Oregon Bach Festival Artistic Director was fired for his big ego and bad dog

12/11/2017 update:

“At no time was I, or my agents, made aware of any of the complaints listed in Ms. McCoy’s timeline, with the exception of the dog scratches on the floor in 2015,” he wrote.

So the grits were just a decoy. In the end it was all about the dog. And some stolen CDs and a bad DIY air-conditioner installation. The Register Guard’s Saul Hubbard has the shocking revelations from UO’s Office of Public Records latest doc dump here.

12/9/2017: Doug Blandy gave Matthew Halls a reprimand, then a raise, then fired him, then gave him $90K.

Yesterday UO’s famously dilatory Public Records Office turned the OBF Board minutes over to the Eugene Weekly’s Bob Keefer, two months after he filed the public records request. Here are some snippets, read his story here for more misfeasance:

[Bach Festival co-founder and OBF Board Chair Royce Saltzman] demanded  to know why the board hadn’t been consulted in advance of the firing or the announcement. [Associate General Counsel Doug Park] said the board’s charter gives it authority to advise only over hiring, not firing, and keeping the board in the dark protected members from liability.

Odd that the Board doesn’t seem to believe Park, or be more grateful.

OBF executive director Janelle McCoy also said at the meeting that then-Provost Doug Blandy issued Halls a reprimand last year. There was no follow-up as there would have been for an employee, she said, because Halls was an independent contractor.

Yes, that certainly explains why she and Blandy then renewed his contract and gave him a raise. Of course Saul Hubbard’s November 14th story in the RG, here, based on earlier document releases, shows that McCoy knew she wasn’t telling the board the real story:

… The document does, however, show a split between the university’s Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity and McCoy over how to reprimand Halls, an independent contractor who had just been given a multi-year extension and a raise.

After two initial complaints in July, Cherie Scricca, an outside consultant working for the UO, recommended that school officials meet with Halls to discuss the school’s non-discrimination policies and that they update his contract to include “written expectations of proper behavior including equal and fair treatment of festival participants regardless of race, national origin, age, disability.”

Scricca also suggested that written notice be added to Halls contract that, if he did not meet those expectations, his contract could be immediately terminated, and that the festival would hire an “understudy” artistic director who could replace him.

But that meeting with Halls and those proposed contract amendments appear to have never occurred.

After two further complaints came in, including the sexual harassment allegation, McCoy made the decision to terminate Halls, emailing Scricca to tell her as much on August 16. Scricca disagreed with that decision, suggesting a “similar” course of action to her previous recommendations when she spoke with McCoy on August 23.

The next day, however, Halls was fired, with a UO administrator, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Doug Blandy, signing his termination letter. …

And I should note that Blandy was actually “Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs”, not provost, and will continue to be paid as SVPAA until the end of the year, because … I have no idea.

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15 Responses to Oregon Bach Festival Artistic Director was fired for his big ego and bad dog

  1. just different says:

    Odd that no one asked why Blandy and McCoy ignored the clear recommendation of the AAEO consultant. On the other hand, if Doug Park was the legal mind behind this decision, it explains a lot.

    • Amy Adams says:

      It is not clear that the OBF board was even told, at the time, that there had been a consultant with a recommendation, much less that Doug and Janelle ignored it.

    • To the moon says:

      Perhaps there were other recommendations that offered guidance in another direction.

      As Saul notes, Halls was formerly reprimanded last year with a warning that he may be fired if he continued. Sounds like his poor behavior continued.

      Other than the influence one wields when they send in large checks….The board is an advisory board with zero authority. So the financially well off patrons weren’t told the details of halls’ poor behavior.. Spare me. Maybe some of them protected it were complicit in the bad behavior due to his high stature and was putting the university at risk? Upper class people never do that right?!

      Few seem to care that halls trashed a private home and refused to pay damages. Was $4000 the total damages, or the insurance claim? Perhaps there was a lot more damage done. He Sounds rather spoiled to me.

      • Seasoning Queen says:

        It was burglarized. I don’t know the answer re: insurance.

      • Amy Adams says:

        Hmm. “formerly”…did you mean to write “formally”?
        I think someone needs to simmer down, as she said over on the R-G comments. :-)

        You say “Sounds like his poor behavior continued”…except most of the assertions of his allegedly poor behavior come from one source, Janelle McCoy. She…..”curated” examples of his behavior, if you will, for the apparent purpose of building a case against him.

        You sure seem anxious to have people focus on this rental being trashed, and pinning it on Matthew Halls. Remember, the one that was burglarized; in which his belongings were stolen; the one that OBF rented, and about which Halls was told everything was taken care of?

        “He Sounds rather spoiled to me.” – My, my.
        Your words say rather a lot about you, To the moon.
        (Gosh, it’s surreal, having conversations with people who can’t bring themselves to use their real names.)

        • just different says:

          I can’t comment on whether Halls is “spoiled” or was responsible for trashing someone’s house, but the fact that he was at least a bit difficult wasn’t much of a secret.

          • Anonymous says:

            It was evidently a “secret” to the musicians he worked with, and the board members who knew him, and the staff who supported him and the audience who enjoyed him.

          • former GTF says:

            I worked with him many times and never found him more “difficult” than any other professional musician. I mean, he’d be annoyed if you showed up to a rehearsal and clearly hadn’t even looked at your music beforehand… as he should be.

  2. mindless husk says:

    It just gets murkier.

    I don’t see how the Bach Festival can retain its backers and audience until someone comes clean with what actually happened. Some real offense by Halls? Or a wackjob attack from the Festival, the UO, or both? Was sagging attendance part of the mix? I’ve heard rumors of all of the above. I don’t claim any confidence that I know.

  3. mindless husk says:

    OK, from the RG account, it appears to be all of the above, with some added twists.

    I have to note, however that somehow the OBF managed to get along with Halls from 2011 forward, until McCoy came along in early 2016.

    Re the acoustics in Beall ib 2017: imho they were better than before as of Fall, after some tweaking of the remodel. That is from my favored vantage point, to be sure.

    The Hult acoustics continue to suck. I much prefer an orchestra in Beall to one in Hult.

  4. mindless husk says:

    Going forward: I hope OBF can regain trust and support. Whether McCoy’s utility is damaged beyond repair, hard to say.

    This is a great case study in bad management all around.

    Too bad that OBF is run by UO hack admins, rather than a real board with real authority.

    • Amy Adams says:

      It’s weird…There’s a whole plethora of executive directors somewhere on the spectrum between “Royce Saltzman” and “Utter Disaster.”

      Can’t the Oregon Bach Festival find one of those people??

  5. Dog says:

    well to state the obvious

    always blame it on THE DOG

    • uomatters says:

      Dog, of all my commenters, you should know that “there are no bad dogs – just bad dog administrators.”

  6. just different says:

    I’m still wondering why McCoy went to AAEO. Were there legitimate complaints, or was she simply abusing the university’s antidiscrimination procedures to try to misdirect from her own issues with Halls?