An Amazingly Smooth Rollout

I doubt there is a person on the planet who is not aware of the turmoil that surrounded the rollout of the Trump immigration plan. But as a reminder – on the 27 January 2017 Trump signed an Executive Order barring people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States.

The sudden application of the Order plunged the immigration system into chaos, sparking a wave of criticism from the targeted countries and Western allies. I was personally interested in Trump’s ban because of the Syrian mates I am coaching in Saudi Arabia.  

However the US Courts were about to have their say: US District Judge James Robart in Seattle suspended the Executive Order after Washington state challenged its legality. A three judge 9th US Circuit Court of Appeal then upheld Robart’s ruling. Trumps so called travel ban was dead.

But US President Donald Trump ordered that the executive command be replaced by a new Order. He said his new Order would be written to conform to the legal rulings. And in a news conference Trump said his rollout of the original travel ban was “very smooth” and “perfect”. The White House he said “is running like a fine-tuned machine.”

Without question the Trump travel ban saga will be studied in management schools around the world as an example of what not to do. No one could manage a business that badly. Or could they?

Harvard Business School has yet to hear about Swimming New Zealand.

Because I have been living 8000 miles away from New Zealand I have not had access to the exact dates of the SNZ events that, in my opinion, challenge Trump’s incompetence.

Three or four months ago SNZ announced a new meet accreditation policy that included a $60 fee for entering national meets. The sudden application of the order plunged the organization into, Trump like, chaos. It sparked a flood of criticism from coaches and officials. I was personally interested in SNZ’s fee because, at the 2017 Opens, I was going to have to pay the $60.

And then a month ago Swimming New Zealand obviously had their own “three judge 9th Circuit Court of Appeal moment” and announced the fee would be reduced to $20.

And then tonight (21 February 2017) the SNZ CEO, Steve Johns, has sent out an email with the following announcement.

Given the level of concern raised by some Regions and Chairs relating to the above, Swimming NZ has decided to waive the accreditation fee for coaches and managers.   

His email then goes on at length about why the abandoned fee was required. I have no idea why he felt the need to justify a fee that he had just terminated.         

He says the charge was:

“to provide a process that would control the number of coaches on poolside” and “to ensure that those coaches who were poolside, were bound by Swimming NZ’s rules” and “to cover the costs associated with managing and implementing the accreditation process” and “in some cases, to assist with the cost of pool entry for coaches at these events.”

The only qualification missing in the Steve John’s surrender was for him to announce that his rollout of the original $60 fee was “very smooth” and “perfect”. Antares Place I can hear him say “is running like a fine-tuned machine”.

Of course, as so often is the case with SNZ, why didn’t they conduct the consultation process before the roll out of their $60 fee? The answer is arrogance. The refusal to consult and their belief in the imposition and power of executive orders are all a product of the organisation’s rebirth in 2012. The new Chris Moller Constitution paid only lip service to democracy and saw the abolition of democratic initiatives such as published meeting minutes. The turkeys (that’s us) voted for Christmas. And this sort of rubbish management is what you get when those in charge are not accountable to the membership.

And what has happened was forecast in 2012 right here in Swimwatch.    

And now that SNZ is no longer going to charge an entrance fee – does that mean “the number of coaches on poolside” no longer needs to be controlled. Are coaches no longer “bound by Swimming NZ’s rules” and is paying for “managing and implementing the accreditation process” no longer a problem. I was never sure how money was going to result in all those benefits anyway. Or is this charge really just another means of preserving their bloated lifestyle? So there we have it, New Zealand’s own little Trump White House – same style, same result.

It is off the subject but the Trump habit of “fake news” also reminds me of the guys who run swimming in New Zealand. For example today Trump is telling the world what a dangerous place Sweden has become after accepting 160,000 refugees. This is what he said.

Give the public a break – The FAKE NEWS media is trying to say that large scale immigration in Sweden is working out just beautifully. NOT!”    

How he can look at himself in the mirror is beyond belief. The most respected measure of peacefulness is the Global Peace Index. New Zealand ranks 4 but more importantly Sweden is 14 and the United States is 103. Trump is in no position to tweet anybody, except himself, on how to manage a peaceful society.

Swimming New Zealand frequently resort to a form of fake news to excuse poor performance. They don’t lie. They just avoid the issue. For example when funding for the sport was cut by $600,000 recently the response from Swimming New Zealand was:

“This has been the most successful swimming era since the mid-1990s. We won five world championship medals [all to freestyler Boyle] and two junior world championships medals. In the aftermath to London we had eight top-50 athletes, of whom four were seen as Rio targets. Post-Rio we’ve got 16 in the top-50 of whom 12 look capable of going to Tokyo.”

Now all that is clearly true but like Spicer and Conway and Trump it’s a deflection. It is not answering the question. The question is why has the sport gone 20 years with no Olympic medals? This is not a test of how well you can debate or avoid a straight answer or search for alternative facts. This is about answering a simple question that for 20 years Swimming New Zealand has avoided – possibly, maybe even probably, because they don’t know the answer.