Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The decline of City Tattersalls Club - Who is to blame? (Chapter 2)

There is no question that City Tattersalls Club has gone downhill dramatically since Tony Guilfoyle started in the top job. But he is only an employee, answerable to the Committee. It is the Committee who are supposed to be in charge, in this or any other members club. So who is to blame ?

John Kennedy - Started with a bang, ended with a whimper
When John Kennedy started as Chairman in 2008 he told everyone in the gym that he wasn't going to take any nonsense from those "troublemakers" that caused Healy to quit. By 2010 he was afraid to show his face in the Club. In between, his performance was a mixture of comedy, failure and tragedy.

City Tattersalls Club with John Kennedy as Chairman
If you were even a casual observer of City Tatts you would know that Kennedy was a complete failure as Chairman. Everything that was going badly under Healy got even worse under Kennedy. Restaurants, bars and just about everything else in the Club continued to go downhill. But Kennedy deserves special mention for his particular contribution to the decline of City Tatts in the following areas:
  • The purchase of 194 Pitt Street. This has been explained in detail elsewhere so there is no need to elaborate here. Suffice to say that Kennedy watched and did nothing as this disaster unfolded
  • Misleading members became standard practice with Kennedy. For instance, he would lament the cost of a General Meeting ("in the order of $37,000") called by concerned members but say nothing about going on an overseas trip that cost the Club $125,000 for 5 people !
  • Kennedy set a new low for neglecting the interests of members. He was Chairman when the Committee discovered that a senior employee had taken $200,000 years before. Kennedy apparently saw nothing wrong with this - maybe he secretly admired someone who exploited their position (given his track record in the Bookies Super Fund - see below)
It is worth noting that Patrick Campion was Vice-Chairman during Kennedy's time as Chairman and never once questioned anything that Kennedy did.

John Kennedy and the Bookmakers Superannuation Fund
It is impossible to understand John Kennedy's time as Chairman of City Tatts until you know about the Bookmakers Superannuation Fund. The story of the Bookmakers Superannuation Fund is so bizarre that anyone who had not followed it closely for years would find it hard to believe (see separate post).
Many members of the Club had their money in the Bookmakers Superannuation Fund and a few of them knew about Kennedy's skim operation in the fund. But when the Australian Financial Review devoted a full page article to it everyone knew. This was especially bad news for Kennedy who would meet these members in the City Tatts gym, where he was a regular attendee for 20 years. As the fund members got more agitated Kennedy simply stopped going to the gym. In fact, he avoided going to the Club if at all possible - only going in for Committee meetings. It was absolutely comical to watch the Chairman rush from the Club at 3.45 just before his old buddies would show up for gym classes. After about six months of this he realised that he would find it difficult to be re-elected as Chairman so decided not to run.

Save City Tatts Committee

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