Archive for August, 2011

Where To From Here?

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

By David

I see Simom Plumb Of the Sunday Star-Times has written a piece in this week newspaper entitled “Funding threat lifted as SPARC rallies for AGM” In it Plumb reports on a discussion with SPARC boss, Peter Miskimmin. Evidently Miskimmin told Plumb he “categorically ruled out changes in government funding as an immediate reaction should the current Swimming New Zealand board resign en masse”. But Misskimmin was concerned that SNZ “stop squabbling, or expect to pay the price”. “If it continues to be a fractured and fragmented situation, dysfunctional, then we [Sparc] are going to get further and further concerns” and will agree a consequence then,” he said.”

There are three important points that come out of the Sunday Star-Times report.

  1. Many of the problems associated with sport in New Zealand come about as a result of poor and weak leadership. The Misskimmin interview is a classic text book case. He says we (SPARC) do not care who sits on the Board of Swimming New Zealand. Just make sure there is a happy resolution as quickly as possible. At the same time Kerry McDonald and Nelson Cull, SPARC’s $1500 a day hired guns on the SNZ Board, are wandering around Wellington telling the SNZ Board not to resign and the Regions to back off with the call for a mass resignation. The mixed messages and confused leadership are just awful. Misskimmin cannot tell Swimming one message (we don’t mind who is on the Board) and allow his employees to preach something totally different (we want the current Board to stay). By allowing that Misskimmin is directly responsible for the confusion he says will result in SPARC’s wrath. Right now SPARC have reaped exactly what they deserve. A bloody mess.

    A 60% majority of the voting power of the sport has called for the Board to resign. They have quoted chapter and verse the misdeeds that have brought about their demand. At that point good management demanded that SPARC back the call for change. But I bet Miskkimmin hasn’t even called Bronwen Radford. Instead, through the newspapers, he has told her to sort the shambles out as best she can and behind her back has instructed his representatives on the Board to defy the demands of the majority, she represents. Right now, Peter Miskimmin, this mess is down to you – 100%. You may recall Swimwatch told you a year ago this Board was incompetent. We told you to never use the excuse you didn’t know. Well, you did know and you did nothing about it then. You should take control now and back a talented lady in Rotorua who is trying to sort this mess out; who is trying to make a difference.

  2. The weakness of Coulter continues to damage the sport. Even in this Sunday Star-Times report he says “his resignation was still under consideration”. He is reported as going on to say that while “the board remains unified; he is still chewing over the idea of resigning.” “I don’t think I’ve made up my mind of whether I’d like to stay on the board,” Coulter told the Sunday Star-Times. “When I get the formal response of the regions, then I’ll decide my personal position.” Isn’t that just great? Our esteemed leader is sitting there defying a 60% majority of his membership and telling the world he might bugger off at any minute. That’s as close to fiddling while Rome burns as I’ve seen. Certainly it is the sort of weak management that has led the sport to this dark, dark place. That and Miskimmin’s mixed messages. Coulter, do something decisive. Do something that is best for the sport. Resign, clear the decks for a new crew. Be remembered as the guy that did the decent thing. Hand the reins over to Bronwen Radford and get out of there. That one act can save the sport; can save SPARC’s funding and can save your reputation.
  3. The Sunday Star-Times article was predicated on the thought that losing SPARC’s funding would be a disaster. Of course it would be better to preserve the current level of support. However Miskimmin should not run away with the idea that his presents are essential. There is even merit in the thought that an independent sport, free of government welfare, may be stronger than the current bloated welfare dependant fat cat organization. Even Ineson recognized the sport was oversized and overstaffed. It could be that the following image of life without SPARC has merit.

The new CEO was certain the sport could make ends meet. After all Auckland’s regular income was about $250,000. Add to that national affiliation fees of $300,000, meet entry fees of $200,000, the awards dinner $60,000, profit on clothing sales $50,000, interest of $40,000 and sponsorship funding of $150,000 and the new trimmed down Swimming New Zealand was going to have to survive on an income of $1,050,000 or about 30% of the income of the old SPARC dependant organization. Costs, of course, would need to be slashed. No more involvement in learn to swim. Responsibility for that activity would revert to the clubs where it should have been all along. No more golf club lunches or company cars. No more tuition programs or subsidised travel for junior swimmers; not in the short term anyway. And best of all, no more Millennium Institute coaches or support staff to pay. Gone were the army of hangers on, gone were the uniforms and team costs that had burdened New Zealand swimming for a decade.

The cost figures the new CEO proposed taking to the Board meeting tonight included salaries for the CEO, the office staff and a Coaching Facilitator of $400,000, accommodation costs of $15,000, other administration costs of $140,000, depreciation and equipment costs of $60,000, swim meet expenditure of $120,000 and payments to eight swimmers and their coaches of $35,000 per swimmer, $280,000. That, he thought, would leave a profit of $35,000; only 3% of sales but as the price for a standalone proud little sport, not a bad place to start – not a bad place at all.
The Sunday Star-Times report concludes with this thought – “Whether the SNZ board, or the coalition, blinks first remains to be seen.” We wish the coalition well. It is surrounded by Coulter’s weak management and Miskimmin’s bureaucratic politicking. Only the coalition seems capable of providing the sport with very much needed good and strong management. Here at Swimwatch we wish you, God speed.

Hold Fire, It’s Molly!

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

By David

A week ago Gary Caffell of the Wairarapa Times-Age wrote an interesting article on Swim Wairarapa’s attitude to the call by eight Regions and NZSCTA for the Board of Swimming New Zealand to resign. It was called “Swim Wairarapa Hold Fire”.

Caffell summarized Swim Wairarapa’s position as follows:

Swim Wairarapa, however, have taken a different tack, preferring to wait until SNZ’s annual meeting next month to decide what, if any, actions need to be taken against the current board.

“The problems they are talking about now haven’t just surfaced, they’ve probably been with us for the best part of the decade or so,” Swim Wairarapa general secretary Maryann Corrigan said yesterday.

“Obviously everybody involved in the sport is keen to get things moving in the right direction but we want to hear the full story before we make a move and the annual meeting would seem to be the best place for that to happen.”
While Corrigan was “not surprised at all” that the Sparc review should talk about a culture of distrust in the SNZ high-performance environment and a lack of confidence in its leadership she said it was noticeable that those now calling for the board’s sacking had not come up with any options or alternatives to the present set up.

“They are acting as if everything will come right if you sack the board and simply start again but you have to question whether that would be the case,” she said. “Aren’t there are a lot of other things which need to investigated and corrected before that would happen?”

The argument expressed here is probably sincere but is certainly stunningly naive. In the first two paragraphs, Maryann Corrigan asks us all to wait for the Annual General Meeting in order to hear “the full story”. Of course that’s going to be miles too late. No gathering on this planet is as scripted or controlled as an Annual General Meeting. Maryann is in an Alice in Wonderland dream if she thinks she is going hear “the full story” at an AGM controlled by the Coulter gang and Kerry McDonald. Annual General Meetings are the bread and butter of this crew. They have controlled these get-togethers for years. They have handled the shareholders of Comalco and the Bank of New Zealand. Maryann has no chance of getting the truth out of this lot at an Annual Meeting.

The time to act is now, outside the formal confines of an Annual Meeting, when there is no formal script, when McDonald and the Coulter gang are in unfamiliar territory. I find it strange to hear that there are swimming people like Maryann who insist they need to hear more. What is it that they do not understand about a Board that alters the minutes of an Annual Meeting? Maryann was at last year’s Annual Meeting. She knows the wording of the remit that was passed. She knows the minutes on Swimming New Zealand’s website do not reflect that wording.

She knows Swimming New Zealand have lied to her. She knows Swimming New Zealand have progressed Project Vanguard way past the approval she gave the organisation at last year’s meeting. She knows Jan Cameron’s Swimming New Zealand has never won a world class swimming race. She knows Swimming New Zealand’s press releases about the New Delhi and Shanghai Games were full of lies and spin. She knows the leadership of Swimming New Zealand has just been the subject of the most damming report ever written about a sport in New Zealand. She knows that New Zealand’s leading sport’s lawyer, Maria Clarke, has prepared a report expressing the view that the Board of Swimming New Zealand may have acted illegally in respect of Project Vanguard. Isn’t that enough? How much more do you need to know? Do not offer them the life line of the Annual Meeting. It is time for them to go now.

