Friday, January 20, 2012

Solution (For Back of a Letter)

A rather grayness stretched out through and through above the vasty snow. No one at fault; belief alone allowed this to take shape. Blame no one, argued someone loudly in his own mind so that everyone within would hear. Lest ye (and so forth).

The walkers long since having sat, mostly apart, names stuck with them so long, abandonment hard to come by these days. This sort of weather famous for making beggars of the steeliest men. No women to be seen, long since covered.

It began to stop raining. Some looked up. Long since down lost appeal.

Gravity worked, which is saying a lot more for it than for most. Yet not a brave enough voice in sight. Gravity spoke for itself. Gravity had little to say. Gravity knew when to stay quiet. Ah, gravity, gravity: musicless, gray, introverted.

And the rain continued to stop. And so on continued. Belief allowed this. Alone. Cheer up. It could be worse. It could have been worse.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pilot Down

On May 25th I sat down to some olives and a few bottles of wine with Raven B, graduate of Columbia University’s Film Program, Melissa B., a terrific New York stage actress, and Tuuli N., a speech communication and voice teacher from Finland. We all shared one thing: exposure to Perry Mills. Raven and I happened to take some of Perry’s classes, while Melissa and Tuuli knew him peripherally, so our two voices dominate here. But the wine was drunk by all. Here are a few choice moments from our evening.

Raven: …we used to ride motorcycles together, Perry and I—

Jakob: You used to ride motorcycles with him?

R: Yeah. I had this really shitty little—I mean, look at me, picture me on a motorcycle, and picture the sort of motorcycle I’d ride—it’s probably exactly what you’re thinking—

J: I’m picturing one of those little things that Hispanic teenagers ride that are like ”this big”—

R: It was essentially that – it was the smallest motorcycle that was technically still—

J: What was the horsepower on it?

R: It was…90 cc’s.

J: Was it? Do they actually make motorcycles like that?

Melissa: It was a vacuum cleaner.

J: You invented it.

R: I built it out of recycled things that I had lying around – but no, it was this tiny little thing that I had and I mentioned it to Perry in class, and he said (affecting a Mills gruffness) ”Well I ride motorcycles”. And he said we should ride motorcycles together.

J: What year was this?

R: Oh, goddamn, I lose track about a decade at a time—

J: Well, give a decade at least—was this the 90’s?

R: No, it was the oughts – maybe 2003.

J: Well you’re the only person I’ve ever spoken to who’s ridden a motorcycle with Perry Mills.

R: Actually, I will say on record that I had the scariest moment in my life riding a motorcycle with Perry Mills. You know Chuckanut—

J: Beautiful drive.

R: Yeah, and Perry basically taught me how to ride a motorcycle, because I had this little thing and – you know, he was very very patient with me – and I’d get on the thing and – he had this, you know, big old ugly hideous—

J: All the cc’s that were supposed to be in your engine went into his

R: He had siphoned them into his prior to me even getting that motorcycle – But it was ridiculous, my motorcycle – well, here I’ll show you what it looks like –

J: Great, we’re going to see a picture of Perry eating your motorcycle pop up on your iPhone…

J: Oh, no, that’s actually a really cute bike! I mean with 90 cc’s and all, at least it’s a good looking little thing…

R: Anyway, I had this stupid little piece of shit thing that maxed out at 50mph, and he took me out to Chuckanut, and I was terrified the entire time I was riding with him – he looked back and I was just very very tense… And Perry was like ”Okay, you’re not leaning into your turns, you’re just driving straight up like a prissy little boy”, so he made me get on the motorcycle with him, and – you know: ”Sit behind me, grab the fat and hold on”—

J: The best illustration of ”love handles”—

R: ”Faith handles”, yeah and, you remember, Chuckanut’s got very very tight curves, and he went like a million miles per hour and – you know, you’re supposed to turn into the corners and…I don’t know if he was showing off or this is how people are supposed to do it…

J: He went horizontal?

R: He went horizontal, and my elbow was like, you know, a centimeter from the—

J: While you were on it?

R: While I was on it, and I was like: Okay, I’m riding on the back of a bike with a crazy man and when we die people will find this out and say ”Okay, so he voluntarily got behind Perry Mills on a bike knowing who this man is?”

J: Like I said, you are the only person I’ve ever spoken to who has been on a motorcycle with Perry—

R: God, Perry, Jesus… No, but that was a joy, though, I really enjoyed it. You know, Perry’s known for having this rough exterior but when he was riding a bike he’d be like the sweetest man in the world, you know, he’d look over and say something about how life itself is all about what’s behind the next bend in the road, and you know, you realized that Perry was like this absolutely fucking – is. I guess he’s still alive.

(The room becomes laughter)

R: Sorry, Perry.

J: Don’t worry, this is going to go online verbatim—

R: Hey, I haven’t seen him in a thousand years. But, no, he was just really sweet when riding bikes. You know, he really loved it.


J: You were an English major.

R: So, your question is…

J: Why the hell do you know Perry Mills, why did you come over to the theatre department?

R: Well: A) The creative writing department was lackluster and B) I had to take some classes outside my discipline. And I read about a class that sounded fantastic, and that was Perry Mills’ Intro to Playwriting or whatever it was called. So I went over there, and signed up, and the class proved to be something wonderful. You’d present something and he’d either bat it away or draw it further out of you. And I was terrified but he was a saint: he drew me out of myself. He would not accept ”No” for an answer, he made me participate in (student run production company) New Playwrights Theatre, he made me do all these things…

J: But there was some talk about his overlooking people, or…

R: Yeah, well, it’s like when I ended up in graduate school I had this professor I hated with all my heart and soul, and I realized later that she was a lot like Perry Mills in that there was a narrow parameter that she’d take to in terms of art. And I came at her at the wrong trajectory—I just wanted to graduate because I hated the program and so I wrote this script that I felt was safe, it was something fluffy and light, and relatively stupid, and I submitted it to her and she hated it with all her heart, and I took it very personally and I hated her. But after some consideration—maybe on this very evening after several glasses of wine—I realized it was a testament to—I mean, I don’t really want to give her this much credit, because she’s probably still a horrible harpy—but I think it was a testament to her credibility that she recognized it was false and she batted it away and said ”This isn’t good enough.” And in so much as I think I still had potential and she might have ultimately been wrong about me, I think Perry may have done that with some people who for whatever reason attempted to approximate something they thought would be of his sensibility and he, sensing a fake, would bat it away. I, for whatever reason, happened to approach him honestly, saying: Here’s what I have, kill me if you have to. It’s like a story out of mythology: if you don’t approach the dragon with a pure heart he’ll eat you.

