Tag Archives: Seattle

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. 


artEASTAugminutes


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

Mike,

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. 


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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.


thought-police-500x200
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.


January 2015: Membership fee is refunded.


We’ll deny you membership — and keep your money.


From: artEAST Art Center <info@arteast.org>
Subject: Your Membership Application
Date: January 19, 2015 3:40:16 PST
To:  [Victim]i


Per our previous communication*
with you on this matter, your membership application has been denied.  Your fee has been refunded.  Further application fees will be retained to cover administration costs.

artEAST Board of Directors

No virus found in this message.
Checked by AVG – www.avg.com
Version: 2015.0.5645 / Virus Database: 4260/8960 – Release Date: 01/19/15

*“Per our previous communication…” is a useful phrase to imply reason when reason is lacking. 


Addressing the President for help.


Subject: Fwd: Your Membership Application
Date: January 19, 2015 6:10:51  PST
To: Farshad Alamdari <artpath@me.com>

Farshad,

Are you aware that there is bullying within artEAST? I replied to the email, attached below [above], asking who sent it and on what grounds I am denied membership, but there has been no response and I doubt there will be. Bullies don’t give reasons.

The abuse has been going on for almost two years and I have had enough. Without further delay, I need to know what you intend to do about it.

Greetings, [Victim]


The President doesn’t want to get involved.

It is the general unwillingness of bystanders to undertake any type of risks that bullies often rely upon in order to maintain their power.

hear-no-evil-see-no-evil-speak-no-evil


From: Farshad Alamdari [artpath@me.com]
Sent: Monday, January 19, 2015 6:21 PM
To:  [Victim]
Cc: Karen Abel [karen@theabels.org]
Subject: Re: Your Membership Application

Hi – sorry but I don’t get involve with artEAST operations and processes. PLease contact Executive Director, Karen Abel. Thanks

farshad

| Dr. Farshad Alamdari| artPATH LLC | 206.484.9888 |www.artpath.me |


“You have been treated with the utmost respect…” 

[…on a few occasions.]


From: Karen Abel [karen@theabels.org]
Sent: Tuesday, January 20
To:  [Victim]
Cc: ‘Farshad Alamdari’; Mike Larson
Subject: RE: Your Membership Application

Dear [Victim],

You have received numerous* written, verbal and email communications regarding your membership as well as your concerns of mistreatment. Your concerns were addressed* and the issue was closed. (letter attached).  For the reasons stated in the previous letter (attached), the Board decided to not accept membership from you.  That position has not changed, nor will it change.

You have been treated with the utmost respect and courtesy* by everyone you interacted with during visits in 2014 to the Art Center and Blakely Hall, including during your attendance at the members-only salon night to which you were not invited.

Further communication on the issue of membership will not be addressed,** and your attendance or attempt to attend members-only events, will be considered harassment of the artEAST staff and volunteers.

Karen Abel
Executive Director
artEAST

*[Half-truths are deceptive statements that include some element of truth.]
**[Stonewalling is the opposite of “the utmost respect and courtesy.”] stonewallingcontempt


Informing the President of the board of directors.
No Reply.


Hi Farshad,

Karen Abel dismisses my concerns in her latest email of January 20 by claiming that they have been addressed. That is not true, and in any case, it is not for her to decide. Not only have my concerns not been addressed; I have not even been consulted! As you can see exemplified by the letters Karen Abel attached to her email, the approach I have been subjected to has been one-sided, heavy-handed, and authoritarian. Reason and respectful communication are absent where, instead, attempts are made to bully me into submission.

It is important that you know the chronology of events for a correct understanding of some statements being made, in particular, attempts to incriminate me. From what I have gathered, it was the August 2013 board meeting that decided to deny me renewed membership, but as you can see by the letter sent to me after the meeting (and attached to Karen Abel’s email,) the decision was intentionally concealed. I learned about the decision in November 2013 and found it unacceptable for several reasons; I had not been represented at the meeting, no explanation whatsoever was given, and most importantly, because I had done nothing wrong. Without rational justification or due process, any decision to penalize any member is in opposition to the organization’s purpose and discriminatory, and therefore, cannot reasonably be considered valid. Note that later on, it is my subsequent protests and requests for an explanation that they used retroactively to justify the membership ban, again alluded to in Karen Abel’s email. This technique is sometimes called “baiting and bashing” or DARVO, wherein the victim’s reactions to the abuse are pointed to as the reason for the abuse.