Maryann’s next point is that no one is coming up with options or alternatives. Here is what she says, “Those now calling for the board’s sacking had not come up with any options or alternatives to the present set up.” It is amazing how often you hear that allegation. Just the other day Swimwatch reader, Molly, said almost the same thing. She said, “If one can ask when you are going to post the solution to all the moaning that you all do – when will put on the table the new plan for swimming so that regions can get on with talking to the clubs and their membership. So are you part of the solution or part of the problem?” Could have well come from the same pen. In fact…

It is surprising how often the most aggressive commentators prefer to hide behind anonymity, but what is more surprising is how few measures they take to ensure their anonymity. Molly, you appear to have the exact same email address as Maryann: imagine that! It’s quite the coincidence, don’t you think?

The accusation that those who oppose this Board have no solutions is not true and is most unfair. Maryann, (Molly) you should really refrain from repeating that dishonesty. Here at Swimwatch we have offered numerous ideas for you to consider. You probably think that because they come from Swimwatch they are not worthy of your valuable time. However it would do you well to remember that most of the suggestions made on this blog came as a result of many hours of conversations with coaches in the USA and UK and leading New Zealand coaches such as Arthur Lydiard, Arch Jelley and Duncan Laing. We would refer you to the following Swimwatch posts that contain numerous “new plans for swimming”.

  1. The Good The Bad and the Very, Very Ugly
  2. Swimming New Zealand – An Independent Review
  3. Nothing to Lose But Your Chains and a World to Win
  4. Rugged Individualism

The list is not complete but should be sufficient to put an end to the argument that those of us who do not agree with the current Board of Swimming New Zealand are devoid of solutions. I do hope Maryann (or is it Molly? Both?), enjoys our offering.

Was Danyon Loader in Wellington?

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

By David

Supporters of the current Board of Swimming New Zealand recognize a public relations disaster when they see it. The decision to exclude Danyon Loader from the Wellington SNZ meeting qualifies as a major mistake. What is upsetting is when Swimming New Zealand supporters resort to lies and distortion to defend the indefensible.

Yesterday the Vice President of the Canterbury Association told TV3 that Danyon Loader was never at the Wellington meeting. A Swimwatch reader called Molly wrote a comment that implied our website was lying to its readers. Here is what she said.

“…someone is saying more than their prayers… Must have been a divine aberration for the person who claims Danyon Loader was not allowed at the Sunday meeting…might pay to check these things.”

So Molly, we took your advice and we checked. And guess what? It seems like you and the Canterbury Vice President are prepared to distort the truth and smear the reputation of innocent people to defend SNZ people like yourselves. In spite of what you told TV3, Danyon Loader was at the Wellington meeting. He was told it would be better if he did not attend. And like the gentleman he is he left rather than cause a scene.

I have no idea what moral wasteland Molly and the Canterbury Vice President inhabit that would cause them to defend those who chose to reject New Zealand’s best swimmer; a swimmer who also proved better than anyone that Cameron’s Millennium Institute and Coulter’s Board policies are the wrong way to win Olympic Championships.

It seems to me that Molly and the Canterbury Vice President owe New Zealand’s best swimmer, Television 3 and Swimwatch an apology. My guess is that all three of us will wait some time for that to arrive.

Do Not Lie To Each Other

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

By David

Normally I am very suspect of biblical quotes being used in a secular context. They sound so pious and superior. However in the context of Swimming New Zealand’s recent behaviour this quote from Colossians 3:9-10 seems entirely appropriate. I doubt that Coulter is capable of lying straight in bed. The list of dishonesty against his name is spectacular. Try this sample.

  1. He doesn’t even bother commenting when his organization alters Annual General Meeting minutes.
  2. He authorizes SNZ progressing their Project Vanguard way beyond the approval given to him by the sport’s owners.
  3. He disbands a committee formed by the Regions at an Annual General Meeting without seeking the approval of the Regions.
  4. He bursts into print in the New Zealand Herald with an opinion piece that breaches totally a deal done by Kerry McDonald with the Regions, twenty-four hours earlier.
  5. His double speak treachery seeks to undermine the good work of Chris Ineson.
  6. The sport he runs has spent $16 million over a ten year period and has yet to win a world swimming event.
  7. He was complicit in kicking double Olympic Champion and SNZ Life Member, Danyon Loader, out of a SNZ general meeting.
  8. He says there is a threat of SPARC withdrawing funding from SNZ without any documentary evidence to support the threat. He is using SPARC to protect his personal position.

