Tuesday, August 5, 2014

News & Views

PLEASE NOTE: This is obviously NOT the official site of Spokane Civic Theatre. That can be found at www.spokanecivictheatre.com. This site is here for the purposes of commentary and criticism. There is nothing for sale on this site, nor is the site itself for sale. If you would like to purchase tickets for Fiddler on the Roof, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, The Women, A Christmas Carol, The Servant of Two Masters, Orphans, Nunsensations!, Clue: The Musical, Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of the Sign of Four, Sylvia, The Music Man or any other event at Spokane Civic Theatre, please visit THIS LINK to Spokane Civic Theatre's ticketing page. 

If you're new to Civic Doody, you can catch up on things HERE.

I rushed through that last post and failed to give as complete a picture of the proceedings as I would have liked. So...I'm going to flesh out my impressions just a bit more, along with some miscellaneous updates and musings.

General Updates
First of all, on a positive note, Jim Humes is apparently out as managing director at Civic, judging from the job listing posted at www.spokanecivictheatre.com (not www.spokanecivictheatre.org, mind you). I have no idea what the circumstances of his departure were, but it's good to know that his particular brand of craven self-preservation is no longer a toxin in the building.

Secondly, I somehow let the one-year anniversary of Yvonne A.K. Johnson's termination pass without comment. Okay, so...it's been a year. 


The date is set. Yvonne A.K. Johnson's appeal of the anti-SLAPP ruling against her to the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division III, will be heard on September 10, 2014. That's not so far away, but the ruling could take months to come down. At this point, I think it would be optimistic to expect it much before January of 2015, which, as fate would have it, is also when Johnson's suit against Spokane Civic Theater is scheduled to go to trial.

Summary Judgment Denied
I guess in the end, my overall sense of what happened on Friday is that it probably went the way it should have, all things being equal. Summary judgment should not be granted lightly and, given the way I feel about at-will employment law, I would rather see judges allowing cases like this to go forward than not. Does that mean Yvonne A.K. Johnson's suit is worth a damn? Absolutely not. It just means that on the breach of contract claim, there are questions that probably deserve further discovery and discussion. I come down on that side of the debate because I don't believe for a second that my case against Spokane Civic Theatre should have been dismissed and it would be inconsistent of me to argue otherwise.

Well...that's not exactly true. I actually had emails and other documents specifically demanding a three-year commitment, whereas Yvonne A.K. Johnson had a meaningless text message (or email...I can't remember) from Larry Wooley saying something to the effect of "You'll work here for as long as you want." But also, Johnson wrote the employee manual which specifically states that verbal statements from anyone cannot alter the at-will nature of a Civic employee's status. And one can't help but laugh derisively at her expectations of "good faith and fair dealing," and reliance upon an "express contract," as the basis of her defense against the motion. Still, I don't want to be a hypocrite.

In trying to figure out who to side with here, I come up at a loss. Neither Spokane Civic Theatre nor Yvonne A.K. Johnson demonstrated good faith and fair dealing in their brief relationship with me (and countless others). For that reason, as much as I want to get on-board with all of the good ju-ju about the new era that has been ushered in with the start of Keith Dixon's tenure (and that would probably be the smart political move for me...but I've only ever really been interested in honesty on this blog), I guess it's hard for me not to feel like Johnson and Spokane Civic Theatre deserve each other in what is bound to be a sloppy, tumultuous and overlong court saga. The theater never did enough to reign Johnson in or hold her accountable for past actions. Now it's their turn to deal with her wrath.

Yada yada yada
This is the time of year (the anniversary of the time between my hiring and firing) that I feel with particular acuteness the sting of unresolved trauma and regret. There's a room in the basement of our house that I have been ignoring for most of the four years that have passed since then. It's the room that was serving as our holding area for boxes and things that were sort of half unpacked. Had things not gone so terribly wrong, we would have gradually finished and turned that room into something useful, clean and organized.

I finally attacked that room recently and was struck by how freighted with emotional baggage the task was. I hand't realized that my aversion to dealing with it was deeply connected to those events. With small exceptions, we'd left that room more or less untouched. I think maybe we didn't want to acknowledge that we couldn't just pack those boxes right back up and get the fuck out of this place as soon as possible. I know I never wanted to do anything that resembled settling in any further than we already had. I did not want this to be home. And truthfully, despite my growing affection for Spokane, I still don't. It is still the place that brutalized my family and never fixed it. I don't see how we could ever call a place like that "home." Still, cleaning that room felt like a positive step psychologically—one that I had not realized I needed to take until I took it.

One More Thing
An instructive analogue to this situation has always been difficult to find. There's one that has been suggested to me on several occasions, but I've always been wary of employing it because a casual reader might find it flippant. I'm going to assume that I have no casual readers at this point (who the hell would read this shit for fun?) and trust my audience to understand that I know this to be an inexact parallel.

The analogy was brought back to mind by the following exchange I heard between an NPR reporter and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand:

CORNISH: Senator Gillibrand does this debate feel familiar to the debate over sexual assault in the military where you're trying to change a culture where the institution is built around taking care of things in-house.
GILLIBRAND: Well, the stories are the same. So for example, when I talked to Anna she says, not only was the crime itself brutal but she felt betrayed by the institution. And when you talk to a survivor from sexual assault or rape in the military it's the same thing. They'll say, I could survive the rape what I couldn't survive was the men and women in my unit or my commander turning their back on me. So it's not dissimilar when you hear the stories from survivors. (Emphasis added.)
The analogy to sexual assault is, as I've said, not exact, but it's not entirely off-base either. We were attacked in a very personal way, in this case by a stranger. The highlighted portion is precisely what rings most true for me. It is also why I am unable to let the institution off the hook. Also, because:
Moral hazard arises because an individual or institution does not take the full consequences and responsibilities of its actions, and therefore has a tendency to act less carefully than it otherwise would, leaving another party to hold some responsibility for the consequences of those actions. (Wikipedia)
Of course, a more apropos analogy would be the case of Richard R., the Pasadena high school teacher whose sexually explicit photos were hacked and sent to 200 students at his school. His colleagues and students rose to his defense, but they never had to demonstrate the endurance of their support because the institution did not abandon him. He was never in danger of losing his job, according to school district officials. Must be nice.


  1. "Not exact"? To compare whatever offenses you suffered to a sexual assault in any way is insane. I've observed your dispute with some interest without picking a side, but you just made it easy for me. You make me sick.

  2. I don't typically publish negative comments that are written anonymously, but I'm intrigued by yours. Let me ask you this: would you consider that someone who was the victim of textbook revenge porn had suffered something at least akin to sexual assault, if only on an emotional level? (If you're not sure what revenge porn is, please google it and read just a bit.) If not, I don't think we'll get anywhere by arguing about this. If so, then I think you must be missing some details, because the incident that started this all was pretty closely related to that phenomenon.