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VCA Drama: what are the known facts?

Discussion in 'General Viper Discussion' started by Free2go, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. Y2K5SRT

    Y2K5SRT Enthusiast

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    Well, I did a search to see how many personal posts I have made in the past six months and this will be my third. The other two consisted of a regional news reminder to the officers in August and one about Hertz Viper rentals in June. VPA and VIPER magazine need to address issues specific to them, regardless of who answers them.

    That said, this thread asks for facts and somebody needs to state them. While many of these facts are widely known, most folks are probably afraid to say anything for fear of becoming targets. It would appear that some prefer to attack the messenger and ignore the facts. Nobody wants to be the target of mob mentality when facts are ignored.

    Regardless, following are several absolute facts that are documented in board meeting minutes, presidents meetings, voice mails, emails, etc. There is ZERO opinion in any of these facts so please don't try to spin them - or accuse me of doing the same. You can verify these facts with the actual people/companies in question, starting with this one:

    FACT: JR Thompson Company chose to end their management relationship with the club, not the other way around. In an unsolicited email from Clay Thompson (President of JRT) dated June 29, 2010 he stated the following, "To let you know what we are thinking, we would like to discuss the transition of both the VCA Membership Database and Support Line to the National Club by the end of this year. As we have seen the Club grow to become more independent each year, it seems only natural that the next step would be for the Club to assume full responsibility for administering membership benefits and support. By developing a solid plan now, we should have a seamless transition by the end of 2010."

    FACT: JRT was being paid more to manage the club than Coast to Coast Management was paid. The club was paying JRT $30,000 a year in fixed fees and $5.39 per member in variable compensation. Chrysler was also paying JRT to manage VCA membership and had been since 1995. SRT originally told the club that it was around $50,000 a year and later stated it was closer to $75,000 a year. Chrysler paid all COOL VCA membership monies directly to JRT, of which JRT retained 100% unless the new member signed a privacy release. Note that the club never had any "transparency" on what Chrysler paid JRT on the club's behalf, including COOL memberships that didn't sign those releases.

    FACT: Jon Brobst was suspended for contacting a member's employer to complain about that member's personal conduct. Jon admitted making that call, in writing. I did not make that call nor did VPA. I did not make the motion to suspend (Janni Cone did) nor second it.

    FACT: That suspension was not conditional on an apology, nor did it automatically lift on January 1, 2013. Dated January 24, 2012, that suspension stated very specifically, "Such suspensions shall be a minimum of 12 months from the date of this resolution and after which time this disciplinary prohibition may be rescinded by the board of directors upon a request for a recession of such suspension by the affected parties and a demonstration to the Board's satisfaction that there has been no material repetition of any offending conduct that was or is deemed disruptive to the club or violative of the Bylaws and policies of the VCA."

    FACT: Ralph Gilles pressured the club to reinstate Jon beginning in June of 2012. This is documented in numerous emails, meetings, and phone calls. Each of those involved multiple parties. It is a fact with no opinion or emotion whatsoever. Neither I or VPA could make that decision - it was up to the VCA board of directors to change the terms of the suspension if it so chose.

    FACT: The 2013 VCA board of directors met in Detroit after the national officers (with one "proxy" sitting in for Randall Arnold) met with Ralph at Chrysler HQ in Auburn Hills. I was not part of any of those meetings, nor was VPA. From what was stated here and I would assume board meeting minutes, they voted unanimously to keep that extended suspension intact and added an "early out" clause for good behavior.

    FACT: Based on what was reported after that same January board meeting, many were upset with the pressure Ralph was putting on the club to reinstate Jon. Some suggested writing letters directly to Chrysler, including Sergio. Again, I was not in any of those meetings.

    FACT: Such letters were not like what Jon did, in fact they were almost the opposite. Example: You are a customer and have a problem with a specific Walmart clerk that escalates into some pretty strong words being exchanged. Now, which of these makes sense: A. You contact that person's boss (or even Walmart HQ) to make them aware of the situation or B. Seeing you are still wearing your name tag from work, the clerk calls your employer to tell them how you behaved at Walmart when you were on the clock. Which is acceptable?

