Alfalfa Can't Sleep at Night

Discussion in 'Sun City General Discussions' started by Louis Christie, Nov 20, 2022.

  1. Alfalfa (the GM) cannot sleep at night. He keeps telling us that.
    He says we hate him. I never heard anyone tell him that they hate him.
    He wants to be Popular, big man on campus, the hero of the RCSC.

    I have a few questions:
    • Is he incapable or unable to do his job?
    • Is he stupid or smart? I don't think he is stoopid. Smart, but not too smart at times.
    • Is he ignorant or arrogant?
    • Is he popular? Who cares? He needs to be effective at his job. Not affected by his job.
    I sleep fine at night.
    Alfalfa, you can too. Its not that hard.
  2. FYI

    FYI Well-Known Member

    I don't think anybody "hates" the general manager. I believe most simply think he's in a little over his head?

    The first problem is; he came from the corporate "for-profit" world. He was trained and geared toward the motivation of making money, and a gage to his personal success and proficiency is based on the almighty dollar!

    Second problem,...we all know about the Peter Principle, "People in a hierarchy tend to rise to "a level of respective incompetence": employees are promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another."

    Mr. Cook is not a bad person, he's simply functioning under the rules of the game he was trained in, but he's no longer playing in that same game.

    He needs to recalibrate his responsibilities in the game he is now playing and re-adjust to a new train of thought!

    Just my opinion!
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2022
  3. Linda McIntyre

    Linda McIntyre Well-Known Member

    FYI, I think that's pretty accurate. He's operating as a CFO, not a CEO of a non-profit. It's a very different role, thought process, and skill set.

    It's a very difficult position, without a doubt. He's not the only one at fault. There has been a serious degradation of the Board's oversight involvement - in the legal role of the Board and its various committees. Those deficiencies are coming home to roost. The GM is in the crosshairs. But neither he nor the Board seem (or care) to understand there are resources that should be utilized that minimize these minefields. There are peers and/or organizations that can provide a host of professional activities: SWOT analysis, workshops, board retreats, board/senior staff workshops, staff training, etc., all focused on improving non-profit management, planning strategies, board/staff/stakeholder (think Posse) relationships. The RCSC internal and external relationships are very tenuous right now and it's hard to know what the internal dynamics are like. Even with the election changes, there are going to be serious deficiencies to overcome. Without some big strategic changes in committee involvement, outside unbiased assistance, bylaws that include member voices, and real transparency, nothing will change, regardless of the outcome of the election.
  4. FYI

    FYI Well-Known Member

    And that has to make you wonder what type of orders is Mike McCurdy working under?

    All Mike had to do was run the numbers again when the proposed budget failed, unless he was instructed not to?

    Am I missing something?
  5. Linda McIntyre

    Linda McIntyre Well-Known Member

    I think there's a lot missing. This whole thing is a mess. The management team should have been prepared with options. A budget without the $750k, less to reserve or nothing to reserve until mid year for example. Also, the president could have called the Board, F&B and the management team for a special meeting and figure out how to get the budget without the assessment this year. It's not rocket science. Like I said, the Board has broad authority. And, there's a disconnect about who is in charge!
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  6. FYI

    FYI Well-Known Member

    And the Chair of the F&B committee could have called a meeting!

    The only requirement in our bylaws relates to the board calling special sessions. It has to either be called by the Chair or the written request of 3 board members.

    Robert's Rules allows for any 2 members of a committee to call a meeting!?!? So if members of that committee are concerned and the Chair won't call a meeting then perhaps members of the committee should.

    This issue needs to be resolved and not by waiting for the next scheduled meeting. For heavens sake, will somebody, anybody, take some responsibility?
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2022
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  7. Linda McIntyre

    Linda McIntyre Well-Known Member

    I agree! Somebody...but knowing how little respect Karen gets, makes you wonder where that would have gone. But, I agree. This mess would NOT have been created if they didn't try to slip in an assessment increase in the first place. It would help if we had a responsible, ethical and transparent process for budget development. Our F&B committee, heck all of our committees, need to get some teeth back in them, but especially those with oversight. RCSC needs professional, unbiased outside assistance. I'm really fearful that a change in board makeup will only go so far. This mess has been in the making for years!
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  8. FYI

    FYI Well-Known Member

    This is the same BS way the RCSC is dealing with the Posse issue! RCSC just sits back and waits for the next scheduled meeting, meanwhile, this issue has been known about since last March and all anybody does is drag their feet!
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  9. Linda McIntyre

    Linda McIntyre Well-Known Member

    Let's see - several things come to mind: dysfunction; mismagement; lack of oversight; nobody cares; it will resolve itself; it's someone else's responsibility; arrogance.

