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Corporate Office:
101 C   J. Michaels Lane
Jeannette, PA 15644
724-527-7775
[email protected]

​Performance Venue
227 Main Street
Latrobe, PA 15650
724-527-7775
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Cabaret Theatre goes on the offensive
Cabaret vs. City of Latrobe
WARNING:  THIS IS VERY LONG.   YOU WILL NEED AT LEAST A HALF HOUR

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THE RESPONSE TO THE NOVEMBER 14, 2018 LETTER 

            Your correspondence dated November 14, 2018 arrived at our office on Saturday, November 17, 2018.  We do not dispute the fact that water drips from the marquee of our building onto the sidewalk below and that in freezing weather it turns to ice and creates a hazardous situation.  It was kind of you to inform us via email on 11/13/2018 that we needed to provide someone to place salt on the sidewalk.  We responded via email on the very same day that the matter had been attended to. Apparently, our assurances did not satisfy you or the person or persons who probably required you to write the “official” letter to us on the very next day, 11/14/2018.

          It’s important that you take note that before we received your correspondence, we were already tending to this matter.  We informed you via email dated 11/15/2018 (before we had received your letter) that we had made arrangements to have “designated salt spreaders” tend to the sidewalk when necessary as we have done in past years.  Again on 11/16/2018 (before we had received your letter) we informed you that in the process of salting the sidewalk our “designated salt spreader” reported that someone had “coned” a portion of our sidewalk and, thinking it was the City that was responsible, we thanked you and asked you to keep the city cones in place, because we did not want “hoodlums” to steal ones that belonged to us, as they apparently did in the alley behind 227 Main Street, twice. (You may recall that this was the City Manager’s response to our complaint about our missing cones.)  In a separate email on the same day (11/16/2018) we informed you we had begun the bidding process to fix the marquee roof.  (To date, we have had several contractors assess the situation and so far, three have submitted bids.  The first bid from KLM for $16,400 came prior to the situation that prompted your letter.  The two others were for $12,000 +/- and $9,600.  We are awaiting the remainder.)  Please, note that all of this occurred before your correspondence dated 11/14/2018 arrived at our office.  Surely, you agree that what we’ve done so far indicates our good faith in this matter.

          In light of our email to you on 11/13/2018, it’s difficult for us to understand why you felt it necessary to fire the warning shot across our bow with your letter the next day.  Perhaps there was pressure to do so and to do so in a very formal manner.  Whatever the case, surely you and the City will understand that it might not be possible for the repair to happen within the five-day window you have provided.  Please, consider this a formal request to grant an extension and thus avoid the penalties stated in paragraph 106.3 of the City Code for violating Ordinance 302.3.  Please, respond in writing so that no “he-said/she-said” situation arises.


  

  
OWNERSHIP DISPUTE WITH THE CITY—FRONT SIDEWALK AND ALLEYWAY SUBTERRANEAN VAULTS

            The fact that your letter concerns a possibly dangerous situation on the sidewalk fronting the theatre reminds us that apparently the ownership of that sidewalk remains an issue for the city.  It should have been clarified long before this and we thought that it had been.  Receiving your letter prompts us to say that now seems to be the appropriate time  once again to present our case to you and to the City of Latrobe’s leadership.  We say “once again,” because we had initially raised the issue shortly after we purchased our building.  In a letter dated September 20, 2016, Attorney Kansler responded and gave the City’s official opinion:


  ​​

"Sidewalk Ownership: Concerning ownership of the area of land covered by the sidewalk and where the parking meters are located, on approximately May 28, 1851, the public was granted a fifty (50 foot wide right of way to use Main Street.  This extends approximately twenty-five (25) feet fromt he center of the street towards the buildings. This right of way provided the City with the ability to conduct a variety of tasks, including the paving and maintenance of a street and the construction of parking meters. The public enjoys tht unencumbered right of way; however, the property owner abutting the street retains an ownership interest in that land to the center of the street."

  
It is true that Mr. Barnes registered his “plot plan” for Latrobe on May 28, 1851.  (Deed Book Vol. 32, page 574) The plot plan includes the piece of property on which the Cabaret Theatre building sits.  The street that would become Main Street and eventually State Route 981 is also on the plot plan.  What is not on the plan is any indication that there was a need to grant a right-of-way over anyone’s property since the street and the lots had already been plotted on Mr. Barnes’ property.  Mr. Barnes retained ownership of all the land on his registered plot and it was his intention to sell the lots he had established.  As he sold off or otherwise disposed of the lots, he retained ownership of the streets.  If he granted ownership to the City, then the City owns Main Street; if he only granted the City a right-of-way then his successors still retain ownership of the land on which the street sits.
 
          When deeds are written, the usual way to enter a right-of-way granted to a City or State over private property is to indicate that the private property begins at a point at the center of the specific road.  (As a point of reference, that’s the way the deed for our own “home property” reads, Ann.  Our home stood on farmland and the State was granted a right of way to cross over it with what eventually was called SR3077 (Penn-Adamsburg Road).  Our deed clearly and rightfully indicates that our property begins at a point in the center of SR3077 and everything else is measured from that point.  The numbers work.  And yes, we retain ownership. 
 
          Your letter states that “parts of the sidewalk abutting your property…” are in violation of the ordinance.  Without disputing the fact that there is sometimes ice on our sidewalk which is, indeed, a violation of the ordinance, we do want to clarify ownership of the sidewalk once and for all.  You say that the sidewalk abuts our property.  The clarification is this:  the sidewalk does not ABUT our property; the sidewalk IS our property. Main Street ABUTS our property. This is not an assertion; it is a fact that is supported by the measurements stated in our deed.  (Deed Book Volume 2828, page 477)

 
          We cannot overstate the importance of the data that our deed clearly provides and that our Title Insurance confirms.  The Cabaret Theatre owns 50 ft. of frontage “on the southerly side of Main Street” (State Route 981, a Department of Transportation Right-of-Way).  This means precisely what it says.  We own property on the SOUTHERLY SIDE of Main Street.  Not from the midpoint of the right-of-way but rather on the SIDE of that right-of-way.  And our property extends “a distance of 100 feet to a 20 foot alley.”  Please, note the wording.  TO a 20-foot alley.  This means that our property stops AT the point where the alley begins.  So you can see, Ann, that the important phrases are: “on the southerly side” and “to a 20 foot alley.”  We cannot overstate the importance of these words as they appear in the deed.  Words have meaning.  And if those words are not enough to convince City Officials of our ownership of the sidewalk, then perhaps the numbers in the document will.  100 ft is 100 ft.  It’s not an inch more or an inch less.  Measuring 100 ft from the front of our property to the rear either includes the sidewalk and excludes the underground vault portion of the alley (and, of course, the alley above it) or it includes the underground vault portion of the alley (and the alley above it) and excludes the sidewalk.  It’s the only way the numbers will work.  Please, be aware that unless there has been some change in the law, Ann, the numbers in a deed are sacred and must be measured to the inch.  How else will we agree on what belongs to whom?
 
   
You will remember, Ann, that we took the time to meet with City officials on December 12, 2016 concerning this very issue and we supplied the City’s Solicitor (Zachary Kansler) with all of this information.  You will also recall our position which was that the City could not have it both ways.  The numbers won’t allow it.  As we recall, the end result of the meeting was that The Cabaret Theatre’s position sounded reasonable, but that the City Solicitor would further research the matter and report his findings.  He never did and we considered his silence an indication that the matter was settled.   
 
          The issue resurfaced at a meeting between The Cabaret Theatre and the Westmoreland County Tax Assessment Board as we were seeking property tax relief from the City of Latrobe, the Greater Latrobe School District, and Westmoreland County.  The City Solicitor was at the meeting and made a statement that confused us.  After the meeting we agreed that we would contact Mayor Wolford for clarification.  Here is the email requesting information. 
  

​​

  
John Carosella
2/16/2018 6:56 AM
To  Rosie Wolford 

Rosie...
Good Morning….
Yesterday we had two meetings at the courhouse and neither of them was very good.  The meeting with the Tax Assessment people to try to get tax exemption is the one that I wanted to ask about.  The City attorney was there, and when the matter of the utilities coming to the theater building came up, we answered that they came through the vault under the City Alley.  Mr. Kanzler spoke up and said that whether the vault was the City's or not was as yet unresolved.
That's what confused me and caused me a good deal of sleeplessness lastnight.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't we resolve that issue at that meeting we had when the tables were arranged in a large square?  Didn't we determine that the alley and vaults were the city's and the sidewalk was Cabaret's?  
          Here is the Mayor’s response.