    FACT: During the 15 years JRT managed the club, there was never a call for transparency. This, despite the fact that most of the club money funneled through a JRT-controlled bank account for which the club had no access or visibility whatsoever. Membership dues, raffle payments, and club management fees from both the VCA and Chrysler went into that account and the club never saw bank statements from that account. The one-page VCA financial statements through 2010 were wholly dependent on what JRT provided.

    FACT: The club produced a detailed transparency report and provided it to the board members and regional presidents a year ago. That report included the VPA payroll for 2010 and 2011.

    FACT: An independent VCA Financial Oversight Committee was created last year and went over all of the VCA and VPA books. Not one single question was ignored or refused. They presented their findings to the board and regional presidents. One committee member and club founder wrote, "[FONT=&amp]So the great news is that from the financial aspect the VCA is in the best shape of its life span. We are also in the best organizational place the VCA has ever experienced, as we have all sorts of new responsibilities that the VCA is now handling on its own. The addition of VPA should only further assure that the VCA has an additional revenue vehicle to help sustain the club financials on a go forward basis. With the VCA owning 100% of all the VPA stock it is truly an asset that will not only help to generate revenue for the club but also offset VCA expenses, help INCREASE memberships, and truly be one of the best club benefits any Car Club has ever offered to members.[/FONT]"

    FACT: In the 2013 presidents meeting I presented a financial summary of VPA for 2012, including the payroll. That included $114,642 in total pay - before taxes. Including Herb Helbig, myself, and one other worker, there were three people being paid out of that $114,642 with none making less than $24,000 that year. Then take state and federal income taxes out of that $114,642 as well as Social Security, Medicare, etc. There is nor ever was any health insurance, employee savings plans - nothing. Others donated their time for free.

    FACT: The VCA board has never been denied a VPA financial report and all such requests were honored. VPA just finished the year-to-date report for the quarter ending 9/30/13.

    FACT: The rent and utilities for the VPA parts warehouse paid to Tim's company is the same as what is charged by the actual building owner. The only reason it is not billed directly to VPA is that the building owner requires a long term contract and social security number (not EIN) of the leasing party. That rent is under $3,000 a month and better than just about anything else you could find in this area according to LoopNet - especially on a month-to-month agreement.

    FACT: The extended delay for VIPER magazine was outside of Coast to Coast's control, as was how the most recent raffle was conducted. If the VCA board wishes to comment that is up to them. I would encourage folks to look at other car club raffles and see how they conduct them, including licensing. Google "car club raffle".

    FACT: This "other club" was being planned over a year ago by many of the same people currently involved - well before any recent developments.

    These facts are all documented and are not opinion. Indeed, the only "opinion" was asking for yours on how a customer should deal with a problematic Walmart employee. It is a redundant question and I will not be following up to see how it is answered. Indeed, don't expect another personal post from me for some time to come.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013
  2. Bobpantax

    Bobpantax Enthusiast

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    That is not the latest news. There was a subsequent email in which Dave has since decided to use a democratic approach and solicit the input of all of the members of our Region before a final decision is made.

    It also should be noted that even if current Regional Officers and some members of a Region choose to leave the VCA and go on their own, which is also a choice, or go with the new club, that does not mean there will not be new leaders to replace the VCA Regional officers that left. I would bet that in all of the departing regions ( which is really a misnomer since the people can leave, the VCA Region by definition does not) there may still be VCA supporters who would be glad to step into the vacated Regional Officers positions, receive whatever is left of the VCA Regional stipend that was paid this year and move forward. (The relationship between the National VCA and the Regions is similar to the franchisor/franchisee relationship. Each of the Regions is a separate entity. The stipend from the VCA to the Regions is a stipend to what is, in essence, a franchisee of the VCA brand. The analogy would be that a Buger King franchisee receives a payment from Burger King for use in promoting Burger King and burgers. The Burger King francisee then decides to become a McDonalds franchisee and to also keep the money just received. That dog does not hunt.)

    Dave is an excellent President who will carefully consider what is the best deal for the members going forward; read and listen to member input; and then make a decision. Whatever decision produces the most benefits for the members is the one that makes sense to me. The emotional stuff is irrelevant.

