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Poor Management At Luxor

Part I

Since 2007, ARCE, in conjunction with USAID, has been running the East Bank Luxor Dewatering Response project. This was designed to make sure the dewatering systems previously built by Sweco, a Swedish firm, installed at Karnak and Luxor Temples, were operating effectively. Part of the project was the monitoring of structures in the temple precincts, undertaking of conservation work in both temples in response to the dewatering, emergency conservation and creation of an Archaeological Architectural Conservation Field School to train SCA conservators in the ongoing conservation of these temples, along with the building of a conservation lab within Karnak temple.

As part of the Field School, the SCA suggested and permitted conservation work in the Temple of Khonsu by the Field School students under supervision of myself and Saied Hamid, my very able assistant. This work was begun with the initial class of the Field School, in 2007-2008 and continued through 2010. As graduates became available, we proposed and implemented more conservation programs in the temples, using the personnel trained in the Field School to do so. In 2008-2009 work began in Luxor temple on the columns in the court of Ramses II, removing old concrete fills, desalinating the columns and replacing the fills with salt free lime mortar. We did more desalination in the front of Karnak Temple in the area of the ramps, as well, and initiated a badly needed program of stone and masonry conservation within the temple of Khonsu, this being implemented by Dany Roy, an exceptional, professional stonecutter of many years experience in Egypt and employed for many years by Chicago House for its work in Luxor, all the while continuing the student work in Khonsu.

Despite the original Director, Fraser Parsons, being abruptly terminated in early 2009, good progress was made. At the beginning of the 2009-2010 season work commenced on the conservation of the Euergetes Gate, in front of Khonsu Temple, while student and stone work in Khonsu continued. A new project, badly needed desalination of the interior south side of the West wall of the Great Hypostyle Hall in Karnak, which was suffering severe salt damage, was commenced with teams of Field School graduate students.

The 2009-2010 season was marked by ARCE’s hiring new personnel into the project. Elsa Bourguignon was hired to manage the conservation lab and to train SCA staff to ultimately take over its operation, while John Shearman, at that time a member of ARCE’s Board and a friend of Gerry Scott, was hired as overall Director of the Luxor project. Ms. Bourguignon had no prior experience working in Egypt and almost none with Egyptian materials. Mr. Shearman, neither an Egyptologist, archaeologist or conservator, but a building contractor, had little actual prior experience in Egypt, but was hired because of his ostensible extensive experience in managing “big projects”.

What happened upon their arrival is detailed below. I leave the reader to draw his or her own conclusions as to the effectiveness of their actions and management, as well as the effectiveness of ARCE’s day to day Cairo and San Antonio management. I will subsequently be posting copies of some of the e-mails exchanged and referred to in the following summary of what occurred. In a subsequent posting I will review the state of the work that was done and as it existed at the end of the 2010 season and compare that to what has been done in the 2010-2011 season.

 

 

 

EDWARD D. JOHNSON

ATTORNEY AT LAW

5040 OCEANVIEW BOULEVARD

LA CANADA, CALIFORNIA 91011

UNITED STATES

TELEPHONE& TELEFAX (818) 957-7923

June 13, 2010

 

By E-mail and Certified Mail-Return Receipt Requested

 

Gerry Scott III

American Research Center in Egypt

8700 Crownhill Blvd.

Suite 507

San Antonio, Texas 78209

 

Re: Luxor

 

Dear Gerry,

 

I have been waiting in good faith since your March 11 memo to me regarding what transpired in Luxor this past season. In that memo, as a result of my questioning John Shearman over his management of the Luxor project, you placed me on paid administrative leave, relieved me as Assistant Director, forbade me to have any contact with SCA students or staff, ARCE staff, guests and contractors in any capacity as an ARCE staff member, revoked my submission to be presented at the annual meeting in Oakland and prohibited me from entering the ARCE lab and teaching facility, as well as non public ARCE associated work areas in Karnak. You stated therein you would, “conduct a complete review”, of the situation and determine the best course of action. By a complete review, I assumed I would get a fair hearing some point.

However, you have made no attempt, at all, to contact me to discuss the facts and circumstances surrounding the memo. Though summarily ejected from the ARCE residence on less than 24 hours notice, I remained in Luxor from March 14-18, during your visit, in order to meet and discuss with you the serious matters and ongoing problems with the Luxor project, but never heard from you. It is now mid June. You have still made no effort to contact me or conduct any independent, “complete review”, as you represented. I am also informed by the SCA in Luxor that you have not contacted any SCA personnel or staff as part of such purported review.

I hoped by now you had conducted a full investigation, reflect on what occurred and could now view matters more dispassionately, realizing there were very serious problems and deficiencies in Mr. Shearman’s management which adversely affected the Luxor project and ARCE’s relations with the SCA. That evidently not being the case, I must reluctantly conclude you are not interested in any constructive review and have instead adopted Mr. Shearman’s position of complete intolerance of anyone questioning his management decisions or reasons for them, even when fully justified. I am therefore left with no alternative than to publicly state for the record concerns I raised that went unanswered and would have raised had you allowed me a fair hearing to present the concerns and documents confirming they are real and serious. These could have been addressed had you simply met with me and afforded a fair opportunity to present them.