Rosie M Wolford
2/16/2018 9:05 AM
To  John Carosella 

John,
I seriously do not recall.  What I do know is that the land where rights of way are located is owned by the adjacent property owner.  That is Pennsylvania law.  The property owner owns the ground underneath the right of way and the air above it but they can not use the space in such a fashion as to impede the public’s right of way. 

Anything further will need to be addressed to our solicitor.

Thanks
Rosie

  

  
The Mayor’s response was worrisome.  Of course, we did not expect her to have such legal expertise at her fingertips, but we did expect that she would remember the meeting and check with the City’s Solicitor on the accuracy of her answer before she did so. It’s possible that she did consult with Mr. Kansler, because her answer was merely a recycling of the incorrect opinion that he offered at the December 12, 2016 meeting—and we stress the word opinion.

          In light of that recycled opinion and relatively certain of our own, we turned to the experts in the field—the women and men of our Title Insurance Company (First American Title Insurance).  After repeated attempts to obtain a response from City Officials on the matter in question, the title insurance company (well-versed in real estate law) provided us with its opinion and it was that The Cabaret Theatre does, indeed, own the sidewalk in front of its building at 227 Main Street.  This is a portion of their response.

In relation to both the sidewalk and the alley, the City of Latrobe asserts that the Insured retains an ownership interest to the centerline of the abutting street. As shown by the enclosed plan, it appears both the alleyway and Main Street are outside the property description of the Insured Land.

4 The City has not provided any documentation to support its contention that the Insured retains an interest in the land outside of the legal description. Further, although the City has advised you of certain beliefs regarding the Insured Land and the ownership of the abutting road and right of way, the City has not challenged the Insureds’ title to the Insured Land. Your claim therefore does not fall within Covered Risk 1 of the Policy

For the reasons set forth above, we must respectfully deny liability for your claim.

(excerpt is from a letter dated December 6, 2016—emphasis and highlighting added) 

  

              The Paramount Theatre opened at this Main Street location in 1916.  The way in which the building itself was constructed is further proof of sidewalk ownership.  The theater marquee overhangs a portion of the sidewalk and extends to the point where the sidewalk abuts Main Street.  Beneath the sidewalk in that area, Paramount constructed its ladies room facilities.  The marquee occupies the airspace above the sidewalk and the restroom occupies the subterranean space below it. 

          The question of “air space” and “subterranean” (underground) space is important because of an ancient real estate law known as the ad coelum principle. In a letter to Attorney Kansler dated October 2, 2016, we quoted the ad coelum principle: “To answer that question, it seems to us that we have to look at the ad coelum principle….  Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad infernos (Latin for whoever's is the soil, it is theirs all the way to Heaven and all the way to the depths below.)”

          You will remember, Ann, the City of Latrobe itself inadvertently invoked the ad coelum principle when it demanded that we needed to get permission from the City in order to attach our new gas meter to the outside of the alley side of our building.  It was a document giving us permission to incur on the City’s airspace. It didn’t matter that the incursion was only a matter of a few inches and presented no obstacle to anyone using the alley.  A few inches are a few inches and the ad coelum principle is the ad coelum principle.  You must have this “incursion document” on file.  If not, we can provide you with a copy.  And really, Ann, we should all be using some common sense here.  What sense does it make for the City to own the sidewalk when the Theatre owns the marquee above it and the restroom below it?  It is only reasonable to assert that if that principle is applicable to a several-inch intrusion into the City’s airspace at the rear of our building (and required a legal document), then it also must apply to the front of the building as well

          There is also some circumstantial evidence that points to sidewalk ownership.  A quick glance at the decorative construction of the sidewalk will show that it is designed in an altogether different way than all the other Latrobe sidewalks.  It is obviously specifically designed to be at the entrance to the theatre.  We sincerely doubt whether it was City policy to offer special designs for each business. 

          Another bit of circumstantial evidence is something else that you can easily observe.  It is the city-owned and maintained electric vault that is constructed on the City-owned sidewalk at precisely the property line.   It does not intrude on Cabaret Theatre property. Generally speaking, when one entity wants to somehow intrude on the property of another entity (the gas meter alley intrusion), there must be a legally-granted right-of-way.  If you have access to such a document between the City and Paramount Theater or Manos Theatre or Latrobe Athletic Club, please produce it and we will surely honor it.  Until that time, we will continue to treat the sidewalk as our property.

          Ann, if the City has a differing legal opinion, then we officially request that you proceed to Common Pleas Court to file a Civil Action to resolve the issue. 
  

  
RESPONSIBILITIES OF OWNERSHIP

            Casual readers of this document may wonder why this issue of sidewalk/subterranean alley vault ownership is so important with respect to the current ordinance violation cited in your November 14, 2018 letter.  Simply put, the rights of ownership come with responsibilities.  One of those responsibilities includes maintenance and upkeep of the property.  If you continue to hold that the City and/or the State owns the sidewalk (right-of-way), then according to your own requirements for an “incursion document” in the alley, the city and/or the State also owns the airspace above the sidewalk and below it.  This means that the leaking marquee and the current state of disrepair in the restrooms then becomes the City’s and/or the State’s responsibility to fix.  If this is your stand, then we respectfully ask that you and/or the State repair and maintain both the marquee and the restrooms in a way consistent with your own regulations and ordinances as stated in code 302.3.  To put it simply once again, if the marquee is leaking and causing icy and hazardous conditions on the sidewalk and if the City/State owns the sidewalk and not The Cabaret Theatre, then the City/State is in violation of code 302.3.

          You may think this is absurd, Ann, but it is the end result of logical reasoning.  Of course, this is not our position.  We believe that we legally own the area known as “the sidewalk” which also serves as the concrete roof structure of one of our basement restrooms and which was part of the original construction by Paramount Theatres, Inc.    The Cabaret Theatre, Inc. owns the sidewalk, the marquee above it and the rest rooms beneath it.  It is, therefore, The Cabaret Theatre’s responsibility to comply with the ordinance.  And, of course, as noted above, we are in the process of doing just that.

          With respect to the alley, it is important to note that because of your position on the sidewalk, in a very real sense, the City is as much in violation of the Code 302.3 in the rear of 227 Main Street as The Cabaret Theatre is in violation of it at the front.  The City is allowing a hazardous condition to exist in the concrete-roofed portion underlying the alley and thus, the City itself must be in violation of some sort of ordinance, perhaps 302.3 which states that “all sidewalks, walkways, stairs, driveways, parking spaces and similar areas shall be kept in proper state of repair, and maintained free from hazardous conditions.” 

          Isn’t it true, Ann, that the City’s engineer has deemed that the surface structure (concrete slab) on the portion of the City’s alleyway that covers the “vaults” underneath is in a hazardous condition?  You have a copy of this document, Ann, but if you’ve somehow misplaced it, we’ll supply you with another.  You will recall that the City acknowledged this hazardous condition when it retained an engineer to issue a status report for the City’s use.  Upon receiving that report, the City placed a load limit in the alley.  (The sign indicating this is, by the way, ineffective in that not only do over-the-weight-limit garbage trucks still access dumpsters over the hazardous area, but the City has apparently also permitted another heavy dumpster to be placed in that hazardous and unstable area, thus increasing the weight on the already-stressed concrete roof.)  Failure to fully repair the vaults and merely applying the band-aid of a weight limit could have disastrous results and you know this to be true, Ann.  A heavy truck or even a passenger vehicle might cause a collapse of that portion of the alleyway, and increasing the danger is the fact that Cabaret Theatre’s 3-Phase electrical entrance is suspended from the ceiling of that first vault.  Thus far, it has survived some chunks of concrete falling onto it, but it remains in a precarious position.  It is only a matter of time until West Penn Power follows the example of Peoples Gas which concluded that having their meter in the second, deteriorating vault was too dangerous.  We should all be praying that no vehicle drops into that space and, if it should happen to be so unlucky, that the occupants are not electrocuted by severed wires.  This is not a scare tactic, Ann; it is a very real possibility.

  
Here is the end result of this narrative:  either the City owns the sidewalk, marquee, and restrooms, and must be responsible for the repair of all three or the City owns the alley, the airspace above and the vaults beneath and must, therefore, be responsible for repairing the deteriorating vaults underneath the alley.  You know where we stand, Ann.  It’s where we’ve always stood since the beginning of the journey.  The Cabaret Theatre’s Title Insurance Company maintains that deeds specifically outline what is owned.  Our 501(c)(3) corporation owns only what is spelled out in the deed (DB vol. 2828, page 477).  Nothing more and nothing less.  The Commonwealth’s laws governing property ownership are very clear and well-documented. That’s why deeds exist.
 
          Simply put once again, the City cannot have it both ways.  It cannot own the sidewalk in front of 227 Main Street AND the alleyway behind that building.  Claiming ownership of both will not match the numbers on the Cabaret Theatre deed.  Nor can the City be selective and say that it owns the alley airspace but not what is beneath the airspace.  Could it be that the Estimated $37,000 cost of removing the vaults has shaped the City Manager’s position that the City is not responsible for those vaults? Again, this is a legal matter that must be settled once and for all.
 
          Now it is time for us to put forward our theory of why the Cabaret Theatre has been the recipient of such “unwelcoming behavior” on the part of the City of Latrobe.
 
  

  

 
DECEPTION

            “It’s not the crime; it’s the cover-up.”  That was the familiar refrain during the Watergate crisis of the 1970’s.  While we are not “conspiracy theorists,” Ann, we do have a heathy curiosity about why the City has thrown so many hurdles in our way.  We’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure it out and our conclusion is that we think that it stems directly from the way that we were “tricked” into buying the building in the first place.  We put that word into quotation marks, because we really don’t think that the deception was intentional.  We do, however, think that the cover-up of the unintended deception was and continues to be intentional, and that makes it all the worse. 

          City Manager Wayne Jones invited us to see the building before it had been placed on the market.  He was happy that we were interested and we were happy that it appeared to be such a good deal.  It was a dream-come-true for the Cabaret Theatre, but it has turned into a nightmare and we speculate that it was the attempt to cover up the initial mistake that has made it so.  We will now take the opportunity to present the situation in such a way that even the most casual reader will understand what we are saying.

          You are well aware of the fact that The Cabaret Theatre has been unable to obtain an Occupancy Permit from the City because of the need to install a sprinkler system on all three floors of our building.  We would like to take this opportunity to remind you once again of the role YOU (or perhaps some other “commercial code officer”) played in deceiving The Cabaret Theatre before the theatre company purchased the building. 

          Before we purchased the building, we had one very important question:  if we turned the Athletic Club into a space for live theatre, would we need to install a sprinkler system?  As you know, Ann, John Horanic (BJ) has spent most of his life working in the trades and consequently he has become very familiar with checking on building code requirements before bidding a job. City Manager Wayne Jones acknowledges that we asked the question in his email dated April 16, 2015, four months before we closed on the building on August 13, 2015.  In this email, he is quite clear that he consulted either with you or some other commercial code officer concerning the sprinkler system.  The email could not be more specific.
  

  
From: "Wayne Jones"
To: "Tina" [email protected], "John Light" , "Joey M1" , "Clark Stewart [Home]" [email protected]
Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2015 11:49:10 AM
Subject: Building in Latrobe

To all,
I believe I mentioned to John (big and little) about the old Manos theater coming up for sale in Latrobe.
The concern raised by the two was, would the building which was converted to an athletic center, need sprinklers for it to be turned back into a theater.
After discussions with the commercial code officer it was determined that because the public will be on one floor, no sprinklers are needed.

  

  
We have truncated the email which, if you were to read it, would indicate that Mr. Jones was excited about the possibility of a theatre company operating out of the old ManosTheatre/ Latrobe Athletic Club, in Latrobe.  (The entire email can be provided upon request.  We only included the portion that has information pertinent to our situation:  that John (big and little) “ refers to John Carosella and John Horanic, that there was concern about needing a sprinkler system, and that a discussion with “the commercial code officer” had determined that none would be needed so long as the public would only be on one floor.  We have taken the liberty of highlighting that very important sentence.)

          As you know, Ann, this is the crux of the problem.  Here are some simple questions that we have and that you should have.  In fact, anyone who has any interest at all in the City of Latrobe should have them, because the answers can determine the quality and veracity of some City Government officials:

          Were the two representatives of The Cabaret Theatre aware that installing sprinklers might be a problem?

          Who was the “commercial code officer” that was consulted?

          Precisely what did the consulted commercial code officer say?
         
          What is the interpretation of the word public?

These are our answers, Ann:

          Because of John Horanic’s expertise in these matters, he was diligent enough to ask whether a “change of usage” for the building would require installing a sprinkler system.  Although we did not know what the building’s use designation was at the time, we did know that ours would have to be A-1 in order to allow for live theatre. That’s why we asked.

          Since the “commercial code officer” that City Manager Wayne Jones consulted with was not named in the email, only Wayne Jones knows for sure with whom he consulted.  We will, however, do a little speculating.  We know for a fact, Ann, that you are not (or were not at the time) licensed to be a “commercial” code officer.  Your expertise was as a “residential” code officer.  We also know that the City had contracted with a group known as Building Inspection Underwriters (BIU) to do all of the City’s “commercial” work.  This seems to indicate that if Mr. Jones were to consult with anyone concerning a commercial piece of property, it would have to be with a representative of BIU.  We are also aware that the BIU representative for Latrobe commercial code work is Keith Coll, the man who on June 8, 2016 delivered us the news that we could not obtain an Occupancy Permit without a sprinkler system on all three floors of the building, regardless of whether or not the public was only going to be on the ground level floor.  If Mr. Coll was “the commercial code officer” consulted, he would have revealed the need for the sprinkler system at that time and all of this fuss would have been avoided. 

          Insofar as the meaning of the word public is concerned, it seems obvious to us from the emails.  The “public” means those who come to see shows.  The “company” is not part of the public.  This is very similar to the way as some businesses post notices that say there are “no public rest rooms” available.  The signs do not mean there are no restrooms; they mean that “the public” is not invited to use the restrooms that exist for the employees.  Simple.
         
          In light of these observations, Ann, our conclusion is that if Wayne Jones did not consult with you because you are certified in residential and not commercial, then he deceived us in order to facilitate the sale of the building. Why this conclusion?  If he had consulted with Keith Coll (or anyone at BIU, for that matter) he would have been told from the start that we needed sprinklers.  If, on the other hand, he did consult with you and you delivered the opinion when not properly certified, then he not only deceived the Cabaret Theatre but the State agency that demands adherence to the certification laws.  Finally, if he never consulted with any code officer at all, then what he wrote in his email was an outright lie.   
 
Was this an unwitting deception?  An unintended deception?  An accidental deception?  All of those are, we suppose, possible; but all of them have something in common. They are all deceptions.  Would the situation have been different if Mr. Jones had owned up to the mistake immediately?  You bet it would have been, Ann.  BJ was quite familiar with the cost of such sprinkler systems and he also knew that our financial situation was such that we could not afford such a system.
 
          Perhaps Mr. Jones did not consult a code officer at all and only “pretended” to know the code so that he could appear knowledgeable and offer us the kind of assurance we needed in order to move forward with the purchase.  The Cabaret Theatre in an email from John Carosella to the Board reinforces the information that Wayne Jones had provided us.
  
  

  
4/22/2015 6:01 AM
To  [email protected],    [email protected]   and 7 others

Good Morning, Everyone...

BJ and I met Wayne and Lori at the old Manos Theater building in Latrobe yesterday, and I was very pleasantly surprised by what I saw.  As a matter of fact, I was rather excited.  The building has wonderful possibilities for the immediate future as well as for long-term prospects….  
A stage can easily be installed at the far end of the lower level of the main floor where there is also room for seating (either table seating or regular chair seating) and the upper area can also be used for some seating.  I estimate that there is probably room for a comfortable 80 to 100. The ceiling in the stage area is not as high as would be ideal, but it would be suitable for a beginning.   Upstairs are three HUGE handball courts with very high ceilings as well as a mirrored room that was used as a dance studio.  

There are, however, restrictions on the use of both basement and upstairs. Currently, sprinklers do not need to be installed as long as the public is only invited to use the main floor.  My thinking is that if we went forward with this, we would do so in phases that would open up various parts of the building as they came up to code and as we figured the best use for them.  The upstairs handball courts is IDEAL for a black box with movable arena seating, but that's getting way ahead of myself….

            (Highlighting has been added.)
  