J: I remember seeing a student approach him—a new student—and this was very important to me, to see someone approach him for the first time—and she said ”Hi, I’m ignorant. Can you help me?” And I remember walking past that moment with a glow in my heart: she said the right thing. And Perry beamed, and from that moment on, as far as I know from how she described her experiences with him during school, he always took her seriously. I think she touched upon something in him that allowed him to think ”Oh, yeah, I could speak honestly to you for the next few years and make sure that you’re on the right track.” And other than that, I’m not sure what else a mentor is for.

R: Well, I remember one student, I think her name was Blandy McBlandoe, and she was really bored with everything, and she wrote this play, and it was really boring and, as bland as her heart was, it was from her heart. And I’m sure it was about whatever Perry hated most: like, being a 20-something-year-old with a 20-something-year-old roommate…and it was three-acts long. She put it up, she did everything she should have. And you could tell, Perry being a dragon, that he didn’t love her. But she stepped correct. As bland as she was, she approached the thing the right way. And he never gave her shit, when he spoke out it was always based on the work she put up, you know. ”This isn’t working right, etc., etc.” And she passed through his lair without incident, and graduated, and became an accountant or whatever. But the thing is that only the people who were really false to him were lashed out at. And pretty much the worst thing as an artist is seeing someone who’s just faking it break into the artistic world, because the only thing you die by is your convictions. Perry would reject insincerity.


R: Let me just say this, too: Perry is in many ways a selfless bastard. I mean, I would never be where I am now, which is…working at a restaurant—

(explosive laughter)

R: No! I mean, I would never have gone on to film school if it hadn’t been for Perry Mills, I would never have done anything like that without—

J: Where did you go to film school?

R: (Mock upper-crusty accent) Columbia University. But I would never have had the guts to do that, to pursue the arts wholeheartedly if it would not have been for this man, because he…it might have been a small view of the world that he had because he had been mired in the arts for so long but, you know, he never seemed to talk like there was anything other than that. You know, he’d basically say we were stuck in this purgatory and the only way out is through art. Which was great—you know, I took his class four fucking times—

J: Which class did you take?

R: Just the one, the playwriting class. You could take it—like, there was no limit on how many times you could take it—

J: Were you in the playwriting concentration?

R: No, I was in the creative writing concentration.

J: Right, you were an English major.

R: Yeah, I was seduced by Perry Mills. Not in a…sexual way…for those people who are paying attention—

J: There are none of those. Anyway, you had sex with Perry Mills—

R: Many, many times, on his motorcycle, at 180mph. No, but I took the first class on a whim, and I was terrified, because I’d heard Perry Mills was a motherfucker and the scariest man who ever lived—

J: And you never took his aesthetics class.

R: Never took the aesthetics class.

J: Well, I’m sort of both in admiration that you survived the motorcycle ride, but also amazed that you never went through that class.

R: Well, in my de—what’s the opposite of ”defense”?

J: Offense.

R: At my offense, I was a coward back then. I wanted to just stick to my thing—

J: Oh, I remember you now!

R: His playwriting class, though, to this day, was unlike any other workshop class I’ve ever taken. I’ve taken a lot of workshop classes since, and I took a lot prior, in creative writing, and…I can’t really tell the difference much between them except that this one was a lot like being on a pirate ship. There were a lot of people just trying to please Perry but that didn’t seem to really phase him because he’d just get to the heart of matters, which a lot of teachers I’ve had otherwise hadn’t done, and the reason is very very simple. The other classes I’ve had, there’d be this sense of political correctness or civility, which didn’t exist in Perry’s class. He may have hurt a lot of people’s feelings but if he thought your work was quality stuff he’d do the exact opposite—but it wasn’t a false sense of appreciation—you got the sense that Perry was there specifically to be this…he’d reject the work of people who really just shouldn’t be writers, and I think it was much to their service, stemming them off at a young age so they didn’t get themselves into a 150,000 dollar debt at film school like I am… Thanks, Perry.

J: But you’ve got a job in a restaurant to pay that off.

R: That’s true, I take that back. Thanks, Perry. He actually wrote me this beaming recommendation letter that I’m sure is one of the reasons I got into that fucking place.

Tuuli: Did you like Columbia University?

R: No, I hated it. But that’s not Perry’s fault. Anyway, Perry dissuaded people who should be dissuaded.


J: Well, Melissa, on that note, you knew Perry Mills at least at all, but you were in the acting concentration at Western. As I remember it, there wasn’t anything in place, at least in the acting section, that could act like some kind of quality control. I remember countless untalented people running up the bill with no one telling them: Hey, kid, this really isn’t for you.

M: When we were juniors, they instituted a process where you had to audition to get into the upper level acting classes. My group avoided that—I guess we were grandfathered in—but right after us they started to audition people if they wanted to move from the 200-level classes to the 300-level classes. And they weeded people out.

J: Well, the environment we’re talking about—the department, specifically the other teachers—that’s an interesting subject in itself. I remember, for instance, Lee Taylor—

M: Lee Taylor! I remember Perry once looking out the window, seeing Lee shuffling along, and he said ”Oops, looks like Lee’s cloaking device is malfunctioning again.”

(Bursts of laughter)

J: Well, I remember having to explain to Lee that purple wasn’t a primary color. He kept insisting that it was. And I got really frustrated and said ”Lee, the only primary colors are red, blue and yellow, you get purple by combining the first two, it’s secondary” and he got pretty purple himself and said ”Well, I meant it’s an important color.”

R: It’s primary to me!


J: And he was the lighting instructor! This is what I mean: no quality control.


R: What’s interesting was going to Columbia after Western and, you know, film is a similar beast to theatre, there are a lot of egos involved, and that’s usually in the faculty—and the faculty is usually people who have ”wanted to” and failed and are resentful, and are now teaching people who are probably going to shoot past them… And this happens a lot at Columbia where, like what you guys were saying about the theatre department faculty: people taking resources that are meant to be allotted to the students—

J: Wait, we need more wine for this part.

R: Yes.

(Wine occurs, robbing us of the topic.)


J: Something hit me the other day, and I want to run it by you. Don’t stretch here with me if it doesn’t feel right, but something hit me about Perry. It seems to me, at 33, that I have now had just enough life-experience to realize how brutal a place the world really is. If I’m not 100% cynical or jaded, I certainly am damaged enough to get a lot of how Perry sees the world. So, by my gauge, he’s not necessarily wrong in his worldview. But at 23, I was barely old enough to know that the world existed beyond my front door, let alone how cruel and terrible it is and how much it doesn’t love me. I wonder, since Perry wants the best for people like us – people with an ear developing to handle hard truths – if he simply had, for the most part, the wrong audience because of wrong timing—that he should have been speaking with more experienced people who have more experienced ears.