    Like Bill Pearson has pointed out so many times, the dismantling of the structure that made Sun City function so well, has taken place over more than a decade. This is the result. It soon becomes a type of paralysis, because there is no real leadership. Mistrust takes over. Apathy looms large. I want to believe we are at a turning point. Are people paying attention? I think so. Will there be more people speaking out at the next exchange? I hope so - our oices must be heard. The Board and management have to know, and clearly understand, it's not acceptable for RCSC to continue on this course.
    Nia N Maxwell and LoriEllingson like this.
  10. FYI

    FYI Well-Known Member

    I'll be the first to admit that the Member's don't have all the solutions to the problems, but when they at least have a voice in the matter things don't simply get buried. When the Member's keep the spotlight on the issues the RCSC has too, or should, respond!

    If they want OUR respect, then they must first respect the opinions of the Members. They have yet to prove they've earned any respect! Heck, they don't even respect their own rules!
    LoriEllingson and Linda McIntyre like this.
  11. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Solid comments gang and we truly are living that old adage; "if you don't know where you are going, there's a good chance you will end up there." We have simply become a byproduct of our failed policies and leadership. The previous general manager had a vision (one i a disagreed with BTW), but at least she knew where she was trying to go. Once she got us there and then left, we simply became rudderless. I always argued she had her strengths, but after all the years she was there, they evolved to weaknesses. Some people stay in positions too long.

    I wanted to give the new GM the benefit of the doubt. I had massive hopes for a new beginning. I had been told when he first arrived he tried to correct some wrongs from a budgeting standpoint. That quickly went by the bye as he listened to his boss and what her expectations were regarding budgeting. Over all the years i have been involved with not for profit organizations, we have always tried to run "balanced budgets."

    That's not always possible because many organizations work with fluctuations of income, relying on donations, grants and ever changing revenue streams. The RCSC has the most stable and consistent source of income possible with the two variables being golf and 10 pin bowling and neither being all that significant in the grand scheme of writing next years budget. Linda McIntyre has gone into detail regarding how budgets are typically crafted, and the RCSC is far removed from the norms.

    For years, the GM closed her door for weeks and wrote it to present to the Budget and Finance Committee. There was seldom much discussion as the only detail they really cared about was if there was going to be an increase at the end of the year in the lot assessment (dues increase). Truth be told, they had so much money coming in, they didn't need increases. The one exception was when there was both the ARS lawsuit and the change in state statute mandating large increases in minimum wages.

    It was either 2017 of 2018, the hike more than covered the money they needed. Around that same time, we paid off the solar lease from PIF (5 or 6 million dollars), which cancelled out the yearly lease payment (somewhere in the neighborhood of 700k) which was converted to available income. There was no need to increase lot assessments because there was always a million or more dollars that wasn't budgeted or spent.

    The new GM has fallen far short of my expectations. I am sure he doesn't care what i think, which is just fine, it's just my opinion. I tried talking with him and while he was more than pleasant, he made it abundantly clear to me he saw Sun City as a business proposition and that his vision was for a lot more money in the bank. I walked out realizing we would never agree and now as i listen to the things he says when he steps to the mic, i am even further convinced he is wrong for this community.

    His view would be tolerable if the board made it clear, he works for them. Given his arrogance regarding the budgeting process, he clearly sees it the other way around; the board and the committees are there for his benefit. The previous GM at least told everyone she was there for them. She took us down this path and it is no surprise we are exactly where we are.

    There's only one way out of it: The makeup of board of directors has to change, and it has to change now. Otherwise we are doomed to get worse, not better. No one has all the answers to the myriad of problems facing Sun City, but we now know by consolidating the power in the hands of a very few, it has proven to be a flawed and failed process.
  12. IndependentCynic

    IndependentCynic Active Member

    Oh, come and see the merry-go-round
    The merry-go-round, the merry-go-round!
    Come and see the merry-go-round
    Go round and round and round! ...Woodie Guthrie​

    Sometime one needs to step back and view the problem anew. IMHO we've been on a merry go round for decades -- every year or two we get disgruntled, claim we're going to elect a new board that will change things, yada yada yada. I'm not criticizing anyone, we all have good intentions, we all think we're helping solve the problem within the constructs of the corporate documents. And that tact has failed repeatedly. I sincerely hope this year is different. But if not, we need a plan B.

    Last edited: Nov 22, 2022
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  13. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    I understand your frustration IC, but i would disagree from this perspective, i've never felt a RCSC board election was ever going to change anything. As far back as i can remember, the majority status has never been threatened. They've always had the reigns of control based solely on the numbers. This year is the first time the tipping point truly does hang in the balance. They know it and we know it as well.

    It's exactly why they are behaving the way they are. They are terrified of losing and letting the board become member friendly. They are terrified the new board will start holding the general manager and his management team accountable. If there is one thing i have repeated out loud and all too often it has been the board's unwillingness to do proper oversight. There's things that have happened that should have gotten people fired, they turned a blind eye.

