CTL MUST LOOK IN THE MIRROR

The vitriolic backlash began immediately my February 18 column headlined Horse Racing in Shambles appeared.

According to my usually impeccable racetrack sources, my column was greeted at CTL with arrogance and hostility. The most extreme reactions included “Gordon wants to tear down CTL”; “Gordon took advantage of Andrew (Azar) who was up front with him”; and, my personal favourite, “Gordon was disrespectful of Andrew Azar by calling him ‘Intrepid’ Andrew”

Really? Seriously? I believed I was exposing some of the ills associated with the racing’s current promotion so everybody concerned could start correcting them. Apparently, nobody wants to know.

Anyone believing I want to tear down a company I helped build from bankruptcy to profitability during the 1990s must be uninformed, clueless or high. In any event, CTL’s resident Keystone Cops are currently doing a thorough job of tearing down what a team led by the great Danny Melville built. They don’t need my help. Never before in Caymanas Park’s history:

(1) have purses been paid so late;
(2) has CTL’s fiscal delinquency so squeezed desperate horsemen that they’re forced to turn to loan sharks just to keep treading water.

Now THAT’s what I call tearing down a profitable enterprise. Why isn’t CTL borrowing from the sharks and paying the purses on time? Why are innocent horse men being turned into mendicants?

Did I take advantage of Andrew Azar? When I e-mailed Intrepid Andrew on January 13 asking him several specific questions, I made it clear they were being asked on the record. I wrote:

Hi Andrew
I hope you had a peaceful and happy holiday season….
…..I put these queries to you under the Access to Information Act

1. Are you satisfied that all CTL expenditures for “repairs” are above board? Are you aware of any incident in which reported expenditures on the “repair” of any fence or other boundary marker has turned out to be false?

2. What’s the cost to CTL of the new system of barriers set up to form a “private lane” from the official car park to the…stands? Are the barriers rented? If yes, from whom? Were Government Procurement Procedures (GPP) followed?

Andrew, I know you’re a stickler for proper governance at the race track….. This is why I’m absolutely certain you wouldn’t knowingly be a party to any….breach. Yet these rumours persist so I’m putting these questions to you for clarity so that any publication I might make in future will be on the basis of official information and not rumour.

Kind regards

GR

Intrepid Andrew replied on January 15 (received January 16):

Gordon,
Happy New Year to you also…….. I miss your articles in the paper.
(1) I am….investigating the procurement and installation of fencing for the equine pool, but please believe me when I say I cannot comment today….. All is not well.
(2) The barriers are being rented…I’ll check the cost tomorrow and also if the G.P.P was followed….. I believe in this case proper procedure has been followed…… Just need a bit more time.
Again all the best and I hope we can meet soon at your convenience that I can update you on the matters pending.
Best regards Andrew

I responded immediately as follows:

Thanks for this Andrew.

………I’ve seen the “system” of barriers and it appears an unnecessary expense in light of CTL’s already high security bill. Will it be controversial when I find out from whom these barriers are being rented?

All the best

GR

He replied the following day (January 17):

As far as I know…..the barriers are being rented from….McKay security. We just tried this to ensure a smooth ‘flow’ of pedestrian traffic leaving the track as normally persons ‘group up’ outside and harass others. It’s just a temporary measure. However after receiving your e-mail I’ve asked for the exact cost to rent these barriers. I expect an answer by tomorrow.
As to your comment re access to information. Unlike other boards this type of information isn’t and shouldn’t be a ‘private matter’. We’re dealing with public funds and trying to improve a government owned company for and on behalf of tax payers. I can only speak for myself, but any information you may need that isn’t ‘board sensitive’ at a particular time will be made available to you. It’s my industry just as much as it’s yours and we should all be a part of the effort. That has always been my position. It’s my position now and it’ll be my position after my tenure has expired on this board. We all as ‘race horse people ‘have a right to know!
I am just finalizing plans for a beautification ‘push’ in the stable areas which requires sponsorship not yet 100% confirmed…… Anyway I’d like to meet and discuss matters with you, both regarding pending problems and just an update as to our efforts as a board.
Just to again wish you and the Ball and chain all the very best for 2014. I look forward to………….your invaluable advice and comment.
Andrew

I leave it to you. Did I “take advantage” of Intrepid Andrew or did both parties understand from the outset that this was an “on the record” discussion?

The only person at CTL who believed he owed the public any sort of explanation was Jason McKay who seems to have taken issue only with my use of “gazillions” by which I meant a whole heap of money. It may be peanuts to Jason but it’s gazillions to me.

In a polite (Booklist would be proud) and informative response (Earning Gazillions at Caymanas? Not So!) Jason tried to deflect my concern regarding unattended children on the compound:

….the Caymanas Park compound is 180-plus acres. The stable area is secured by a vehicular-response system, not static personnel.
……The Waterford wall is perforated and easily traversed. I, therefore, have absolutely no staff that could possibly prevent children from drowning in that pool, as has occurred before. That fence…was really needed.

But, Jason, preventing children from drowning IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE HIRED TO DO. It gets weirder because, on October 8, 2013, the Gleaner reported, under the headline “CTL beefs up stable area security with armoured car” as follows:

….CTL and McKay Security recently launched an armoured car Stable Patrol unit, reducing dependence on excess manpower while strengthening response time and mobility on the 196-acre…..property.
McKay Security CEO, Jason McKay, said the move….will not only save money but also lives on the ground…
The fully staffed and armed vehicle patrols the stable area 24 hours per day….
‘There’s also a hotline to the vehicle, which can traverse any terrain at the track, so response time will be greatly enhanced,’ McKay added.

Jason, by “lives on the ground” did you intend to include children? You’ve “static” personnel at every gate PLUS an armoured patrol yet unattended children defeat you? I repeat, why is CTL paying gazillions for security?
Regarding the barriers, Jason wrote: “The barriers ensure persons don’t hang out in front of the stands and beg….
…. Any infrastructure or item used in the industry comes at a charge; hence the billing for the barriers……

Jason, is McKay Security (MS) “renting” the barriers to CTL? Do they belong to MS? Is this expense necessary? How exactly do these barriers prevent begging? I’ll tell you how. They don’t. MS assigns at least three security personnel at the track entrance. Why can’t they prevent begging?

On Sunday, March 9, another Gleaner exposé of horses abandoned to starve with impunity and a dying breeding industry further highlighted this industry’s skewed priorities. On March 21 and 28, Donovan “Minister of Information” Wilson published specific and incisive critique of current practices. Are we all just “tearing down”? Or does CTL need a mirror? You be the judge.

Peace and Love

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