Broken Promises & Fear Tactics: Member Response To June 1 TAC Board Email

From: Jerry McAlinn
To: Lance Lee <>
Cc: TAC Members
Sent: Fri Jun 04 23:01:00 2010
Subject: Some Decorum Please!

To the Signatories of the June 1st  TAC President’s email sent to all Members (please forward to the signatories and any interested members):

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very disappointed that you would resort to what appears to be a last minute, underhanded tactic in support of the ill-conceived proposal to assess members to pay for the new Club. I believe members will see the reference to a “reduction in service and the imposition of an array of fees” if the proposal is rejected for what it is, namely, a desperate ploy to scare members away from voting NO. If it is a case of “reality” as one Board member told me then I ask a simple question. Why weren’t members given the choices at the outset and why was this email sent only after the overwhelmingly negative response from members at the Town Hall Meetings and the email rebuttals from a group of concerned members?
As most of you know, I have been adamantly opposed to the assessment from the outset. My opposition was based on two important points. First, we promised members we would not increase dues or make a building assessment to pay for the redevelopment project.* Second, we promised that we would use our time at Takanawa to bring our costs in line with our income so we could comfortably pay our loan.

The proposed assessment breaks the first promise even before the doors are open at Azabudai. Why would any sensible member have confidence that the assessment will be temporary in light of the Board’s disregard for its own word? Does anyone besides me remember the famous John F. Kennedy quote: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I bet many of our members will remember it.

As the chair of the LRPC during the period when the redevelopment project was approved, I can say without fear of contradiction that we used the first promise, rightly or wrongly, to gain support for the redevelopment project and I do not doubt that many members would not have supported the project had we not done so. We made the promise intentionally, we knew what we were doing, and we should be honoring it, not tossing it aside as if our word does not matter.

As to the second promise, we have done precious little in my view to show the members that we have the will and the ability to achieve the cost reductions that are necessary before demanding more money from members to avoid a “crisis.” I have not spoken to a single member who believes what the Board has said in this regard. Credibility is a precious commodity that should not be squandered. How can there be any credibility to the Board’s position in light of the numbers, which speak volumes. Our payroll at the end of the last fiscal year stood at approximately 1.85 billion yen against operating revenue that is substantially less than 1 billion yen and falling. These figures are grossly out of line with the PKF recommendation, adopted by the Board, to keep payroll at no more than 60% of revenue, exclusive of entrance fees.

Furthermore, claiming a 26% decrease in proposed “increases” to payroll at the new Club as a cost reduction is like telling members “don’t worry we are drinking Krug champagne instead of Dom Perignon!” Asserting that there has been a hiring freeze in place since April of 2009, when a new expat was hired recently for the Rec Desk (whom I am told is in charge of “Merchandise”), makes me shake my head in bewilderment! You have to be sitting on the other side of the table to understand how absurd these arguments sound to anyone who is even remotely paying attention.

You are correct that whether or not the assessment passes will be up to the membership. I have already voted NO and I have privately urged friends to do the same for the above and many other additional reasons. I strongly believe the proposal deserves to be defeated soundly on the merits so that sound financial management can be restored to the Club.

The Board presented its position and the members reacted to it at the Town Hall Meetings. Had it been left at that I would not be writing this email. However, when you sent an email blast (using the Club mailing list) to all members threatening them with “cuts to service and new or additional fees for existing activities such as parking, recreation, and food and beverage…” I think you stepped over the line of fairness and decorum. It is a sad day to see the Club sink to such depths just to win a vote. Do you have so little confidence in the merit of your arguments that you did not believe you could win without throwing in some last minute fear? This kind of tactic does immeasurable damage to the democratic spirit of the Club. Regardless of how the referendum turns out, it will be years before these self-inflicted wounds are healed and that is a pity.


Jerry McAlinn

*Here is the relevant language from the Redevelopment Project Brochure:

“Financial analysis, endorsed by the Club’s Finance Committee, shows the redevelopment project to be affordable without the need to increase Club dues.” Page 5, Summary Section


“The Board and management believe that the redevelopment project, as currently conceived, can be implemented without having to increase dues on existing and new Members….

“Moreover, no building assessment, dues increase applicable to existing Members, or mandatory bond issue is anticipated, or included in the financial forecasts. The Board has considered a number of contingency options to deal with a deterioration in the financial condition of the Club resulting from either unforeseen factors in the redevelopment process or from factors unrelated to the redevelopment. The Board believes that multiple options exist for cutting expenses or raising revenue to deal with such a situation without the need for a dues increase on existing Members, and without endangering the fiscal stability of the Club.” Page 16, Section on Entrance Fees and Dues

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *