Friday 15 January 2010

The rise and tragic fall of Cairns community radio - Part 3

An astonishing confrontation occurred the week before Christmas, when a member of Cairns Community Radio visited the Raintrees studio, and asked to read the committee minute book.

It's another example of the entrenched distrust total lack of transparency and control exercised by president Rod Coutts.

78-year-old Michael Hyams (pictured right) wanted to see what had been happening since the turbulent annual meeting, 11 weeks earlier.

Both Hyams and his wife were presenters on the community radio, he used to present a mix of classical music with comedy on Friday mornings, and his partner used to read the news for Radio for the Print Handicapped.

Michael's visit on Thursday December 17 was greeted with outrage, distrust and bullying by the president, Rodney Coutts tells him to go away and "make an appointment." He's then made to wait for 25 minutes until the vice president, Pieter Blaauw was called.

Michael recorded the conversation in the interests of his own protection and transparency. He was also aware that Coutts had a dictaphone switched on.

I present this confrontation without prejudice. Coutts is exposed as fabricating an allegation he made previously to a number of people, which he attempts to deny following the presentation of an Statutory Declaration.

Coutts also instructs Hyams not to take any notes, nor ask any questions.

The other person in the room is treasurer Mimielle Alvero, who appears at Coutts' side constantly. Alvero is a signatory to the station's bank account along with Coutts, and also has shared a relationship with.

Make yourself a strong coffee and sit back for a script right out of Neighbours with Speed.

Michael Hyams: Hi, how are you? Are there any minutes I can see?

Mimielle Alvero: Sorry?

MH : Any minutes. I haven’t seen any. On the noticeboard?

MA: Rod, Michael Hymans is here? Wondering where the minutes are.

MH: Rod, how are you?

Rodney Coutts: Michael, excuse me. I sent an email, asking you to make an appointment to come. Whether you’ve received that.

MH: I looked at my emails about 15 minutes ago before I left home.

RC: Well the point was Shane Wilson addressed it. Shane Wilson should have let you know. I can’t see you now, you’re going to have to make an appointment to come and see me Shane, umm, Michael. Sorry.

MH: Arrgh. You don’t even know why I’m here yet, do you?

RC: Michael, I’m having lunch if you wouldn’t mind. Do you mind waiting for ten or 15 minutes?

MH: I don’t mind waiting. Here’s my new address and number. My wife would be here with me but she’s unable to get up the stairs at the moment, as she’s just about to have a knee operation.

RC: Michael, grab a seat. Just have a seat.

MA: Coffee Michael.

MH: No thank you. I just go and have a look at the noticeboard if I may.

[MH sits and waits for 15 minutes, whilst RC & MA are in the next room. RC telephones others on the committee, including Pieter Blaauw to come to the studio urgently. He takes 25 minutes to arrive, whilst MH is told to sit and wait.]

MH: I have no axe to grind as far as I’m concerned. You have no suspicion that I have done or said anything which could be taken exception to as far as the radio station is concerned, over the time since you took over as president?

RC: Well I had an email from you, which was quite derogatory.

MH: From me?

RC: Yes.

MH: You had an email from me? No you didn’t. Oh no you did not.

RC: Would you like me to show it to you?

MH: Yes please

RC: It will take a couple of minutes [to get it.]

RC: You circulated that.

MH: That’s not an email. That’s a statement that I made at the request of other people, setting out the details of a conversation that you and I had after I did my last programme.

RC: Are you saying that the conversation we had is as per what you’ve written there? Because there was someone else that heard that conversation.

MH: I stand by everything that is written there.

RC: So you still stand behind the allegations?

MH: Absolutely, yes.

RC: Even though they are false?

MH: They’re not false.

RC: So you’re saying, that I said Judi Corcoran had misappropriated $300. Where did you get that from?

MH: I didn’t say $300. I didn’t say a figure at all.

RC: Where did you get that from?

MH: Where did you get that from. From you.

RC: You mean I would openly tell you.

MH: Yes you did. You told me that.

RC: Michael, what’s the point of your visit today?

MH: The point of my visit today is to ask you if you are the manager, the president of this radio station, or both.

RC: Let me address this right now.

MH: Well I’ve had no communications from this radio station since...

RC: [interrupts] Shane Wilson...

MH: I’m not interested in Shane Wilson. I’m here on my own behalf as a member, representing my wife and myself.

RC: You should have had the courtesy to give me a call.

MH: I was in business for 52 years before I retired..

RC: [injects]

MH: ...and I never once used lunch as a excuse for not seeing someone. Not once. I was really appalled when you said you couldn’t see me.

RC: Michael, you should have done the decent thing, by ringing me first and letting me know you were coming in.

MH: What’s decent about that? I’m a member, I’m perfectly entitled to come here and see if there are any minutes on the board which you said there would be, and there are not. There’s all sorts of things that have not happened that you said would happen. You said there would be newsletters. That hasn’t happened.

RC: Excuse me a minute.

MH: There are no minutes on the noticeboard.

RC: This is now the official registered office of Cairns FM 89.1.

MH: And it’s in here that you made these statements to me (points to printed statement).

RC: Hang on a minute. This is now the official office of Cairns FM 89.1. Everyone knows that the minutes of the meeting are now officially on the board here. People who want to read them, they can come to the official office.

MH: Well that’s news to me.

RC: Well you haven’t been around, so you wouldn’t even know. Well, just hang on a minute.
[Coutts leaves room without explanation. He goes to other room and telephones Pieter Blaauw again to come into studio.]

RC: We have another 15 minute wait. I have my vice president Pieter Blaauw coming in to talk to us, for you to confront, because if I give you the answers, it may not be believable. I’d like Pieter Blaauw to be here. He’ll be here in 15 minutes.

MH: Can you tell me who the members of the board [committee] are?

RC: Yeah, Pieter Blaauw will be here and we’ll address that when he’s here, so you will have to wait another 15 minutes.

MH: Thanks for your lack on co-operation.

RC: I’ve asked you very nicely.

MH: Where are the minutes? You said you had some minutes.

RC: I’ve asked you very nicely to sit and wait for my vice president.

MH: Is he the vice president now, is he?

RC: He’s the the vice president.

MH: Who appointed him?

RC: We’ll answer that when Pieter Blaauw is here.
[WAITS FOR 15 minutes]

MH: I’m just waiting for someone called Pieter Blaauw because he wants a witness. Is there any reason why I’m sitting doing nothing, that I can’t read the minutes please?

RC: Because I’m waiting for the vice president. You can do it in front of the vice president.

MH: I came in here on my own. Why do you need anyone here?

RC: Because I specifically sent an email asking you to please.

MH: Not to me you didn’t.

RC: Well Shane Wilson seems to be speaking on your behalf.

MH: No he doesn’t. He doesn’t do anything of a kind. I’ll ask the question again.

MA: Rod why don’t you give him the email that Shane sent...that we was going to accompany Michael.

RC: I’d like to show you that.

MH: Can I please see the minutes? This is my forth time I’ve asked.

RC: I’m going to show you this email.

MH: What Mr Wilson said to you has got no bearing on my being here.

RC: He made it very clear that he was going to come in with you.

MH: Well he didn’t say that to me, and that’s got nothing to do with this anyway. I just came in to see the minutes.

RC: Here’s his email.

MH: I’m not interested in his email.

RC: How’s it that your name is there on this email?
[quotes: “I’ve been asked to accompany Michael Hymans,
wanting further meeting details from you. I’d prefer not to attend 4CCR but, hopefully be provided in a friendly and professional manner..”

MH: I hope the same as well.

RC: I addressed that and replied and said lease ring and make an appointment, because I need to have two executive committee members here.

MH: I have no knowledge of that whatsoever. You could have quite easily emailed me if you wanted to.

RC: Is that your name on there?

MH: No it’s not. It’s incorrectly spelt.

RC: Well regardless of incorrect spelling, this is from Shane Wilson.

MH: Why couldn’t you have emailed me if you wanted me to bring a witness?

RC: It [the email] didn’t come from you. It came from Shane Wilson.

MH: Oh come on! Why can’t I see the minutes while I’m waiting?

RC: Here they are. You can read them, but you can’t take notes.

MH: Why can’t I take notes?

RC: Because you cannot. Read them.

MH: Why can’t I take notes? I’m a member of this radio station.

RC: That’s the only thing in the constitution.

MC: It doesn’t say anything of a kind. I’m going to continue taking notes.

RC: Hand them back to me then. If you wish to take issue on that, take issue on it.

MH: Believe me, I’ll take issue with this and whatever I need to. And I don’t need anyone to hold my hand while I’m doing it.

RC: Just read them, and then hand them back to me.

MH: Who is Julian Sarong, for instance? How was he propped up as a member of the committee?

RC: It’s all legally done. So don’t have any doubts. Just relax.

MH: Don’t insult me please. Don’t insult me.

RC: Just read the minutes.

MH: This is one set of minutes in three months? Where are the rest?

RC: You’ve decided to stay away, that’s not my problem.

MH: But the minutes should be in a minute book, and signed.

RC: There are copies in the minute book and copies up on the board.

MH: Can I see the minute book?

RC: Just read those minutes.

MH: I haven’t seen a newsletter either.

RC: Well if you go home today, you’ll find one in your letterbox.

MH: [laughs] How long are you going to make me wait? It’s already been 15 minutes. I can’t imagine why you need to have your hand held.

RC: I really need to have my vice president here. I specifically made it very clear that I need to have two members of my management committee here, because if I give to the information, you won’t believe it, but if it comes from someone else, you will.

MH: I’m surprised you’re the boss if what you told me before.

RC: Michael, regardless of what you feel.

MH: Who’s Marcus Smith?

RC: Just read the minutes.

MH: You were paid $1,621.20. What was that for?

RC: Doesn’t it say there?

MH: No it doesn’t.

RC: Doesn’t it? I had the opportunity to go to the CBAA conference as the president of this radio station I was invited.

MH: When was that?

RC: November. No more questions. Read the minutes, then give them back.

MH: You’re putting me in a position that will be to your detriment in the long run.

RC: That’s good. Thank you.

MH: Can I see the minutes from the other meetings please?

MA: Michael, would you like a coffee while you wait?

MH: To be frank with you, the way I’m being treated, I’m not prepared to accept the hospitality of the organisation. I’m being treated like a piece of ....

RC: Here they are. There’ll be no notes thank you.

MH: Do you want to stand there and watch me?

MH: This is quite incorrect, I’ve never sent you an email saying I’m resigning from the organisation. Would you like to comment on that? This minute is incorrect.

RC: Where does it say that?

MH: It says it here. “Emails from Allan Rose and Michael Hymans handing in their resignation from membership.” That is totally and utterly incorrect.

RC: Alright, that can be corrected. I’ll correct it on the next minutes.

MH: I’m still a paid-up member of this organisation.

RC: I’ll make a note of it. Actually, it should have only been Eylan. For some reason Diane Wilson contributed. That was incorrect. So I’ll correct it.

MH: Would you please send me a copy of the correction?

RC: What is the date of those minutes?

MH: 16th November. I’m puzzled here. I don’t understand this at all. It says: “Eri Bowen, one of the Pilipino presenters does express her respect to Greg and Eylan as presenters. Eri was disappointed that she was accused.” It doesn’t say what she was accused of.

RC: Just read them.

Pieter Blaauw arrives.
PB: What’s your problem?

MH: What’s my problem? I didn’t ask you to come here.

RC: I asked you to come because, let me just put Pieter in the picture. I had an email from Shane Wilson, and you’ve seen a copy?

PB: Oh yeah.