Before enumerating the problems and concerns about the Luxor project, let me make very clear the legal duty I owe is to ARCE, not, as the two of you incorrectly believe, to you or Mr. Shearman. I am and was at the time all this occurred, an employee and member of ARCE. I am not and never was an employee of yourself or Mr. Shearman. My legal duty was and is to ARCE as an organization, not a self perpetuating management. I am required to place the interests of ARCE first and foremost, even at risk of disagreement with management. As an employee of ARCE, I had and have an obligation to speak out when I observe conduct inimical to ARCE’s welfare, when its interests are not being placed first by management. I am not required or permitted to turn a blind eye toward poor management or mismanagement. If you have any doubt of this, you can ask Jeffrey Skilling as he appeals his conviction in the Enron case for putting the interests of management ahead of his employer, Enron.

As reflected in Mr. Shearman’s complete refusal to recognize and deal with the outrageous conduct of Elsa Bourguignon as lab manager and her offensive conduct toward Egyptians, both SCA students and staff, Mr. Shearman, failed and continues to fail to understand that he owes a duty of loyalty to ARCE to place its interests first, not subordinate them to his personal prejudices and predilections. That Ms. Bourguignon’s conduct was outrageous and caused serious problems is impossible to deny. The SCA conducted its own independent investigation of her conduct after you ejected me from the project for questioning management about her actions and found it so offensive it took the extraordinary step of barring her from the lab and Karnak and prohibiting her return.

You and Mr. Shearman knew about these problems, as I told both of you about them. I tried unsuccessfully to discuss them with Mr. Shearman. Mr. Shearman repeatedly refused my entreaties to talk to Mansour Boriak about the matter. I notified you about the problems with Ms. Bourguignon via e-mail and in the single three minute conversation you allowed me later in Luxor during your visit at the beginning of March. As you will recall, in that conversation, which was not until just before you left for Cairo on the afternoon of your last day in Luxor, I stated that if you doubted anything I had said about the problems with Ms. Bourguignon, you should speak to speak Mansour, interview the students and SCA senior personnel about her conduct. I confirmed with them that you never bothered to contact them and verify my concerns. Because of failure to take necessary corrective action regarding Elsa and other failures of management to protect ARCE’s interests and its relationship with the SCA, I had no choice but to notify Dr. Hawass of my concerns.

As bad as Elsa was with her reckless and offensive anti Egyptian conduct, Mr. Shearman was worse. He knowingly and complicitly allowed and encouraged her to continue in her intransigence, worsening relations with the SCA. Proper, prudent management demanded he take the matter very seriously and investigate, rather than ignore or slough it off, when the evidence against her was overwhelming and plain to see. Worse, as detailed below, Mr. Shearman knew she was problematic. He admitted it to other staff, yet inexplicably continued to insist on defending the indefensible to the detriment of ARCE, the project and relations with the SCA.

Mr. Shearman should know that when you are more concerned with protecting your self interests, rather than solving a glaring and continuing problem, you are summoning trouble. When you try to dodge ownership of a problem and hide from responsibility, life will give you ownership and responsibility the hard way. Problems denied and solutions delayed result in a painful and costly day of reckoning. Both ARCE and the SCA deserve better. Make no mistake about my intentions. If you do not move with alacrity to remove him, I will take the issue to the general membership for its review and seek a decision from it. I will contact and publicly disclose to all the members all that has occurred and mount a proxy solicitation to remove him and for other changes in ARCE’s management. As an ARCE member and having experienced it first hand, I am convinced Mr. Shearman’s conduct was, is and will continue to be damaging to the important task of conservation of the Luxor monuments and ARCE’s interests therein.

If you have a plumbing problem, you do not send an electrician to fix it, yet that is exactly what you have done. The Luxor project is a conservation project, aimed at conserving Karnak and Luxor temples through groundwater control, conservation of their structures and decoration, conservation and lab training of SCA personnel, with small amounts of archaeology to aid Chicago House’s epigraphy. Mr. Shearman is not an Egyptologist, archaeologist, conservator, or hydraulic engineer, but a building contractor. He knows little about Egyptology, nothing about archaeology or hydrology and is abysmally ignorant of conservation and its management. He is ill equipped to manage the project in Luxor. In that respect, his conduct, outlined below, speaks for itself. I will not stand idly by and watch more of the same, as I care too much about ARCE’s work on the monuments and am willing to ascertain if the membership feels the same.

Let me also make clear that my position has nothing to do with being reinstated as Assistant Director. I am not interested in horse trading. Were I concerned about the position, I would never have raised questions about Mr. Shearman’s actions to begin with, but would have kept my mouth shut, as Mr. Shearman wanted, to safeguard my job. When I raised the concerns I did while still in Luxor, it was with full knowledge that it was certain I would be retaliated against, which is exactly what occurred. But as I did not and do not need the job, unlike other staff, I was in a position to question Mr. Shearman’s conduct when others were afraid to risk his refusal to brook any questions or dissent.

Had you given me opportunity of a , “complete review”, I would have brought to your attention the following conduct on the part of Mr. Shearman, or conduct which he tolerated and allowed to occur, which I believe is clear, was and continues to be detrimental to the project and ARCE’s reputation and relationship with the SCA.

 

1-Conduct of Elsa Bourguignon regarding management of the conservation lab and treatment of SCA personnel, resulting in her permanent expulsion by the SCA included, but was not limited to;

a-Accusing SCA conservation students of stealing in her very first class session. There was no stealing. Elsa miscounted equipment she was handing out. When she came up short, she demanded the students all open their purses, backpacks, etc., so she could check for the supposed missing equipment. The students viewed this as an accusation they had stolen the equipment, immediately took great umbrage and loudly complained. We had to apologize to them, rightfully so. This irreparably damaged Elsa’s relationship with them. She only made it worse, as related below. Saied and I warned her previously to be very careful of what she said to students, that off the cuff comments could cause offence. Her conduct here was not only not off the cuff, but deliberate, calculated and could not have been more effectively designed to offend the students. Mr. Shearman did nothing about this.

b-Boycott by SCA Students of Elsa’s Classes:

When Elsa came to the project, at Cairo’s insistence, Saied and I discussed with her the student’s lack of hard science and classes such as chemistry and geology. We warned her to keep things taught simple in approach given lack of student exposure to these topics. Though bright and eager, the students could be intimidated by such topics, unless presented in a manner designed to minimize their lack of confidence from not being exposed to them previously. Elsa did exactly the opposite, as if teaching a postgraduate course in Europe or the U. S. Though we asked her to provide an outline of what she would teach, to be translated into Arabic for the students before class, she consistently failed to provide such until late in the afternoon the day before class, leaving little or no time for accurate translation. Moreover, much material she provided was irrelevant, unnecessarily technical and complicated, e.g. statistics and standard deviation.

When the students complained they could not understand what she taught, rather than re-explain it in more understandable terms, Elsa would demand to know, “What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you understand this stuff?”, then proceed to repeat what they failed to understand exactly the same way, with the same result. They further complained when they asked questions of her that her attitude was there was always something wrong with them for not understanding. It was never with her teaching. The students concluded Elsa felt they were too stupid to learn. I tried to change this and met with her and Mr. Shearman about it, which was memorialized in e-mails, but Elsa refused or was not capable of change and continued as before. As she reported to Mr. Shearman, I could do nothing more. Finally the students came to us en masse in November, advising us they would no longer attend any of Elsa’s lectures. As they are adults, not little children, we could not force them to return.

c- Mishandling SCA registered antiquities; When we drilled wells for two extra pumps installed in front of the newly excavated Karnak ramps, numerous pieces of water logged archaeological wood were retrieved from the drill cores. They were registered, kept in water and placed in our lab for later examination. Elsa decided she did not want them. Without consulting anyone, Mr. Shearman, I, Saied, or the SCA, she gave them to Reis Mahmoud, to take to the French. He advised the SCA Director in Luxor, Mansour, who was livid Elsa would dispose of the material without first advising and getting permission from the SCA.

When I found out and told Mr. Shearman about it, he made light of it and did nothing. He did not, in any way, discipline Elsa, or remonstrate with her about it. To the contrary, he claimed she did nothing wrong, it was a misunderstanding, it was not the water logged materials, but other excavated small finds Mansour had arranged for us to have in the lab for teaching purposes that were involved, everything was just fine and as nothing bad had resulted, no harm no foul. I was and remain aghast at this attitude.

I clearly told Mr. Shearman, more than once, I had spoken directly to Mansour and it was not a misunderstanding. The objects involved were the water logged samples, not the others. As to the others, after my ouster on March 11th, Mansour took back these teaching objects, as he no longer trusts ARCE to properly handle and safeguard them, depriving us of their use and benefit.

Mansour also told me he was upset as he would be personally responsible to Security for loss of any material and might well be criminally prosecuted for it. As anyone who has worked in Egypt is aware, this happens all too frequently to Inspectors in Egypt, though they are completely without fault. That made no impression on Mr. Shearman.

As I repeatedly explained to Mr. Shearman and pointed out to you in my e-mails, this is an extremely serious issue. It is a cardinal rule for any expedition to do nothing with antiquities without first getting SCA permission. Failing this runs the risk the entire project, not just the lab and Field School, but the Talatat, water work and the rest, could be shut down immediately, for good, especially if objects were destroyed, damaged, or lost. The severity of the consequences for ARCE, as well as SCA staff, dictates the SCA must be apprised and consent obtained before taking any such action. How this is not obvious to Mr. Shearman as Director is impossible to understand.

I advised Mr. Shearman of all this. I urged several times that he meet with Mansour about it. He refused. When you very briefly met with me in Luxor to discuss my complaints about Elsa, in early March, on your first visit to Luxor since October, I urged you to confirm this by speaking to the parties involved if you doubted what I said was true. You did not, as I confirmed with them. One can only presume your lack of investigation was because you knew what I complained of was true, but no action was taken in respect to Elsa, who to this day remains in the employ of ARCE, despite her being barred and ejected from Karnak by the SCA.

d-Elsa’s refusal to train SCA designated candidates for takeover of the lab: Since the project began we have all been aware we need to train the SCA to take over the lab when the project ends, as it was always intended to turn the lab over to it. Such includes using the basic equipment with which the lab is equipped, inventory control, ordering, etc., none of which is complicated.

The previous Director, Fraser Parsons, was unable to obtain any trainees before you fired him in February or March, 2009. Elsa was made aware of the need for trainees when she came into the project, thereafter, as it was the primary reason she was hired. When Mr. Shearman arrived in October 2009, I advised him of this necessity. From the time Elsa and Mr. Shearman, respectively, arrived, they did nothing, whatsoever, to recruit, vet, or find any SCA staff for training. This task therefore fell to myself and Saied. We obtained three SCA trainees for Elsa to train in February, 2010 from Afaf Fathalla, head of conservation for Upper Egypt. The trainees were Mohammed Hussein, then Director of Conservation for Karnak and two other female trainees, both prior field school graduates working in the Luxor and Mummification Museum labs.

I kept Mr. Shearman apprised as the process proceeded. Once trainees were selected I advised he and Elsa they would come to the lab the next week to begin training. Mr. Shearman made no objection. On the first day of instruction, I introduced the trainees to Elsa, explained what would be covered, then let Elsa take over. That afternoon I was summoned to Mr. Shearman’s office. In Elsa’s presence, he told me they were unacceptable to her for the following reasons; 1-they did not speak, read or write English well enough to train; 2-they lacked background in and did not have degrees in hard sciences e.g., chemistry or geology; 3-there were poisonous chemicals in the lab, which, if they ingested even 1 gram, would be fatal; 4-if Elsa was going to train them, she had to have guarantees from the SCA they would never be transferred from the Karnak lab.

My documented response was:1) It was not up to Elsa to decide who to train, but the SCA. She was not free to reject them. 2) The Field School was predicated on translation from English to Arabic, we had run it three years quite successfully, without any significant problems. In addition, Mohammed Hussein spoke excellent English. While the women spoke it less so, he could easily translate anything needed. 3) Mohammed Hussein knew the lab and equipment, had worked in labs before and had a degree in chemistry. Insisting other trainees have degrees and background in hard sciences was a pipedream. Luxor SCA does not have them. If brought from Cairo, they would return at first opportunity, as no one from Cairo wants to be in Luxor, especially over summer. These people were already well trained, had chemistry backgrounds (Mohammed Hussein) or already worked in labs (the other two trainees). 4) Elsa’s objection about poisonous chemicals was ludicrous. Elsa, as lab manager, was supposed to label poisonous chemicals as such correctly in Arabic, so, if she did her job, these were so identified. The trainees were not stupid and would not do anything as preposterous as adding poisonous chemicals from labeled containers to their tea, or intentionally ingest it. This objection, if valid, mandated shutting down the entire lab as the Field School students were equally at risk Her entire reasoning was, at best, absurd. 5) Where SCA personnel were sent after training was an internal SCA matter, not up to Elsa. I advised Mr. Shearman and Elsa that I experienced this before, the SCA took great offence at anyone trying to dictate where its personnel was sent and it would be highly improper and impolitic to ask for such guarantee.

Mr. Shearman and Elsa did not like that I disagreed with them. Mr. Shearman’s response was,” You’re wrong. I can do better.” He could not and did not.

Next day the trainees returned. Elsa refused to train them and went head to head with Mohammed Hussein, arguing these same points with him, in English, in the lab office for about 45 minutes, in front of me and the other trainees. To say they were upset at her attitude and her finding fault with them is a vast understatement. They felt humiliated, as Elsa had no good reasons for refusing to train them. They were all very, very angry.

Mr. Shearman, meanwhile, met with Afaf Fathalla, head of conservation for Upper Egypt to discuss the trainees sent and to “…do better…”, as he asserted he would. Though excluded from attending, I know exactly what occurred. I heard it from Afaf and confirmed it with Mr. Shearman. As I told Mr. Shearman she would, she advised him these were the best qualified people she had, they were the ones she chose and this was up to the SCA. Mr. Shearman then agreed Elsa would train them, having little choice.

The next week, on Sunday, the trainees showed up for training. Elsa refused them, claiming the lab was in use by a guest lecturer I had arranged. This was not true. It was free when the trainees arrived at 8:00 am until 10:30 am, when the lecturer began to use it. Elsa had two and a half hours to train them in the lab, but turned them away. Even if the lab has been busy, she had plenty of things to teach them about the lab outside the lab itself, such as how to take and control inventory. She simply did not want to be bothered.

The Trainees came to me and complained. I told them it was a misunderstanding, that they should return the next day per the agreement between Afaf and Mr. Shearman. They did so. Elsa refused again, on the new and specious ground she was too busy with the Field School. This was a bald faced lie. Elsa repeatedly refused to have anything to do with the Field School, repeatedly turned down our requests to get involved in it, all of which was much discussed between myself, Elsa and Mr. Shearman and the subject of e-mail between us. I assume you are aware of such e-mail and would have reviewed it as part of your regular supervision of and communication with Mr. Shearman. Had Mr. Shearman not passed it on to you, I would have reviewed it with you at the time of the “complete review” you claimed you would undertake, but have failed to conduct.

I protested Elsa’s refusal to go forward with the training agreement Mr. Shearman made with Afaf via e-mail to him, asking whether he changed the deal with Afaf, or if Elsa did so unilaterally. Mr. Shearman made clear it was Elsa, acting unilaterally, who breached his commitment to the SCA. Had Mr. Shearman changed the deal, Afaf would have notified the trainees not to come for training. As they came expecting to be trained, Mr. Shearman had clearly not changed the deal; Elsa decided herself to renege on it.

I again e-mailed Mr. Shearman, asking why he would tolerate this, as Elsa’s refusal was making the Egyptians more and more angry and discredited ARCE. I pointed out if he had made an agreement with Afaf, it was incumbent on him to move forward with it, not allow Elsa to change it on her whim. His response was Elsa was, “entitled to her opinion.” I am on record as protesting this was not an opinion, but an outright refusal to honor the agreement made with the SCA, which was hurting relations with the SCA, the project and tarnishing ARCE’s reputation. Mr. Shearman ignored my protest. He told the SCA he and Elsa would think things over and let them know when she could get around to training anyone, perhaps next year. After I was ejected from the project, the SCA investigated and barred Elsa from the lab and temple for this and her other conduct.

2. Mr. Shearman’s conduct after Elsa’s ejection by the SCA

Astoundingly, after the SCA’s independent investigation and ejection of Elsa from Karnak, Mr. Shearman attempted to rehabilitate Elsa and bring her back by soliciting a statement from Afaf Fathalla, Director of Conservation for Upper Egypt, that all the problems with Elsa were a “misunderstanding” and she should be allowed to return. Afaf rejected this out of hand. He then approached Mansour who also refused, telling Mr. Shearman he was not helping himself or ARCE by doing so.

It is beyond peradventure the SCA closely examined Elsa’s conduct and found it to be seriously wanting, hence her expulsion. That Mr. Shearman would connive at Elsa’s return in the face of her expulsion flies in the face of the SCA’s position. Such an attempt to contravene the SCA’s decision constitutes reckless endangerment of ARCE’s relations with the SCA and the project, especially when the SCA is a lot less than happy with ARCE’s conduct of the entire matter, a fact known to you both. Moreover, this conduct implicates you in the attempt, as it must be assumed Mr. Shearman has your tacit approval to so act, in direct contravention of the SCA’s findings after its own investigation and its expulsion of Elsa, which does nothing good for ARCE or yourself. This behavior defies rational understanding.

It does, however, conclusively demonstrate Mr. Shearman, has neither the experience, nor the wit to understand the relationship between ARCE and the SCA, or appreciate the seriousness of what has transpired. He has all along mis-gauged the SCA’s position in and response to such matters. This conduct is not only ineffectual, it damages ARCE’s position with the SCA. Mr. Shearman sees only the short term goal of bringing Elsa back. Considering her poor performance and history, this is remarkably foolhardy, shows him an extremely poor judge of character and clearly puts his own interest in her return before considerations of how her return would adversely affect the project and ARCE’s position.

Mr. Shearman, for some inexplicable reason, is determined to continue in his quest to bring Elsa back, despite problems it would pose for ARCE, even when he admitted to other people he was well aware Elsa was problematic and difficult to work with.

Elsa insisted on locking up any and all equipment necessary to running the lab, retaining the only set of keys, making the equipment unavailable to Saied and I when needed for teaching of and use by the students, despite that prior to her arrival, as we were in charge of the lab, we always had free and unfettered access to such equipment. Though I complained to Mr. Shearman and Elsa about this, Elsa continued locking up needed equipment and supplies in the lab or in her office in the lab, retaining the only keys.

Over Christmas, Elsa went off on holiday, locking her desk and office despite the fact Field School instruction was ongoing. Saied needed to make use of the polarizing microscope and needed an attachment we had always kept in the drawer of the work station on which the microscope was situated. It was not there. Without letting anyone else know, Elsa removed it and locked it into her desk. In order to get it, Mr. Shearman and Saied had to get into her locked office, then break into her locked desk. The desk drawer had to be broken open by physically pulling off the front of the drawer, where they found the attachment, right where Elsa locked it away. Mr. Shearman told Saied then he knew Elsa was very difficult to work with, but did nothing about it and nothing changed. There were other instances. This was completely wasteful of our time, interfered with proper running of the Field School and served no useful purpose.

This is the person Mr. Shearman wants to bring back in the face of SCA expulsion, to further antagonize the students, the SCA and engage in what I can only describe as childish and immature turf wars over the lab, rather than to be an integral part of the successful running of the Field School. This is not what anyone could call good management.

3-Mr. Shearman’s Poor Staff Management; Endangerment of Archaeological Artifacts Through Mr. Shearman’s Insistence on Employment of Discredited Conservation Techniques: During your visit at the end of February, you advised Mr. Shearman, Elsa and I you wanted us to have weekly staff meetings to discuss and resolve issues between us. A staff meeting was scheduled on March 9, 2010. This turned out to be a general staff meeting. I asked that my assistant, Saied, attend. Mr. Sherman refused, saying he could not. When I asked why, as Saied would manage things while I was away at the ARCE meeting, Mr. Shearman could articulate no answer other than, “Because I’m the Director and I say so”. I told him then and repeat now, this was an extremely poor management technique, revealing a complete lack of mature reasoning and thought. He had no good reason to bar Saied from the meeting. If he had, he would have stated it. Instead, he fell back on the most inadequate of reasons, arbitrary whim and caprice.

More importantly, that morning, Christy, the new conservator who arrived about a month before, told me of a meeting the day before between Mr. Shearman, Elsa and herself. They discussed and Elsa recommended purchase and use of electrolytic cleaning equipment for conservation of copper and bronze coins found by the SCA. I was alarmed, as this has long been a discredited and disfavored process. It is an indiscriminate technique which results in loss of original surface features, crucial to coins, destroys information in corrosion products, causes metallurgical changes and permanent mineralogical and color changes in the metal and its patination. If coins are severely corroded, the technique yields a slug of core metal, with no details preserved on the surface, at best, or complete disassociation of the corrosion products, leaving nothing behind, at worst.

Elsa wanted to order zinc pellets for this technique before, to effect anodic-cathodic reactions on which electrolytic reactions depend, when I was Interim Director. I vetoed it, telling her this technique had no place in the lab. This time, without informing me, she got Mr. Shearman to approve it, though he is not trained in any way as a conservator.

As you know from the e-mail I sent you about this meeting, when I tried to bring the matter up, Mr. Shearman would not even listen to the explanation I tried to offer as senior project conservator. Instead, he derided my objections, saying I was not the world’s expert on coins. I replied I had many more years of real experience in the field than Elsa and Christy combined, who both had little field experience and virtually none at all in Egypt. His response was to state that the French expert for whom the electrolytic equipment was to be purchased had a PhD and I didn’t, that if I didn’t like it I could call Mansour and that if Mansour didn’t like it, Mansour could call Mr. Shearman.

As you also know from my e-mail to you, I had dinner with Mansour that night and related what happened. In my presence, he promptly called the French expert, Thomas, who advised Mansour he did have a PhD, but in archaeology and had no formal training in conservation. Mansour will confirm this. My concerns were completely legitimate and reflected my work in Egypt for almost 25 years. Mr. Shearman’s response to my bona fide concerns, based on his very little experience in the field in Egypt and none at all in conservation, was wholly inappropriate, put the objects at serious risk of destruction, but was consistent with his prior actions. He was so eager to support Elsa and to discredit me because I had the temerity to question his decisions, that without thinking, he indulged in a retaliatory response, putting his own dislikes and prejudices before the good of the objects and the interests of ARCE, with potentially disastrous consequences for both. This was ill considered and cannot be rationally justified.

4-Mr. Shearman’s Premature Termination of the Stonecutters Contracts resulting in work undone:

Dany Roy and his stonecutters were contracted to work until end of May, 2010. Mr. Shearman insisted they be let go early, Dany at end of February, the others at end of March. This was poor resource management as there was still a lot of work that needed completion. This was ostensibly a cost saving measure, but to what end? It saved money by laying off the stonecutters, but at the price of needed work being left undone. The SCA is dissatisfied that the work is unfinished. Rather than make Khonsu the jewel of ARCE’s work in Luxor, it ended up a partially finished project, with which no one is completely happy, other than, perhaps, Mr. Shearman.

When Mr. Shearman told me he was terminating Dany at end of February, I protested via e-mail that Dany was the most senior, reliable and skilled of the team, that two younger crew he was keeping exhibited severe absenteeism in January, missing 25% of their work days and they should be let go, not Dany. You were copied. I never received a response from anyone.

Mr. Shearman knew the work would not be finished. He asked Dany, the week before Dany left, if he could return next season, 2010-2011, alone, to undertake completion of that work. As Dany had previously advised us he intended to relocate his entire family to Canada over the summer of 2010, he replied he was unavailable.

Mr. Shearman recognized Dany needed to return, so why not keep him through May 2010, as originally contracted? Clearly, it would be more expensive to have Dany and the team discontinue and close down work at the end of February and March, only to return and set up equipment and get supplies all over again next season, than to continue the work through May as originally agreed. It will be difficult to replace a stonecutter as skilled as Dany. While others may be available, those restoring Egyptian temples are few and far between. None have the experience Dany acquired in his many years at Medinat Habu and Luxor temples. If Mr. Shearman had any substantial experience in Egypt working on conservation of monuments he would know this and would have used Dany and the better members of his team to full advantage while they were available. That he did not reveals his lack of experience and management skills as to the monuments.

Letting them go far in advance of their contracts end was bad for continuity of the work. Dany is now unavailable. Clemon is angry at being terminated early, when he had committed to ARCE and was left in the lurch. He will not return as he doesn’t trust ARCE. That ARCE has acted this way will surely get around. The community of stonecutters is small. No truly skilled stonecutters, for whom there is a steady demand and competition, will risk working for ARCE after this, as they could be terminated at any time. Nor will any other good contract worker. This does not reflect sound policy or good management, a conclusion with which any objective outsider will agree.

5-Delay in Creating and Signing Initial Contracts for Dany Roy and His Team of Stonecutters at the Beginning of the Season, resulted in loss of weeks of time, contributed to work remaining unfinished and makes it even more inexplicable that Mr. Shearman terminated the stonecutters contracts in February and March, rather than May.

