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Tying up loose ends on the Children's Theatre investigation

Original post made on Jun 5, 2009

We have lived through a period in which government officials refused to take responsibility for the consequences of their decisions and actions. After Monday night, how reassuring it is that Palo Alto has a city manager and City Council with the dignity and conscience to acknowledge responsibility and to apologize for the unwarranted and cruel investigation of the Children's Theatre staff.

Read the full Guest Opinion here Web Link posted Friday, June 5, 2009, 12:00 AM

Comments (17)

Posted by Revising history
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 5, 2009 at 10:19 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by fireman
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 11:50 am

This has been the culture in the city of palo alto for many years. The city council falls short of its responsibility to other people and city employees who have been attacked and abused in the past.
Forgeting about these people will not make it go away. Forgeting about these people will not change the past and the responsibbility that many people have had to stop this, before it happened.

It is better to ask for forgiveness then permission. Should have told you something?

Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 5, 2009 at 1:12 pm

The Council's action was proper, commendable, and brave.

Posted by Revising history
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 5, 2009 at 1:16 pm

I made the comment that the above opinion, IMHO, was a revision of the events that actually occurred. My comments were removed. Why?

Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 5, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Revising history,

I disagree with your opinion, but I agree that your comments were not inappropriate, and should not have been removed.

Posted by Vincent
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 5, 2009 at 3:09 pm

The City Attorney should resign or be dismissed by the City Council.

Posted by Tyler Hanley
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Jun 5, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

Revising history:

Your post was removed due to the sarcastic and disrespectful tone of your eight word comment. In the future, you can avoid this by expressing yourself by explaining your disagreements rather than characterizing the poster.

Posted by Revising history
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 5, 2009 at 4:17 pm

My original comment reflected my feeling on her opinion. For example her comments: "it is inaccurate to characterize theater issues as matters of "sloppy accounting." and "It is also inaccurate to suggest that there were financial improprieties because of the "cozy relationships between the Friends organization and the theater staff.""

This seems to go against what was written in your story concerning the report, examples below: "According to the report, the litany of mistakes committed during the investigation can be attributed largely to an outdated accounting system at the theater, which made it nearly impossible to carefully track reimbursements for expenses; "The tangled relationship among city leaders, the theater and the Friends group made it difficult for police to track financial data and ensure that all proper protocols were followed." ""In addition, the poor recordkeeping, laxity of control, intermixing between public and private entities, poor and outdated financial practices for reimbursement of (theater) employees, and the toleration of these arrangements by city officials" That is why I made my comments that her opinion was revisionist history.

Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2009 at 4:45 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Dolores
a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2009 at 9:44 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

Posted by anti-Narnia
a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2009 at 10:25 am

I accept that there are those who will never agree that the impact to the staff of the Childrens, resulting from the police investigation, was cruel and unnecessary. As someone who knows the behind the scenes story I can say without hesitation, and without any doubt whatsoever, that the apology issued by the City Manager was appropriate and justified. The only circumstance that would have been better would have been if this episode never happened at all. But it did and now it is time for everyone to move on. I know I am and, in that regard, I am signing off for the last time. Best wishes to you all.

Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 8, 2009 at 10:32 am

Yeah, they said they were sorry. Now we can bury the dead and let the survivors limp or crawl off into the sunset content with an apology. Sounds fair to me.

Posted by Concerned citizen
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 8, 2009 at 12:36 pm

I agree with Vincent that "The City Attorney [Gary Baum] should resign or be dismissed by the City Council"; at a minimum, very serious consideration should be given to his part in this shameful ordeal. The City Attorney's Office completely failed in its role of ensuring that the Police Department and internal administrative investigations complied with law and City rules/procedures.

Posted by Vincent
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 8, 2009 at 1:44 pm

The Human Resources Director also has culpability in the mishandling of the Children's Theatre internal administrative investigation and he needs to be reprimanded or dismissed as well.

Posted by Revising history
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 8, 2009 at 2:01 pm

What about the City Council? Do they share in any of the responsibility? I think the report puts part of the blame on them as well for lack of guidance and/or oversight.
Given the cosy relationship between the council and the theater, I doubt that they will shoulder any of the responsibility.

Posted by City Employee
a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2009 at 4:19 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 8, 2009 at 10:45 pm

There are many lessons to be learned from this debacle. The question is, will anything change? Or will it be a case of “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”?

The council can’t apologize enough – now that it’s too late – but where were they during the 11 long months of the so-called investigation? Where were they when residents were asking what was going on?

Council always has excuses: “We don’t manage, we set policy.” “We can’t interfere with a police investigation.” They keep forgetting that one of their responsibilities is OVERSIGHT. Why else did Benest have free reign for so long?

Benest, Richard James, Chief Johnson, Sergeant Yore: apparently none of them were doing their jobs properly, but all retired with honors. And now they’re enjoying their pensions instead of being held accountable.

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