By now, most of you would know about the two articles in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald.
We haven’t laughed this much in years !
Here at the City Tattersalls Members Forum we have been laughing since we read the paper on Saturday morning. Obviously, the issues mentioned in the stories were not news to us, or indeed to any concerned member, so that’s not why we’re laughing.
No, what made us laugh were the responses by Patrick Campion and Tony Guilfoyle when the issues were put to them. Overall these two have provided the most hilarious response to issues of mismanagement that we have ever seen from any Chairman or Chief Executive – not just in a club but in any organisation. We are laughing so much that we don’t know where to start. But we are going to try.
Is this a members club or the Church of Scientology?
Campion and Guilfoyle seem to have forgotten that City Tatts is a members club. That means that it is owned by the members and that the Committee are there to run the Club in the interests of members and that they are answerable to members. When you read the spiteful, dismissive responses of Campion and Guilfoyle to valid questions you have to wonder why they are even involved in a members club.
Anyway, let’s make a start at looking at some of what these two said:
“They would be lucky to comprise six”
Campion tried to convince the Sydney Morning Herald that most members are very happy with how the Club is going and that there is only a very small number of disgruntled members ! It is at times like these we feel that what the Club really needs is not a resident doctor but a resident psychiatrist. We simply offer the following points for your consideration:
- When Guilfoyle became CEO in 2004 City Tatts had 29,000 members. Today there are 17,000 members. Those 12,000 members who left – were they all happy?
- When the 2006 meeting, called by members, was held in the Segars Ballroom it was so packed that some members sat on the steps and more stood outside to listen. The Segars Ballroom must hold at least 100 so you can guess the total attendance – with the majority clearly concerned at the Club’s direction. By the way, included in the attendance were Campion and Guilfoyle.
- But besides the number of people who raise an issue – what really matters is whether they are right ! Take, for example, the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, the biggest fraud in history. Out of the thousands who were aware of his fund there were just four people who were convinced that his fund was a fraud. But the four were right !
- But the statement that convinced us that Campion has a real future as a comedian was his support for raising the number of members needed to call a meeting. If he was so certain that there were only six disgruntled members why did he need to raise the required number from 50 to 1000?!! If there were only six the existing requirement of 50 would have prevented any future meetings !!!
People say that there is no entertainment in City Tatts !
Patrick Campion is certainly doing his best to bring it back !
City Tatts Information Desk
It is no secret that City Tatts has spent insane amounts on legal fees since Tony Guilfoyle became CEO in 2004. The total was over $900,000 by the end of 2011 so it will certainly cross the $1 million mark this year, if it hasn’t done so already. Just about all of this has gone to Bartier Perry.
There is something that members need to know
There is a very important clause in the rules of the Club. Clause 19 says that “Committee Members and all employees of the Club shall be indemnified from the funds of the Club against all damages and the cost of any legal proceedings that may be instituted against them, or any of them in consequence of the proper performance of their obligations or duties as a Committee Member or employee of the Club”. Clause 19 goes on to state that “This indemnity does not apply to the extent that any damages or costs arise from the negligent, reckless or intentional act or omission of a Committee Member or employee”.
Now let’s look at some examples
We are aware of quite a few examples where Clause 19 might apply to the behaviour of the Committee and employees. Let’s look at two examples:
The Racial Vilification case against City Tattersalls Club
The facts of this case have been noted on this blog before so there is no need to repeat them here. What is relevant is that after 18 months of denying an obviously genuine complaint the Club eventually paid $5000 to the member who was racially vilified and an unknown amount to Bartier Perry. But if the CEO and Chairman had acted on the member’s complaint at the time it was made, there would have been no need for any payment to anyone.
The Supreme Court case
This is another example of an insane waste of Club funds. As many of you would know, this case involved a member who asked the Committee to investigate the then Chairman’s role in the Bookmakers Superannuation Fund and a conflict of interest involving the CEO. The Committee responded by expelling the member ! When the Club refused to refer his case to an independent arbitrator he took action in the Supreme Court to reverse the Committee’s decision.