     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013
  3. Nixon's SRT

    Nixon's SRT Enthusiast

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    Edit to post. I'll keep to myself and enjoy the new VOA
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013
  4. FOViper

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    All of your so-called facts were already discredited on the Alley when you tried to make your case there months ago. There's no need to rehash it all again. Anyone interested should go see this thread here: http://www.viperalley.com/forum/anything-goes/104898-jon-b-parts-rack.html

    YOU Chris, ARE THE PROBLEM, read Chrysler's letter. You and your family need to go get jobs instead of depending on the VCA for $250k/year.

    BTW, the head of the Financial Oversight Committee you keep raving about has called you a thief and is one of the main proponents of the new club.

    PS. Just because you post "FACT" in front of something does not make it so. It actually means it's actually less likely to be true if you ask me.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013
  5. johniew398

    johniew398 Enthusiast

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    First statement above about another club being planned that long is interesting.

    Regarding the problematic Walmart employee - just so no one thinks that is me since I have a Bentonville address - I live ten minutes from the Walmart home office; but don't have anything to do with Walmart except that I live here and shop at Walmart.
     
  6. Cobraken

    Cobraken Enthusiast

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    What Jon B did was wrong. However, what he did was not done on behalf of the club or as a represntative of the club. It was not criminal and did not break any laws. I am sure that in the past some club members have broke the law and some may have committed crimes. Were any of them sanctioned by the club? Did their activity reflect on the club?

    The treatment of Jon B by the board (and therefore the club) smelled only of an attempt to eliminate competition and personal vendettas. The club further added to the perception by censoring criticism (even on the members only section) and suspending more members who questioned club motives. Then there is the additional problems of conflicts of interests and lack of accountability by the club that I am not addressing here. It appears that no members of the board made any attempt to stop the insanity until the end.

    Politics, greed, and ego killed this club. The club ignored suggestions on what it should do well over year ago. Board members who now say they did not agree appeared to have simply "looked the other way".

    I submit that the clubs reaction to what Jon B did was wrong. At most the club should have reacted by pointing out that what he did had nothing to do with the club. Certainly the continuiing suspension of Jon B did not fit the offense.
     
  7. JoelW

    JoelW Enthusiast

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    What JonB has said is that the employee used him to find part numbers and other info and then ordered parts from other sources. If this is the case, I would have called someone's employer too because why should I waste my time looking up part numbers and tracking things down for someone who has no intention of ordering anything from me? We have heard over and over how contrary JonB is and how he deserved to be susupended. Many, many members have found JonB to be a great resource for the Viper nation and that certainly counts for a lot. And, as Cobraken stated, what JonB may or may not have done had little or nothing to do with the VCA. We haven't heard anything from JonB about this whole thing but in my mind it is time to let this whole JonB thing go. If the incident with JonB was the only problem facing VCA, then things would be different. Unfortunately it is not and this issue only serves as a distraction to moving ahead.
     
  8. Bobpantax

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    If I had been Jon, I would have just call blocked the fellow's number or, if that function was not available, I would have used caller ID to see if it was him and just not answered the call. Calling the person's employer was, at best, a bit odd. Why would his employer care if he was getting free information? I agree with you that the JonB issue is a distraction. Partsrack is one vendor out of many competing parts vendors. Another vendor recently posted who is a Mopar dealer and will be discounting parts. Competition is good. It results in lower prices for parts for our members.
     
  9. Bobpantax

    Bobpantax Enthusiast

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    Interesting post. I agree with some of it. Attached is what I believe was the memorandum that the Board reviewed to continue the suspension. Note that it is in PDF format. I did not in any way alter it. It is not presented here for the truth of any matter asserted within it. It is only presented so that those who wish to can look under the tent a bit and see, in part, what went on regarding the then Board's decision to continue the suspension. Each person reading the memo can make up their own minds as to whether that made sense or not.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013
  10. FOViper

    FOViper Enthusiast

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    Since Janni was banned/moderated for no reason other than to not let her post the other side of the story, here is her response:

    "Chris Marshall gets to post htat I voted to suspend Jon B - mention my name, actually - and once again... ONLY TELL A SMALL PART OF THE STORY. THE THING THAT CHAPS MY ASS IS THAT YOU'VE EFFECTIVELY SILENCED THE TRUTH AGAIN BY PLACING PEOPLE IN MODERATION. I voted to suspend JonB based on HOURS of discussion, late into the night, with no food and no chance of any other resolution. We also had NO OPPORTUNITY to talk to any of the parties - we just had to "take yours,Lee's and Marv's word for it" nd it was never on an agenda so we couldn't discuss any of this with anyone prior. So yes- I voted to suspend. And - I DO thinK he should have had punishment for calling the guys boss. Your TYPICALLY CONVENIENT OMISSIONS are the following:
    1. There was some questions about the legitimacy of the "story" as was presented at the meeting based on other BoD members following up with the dealership after the fact.
    2. I pushed for a review/ appeal process because I felt it was fair to allow Jon to tell any facts that were misrepresented considering we were force fed your / Lee's versions of the events.
    3. The resulting"appeal" was a lawyer joke - it consisted of Bill Corum starting the process be quoting the constitution, telling Jon we were doing him a favor, and ending with a threat to extend his suspension. Some appeals process. Not surprisingly, the response received from Jon was not one of contrition.
    4. The "now known to be illegal" vote to a) further his suspension for 2+ years and b) change the % of BoD members required to reinstate to 75% (really???) was done on New Year's Eve, with NO DISCUSSION, and the stuff that was sent to bolster the NO's case was exceedingly misleading. SEVERAL folks (that actually GOT the email) voted against.

    Lastly - just posting"FACT:" in front of something does not make it so.

    YOUR ARROGANCE IS SICKENING."
     
  11. FOViper

    FOViper Enthusiast

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    Chris would LOVE the focus to back go back to the JonB situation instead of the problem with Chrysler. Which one do you think is more important? Again, I haven't seen many people post that they had issues with the initial suspension. Most are concerned and take issue with the how, why, and when, and the overall legitimacy of the extension.
     
  12. Bobpantax

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    Based on the totality of the data on this thread and other threads, here is how I think things may have gone down historically:

    1. There had been long standing friction with JonB going back at least five years.
    2. When JonB contacted the employer of the Member it was the straw that broke the camels back and Jon was banned.
    3. Jon had many friends among VCA members. Some of them were very upset that Jon was banned.
    4. Factions developed.
    5. Ralph, the Vice President in charge of Design for Chrysler North America and the CEO of the SRT brand, inserted himself into the fray between the VCA Board and Jon, the CEO of Partsrack, a well known parts vendor to the public. Not a parts vendor to Chrysler.
    6. Some people, at least one of whom evidently was a Board member, who was subsequently removed retroactively, got very upset by Ralph's actions and sent at least two adverse letters to Chrysler about Ralph.
    7. There were then some additional communications between Chrysler and the VCA regarding that "peculiar behavior" which ultimately led to the Chrysler letter that only raised two issues: The appearance of a conflict of interest betwen the VCA and VPA concerning members of the Marshall family having a role in both entities;and, the peculiar behavior. Both issues were not, and are not, hard to address and remedy.
    8. The release of the Chrysler letter to the public acted as a catalyst to unleash a storm of accumulated negative emotion. There was alot of acting out and abusive behavior by members from both factions.
    9. Somewhere along the line, an awful lot of people forgot that the VCA is just a car club. Perhaps it was a convenient place to dump negative emotions that were displaced from a lousy economy; a frustrating foreign policy; and , in general, not feeling too good about where our great country is at the moment. There are some very big reasons to be very upset and angry these days. The VCA drama is certainly not one of them although it is a nice diversion from the very real and larger problems facing us.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013
  13. JoelW

    JoelW Enthusiast

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    Bob we all agree that it is or should be just a car club. The problem is that it has quit being a car club that puts members first. I drove 200 miles today in my car and you know what? VCA didn't cross my mind. Folks from our region got together at Barber Motorsports Museum, looked a lot of cool motorcycles, had some great meals, and enjoyed a drive home just beating the rain. No drama. That's the way it should be.
     
  14. Bobpantax

    Bobpantax Enthusiast

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    Agreed. That's the way it should be.
     