RC: He specifically said that he was going to arrange a meeting with Michael.

MH: He didn’t say that.

RC: Let me finish this. I replied, and you got a copy of my reply, that “you’re more than happy to come in, but please make an appointment so I can at least have a couple of my management committee here, to discuss these issues. Because if it comes from my mouth, it may not be believable, if it comes from yours, it might be different.

MH: Rod, don’t say you ever emailed me, because you didn’t. I’ve never had an email ever from you. Not once. So don’t say that you’ve emailed me, because you haven’t.

PB: Would someone tell me...?

MH: He’s never emailed me.

RC: For what purpose?

MH: Any purpose, particularly this one you’re talking about now.

PB: Excuse me Michael. Why are you here?

MH: I am here to ask to specific questions. Number one, is Rod the manager or the president of this radio station?

PB: He’s the president.

MH: Is he being paid?

PB: No.

MH: Who is the manager.

PB: There is no manager.

MH: Is the manager’s position being advertised, as it was agreed?

PB: No.

MH: Why not?

PB: Why should it be?

MH: Because according to the rules and regulations... and the committee voted to do this in October.

PB: [interrupts.]

MH: let me finish.. If it’s being paid out of Government money, the position has to be advertised.

PB: Excuse me Michael. No you listen for a change. There was never a manager here, and there is not a manager here now. There will not be a manager. Why should there be? Tell me that Michael. What have these other people be telling you? Are you being advised by other people?

RC: Yes he is actually.

PB: Are you being advised by Mr Donn?

MH: Who?

PB: Mr Donn?

MH: I don’t know who you mean?

PB: Don’t be stupid. Sometimes you look it.

MH: If you’re going to insult me, then I shall bear that in mind when the axe falls.

RC: I’m trying to say something here.

MH: Are you pointing your fingers at me?

PB: Come on Michael.

MH: You can’t get over me that way. I’m not born yesterday.

RC: Can I just say something?

MH: I’ve been around a bit longer than you.

RC: Of this management query that you got. Pieter, please tell him who effectively manages the station on a day to day basis.

MH: It’s not a question of who does it effectively...

RC: We’re answering your question.

PB: For God’s sake.

RC: Pieter will tell you that I agree, a few months ago, that I will continue to do what I had to do at this radio station to keep it viable, under the heading of interim management, umm, interim manager, with me being the president too. We have not effectively done anything in that regard. We don’t effectively do anything. There’s nothing in the constitution, there’s nothing in the rules to say that we have to have a station manager, as yet.
It was never under the old board. They never had one. Hey approached me whether I would be the station manager at that time, and unfortunately things took a turn for the worse for that committee. We were put on board. I am effectively the station manager, right now, without a single dollar coming into my pocket. Would you like to write that down?

PB: It’s only by mouth, not by puppet. OK? Now, what else have you got for us?

MH: Who’s managing the engineering aspects of the station?

RC: Peter Ricketts. We have a brilliant guy in a technician. He’s got more credentials than Shane Wilson has ever had.

MH: Why haven’t these been recorded in the minutes?

RC: They’re in the minutes.

MH: Why hasn’t this been circulated to the members? And how do these people, whose names I don’t even recognise, get on to the committee, and how do you have a meeting, you did on the 17th November, when you had only four people there? Not a quorum.

PB: No. There were five.

RC: There was a quorum.

MH: No. There was a guest, who cannot be included in a quorum.

RC: Who are we talking about?

MH: It says “Rod Coutts, Pieter Blaauw, Julian Sarong.... who was never voted onto the committee ...

PB: Yes he was.

MH: By whom?

RC: By the management committee, quite clearly. I have a legal letter to this Michael. Do you think we’re stupid to not have put this in legal sense? I have a legal letter for all this Michael.

PB: Michael this is the first time you’ve been back here.

RC: Exactly.

MH: When you’re told bare-faced lies, by the manager, which you did..

