19 Aug 2014
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Bal Theater Owner Battles On Several Fronts

Dan Dillman goes to court today on charges of obstructing justice after a run-in with District Attorney's investigators. He is also feuding with City Hall.

Bal Theater Owner Battles On Several Fronts Bal Theater Owner Battles On Several Fronts

Bal Theatre owner Dan Dillman is both hopeful and uneasy these days.

Over the course of the year, Dillman has been the target of litigation from the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.

He has battled city officials who want him to stop hosting live shows at the Bal until he signs a new permit.

And he was robbed of tens of thousands of dollars after two late-night break-ins a couple months apart.

"It's really hard to stay positive with all these things going on, but I seem to be able to do it because of my faith," said Dillman.

His day in court

At 2 p.m. today, Dillman will appear at the Hayward Hall of Justice for a pretrial hearing on charges of obstructing a peace officer during an incident at the Bal last October.

Exactly what happened is unclear, but Dillman apparently got into an altercation with two Alameda County sheriff's investigators.

Dillman told KGO TV investgative reporter Dan Noyes the investigators never showed any identification and beat him for no reason.

The investigators arrested Dillman for "battery upon an officer" and other misdemeanor charges.

This afternoon a Superior Court judge will decide whether the matter should go to trial.

Dillman told Patch he hopes to be vindicated.

Also fighting City Hall

Dillman is also feuding with city officials over holding live events at the theater.

The city wants Dillman to sign a conditional use permit that would regulate live events and says he is currently acting outside the uses allowed at the theater.

Dillman maintains the Bal had live shows before he became its owner, he has acted responsibly and his entertainment rights can't be restricted because they are "grandfathered in."

In both these battles, Dillman sees himself at the forefront of a local movement demanding transparency and change from public officials.

'I'm trying to fight for our future," he said. "It's all of us. We have to make the change together."

Prepared for adversity

Dillman has faced challenges before.

When he was 17 he was nearly killed in a car accident. It happened in the parking lot of a Lucky supermarket where he worked at the time.

He laid on the ground under the car that struck him, his tibia and fibula bones torn out of his leg

At first, Dillman said he thought he was going to die. Then a passer-by held his hand and recited the "Our Father."

After that he said,  "I knew that I was going to be OK and that God was going to save me."

Though he would be on crutches for the next year and a half, it was a new beginning for a man who would not be kept down.

Looking ahead

In his spare time, Dillman is working on two community initiatives.

One is building support for a citizens oversight committee for the San Leandro Police Department.

The other is reaching out to other local entertainment venues, including the California Conservatory Theater, the Arts Education Center at San Leandro High School, The Englander and Ricky's Sports Bar.

Dillman envisions these organizations forming a theater district to supports and promote one another and help realize one of his ultimate goals -- seeing live entertainment thrive in San Leandro.

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