The list goes on and on. His new mentor, Kerry McDonald, is making Coulter worse. You see, McDonald is good at the shady side of corporate dealing. Coulter, his new student, is learning quickly and is doing all in his power to shaft the Regions; Regions he is supposed to report to and be working to please.

Coulter is reported to have said that the resignation of his discredited Board would be “catastrophic”. Far, far away from being catastrophic, the resignation of this Board is the sport’s only salvation. The current Board has lost all authority to govern. It is essential that the leadership of the sport obtains a new mandate to rule. Coulter and his mates and especially Kerry McDonald, who was specifically responsible for insulting our best swimmer, should have nothing to do with the sport of swimming ever again.

Perhaps you don’t believe me. After all, I have had my controversial moments; a quality used and exaggerated by my detractors. No such stain tarnishes Bronwen Radford, the President of the Bay of Plenty Centre. Her character is impeccable. Well, have a read of the following email sent out today by Bronwen Radford. For one hundred reasons you may not believe my call for this Board to resign. But it is hard to walk away from Bronwen Radford. Here is her email today to the Regions of Swimming New Zealand. Coulter and McDonald you are guilty as charged; as guilty as sin.

Hi all

You will recall during Sunday’s meeting that we were told the Swimming New Zealand Board was totally united, good operators and that there was a unity of decision making. You will also recall that I challenged this and said “my understanding is that Board members felt excluded, not listened to and uninvolved in decisions that were made.” You will also recall when Kerry McDonald said that this was incorrect that I stated I would speak with SNZ Board members who had told me this previously and to verify their position. You will also recall that some of you reinforced to Kerry McDonald that “and she will”. Well, here it is guys, I have.

I have now spoken to multiple Board members and I have had it confirmed:

  1. This Board is not united
  2. Board members are regularly excluded from decision making

Obviously there was more information I was given however as I have stated above this is strictly within the limits of what I said I would ask and report on. I do not wish to embarrass any individual Board member by revealing further details.

Were we in the same meeting????

The following article appeared in this morning’s NZ Herald

The meeting I was in agreed that the only media response until the regions had responded on the subject to the letter to the SNZ Board would be through the Website and or Kerry McDonald. I have been told that this position was also undertaken by the SNZ Board. I am infuriated that the trust we collectively extended has been broken. My telephone has been running hot since Sunday. I have honoured the commitment that we made. Murray Coulter has not. This is further evidence if it is needed while I remain adamant that we need new leadership.

I am tired of the threat of removing SPARC funding. The NZ Herald reports the following from Peter Miskimmin

SPARC CEO Peter Miskimmin says they need to try to let SNZ work out its problems.

“We have been concerned but have two independent directors on the SNZ board in Nelson Cull and Kerry McDonald. Clearly we want to see sound governance and leadership again. We had heard people felt a sense of disquiet but hopefully having two directors there is protecting the government investment.”

Mr Miskimmin does not say that SPARC is threatening the withdrawal of funding. He clearly says the government investment is protected by the appointment of Mr McDonald and Nelson Cull not by the retention of the current board.


Bronwen Radford

The Kerry McDonald Letter

Monday, August 15th, 2011

By David

The pages of Swimwatch seldom contain praise for Swimming New Zealand. But today is different. Last night the Board of Swimming New Zealand distributed a letter to all the sport’s owners – sixteen Regions and NZSCTA. The letter is a masterpiece. It is a work of real genius. No document could possibly cement and unify opposition to the current Board better than this one. Swimming New Zealand take a bow. A copy of the letter is included at the conclusion of this report.

But, before discussing the letter, I must relay to you an event that occurred yesterday that filled me with immense sadness. Danyon Loader was in Wellington. He had visited the capital to attend the funeral of Bill Matson, New Zealand’s representative on the FINA Board. There may be some readers who are unaware of Danyon’s resume. Danyon won the 200 and 400 freestyle at the Atlanta Olympic Games and a silver medal in the 200 butterfly at the Barcelona Olympic Games. He is New Zealand’s most decorated swimmer and is a life member of Swimming New Zealand. He is also fine and serious person; a gentleman in every sense. Danyon knew of the meeting being held by Swimming New Zealand to discuss the future of the sport and resolved to attend and participate in the discussion. Whatever his views, they would be worth hearing. As he walked into the room, SPARC’s representative on the Swimming New Zealand Board, Kerry McDonald, rushed over and evicted Danyon Loader from the room. Loader was not welcome in Kerry McDonald’s company.