Nowhere, in any of the communication I have ever received from artEAST, is there a clear statement of any wrongdoing on my part. This fundamental question is still not answered in Karen Abel’s latest email, where, in the absence of substance, she relies on vague innuendo and states unabashedly that the question shall remain unanswered, threatening with harassment charges if I don’t accept it. This behavior is hardly “the utmost respect and courtesy” she speaks of in her email. It is manipulative and malicious.


*Selective “honesty” is used to add credibility to a fundamentally dishonest and malicious endeavor.

It is true that I have received numerous communications from artEAST, as Karen Abel points out, but they have misrepresented me and my views as well as the actions of artEAST officials. Without more in-depth knowledge, you may not be able to distinguish the fabrications and distortions used by Karen Abel and Mike Larson, but the threats to intimidate me from responding and the directors’ policy of stonewalling are clear to see; with the latest examples explicit in the last paragraph of Karen Abel’s email. Some artEAST officials apparently feel entitled to deny me the right to request an explanation, challenge false statements, and refute or question malicious allegations. This pattern of controlling behavior and provocations followed by stonewalling is consistent with an intent to escalate conflict, not resolve it. artEAST officials have acted as jury, judge, and executioner in a case that looks a lot more like a personal vendetta, pursued by a few individuals using the organization as their private club, than an accountable application of clear and fair official policies. We must insist that directors and staff adhere to the organization’s rules. They are not entitled to arbitrarily make up their own.

Bullying and ostracizing an individual is never OK. It is cruel and hurtful, and it goes without saying; completely contrary to artEAST’s Core Values Policies. For these policies to carry any weight, the organization must have effective systems of accountability and reports of bullying must be taken seriously. I’m sure that you now can see why it is not realistic to suggest I contact Karen Abel, and also, why I would prefer that my correspondence with you is not shared. I reached out to you in the hope that you are a man of integrity and reason and because you are the highest authority in artEAST. I hope to find in you an ethically guided leader who will act in the best interest of the membership; recognizing the important values and principles that are at stake as well as artEAST’s reputation and eligibility for tax exempt status, which it depends upon for its operations.

I will not accept my case as closed simply because someone in a position of power with a vested interest says it is, and I hope that you won’t either. It is undeniable that the decision to terminate my membership was made secretly and against the rules, based on unverified information, without consulting with me, and without warning by people who, mostly, have never met me; and that there is a repeating pattern of artEAST officials engaging in hostile activities followed by evasion of accountability with stonewalling and threats.

I look forward to meeting you, but in the meantime, I am open to any questions or comments you might have. I do not compromise on my commitment to truthfulness and integrity.

Greetings, [Victim]

MLK450

Martin Luther King Jr.


Wherever bullying occurs, you will find small-minded, morally deficient individuals goading the bully. They participate in the abuse and become the bully’s minions.

“Abusing someone isn’t any fun if it’s only a party of two. With a crowd, there’s unlimited potential for drama. If it were just the abuser and her target, it wouldn’t be worth it to carry out a full-fledged hate campaign.”
From: The Role of the Enablers


From: “Mike Larson” <MLarson@pivotallawgroup.com>
To: “Karen Abel” <karen@theabels.org>
Cc: “Farshad Alamdari” <artpath@me.com>
Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2015 12:08:26 PM
Subject: RE: Your Membership Application

Karen:  [Victim] is certainly persistent. Well done. Mike

Michael A. Larson
Attorney at Law

image0011

One Union Square, Suite 1730
600 University Street
Seattle, Washington 98101
Telephone 206.340.2008
Dir 206.340.1131
Facsimile 206.340.1962
www.PivotalLawGroup.com

The information contained in this electronic message may be privileged and confidential information intended only for the use of the individual or entity named above. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by telephone (collect, if necessary) and delete any and all copies of the electronic message.
IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice in this communication (including attachments) is not intended by Pivotal Law Group, PLLC to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of: (1) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code; or (2) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.

Please consider the environment before printing this email. Thank you.


A membership ban is unacceptable: 11 reasons


Respect our disrespect—or else!


On Nov 19, 2013, Mike Larson, tax lawyer and artEAST board director, wrote:
[Victim’s interpretations in brackets.]

[Victim]:

Your November 17 email has been forwarded to the full board of directors.  We will not be further exploring the November 13 incident directly with you because other members witnessed the incident, your subsequent attempt to renewal your membership and your visit to the gallery on the afternoon of Thursday, November 14.  Those individuals can provide independent feedback. [ We will not hear your side of the story because we care only about our own version, and because some people saw you at the gallery when you were there.

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. [You have been banned because we know—without asking you—that some of your opinions about some things are different from some other members’ opinions about those things.] 

We are requesting that you respect our concerns and immediately end the relationship and all communication with artEAST.  Not accepting our request to end the relationship and communicate with any staff or board member will be understood as a continuance of a harassing, intimidating pattern of behavior toward artEAST. [If you defy our gag order or protest mistreatment, we will retaliate with false allegations.]

This will be the last communication you will receive from artEAST. Please respect that. [We shall continue to violate your rights and treat you with disrespect, ostracize you, ignore your attempts to be heard, deny your requests for clarifications and explanations, and refuse to engage in rational dialog and conflict resolution. If you do not submit to our bullying, we will say that you are behaving disrespectfully.]

Michael A. Larson
Attorney at Law

image0011

One Union Square, Suite 1730
600 University Street
Seattle, Washington 98101
Telephone 206.340.2008
Dir 206.340.1131
Facsimile 206.340.1962
www.PivotalLawGroup.com

The information contained in this electronic message may be privileged and confidential information intended only for the use of the individual or entity named above. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by telephone (collect, if necessary) and delete any and all copies of the electronic message.

IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice in this communication (including attachments) is not intended by Pivotal Law Group, PLLC to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of: (1) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code; or (2) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.

Please consider the environment before printing this email. Thank you.


No. This is not acceptable.


Subject: Re: artEAST
Date: November 20, 2013
To: Mike Larson <MLarson@pivotallawgroup.com>

Mike:

A membership ban is unacceptable because:

1.  I have paid my membership dues.
2.  I have done nothing wrong.
3.  I have not been given a reason.
4.  No allegations of wrongdoing have been presented.
5.  I have not had the opportunity to respond to allegations that are either secret or don’t exist.
6.  I don’t believe that all of the directors support social aggression.
7.  I don’t believe that the membership supports social aggression.
8.  The board does not have the privilege to ban members without due process.
9.  The board does not have the privilege to ban a member who hasn’t been proven guilty of grave misconduct.
10. The board does not have the privilege to discriminate against any member for personal reasons, such as bias, malevolence, or retaliation.
11. ArtEast is not a private club. No one has the authority to decide at their discretion who may or may not join.

My requests for clarification have been ignored repeatedly. Your innuendo about a “viewpoint on specific events continues to differ…” is too vague to be meaningful. What viewpoint? What events? Differs from what? I think I am entitled to know what you are referring to. I believe that the members of ArtEast, along with me and anyone who values freedom of expression and open, respectful discussion, will regard your statement about a “differing viewpoint” as an expression of intolerance—not a valid reason to ban an upstanding member. If you have a justification, then cut to the chase and spell it out. Your continued refusal to be specific and give me a reason makes it pretty clear that you don’t have one. “Thus we deem it absolutely necessary” is not a reason.

As a lawyer, you should know that judging and penalizing anyone without any charges and without a hearing contradicts basic rights, judicial practices, and moral values. If the “independent feedback” you mention contains allegations of wrongdoing, than I am entitled to know what they are. I should also be allowed to face any accuser and to defend myself. If not, then the so called “independent feedback” is nothing but malicious gossip and should be dismissed as such.

The use of threats and intimidation tactics is uncalled for, inappropriate, and ineffective—fitting for a mafia, perhaps, but a disgrace coming from a representative of a reputable artists’ organization—and your gag order is simply outrageous. You will not succeed with bullying me into silence, especially not in the face of injustice.

You have made it clear that you intend to continue ignoring my valid questions and that you have no intention of furnishing a reason for the extraordinary decision to ban a longstanding member and generous contributor, presumably unheard of in the history of the organization, leaving serious issues unresolved.

ArtEast members expect honorable, respectful conduct from their representatives and I am confident they will find this witch-hunt deplorable. My rights have been seriously violated. A board that takes such extreme measures against any individual member without due process is no longer representative of the membership. Anyone who has abused their position, acted out of malevolence and against basic moral principles and the interests of the members, is a liability to the organization and shall be held accountable. An option, probably worth considering for some board directors, is to resign now.