  15. FOViper

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    Tim W only sent one letter. The 2nd letter was sent by 1 of 2 people. 1 of them has posted in this thread. FACT
     
  16. ViperSmith

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    Oh, and the VCA is still paying Tim. LOL
     
  17. Gustfront

    Gustfront Viper Owner

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    The majority of members indicated that they wanted you removed from your position at VPA...FACT
     
  18. Bobpantax

    Bobpantax Enthusiast

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    In all fairness, I do not think that a majority of the 3000 members have communicated about anything having to do with the current issues. The most that might be said is that a majority of those who have posted seem to have that sentiment but that is probably less than 40 people. A more accurate test of the feelings of the majority would be if one candidate runs in the upcoming election based on a platform that includes a change in VPA staffing and one candidate either remains silent on the issue or is in favor of keeping the current staffing. If the candidate who wants to change VPA staffing wins, that might be a more accurate indication of what the members want assuming enough members vote to make it statistically significant.
     
  19. ROCKET62

    ROCKET62 Has Left the Room!

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    Bob, using your logic, the ratio of people wanting SIGNIFICANT change is 40 to 2 as you seem to be about 1 of 2 people that believe everything is alright and on the right track. Or I guess you could use the ratio of the "poll thread" that was removed and the ratio was about 115 to 9.
     
  20. TrackAire

    TrackAire Enthusiast

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    You bring up an interesting point about the VCA name being tarnished. When something has a bad stigma attached to it, it can be very detrimental when doing business transactions. For the club to survive and thrive, this needs to be addressed. For those that don't think a tarnished reputation can be a challenge when moving forward, you have to ask yourself if you'd consider using the following:

    "Jerry Sandusky Youth Football Camp"

    "Titanic Cruise Lines"

    "Michael Jackson Daycare Center"

    If you Google "Viper Club of America" the first page results are rather shocking.....and not in a positive way. In business, the first thing most do when dealing with a new company is check references, Google the name, etc. If the VCA approached a hotel to hold the next VOI, and they Googled VCA, it would raise some eyebrows. Getting the VCA's insurance renewed could also be more difficult. Working with any new accounts (printers, website companies, etc) might also get more difficult. Not impossible but cost of doing business might go up. The VCA has a tough road ahead.....there is no way to change the perception that has already been done. Besides new leadership, a name change might actually be beneficial for future growth.

    George
     
  21. Bobpantax

    Bobpantax Enthusiast

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    Please read the post again. It only pertains to the post regarding VPA staffing. You are also missing the part about statistical signficance. In the late 60s and early 70s, there really was a silent majority. Those who are angry always make more noise and post more. That is the nature of human behavior. I would surmise that most people who might consider posting the opposite view have seen and read the personal attacks on me and others and would probably not wish to participate in the discussion under those circumstances.


    The poll you mentioned was flawed in a number of ways and posters made fun of those few who voted against your stated goal. ( As I then posted, I considered the poll moot. I did not vote at all since I believed that Lee would resign which he did. ) There are quite a few people who think the new Board is on the right track. I have received PMs and emails stating same. The fact that quite a few regions have obviously chosen a wait and see approach just proves same.


    As I said above, a more accurate method of determining the true sentiment of the members is an election where members can secretly vote without the fear of harassment and personal attacks. That is the American way.

     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013
  22. Bobpantax

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    I respectfully disagree, rehabilitated reputations are common place. Bill Clinton comes to mind as do numerous entertainers and sports stars. Comparing the VCA to Sandusky, the Titanic and MJ are a bit absurd and I know that you know that's the case.

    It is still a severe recession. Insurance companies, hotels, printers in particular, website companies, etc. would not care about an historical political dust up as long as they can make a buck. ( This happens every two and four years in our National elections.)

    The new club will have no history. No proven infrastructure. No track record of puting on a VOI. No funds at all except from the initial dues unless there is a sugar daddy in the background somewhere.

    In addition, as I recall, the the new club's organizers are all past VCA Board members. Assuming for argument sake your theory is correct, good luck on making them look pristine and appearing to an uninvolved, unrelated third party as anything more than a group who somewhat spitefully decided to take their football and go home when the game got a bit tough and rough.

    One last point. If necessary, the VCA could always change its name. It is a very simple and inexpensive thing to do.

    Cheers!

