Tag Archives: Michael Larson

No response to inquiries about August 2013 board meeting minutes

Tax Lawyer and artEAST board director Mike Larson denied the existence of the board meeting minutes I had requested to see, then mailed them to me a month later. The clip shown below reveals a decision to deny me membership but it is vague, lacks rationale, and has some peculiarities. In my email to Mike Larson, below, I ask for clarification, but this was denied me. 


Subject: Re: August board meeting
Date: November 6, 2013 1:44:23 PST
To: Mike Larson <MLarson@pivotallawgroup.com>


I made a request for information October 1, and after sending a second inquiry a few days later, you told me that you would respond on October 14. Last Friday, one month after my original request, I received your letter with what looks like minutes from the ArtEast board meeting of August 14.

The minutes refer to “the drafted letter” concerning me, evidently prepared before the August board meeting. What information sources was it based on?

It’s unfortunate that the wording in the minutes is vague. Phrases such as “the situation,” “this matter,” and “the issue” are used in the minutes and by you but it is not at all clear what is being referred to. There were concerns brought to the attention of the gallery team in the Spring, but I have not addressed the board and neither have I authorized anyone else to represent me.

The executive director acknowledged that the gallery team “messed up” and the vice president apologized profusely for how I had been treated, but at the August board meeting it was agreed that I “should be removed from ListServe and not allowed to renew membership” if I reapply. On what grounds did the board arrive at that position? I think I’m entitled to know who made the suggestion and why.

The line about banning me from ArtEast was striked through. This, too, calls for an explanation.

All questions were ignored. 

The Membership Ban

You are not safe to freely share your opinions or thoughts about any topic that goes against the narcissist’s reality. You are not allowed to express your own reality. It is the individual who won’t stop thinking for themselves and expressing the truth they witness who become the “scapegoat” in a family or social context; the person on whom all the problems and dysfunction will be blamed for or deemed the cause of.

Scapegoating is in effect a smear campaign. The individual who’s got the courage to face down the narcissist’s attempts to squash the truth is bullied by the group to enforce compliance with the group’s (the narcissist’s) mentality, lest face ostracism.

The decision to ban a longstanding member and generous contributor was made arbitrarily behind closed doors. It was kept secret—even the targeted individual was kept in the dark.

artEAST leadership has not been forthcoming with their reason and has refused to discuss the problems or consider an approach other than strictly authoritarian and unilateral.

The decision makers omnipotently acted as jury, judge, and executioner—without a hearing. Surreptitiously, and without the membership’s knowledge, some board directors contravene official rules and engage in ongoing ethical violations; harassing, malicious, and vindictive behaviors, employing underhanded and dishonest tactics to harm an individual member who has done nothing wrong—and with no accountability.

The member had mentioned disrespectful treatment from Karen Abel in a private email to Jamie McKay, who was vice president at the time. In retaliation, Karen Abel and her supporters have invested considerable ingenuity and effort to penalize and socially isolate the member, who has suffered a damaged reputation, mental anguish, exclusion from the local art community, and is barred from participating in events at the art gallery and other local art related cultural events—without a valid reason, without being heard, and without permission to appeal. artEAST board directors have made it clear that they will not engage in dialogue and Karen Abel has stated that the discriminatory decision is irreversible.

Contempt for the most basic principles of justice with a callous disregard for the rights and feelings of a fellow human being are implicit in acts of social aggression. Mike Larson, an artEAST director and tax lawyer with Pivotal Law Group in Seattle, has never met the targeted artist, yet has been a particularly active participant.

image0011Immediately after the board meeting when the decision was made, in August 2013, a letter was sent to the targeted artist by registered mail on stationery from Mike Larson’s law firm. The document attempts to cast the artist in a negative light by misrepresenting facts, but oddly, makes no mention of the board’s decision to take punitive and retaliatory action against her. Evidently, the decision to prevent the artist from continuing her membership was to be kept secret—even from the target herself.

It wasn’t until several months after the fact that I happened to find out. I asked Mike Larson for an explanation. This request was refused. Other artEAST representatives have also been unresponsive, and to this day, I have not been able to verify if the membership ban decision was unanimous, as claimed by Mike Larson, or the doing of a small clique without the knowledge of the other board directors.

turn the tablesPeople who know me will describe me as quiet, thoughtful, and reasonable. I had not broken any rules or behaved in any way that could even remotely be considered disruptive or threatening, yet now it became clear that artEAST leadership, including individuals I have never met, were using their positions to harm me.

Tactics known as staging and framing or baiting and bashing, synchronized with smear campaigning, are standard practices of toxic personalities. Typically, they also enlist others to participate in insidious and cruel retaliation against a target who sets boundaries, expresses a difference of opinion, or objects to mistreatment. To give their spiteful behavior the appearance of legitimacy, abuser and supporters turn the tables and attempt to make the victim look like the wrongdoer. ( See DARVO and Playing the Blame Game as a Manipulation Tactic.)

Just as the intent to penalize and exclude me from the community was kept secret, so was the reason. Denied an answer from the people who are in a position to supply one, I have instead endured blatant abuse and intimidation tactics, including a distortion campaign, false allegations, gag orders backed up by threats, and stonewalling; behaviors unequivocally contrary to artEAST’s Core Values Policy, which also prescribes—but, it seems, is unlikely to ever enforce—disciplinary action for misconduct.

The membership has no say about who will represent them on the organization’s governing board. artEAST directors choose each other for these positions. Decision making behind closed doors and maintaining a low level of transparency allows leadership to abuse their powers and violate the rules of the organization when it suits them, with solidarity within their group ensuring them protection from criticism.

Without oversight there is no accountability, bullies expect no repercussions from their malicious activities, and abuse with impunity perpetuates. artEAST leadership has demonstrated repeatedly that it prefers to use power over reason and has no interest in resolving issues respectfully.

My persistence in requesting an explanation eventually delivered this remarkable statement from Pivotal Law Group tax lawyer and artEAST board member Mike Larson:

“The Board unanimously voted to not accept your membership renewal because your viewpoint on specific events continues to differ so significantly, and intractably, from our member’s feedback regarding the same events and thus we deem it absolutely necessary for all parties involved to completely end the relationship in order to close the issue and move forward. This member feedback extends beyond the November 13th incident* and to protect those members, we will not be providing names or additional information.”

What is he saying? Here’s one translation: 

We all agreed to ostracize you. Sharing the same (undisclosed) viewpoint about specific (undisclosed) events as our (undisclosed) member(s) is a condition for membership. We shall treat you with disrespect, violate your rights, and ignore you to prevent you from questioning or refuting the (undisclosed) statements made about you by (undisclosed) informants and to relieve these (undisclosed) informants, and ourselves, of accountability.

opinionsMike Larson implies that other member’s feedback, whigh might also be called malicious gossip, is the board’s justification for punishing and ostracizing a longstanding member and generous contributor to artEAST. His assertion that the board’s vote was unanimous is questionable, but with their stonewall policy in effect I have been unable to uncover the truth of the matter. Even in the unlikely event that all board members, having committed to supporting the local arts, artists, and an organization with open membership, feel it appropriate to counter a difference of opinion with social aggression; the actions that have been taken are beyond the scope of their authority and in breach of government expectations, not to mention morally reprehensible. There may be safety in numbers, but cowardice runs rampant there, too. Stonewalling is used to escape accountability.

Note that the board’s “investigation” and subsequent conclusions were made without the subject’s participation and without all relevant facts on the table. The bullies investigated themselves and found themselves to be without fault.

Larson also informed that no further explanations would be given. In other words; he would not clarify any of his ambiguous statements, the accused (victim) would not be allowed to know the charges held against her or who was making them, or permitted an opportunity to defend herself. Furthermore, he delivered a gag order; commanding her to not speak with anyone connected with artEAST under threat of harassment charges.

*The “November 13th incident” refers to Karen Abel’s unexplained refusal of this artist’s contributions to the last Small Works Show, despite successful participation in years prior.