R: That completely resonates with me. I completely agree with that. But I also feel like… Since moving to New York I’ve become obsessed with the afterlife – with hell, with the concepts that we consider when we think of ”the afterlife”—and purgatory and everything are simply warnings: warnings against character breaches or character excesses, etc. And with Perry I felt that he was a guy who crashed there. A place where he shouldn’t have crashed. Because Perry’s a great pilot. He’s a great guy, a smart guy, a terrific writer, all these things. But he crashed. And it’s a place where people like us shouldn’t crash. And he was desperately warning us away from that spot. But yeah, I mean, he would say this in his own words—in fact, one quote I’ve been thinking about a lot from him is ”If I was living up to my potential, you would never have met me.”

J: He said that?

R: All the time. And that said to me, he shouldn’t have been here, we shouldn’t have met him at this point in our lives—

J: But do you ultimately feel that there was a useful justification to his being there?

R: A useful justification?

J: Obi-Wan Kenobi could have come across any Jedi-wannabe. It was all in the timing that the match between him and Luke Skywalker was made and made right. We can only speak to the period we were actually in—it seems kind of worthless to think about what could have been, what he could have done, but—

R: Was it a beneficial period? I mean, when I think about the definition of a hero—as someone who’s basically—I mean, hopefully the debate about what constitutes a hero will go on indefinitely, but one definition is: here’s a man who’s overqualified for his station, settling in a place that’s somewhat beneath him…I mean, I can’t make a nice soundbyte here—

J: You don’t have to.

R: I don’t want to be elitist but I also don’t want to be the opposite of elitist—

J: Deletist?

R: I don’t want to be deletist! I don’t want to beat everyone up: but we went to Western. Lord knows how we’re doing now, lord knows how we’ll do later, but I think we were hitting a little below our mark and there was a very lovely safety net to catch us and spring us back up and inspire us to do what we should have been doing, to be what we should have been all along, and I think Perry did that for a few choice people. And, yeah, so: goddamn right that was wonderful. And I’ve been reading Richard Dawkins lately and reading about how genes are always working to make as many copies of themselves as possible—and with Perry, I mean, I don’t want to say he failed in the slightest, and I think it’s terrible that he’s been kept away from teaching, but I think he basically put himself in a position where he could catch a few people with low self-esteem, catch a few people who were on a bad trajectory, and that’s a great thing. I mean you’re here and I’m here… If you can save even two people, that’s… I mean, I didn’t even know if I was going to go to school, I didn’t know what I was going to do…but the man reversed my trajectory; he flipped it and pushed me upward, and he did it single-handedly. He did it out of instinct—he saw things that needed to be batted away and things that should be batted back into the game and he did that. Instinctively.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On Literacy, Literature and 20-Year-Olds

This is the way my mind works. Something seemingly relevant pops up; I weigh whether to share it; share it if it's the right weight. Anyway, here's an example.

Random Mills Class Memory #1

I'm sitting in what is reportedly Perry Mills' toughest class: Arts Inquiry, aka Aesthetics. The report is true. This is no easy class. I'm scared, and I'm loving it.

One of our required texts is The Theatre and Its Double by Antonin Artaud. A dangerous text to introduce to an impressionable 20 year old. Consider:

Never before, when it is life that is in question, has there been so much talk of civilization and culture. And there is a curious parallel between this generalized collapse of life at the root of our present demoralization and our concern for a culture which has never been coincident with life, which in fact has been devised to tyrannize over life.

And, truly terrifying to a young mind recently entered into a reportedly serious academic institution (that report only being minorly true):

Either these systems are within us and permeate our being to the point of supporting life itself (and if this is the case, what use are books?) or they do not permeate us and therefore do not have the capacity to support life (and in this case what does their disappearance matter?)

Which I bring up, as example, in order to demonstrate the seriousness of this class and the basis for approaching the very nature of what thinking about culture might mean (what thinking itself might mean, perhaps) and in order to share this funny anecdote:

Mills: ...which is why, no matter what, Artaud can't be fully trusted.

Student 1: Wait, why?

Mills: Because even though he may be brilliant, he was a drug addicted lunatic who wrote a penpal letter to Hitler and gave terrible advice about moving.

Student 2: About moving?

Mills: What part of your body are you supposed to use to lift something heavy?

Student 3: Your knees.

Mills: Right. Now turn to page 34, fourth paragraph down.

(We do. Artaud suggests that, "as everyone knows", heavy lifting is meant to be done with majority pressure upon the lower back.)

Mills: Clearly bad advice, right?

Student 4: How do you do that? How did you remember where he says that?

Mills: I read the book.
Which brings me to...

Random Mills Class Memory #2

Mills suddenly brings up Flannery O'Connor (I do not remember the context).

Mills: ...which you can see come up in something like "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" or, more likely, in "Everything Rises Must Converge".

There's a palpable blankness in the faces of his audience, if blankness can be said to palpate.

Me: I love Flannery O'Connor.

A pause. Mills looks visibly disturbed.

Mills: Okay, are you serious or you're just fucking with me now to waste class time?

Me: I'm serious. I read her back in a community college class in Alaska. I got chills when I read "A Good Man Is Hard to Find". I really didn't see that ending coming but when it did it made total sense. Inevitable, right?
The look on Mills' face went from disturbed to something that I can only describe as a faint brush with pleasure. We went back to business immediately after but I'm sure this fact touched him: someone in his class had actually read something serious.

I deserve no statuette or cookie for having read, or even for responding to, a typically assigned piece of American literature. But it gives me pause, even 12 years later, to realize how rare it was for Perry to come across a student who had done either or, certainly, both.

When I consider the context in which a mind like Perry's resigned itself to spend an enormous amount of its time -- sifting through a mill of 20-year-olds who don't read, need to be forced to do so, and who are notoriously hard to get to noticeably respond to anything subtler than a gas line explosion -- a great deal of understanding forms. Or, if a mind is sympathetic to the nature of such a choice and its consequences, should form.

Imagine a bright dog placed on a deserted island trying to convince a cluster of fallen coconuts that running for several hours a day has lasting benefits. The dog proves this by running several hours a day. The coconuts remain still.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Son of Alcumus

When I consider the people who have played essential roles in my adult life – family, friends, professional colleagues and teachers – I can, with ease, narrow the list down to two people who have served, and continue to serve, as my most esteemed mentors.

One of these men is Edward Albee, the three-time Pulitzer prize winning playwright who unknowingly assumed the role of my mentor in 1998 when I first read his play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Within a couple of months of that seminal moment I began writing plays myself and wound up in Valdez, Alaska, where I won my first playwriting award at the Edward Albee Last Frontier Theatre Conference. I went on to win the same award two years later and had the chance to meet the man himself, who took to my play and invited me to attend his classes at the University of Houston in the spring of 2001, which I did. Within a few months of that, I moved to New York City where Albee offered me jobs as his personal assistant and as secretary of his foundation – posts I have held for over 9 years.

