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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Saturday, 7 February 2009
Curious case of imploding Board at Addison Rd Community Centre as 3 resign, special meeting 25 Feb
Topic: local news

Picture: A written circular to all tenants, not emailed, perhaps so that the document will not then appear on the SAM local news website. A noticeable absentee is board member and local ALP mayor Sam Iskander. Also notable is abstention of John Reynolds of radical left group Art Resistance, who himself has been the subject of allegations of bullying (by this writer in fact, editor of SAM as ex ARC employee 2003-2007).


As we understand, as a former employee and ongoing friend of the ARC, the president Narelle Mantle and 2 others resigned last Wednesday 4th February 2009. It may be a gender thing as they are all women we are advised.

Given the general manager Yvette Andrews is a famous feminist writer with Meredith Burgmann of The Ernies, also former staffer to Burgmann, we wonder if the age old gender war has resurfaced at the ARC.

Or perhaps as a source writes below it is "amid allegations of nepotism, mismanagement and bad behaviour"

Readers of SAM may recall our regular updates regarding;

- most recently allegation of mild assault of a previous president Don Mamouney;

- Mamouney credited with achieving a 50 year community lease of the 4 ha site in 2003 losing his Australia Council grant funding recently at Sidetrack Theatre;

- strange failure to implement open employment procedures for Yvette Andrews, and allegations of nepotism with employment of her spouse John Blair;

- strange failure to openly tender the huge gallery building to the non profit sector, with current tenant sometimes offering works at $30,000 a pop;

- almost complete absence of financial reporting of various senior tenancies to the public regarding the public land;

- no circulation of board minutes to tenants let alone the surrounding Marrickville community,

- of long time ALP co-option allegations with the current ALP Mayor Sam Iskander on the board.

- bad faith in dealing with grievances over bullying at the ARC;

- effective but controversial previous manager jumped before he was pushed

Even allowing for the usual argy bargy in any community organisation where competing philosophies, level of focus, and differential skills and talent roam free, this is indeed fractious.

One current respected Greens Councilor told us recently they "hate the place".

What indeed is going on, other than tedious, ineffective, sleazy politics? As we always say, transparency is the key to a better future at the ARC. Such a simple concept but amazingly influential.

Transparency - not for shaming or embarrassment or revenge, but for better capacity building, co-operation and unexpected synergy. In short of healthy democracy.

In our 15 years in the sector we know the community sector is an amazing pool of talent. The people already there at the ARC also have immense talents but they are being sabotaged by their own baulkanisation. And that's a systemic thing to maintain an existing power structure. The local ALP in reality. In many cases that existing power structure involves self serving and arguable sweet heart deals for the long term tenants themselves.

There is no guarantee that what comes after will be any different given the precedent set.

Who indeed are the innocent players of good faith here? Transparency is the key.

It's small wonder the ALP got a 10% swing against them at the last local council election. They can blame it on state wide reaction to Wollongong scandal but some new ALP councilors for instance at Leichhardt bucked the trend. So we don't really buy that. We think the voters are well informed on local concerns in the age of the internet and voting accordingly.

For instance it defies belief why Meredith Burgmann is a rump of 1 for the ALP on the Sydney City Council. A source tells us Burgmann presents as bewildered at her council meetings "because she doesn't have anyone to do things for her anymore".


Latest developments

So now we understand last Wednesday 4th February 2009 the Board met and 3 of the 7 members resigned.

The 3 we understand are Narelle Mantle (president ARC, general manager Reverse Garbage), Laurel Draffen (a ring in "community member" from a govt dept: NSW Federation of Housing Associations "Laurel Draffen, Manager - Good Practice Unit"), and Emma Synott ("Emma Synnott, Senior Sustainability Consultant. Arup, Sydney Office"). Arup is a developer.

As one source writes yesterday:

Sent: Friday, February 06, 2009 11:22 PM
Subject: ARC
There is to be a Special General Meeting of the ARC on 25 February. The President and the two community reps have resigned from the board leaving Andrews floundering amid allegations of nepotism, mismanagement and bad behaviour generally at the Centre. An opportunity for some transparency and democracy.