This is where Clause 19 comes in. In September 2011 City Tatts agreed, in the Supreme Court, to refer the case to an independent arbitrator. In other words they agreed to do what was suggested to them by the member more than a year before – after spending over $100,000 of Club funds to resist it !
Members should not have to pay these fees
It is hard to see any benefit to members from the legal fees in the above two cases. Or, to use the words of Clause 19, it is hard to see how it could be regarded as “the proper performance of their obligations or duties as a Committee Member or employee of the Club” to spend Club funds on these cases.
We do not believe that Club funds should be used to pay these costs.
The Committee or employee who decided to turn these cases into legal proceedings should pay these costs.
A general comment on legal fees in City Tattersalls Club
What applies in the above two cases applies to most of the legal fees paid by City Tatts. When you examine the legal fees paid since 2004, you find that most of them are paid to protect the Committee and management from scrutiny by members. There is rarely any benefit to members.
City Tatts Information Desk
We have just received a copy of a letter that Patrick Campion sent to employees yesterday. Overall the letter is a disgrace, although in places it is very funny.
Why Patrick Campion wrote the letter
It seems that this blog, along with other blogs, has got the attention of a Sydney newspaper and Campion is worried that an article will appear in the paper in the next day or so. The letter is to warn staff about the expected article and also to tell them how to answer questions from members.
Campion’s letter is a disgrace !
Campion tries to convince staff that the matters raised on the blogs “are either without substance or are distortions”. Really? Which matters?
The following have all been raised on this blog:
- That Tony Guilfoyle only spends three days a week in the Club
- That the Committee are going to Melbourne for the so-called “annual planning conference”
- That the Esperanto and Zest are losing staggering amounts of money
- That the Club pays money to settle legal cases but does not disclose this to members as required by the Registered Clubs Act
- That the due diligence to purchase 194 Pitt Street was negligent
All of the above statements are obviously true and they are just a small selection from some of our recent blogs. It is a disgraceful lie to tell staff that these and similar issues “are either without substance or are distortions”.
There is something else that made us laugh as we read Campion’s attempt to deceive staff. Doesn’t he realise that staff know better than anyone else that the blogs are correct? Where does he think the information on the blogs come from?!!
There will be briefings for everyone !
This also made us laugh. Since Campion became Chairman, City Tatts has lurched from one problem to another due to chronic mismanagement. Never once did he feel it necessary to talk to staff about any of these issues. But when a newspaper starts sniffing around …. suddenly talking to staff becomes top priority !
Full communication with members !
Campion then goes on to say that they will be “making arrangements for full communications with our members”. Statements like that make you wonder if Campion is losing his mind. City Tatts is a club owned by members whose only function is to provide facilities and amenities to members. “Full communication with our members” should be a normal everyday procedure at City Tatts – not just when the media are looking.
In any case only members who are very naive would believe Campion when he promises “full communication with our members”. Would you say members got “full communication” regarding legal settlements paid by the Club in 2011? Or on the financial performance of the Club’s restaurants in 2011?
Campion finishes his letter to staff by saying “I’m looking forward to talking with you”.
Somehow we doubt it.
How Staff Should Respond to Enquiring Members !
Attached to Campion’s staff letter is a memo giving instructions on how to answer questions from members about the expected newspaper article. Like so much in the Club in recent years it manages to be funny, dishonest and sad all at once.
Campion tells staff that he doesn’t “know exactly what the content of the article will be”. He then instructs staff to “advise members that ….We are already investigating all of the matters raised” !
How exactly does that work, Pat? You don’t know what matters the paper will mention but you are already investigating them – before the paper comes out! And not just one matter, or some matters – you’re already investigating all of them!
But there is a more serious aspect to all this. Campion is instructing staff to lie to members, and for what – to protect Guilfoyle and Campion. Guilfoyle is clearly under pressure and we suspect Campion is also coming under pressure. It is an absolute disgrace that staff at a once-great club like City Tatts are being instructed to lie to members to protect Guilfoyle and Campion.
City Tatts Information Desk
Here is another chance for you to live up to your own publicity and do something for City Tattersalls Club.