    Not for profit corporations tend to be more lax, more lenient. We know they don't often pay as well as the for profit world so the tendency is to hire employees who are compelled to function with their primary test as an employee, loyalty to the GM. The previous one was big on it, the new one appears to be even more so invested in it. That alone doesn't mean they can't do their job well, it just means they stay within the lines the GM draws and seldom stray.

    Here's the biggest rub. From the day i ran for the board, the mantra was "don't interfere in the day to day operations." That's the general managers job. I understood better than most, however i also understood the board had absolute and total control over the general manager. He/she was the one employee they could dictate terms to. Unfortunately over the years the previous GM changed those terms and the board was neutered (by choice) of how they dealt with her.

    The budget is the classic example of what is happening: The GM has decided he wants more money in the bank and he is going to get it. The board wasn't involved in the budgeting process nor was the budget and finance committee, other than to bless it when it came in. As you pointed out IC, the merry go round just keeps going round and round, it only stops when those living here make it stop.

    Here's another example of what is going on and i would be stunned if a single board member could answer the question: How many of the management team work from home these days, or how much? We all know the pandemic changed the corporate work world as employees were told to stay home. Now, as the the fears of infection have slowed to a crawl, has everyone come to back to work at the office? Are full time employees putting in their 40 (plus if salaried) in the office or are they more comfortable working from home?

    It's not my job to figure it out, but the board has oversight of these types of issues. Does it matter? Again, not my job, but when you tell me you want more money from the membership, you need to be able to explain why? I guess the good news is they have scheduled a "planning session" on Dec 5 where we'll get the dog and pony show. In the advance notice, we know we won't be able to ask questions. Do we honestly expect the general manager to come in with options to his budget for board consideration, or will he just tell the board he has to have it?

    We know the state minimum wage is going up on January 1, 2023; from $12.80 to $13.85. Clearly that impacts the RCSC, but by how much? How big an increase are they giving those on the top end? Are there bonuses being paid? If so, to who and why? How much of the increase will be for wage hikes? So we are clear, we (as board members) always knew those answers and were always included in the discussions and subsequent vote to approve them. Is it unrealistic to know those answers?

    If not, then the merry go round just keeps circling and the only hope to get off it are to change out the board by voting for Fast, Totten and Collins.
  14. Linda McIntyre

    Linda McIntyre Well-Known Member

    If anyone wants to see what a REAL budget presentation looks like, just take some time to look at YouTube videos from our neighbors at Sun City West. The difference is well - daylight and darkness. If only we had a fraction of that information. Management's budget overview gave very little information about increases in the budget, but not detail - it doesn't provide numbers. Nobody knows what clubs asked for; who made decisions about what was granted/denied or why. How many projects are on that lengthy list? The Properties Committee might know, but did B&F see it or did the Board when they were "debating" the budget? Are they projects that will take 2 hours, 2 days or 2 months? And, what's the cost per project? Who determined the priority? I know - questions! But that's the point! Somebody put some time in to creating this huge budget, but then it was supposed to be passed in under 6 weeks? It's mind-boggling - and just doesn't meet the required due diligence of the Board and B&F. We may have to live with it, but changes must be in our future. The only way we get more oversight is to reactivate some of the former committees, strengthen the roles and responsibilities of existing committees, recruit new members, and require a non-Board member as co-chair! That's a start to more transparency and accountability.
  15. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    I was at the museum yesterday to grab some photos and we were talking about how active and aggressive Sun City West has become regarding their history. The general manager there appears to be willing to let his employees take the ball and run with it. That's what good leadership does, hire the best and turn them loose. Then when you combine that with board members who are well versed and trained (many having come through the TORCH program), good things happen.

    Many of our readers don't know, Sun City West, 4 or 5 years ago, dropped the Del Webb name from their community. They wanted to establish their own identity. What's really interesting is, they aren't running from their history. In fact, they are running towards it. Of course over there, they are member/owners, not cardholders. Years back, around 2000, there was a battle over whether they should be governed under Arizona state statute 33.

    It could have gotten ugly but the organization worked with the members of the community and agreed, there was nothing to hide. Under Title 33, transparency is a way of life. In Sun City a similar battle raged for 15 plus years and ultimately went to court. Admittedly there was more involved in the Sun City clash as it became personal. The reality is almost everything the RCSC did to combat the lawsuit resulted in members voices being silenced. We still are to this day.

    What we know from watching Sun City West is they are more professionally run. They function like a board is supposed to. They hold people accountable and they aren't afraid to speak openly and honestly about the issues confronting them. Linda's assessment above regarding their budgeting process is how it is supposed to work. Think about the question asked of the general manager in Sun City about what was in "his" budget and his answer was; you'll have to wait to see it until after it is passed.

    Are you freaking kidding me? What the hell could possibly go wrong when we function in the vacuum of knowing nothing?

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