Indeed another source - it's called stock standard democracy folks - forwarded this series of emails about this special general meeting (from most recent, to oldest):

# 1 .............................

Subject: Re: ARC Special General Meeting
Date: Fri, 06 Feb 2009 14:36:50 +1100

Dear Vivi: Thanks for your concern. In calling this meeting
we are hoping to provide an opportunity for all members to
have a say in the development of ARC. As you know I was
instrumental in setting up a Board structure for Addison
Road. The reason I was such a strong advocate of replacing
the old 35 member management committee and executive that
was our governing body until the early 90s was that, among
other things, it was an outmoded and inefficient instrument
that often became bogged down in trivialities and was open
to the kind of corruption that led to the loss of more than
a million dollars in funding and eventually threatened the
Head Lease. Having said that I am not advocating a return to
the older system but I am concerned to ensure that there is
a balance between the necessary executive powers of the
board and that of the membership. Essentially my feeling is
that the Board is there to serve the membership. When we
elect a board we have a reasonable expectation that they
will act on our behalf and in the best interests of the
Centre and that their actions should be accountable and
transparent and that they will employ best practice
particularly in relation to employment practices. Clearly
in recent times these expectations have often been ignored.
We have begun to be addressed and treated as "tenants" ,
minutes have not been circulated and in fact the minutes
have not even been placed in the minute book. (this was
true less than 2 weeks ago). In the last couple of months I
have raised some major concerns with the board and with the
manager which eventually led to me being injured and later
drunkenly abused in a board meeting. This is not the ARC
that we have struggled to build and nor does it represent
the best of what we do here. Following the last board
meeting we have a greatly depleted BOD. We need to get
behind the remaining directors who have the task of
rebuilding the board. This SGM can help. The necessity of
such a process is now more urgent than ever. We need to
restore trust, safety, and good governance and we need to
do so with a generosity of spirit. In calling this SGM, I
think I can speak for the other signatories by saying the
meeting has been called, in a way that we can put negativity
behind us and work openly and creatively towards the future
of ARC. I hope you and all other members will engage with
the process to make it enjoyable, optimistic and



# 2 ......................................

Vivi Koutsounadis wrote:
> Dear Don
> Thanks for the clarification but did members approach the
BOD > requesting a meeting and they refused to hold one. I
think it would > be better if we request them to call a
meeting and if they refuse we > go ahead with the members
meeting. In my view I think we need to > follow a process
of resolving an issues first altogether before > members
calling special meeting. >
> Regards
> Vivi

# 3 ............................................

> ----- Original Message ----- From: "don mamouney"
Sent: Friday, February 06, 2009
12:09 PM > Subject: Re: ARC Special General Meeting
>> Thanks also Vivi: Under section 9.4. Members may call a
sgm provided >> they meet the cost of holding the meeting
>> Regards
>> Don
>>> Dear Don,
>>> Thank you for your message. I am a bit confused about
the process >>> and the the notice you sent for a Special
General Meeting. As I >>> understand it members sign a
requisition for an >>> Extraordinary/Special General
meeting to be held and direct this to >>> the Board of
Directors of the organisation to call the meeting. If >>>
they do not call a meeting within the specified time, then
the >>> members call the meeting themselves. Have members
requested the BOD >>> to hold such a meeting and they did
not? Can you please clarify. >>>
>>> Regards
>>> Vivi Germanos-Koutsounadis
>>> Executive Director, ECCFCSC.

# 4 ..................................................

>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Sidetrack"
>>> To: "Don Mamouney"
>>> Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2009 4:19 PM
>>> Subject: ARC Special General Meeting
>>>> Dear Members: As I indicated in my last email here is a
>>>> requisition for a special general meeting of ARC. The
signed copy >>>> of this was put into your pidgeon hole at
ARC today. Let's make >>>> this meeting an opportunity to
imagine and plan a new ARC. Let's >>>> break out of this
cycle of mistrust, fear and negativity, Let's >>>> talk,
lets imagine new possibilities for ARC in the future. If you
>>>> have any questions please feel free to contact me.

