 at 6:25 pm

Rich is a wonderful person who has given so much to the Children's Theater and has a long track record of working hard there. I agree that the actions as presented in this article were not a good decision, however, I would like to believe that a good work history for so many years would count for something. I don't believe that termination is called for. I hope his appeal is successful.

Posted by Be careful, city employees!, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 23, 2008 at 6:50 pm

I wouldn't work for the City of Palo Alto until a new City Manager has proved their worth. All employees are at risk. Whose order did Mr. Curtis not follow, the police or the city manager? Curtis apparently did nothing wrong until after allegations were leveled, and according to his purported statement at the time, his concern was not for himself. His friend had just died, he was very upset and not allowed to talk to most of his other friends...I would imagine that allowances could be made for a situation like that, especially since apparently there was no crime committed. Watch out city employees, I guess they are going to make cuts by hook or by crook.

Posted by Katie Christman, a resident of Professorville
on Jun 23, 2008 at 7:05 pm

I am confused. In the court case regarding the beating of Albert Hopkins it was admitted that one of the officers missed a gun in the pat-down of a suspect. That would be a dangerous mistake that could have cost lives. This is the same officer who beat an old man who doesn't seem to have been committing any crime at the time. Was officer Kan not terminated, but a box-office clerk is being fired for the 'white-collar' crime of disobeying an order? And the police officer in charge of the investigation violated the privacy of the Theater Director, yet we trust him...are we saying he didn't disobey the rules by violating someone's rights...again?
O.K. Trolls, let me know why it is o.k. to publish someones private info or to beat an old man and still keep your job, but a misjudgement made while under deep personal grief warrants termination. Is it cheaper? Does that make it o.k.?

Is it just me? What kind of justice is that?


Posted by Grand Jury, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2008 at 9:32 pm

Termination was well deserved. Not following basic orders while investigation is in progress is crosses the line - in a very big way.
All escuses regarding grief are bogus. He was warned several time by is collegues not to enter the room and not to touch the computer.
Bottom line - he thought he could do no wrong.
I am surprised that people trying to defend him have an ax to grind. Are they cuplable as well?????
This whole thing MUST be investigated independently - care to look for a grand jury for this. This is an ideal case for grand jury investigation. I hope someone will take this up.

Posted by Family Friend, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2008 at 9:47 pm

I wish the Hopkins case was not always being quoted in this.

Albert Hopkins was not an "old man" who got beat up, but a very fit 60 year old. He died a few years later of non related issues having just played a strenuous basketball game.

Although the poster does not say it very well and it could be mis-interpreted from what was posted, the gun being missed on the pat down case must have been a different case and had nothing to do with the Hopkins case.

Posted by Mom of 3, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jun 23, 2008 at 10:00 pm

How do I get removed from the Childrens Theatre email list? I have tried and tried and they keep sending me emails.

Posted by Disgusted, a resident of Professorville
on Jun 23, 2008 at 10:06 pm

What is not being reported is that Rich was trying to print out a record that would indicate that his accounting was flawless. By implication he had been accused along with the rest of the staff of "financial improprieties". He was denied access to the very documents that could have proven his innocence. Keep in mind that the entire case was not one in which the accusers had to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but rather one of a presumption of guilt forcing the accused to prove their innocence. The entire staff was convicted by the Police Chief day after day via press release. It was not smart for Rich to have accessed the record the way he did. He acted out of desperation, hoping to exonerate himself as quickly as possible. He was not trying to cover up anything regarding his own work or to interfere in the police investigation. . But he never should have been denied access to material he needed to defend himself in the first place. He was not tampering with documents. The worst position a person can be in is to be falsely accused of a crime, either directly or by innnuendo, and then denied access to the very evidence that is needed to defend oneself. City management has shown absolutely no regard for any concept of due process. Rich Curtis has an otherwise impeccable record of service. This matter should have been treated with some sense of proportion==perhaps a reprimand, but certainly not termination.

Posted by fireman, a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2008 at 10:28 pm

Welcome to palo Alto.. its a matter of PRIDE... Still have not figured out what there is to be proud of?

This is nothing new. Employee's have been trying to reach the public for many years. When will enough be enough??

The culture of fear is a live and doing very well. Now even better than before. more fear.

Posted by Right on "Disgusted", a resident of Midtown
on Jun 23, 2008 at 10:38 pm

Isn't it interesting these details were never mentioned? You're right, Rich wasn't doing anything sinister -- he was trying to prove his innocence. Bad things DO happen to good people.

Posted by Janet, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 23, 2008 at 11:15 pm

Rich wasn't fired for what they originally accused him of.

He was fired for not honoring an order from the flawed city machine that had suspended him for a crime that he never was found guilty of.

With the benefit of hindsight, we now know that Rich was proactively battling against a system that he knew, back then, was more inefficient than the very suspects it was investigating.

It's long been said that Rich Curtis accessed his computer, but it has never been said that he deleted or altered any information.

How odd that he would have never been given the chance to help the detective understand the system that being investigated simply
because the detective felt it would be a waste of time.

Richard will benefit other people now. As for the children's theatre, they may very well have someone wonderful and capable in his stead, but they will have to live with the fact that making sure to posture propriety is even more important than actually being so.

He was one of the good guys.

Well, at least his life is now free and he can sleep at night knwoing that although he may have been unlucky, and although he may have not been politically savvy, at least he will always know that he contributed greatly and warmly to the lives of many and that his conscience is completely free from guilt.

