I absolutely accept that I will not convince you of anything, but for the benefit of others who may be tempted to accept your claims without challenge, I respond:
Please be specific about your unsupported claim that the input of over a thousand patrons and members were ignored? Who are these thousand people? Are you referring to the online dissident petition calling for RPO heads to roll? You may feel that that is a legitimate HR mechanism. Others do not. The RPO Music Director and the CEO report to the Board and their employment status is not and will not be determined by online polls. I also consider the online polls in the D&C asking readers whether Maestro Remmereit (earlier poll) should have been fired or if Charlie Owens (recent poll) should be fired, despicable, even though both tallies supported the RPO. Still, it's a throwback to the Roman Coliseum where crowds voted "Thumbs up / Thumbs Down" with hungry lions waiting for the count. How would you like you employment determined by a poll of poorly informed readers? I'll just go for the more common end-of-year review, thank you!
The fact is that all "RPO members" (individuals contributing at least $75 or companies who gave at least $300.) according to the RPO record dates received ballots. If you were a paid-up member, you received a ballot. The vote was monitored and validated by an outside accounting firm (Bonadio). What you really mean when you say "ignored," is that the vote did not come out the way you wished. The so-called "dissidents" went to court to argue the validity of the record date. Judge Fisher denied all those claims and admonished the attorney on her abuse of the legal system. In the meantime , this caused very real "harm to the musicians" by forcing the RPO to spend thousands of dollars in legal costs defending that nuisance suit. Money the RPO does not have to spare. You are now suggesting going to court again. If one claims to love and support the RPO as an institution, and wish the musicians (or at least YOUR musicians) no harm; this to is a strange way to show it.
Yes, the musicians are split. A sad turn of events. Fortunately, they are ALL so professional that they set that aside when the music starts. Still, for every musician lining up one one side of this, there is another with an opposing point of view. But if you see the choice as either "supporting an organization" (you disapprove of) or to "harm the musicians," you will agree that harming the musicians cannot be a selective process; you do them all ill.
By claiming that "the leadership blatantly scorns us," what you are really saying is that you disagree with the decision that was made and don't like the result, as is your right. I might well feel the Democrats "scorned" me last November, but I would be wrong. It was a democratic process and they had the votes. The Board deliberated and discussed the serious issues before them for over 18 months. There was disagreement and at times, regrettably, a bit more heat than light. Intelligent, well-meaning people can disagree and occasionally harsh words are spoken. But everyone, without exception, had the best interests of the RPO at heart, as they saw it. In the end some 80% of the Board was in agreement.
The right decision is to support the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra for the good of the community and for the treasure it is. We need to move forward. Buy tickets. Write a check. Go hear wonderful music.
"Finally, there's been enough dissident talk about withdrawing financial support – even about urging governments to cut off funds. That will cripple the orchestra."
Let me pose a question. Should the input of over a thousand patrons and members be ignored, in addition to multiple musicians who feel Remmereit acted appropriately? We members were denied a voice and a vote. We are obviously upset with the outcome of this situation. This puts us in a quandary: we can support an organization whose leadership blatantly scorns us, or we can harm the musicians. Thus, I would love your input, Ms Towler, as to how to satisfactorily resolve this problem. As far as I can tell, the only other way to resolve these conflicting goals is going to court.
Bill has stated the case fully and eloquently as far as the musicians are concerned. The "Climate of Fear" argument is so specious it deserves no further attention. As for Bill's sniffing the air for an unpleasant aroma, may I assure him that no Lysol spray is needed. Maestro Remmereit went into the RPO offices during the Thanksgiving holiday and cleaned out his office. All that was left was a small stuffed U of R mascot on a shelf . This was before any decision to terminate was made. What would you conclude of an employee's intentions if he or she cleans out their office and is not seen again ? Let's be reasonable. More to the point; there were concerts to be rehearsed and performed with deadlines rapidly approaching. Uncertainty was not an option. The Board and the RPO staff moved in the direction they needed to go.
If you take a tour of the other internet and media sites in which this issue is being discussed (at least the ones not controlled and censored by Remmereit supporters) I believe you'll find that this allegation of a "climate of fear" among RPO musicians has been thoroughly discredited.
For example, on the "Slipped Disc" website a gentlemen who has far more knowledge of this question than any of us in the public and even more than the vast majority of the RPO itself, having been an RPO musician for almost 30 years and having worked directly with Owens, the board and the maestro over the past two years, posted just this morning that:
"I would also like to debunk the “climate of fear” I keep reading about in this discussion thread, and others, which is used as an explanation about why more RPO musicians aren’t speaking out in support of Mr Remmereit. Some even claim they fear for their jobs. First, we, as musicians in the RPO, have a union contract, and a tenure process. .... I have been a member of the RPO for 27 years, and in that time not one musician has been fired. I have witnessed some of my colleagues try valiantly to be fired with all sorts of fantastic behaviors, but so far during my tenure none have been successful. So I very much call into question the reality of such a position. I would even say that I believe that it is virtually impossible for a musician to be fired from the RPO."