PB: Now you’re going back to your friend Donn Corcoran

MH: I’m not talking about Donn Corcoran. I have not spoken to Donn for four or five weeks.

PB: Bullshit!

MH: I beg your pardon? Don’t say that is bullshit, because if you do, I’ll quote it back at you, and you will be in trouble. Believe me you will. I think I’ve done all I need to do.

MH: I will leave you people. You are not going give me the information I want.

RC: You came in here with a certain attitude Michael.

PB: You asking me questions. I’m answering them. But I will not answer your questions with the way you’re trying to bulldoze your way around. It’s got nothing to do with your age, or my age, or anybody else.

MH: You’re not going to co-operate with me. The first thing you said to me when I came in here was “I had an email from you.” Well, you hadn’t had an email from me.

RC: No I said I had it from Shane Wilson. This is how you twist the truth.

MH: You were twisting the truth.

RC: This is the email...

MH: No it’s not an email from me. I’ll put this in a Statutory Declaration for the court.
RC: Well what do you call this?

MH: It’s from me, but it’s not an email.

RC: [laughs]

PB: Well if you want to take me to court.

RC: Feel free. Feel free. Feel free.

PB: You just don’t want to listen. Michael, you’ve had a problem with your wife, tight? She went to England because she left you. What I want to know ...

RC: Hang on a minute, let him finish.

PB: You spoke to me and you fully agreed with me, and I kept saying to you, you open your trap too bloody quick.

MH: What has the relationship with my wife got to do with what we’re talking about here? I object to you bringing that up.

PB: Michael, you object to anyone.

MH: Thank you for nothing.

PB: Michael, Michael!

RC: You came in here with an attitude.

MH: You’ll hear further from me.

PB: Time to go Michael.

RC: You’re aggressive.

MH leaves office.


KC said...

I am not sure of the legalities of how this conversation was recorded, but I would strongly suggest the information regarding 4CCR (that is the station's real name officially still I believe)in this conversation and the other related reports from this blog be made freely available to the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia, of which this station is supposedly still a member and also to the ACMA in the form of a complaint. The antics of these individuals in thinking this is their own publicly funded personal radio club is truly disgusting.

The ghost of Adam Carter said...

Wow, were you wearing a wire Michael? How very thrilling? We have a vacancy in the Spooks department here at MI5, following my sad demise, should you wish to apply.

JJ and Sammy - Freshwater said...

Wow shocking stuff by any measure.

Just how many more nails for the Coutts Coffin do you have Mr Blog man?

I have to say that I'm loving all this and look forward to the screenplay adapted for TV and the eventual movie deal.

Michael Hyams said...

Yes I was recording the proceedings.So was he- perhaps you should put in a good work for him with MI5 as well. He hasnt published his recording as it is clearly not in his interests to do so. 

All I wanted to do was to see the minutes, and ask a couple of pertinent questions. It was like getting blood out of a stone.

I ended up being insulted by him and verbally attacked by Blaauw, who incidentally apologised to me on the phone when I got home.

not a fan of scooters said...

What I want to know is when scooter turnour is going to fix this ? Was he not going to intervene ? Has everyone been on holidays that can tell mumbles what to do ?

CIB said...

Seems you can't deal with Coutts unless he has his thug Blaauw there to heavy you. Anyone have any background on this bloke? Being Dutch might suggest he is a remanent of the Kuranda cult.

Constance Lloyd said...

It may be just me - but - has any one noticed that the web site for Cairns fm 89.1 has effectively closed down?

You used to be able to look at the profiles of presenters and committee - now all you get is the general queries page.

Perhaps people like Blaauw don't want any one to recognise them?

Miss Chief. said...

I got the general queries page plus, on searching:

Please read first: Community Radio Forum | Cairns fm 89.1
This forum aims to cater to a general discussion on Community Radio in Australia, it's past, present and future. Please stay on topic. ... - Cached - Which led me to Access Denied.
And here I was thinking, for 30+years, that I was part of the Cairns Community. I should have asked Mr. Coutts first.