It's time for his new chapter of creativity and philanthropy, hopefully in a sector where he can be properly appreciated.

Posted by wow, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 24, 2008 at 12:20 am

employee is ordered not to access computers while investigation is in process.

Employee WILLFULLY violates order.

Employee gets canned.

Supporters act surprised, rise to defense of willful violator, argue that employee was only trying to defend self, and act as if employee was prevented from hiring attorney to do what employee was LEGALLY prohibited from doing.

This sounds like Lord of the Rings in Palo laws, just fanatics who have no concept of what it means to willfully violate an order. It's called a minimum, and impeding an investigation at the worst.

Posted by fireman, a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2008 at 12:32 am

resident why no legal charges, impeding an investigation, messing with evidence . Would be reasons. I can see getting fired for that.

Insubordination, I do not think that he should be canned for that. Compare that to what Emily Harrison did. She was not canned.

There has to be a standard and the same treatment/punishment for all. I think that is what the laws tells us. I also think being fair tells us that.

I do not think that this is the case here or with many city employees.
Can the city employees on the bottum, cover up for the ones at the top. That does not work for me. I think you can tell.

Posted by Ed, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 24, 2008 at 1:55 am

No means hard is that to understand?? My dog understands when I say No.

Good ridance

Posted by Utter Nonsense, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 24, 2008 at 4:35 am

Richard Curtis is being defended for evidence tampering! What!
The supporters have no credibility left. I honestly believe the police was under pressure not the press charges. The CT supporters have twisted this way too much.
The charges must be filed - let Briggs and others have their say in court -- that is the American way.
This smells WAY too bad.

Posted by fireman, a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2008 at 6:00 am

Utter Nonsense, So the American way is a single person having to fight a giant political machine. Where there is no level ground. We have seen over and over what happens to the truth in palo alto.

Fight the system, for that is the American way. Get your rights and freedoms taken a way and use your lifes saving to fight with. Watch the City twist everything around. Watch the City gets its bought and paid for goons go after the City Employees.

It sure seems to be the PALO ALTO WAY.

The Pd did not want to press charges? That would be the best thing for them PRESSING charges if they could. Would sure show everyone who was right and what the City will do to you.

This City makes charges up. That is how they work.
The weapons of MASS DESTRUCTION are in Palo Alto.
The City Council and the City Staff... Not too hard to find them.

Posted by Walter E. Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 24, 2008 at 6:30 am

Gilbert & Sullivan wrote "The law is the true embodiment of everything that is excellent, it has no kind of fault or flaw, and I, of course, embody the law."
I question the legality of an order that denies access to public records of someone under indictment. There must be a showing of damage to justify a firing. In this case, only an attempt to change or erase data would justify job action.
What a pity Frank, with all his defalcations, cannot do the Perp Walk.

Posted by Not Right, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 24, 2008 at 6:36 am

Walter, your argument does not seem right. He was fired, presumably, for insubordination - for disobeying a direct order to stay away from his computer as a result of a criminal investigation. The records weren't "public" like a filing etc. - they were city records on his PC. And they could have been accessed, presumably, via his lawyer.

I'm not saying the city is without blame, but insubordination is and should be a firing offense in just about any organization. It is damaging in and off itself. And this was a no-doubter.

Posted by Bye Bye Briggs, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2008 at 6:45 am

Curtis disobeyed the rules and when employees confronted him he put them in an awkward situation. If there was evidence on his computer that would work on his behalf, he just needed to inform the police.
Clearly he felt that he could do whatever he wanted without any regard for his fellow workers. Probably he knew that Friends of PACT and Simitian/Klein/morton would rally to his defense.
He has been fired and that is the first step in the right direction with regard to PACT

Posted by Disheartened, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jun 24, 2008 at 7:26 am

People who call defenders of the theatre "idiots" are probably the same people who never care about anyone's rights' being violated. When people in power can treat "we the people" with contempt, every citizen is in jeopardy whether they know it or not. The people you call "idiots" are protecting you too. If you were accused of something and then deprived of your right to obtain documents that could prove your innocence, how would you feel then? Remember, no criminal charges were filed so there was no way a Court could protect the accused and insure their access to "evidence". So all power was in the hands of the police and City Manager. They did not allow access to a computer with records that indicated Rich had been scrupulous in his record keeping and had done absolutely nothing wrong. Yes, he disobeyed an order. But how legitimate is an order NOT to defend yourself when you have been suspended??? Who are the "idiots" here? I would expect better in "educated" Palo Alto

Posted by Wilson, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 24, 2008 at 7:30 am

> I question the legality of an order that denies access
> to public records of someone under indictment.

Curtis was not under indictment. He was on suspension pending the outcome of a police, and administrative, investigation.

Posted by Rich Curtis Supporter, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 24, 2008 at 7:49 am

Until the point where he accessed his computer, Rich had done no wrong. With hindsight, we can see that he could have just ridden this controversy out and probably would still have a job if he had.

But to a guy like Rich, his good name is worth more than some job. Think of what it would be like to be accused in the press of stealing money when you had not. Think what it would be like to know that there is proof you did no wrong... but the public can't see it and the police have shown no interest in looking for it.

Rich chose poorly, perhaps. But he did what he did out of a drive to clear his good name. None of us know what we might do in this situation... none of us is entitled to judge his character.