For myself I have asked those who claim the existence of intimidation, harassment or even ugly scowls from Owens, Rice, the board or the RPO administration to step up and provide their proofs. So far the only response has been a deafening silence.
The above being said, the one action of the board which does seem to exude an unpleasant aroma is the timing of the November truncating of Remmereit’s contract. While there is nothing undemocratic in the fact that nominations for January board seat elections must be submitted by the end of October, if Owens, Rice or any other board member knew BEFORE the October deadline that the November action against Remmereit was going to take place then they should have found a way consistent with the RPO’s bylaws that the inevitable opponents to their move would have the ability to compile a slate of candidates. By this means the January election would have been a fair fight and would not have had the appearance of a put up job.
"EH" - You are quite right, it is Buttercup in Pinafore. Guess that's what happens if I post when I am tired. But the quote still applies.
Been There: That particular quote is actually from Pinafore.
Wade, partly the latter, and partly that the claims made about Maestro Remmereit's behavior were all too often twisted half truths. A casual conversation about post partum weight loss (his wife had recently given birth) was later reinterpreted as a demand that a staffer 'lose weight.' Stuff like that.
Ms. Matchett, 'Snarky' does describe your remark to Dr. Curtis, an internationally known expert in the field of serious music written by women. I don't doubt your experience at the RPO, and I am truly glad that you were treated well, and that people were on their 'good behavior' during your tenure. I wish that was not the exception to the rule, but from my experience and observation, and that of many I know that left, it was. Good luck to you in future endeavors. Just remember what the maid of all works sings in Pirates of Penzance: "Things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream,,,"
Thanks for the article, Mary Anna.
I have seen stated in this and other articles and have heard second - hand that Remmereit made harsh criticisms of musicians and administrative staff. What I haven't heard addressed at all is whether those criticisms were justified. Was he unfairly criticizing people who were doing a good job or was he starting to enforce high standards that people weren't used to upholding?
Mr. There (though that does not appear to be a real name), I agree that my previous comment in response to Ms. Curtis was a bit snarky, and, in a way, the type of knee-jerk reaction I first condemned. I do not feel comfortable telling you when and for how long I was at the RPO, simply because I fear it may have been in an attempt to "one-up" me, so to speak, or somehow invalidate my assertion that the RPO was a happy place for me. I also don't think it's relevant within the context of this forum, and let me tell you why:
My initial comment was meant to do nothing more than say something nice about the administration and the people in it that helped my blossoming career, citing my own experiences in no specific detail and claiming no insider-level of expertise. Now, put yourself in my shoes for a minute, and imagine someone responds with something effectively saying "no, that nice, relatively innocuous thing you just said is wrong and here's some blatantly partial evidence as to why." It was frustrating. It was a provocative response, and I was provoked.
I am sure that your experiences also have validity. After all, different people can experience different things at the same organization. I am not saying that mine is the only true experience, but it is the only true experience to which I can personally speak.
I don't think there is anything more I can say, right now, or in response to any future comments, so this will be my last. I will add, though, that I thoroughly enjoyed the article. Thank you, Mary Anna Towler, for helping us RPO fans make sense of it all.
This has nothing to do with ego. The day before the Maestro was 'terminated," he filed a breach of contract with the RPO for creating a "hostile environment." They have a certain time period in which to respond, explaining how they will change this. They have not responded yet. When a claim like this is made, an employee does not go back to the workplace until there is evidence that the situation has been rectified. No change in the workplace , one is not supposed to be there.
Ms. Matchett, you worked at the RPO when, and for how long?
Over 30 RPO staffers have come and gone since this CEO was hired in late 2007. This was before anyone had even heard of Maestro Remmereit. Laid off, pushed out, fired, a workplace made so uncomfortable in that dirty, depressing space that people sought any escape - early retirement, moving away. I was there, and so were many friends, so this is first-hand and hard won knowledge. Some people were made to sign papers so they wouldn't tell what happened. Others filled out exit reviews that show their total disappointment, and disgust at what this workplace had become.
Can you say "Somethings in Smug Town" never change - - -
Forgive me, Ms. Curtis. I must have been mistaken, and defer to your second-hand expertise.