  
It’s important to note that from the very beginning, The Cabaret Theatre Company INTENDED TO USE THE ENTIRE BUILDING for the theatre company’s use, but initially not for the public.  There was no change in thinking mid-stream as city officials were later to have alleged as part of the “cover-up” of the initial deception.  The plan was to use the basement area for dressing rooms, shop space, green room. The upstairs was primarily for storage of props, set pieces, costumes.  In fact, in his email of 4/16/2015 Mr. Jones states that there is “Enough storage that even Little John couldn't fill right away.”  The sentence, “That’s getting way ahead of myself” indicates that there could also be some long-term planning about eventually inviting the public to other areas of the building, but there was full understanding that doing so would trigger the need for the expensive sprinkler system.

          Some will try to argue that before we bought the building, we should have seriously considered the old Latin phrase that warns: caveat emptor, let the buyer beware.  The fact of the matter is that by asking the question “do we need a sprinkler system”, we were doing precisely that.  We asked the question of the appropriate City Official, The City Manager, who also asked the appropriate authority, “the commercial code officer.”  We had every reason to believe that the City Manager provided us with true and accurate information.  We relied on what we believed to be true and accurate.  If you were in our shoes, Ann, would you have done anything differently?  Who would you ask?  Who would you believe?

          We took the City Manager at his word and purchased the building. 

          We did so for the following reasons:  it was affordable; it did not need a sprinkler system; there was an adequate (albeit low-ceilinged) ground floor performance space; there was room enough on the ground floor for us to implement our “diversification plan” which would allow us other means of generating revenue over and above ticket sales (retail souvenir and theatre paraphernalia shop, a candy/popcorn concession with window to the street, a soda bar and caterer kitchen to facilitate table service); there was basement level space for a set and prop building shop, dressing rooms, green room, and rehearsal space equal to the stage space on the ground floor level; and there was more than ample space for prop, costume, and set piece storage on the second floor.  In short, the building had enough space for all facets of a theatre company to operate at a professional-quality level. 

          Given our shoe-string budget, we would not have purchased the building if we had known that it would need a very expensive automatic sprinkler system.

          After the closing on August 13, 2015 everything was geared toward a June 2016 opening.    Financially, we knew we had enough money to purchase the building and some family support to cover some necessary repairs.  We intended to raise (and eventually did) enough through a GoFundMe campaign to complete the relatively minor work that had to be done to obtain an Occupancy Permit. 

          What we did not anticipate was the number of obstacles the City was beginning to throw in our path.  Is it unreasonable to believe that the City Manager somehow became aware that we definitely would need the sprinkler system and was too embarrassed at his mistake to admit it and began a cover-up campaign instead?  A campaign designed to have us abandon the project even before anyone had to admit the truth?  Yes, it’s possible. 

          At first, we thought the demand for so many sets of drawings was excessive, but we accepted that it was a Bureau of Labor and Industry or an International Building Code requirement, and so we set about trying to comply with drawings of existing items and proposed items and existing electric and proposed electric and highly-detailed drawings of just about everything.  It wasn’t until April 1, 2016 that we began to have doubts about the competency of the City Administration and its hired inspection company, BIU.  The call we received from Wayne Jones on that April Fools Day was no joke.  He informed us that out of the blue and for no stated reason, BIU had changed our building’s designation from A-1 to A-3.  You know enough about commercial code, Ann, to know that A-3 does not allow for live theatre presentations.  Were we angry?  You know that John Carosella does not lose patience easily, but he lost it on the phone that day when he called the BIU inspection company incompetent.  He also memorialized his feelings in an email.

  

  
From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]
Sent: Friday, April 01, 2016 12:33 PM
To: Wayne Jones
Subject: Theatre Project

Wayne...

Either this project will be the life of me (I hope) or the death of me!  The latest bit of news is infuriating and once again I am on the verge of getting up on somebody's rooftop to shout out my displeasure!!!

Whoever the hell this "inspector" is, he informed us that HE was changing our building's usage from A-1 to A-3!  Below is a link to the UBS codebook and in it, "theatre" is A-1 and not A-3.  Either this idiot doesn't know his ass from the proverbial hole in the ground or we are giving up on this project!  It's that simple!  Please, get back to me ASAP.  

I know that you and Anne have been trying to smooth our way toward completing this project, but this latest is beyond the pale!  I am too, too old to have to endure fools, idiots, and incompetent people who seem to have no other goal but grinding an axe!
 
Check out the link and tell me I'm wrong!

http://www2.iccsafe.org/states/newjersey/nj_building/pdfs/nj_bldg_chapter3.pdf
 John


                We were so enthusiastic about our project that we did not notice that Mr. Jones had begun the blame game. 


From: "Wayne Jones"
To: [email protected], "Donna Horanic & John"
Cc: "Lori Adams"
Sent: Friday, April 1, 2016 1:20:49 PM
Subject: RE: Theatre Project

John,
First of all relax, the City hires the inspectors not the other way around.

You are an A-1 .
Ed Howley is not an issue, he inspects only residential buildings not Commercial.

I am aware that Ann sat with BJ yesterday for over an hour explaining what has to be added to your drawing to bring them up to minimal code requirements. Your Engineer didn’t even put in the correct number of grab bars in the ADA bathroom.

The inspector is going out of his way to try to help you. He could have simply failed the drawing.
Instead he called your Engineer to try to explain to him what the drawing was supposed to look like.

I realize this is frustrating but this Engineer has cost you at least 6 months and we can’t move forward until the inspector gets something close to what is required.
Wayne

            You tell us, Ann. Was this the beginning of trying to frustrate us, to nitpick us to death so that we would abandon our project and the City’s deception would never surface?  It’s certainly possible and it nearly worked.


Re: Theatre Project
[email protected]
4/1/2016 1:46 PM
To  Wayne Jones 


Wayne... 

"Relax" is not a word in my vocabulary today.  Whatever that inspector thinks of John V's work is irrlevant!  Those things can be changed and corrected, but to arbitrarily change a building's usage is surely a greater sign of an inspector's incompetence than an engineer's failing to put in the correct number of grab bars.  My thinking is that when a bathroom is marked as ADA Compliant, it means that ALL is done according to code and anyone who knows anything about code will understand that's what  "compliant" means.  

Do you deny that the inspector changed the building's status?  If not, then how do you explain that he did so?  If he did that, then how can you be so sure that he isn't exaggerating the incompetency of "OUR" engineer whom you seem to think cost us 6 months of time.  Need I remind you that the City of Latrobe and the Commonwealth did nothing...I repeat NOTHING...to help us generate those drawings that had to be done from scratch?  Where were all the codes and compliance people for the last folks who renovated?  Don't get me started, Wayne.  There is plenty of blame to go around here.  We could have GAINED those six months is we had had some initial drawings to work with.  But they weren't there...and apparently they weren't anywhere and sadly were probably not required--even though there were "requirements" even back then.

When we opened the old Cabaret Theatre, we had detailed drawings of the barn we occupied and we personally took to Harrisburg where they are probably still on file. Where are the drawings for the Athletic Club? Who was there to tell us WHY the measurements took so long?  Who knew that a superstructure had been inserted inside the shell and that threw all the measurements off?  Who did NOT indicate that there were "rooms" underneath the alley and the sidewalk?  Oh, yes, Wayne...there is plenty of blame to go around.   So I wouldn't be too quick to speak diparagingly about our Engineer without doing so about all the city officials and inspectors who failed along the way…. (remainder of email available upon request)

John


            Despite an exhausting and sometimes- irritating back-and-forth with the City over the increasing number of hurdles we had to negotiate, we continued to move forward.  Tempers flared more and more often and rather than trying to resolve issues, Mr. Jones refused to take phone calls from us and he enlisted the Mayor’s help in requiring us to ask all questions of the City Solicitor, Zachary Kansler.  You recall this fuss, don’t you Ann?   In retrospect, it appears that he was angry because our persistence foiled the plan to cover-up the deception.
 
           On June 8, 2016 everything stopped.  Keith Coll (Building Inspection Underwriters, the company contracted by the City of Latrobe to do its commercial code enforcement) sent his notice.  That’s the day on which we were informed that we would not be able to obtain an Occupancy Permit unless we installed a complete an automatic sprinkler system on all three floors of our building and fulfilled eleven other tasks. A quick glance will reveal eleven “doable” requirements and one that we could not afford to do—the sprinkler system.  We don’t believe that the news came as a shock to you or Mr. Jones.  Here is the document.
  