Posted by Not Right, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 24, 2008 at 7:51 am

Disheartened, he was suspended pending an investigation. The investigation had to run its course. Yes, the power was in the hands of the police, not the suspects - that's the way it works when there is a criminal investigation. He was ordered to stay away from his workplace computer (not his personal property) - where he could have just as easily destroyed or tampered with evidence as access it.

If there was an embezzlement in a private workplace, and you were among those being investigated, and you'd been ordered to stay away from your computer - you think it would be ok to walk in, go up to the computer, and print off a few things? Just because "you know you are innocent"? It almost defines insubordination in my book. In any office I've every worked in, security would drag you out and you'd never step foot inside again.

Being under criminal investigation is no fun, I'm sure, and no doubt tries anyone's patience. But you can't just break the rules because you are impatient. I tend to agree that the sense that "the rules don't apply to me" seemed to run deep at PACT, which is not appropriate in a city org.

Posted by Bye Bye Briggs, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2008 at 7:52 am

These kind of orders--not to be at the workplace or access computers--are common during investigations of this kind. there is nothing special about this order in this case.

Curtis knew he was wrong. As the story states:
""I don't care what happens to me, they can terminate me, whatever," he reportedly said.
Curtis accessed the box office more than once that day, police records state.
By closing the door to the office, "it made him look very suspicious," one colleague told police.
"I don't want to like rat Rich out, but he's putting us in an awkward position," another theater worker said.
One theater worker said Curtis' action was shocking.
Curtis knew he wasn't allowed in the box office or on computers, that colleague told police.
"It's a total violation of everybody's trust," that colleague said.
"My first impression was that he had something to hide.""

What really is amazing is that the Friends of PACT see nothing wrong in this action and continue to excuse all acts of malfeasance by the staff:

""Today's decision is grossly unfair," Friends' spokesman Ralph King said, acknowledging that Curtis had made an "impulsive mistake" by accessing his computer."'

Maybe you make an "impulsive" mistake once, but not multiple times and how impulsive can it be if Curtis knew he was forbidden access to his computer.

It appears that some of the staff at PACT feel that rules do not apply to them--this has been going on for years--and know that they can count on the Friends of PACT to blindly defend them. It is clear to me now that Friends of PACT are a morally and ethically bankrupt organization who see nothing wrong in acts of wrongdoing if it involves staff of the "beloved" PA institution. Time to clean house at PACT so that this institution can continue on.

Posted by fireman, a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2008 at 7:59 am

Why did the Police not take the computer. Secure the thing. In order to protect it. Would that not be a basic thing. If you tell your child not to play with the gun. Then leave a loaded one in his room on the desk? Who's to blame when it goes off. The child?. I guess for lots of you.

They did not have an 80 million dollar building to store it in? If he coud get to it, Who else could?

All this make no sense. How does the WEB spinning thing go?

This CITY, police department would and will delete and evidence so the one about him needing to get it before the SYSTEM made it go bye bye.
Is the one I buy knowing the players.

It goes hand in hand with. Do not write it down. The next step. If it is written down make it go a way. It's a matter of pride.

Posted by Bye Bye Briggs, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2008 at 8:31 am

A couple of interesting quotes from today;s PA Daily News coverage of this story:

"Suzie Stewart, former president of the nonprofit Friends of the Palo Alto Children's Theatre, said firing Curtis was "comparable to executing someone who rolled through a stop sign."

Friends of PACT have lost all sense of proportion and are now resorting to outrageous analogies. Curtis broke the rules knowingly a number of times. He was fired. End of story. The attitude because this is PACt, employees can do what they want is ridiculous. Friends of PACT need to stop and look at what they are saying. They are making themsleves look foolish

"And former theater employee Andy Hayes warned the city against making a similar decision with Briggs, who he noted has worked at the theater "since the Kennedy administration."
"The people do make up the institution in a lot of ways," he said. "

Does Mr Hayes really believe that will not be able to carry on with new leadership?? Do not be ridiculous Mr Hayes. If that is the case then PACT should close since Mr Litfin is deceased .

Posted by A True Theater Supporter, a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2008 at 8:32 am

After Briggs was told to stop giving funds produced by the "extra" performances the action continued at least three more times. Curtis doctored the books to hide these violations of City policy.

The ONLY reason both were not prosecuted IS THAT THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS HAD EXPIRED!!! There is hard evidence that these crimes occurred (source: the Police Report).

Violating City policy was a pattern with this employee. The Children's Theater deserves better.

Why don't you Theater supporters want that too?


Posted by Mickey, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 24, 2008 at 9:49 am

Dear Bye Bye,

The 49ers could ALSO carry on if they were forced to do so without their starting QB and their offensive line, but they wouldn't be able
to do so AS WELL.

Your argument is basically an advocate for mediocrity instead of one for

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2008 at 9:54 am


You mean like the Giants without Barry Bonds.

Posted by Bye Bye Briggs, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2008 at 9:55 am

Mickey--so you are saying that there is NO ONE in this country that could possible replace Ms Briggs and maintain the PACT at the current high level that you believe it is at?

Posted by Aleks Merilo, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 24, 2008 at 11:20 am

Rich Curtis is a kind and good man. I continue to stand behind him, Pat, and the PACT.