Now I want to tell you one other story about Danyon Loader. Before the Atlanta Games his coach Duncan Laing told me that the new wall paper in Danyon’s bedroom was only half finished. The cost of Danyon’s swimming was so high that the wall papering had to be stopped. Let me tell you, Kerry McDonald, any man who has slept in a half finished bedroom for a year in order to win two Olympic Gold Medals for this country can attend any swimming meeting he likes. How dare you kick him out of the room. Danyon Loader has one hundred times more right than you to be at that gathering. You have just alienated every swimming person in this country. You should leave the Board of Swimming New Zealand immediately.

Actually Kerry McDonald insulted another New Zealand Gold Medallist yesterday. He put his name to the letter copied at the conclusion of this article. In the letter Swimming New Zealand cast doubt on the Ineson Report. The letter says, “The report is not a full and fair reflection of the performance of Swimming” and “we have some concerns with aspects of the Ineson report.” Ineson also has an Olympic Gold Medal, for hockey in the Montreal Olympic Games. Gradually Kerry McDonald and the Coulter gang are trying to screw Ineson. Bit by small bit they are becoming bolder in discrediting the extremely brave and valid report Ineson produced.

The letter is full of Swimming New Zealand double speak. Because Kerry McDonald did not get his way at the golf club meeting he has ordered Coulter into print, pushing their version of events. What I do not understand is just who is shafting who in this sorry game. The boss of SPARC, Peter Miskimmin, was quoted in the New Zealand Herald on Friday as saying the Board issues being faced by Swimming New Zealand were for the sport to sort out. They were nothing to do with SPARC. And yet Kerry McDonald and Nelson Cull, who are SPARC’s representatives on the Swimming New Zealand Board, are said in the letter to the regions to have “counseled us strongly against all of the board resigning.” And further on the letter says, “Nelson and Kerry outlined frankly their concerns about the current state of Swimming and the likely adverse implications if there was to be a wholesale resignation of the board.”

Nelson and Kerry seem to be up to their eye balls in telling the owners of Swimming New Zealand (that’s the Regions) what they should be doing. How does that tie in with Miskimmin’s Herald statement saying it’s none of SPARC’s business? The answer is not at all. Someone is telling lies. Is McDonald a bully and a liar or is Miskimmin making stuff up to have SPARC look good?

I am getting really tired of SPARC representatives threatening the sport with no funding. McDonald does it again in this letter. Here is what it says, “there were a number of reasons for this advice, including the ramifications for funding, both from SPARC and sponsors.” Let there be no misunderstanding on this point Mr. McDonald and SPARC, if you are going to throw your weight around like you did at yesterday’s meeting and interfere in the ownership of this sport, take your money and bugger off. The only people in swimming who will be hurt by that are some fat cats in Pelorus House and Jan Cameron’s white elephant on the North Shore of Auckland. Ninety nine percent of the coaches and swimmers in the country never see any of your money anyway. We could well be better off without you. We would be poor but we would be strong; standing on our own two independent feet. SPARC, stop making that threat. We don’t care.

McDonald’s letter concludes by telling us all that the Board is not going to resign and the Regions should withdraw their demand that the Board stand down at the Annual General Meeting. Swimming New Zealand is openly defying the owners of the sport. Far be it from me to suggest what the Region’s reply should be. My only caution would be to stay well clear of Kerry McDonald. He was on an advisory committee of Surf Life Saving New Zealand when they were considering Project Groundswell, and behold the destruction that caused the organization. Surf Life Saving is broke, broken and infirm. McDonald relishes the fact that the current Board of Swimming New Zealand is equally powerless. Effectively that puts him in a position of statutory management without responsibility; an ideal slot for the likes of Kerry McDonald. My advice to the Regions is, do not weaken and do not compromise. Claim ownership of your sport back. But most of all, beware of Kerry McDonald. He’s the sort of guy who kicks New Zealand Life Members and double Olympic Champions out of Regional meetings.

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