  

  
The document cites the International Building Code (IBC) F903.2.1.1 for the Assembly Group that includes live performance theatres—A-1.  This is the law as it is written.

“An automatic sprinkler system shall be provided for fire areas containing A-1 occupancies and intervening floors of the building where one of the following exists:

 The fire area exceeds 12,000 square ft.

The fire area has an occupancy load of 300 or more


The fire area is located on a floor other than a level of exit discharge serving such occupancies


The fire area contains a multi-theater complex”

          You know, Ann, that our building (fire area) contains approximately 15,000 square feet and you also know that neither the second floor nor the basement discharges immediately to ground level.  We have taken the liberty of highlighting numbers 1 and 3.  There is no getting around the fact that our building requires an automatic sprinkler system on all three floors.  This is information that the City Administration has taken great pains to obscure by first spreading the untruth that we could operate on one floor without a system and then further muddying the actual truth by creating the diversion that we changed our minds and therefore triggered the need for sprinklers. And most recently the outright lie that the Cabaret Theatre is dragging its feet in the process of opening.  All are false.

          History proves that it was right around this time that we began to question the veracity of the City in its dealings with our theatre company.  The situation:  There were building materials stored in the alleyway behind the theatre (not blocking anyone’s access) and that began the harassment.  Please, notice the change in tone of Mr. Jones’ email that was a response to one we had sent to you.


RE: Ordinance Violation
Wayne Jones
9/7/2016 2:39 PM
To  [email protected],    Rosie Wolford,    Ann Powell  
As Ann is on vacation, I am answering for her.
As you are aware, a permit must be applied for and drawings must be reviewed before any further work can be done within the building.
 Wayne Jones


            Apparently, we had too many questions about what was being demanded of us, Ann, because as you probably well remember, it was about that time when we were no longer permitted to call the Solicitor; we had to put all of our concerns in writing.  This was the very cumbersome situation that led to the meeting alluded to above—the one in which we thought we had settled the ownership questions.  We thought we had made progress at that meeting, but again in retrospect, it seems that it was merely a stalling tactic, which now makes sense if viewed in the light of the possibility that we were in the midst of a cover-up.

            What you have read thus far, Ann, are indisputable, documented facts.  And facts matter. Where we have speculated, we have noted that we have speculated.   Ignoring these facts and trying to substitute fabrications is dishonest and a naked attempt to play “the blame game.”  Doing so is beneath what should be the dignity of a City Official. 

          We believe this has been an on-going attempt to influence public opinion and public support against the Cabaret Theatre by indulging in a cover-up of the mistakes made in the name of the City of Latrobe.  To admit them at this point would be very difficult.  The method of playing the blame game is time-tested and clear:  blame someone else, make up lies to cover up the wrongdoing, and repeat the dishonest assertions over and over until people begin to believe it is the truth and accept it as fact. Apparently, either you were part of this scheme, Ann, or you (as a residential code officer) were duped just as we were.  Here is an email we sent to Wayne Jones and which he forwarded to you rather than answer  us.
  

  
Help!
8/21/2017 1:00 PM
To  Wayne Jones   Copy  [email protected]   and 4 others
Dear Wayne…

We need your help. 

It seems that a lot of people have gotten the wrong impression from reading two newspaper articles that appeared a couple of weeks ago.  (One in the Latrobe Bulletin and one in the Tribune Review.)  Usually, we say “any coverage is good coverage, especially if we don’t have to pay for it,” but this time, it’s proving to be not so good.  At first, we thought we’d just ignore a few phone calls and comments, but it seems that it’s getting worse rather than better and we thought perhaps together we should find a way to straighten out these misconceptions.  Here’s the problem.

As a result of the articles, many people seem to think one of two things:  either that the City is not being very helpful to the theatre project or that the theatre is dragging its feet and deliberately misleading them.  Neither of those is particularly good.  The callers who think the theatre is at fault are wondering whether we have been totally honest about why we have not yet opened.  Many of them have donated resources and money to the cause and they are beginning to think they are never going to see any positive or “real” results.  With respect to the calls that want to fault the City, we don’t even listen to them and so we don’t know what their complaints are.  We merely refer them to City Council Members if they have questions.  

Both “sides” are basing their opinions on some things that you were quoted as saying.  Here’s the first one from The Tribune Review.  “Jones noted Latrobe can’t give them a permit unless we can see what they have planned on the drawings.  The original drawings the Cabaret Theatre submitted were for a single-story renovation. The group has since expanded the scope of the project to include use of all three floors.”  And here’s the one from The Latrobe Bulletin.   “Jones said the fire system is needed after the theatre group decided to use the entire Main Street building—a whole basement and two floors—instead of a single floor.”     

Both of those articles, as you can see, make it sound as if we “suddenly” changed our plans and doing that change somehow triggered the need for the sprinkler system.  How things get twisted like that is a mystery, but it would be helpful to both the city and to The Cabaret if together we can correct the record.   As you know, Wayne, our third set of professional drawings (in triplicate, of course) was signed and stamped on 2/26/2016.  This “city permit review” set shows that our intentions from the very start were to use the entire building.  That’s why those original drawings show two (2) new stairwells.  It depicts one within the interior of our building and it leads to the upper floor and the other is on the exterior and provides an exit from our basement to the city alley property.  These drawings indicated early on that our intentions/plans were to use the ground floor for the public and the other levels for staff, volunteers, and performers to access storage and dressing room areas.  They were not put there for public access, to be sure, but certainly they are necessary to support our theatre operation.   (Surely you remember standing in the lobby at 227 Main on several occasions and hearing us talk about using the basement for dressing rooms and green room and the upper floor for storage.  In fact, even though we knew we would not invite the public to the upper or lower floors for quite some time to come, it was you who suggested that if the downstairs restrooms were in working condition and if we had a long line for the two new ADA compliant restrooms in the lobby, we could put a sign at the main lobby staircase which said “additional restrooms downstairs” and the City would not consider it any kind of violation.  Never once did we discuss in those conversations the need to “seal off” the upper and lower floors.) 

And so, to the callers who want to know why we changed our mind and created a delay, we simply say that we didn’t.  That we had from the beginning planned to use the entire building to support the operation of the public space on the ground floor.  Once that is explained, they always want to know why we even need the sprinkler system then.  That one is even harder to explain, but we try.

First of all, we tell them what you and Anne told us—that as long as we did not invite the public into the basement and second floor levels, we did not need the sprinkler system.  Then we go on to tell them that it was not the City but rather Building Inspection Underwriters (BIU), the company retained by the City to do Business/Commercial inspections, that told us the law required us to have sprinklers on all three floors regardless of the fact that we only planned to have the public on the main floor.  About 99% of the callers then go on to ask why the City didn’t tell us that from the get-go.  We tell them simply that the law changes frequently and,  since Anne is not a Certified Business/Commercial Codes officer, she was not (and did not need to be) aware of it.  We tell them that it was an honest mistake and that we have no problem with having to comply; our problem was (and is)  getting the financing in a timely manner.

The result of this whole thing is that neither of us comes off looking very good, and that’s not as it should be.  We know we are both working together as best we can to get the theatre open and operational, because we both believe it will be a real boost for the City—both residents and business owners….

Wayne, if we can convince the Trib and the Bulletin to interview us or accept this email and the information within it and publish articles that say we are all working together for the betterment of the City, the phonecalls and comments might stop.  We think it’s worth a try. 
Of course, everything in this email is from our perspective.  You may have some things to add.  The important thing is that we let the public know that there is cooperation between us and that we are moving forward.

What do you think?  Sorry this is so long.  We just couldn’t figure a shorter way to say it all.

Let us know what you decide.
John and John (BJ)

(Portions of this email have been omitted; they are available upon request; highlighting has been added)

          Wayne did not answer that email.  He forwarded it to you and this is your answer.


 August 21st letter
Ann Powell
8/22/2017 9:39 AM
To  [email protected]   Copy  Wayne Jones   and 3 others
Good Morning John and John (BJ)

I was forwarded the letter that you sent Wayne and after reading it would like to respond. Even though this has been said in the past I would like to repeat that  you DO NOT  have to submit the fire suppression drawings at this time, you can just revise the

original drawings with the corrections from the correction list, but state on the drawings somewhere that the sprinkler system will be installed in accordance with NFPA 13 in the future.   The Fire Suppression System drawings can be submitted at a later

date.  You just can’t have occupancy (on all three floors) without the system.  You can however occupy the 1st floor level only without the sprinkler system…. 