Posted by Katie Young, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 24, 2008 at 11:51 am

Bye Bye Briggs...yes, there is NO ONE in this country that could replace Pat Briggs. Her national reputation in the children's theater community, her life long devotion to the program, her ability to coordinate all of the programs the theater is involved in despite staff cuts forcing the staff to work to the breaking point, her ability to provide a wonderful opportunity for hundreds of kids to perform in plays or help with tech, her ability to coordinate hundreds of adult volunteers every year, her willingness to take on other city responsibilities when necessary, the devotion she has from the Friends group who raise thousands of dollars or more every year to support the theater because they think so highly of Pat, her advocacy for the city of Palo Alto because of involvement in things like the "Shop Palo Alto" campaign, the fact that her reputation allows her to get the rights to new children's theater productions like the Disney junior series, the loving and positive enviornment she creates for our kids...and for many, many more reasons Pat is irreplacable.

I don't think they make people like Pat any more. We are so lucky that she has dedicated her life to our kids and the city of Palo Alto.

And as for Rich..he is a totally excellent, committed employee in every way and it is too bad that he had to jeopardize his job just to prove his innocence. The Palo Alto police were on such a witchhunt that I doubt they would have checked the computer, found that Rich was above reproach and admitted they were wrong.

Posted by Should Be, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 24, 2008 at 12:00 pm

An important organization precept - if someone is irreplaceable, you must replace them. It is detrimental, even destructive, to have individuals who feel no-one else could do their job. Among other things, it leads to a air of infallibility and sense that regular rules don't apply to that person. The precept applies even more so in government organizations, where rules and controls must be maintained.

She may be wonderful, but if people think she's irreplaceable - the answer is easy. And it's funny - when the irreplaceable person goes, the organization generally moves on and does fine. One door closes, another one opens up.

Posted by fireman, a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2008 at 12:01 pm

KY,AM.. Would what past Employee's have said about this city. Now seem different to you?
Has it openned up any new thoughts on the City of Palo Alto. On what you have seen and heared over the years. Make you think, Maybe some of those old city employee's might not be so crazy?

The people in this Scandal are high profile. What do you think happens to the low profile people like me?

Posted by Bye bye briggs, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2008 at 12:05 pm

Katie--well one of these days PACT will have to continue without Briggs. No one is indispensable. Too bad that Ms Briggs did not devote some tiem to properly managing the PACT as was called for in her job desrciption.
As for Mr Curtis the police report clearly points out instances where (the name was redacted, but it clearly refers to the box office manager) engaged in questionable conduct with regard to finances and contracts.
Anyway Curtis was not fired for that, but for disobeying orders regarding access to his computer, which he did a number of times and with complete knowledge of the consequences.
The staff at PACT, Briggs, Litfin and Curtis especially, have been acting as though the rules do not apply to them and they have been supported by people like you, Friends of PACt and certain members of our council.
It is unfortunate that youa nd others have made the police the bad guys in this whole affair when there is plenty of blame to ascribe to the city staff and the PACT staff.
Briggs needs to go for the continued good of the PACT as an organiaation

Posted by JA3+, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 24, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Given recent events, it may be wise to privatize PACT.

There are quite a few private children's theater companies in the Bay Area; several perform at a very high level to very high standards.

Overseen by a private board with clear incentives to 'manage the monies wisely and with prudence', a private PACT may reach new heights.

As a private entity, PACT may thrive.

Posted by Walter E. Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 24, 2008 at 12:41 pm

I consider both the suspension and the order to have been out of order. The entire theater budget wouldn't be a pimple on the cost of a part time manager with a full time salary. The insubordination of Rich is nothing compared to the contempt the Council and Frank have shown toward the rule of reason and their obligation to the public. Palo Alto is their private playpen for mutual masturbation of egos.

Posted by Privatize PACT?, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 24, 2008 at 1:03 pm

Believe me, PACT would like nothing better than to be a separate entity from the city. It is not from sloth nor greed that PACT remains part of the city.

The problem is, much of what was donated when PACT was created was put in the name of the city. Back in the 1930's this seemed like a good idea. Indeed, when PACT has raised millions (through normal donations, not extra performances) the property purchased with that money has also been *donated* to the city.

PACT is a line item in the city budget, that's for sure. But the money is flowing both ways and at Palo Alto property values, the land and improvements the city has received are many times more valuable than what PACT has received in salaries and upkeep.

Privatization is an interesting possibility... but the reality in this case is that it would be very difficult to sort out who is actually entitled to what PACT administers. If you think this is obvious, it's because you haven't looked at the details.

Posted by Senor Blogger, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 24, 2008 at 1:12 pm


Please start two blogs.

One for those who will sign their real names.

And the other for the "Others".

That should separate the wheat from the chaff.


Posted by Wheat or chaff, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 24, 2008 at 1:32 pm

So are you part of the chaff, Senor Blogger? What mechanism would be used to determine if a name given is real??
Seems to me we have people on both sides not using their real names. What do you see as the problem?

Posted by fireman, a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2008 at 1:38 pm

FEAR! Some people who make very good comments and add much do not use there names?

Facts should mean something?

Posted by JA3+, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 24, 2008 at 3:31 pm

> would be very difficult to sort out who is actually entitled to what PACT administers.

Kindly flesh out the argument here; 'entitled' via what document or agreement?

In other words, what binding obligation or obligations encumber PACT?

Absent a written agreement(s), what oral agreement or agreements are at work here?

