To VAL Clubs :-
Two weeks ago, I tendered my resignation to the Board after accepting their wisdom to do so to allow a brokering of a deal to allow the season and appointment of officials to proceed.
I did so with great reluctance as at this Board meeting it received confirmation that no such agreement could be achieved merely by my and Terry O’Donnell’s resignations.
At present the Board and the VAL are being held hostage by a group of former directors and a past employee with an ever changing list of demands as to who will or won’t compose the makeup of the Board. This is having the flow on effect of making other employees very nervous and reluctant to participate in the VAL in the face of such turmoil.
They, in most cases, have conducted a one sided and partisan campaign of disruption by the spreading of half truths and outright incorrect statements as to the state of affairs. This also includes the VRTA representative who has openly sided with such people. Much of this has been conducted in the social media with the knowledge that the Board cannot answer back such charges by such methods. It was a method of attack based upon the maxim “throw enough muck and some must stick”.
The truth is that the VAL conducted an election that was legally and duly voted on by the clubs as per the constitution. One of their side was not re elected. They lost their majority on the Board.
This affair is not about the VAL, it is purely one of power, its use and retention. The Board last year was fractured and there was no attempt to achieve a conciliatory atmosphere where all points of view were received. Often matters for discussion were already decided prior to Board meetings. This is not to say that there may have ultimately been any opposition to such but there was certainly a group who controlled the Board and they were not interested in taking on board views contrary or differing to theirs.
This was evidenced by the continuance of allowing a Board member not to attend most meetings but having him vote by phone without even participating in discussion. On occasions he was rung only for his vote. This is also evidenced by the insistence of Cameron Yorke being appointed to Board in direct contravention of the constitution.
To quote one member of this group,” our minute book would not stand too much scrutiny by VCAT.”
The inconsistencies in dealing with resignations from the Board are indicative of the factional nature of the Board. When Mr Lehmann resigned in writing via email he was given the opportunity to retract such some time later. When Mr Astill tendered his resignation over a situation that was ultimately resolved in his vindication he was not allowed to retract such. One does not need to guess which was important to the ruling faction.
These and other instances are indicative of a Board that was not functioning as it should and a President, as the leader of such a Board, failing in his duty to represent all the constituent members.
Thus I resolved to try and correct this situation. I started talking to people with a view to offering myself as President for this year in an effort to bring everyone together, if I was re elected. As I foresaw, the then current situation would only further degenerate and create infighting and disputation. Such could not help the VAL.
I was questioned about such as soon as I did speak with some and was asked don’t I think I should be contacting the clubs. I replied that it was not proper to do so. I needed to be re elected before such. As it was I was elected only for one year and did not seek election as President.
The group, agitating at the moment, are acting as if outraged that their President was not elected. That is what it is “acting”. They were given plenty of notice that the current situation was not acceptable to some clubs. They chose to ignore same. The result was Mr McManus was not re elected.
It is to be noted that with 9 standing for election and only 7 places to be filled the use of the first past the post voting system effectively meant that the clubs were voting for the two who was not acceptable. If a preference system had been used Mr. McManus may very well have been re elected. I am given to understand that he did not even garner a third of the votes. Thus the clubs made their decision.
I have been accused of being untrustworthy, and other defamatory statements. I deny any such suggestion. I always acted in what I thought was for the betterment of the VAL and its clubs. I am still considering whether to seek legal redress for such scurrilous statements.
I can categorically say that I never contacted any club to urge not to vote for any candidate. I did not contact any club. It should be noted that I did not even have a vote at the AGM.
The conduct of the now ex directors together with statements made by some should be very worrying for the clubs. Certain of these people do not believe the clubs should have any say in the affairs of the VAL. Some even believe that individual runners and trainers should have equal voting rights as the clubs. This is tantamount to removing control of the VAL from the clubs. I find such attitudes to be hypocritical at the least and dangerous to the clubs existence. They obviously don’t feel embarrased to seek the clubs endorsement for election though.
I also found Mr O’Brien’s attitude unsatifactory. He was given unanimous support but he declined to accept the position because he wanted to see the outcome of the nights meeting. He obviously was informed that there were to be ructions forth coming. I did find objectionable his continued insistence that he if didn’t get his own way on all matters he would walk, if he didn’t approve of who may have been appointed as his replacement he would withhold the VAL work sheets. He has participated in the factionalism and has continued to do so. His attitude as an employee is one that would not and should not be tolerated by any employer. I believe that pandering to him will be ultimately detrimental to the VAL moving forward.
As most clubs know, I have been steward for 7 of the past 8 years. I was only Chief Steward last year at the insistence of the Board. I did not seek it and did have some difficulties in being a Board member and Chief Steward and I said so at the AGM.
If I was so untrustworthy, I must question such statements given that I was certainly trustworthy enough to prosecute two of the most serious cases that have come before the VAL for many years.
I have given many years to the VAL and have always acted in the best interests of the VAL and its member clubs. The VAL and professional running is part of my DNA and it distresses me to walk away under such circumstances. I only did so to help the VAL but I am not certain that it will not have been in vain.
I will not attend the SGM as under the constitution I am not permitted nor may I say are any of the other past directors nor employees unless as observer or club delegate.
I do want to thank a number of people who are good people and who believe in the VAL and the clubs. Firstly, Terry O’Donnell. This man has given his life to the VAL and I think it abysmal that he has been discarded in this manner. Bill Sutton, who passionately believes in the VAL and its continuance. A champion runner and champion person. This man taught me to be a steward and taught me the lore of the VAL and pro running. John Holloway, a gentleman always and a great support to me. Sue Dunbar who was at times the calming influence on situations and who also has given her life to the VAL. Wally Meechan, who stood with me to try and correct the problems besetting the VAL. I wish him all the best in his role on the Board. Noel Rexter is another of natures true gentlemen. His quiet but pointed contributions will be missed by the board. Mark Howard. Mark has been stuck between a rock and a hard place for quite awhile and I have always found him more than helpful to the Board. He is a much under- valued contributor.
And lastly to all the under paid and long serving staff of the VAL, I thanks them. Their contribution has never been recognized fully and it was one of my bugbears that this needs to be corrected soon. The VAL cannot continue to rely on the few forever. They need to be paid something closer market value for the hours put in and to make it attractive for new staff to undertake the many jobs needed each week to run meetings.
I honestly hope the VAL and the current Board can see a way forward to resolve this problem and I personally wish Mathew Boyes my heartfelt thanks for my time working with him.
Please note that because of the ongoing discussions and negotiations I have refrained from publishing my letter till now in the interests of the Board seeking some form of resolution. However I must express my desire for the clubs to at least hear my side of the affair.