Kind Regards,

Ann E Powell
Code Official
City of Latrobe
901 Jefferson St
Latrobe, Pa. 15650
724-537-3580
Fax 724-537-4802
(the remainder of the email is available upon request)
  

  
In our response to you, Ann, we wrote this:

Now for a little humor.  With respect to your statement "you can however occupy the 1st floor level only without the sprinkler system," we must say that TECHNICALLY this is true.  To  OCCUPY THE 1ST FLOOR ONLY, however, The Cabaret Theatre would have to move all infrastructure (electrical, gas, HVAC, etc.) to the 1st floor level, find room for dressing rooms
, green room, and storage on the 1st floor level, and seal off both the basement and the second floor to everyone.  As we said, while this may be TECHNICALLY possible, it isn't at all PRACTICAL for our operation.  If we did so, we could save money on printing tickets because there would be very little room left for an audience.  That's why from the beginning, we knew that we needed to use the entire building.  As we said, a little humor.

(the remainder of the email is available upon request)

And YOUR response to that was this:

For your little humor, I see your point and things can get confusing but we did discuss early on that you could use the 2nd floor for storage and you as the owner could occupy that area same way with the basement.  Only the  public would be kept from those areas, but if you need to have the public occupying the whole building then the sprinkler system comes into play.  You also would have been able to have the utilities worked on by a contractor, they would not be considered the general public.   

(The remainder of the email is available upon request. Highlighting added.)

As you can now see, Ann, you had heard that line so often that you came to believe it.  It is not true.  In fact, that lie has been told so well and so often that it persisted with the Mayor as she wrote to Mr. Vincent Quatrini as late as August of this year:

On August 20, 2018 at 10:19 AM Wolford, Rosie M wrote: 

Vince,
You don’t have the full story, as is typical with Mr. Carosella.  They were told from Day 1 that if they used only the main floor, they would not need a sprinkler system.  They decided well into the project that they had to have dressing rooms in the basement, that’s what changed the process. 
(remainder of email available upon request, highlighting added)

          Not only does the mayor continue to spread the lie, she calls the man who is attempting to tell the truth a liar.  (“You don’t have the full story, as is typical with Mr. Carosella”)

                Though there are many, many examples of the repeated lie that we would not need a sprinkler system if we confined ourselves to the ground floor (a fact disproved by the text of the law itself), there isn’t time or space to quote them all.  Rather, it’s important to move on to the category of “diversion.”  We admit, Ann, that spreading untruths worked on us for a long while, but we won’t allow it to go any further.  It’s time that we set the record straight, published the facts, and then observe how the City handles this unpleasant situation.

          Clever people use diversions to distract attention from the important facts.  In this case, the important fact is that someone in the City government was either incompetent in giving us the initial advice on a sprinkler system or  that someone used deceptive tactics to entice the Cabaret Theatre to purchase the building at 227 Main Street.
  

  
COVER-UP by DISTRACTION, DIVERSION, and UNEQUAL APPLICATION OF THE CODE

            Ann, you have watched us jump through numerous hoops erected by the City of Latrobe. We don’t know whether you were a willing participant or “just following orders,” but we would like to believe that your history of helping us manage many of the hoops makes you one of the “good guys.”

          For a while, for instance, we were distracted by the City’s requirement for a fire retardant to be added to all exterior paint.  At a cost of over $60+/- per gallon and only available by mail order, the cost to paint the construction barrier that sits on our sidewalk was adding up to a very large amount of money.  Searching for various suppliers kept us busy for quite a while, but since you were the one to request it, we wanted to comply. (We have always tried to comply with all City requirements.) 

E: Marquee
Ann Powell
9/27/2017 11:31 AM
To  John Carosella  
Hi John
I understand the time.  I was out two days last week and just completed your email yesterday.    You can repair the entrance area to the point that it is not within the scope of the drawings that are to be reviewed for the interior work.  I would ask to let me know exactly how you are repairing that area, materials would have to be fire retardant. (that building is located in our Fire District) If wood is used on the exterior it just has to be treated with a fire retardant coating/paint….

Ann

(highlighting added; remainder of email available upon request)

Fire Code Specs, etc.
John Carosella
10/2/2017 1:23 PM
To  Ann Powell   Copy  Rosie Wolford,    Wayne Jones  

Hello again, Ann,
Please forgive both the time it too me to respond and the length of this response.  It took some time to do the research and, and as you know, these details can get pretty technical and I wanted to make sure we got them right, in order to avoid any further delays on our project.  There have been too many of those misleading details already and some of them have been the result of confusing advice based on incomplete information.  We can't afford any more of those kinds of mistakes and so I'll try to address the issues you raised as completely as possible…
.
(deleted portions of this email are available upon request)

Issue two:  With your guidance and the City's opinions, suggestions, and permission, we began work a year ago to repair  the damage that was caused by the break-in.  Our intentions are to cover the surface wall area along our sidewalk from the center door traveling east with a wooden sheeting, exterior product called Smart Core Exterior Sheeting (4X8X19/32  w/4" on Center T1-11 & RBB Ship-lap).  This wooden sheeting will be treated with a fire retardant product (brushed and sprayed on) called FlameStop II and/or FlameStop III.  It will be  a 2-hour burn-rated paint/retardant combination product.  It will be applied to all sides, cut joints, and lap joints prior to its installation onto any wall area.  However, after exhausting efforts, we have not been able to find a fire retardant 2 hr. "vapor barrier" product.  To properly install this exterior sheeting which is fire-treated, a vapor barrier is required under Build Codes for proper installation and professional construction protocols  (interior/exterior thermal dynamics).  Confused by this, we contacted the City of Latrobe's Fire Marshall, Mr. John Brazilli and briefed him on our current situation.  He provided the guidelines that need to be followed….

            As you can see, Ann, it took quite a bit of time to do the research and even more time to report it to you.  We were willing to do that.  In a recent conversation, however, with our new neighbor on Ligonier Street (Camarotes Snack Shack), the men painting the building’s exterior knew nothing about a fire retardant that had to be added in order to comply with code. This gave rise to wondering.  Is Camarotes in the “fire district?”  Has all the façade painting that’s been done downtown had the requirement of adding a fire retardant to the paint? Did this apply to the recent repainting of Mozart Hall?

          To try to answer that question we contacted Old School Pro Painting, a Derry, PA company that has painted several of the newly-renovated buildings within the “fire zone” of Downtown Latrobe.  We discovered that there was no requirement for a fire retardant to be added to the paint for Mozart Hall or for any of the other downtown buildings that Old School Pro Painting has done.

            Imagine that, Ann.  Were you not instructed to send the same notice to the Revitalization Committee (Jarod Trunzo) that is in charge of painting those buildings?  Or was The Cabaret Theatre singled out for this “honor.”

          This is an interesting twist in the game.  In May, we received an email from Mayor Wofford.


Hello
Rosie M Wolford
5/24/2018 2:11 PM
To  John Carosella  
Hello John,
I hope this e-mail finds you well.  I had a call from the revitalization group, and they would like to paint that temporary wooden box (I don’t know exactly what it is called) on the sidewalk a neutral color, just to clean it up a little bit.  Revitalization will pay for the paint and take care of the labor.

They reached out to me and I told them I would ask you if it is OK? 
Are you OK with them painting it?

Thanks
Rosie

                We replied that we had no objection so long as the Revitalization committee followed the City’s and BIU’s Fire Zone Rules of putting an expensive additive into the paint. 


Re: Hello
John Carosella
5/25/2018 12:26 PM
To  Rosie M Wolford  

Rosie…
Thank you for passing on to us the Revitalization Committee’s generous offer. Getting rid of that plywood barrier has been planned for a long, long time. But each time it rises to the top of the “to-do list,” something with a higher priority pops up. The end result is that the plywood remains in place. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world and we certainly understand why “Revitalization” made the suggestion to at least paint it….

Of course, we accept the offer and grant permission to do the painting, but it must be done according to the City’s requirements….

….We contacted the City’s Commercial Codes Officer, Ann Powell, to find out if there were any City requirements….

….The biggest obstacle we faced was from the City’s Fire Code requirements. Our building at 227 Main exists within something called the “Fire Zone.” What this means for exterior painting is that a fire retardant must be added to exterior paint before it is applied. It took us days to locate and price a product called “Fire Stop.” It was pricey….

