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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Sunday, 18 March 2007
Our work ban on errant community centre tenant
Mood:  sharp
Topic: local news

All this muck in state and federal politics, as well as dodgy financial reporting by CEO Fletcher in Coles retail business giant as here The World Today - Coles accused of misleading shareholders could make one believe the community sector are surely above this moral corruption.


Alas not. Only the stakes are so much smaller. The emotional investment seems just as obsessive.


Example: A tenant at the local ARC wants special treatment. Reverse Garbage, Ethnic Child Care, The Bower, Art Studios, Sunday Markets all have visitors by car who on some occasions park on the grass degrading both the turf (which heaven knows is knocked around in the drought) and compacting the roots of the trees.


It’s usually a simple matter of the garden staff on the job politely but firmly asking the driver  to get ORFour grass and use the very adequate car park areas. And they usually are quite happy to. Almost invariably because they actually support and respect the shared objective of a successful community centre.


But not last Friday. Our imperious visitor was too important to bother with that. Then our anonymous tenant refused to take any responsibility for their ignoble guest plonked on the median strip, indeed was instantly and emotionally and verbally abusive, dishonest, aggressive and indeed corruptly seeking special exemption virtually threatening our employment for simply doing our job.


A real big shot as per the Billy Joel song.

Picture: Sunday market (left) at ARC yesterday. It's success depends on wise management of car parking (at right), instituted after fully 10 years of cheap talk and chaos, in 2004. Some closed shop types seem to think theatrical melodrama, and bully ragging, not to mention pandering, is a replacement for equal rights and responsibilities. Not on SAM's watch, not ever.


It was all so small and yet indicative of possibly a much greater and unsafely corrupt mind set. Certainly of arrogance and snobbery in this case. To be called a “nice boy” at 42, a part time solicitor with two degrees is quite hard to take really.


Fortunately we did not reciprocate and the General Manager who employs me treated this particular tenant with the merit s/he deserves. He merely required a file note to evidence the situation and helpfully there were witnesses.


And we all have our own power and can chose to exercise it in a proportionate and transparent way in what might be called upward management. It’s mainly a matter of careful analysis beyond the impertinent melodramatic histrionics where to insert the knitting needle.


So now it’s a work ban on this tenant at least by this worker. No removal of rubbish, no weeding or mowing, no special favours with mulching the back yard or pigeons in the roof, indeed no web updating of the fast improving  Addison Road Centre - ARC Home website which we have been seconded to assist with until we receive satisfaction.


We will win in the long run as night follows day. That's my version of accountability for low level corruption in a community centre: Qualitatively no better than other bottom feeding federal or state politicians or big business corruption but quantitatively an order of magnitude smaller. Indeed we will not be sidetracked.


The human condition, ain’t it lovely?



Postscript #1:  We have received correspondence disputing our version of events described above and now publish this record verbatim:


"Excuse me.....Can you not park there please [still 30 metres away walking down the front drive]....We don't want people parking on the grass and it's an [bad] example to all other people who drive into the centre. ....[no response].... I work here as a gardener at the centre. ....."


[sentence finishes next to the woman walking into Sidetrack Theatre looking increasingly scornful and totally not intimidated. I notice the back of the stationwagon is largely empty or maybe a few small items with blankets.]

"I am just unloading." she says with total confidence.

"It doesn't matter, its a matter of getting help with carrying something."

"Okay I will" [walks away in the other direction proving she is simply lying]

"Okay I will wait" [wait lamely as she wanders off to the main theatre, and give up after a minute knowing I've been lied to, and not very gullible.]

Then I put my head into Sidetrack front door and say to X politely but firmly -
"X can you take responsibility for your guest. She is parking on the grass and hasn't moved when I asked her."

[No answer, I then went away and did work for 5 minutes emptying the bin at the bus stop. Car still not moved.]

I go into X's office and ask politely "can you tell me the name of the woman parked out the front", then X launches into tantrum shouting and tirade. I leave his office with him shouting at me. I go outside and ask her politely "Can you tell me your name?"

[X grabs my arm while I try to ask my question again. I say ...]

"Keep your hands to yourself" What is your name please?

[X] "Her name is Sue Smith"

[I walk away at these insults to my work and my intelligence.]

[Me walking to the front office to do web page updating] "I will take it to the board."

[X] rushes over to the main office.

[X shouting at Ian Laird, ARC centre manager]

"Stop him harrassing my staff. He's in a bad mood for some reason. He's a nice boy. We are friends"
[me] "Not anymore..... You're drowning..... You aren't going to win." [by which I meant by shouting or bullying]
In point of fact I am 42 year old part time lawyer and community activist with 2 university degrees and I do my job without fear or favour.

Ian Laird, the centre manager, was completely bemused but also not that surprised at the tantrum by X. But I was.

Witnesses include artist Jeff Wood who was working on his chess set project nearby, who said "Tom did nothing wrong" to Laird. Quite true, I didn't do anything wrong. I was doing my job in a well tempered way and conscientous way and I will continue to do so while ever I have the confidence of the centre management.
Postscript #2: And when we say pollie muck, and big business muck (at Coles), and community sector muck (above), we note too Big Media muck (!) at that bastion of free press Fairfax with a cracking story today 20th March about Ron Walker ... of Fairfax no less ....conflict of interest jab in the ribs by top in house journo David Marr. Ouchy, ouch: Fairfax chief spreads blame for inadvertent Liberal link

Posted by editor at 12:27 PM NZT
Updated: Tuesday, 20 March 2007 5:50 PM NZT

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