Tom Kiefaber & Sean Brescia Speak to WBAL

Photo of The Senator by Rich Dennison (The Daily Record)

R.I.P. Alva Durkee Stern; Photo of The Senator by Rich Dennison (The Daily Record)

UPDATED: Tom Kiefaber, current owner of The Senator, speaks to WBAL.

Late Friday, Kiefaber confirmed to WBAL Radio that he would “absolutely” step aside for the good of the Senator Theater. However, Kiefaber says there is a lot of mis-information being reported and he wants all parties involved to sit down to work out the details.

Listen online and/or download (mp3) Mr. Kiefaber’s interview from WBAL.

Sean Brescia, who is working to help coordinate the goals of Senator management and The Senator Community Trust also spoke in an earlier taped interview with WBAL radio. What follows is an excerpt of that interview:

Look, there is no doubt that Tom Kiefaber has become a pariah of sorts in this whole situation. There is a lot of blame being thrown around, and a lot of facts and figures being quoted out of context– A lot of focus on the past in general.

I think it’s no secret that certain folks downtown have lost faith in Tom’s leadership and the ability for this situation to be resolved within the walls of the Senator under current management.

And let’s face it, there is clearly a history of financial turmoil that on the surface seems to point to that.

But if you dig a little below the surface of the sensationalism, you actually find an equal number of people who commend Tom, in national circles even, for having somehow been able to keep this little single screen presentation theatre operational for as long as he has, when all of the practices and trends of the industry have basically conspired against the very existence of these types of historic theatres for decades now.

We can spend a lot of time as a community and as a city, pointing fingers, and blaming Tom at every media avail. One group can cite a bunch of financial assistance that was never fully realized. Another group can point to a complicated history of trends that got us to where we are now.

Or we can start getting really frank about the timeline in play here and put our heads together to try to find a solution that is in everyone’s interests. There are a number of interests that have to be balanced here:

The bank, certainly

The community

The city

The state

And other creditors

The bottom line is that Tom Kiefaber remains open and fully engaged in a proactive effort to make this transition, including transition of ownership and management to a new structure– one that ensures strong influence and direction from the community going forward, balances the interests of the city and bank, and ensures the continued legacy of The Senator.

That has been his goal for some time and that remains his goal. But there is no easy exit strategy here for him. There’s a loyal staff involved and a family that this weighs extremely heavily on. And the interests of the community are also most important to him.

I think it’s a great sign that the city has formed a steering committee to explore scenarios for The Senator. But let’s be honest, there is a clear disconnect between the conversations being had behind closed doors downtown and the voice of the community which right now isn’t even being heard. Councilman Henry who sits on the steering committee himself has said that, “the committee is not seeking community input.”

Why would they not be seeking community input from the people who live with The Senator in their backyards and across the street from their businesses?

Tom is ready to be out of the way on this thing, BELIEVE ME, but there are a number of prerequisites to any deal that simply aren’t being shared publicly, much less even addressed, and should be.

The cleanest, most expeditious path to a viable and sustainable solution for The Senator going forward is going to be found through a cooperative integration of ideas and goals that balance all of the interests involved.

The city’s steering committee has not yet identified a viable non-profit that could assume ownership and operation of the Senator. The community has formed one. These people need to start talking to each other right away.

Its time everyone stops wasting sound bites on pointing fingers and assigning blame, and start working together out in the open to find a solution.

Apparently portions of the interview are being aired during the stations “news” breaks.


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