….With respect to simply painting the plywood, there’s no “simply” about the situation. We were made to understand that the same regulation applies to painting the plywood as applies to painting new exterior sheeting to the building. The properly-treated paint must be used….

In addition, there is the problem of the “leaking marquee.” Everyone knows that there has been a minor leak problem for a long time. Ever since someone called 9-1-1 because, as we were told, water was pouring out of the front door (which turned out not to be the case at all), the leaks are now a lot worse because the firemen, in the process of trying to loosen the ice atop the marquee, damaged the rubber roof membrane resulting in many more leaks. This is a problem for painters for two reasons. First of all, getting paint to adhere to a water-logged surface is difficult. Once that problem is solved, there is the problem of whether the paint used is water-based or oil based. If water-based paint smears onto the sidewalk, it can be pressure washed. Oil-based smears are a lot more difficult to remove.
S o, after all of that, the answer is yes and thank you. The “yes” is dependent on complying with all City regulations with respect to painting and choosing a paint that will not smear onto the sidewalk. The thank-you comes with no reservations at all. We are very grateful.

….So, once again, yes. Please, have the Revitalization Committee proceed with the work of painting the plywood, but please have them do so in accordance with Fire Code regulations.
Once again, thank you.
John & BJ

(Portions of the email have been deleted.  The entire text is available upon request.  Highlighting has been added.)
  

  

            And so you see, Ann, we were insistent that the Code be followed.  Though we cannot prove it without lab-testing the paint that was applied, seeing the haphazard job that was done on the exterior wood, we have grave doubts that whoever painted the construction box actually followed the rules. 

          If there is no additive in that paint, it must be that there is a selective way to apply the law in Latrobe.  For instance, if we asked to see the “drawings” that Mozart Hall had provide to get its Occupancy Permit, would they be available?  Were those folks at Faith Forward required to jump through as many hoops as we were? Do they need sprinklers in a building that looks much larger than ours and whose upper floors do not exit to ground level?  In a recent telephone conversation with commercial code officer Keith Coll from BIU, the subject of Mozart Hall came up and he stated that he had not been contacted at all about any kind of drawings or requirements for an Occupancy Permit.  You can’t even imagine how we received that news!

          Here’s how it seems to go in Latrobe, Ann. The Cabaret Theatre has to follow the minutest detail of the code and everyone else is either grandfathered, granted variances, or simply allowed to operate under the radar.  You’re in a position to know, Ann.  Is that the way it really goes at City Hall?  Does “who you are” matter in Latrobe?  We’re guessing that it does.

          An example is this email from you.  It asks about the pallet structure near the alley door of the theatre.  Your email sounds innocent enough, but you knew what the barrier was for when you wrote it.  Almost since the day that we purchased the building some of our company members have been subjected to verbal harassment and abuse from the owner of Scotty G’s Pizza.  You know this because we lodged complaint after complaint with no result.  We understood that getting called names is fairly common for theatre people, but this went far beyond that.

          You know that Scotty G’s was used to using the space in the alley abutting our building as a parking place for his pizza delivery people.  We are not all that concerned about a parking space or two, especially since we are not operating at the moment; but when a heavy dumpster is placed in front of our emergency exit to the alley so that the door cannot be opened from the inside, that’s when we have to act in order to avoid some terrible accident.  You knew that the pallet structure was to keep Scotty G’s cars from parking immediately in front of the door and on top of the already-compromised and dangerous slab that covers the subterranean vaults.  And yet, despite what you knew, there is this email.


RE: Marquee
Ann Powell
9/28/2017 9:43 AM
To  John Carosella  
Hi John
I want to clean up the alleyway behind your building and re secure the area.  There is a structure that was made it looks like from pallets that is enclosing some of the vault  area.  Can you let me know the reason for that, and if you want to keep it
Thanks
Ann

            Rather than go on and on with example after example, let’s simply cut to the chase.  The City seems to be trying to cover up its deception by using the blame game, distractions, diversions, and the unequal application of City Code.  It is time to end it.
  

  
CHARACTER ASSASINATION

            Ann, when all else fails in a debate, sometimes debaters resort to what is known as ad hominem arguments.  These have nothing to do with the issue, but rather are attacks against a person’s reputation—character assassination.  That is precisely what is happening to both John Carosella and John Horanic in Latrobe. 

          You are in a position to know whether this is true or not, but we suspect that many people in various positions of authority have been told many unsavory things about us.  That, of course, is speculation.  This single email, however, is not speculation and it says all that needs to be said about character assassination.  We had been in touch with Mr. Quatrini as a possible person who might want to purchase naming rights for the theatre and thus provide us with the financial resources to install the required sprinkler system.  We speculate that he contacted Mayor Rosie Wolford for some sort of recommendation and this is what he received in return.


Rosie M Wolford 8/20/2018 10:21 AM
RE: The Cabaret Theatre
ToVince J. Quatrini  • John Carosella   

Vince,
You don’t have the full story, as is typical with Mr. Carosella.  They were told from Day 1 that if they used only the main floor, they would not need a sprinkler system.  They decided well into the project that they had to have dressing rooms in the basement, that’s what changed the process.  The problem is and always has been Mr. Carosella’s “foster” son.  John has given him way to much control and he is all over the place and he does not listen.  I tried to explain to John in the past that everyone has pretty much “had it” with Jr.  He’s abusive, argumentative and just doesn’t listen.  As much as I’d love to have a theater in Latrobe, I’m not sure these people can bring it to fruition.  They got kicked out of the art center for JR’s abusive behavior, but Mr. Carosella doesn’t want to hear it. 

At this point, I’ve decided the best course of action is to stay out of it.  I feel for him and think he is a nice man but have been told by many associated with the Theater that JR is the problem and many, many people have told John about it, but he won’t see it.
Rosie Wolford
Manager – Labor Relations
Carpenter Technology Corp.
Latrobe Operations
P – 724-532-6565
C – 724-771-5028

            That, Ann, is character assassination.  Anyone who knows John Carosella knows that he is not a liar.  He would rather not comment at all than not tell “the full story.”  And as for BJ, you know him better than anyone in City Government.  You know that his passionate desire for this project to succeed can be mistaken for being “argumentative,” but we think that anyone who reads this document will probably understand that as the unfair treatment by the City has increased, so has his vehemence in defense of our position.  And insofar as “abusive” is concerned, Mayor Wolford must have a different definition for that word, because John Horanic may be loud and sometimes boisterous, but he is not “abusive.”  It is true that when he is accused of wrongdoing that he hasn’t done, he will lash out; but in our way of thinking, that is not abusive behavior but merely a justifiable response to an unjustified accusation. 

          Because of our differing responsibilities in the company, the task of dealing with City Officials falls to John Horanic (BJ).  He is not one to shy away from speaking the truth, even when he must “speak the truth to power.”  When this happens to powerful people, the response is often an attempt to discredit the speaker by describing him or her in unflattering ways and then repeating those descriptions as often as possible to anyone who will listen, in the hope that the descriptions will “stick” and help to discredit the “truth speaker.”  We believe that is precisely what is happening and we think it’s disgraceful that anyone would attempt to destroy a reputation in order to prevent the truth from surfacing.

          As a final note to the “abusive” charge, The Cabaret Theatre did not get kicked out of the Art Center because John Horanic was “abusive.”  In fact, there was no formal “kicking out.”  At the end of our published season, we felt that being in constant production required so much time and effort that producing shows was preventing us from making progress on our own building.  We had accepted the Art Center’s invitation to mount shows there, because we had been taken by surprise with the June 8, 2016 sprinkler requirement and had already published our season for which we had sold season subscriptions.  We felt we had an obligation to our supporters and so we accepted Gabi Nastuck’s invitation, but once we completed that published season we knew we had to concentrate on getting our own space open and operational.  We were not “kicked out,” but Ms. Nastuck was, indeed, instructed not to have any further professional association with the Cabaret Theatre and this is how that came about.