My other mentor, and the one without whose guidance and encouragement I would not have begun to write plays (nor obviously have met Edward Albee, nor proceeded along the focused career path I am currently on) is Professor Perry F. Mills.

I met Perry Mills in the spring quarter of 1998, a few months after moving to Bellingham with the intention of matriculating as a creative writing student at Western Washington University. I quickly discovered that, due to the registration system’s tilt against transfer students, there was no room for me in any creative writing course in the English Department. Frustrated, I sought advice from my student counselor who recommended I try the theatre department. Skeptical, if as yet uncynical, I walked over to the PAC.

When I arrived to the first session of Playwriting 386, I noticed that a lively, larger-than-life guy in sweat pants and t-shirt stood center stage, greeting students with a jibe and exuberant grin. My first thought—no doubt aided by the enormous set of keys he had dangling somewhere on him—was that this was a friendly facilities-custodian [read: eccentric janitor] finalizing the room for the semester, kidding around with the theatre students he obviously knew quite well. What surprise when I discovered that this was the man set to lead the class.

If first impressions are to be both remembered vividly and taken with a grain of salt, one must imagine (and sympathize with) Professor Mills’ likely reaction to the purple-haired waif sitting in the back row. If he thought that he had some goofy young punk in his midst—someone out to waste his and the class’s time by avoiding work and sliding on to the next discardable hobby—he was dead wrong and would soon learn so. And if I thought I had some affable janitor in front of me I, too, would soon discover otherwise.

When Professor Mills asked that two students attempt the terrifying – to dare to write a short play by the next class session – which was met largely with blank stares and leaden hands, I can’t say I remember exactly why my own arm shot up to volunteer. What I can say, for certain, is that this planted seed grew in me so rapidly that within three months of this first day in Professor Mills’ class I was standing in Valdez, Alaska, being handed a framed certificate, and a check for $1000, thinking ”Holy shit, I can really do this.”

I went on, during my remaining years at Western – which concluded by my being designated the 2000 Graduate of the Year, the official awarding of which I requested Perry present, which he did with characteristic warmth, humor and, dare I say, unselfish pride in my accomplishments – to take every single class Perry taught. It was during one of these many courses -- the Greco-Roman Playwrights Course, as I remember it -- that I wrote a note to the man on a small scrap of paper which I may or may not have ever actually handed to him.

It said, simply:

”You are a magician. You take the realization of my own ignorance and transform it into a bright, burning anger before my eyes.

That anger was what I then transformed into initiative, ambition and fortitude—traits which have ceaselessly assisted me -- and continue to assist me -- through the tricky navigation of a tough professional theatre world. And it's pretty damned unlikely I would have ever discovered that precise alchemy on my own. This is what, to my mind, a mentor is for.

I write this as an addendum to my first post on this site and belatedly so, due to the exigencies inherent in living and working in one of the most ferociously consuming American cities. Better late than never, I suppose, and as thorough as I need it to be in order to set the stage for what I intend to talk about next.

Stay tuned. My hope -- as well-intentioned and four-lettered as anyone else's -- is that the next post will forward this story a bit further, and show up with a less severe gap in time than this one has.

Jakob is a professional playwright living in New York City, working as the assistant to a much more famous professional playwright also living in New York City whom you now know by name. He’s married to a woman whom he met at WWU over 11 years ago, who has managed to brainwash him as thoroughly as Perry Mills has, but somehow manages to be better looking if easier to kill.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

A touch more noise, or: "Hi, there"

Blogs are like microwaveable burritos. They’re ubiquitous, popular, unhealthy in even modest immoderation and totally unnecessary. Also, any fool can have one almost completely regardless of his or her financial status or education level.

And I don’t like them.

I don't like self-aggrandizement -- which is what a lot of blogs seem to be around for. That's why I've never had my own website or blog, still don't (never mind how much my career likely suffers from the lack). I don't like how off-topic most blogs seem to get. I don't like the aggressive, often insane rants that pop up in the comment strings. I don't like the word "blog", which is like a portmanteau in decline -- as if two syllables take that much more time to say than one (though I would love it if these things were called "bdiaries").

But I'm getting off-topic already.

When I was asked to begin contributing to this blog, I had to ask myself the same question I would if I were being offered a microwaveable burrito: why should I?

While my junk food camparison has lost all traction by this point, the questions begin to multiply.

For whom am I writing this?

Are they the same people who will read this?

Am I helping or hurting the subject by furthering public scrutiny?

Why should I add any more noise to this noisy and noisome web of a world?

And so on.

Obviously, when a blog is about oneself, these questions can be easily fobbed off with a glib answer, or never arrive in the mind at all. But when the blog is about someone else -- someone who wouldn’t ever have a blog himself -- the questions, if the blogger is a critical enough thinker, or ethical enough feeler, what have you, make themselves ever present.

Anyway. Short story long. I care a lot about the person behind this bizarre situation. I don't like blogs. However, what I dislike more than blogs is the weird and confused tone that the current conversation has adopted. So, here I am, a little more noise.

For the simple record:

I was a student of Perry Mills in the late 1990s.

I took every single class he had on offer.

The only reason I didn’t take more was because they were finite in number.

I owe him a debt of gratitude for saving my educational career.

I owe him a debt of gratitude for encouraging me along the road toward my professional one.

In the years since graduation, Perry has become a dear friend.

I think I can provide some background color to this terrible story that might offer, if nothing else, a little context.

In case any of these points triggers a response in the reader, such as:

He’s biased!

He won’t be objective!

He’s a Mills lover! He's brainwashed (if he has a brain at all) and can’t be trusted!

Well, I can only reply:

- Yes, I am biased. Done.

- I don’t believe in being objective here -- I’m neither a journalist nor a forensic lab technician -- I’m a friend and former student of a man who’s being vilified in a hysterical, runaway-train fashion; the accusations being made against him, and the reasons for his suspensions and the subsequent court cases have fallen well out of sync, especially in the comments of many people who seem to be half-heartedly following the story on various blogs, and I think I might at least offer a slightly more informed, slightly less hasty, somewhat less aggressive response to it all.

- Who among us is not "brainwashed" by the comments, suggestions, urgings, unfulfillable wishes, and comings and goings of the people we respect, appreciate, and love? If, indeed, "brainwash" is the appropriate word for it?

(And why should you trust me? You don't know me. If I sound untrustworthy -- don't.)

In the 12 years or so that I have known Professor Perry Mills, I have not agreed with, appreciated, nor digested every last thing he has said, done or cooked. Have I agreed with a great deal of it? Perhaps. Have I appreciated the majority of it? Certainly -- at least for the intention behind the actions. Have I digested with full gusto? I’ve tried, but the roasted garlic that one time really did me in.