Ms. Matchett, the statements by statements by former board members Kishan Pandya and Gwen Sterns at the Jan. 10 meeting reveal the hostile climate and irregularities in the running of the RPO Board (lack of transparency, lack of order within Board meetings, and arbitrary use of Executive sessions for decision making, etc.). And an important set of stakeholders -- supporters of the RPO who appreciate the improvements that Remmereit has brought -- were completely disregarded. This is emphasized in reading the comments to the two petitions, available here http://tinyurl.com/FIRE-C-OWENS and here http://tinyurl.com/petition-RPO
As a former RPO employee and intern, who left before Remmereit began but after he was appointed, I must say that the environment there was always positive, welcoming and collaborative. I cannot personally speak to any discord that occurred after I left, but I can say with a fair amount of certainty that Charlie Owens did not appear to have any leadership issues and seemed to be a perfectly reasonable and professional leader while I was there.
Boards do not come to such conclusions through knee-jerk reactions. They consider the mission and all of the stakeholders before coming to their conclusion. It sounds to me more and more like this was the right call to make.
Unfortunately missing from this sorry saga are any direct public response from either the Board or Remmereit. And yes, yes we all understand that this is because neither side wants to go on record while these negotiations or discussions or whatever they are between the sides are staggering along. But this leaves the rest of us in the position of having to read the tea leaves and guess about what's going on and why.
What would be helpful would be if City could shed some light on what Remmereit has, or hasn't been doing vis-a-vis the RPO since he was informed in November that his contract was being terminated. The few flickers and glimmers that we've seen seem to indicate that he's done very little. So little in fact that the Board has declared him in default of his contract and has suspended his salary. Is this in fact the case? And if so how should we interpret Arild's inaction?
Should we assume that Remmereit's ego has superseded his professionalism and his commitment to the RPO? Surely he can not expect at this late date to be reinstated? So certainly it would be better for all if he continued to report to work, or barring that to publicly state that he would oppose any actions being taken on his behalf which could further jeopardize the financial health of the RPO?
Five to One against the editorial...I'll check back in a week.
I'm no gun nut. I do own one gun for home defense, but I don't consider myself a part of the "gun culture." Nevertheless, I find a lot of the gun-control arguments being tossed about these days to be specious.
For example: "The US gun homicide rate is 30 times that of France or Australia, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, ... and 12 times higher than the average for other developed countries."
Who cares what the "gun" homicide rate is? Shouldn't we be looking at the total homicide rate? If there's evidence that the availability of guns tends to raise the overall homicide rate, then we've got something to discuss. But to compare our gun homicide rate to that of countries where most guns are illegal is like saying that homes that are wired for electricity tend to have more electricity-caused fires than homes that rely entirely on kerosene lamps and wood-burning stoves. It's a meaningless statistic, because it tells us nothing about the overall risk of the ultimate danger, i.e., house fires.
As to your final question, "Are we really helpless to deal with one of the biggest public-health issues this country faces?," I would say this. First, you're defining the issue as "gun violence." Again, I would argue that the issue is violence, period. And on that score, it's important to remember that despite the horrific tragedies in Newtown, Webster, and elsewhere, violent crime rates have been steadily decreasing in the U.S. for decades. I don't mean to minimize how terrible those events were, but to conclude from them that we're facing a grave national crisis of gun violence reminds me of the hysteria over kidnapping that gripped many parents when they started putting photos of abducted kids on milk cartons. The crime itself hadn't become more common; it had simply been brought to the forefront of the public consciousness.
Finally, even if one accepts the notion that guns - even legally owned guns - are the problem, we can do something about it. As you recognize, the Constitution can be amended. But for that to happen, there has to be some national consensus that we should do so. Right now, we don't have anywhere near that kind of consensus. It may be a long time before we get there - maybe we never will - but that's part of the price you pay for living in a society where the will of the people still matters.
I'll bet Cuomo is kicking himself for not having children at his photo-op for signing his gun control law. Obama beat him to it!
The bone-headed stupidity, hypocrisy and irrationality of gun control freaks like the authoress defy comprehension, but by now the net results are quite predictable: gun sales, NRA membership and grassroots civil rights activism skyrocket in direct proportion to the mindless liberal hand-wringing — until it finally all just blows over.
If you're concerned about the violent behavior of nuts and thugs, then by all means do something about nuts and thugs. But in a free society you must mind your own beeswax and leave law-abiding citizens alone.
And no, we're not going to repeal the Bill of Rights.
By the way, for every innocent victim of gun violence, there are dozens of innocent victims of abortion. We might take the authoress seriously if and when she starts giving a damn about them.
...this article is a load of crap... if you want to look at statistics...start with number of dead involved with
cars/trucks... look at drug deaths.... look at DUI's....etc...but the key issue here is... people in most other countries were never allowed to have access to guns...because their governments did not want them to have guns... in
this country citizens rule... the government (except in places like new york) works for us... we don't work for it...
the next time you want to write...pick a subject where you won't look like a fool.
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