Given PACT is owned by a public entity, members of the public -- residents or the City -- should know all here.

My understanding is as follows: the City holds title to the land underlying the theater; the City holds title to the improvements thereon; all employees of the theater are City employees; all assets of the theater are owned by the City.

If not, who owns what?

And where is the underlying agreement(s) supporting such ownership?

Posted by narnia, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 24, 2008 at 4:55 pm

Anybody would like to organize a prayer service to ask the All Mighty to spare Briggs from mortality because, just because PACT cannot live without her and the mere mortals consider
her irreplaceable? This would be followed by an application for sainthood WITHOUT "passing"
through the canonization process. After the procession with the PALO ALTO SAINT carried on a throne adorned with flowers all would be right forever and ever and all eternity....
Or does anybody else think that it is foolish and defies reality to say "irreplaceable"? Are the people claiming "non replacement" status living somewhere else but reality?

Posted by UNION, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 24, 2008 at 4:59 pm

It is not a saint that says she is irreplacable - it is the UNION stupid. As a matter of fact all CPA employees are irreplacable.
Don't you see how the employees are defending her... read this forum... you will know.

Posted by Sonny, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 24, 2008 at 5:26 pm

Walter, you have cut to the chase once again. Keep up the good work. You are one of the few who realize that the city is intently bound on organizing the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Posted by fireman, a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2008 at 5:40 pm

The Auditor did nothing of worth. No one listening , she not telling anyone THERE ARE NOT LISTENING TO ME.

And she is now a SAINT?

How did that happen.

Posted by fireman, a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2008 at 5:46 pm

Nice, Sonny. I love that one. Keep playing the music. The B&W Ball

Yes Mr Wallis did just bust out a clasic. Freedom, well more freedom is nice. Thanks edit person. With the M word and all. thx

Posted by Just Me, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 24, 2008 at 6:13 pm

The whole sad story of the investigation, from the first closing of the theatre to the secretive investigation to the dropping of the case with recommendations for dicipline without cause is just wrong. It smelled fishy right from the start, and the longer it goes on the more it stinks. I am REALLY looking forward to the investigation into why there was ever any action taken in the first place, who was driving it, and why.

All of the employees of the Children's Theatre I am sure have the whole-hearted support of the parents of all the kids who have benefitted from participation in it and from those who know them. Personally, I would like to see criminal complaints filed, but not against anyone at the theatre. I want ALL employees back on the job, and that includes Rich.

Posted by spargh, a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2008 at 4:14 am

I wish Bush could be fired for something so minute!!

Posted by Bush/Briggs, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 25, 2008 at 4:46 am

Bush is replacable. Just wait 6 months.
Briggs is irreplacable.
Get it. Fire her now. "Irreplacable" people usually self destruct. You are witnessing it right now.

Posted by Disgusted, a resident of Duveneck School
on Jun 25, 2008 at 6:13 am

It really is too bad the group wasn't arrested and brought before a Court. As the DA noted, there was no clear evidence against them. They would have been found NOT GUILTY quickly and this would have been over. since there was no legal case against them, the City had to still find some way to find them guilty--and with no charges against them, they were denied access to records that they needed to defend themselves! Hello Third World Country! If the City Attorney was advising the Manager and Police to do this, he should be fired!

Posted by Joe, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 25, 2008 at 7:36 am

> they were denied access to records that they needed to
> defend themselves!

None of the suspended people were charged with anything, and as such, they did not need to "defend" themselves. At some point, the City would either drop the matter, or refer it to the DA--at which point the involved employees would either be charged or not charged.

If they had been charged, they would have retained lawyers--who would have been able to gain access to all of the records needed to defend their clients.

If they were not charged, but became subjects of a "Administrative" action, they would have been able to demand access to any records they needed in order to "defend" themselves at some point in time.

The problem with the failure of so many City managers to have done their jobs so that this whole mess was allowed to develop so that putting together a cohesive investigation, much less a "case" has taken a long time to complete. While these folks were in "limbo" to be sure, the only intelligent course of action was to sit and wait.

No one has been denied their "rights", or been able to demonstrate that they have been denied "due process" at this point.

Since the details of any government personnel action are generally secret, the reasons that the City has advanced for this man's termination are not public, and probably will not be made public unless the terminated man wants to make a copy of the termination package available to the press. It is very doubtful that he was terminated for his accessing the PC as has been discussed in this blog. There is more to this dismissal that is in the public domain at the time.

Posted by narnia, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2008 at 8:48 am

We had the palo Alto Saint and now we have the Palo Alto Hero.
Against all, he flies into PACT headquarters where his bad coworkers prevent him from getting his records. But he prevails and exits after a closed door fight with his former computer, triumphantly with papers in his hand waving them wildly over the city for all to see. There, he seems to be saying, I do only what I and Pat says, that's how it has been all along. How dare my employer tell me what to do!

Any of you out there who thinks this is all right should give him a job if he ends up fired (it is difficult to know what union rules makes of all this). How would you want an employee
who puts his co workers in a difficult position and who disobeys explicit orders in order to tamper with evidence?

Posted by Barney, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2008 at 9:30 am


Do you know Rich?, obviously not

Many you bloggers so so self - righteous and and at the same time naive at best, Do you acually believe every piece of garbage presented by the corrupt police?