Intention. I think that’s going to be the bottom line in any and all of my future posts here. I wish, if nothing else, to offer a chance to look in at the intentions at play within this story.

We don't prosecute intentions in this country, we prosecute the crime!

I'm not a prosecutor either. Add that to the list.

Intentions. Something worth examining, often overlooked when fear of the unknown comes in to play.

So, what are my own here? Or, back to the fundamental question or questions...

Why am I choosing to add my own voice to this noise? And for whom am I writing this stuff?

I hope that in successive posts that will be as clear to you as it is for me.

Jakob is a professional playwright living in New York City, working as the assistant to a much more famous professional playwright also living in New York City. He’s married to a woman whom he met at WWU 11 years ago, who has managed to brainwash him as thoroughly as Perry Mills has.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Purpose of Education: " establish fixed habits of reaction to authority."

From a Harper's article by John Taylor Gatto:

[Alexander Inglis's 1918 book, Principles of Secondary Education] breaks down the purpose - the actual purpose - of modern schooling into six basic functions, any one of which is enough to curl the hair of those innocent enough to believe the three traditional goals listed earlier:

1) The adjustive or adaptive function. Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority. This, of course, precludes critical judgment completely. It also pretty much destroys the idea that useful or interesting material should be taught, because you can't test for reflexive obedience until you know whether you can make kids learn, and do, foolish and boring things.

2) The integrating function. This might well be called "the conformity function," because its intention is to make children as alike as possible. People who conform are predictable, and this is of great use to those who wish to harness and manipulate a large labor force.

3) The diagnostic and directive function. School is meant to determine each student's proper social role. This is done by logging evidence mathematically and anecdotally on cumulative records. As in "your permanent record." Yes, you do have one.

4) The differentiating function. Once their social role has been "diagnosed," children are to be sorted by role and trained only so far as their destination in the social machine merits - and not one step further. So much for making kids their personal best.

5) The selective function. This refers not to human choice at all but to Darwin's theory of natural selection as applied to what he called "the favored races." In short, the idea is to help things along by consciously attempting to improve the breeding stock. Schools are meant to tag the unfit - with poor grades, remedial placement, and other punishments - clearly enough that their peers will accept them as inferior and effectively bar them from the reproductive sweepstakes. That's what all those little humiliations from first grade onward were intended to do: wash the dirt down the drain.

6) The propaedeutic function. The societal system implied by these rules will require an elite group of caretakers. To that end, a small fraction of the kids will quietly be taught how to manage this continuing project, how to watch over and control a population deliberately dumbed down and declawed in order that government might proceed unchallenged and corporations might never want for obedient labor.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Perry Mills Quotes" on Facebook

Some enterprising student started a Facebook page of Perry Mills quotes.

"Student: "When did Citizen Kane come out?"
Mills: Citizen Kane is'nt Homosexual"

"The facuty wants to know what I do in my class and I say to them, 'What do I in class? I get naked and kill chickens, the students just don't notice'."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

This Shared Fiction (A Grudging Apologia)

In recent days a certain Rick Anderson from the Seattle Weekly has chosen to cite this blog on his own. In his post he supposedly makes an objective observation that Perry lost his case against WWU at the State Supreme Court level.

And due to the old adage that pictures speak 1000 words, and the newer one that 100 words without any pictures will go unread, he plucked a couple of images from our blog here to illustrate some kind of point.

The first image was of Perry's id card, which some of you will remember from the Feburary 21, 2008 post, reproduced below.

The second image Anderson chose was this one, from June 20, 2009:

Anderson describes this second image as being "from Mills' webpage", regardless of the facts that:

1. Mills does not have a webpage.

2. This is not Perry Mills' webpage.

3. This is a blog, started and maintained by former students of Perry Mills in support of his case.

4. This blog does not pretend to be an objective news site.

5. This blog has stated its bias in Perry Mills' favor both in clear wording (the very first post, for example, wherein Nick Johnson describes this as a "fan site") as well as its tone and, we be damned for it, its amplification of the ridiculous (the effectiveness of which, for those of you who find this blog desperately unfunny, has no bearing on the fact of its intention, which should be painfully clear to anyone spending any amount of time here.)

Anyhow, regardless of these facts, the larger fact -- that this image is not a photo of Perry Mills surrounded by guns, ammo and guitars (Mills does not own a single guitar as far as I know), but rather a composite image of some unknown fat guy with guns and guitars, and the exact same face from Mills' ID card pasted onto it -- is that this was intended as a simple joke.

Basically: Rick Anderson chose an image with 1000 words that had nothing to do with the outcome of a court case he was, supposedly, reporting on.

Hateful Thing Number 1: having to describe a joke. I hate doing this. Likely the majority of you folks reading this hate doing this, and hate when someone else does it. However, since this is beginning to spiral out of control, what with The Huffington Post now taking up the thread of Anderson's initial bad weaving of misidentified details, I decided that the lesser of two evils should occur.

When I put that photo together I did so in order to entertain the few (what I believed at the time to be roughly 5.6) people reading this page -- all of whom I imagined to be in sympathy with Perry Mills' situation -- because there was no news to share (the wheels of justice grind as slowly as that of academia) and all of them, I figured, would get the joke.


This entire story, in my humble opinion, shared by the equally humble opinions of the 5.6 people I envision when I think of the readership of this Brutal Battle Blog, began because of a moment of hysteria that has spun completely into the realm of absurdity. That hysteria was containted in the reaction of one student to a Playwriting Teacher taking out a knife in class in order to demonstrate the ending of a play in which a knife is taken out.

The photo of a fat man dressed in tight swimming trunks holding a gun was, to me, at the time, a wonderful tongue in cheek jab at the very hysteria that:

1. Began this awful chapter in Professor Mills' life

2. Ended up leading to people like Rick Anderson spreading more hysteria; The Huffington Post furthering it; godknows how many people planning to print t-shirts of it, etc.

I.e.: it was ironic. Not to be taken literally. How anyone with any actual journalistic credibility (sorry, Mr. Anderson, I know all of your fans out there have your award-saturated resume in hand to back you up) could have looked at that photo and decided that it was something to be used to illustrate the Perry Mills vs. WWU (and WWU vs. Perry Mills) story is beyond me.

As I pointed out in the oscillating comment string on Anderson's blog, he could have very well used the image I slapped together of Mills as the Robin Williams character in The Dead Poets Society. The identical Perry Mills face was used in that ironic image, too. However, using that photo wouldn't have propelled the hysteria.

Lastly (thankfully), I would like to add this:

Anyone interested in plucking images from this blog in order to represent the 1000 words you actually intend to write, please do so because you are writing a story about this blog and not about Perry Mills' court case.

