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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Tuesday, 11 December 2007
Addison Rd saga takes new turn with strike action!
Mood:  chatty
Topic: local news
Picture: Acting general manager Peter Talmacs at the Addison Rd Centre, Marrickville has the conch to earn his $65K pa income.


Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2007 7:55 AM
Subject: unpaid wages claim, culture of mismanagement

11th December 2007

Dear Acting Manager Talmacs 

As advised yesterday I have a time sheet lodged for 24 hours work done from 14th to 28th November. I might add this includes $13 out of my own pocket for materials (bolts) from The Bower to secure the borders of the middle pocket garden. It's over 14 days since I lodged that time sheet. If I don't get paid for this work soon then I will be lodging a claim with the Industrial Relations Commission for unpaid wages. 

As to my reasons for going on indefinite strike effective from the end of that timesheet 28th November 2007, and return of my work key after 4 years there, as stated the reasons relate "to everything that's been going on this last 6 months": 

1. Sabotage of the centre website service to ALL tenants - The centre website was built by this writer and fair and equal profile was given to all tenants as well as reasonably up to date news and events. This was a low cost solution as instructed by the former GM to the longstanding deficit in a web based gateway to the centre. The website was highly praised by tenants and GM and even Board members. Again success is seen as a threat and I was removed off the work. The website now features an event 4 months stale that just happens to profile the cronies who control the Board to the exclusion of others more recent and compelling, not least the AGM of 28 Nov 07.
Picture: This writer still listed as of 8 am 11 December 2007 incorrectly as the centre website editor. Not true for at least 3 months. 

2. The fraudulent suppression of a greivance for harrassment by Board member Reynolds - This grievance was lodged in writing after a grotesque sabotage of centre authorised work in late July 07. Cronies on the Board in a transparently fraudulent manner over ruled the GM's correct decision (my legal advice too) this was in jurisdiction of the centre mediation policy. To hear you as acting GM parrot that fraudulent cover up yesterday by the Board I find to be quite contemptible and patronising, but actually a symptom of systemic corruption. Hardly surprising I suppose as the Board pay your $65K pa wage.
 Picture: ALP loyalist Yvette Andrews (middle) is 'honorary' President of Addison Rd Centre, and good chess player having learnt her political machine skills as staffer to career Lefty ex Legislative Council President Meredith Burgman . 

3. Financial mismanagement - at the AGM on Nov 28 there was concern from an old operator at the centre Vivi of Ethnic Childcare about the apparent $10K downturn in the main hall rental revenue. But there was NO CONCERN expressed by anyone amongst the 22 (of 42) tenants permitted to vote for the 7 person board,  at the 500 sq metre gallery space rent free for the last 4 years and strangely very low rental deal provided for the next 3 years. Indeed when we tried to ask about that question two people tried to stop my question from the floor going to Cr Peter Olive newly returned to the board, who was similarly concerned it was overly generous. We are talking lost revenue of $50K -$200K through maladministration, if not outright fraudulent dealing with public rental space, with more in the future. It is beyond doubt that an ethical board, after a reasonable period of free rent in return for renovation and fitout had been provided, should have required rent comparable to other non profit tenancies and failing that put the gallery space to open tender for any non profit organisation to bid to operate the space. This didn't happen presumably to protect a political crony. One Board member McCarthy has a (rent paying?) studio in this gallery and is a loyal ally of the gallery principal on free rent. Did they participate in the free rent for 4 years, and very cheap rent next 3 years, lease negotiation that troubles Cr Olive of the Greens? A clear financial conflict of interest. Another political ally Andrews within the association of ALP MP aristocracy (ex staffer of Meredith Burgman) that regularly attend events at the free rent gallery has been positioned as president on the centre Board. That's convenient for cheap lease deals.
Picture: Terry Cutcliffe in the controversial free rent gallery for 4 years having renovated and fit out the space, with another 3 year cheap rent deal with staggered rental increase from a very low base for 500 sq m two level space. Terry has excellent local ALP MP contacts Burney, Burgman to name two. He also supported Patrice Newell's run for the senate competing with the Green Party who he believes "are hopeless" (as opposed to?)


4. Large scale composter project incorrect location - only built 2 months ago,  it's located 10 feet from the CVA office contrary to the decision of the previous GM, contrary to 10 years of traditional location of such material 20 metres west of there at a safe distance, and contrary to my own clear advice this would cause an odour/health hazard in the heat of summer for nearby CVA office. I know CVA is worried too with good reason. It's well constructed but way too close. In my opinion this shows real stupidity as well as disrespect for staff expertise. 

5. Stormwater mis-management. Regarding the carpark main stormwater drain - the badly eroded washout above the street grill (due to poor gradient to the purpose specific main stormwater drain) had a fairly obvious solution - digging a new gradient and concreting it. There was constant interference with that solution indicating a deeply misconceived understanding of the volumes and proportionate direction of the stormwater flow off the main carpark. Again this shows willful ignorance and disrespect. The failure to concrete the drain or put a grill in has seen the main stormwater drain block and flood recently. 

6. Waste mis-management/double standards - at the same AGM a pathetic complaint about the public using centre bins while attending the Sunday community market was lodged in strident terms. But absolutely no complaint about up to one whole dumpster a week being filled from the Reverse Garbage tenancy. Apart from the ethics of this kind of landfilling by that kind of business, what about the cost? RG has one paid for dumpster of its own already but uses the centre's by the trolley load. This is grossly selective double standards picking on the Sunday market. And the totally unsubstantiated claim that the market reduces sales of RG by $1000 a month (or was it per week?) as claimed at the AGM. Not the increased cost of living. Not the RG product lines. No it must be the successful market. Now the RG principal is elected to the Board presumably to bully the market. (Along with claims one tenant can't access their office we find dishonest.)
I'm advised further that my waste recycling work on the Sunday market, highly successful as it was with glowing reports, has been prohibited, presumably by the officious board always ready it appears to destroy anything that actually succeeds ( in favour of political mates who can't even pay their rent but are happy to sublet studio space for that income?)


7. Anti democratic management? When we took an interest in the recent AGM and obtained two signatories from tenants endorsing our nomination to the Board we were told amongst other things on the night this was on 'a non conforming nomination form'. These official nomination forms were held by you acting general manager and you gave us no warning or advice about those correct forms. Why?

8. AGM election irregularaties - the 20 or so associate members of the centre have no Board representative despite a nomination by artist Barry Gazzard to the Board. His nomination was excluded by Assad Abdi of Sidetrack Theatre who duly allowed the RG principal nominated by Abdi's Sidetrack partner Mamouney. This is a transparent conflict of interest which means he was not a fit and proper person to be the returning officer for the AGM election. Further the grounds for rejection of the Gazzard nomination are clouded in mystery. A meeting of associate members should have been called to endorse a rep for the AGM election but the centre was responsible for calling the meeting to empower them and failed to do so. How convenient to avoid an associate member on the Board. 

9. Interference with private mail?: Recently a private letter from the NSW Ombudsm about a matter unrelated to any of the above was forwarded via the centre main office having been opened 'in error' you say by yourself. Given all of the above concerns, I keep an open mind on why the letter addressed to me was opened and who read it.

As always I remain a pro bono legal adviser as a solicitor in NSW, and community media practitioner. My loyalty is to the community sector broadly as has been the case for the last 15 years. My micro news website www.sydneyalternativemedia.com currently has 10,000 page views per month, including this letter published today.

Yours truly
Tom McLoughlin, solicitor

Posted by editor at 7:59 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 11 December 2007 9:48 AM EADT

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