Beleive me when I say I do know Rich, I know the real truth and he has been unjustly treated.He does not deserve this.

Posted by Prison, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2008 at 9:38 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by narnia, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2008 at 9:58 am


I don't know Curtis. But as a taxpayer and resident I don't need to know personally city employees to judge whether what they do is against city interest. He maybe a very nice person. I don't know and I don't care. What he did is tamper with evidence and disobey orders. That's enough for me and it should be for anyone.
He is being fired as a worker not as a human being.

Having said this he has union protection and municipal employees' rules so I don't know how this will end up. But making him somewhat of a hero because he invaded a space not his under explicit orders and tampered with evidence behind closed doors is inexcusable.
Is he another casualty of the Briggs and company modus operandi. After all she set the tone on how to work with the city. He should spill the beans, tell us what he knows and keep his job if he does.

Posted by Unbelieving, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2008 at 12:41 pm

I simply can't believe the strange attitude of so many Palo Alto citizens. Our Police investigated what appeared to be a crime perpetrated against the community by its employees. This is what we pay them to do, whether they know the outcome or not. Although I have no ties to anyone in the department and am not a big fan of meddling by the government, it's clear to me that the police were only doing their job, and had to do it in the face of strident criticism by people who did not know the whole story. From the many accounts I've read, it sounds as if the employees of the Children's Theater did intentionally steal from our city. Is this blindness to these facts a result of people's yearning for someone to make their child a star? Really, how unseemly. People who work with children ought to have exemplary morals, not be let slide because they might put our darling under the bright lights and turn her into the next Judy Garland, Jonbenet, or, Lindsay Lohan. Are you all mad?

Posted by Tim, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2008 at 1:41 pm

No means NO! This is what we teach our kids. What part did he not understand? Even had his co-workers help him with printing problem. Put them in a bad position.
Glad to see the PAPD is doing their job in firing him!

Posted by Jim Curtis, a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 25, 2008 at 1:55 pm


[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
You are of course entitled to you own opinions but you are not entitled to your own FACTS. It probably wont mean much to you but here are a few real facts you could consider before sending your betters to the gallows.

Fact #1: On the 24th of Jan the city closed the PACT.

Fact #2 Between the 24th and 29th of Jan the Police removed Pat's and Mike's computers along with a dozen or so boxes of receipts and reports At the same time they spent 4 days and searched the theater thoroughly.

Fact #3: On the 29th the theater was reopened and the Chief of Police publicly announced that the investigation at and of the theater grounds was completed. (i.e., No evidence was left on the premises)

Fact #4: The Box Office computer left at the theater had been inspected by the Police and was left in place because all of the files on that computed were and still are "Archived" and "Read Only" meaning that they cannot be altered.

Fact #5 Mr. Curtis did not "fly" into the theater. And he did not break into the theater, He didn't even sneak into the theater. He went to the theater openly because he was asked to go there to help set up for Mr,Mitfin's memorial service which was scheduled for the 17th of Feb. (We missed you at that event. You should have been there you might-have gotten to know Mr. Curtis and began to understand why he has so many supporters. (Oh that's right "You don't care")

Fact #6: Mr. Curtis was told on the 15th of Feb. that the Police had a question regarding a transaction in January 2003 (Got that 2003 On the morning of the 16th he found himself 10 feet away from the computer that contained the (unalterable) few pieces of paper that would answer Sgt. Yore's confusion question, clear his name and hasten the completion of the police Investigation.

Fact #7 A few very young terrified 19 and 20 year old workers at the theater in an attempt to protect themselves concocted a story that made sure that no one could accuse them of adding or assisting their friend Mr. Curtis. So what did they do. Once they got their stories straight they called the Police. That's a normal response to seeing someone using a computer. Maybe for you narina but not many others. But why were these young people so afraid?

Fact #8: Between the 24th of Jan and the 16th of Feb, there were 32 articles in papers from SF to San Jose regarding the PACT. Each of those newspaper reports referred to some of the PACT staff as crooks and embezzlers. Many of those articles included the mean spirited comments from that anonymous group of no-nothings [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Who would not be scared to death with such a climate of fear engulfing everyone and everything related to the PACT on the 16th of Feb. Sounds like the good old days.

Fact #9: In May the District Attorney publicly announced that there no crimes committed at the PACT. No evidence of a crime, no victim of a crime, therefor no criminals or embezzlers at the PACT.

Fact #10. They did find some $950 or so of requests for reimbursement during a 4 month period in 2003 that The Friends had paid twice. Not the City but the Friends. Pat offered to repay that amount but the Friends--knowing that Pat often pays for things for the theater out of her own pocket that she does not ask to be reimbursed for--turned her offer to repay down.

Fact #11: The City as a policy of paying 30 year plus employees 127% (One hundred and twenty seven percent) of their highest pay grade. Because Pat did not retire 10 or 15 years ago she has forgone i.e., saved the City, somewhere between $250,000 and $300,000 in extra retirement pay because of her love of the Children's Theater. Now don't you think that that is one clever embezzler.

We could go on but that's enough for now.

Best Wishes NO Reply Necessary

Posted by Wow, a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 25, 2008 at 2:20 pm

Wow, Jim, you're right, we should be giving him a medal, not firing him. Oh but that's right - he was told not to access the computer but did it anyway. Which fact number is that again? Maybe somewhere in #7, where you accuse the other staff members of lying to make Curtis look bad?