And if you want to keep mirroring that silly gun-guy image in question, please do so because you want to write a story about how fat Perry Mills is. While that's not actually his body at all, Perry Mills is, indeed, a fat man. However, I think he may be even fatter than the loony in that photo. So, maybe you ought to just cut and paste Mills' head on another photo of a fatter man. That way you can squeeze 1001 words of your choice into the minds of your readers.

And please, do have a nice day.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Creatures of Law

The most disconcerting thing about the rule of law is, when you know personally that justice has not been done, to have lapdogs bring you the news with a smile.

These folks to the left, as soon as the Washington Supreme Court squirted out a verdict, were suddenly on the case, ready to report the tale told by their masters.

As were the News Tribune and Rick Anderson, an especially fervent PC zombie from the Seattle Weekly.

A+ for everyone! Two gold stars for extra credit! Keep smiling and we'll all get there!

Washington State Supreme Court Sides with WWU; Mills Loses

Supreme Court of the State of Washington

Docket Number: 83597-7
Title of Case: Mills v. W. Wash. Univ.
File Date: 02/03/2011
Oral Argument Date: 10/28/2010

Appeal from Whatcom County Superior Court
Honorable Steven J Mura

Barbara A. Madsen Signed Majority
Charles W. Johnson Signed Majority
Gerry L. Alexander Majority Author
Tom Chambers Signed Majority
Susan Owens Signed Majority
Mary E. Fairhurst Signed Majority
James M. Johnson Signed Majority
Debra L. Stephens Signed Majority
Charles K. Wiggins Did Not Participate
Richard B. Sanders,
Justice Pro Tem. Signed Majority


Counsel for Petitioner(s)
James Elliot Lobsenz
Carney Badley Spellman
701 5th Ave Ste 3600
Seattle, WA, 98104-7010

Counsel for Respondent(s)
Wendy Karen Bohlke
Attorney at Law
103 E Holly St Ste 310
Bellingham, WA, 98225-4728

Derek Edwards
Wash State Attorney General
800 5th Ave Ste 2000
Seattle, WA, 98104-3188

Amicus Curiae on behalf of Allied Daily Newspapers of Washi
Katherine George
Harrison Benis & Spence LLP
2101 4th Ave Ste 1900
Seattle, WA, 98121-2315

View the Opinion in PDF Format


) No. 83597-7
Respondent, )
v. ) En Banc
Petitioner. )
________________________________) Filed February 3, 2011

ALEXANDER, J. -- We granted Western Washington University's (University) petition to review a decision of the Court of Appeals in which that court reversed the
superior court's denial of Perry Mills's request for relief from an order of the University's Board of Trustees suspending Mills for two academic quarters. The basis of the court's decision was that the University violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), chapter 34.05 RCW, by closing Mills's disciplinary hearing to the public. We reverse the Court of Appeals.

Perry Mills has been a professor at Western Washington University for more
than 20 years.1 In 1994, the University granted Mills tenure as an associate professor

1This section is based on the unchallenged findings of fact contained in the
decision and final order of the Board of Trustees. Unchallenged findings of fact are
in its Theatre Arts Department. In 1998, Mills's application for a promotion to full professor was denied based on the recommendation of Thomas Ward, the chair of the
Theatre Arts Department. In his recommendation against promotion, Ward noted that
Mills often berated and demeaned students and colleagues and had "an extremely high
student complaint rate." Clerk's Papers at 1461. Two years later, Mills received a
letter from the new department chair, Mark Kuntz, admonishing Mills for making "off-
color remarks" about colleagues, women, gay students, and minorities.

Kuntz reminded Mills that he was bound by the faculty code of ethics and concluded by
saying, "'Your behavior must change.'"

In September 2001, members of the theatre arts faculty and staff addressed a
letter to Bertil van Boer, the dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts,
expressing their "'real and tangible fear' occasioned by Mills's carrying of a registered firearm and a large knife on campus and in the classroom, together with his belligerent rants about killing people who offended him." Id. at 1455. Following receipt of the letter, Dean van Boer advised Mills not to carry weapons on campus. At the same time, Kuntz sent Mills what Kuntz described as the "'third in a series of memos . . .concerning your behavior,'" stating, "'Your behavior scares people. You know it. Your repeated need to express your desire to 'kill' people is not appropriate, and will stop . . .[.] Your lack of sensitivity or care about the needs of students, staff, and colleagues must stop.'" Id. at 1461.
treated as verities on appeal. Tapper v. Emp't Sec. Dep't, 122 Wn.2d 397, 407, 858
P.2d 494 (1993).


No. 83597-7

Mills's inappropriate behavior did not stop. In the fall of 2001, Mills told a female professor in the Theatre Arts Department that "she had better keep her legs closed, because she could not be expected to teach students the same way she got her
doctorate." Id. at 1445. Mills continued verbally abusing this professor over the next two years, calling her a "'bimbo'" and a "'slut'" to her face and to his students in her absence. Id. After the University granted tenure to this professor, she reported Mills's conduct to Dean Carol Edwards. Mills called another professor "'just a stupid faggot.'"

Id. at 1446. When that professor informed Mills that he would not tolerate his offensive language, Mills began referring to him as "'Precious'" in a lilting manner that mocked the professor's sexual orientation. Id.

Mills also disparaged members of the staff, telling the department's
administrative assistant, "'You're just a stupid bitch. You're just white trailer trash.'" Id. at 1447. On another occasion, Mills screamed at a library assistant who had failed to return a film to the library, "'You bitch, you screwed up,'" and then asked, "'Is she retarded?'" Id. at 1457. In addition, Mills verbally abused students in his classroom, especially female students, calling them "'shit for brains,' 'blondies,'" and "'f . . . ing lazy girl[s].'" Id. at 1456. He told one student that she was "'a 400-pound canary who warbles nothingness' and 'makes him sick.'" Id. In 2004, the dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts, Carol Edwards, received a complaint from a student who had just returned to class after undergoing treatment for cancer. The student, who had lost her hair due to chemotherapy, expressed her reticence about presenting her play for


No. 83597-7

review by the class. Mills told her that not offering her work for review would be just the same as dying from cancer.

After receiving complaints about the above-mentioned conduct, the University
provost suspended Mills with pay in October 2004 pending an investigation. The
provost subsequently issued a formal statement of charges against Mills. The
University then convened a hearing panel of five faculty members selected from the
Faculty Senate's Standing Committee on Grievances and Sanctions. Former superior court judge Robert Alsdorf, who was appointed to serve as a nonvoting presiding officer, indicated that "the default setting would be that the hearing would be private."