    Bob


     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013
  23. TrackAire

    TrackAire Enthusiast

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    Well Bob, you know the old saying "No Credit Is Better Than Bad Credit". In this case, the VCA name will bring up doubts (your Bill Clinton example is perfect, can anybody see him or listen to him today and not think about the "blue dress"?). Just because they are back in the limelight does not mean that they will not be talked about badly or disrespected.

    A few that come to mind are Mel Gibson (anti semetic, temper issues), Chris Brown (women beater), Mike Tyson (list too long), Charlie Sheen (drugs, whoring), Tiger Woods (Playa with a roving eye) and the list goes on and on. Just because they've made a comeback does not mean respect. The VCA is a club, not a person, so it is just that much easier to start fresh with a new name.

    As I've posted before, in the end there will be two clubs, with many members belonging to both. Competition is good, we might actually see new ideas, events and benefits that have not been on the table before.

    George
     
  24. Bobpantax

    Bobpantax Enthusiast

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    All of the examples you have given are individuals. The dynamic is very different with an entity. Just look at UBS. They are already back - strongly back. Look at Chrysler. It recently went into bankruptcy. It just became 4th in car sales. Same story for GM. There are many other corporate examples. A change in leadership does wonders. The upcoming revised bylaws and member wide election for National Officers will eliminate whatever taint, if any, might be there.


     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2013
  25. the_postman

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    So you have no emotion or opinion whatsoever, yet the word "pressured" is used here instead of "asked" or "inquired". "Pressured" is a strong word, please supply the language Ralph used that is FACT and represents "pressured". Seriously, I'm sure we'd all love to see this (and your reply).
     
  26. Paul Hawker

    Paul Hawker Enthusiast

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    Hope you guys can stop the constant bickering.

    Wonder if the two clubs are just the same circus...in different tents.

    Hope the membership deciding where to send their dues, does not come down to which circus has the loudest clowns.
     
  27. TrackAire

    TrackAire Enthusiast

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    Bob,

    Take a look at this:
    http://www.famousnamechanges.net/html/corporate.htm

    Would you use a search engine called "BackRub"???.......Google sounds so much better, lol. I didn't even know that Blackwater changed their name to Xe because of the bad press in Irag or that ValueJet Airlines changed to AirTran Airways because of one plane crash in the Everglades. Bad press was enough to sway them to change their corporate name.

    I haven't followed the tale of UBS, but my Swiss clients haven't talked too highly of them since the scandals. Regarding Chrysler and GM, they have no success without you and me (and the rest of the USA taxpayers) bailing them out....not a relevant example. They would not need a name change since they would not exist in any sense as we knew them.

    Again, a change of leadership and club name would be the bare minimum for future success.

    Lets agree to look at the club, membership numbers and reputation on July 4th, 2014. That will give the club an honest six months of operating under the new regime. We can talk about it all night long, but the membership numbers and members satisfaction will be all that matters.

    George
     
  28. Red Snake

    Red Snake Enthusiast

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    Sounds to me like the whole rift with Ralph and SRT could have been avoided if Jon B had been re-instated after he served his suspension. Maybe the club could have stayed together too.

    Whoever pushed to keep him out, likely caused the cookie to crumble IMHO.



    The rest of the non-sense following that, accusatory letter to Ralph's boss, etc only added fuel to the fire.
     
  29. FOViper

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    So in this "severe recession" we are suppose to believe that JRT dropped the VCA as clients. How many companies do you know Bob that have been dropping clients over the last couple years? This is what we have been told by Chris Marshall and it doesn't add up. Chirs did contradict himself on the Alley one time and said it was done to save the club $$$. Now THAT reason actually makes sense. But since he created a job position for his wife he has to go with the story of JRT dropped VCA and we had to do something to manage the club. Probably another on e of Chris' 1/2 truths that he is famous for. From the alleged quote from the alleged letter from JRT it seems that ample notice was given to go out and have an RFP's done. Any guesses on if that actually happened? That would have been the right thing to do right Bob?
     
  30. canadian venom

    canadian venom Enthusiast

    Posts:
    325
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2011
    JRT dropped VCA because it grew big enough to become independant but they're still handling SRT's account.... probably SRT isn't big enough yet :rolleyes:
     

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