          The Latrobe Art Center was planning a Fashion Show FundRaiser and The Cabaret Theatre was asked to donate technical services to the event.  To that end, we attended a planning meeting.  Both John Carosella and John Horanic attended.   The young Mr. Okonak seemed to be in charge and he proposed that the affair be held at the Latrobe Country Club.  Familiar with brainstorming sessions, John Carosella suggested that the cost of the rental and set-up at the Country Club could be eliminated if the event were at the Center itself where no rental would have to be paid.  Some of the ladies in attendance chimed in with positive remarks, and Mr. Okonak (apparently not fond of the idea) made a remark to them that was patronizing at best and downright rude at worst.  Mr. Horanic suggested that the tone of the meeting should be more respectful especially to people who were volunteering their time.  Another example of speaking truth to power.

          It was shortly after that when Director Gabi Nastuck informed us that we were not “permitted” to help with the fashion show or to have any further professional connection between The Latrobe Art Center and The Cabaret Theatre. 

Here is the correspondence we sent to Ms. Nastuck.  We include it in its entirety because inadvertently it demonstrates how active The Cabaret Theatre had become in the cultural life of Latrobe.

  

  
March 26, 2017
Ms. Gabrielle Nastuck, Director
The Latrobe Art Center
819 Ligonier Street
Latrobe, PA 15650

Dear Gabi:

          Since August 2015, you have been a gracious and welcoming neighbor to The Cabaret Theatre.  To show our continued appreciation, we were happy to contribute to the success of your programs in whatever way we could.  Whether it was providing talent, expertise, or equipment, you always made Cabaret people feel a part of something important going on in Latrobe, and so we felt honored to do the work of setting up outdoor staging/sound amplification, assisting at Summer Camps, painting faces, building the Elf Shelf and Strickler’s Drug Store or doing whatever you asked of us.  We felt as though we were complementing your work and laying the foundation of a genuine “cultural district” for the City.  The fact that together we co-produced an entire season of plays inside the Art Center was a giant step in that direction.  In light of our very close cooperation in promoting the Arts, it came as a severe shock on Saturday (March 25, 2017) when you informed us that your Board of Directors had specifically excluded The Cabaret Theatre from helping you stage The Art Center’s upcoming Fashion Show.  Because there was no reason given for the exclusion, the shock has since developed into the kind of hurt that always comes with rejection. Not knowing why, we cannot even apologize for any missteps.  All we can do is send this thank-you note for your great generosity toward us.

          In light of this development, it seems reasonable to conclude that our previously scheduled services also will not be welcomed.  Fortunately, it is still early enough for you to find substitutes for the programs we were scheduled to assist with:  The Rain Forest Project, the May IMAGINARIUM, the Summer Theatre Camps and whatever technical assistance you might require for the annual events like the Yellow Tie Gala and the Fred Rogers Neighborhood Day. 

          Things change, Gabi.  Things are always changing.  Perhaps there will come a time when this situation—whatever it is—will change as well.  Until that time, be assured that we will be continuing our efforts to find the funding to open the theatre across the street. When we do, be assured that you and the staff we have come to know so well at The Art Center will always be welcome at The Cabaret. 



                                                                             John J. Carosella, President



                                                                             John M. Horanic, CFO
                                                                             The Cabaret Theatre, Inc.


          The Board of The Latrobe Art Center certainly has an inherent right to run its organization as it sees fit.  To us, however, it seemed a bit heavy-handed to do it in that way.  It occurred to us at the time that this was probably an example of something Wayne Jones had spoken about early in our quest for a building in Latrobe.  He spoke of “powerful factions” in the City.  Ann, you have been in the room when he has referred to these powerful factions.  We never wanted to be a part of that sort of thing and we do not condone it.  We consider all the people as potential clients and their financial status is irrelevant to us.  Perhaps our openness to all kinds of people has contributed to our current position.  While we cannot document it, we speculate that despite our contributions to the City, we had somehow become “the wrong kind of people” and were no longer welcome.  It seems that we have become the target of lies and baseless allegations. Character assassination. 

          As a result of the Mayor’s email to Mr. Quatrini, he cancelled his proposed meeting with us, and of course we lost another possible way to fund the sprinkler system.  This is one section of his email response; the rest is available upon request.

John:
At this point, I think that a meeting with me, is premature.  You need to solve the problems that may put you out of existence, first. 

          “…that may put you out of existence….” is a worrisome phrase, isn’t it Ann? 

          When we look at what appears to be a pattern of events, we begin to wonder whether City of Latrobe Officials have engaged in a systematic campaign to push the Cabaret Theatre out of existence.  Why do we think that way?  Let’s just do a bit of a summary here and maybe you will see what we think we see.  These are items that we did not cover in the body of this letter:

·        We have been asked for an excessive amount of information prior to being granted a building permit.  So many sets of drawings. So many nit-picking revisions. 
·        We have met with resistance from the City Solicitor at every meeting we’ve had with the Westmoreland County Board of Tax Assessment.
·        Our tax-exempt status, finally granted, has been challenged by the Greater Latrobe School District Board.
·        What began as a good relationship with the Westmoreland County Community Development program seems to have changed drastically after the assistant director had a telephone conversation with the mayor.  Could she have delivered the same message to Janet Thomas as she gave to Vincent Quatrini?  Possibly.
·        The Community Development program asked us to work with them through the Small Business Center at Saint Vincent College.  This was not part of the original agreement, but we consented and experienced a series of more and more stringent requirements as time went on, some of which we were not able to comply with because theatre is an unconventional business.  We cannot predict what it would cost to “stock the shelves” and then what percentage of “stock” we hope to sell in a given time period.  The model doesn’t fit theatre very well, but we continue to try to make the square peg fit into the round hole.

          Still these are not all of the setbacks, but they are enough to wonder whether the City has poisoned the well of both public and professional opinion against us.  We realize that some will consider us paranoid over this situation, but we think there is enough documented poison to justify our belief. 

          In spite of whatever obstacles have been set against us, we want to assure you, Ann, that we intend to do all that we can to see to it that we not only remain in existence in the City of Latrobe but also thrive there.  To do that, of course, there needs to be a remedy to this situation.

  

  
REMEDY

            This long response to your November 14, 2018 letter could be much longer, Ann.  There are many other examples of the kind of unfair treatment we have received from Latrobe’s City Officials.  Suffice it to say that it has been damaging to our cause.  As recently as this week when we spoke to the Old School Pro Painting Company, we were asked a question that has become so familiar that we anticipate it wherever we go these days.  “Is it true that you Cabaret Theatre guys are dragging your feet?”  It is another lie that has been repeated so often that people are beginning to think that it’s true.  It is not.

          If our feet are dragging, it’s not because we are purposely slowing down our progress; it is rather because our feet sometimes get too tired to leap over the latest hurdle.  The City may have worn us down, but it has not gotten rid of us.  In fact, we intend to prove our value to the community despite whatever City Government throws at us.  Our Neighborhood Arts Program N.A.T. (for homeschoolers) is thriving and our newly formed after school branch of N.A.T. is currently preparing its first performance.  We are working on a partnership with Latrobe’s Pastor Dan Gonzalez of Reach Out Minstries to create The Streetsmart Players, a workshop in music and theatre that will be offered to teenagers tuition-free.  And soon we will enter into an agreement to have a temporary home at Olde Main Theatre at 350 Main Street.  It has an Occupancy Permit signed by you, Ann.  We are not questioning it, but we have wondered what you were thinking when you approved occupancy for 75 in that performance space.  40 is probably the maximum number it can hold, but the important thing is that it has the permit and we can feel “legal” while performing there.

          Perhaps you and the rest of the City Government will come to see us do a show there.  You will be welcome, despite the fact that no one from City Hall (except the Mayor one time) has come to see our work, even when we distributed free tickets.  Has there been an unspoken threat made to them if they provide that kind of support?  We don’t know.  What we do know is that seeing some City Hall folks at a play would go a long way toward remedying this awful situation.  What would go even further is for the City to recognize the emotional and financial damage that the initial lie has caused and begin to remedy it with both a sincere public apology and enough financial support to get the theatre up and running, so it can be on its way to supporting itself, helping to revitalize the downtown, and becoming the transformative force among the people we know it can be.  

          If you have reservations about sharing this response with other City Officials, rest easy. As we said, we intend to send copies to all the folks listed below.  And finally…yes, finally… thank you, Ann.  We really don’t think you were willingly complicit in this fiasco, and we will be saddened if we discover that you were.  Thanks for all the good you’ve done for us thus far.  We hope that we can still have a long and productive relationship together.

          Respectfully,



John J. Carosella, President                         Jonathan M. Horanic, Vice President




Donna D. Horanic, Secretary/Treasurer        John M. Horanic, CFO