Cancel the Melbourne Holiday and pay the dry-cleaning bill !
You may not be aware but many suppliers to City Tatts are not being paid on time. This has gone on for some time but clearly is getting worse.
The latest example is of a dry-cleaner who refused to release uniforms cleaned for City Tatts because they had not been paid. Apart from the financial embarassment to the Club, non-payment of creditors is now interfering with the operation of the Club.
Why don’t you cancel the Melbourne holiday and use the money to pay outstanding creditors. Now that would be the “commercially sound” thing to do.
City Tattersalls Members
City Tatts has truly been a friends’ place since Tony Guilfoyle became CEO in 2004. Georgeson Architects certainly think so.
Georgeson Associates – Architects
Georgeson Architects have done very well out of City Tatts. They have received over $600,000 since 2006. That is just their fees, not counting any materials or construction cost. That in itself tells you a lot about the Club in recent years. Unfortunately City Tatts has not done nearly as well from the relationship. Building works have been one of the worst areas of waste and mismanagement in the Club over the past eight years. Most of the projects were failures to begin with, from the point of view of members. Zest restaurant is an obvious example. It cost millions to refurbish and was a flop from day one, which would have been obvious to anyone with any brains. But apart from faulty proposals the construction project management has also been seriously flawed.
There has been continual mismanagement in the construction program since 2004. Again and again we see a new project where the first task is to pull down work completed only three or fours years before. To take just one example – how many attempts have there been since 2004 to do a proper entrance and they still can’t get it right? Most members say that the latest entrance is the worst ever (see previous blogs) – and it will cost $1.1 million. Georgeson Architects have been involved in most of these botched building jobs but we don’t know whether the problem is their incompetence or faulty instructions from management.
Georgeson’s were also the architects on the renovation of Boonoona Ski Lodge which is owned by City Tatts.
Another Friends’ Place
Georgeson Architects have done well in other ways from the City Tatts connection. They were also the architects for the construction of Springs Resorts Mittagong which is located beside Mittagong RSL. Springs Resorts Mittagong is owned by Tony Guilfoyle.
They also acted as architects for Tony Guilfoyle’s house extension in Cronulla. This was a substantial renovation costing $750,000.
We just hope that Tony Guilfoyle got better value for his money than City Tatts !
City Tatts Information Desk
City Tatts must be the strangest club in Sydney. Here is one more example.
Tony Guilfoyle owns two motels
City Tatts CEO Tony Guilfoyle owns two motels, Springs Resorts Mittagong and Springs Resorts Shoalhaven. What’s strange about that, you may ask? Well, what makes it rather strange, or the most bizarre coincidence of all time, is that each is located next to a registered club. Springs Resorts Mittagong is next to Mittagong RSL and Springs Resorts Shoalhaven is next to Shoalhaven Ex-Servicemens Sports Club. So the CEO of City Tatts, a registered club, owns two motels that just happen to be next to registered clubs !
Our interest is City Tattersalls Club
As a general rule, here at City Tattersalls Members Forum we do not care too much about the investments of senior employees of the Club. But if those investments start to affect City Tatts then we become concerned. Tony Guilfoyle has owned these motels since 2004, just when he became CEO of the Club. It is no secret that he spends very little time in the Club. Even during those weeks when he does attend he rarely spends more than three days there. And there are plenty of weeks when he does not show at all.
This is unacceptable. For one thing it is an absolute disgrace that this kind of behaviour could be tolerated from an employee earning over $500,000 a year. For another, the Club is clearly in serious trouble from sustained mismanagement. Members are entitled to ask if the CEO’s motels are causing him to neglect City Tatts.
City Tatts Information Desk
Reports from a variety of sources tell us that Tony Guilfoyle was not in City Tattersalls Club at all last week.
This raises the obvious question – exactly how much time does he spend in the Club ?
Over the years, staff recorded that on average he spends three days a week in the Club. Not bad for someone getting over $500,000 a year.
But now it seems that even three days a week is too much for him !
Maybe he works from Mittagong or Nowra !
City Tatts Information Desk