Id. at 324. As support for this decision, he cited section XVII.2.d of the University's Faculty Handbook, which provided, "The hearing will be private unless the Hearing Panel, in consultation with the Provost and only with the agreement of the faculty member, decides that the hearing should be public." Id. at 207, 323-24. Mills, who was represented by counsel, argued that the hearing should be open to the public. The panel decided to close the hearing and asked a newspaper reporter in attendance to depart.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the panel recommended that Mills be suspended without pay for two academic quarters. Mills appealed the decision to the
University's Board of Trustees, which affirmed the panel's recommendation. It concluded, among other things, that the hearing was properly closed pursuant to
section XVII.2.d of the University's Faculty Handbook, which the board regarded as a

4 No. 83597-7

"provision of law" for purposes of RCW 34.05.449(5).

Mills sought judicial review in the Whatcom County Superior Court pursuant to
the APA. See RCW 34.05.570. The superior court denied relief. Mills then appealed
directly to this court, but we transferred the case to the Court of Appeals. At that court, Mills argued variously that the University had breached the terms of his employment contract, that the Faculty Code of Ethics was unconstitutionally vague, that his freedom of speech had been abridged, and that the closure of his disciplinary hearing had been unlawful. Mills v. W. Wash. Univ., 150 Wn. App. 260, 264, 208 P.3d 13 (2009).

Although the Court of Appeals rejected Mills's contract and constitutional claims, it held that the University violated the APA by closing Mills's hearing to the public. It, therefore, reversed the University's disciplinary order and remanded for a new hearing. Mills and the University both petitioned this court for review. We denied Mills's petition and granted the University's petition. Mills v. W. Wash. Univ., 167 Wn.2d 1020,

225 P.3d 1011 (2010).

Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington and the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association jointly filed a brief as amicus curiae in support of Mills.


The APA governs judicial review of agency orders in adjudicative proceedings.

Densley v. Dep't of Ret. Sys., 162 Wn.2d 210, 216, 173 P.3d 885 (2007). RCW

34.05.570(3) provides, in pertinent part:

The court shall grant relief from an agency order in an adjudicative
proceeding only if it determines that:


No. 83597-7

. . . .
(c) The agency has engaged in unlawful procedure or decision-
making process, or has failed to follow a prescribed procedure."[2]


A. Did the University engage in an unlawful procedure or decision-making
process by closing Mills's disciplinary hearing to the public?

The APA requires agency hearings to be "open to public observation, except for
the parts that the presiding officer states to be closed under a provision of law
expressly authorizing closure." RCW 34.05.449(5). The APA also states that, as an
"'[i]nstitution[] of higher education,'" the University is an "'[a]gency.'" RCW

34.05.010(7), (2). Because the University based its decision to close Mills's

2The full text of RCW 34.05.570(3) is as follows:
"Review of agency orders in adjudicative proceedings. The court shall grant
relief from an agency order in an adjudicative proceeding only if it determines that:
"(a) The order, or the statute or rule on which the order is based, is in violation of
constitutional provisions on its face or as applied;
"(b) The order is outside the statutory authority or jurisdiction of the agency
conferred by any provision of law;
"(c) The agency has engaged in unlawful procedure or decision-making process,
or has failed to follow a prescribed procedure;
"(d) The agency has erroneously interpreted or applied the law;
"(e) The order is not supported by evidence that is substantial when viewed in
light of the whole record before the court, which includes the agency record for judicial
review, supplemented by any additional evidence received by the court under this
"(f) The agency has not decided all issues requiring resolution by the agency;
"(g) A motion for disqualification under RCW 34.05.425 or 34.12.050 was made
and was improperly denied or, if no motion was made, facts are shown to support the
grant of such a motion that were not known and were not reasonably discoverable by
the challenging party at the appropriate time for making such a motion;
"(h) The order is inconsistent with a rule of the agency unless the agency
explains the inconsistency by stating facts and reasons to demonstrate a rational basis
for inconsistency; or
"(i) The order is arbitrary or capricious."


No. 83597-7

disciplinary hearing to the public on section XVII.2.d of its Faculty Handbook, the
question before us is whether that rule is a "provision of law" within the meaning of

RCW 34.05.449(5).

This court has said that a "'rule has the force and effect of law, if promulgated in accordance with a legislative delegation.'" Manor v. Nestle Food Co., 131 Wn.2d 439,

445, 932 P.2d 628 (1997) (quoting 2 Am. Jur. 2d Administrative Law § 160, at 182

(1994)). Significantly, the legislature has authorized institutions of higher education to establish rules governing peer review proceedings. The pertinent statute, RCW 28B.10.648(2), provides, in part, that "[p]eer review proceedings shall be pursuant to rules and regulations promulgated by the respective institutions of higher education." It is undisputed that Mills's hearing before a panel of his fellow professors was a "peer review proceeding."

The Court of Appeals determined, however, that the University's rule authorizing the closure of faculty disciplinary hearings was not a "provision of law" because the APA's definition of "'Rule'" specifically excludes the "rules of institutions of higher education involving . . . employment relationships." RCW 34.05.010(16). In other words, according to the Court of Appeals, a rule must fall within the APA's definition of "'Rule'" to have the force of law. Mills, 150 Wn. App. at 277-78.

This neat dichotomy between "Rules" with a capital "R," which have the force of
law, and second-rate rules, which do not have the force of law, finds no support in our
jurisprudence. Rather, as the University points out, the paramount consideration is


No. 83597-7

whether the rule (or regulation, order, directive, or policy) was promulgated pursuant to legislative delegation. Indeed, in State v. Brown, 142 Wn.2d 57, 62, 11 P.3d 818
(2000), we said, "To have the force of law, an administrative regulation must be
properly promulgated pursuant to a legislative delegation." In keeping with that principle, we held that, because the Department of Corrections (DOC) had promulgated its list of "serious infraction[s]" pursuant to the wrong statute, the regulation in question lacked the force of law.3 Id. at 61. We explained that "[a]gencies are creatures of law and are required to promulgate regulations pursuant to the statute or statutes authorizing them." Id. at 62; see also Joyce v. Dep't of Corr., 155 Wn.2d 306, 323, 119 P.3d 825 (2005) ("because the Department's policy directives are not promulgated pursuant to legislative delegation, they do not have the force of law").

Our focus on legislative delegation is consistent with the United States Supreme
Court's decision in Chrysler Corp. v. Brown, 441 U.S. 281, 99 S. Ct. 1705, 60 L. Ed. 2d 208 (1979). In that case, the Court explained that, in order to have the force and effect of law, a regulation "must be rooted in a grant of . . . power by the Congress and subject to limitations which that body imposes." Id. at 302. The Court went on to say that "[w]hat is important is that the reviewing court reasonably be able to conclude that the grant of authority contemplates the regulations issued." Id. at 308.43 Notably, the APA does not apply to the DOC, RCW 34.05.030(1)(c), but our
decision in Brown, 142 Wn.2d 57, did not rest on the exclusion of DOC regulations
from the APA's definition of "Rule," but on the DOC's failure to promulgate its regulation pursuant to legislative delegation. See Brown, 142 Wn.2d at 61-62.

4When the legislature enacted the current APA in 1988, it expressed its intent


No. 83597-7

Thus, the question becomes whether section XVII.2.d of the University's Faculty
Handbook was promulgated pursuant to legislative delegation. As we have seen, the
legislature has provided that "[p]eer review proceedings shall be pursuant to rules and regulations promulgated by the respective institutions of higher education." RCW
28B.10.648(2). More broadly, the legislature has granted the "board of trustees of . . .regional universities" the authority to "promulgate such rules and regulations . . . as the board . . . may in its discretion deem necessary or appropriate to the administration of the regional university." RCW 28B.35.120(12). We conclude that these grants of authority contemplate a regulation such as section XVII.2.d of the University's Faculty Handbook directing that faculty disciplinary hearings be closed to the public.

Our conclusion is bolstered by legislative history. In its summary of Substitute
House Bill 915, which became RCW 28B.10.648, the House Committee on Higher
Education said, "Peer review procedures shall be conducted privately under rules
adopted by the institution." 1984 Final Legislative Report, 48th Wash. Leg., at 48 (emphasis added).5 We are satisfied that the University's rule authorizing the closure that courts would "interpret provisions of this chapter consistently with decisions of other courts interpreting similar provisions of other states, the federal government, and model acts." RCW 34.05.001.

5When the legislature enacted RCW 28B.10.648, the APA did not include
institutions of higher education in its definition of "agency." They were made subject to the APA in 1988. William R. Andersen, The 1988 Washington Administrative Procedure Act -- An Introduction, 64 Wash. L. Rev. 781, 786 (1989). Although the legislature indicated that one of its purposes in enacting the current APA in 1988 was to "provide greater public access . . . to administrative decision making," it went on to say that, "to the greatest extent possible and unless this chapter clearly requires otherwise, current agency practices . . . shall remain in effect." RCW 34.05.001
(emphasis added). Thus, the legislature's decision to include institutions of higher


No. 83597-7

of faculty disciplinary proceedings is consistent with legislative intent. Because section XVII.2.d of the University's Faculty Handbook was promulgated pursuant to legislative delegation, we hold that it is a "provision of law" expressly authorizing closure within the meaning of RCW 34.05.449(5). The University, therefore, did not engage in an unlawful procedure by closing Mills's disciplinary hearing to the public.6

B. Does article I, section 10 of the Washington Constitution apply to
faculty disciplinary proceedings?

Mills contends that, even if the closure of his disciplinary hearing was pursuant to a provision of law, it ran afoul of article I, section 10 of the Washington Constitution, which says, "Justice in all cases shall be administered openly, and without unnecessary delay." We have recognized that, "by its terms," article I, section 10 "is not limited to trials but includes all judicial proceedings." Federated Publ'ns, Inc. v. Kurtz, 94 Wn.2d

51, 60, 615 P.2d 440 (1980). The question is whether it also applies to the quasi-
judicial proceedings conducted by administrative agencies.

In Washington Water Jet Workers Ass'n v. Yarbrough, 151 Wn.2d 470, 477, 90
P.3d 42 (2004), we said, "When interpreting constitutional provisions, we look first to the plain language of the text and will accord it its reasonable interpretation. . . . The words of the text will be given their common and ordinary meaning, as determined at education under the APA did not signal a rejection of the policies embodied in RCW 28B.10.648.

6We note that, even if the University had engaged in an unlawful procedure,
Mills would not have been entitled to relief unless he could have shown that he was
"substantially prejudiced" by the closure of his disciplinary hearing to the public.
Densely, 162 Wn.2d at 226.


No. 83597-7

the time they were drafted." (Citations omitted.) In keeping with this approach, we note that, when article I, section 10 was drafted, the word "case" was defined as "In law: a cause or suit in court; any instance of litigation; as the case was tried last term," Suppl. Br. of Resp't at 17 (emphasis added) (quoting 1 The Century Dictionary 840 (1889)), or "A general term for an action, cause, suit, or controversy, at law or in equity. A question contested before a court of justice." Id. (emphasis added) (quoting 1 Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law 175 (1891)). The Framers, it seems, had only the courts within the judicial branch in mind when they spoke of the administration of "justice in all cases."

Amicus cites Bellingham Bay Improvement Co. v. City of New Whatcom, 20

Wash. 53, 54 P. 774, aff'd, 20 Wash. 231, 55 P. 630 (1898), for the proposition that

"justice in all cases" embraces the quasi-judicial proceedings conducted by

administrative agencies. In Bellingham Bay, we held that a statute that authorized city councils to reassess property did not violate article IV, section 1 of the Washington Constitution, which vests the "judicial power" of the State in a supreme court, superior courts, justices of the peace, and such inferior courts as the legislature may provide. In so holding, we said that "this article of the constitution must have been enacted with the knowledge that quasi judicial powers have from time immemorial been conferred upon administrative bodies and officers." Id. at 58 (emphasis added). Amicus asserts that the authors of the state constitution knew that administrative bodies, as well as courts, exercised the power to determine the rights of citizens and, for that reason, "justice in


No. 83597-7

all cases" must be read as applying to quasi-judicial proceedings, as well as the
proceedings of the judicial branch.

Bellingham Bay does not, in our judgment, support this reading of the state
constitution. The whole point of that decision was that the term "judicial power" in article IV, section 1 did not embrace the quasi-judicial power exercised by administrative and executive bodies, even though the drafters of the state constitution knew that such power had been exercised from "time immemorial." Since the exercise of quasi-judicial power was not embraced by the term "judicial power" in article IV, section 1, there is no reason to assume that it was meant to be embraced by the term "justice in all cases" in article I, section 10. This is especially true given that the great flowering of administrative agencies occurred long after the ratification of the constitution. Furthermore, decisions from the period following the proliferation of administrative agencies indicate that the "stage" at which justice is "'administered' and therefore constitutionally required to be open" is not reached until a superior court reviews the action of an administrative agency on appeal. Cohen v. Everett City

Council, 85 Wn.2d 385, 389, 535 P.2d 801 (1975). We conclude, therefore, that article I, section 10 does not apply to the quasi-judicial proceedings of administrative agencies.


We hold that the University did not violate the APA or article I, section 10 of the
Washington Constitution by closing Mills's disciplinary hearing to the public.


No. 83597-7

Therefore, we reverse the Court of Appeals.


No. 83597-7


Justice Gerry L. Alexander


Chief Justice Barbara A. Madsen Justice Mary E. Fairhurst

Justice Charles W. Johnson Justice James M. Johnson

Justice Debra L. Stephens

Justice Tom Chambers Richard B. Sanders, Justice Pro
Justice Susan Owens