Posted by jim curtis, a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 25, 2008 at 2:41 pm

Dear WOW

On the one page Jan 24th Office Memo from Ross Carlsen that placed Richard Curtis on Administrative Leave there is no mention of computers. He was instructed to cooperate fully. Finding the unalterable document that would move the Police Investigation forward could be construed by more humane anonymous observers.

Posted by jim curtis, a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 25, 2008 at 2:49 pm

" Finding the unalterable document that would move the Police Investigation forward could be construed by most intelligent observers with a heart as doing just that.".

Posted by Take-It-Private, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 25, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Unfortunately, the city's HR people will not be able to release the reasons that they have chosen to terminate this employee.

While an interesting rendition of the "facts" from one side, the law will not allow the truth to be released by the city government.

The taxpayers should demand that the CT be taken private, so we never have to deal with this nonsense again.

Posted by Walter E. Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2008 at 4:05 pm

We should consider taking the City private, as a municipal service district, and put everything up to competitive bids. Start with the utilities. As for the computer access, I believe the order was uncalled for and likely illegal, definitely unethical, but ethics have not been very strong in City Hall. At any rate, what harm was done?
We fired some peons for running a private business on city time, but let a utility director who used his job as a mechanism for entree to the good life at out of town conferences retire honorably. Now Frank walks away from his full time wage for a part time job. Sheesh. No I don't blame Frank or Ulrich, cause a man has to take what he can get away with, but this whole fiasco reminds me of that song "Who takes care of the caretaker's daughter when the caretaker's busy taking care".

Posted by Tough Break, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 25, 2008 at 4:20 pm

Jim, had your son ever thought of calling the police and telling them that he could point them to data that would help their investigation? Or, had he ever thought of asking for professional legal advice? You'd think those two options would be good alternatives. Better than a "laws be damned - they only apply to the bad guys, not guys who are out to prove they're good" attitude. Sorry, he does sound like a nice guy, but he made some bad decisions and he now has to pay the price.

Posted by wow, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 25, 2008 at 6:41 pm

Mr Jim Curtis

I second Tough Break's comment. I know if I were in your position, I'd also be defending my son's actions to the nth degree. Not just because he's my son, but because he's a really nice guy as I'm sure Rich is.

But I can't for the life of me get past the fact that Rich -- knowing he was precluded from accessing the computer -- did not simply call Yore and ask to meet him at the Children's Theater so he could point him to a file that would clear up Yore's confusion/questions.

I wish we could assume Rich didn't know that he was barred from accessing computer. But if PAOL report is true that Curtis reportedly said: "I don't care what happens to me. They can terminate me, whatever, according to police transcripts.", then clearly Rich knowingly violated the order, a act of insubordination made all the worse when the above alternative (e.g. contacting Yore)was available.

Anticipating the possibility that Yore might have blown him off, can you imagine the strength of Richard's ensuing position when he would have then been able to testify that his efforts to direct Yore to clarifying evidentiary documentation were ignored?

Again, Mr. Curtis, I'd be defending my son too. But fatherhood doesn't guarantee lack of bad judgment on the part of your son. As Narnia posted, "He is being fired as a worker not as a human being."

Posted by JIm Curtis, a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 25, 2008 at 7:14 pm

Dear Wow and Tough Break.

You are right I am wrong, I quit.

Just to keep the record straight: There is No missing money at the PACT. Not one cent that can not be accounted for. That covers a period that goes back to 1995.

There is that $950 that The Friends (Not the City) paid twice over a 4 month period in 2003,
Pat--even though she was never aware of the double payment--offered to pay it back. The Friends turned her offer to pay it back down.

As a final attempt to gain a perspective:

Tax payer money misspent , mishandled and/or embezzled at the PACT equals zero.
You can look it up or you can ask the people who know;, i.e.,

Police Chief Johnson 650-329-2115
Frank Benest 650-329-2382
DA Steve Lowney 408-792-2751
Becky Trout (The Weekly) 650-329-2371
Sgt. Mike Yore 650-329-2371
Gary Baum (City Attny) 650-329-2171
Ross Carlsen 650-329-2124

Bt comparison for the perspective needed to understand the PACT scandal:

Tax Payer Money being spent in Iraq equals $5,000.00 per second.

That is truly unbelievable but--You can look it up or call someone who knows. i.e.,
Pres. Bush and/or VP Cheney.
Sorry but we do not have their direct line phone numbers,

Posted by Take-It-Private, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 25, 2008 at 7:36 pm

> Tax payer money misspent , mishandled and/or
> embezzled at the PACT equals zero.

This statement is at odds with the police report.

Posted by Jim Curtis, a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 25, 2008 at 8:13 pm

Please pay attention.
You said:
"But I can't for the life of me get past the fact that Rich -- knowing he was precluded from accessing the computer -- did not simply call Yore and ask to meet him at the Children's Theater so he could point him to a file that would clear up Yore's confusion/questions."

The City order putting Richard on leave said nothing about Computers. Nothing about Computers It did say he could not talk to anyone about the PACT investigation. It was a Sat. morning the door to the box office was wide open and he knew what he needed to do to retrieve the questions of the police. If that was an example of poor judgement it was the first one anyone can recall much less document. And is that one act after 25 years of loyal and productive service worthy of being terminated for?

To quote you again
"....Mr. Curtis, I'd be defending my son too. But fatherhood doesn't guarantee lack of bad judgment on the part of your son. As Narnia posted, "He is being fired as a worker not as a human being."

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Oh by the way Rich Curtis does have a record for lacking bad judgments. Again one bad judgement in 25 years on a matter that did no harm to the City , cost the City no money and was done in broad daylight in good faith is you believe worthy of being fired for.

You must be incensed to no end by the Yore and Kan transgressions that cost the city $400,000 and $250,000 (Kan was of course fined $250 but he and Yore were still around to muck up the PACT Financial Crimes Investigation)

No medals for Richard Curtis just a bit of rational thinking that aligns the punishment to the wrongdoing. Is that to much to ask. If it is I apologize. (Like hell I do) We will continue to fight evil where ever it tries to hide.

PS: You can call me jim.

Posted by fireman, a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2008 at 9:17 pm

If the computer was so important it should not have been there in the first place. Where anyone could get to it.

I thought PD looked at it and said it was safe?

Now a slap on the wrist yes. FORCED TO LEAVE! FOR WHAT? Looking at a computer that should not have been there?

Sounds like a SET UP.

Posted by J, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 26, 2008 at 12:15 am

If no one took the fall... the city would have to explain why all this money was spent on a wild goose chase. Rich made an error of judgment and was an easy target. To think that at one time in this country a man was innocent until proven guilty. But it seems since day one of this investigation, the "City" has been on a witch hunt.

Posted by Walter E. Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2008 at 5:10 am

The order was illegal and the termination will not stand - the "misdeed" is on the level of wearing a tie on casual Friday. The Army term for this was "chicken".

Posted by JIm Curtis, a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 26, 2008 at 6:21 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Fatherhood cannot see flaws, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2008 at 6:22 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Take-It-Private, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2008 at 7:18 am

> The order was illegal and the termination will not stand

Putting an employee on paid suspension pending the outcome of a police, or administrative, investigation--with directions to "stay away from the work place" while the suspension is in effect is by no means "illegal".

Terminations almost always involve a number of issues. It is understandable to believe that accessing a computer during a period of suspension is not sufficient to warrant a termination.

In the section of the police report on "Extra Performances", the report includes the following:

[Redacted] who was in charge of the box office and in charge of depositing all money collected at the box office to the City's general fund, altered the bookkeeping entries to record the deposits to facilitate the misappropriations.

So, who was in charge of the box office for the past several years?

It might be a good idea for someone to look at the procedures in place for suspending employees--such as providing a list of "do's/dont's" that employees are expected to be in compliance with during a period of suspension. Certainly, accessing any computers that have access to financial records would be on the "don't" list.

Posted by fireman, a resident of another community
on Jun 26, 2008 at 2:51 pm

Funny, The whole post is gone now. Fireman post gone.

If Mr Curtis should be canned for all you who want this to happen.

Why not CAN the Firefighters who have gotten police records will working here?

All for things that would indangered the lives of firefighters and citizens.
One Fire Captian got his promotion while in JAIL.. Resisting arrest/drunk in public. Then one( Chief) who has multipule DUI"S. More than a one time loser. I like it is 3 or 4 he has now. These people broke the law and where convicted and nothing?

So way not them, because they are Black? or play the city game?

Posted by fireman, a resident of another community
on Jun 26, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Jim, We should talk. Its time to start a chain. Class Action?

Posted by Daryl, a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2008 at 2:09 pm

Hey Rich, in case you're reading this...

Best of luck. You're personality will be glaringly missed at the theatre - it was always a pleasure to run into you anytime I was back to visit my hometown - sorry that all this is happening.

With affection,
~Daryl Silberman (PACT alumni, '86)

Posted by Palo Alto on-line, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 5, 2008 at 2:06 am

I don't really know Rich well, other than from purchasing tickets from him. He always seemed pleasant and willing to help. I understand how horrible he must have felt being accursed of a crime (or not being given an explanation of the accusation) that he knew he did not commit. On the other hand, Rich was getting paid to sit tight while the city was lurking around and gathering the data. He had two options: retain an attorney, or just let the system run its course and clear him if there were no evidence of any crime. Rich made a huge mistake by accessing city property during this process. Again, he was collecting a paycheck to just do nothing while the police conducted their investigation. We pay the police to do the job they were doing so just let them do it, even if you feel they are doing it poorly. I now see a new person selling tickets at the box office, and she too is very nice so the theater was able to adapt and move on. Rich is very personable and I wish him well in his next endeavor.

Posted by Nick Johnson, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 6, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Anyone who knows Rich, like I have, since he was 11, knows that he put his heart and soul into the Children's Theater. He went from a misfit to a leader. It's so pathetic reading these posts and reading optinions from people who do not know him. Richard is not only a feat person, but he is honest and trustworthy. Can you say the same? No, you all cowards that put down people that you don't know while you sit on your fat asses at your computer. The Children's Theater was my home from 1974 to 1985 and Rich was there everyday because he loved it as much as me. He would never do anything to shame it's reputation. In addition, Pat and Michael were like second parents to me. How dare you tempt to taint their reputation. They brought more joy into kids lives like me than you ever will. Get off if your f***ing computer and even try to do what they accomplished. Richard put his heart and soul into The Children's Theater his whole life. Shame one anyone who thinks otherwise.

Posted by OPar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 7, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Ummm, you do know that these are five-year-old posts?

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