In June, 2009, while interim director, I told you of my plans to recommence stonework in Khonsu in mid September. At that same time you told Luxor staff you could not sign contracts then, as you were waiting for USAID to sign off on the project extension, though they could have simply been made contingent on that fact. From August through almost mid October, well after the extension was granted, I repeatedly e-mailed Cairo and San Antonio about the urgency of getting the stonecutter’s contracts completed and signed, so work could commence on time. My pleas were to no avail. The decision to bring in Mr. Shearman was made in late August. You called to tell me so, yet despite this, you and Mr. Shearman failed to prepare and sign the needed contracts, which should have been a first priority. Although I was ready, willing and able to prepare them myself, having prepared thousands as a lawyer and offered to do so in June when they were discussed, my offer was repeatedly refused, though I kept getting more and increasingly urgent inquires from the stonecutters, as well as other staff, about their whereabouts. These were all passed on to Cairo and /or San Antonio.

Despite Mr. Shearman’s being appointed Director in late August or early September, no contracts were forthcoming. In frustration Dany Roy contacted you directly by e-mail, the tile of which was, “Dissatisfaction All Around”, and stated neither he nor his team would commence work without signed contracts. You, rather than Mr. Shearman, finally met with Dany in Cairo and had contracts drafted and signed, but not until end of the first week, or early in the second week of October. This delay resulted in loss of almost a full month’s work.

You advised me Mr. Shearman was specifically hired because of his experience managing “big projects”. The Luxor project is not a big one. Despite my repeated and urgent e-mail requests, it appears that either Mr. Shearman, though having been appointed Director in late August, or early September, was unable to manage drafting and signing of the contracts, or, if you take the position he was not yet in Luxor to attend to them, decidedly peculiar in the day of the internet, then the Cairo and San Antonio offices were not properly managing the matter. Either Mr. Shearman is at fault, or the Cairo and San Antonio offices are. I leave it for the reader of this to decide.

6-Contracts for other Luxor staff arriving mid September and later, e.g., the Talatat project, were not attended to timely; Mr. Shearman’s inability to adequately administer consultant contracts: Luxor staff contracts had also been promised over the summer. Despite many inquiries I passed on to Cairo and San Antonio, they were not available when staff arrived, causing resentment. When after I arrived in mid September, I had to travel to the SCA office in Cairo and sign SCA documents due to your absence from Egypt, I was given not contracts, but merely letters of intent outlining terms.

After handing them out, I was informed several contained errors. Some had incorrect job descriptions relating to other staff, others had significant errors in payment terms. Owen Murray advised me he had his pay cut by 11%. I notified you and Kathann about this, but was told there was no mistake, everyone had gotten some increase, however small. It was not until weeks later Owen’s contract was reviewed and he did have his pay cut. This was corrected, but shows poor management on matters of extreme importance to staff. Mr. Shearman, already appointed Luxor Director, or Cairo / San Antonio, under his direction, should have had this matter resolved well in advance of staff’s arrival. That it was not exhibits a cavalier attitude toward staff which caused serious disaffection.

After arriving in Luxor, Mr. Shearman insisted on handling all consultant contracts, but failed to adequately attend to them. Ellen Pearlstein came and left before he advised me he failed to present her with her contract and get her to sign it. I had to get it from him, e-mail it to Ellen and secure her e-signature after she returned to Los Angles. Payment on Hiroko’s contract for teaching in early December had still not been approved and made when I was ejected on March 11th. Susanne Gaensicke’s contract was so muddled and inadequate I had to redraft it, then give it back for him to give to her. Even then, he gave her the wrong contract. I had to return it again. There is more, but space constrains me. You can verify all of this by simply contacting the above parties and asking them.

You hired Mr. Shearman because of his purported experience managing large projects. As stated earlier, Luxor is not a large project to anyone experienced in administration of truly large ones, yet those supposed managerial skills were a lot less than sterling when it came to his handling these contracts.

7-Immediately upon arrival in Luxor in October 2009, Mr. Shearman alienated the head of the SCA in Luxor, Mansour Boriak, by refusing a request to occasionally lend our staff photographer to document ongoing excavations along the Ave. of the Sphinxes. This assistance was requested as the SCA had no professional staff photographer in Luxor, a fact made known to Mr. Shearman.

Rather than agree and maintain good relations with the SCA, Mr. Shearman told Mansour that if the SCA wanted such help it would have to pay for it on a daily basis, there would be no help forthcoming without such. Mansour was infuriated as he has been a consistent supporter of ARCE’s work in Luxor, supported building the ARCE lab in Karnak, helped get antiquities for teaching purposes for the Field School and was chiefly responsible for ARCE being allowed to work in Khonsu as part of the Field School training. Though he later reversed his position, by this injudicious and ungrateful action, Mr. Shearman got off to a very bad start with the key SCA member whose cooperation is necessary for success of the ARCE mission in Luxor. This can be verified.

8-Mr. Shearman’s Pretextual Excuse for Ejectment from the Project: Legal Remedies: As set forth in my e-mail to you on March 11, 2010, Mr. Shearman summoned me to his office that afternoon to demand I sign a “Letter of Discipline”, contending I was insubordinate and embarrassed him by asking questions at the staff meeting two days before. I refused. When I tried to leave, Mr. Shearman stood in the doorway of his office, blocking my exit and would not move out of the way, apparently thinking I would sign the document if he refused to let me out. This constitutes False Imprisonment, an actionable tort. As Mr. Shearman was not acting under color of law, but as ARCE’s Associate Director, once I reasonably believed I was being falsely held this gave rise to a conditional privilege to resist the unlawful conduct, which I did. I placed one open hand on Mr. Shearman, moving him aside and exiting his office. No one else was present. Michael Jones, turning the corner of the hall, came on the scene immediately thereafter, at which juncture Mr. Shearman stated to him,” You just missed it”, with a big smile on his face. Though I was finally able to exit the office, this in no way negates the tortuous conduct of Mr. Shearman.

I never, at any time, otherwise touched Mr. Shearman. Any contention to the contrary is false and asserted as a pretext to expel me from the project, as neither of you were successful in getting me to quit by creating a hostile work environment. Mr. Shearman’s motivation for his accusation to the contrary was clearly to eliminate anyone who would not blindly acquiesce and say yes to everything Mr. Sherman did. Sadly, your lack of any bona fide inquiry seems to reflect the same motivation, which is more than disappointing.

Once out of his office I went to my own, where I e-mailed you what had transpired. Despite this you never replied, called or investigated to ascertain what happened, other than to apparently take whatever version Mr. Shearman related to you as true. That evening, you prepared and sent your memo referred to in the beginning of this letter, evicting me from the residence, canceling my presentation at the annual meeting, etc.

Based on Mr. Shearman’s comment and his thereafter hiring at least three local men as security, guarding the ARCE residence from early morning to late at night to ensure I did not return to beat him up, which all of Luxor knew about and regarded as extremely childish, it is clear Mr. Shearman is claiming I physically injured him and that I intended to return and do him more harm.

This is completely untrue and supported by no objective evidence, whatsoever. There was no reason to harm him. As a lawyer I would certainly not take such action, knowing it to be illegal. Had Mr. Shearman been hurt in any way, he most assuredly would have had pictures taken of any blood, bruising or marks, would have filed a police report and there would be hospital records, or a doctor’s report. There aren’t any. No one from the police called or came to see me, though both of you knew I was in the Mercure-Etap hotel, so the police knew where to find me if what Mr. Shearman claims happened really occurred.

If you contend there are photos or documents supporting such a claim, I demand copies of them immediately, within the next 24 hours and will pay the reasonable expense of your preparing same for transmittal to me. If not forthcoming, I will take the position that failure to make these immediately available was done with the purpose of obtaining them after the fact, will seek to exclude them and/ or request a limiting instruction to the jury. If you have investigated as you said you would, if such documents exist, they are surely in your files and available to you now. Failure to respond is at your peril.

As you didn’t bother to contact me or otherwise investigate what occurred, it is clear you ratified the actions and allegations of Mr. Shearman. Your own subsequent actions were clearly made by ARCE’s senior management on its behalf. Such ratification renders ARCE equally liable with Mr. Sherman for his tortuous conduct. If sufficient facts come out in discovery, you may be individually liable, as well, on separate but related counts.

Mr. Shearman’s conduct is not in any way subject to any supposed employment contract between ARCE and I. He is not party to any such supposed agreement. His conduct is not part of any such agreement and it cannot be argued personal torts committed by ARCE’s management were ever contemplated to be covered by such. No one contracts to allow other employees to commit torts against him. Your ratification of his conduct may well give rise to ARCE’s and your own vicarious liability under several doctrines.

California has jurisdiction over ARCE based on California’s long arm statute. Venue for such claim is also proper in California. ARCE does business in California by maintaining two local chapters, Orange County and the Bay Area. Both collect and remit dues to ARCE, which therefore makes money from their activities, intentionally availing itself of California as a forum in which to do business. Such constitutes sufficient minimum contacts with California for it to entertain jurisdiction. Venue is proper in either Northern or Southern California. Claims against ARCE will not include the local chapters.

I will shortly be sending correspondence demanding production and copies of ARCE’s corporate records, which must be maintained and made available to the public, to say nothing of members, as mandated by law. Failure to produce them accordingly will be met with separate claims to force their disgorgement and for all costs of same. Those documents will allow me to take this matter not only to the Board, but to membership in general and in its entirety for resolution at the next annual meeting. As a matter of law, all ARCE members are entitled to be fully informed of what transpired in Luxor this last season. I will see to it that they are, as they deserve to know the full and complete facts.

By now you know I cannot be cowed, am deadly serious and will not hesitate to go to the members and others directly to remedy the situation if you do not respond with alacrity to resolve it. The question now is whether you will act in the best interests of ARCE, as well as its members, to professionalize Luxor management, or continue to act in a manner only benefiting Mr. Shearman. Unlike Mr. Shearman, you may still have the benefit of some small reservoir of good will, as well as some doubt that you were fully aware of Mr. Shearman’s conduct. However, you have only a small, brief window of opportunity to act. Now that you know more fully what occurred, failure to act to remedy the situation will dissipate that good will and any doubts will be resolved against you. I expect to hear from you forthwith by phone to get matters resolved. If not, I shall proceed as outlined.

 

Very truly yours,

 

Edward D. Johnson

c.c. Pending

 

 

 

 

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