>>>> The best email and number to get me on are as follows
>>>> Regards
>>>> Don Mamouney

# 5............................ (attachment to # 4)

>>>> We the undersigned members of ARC call a Special
General Meeting >>>> of the Addison Road Centre for arts,
culture community and >>>> environment Ltd under 9.4.1 of
the constitution >>>>
>>>> Date and Time 6pm Wednesday February 25
>>>> Place: The Addison Gallery
>>>> Name: Don Mamouney [ principal Sidetrack Theatre, former president ARC and father of new Board structure and constitution: SAM editor]
>>>> Name: Geoff Hague [principal Ultimo Project artist studios: SAM editor]
>>>> Name: Ridvan Manov [principal Turkish Welfare, martial arts expert/teacher, tenant 20 years plus: SAM editor]
>>>> Purpose of Meeting: To pass resolutions towards a new
Strategic >>>> Plan for ARC
>>>> Preamble: It is now many years since ARC went through a
thorough >>>> planning process. The underlying intention of
calling this meeting >>>> is to set in motion a process
through which all ARC members, >>>> including associate
members and members of Centre groups will be >>>> able to
contribute to the future development and direction of the
>>>> Centre through the creation of new Five Year Strategic
Plan. >>>>
>>>> We would like to see a plan emerge from the process
which is able >>>> to provide a management framework
through which ARC can better >>>> serve the membership and
the broader community through improved >>>> management and
communication practices; and a planned process of >>>>
development and maintenance of the grounds buildings and
activities >>>> of the Centre.
>>>> Motion
>>>> 1.1 That ARC develop a new Five Year Strategic Plan.
>>>> 1.2 The new strategic plan should include all aspects
of the Centre >>>> including but not limited to our
Cultural and Community mission, >>>> aims and objectives;
grounds planning, traffic management and >>>> buildings
maintenance and development; management and staffing >>>>
needs, employment procedures and principles, leasing policy,
>>>> sustainability and environmental practices; governance
issues, >>>> budgeting and financial reporting and the
rights and >>>> responsibilities of members.
>>>> 1.3 And that the process of creating the plan include
the >>>> employment of an independent Facilitator to
assist the process and >>>> presentation of the new plan.
>>>> 1.4 And that this meeting approves a budget of up to
$30,000 >>>> towards the planning process
>>>> 1.5 And that the Five Year Plan must be approved by the
full >>>> membership in a specially called meeting or
meetings. >>>>
>>>> 1.6 And that this meeting elect an organising sub
committee to >>>> oversee the development of the plan and
that the subcommittee be >>>> made up of 2 ARC member group
board members, 3 members, not >>>> currently board members
, and 1 associate member. >>>>
>>>> Access
>>>> 1.7 And that should the Strategic plan subcommittee or
the >>>> facilitator need access or copies of any papers,
contracts, >>>> budgets, financial records or documents for
the purposes of >>>> reviewing current and past practices
of the company that access and >>>> copies be freely
provided. >>>>
>>>> Costing and Prioritising
>>>> 1.8 And that in order that development and planning
instruments can >>>> be prioritised within the Centre's
budget frame work that all >>>> agreed to development
proposals be fully costed. >>>>
>>>> 1.9 And that development, planning instruments and
policies be >>>> prioritised
>>>> Time Frame
>>>> 1.10 And that this meeting adopts the following
time-frame >>>> guidance for the completion of the plan
noting that the final >>>> time-frame will be influenced
by the availability and methodology >>>> of the
Facilitator. >>>>
>>>> March/09: Organising sub committee Call for expressions
of interest >>>> from prospective Facilitators, shortlist,
interview and contract a >>>> Facilitator
>>>> May/June/09: Facilitator conducts a series of planning
meetings >>>> with the Centre membership. With a draft plan
sent to members by >>>> June 30. Members feed back on draft
plan >>>>
>>>> July/09: Special General meeting of membership to
approve plan >>>>
>>>> Moved by... Don Mamouney
>>>> Seconded by... Geoff Hague

Posted by editor at 3:25 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 7 February 2009 5:02 AM EADT

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