Consider The Auckland Annual Meeting

 I should not be writing about the Swimming Auckland, or any other Annual Meeting. They are as exciting as watching paint dry. They are attended by dull bureaucrats who revel in points of order and agenda items and whether the minutes of last year’s meeting accurately record the fact that the meeting ended three minutes after the last bus left the central Henderson depot. Usually there is great excitement before each meeting as make-believe Che Guevaras plot the over-throw of the kingdom. But seldom does anything serious happen. The establishment pushes through its agenda and survives for another year. The people they want are on the Board again, no difficult questions were asked; the coffee and savouries afterwards bought the revolutionaries silence.

Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) Annual Meetings always follow that pattern. For years SNZ has has got away with the most appalling financial and competitive performances and crazy Chairman Reports by delegates who sat there, like stuffed dummies, voting for anything Cotterill asked. This website has been critical of decisions made by SNZ. But the compliance of Annual Meeting delegates like Bone from Hawke’s Bay and Radford from Bay of Plenty and Berge from Wellington makes them just as guilty. They know some of the stuff SNZ has done is not right, is not good for swimmers or swimming. And yet once a year they sit at the Annual Meeting saying nothing. They know bad people get away with bad things when good people say nothing, and yet year after year they let it happen.

And so, at the risk of boring every reader to death, let’s consider the Swimming Auckland Annual Meeting. It was held on Thursday of last week. It appears Swimming Auckland is learning much from their masters across the Harbour Bridge. The autocratic nature of the meeting was a stunning copy of Cotterill at his best.

I have written before about the apparently deliberate decision of the Auckland Chairman, Coetzee, and the CEO, Green, to operate with an unconstitutional Board of five members. The Constitution requires six. I simply don’t understand why; especially when the Annual Meeting received three nominations from members wanting to be on the Board. Three new members, plus the two already there and the Chairman would have given Auckland a constitutional Board of six. But it was not to be. The Chairman, Coetzee, and CEO, Green, decided there should be an election to reduce the three nominations to two elected. In my opinion that decision was entirely because one of the nominations was from a person the two bosses didn’t like. And they lucked out. The one they wanted to lose lost. But the Board meanwhile was back to an unconstitutional five members; five controllable puppets.

What makes that all the more confusing is the inability of the CEO to write a consistent Annual Report and Audited Accounts. In one document the Board was elected and in the other document Board members were co-opted. Both can’t be right; especially when co-opting in the Swimming Auckland Constitution does not exist. The Constitution calls it an “appointment”. The Coetzee and Green autocratic rule is further advanced by the fact that I can find no record of the current Appointment Panel, required by the Constitution, being approved by the membership. It seems to me that Coetzee and Green have built Auckland Swimming into a cosy little dictatorship.

We’ve all heard that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Well, I don’t know whether there is corruption at play here but the fact that questions were not asked and answers were not given certainly makes me uncomfortable.

For example why did the Auckland Swimming cost of wages go up by $22,000 last year? There are only two people in the Swimming Auckland office; Green and an Office Manager, Griffiths. Last year’s budget said wages were going to be less. Instead there was a blow-out of $22,000. That needs to be explained. If it is what it seems Swimming Auckland has learned well from the practise of SNZ to reward itself at the expense of the membership; tin-pot bureaucrats paid like kings.

And finally why was no appropriate discussion allowed, at the Auckland Swimming Annual Meeting, on the Annual Report and Budget. What are Coetzee and Green trying to hide? I understand one club asked about pool hire costs. The reply was a dismissive wave of the hand and a terse comment blaming the West Wave Pool Manager, Alex Caldwell, and his Auckland City bosses. That could well be right. In my opinion Caldwell is among the worst pool managers I have ever had the misfortune to meet. But Caldwell’s shortcomings in no way excuse Green’s refusal to discuss the problem.

It is off the subject but I have also heard that Caldwell has decided to extend his learn-to-swim empire into junior and intermediate coaching. I can’t think of anyone less qualified to make that move. In my opinion, what Caldwell knows about coaching could be written on the back of a very small postage stamp. If you are a parent and have a swimmer looking for coaching, avoid the West Wave program like the plague. There are far better options available at Mt. Eden, the Trent Bray Swim School, Roskill Swim Club, the Millennium Institute, the North Shore Club or close at hand at the Waterhole Swim Club. You have plenty of options; don’t choose the worst one.

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