A brouhaha is a public clamor over a critical matter. A foofaraw is a clamor over a petty matter. At Balboa Park's Junior Theatre, a group of parents and attendees believe there have been serious — perhaps even criminal — actions by the board of trustees and administration that began over an incident last year when the executive director allegedly grabbed and shook a teenage female cast member after charging unannounced into the girls' dressing room.
Board members and other parents authorized an investigation of the matter, proclaimed it an innocent one. The incident happened "offstage," they say.
The indignant group says the investigation was a whitewash and the board consists of a clique of long-time friends, including attorney Gil Cabrera, vice chair of the convention center board, and his wife Krista Cabrera, a lawyer.
Attorney Matt Valenti, head of the protesting group, will send a letter and a 110-page, detailed complaint to the mayor and council next week. He says that Jimmy Saba, executive director, is guilty of charging into the girls' dressing room and shaking the student. Two key employees, production manager Tony Cucuzzella and artistic director Rayme Sciaroni were fired after reporting the incident to the board, Valenti says.Two other key employees were victims of "targeted intimidation" for resisting the board on the matter, Valenti maintains.
The complaint charges numerous insiders with conflicts of interest, possible financial irregularities, and unethical behavior.
Cabrera refused to comment and asked that his name not be used in the Reader story. However, this is impossible since his name is all over the complaint which was sent to the state attorney general March 15 and also was sent recently to district attorney Bonnie Dumanis and city attorney Mara Elliott. He has been quoted in the media on the matter.
I will honor Cabrera's complaint not to be quoted. He pointed to a statement the organization made to the media last fall. It stated that a independent investigator concluded that Saba "did not act inappropriately." The statement referred to "false rumors" about the incident. Said the report, "The attorney that conducted the review interviewed all of the employees that had witnessed or heard about the incident and spoke to the student's father asking permission to speak with the student. The student's father indicated that he had picked up the student that day, the student had not raised any issues with him, and that he doubted "[the student] considered it a big deal."
One wonders, however, who wrote the trustees' statement. One sentence began "The employee placed their hand…" Another statement explained, "When the employee was done with this discussion, they were personally disappointed with themself…"