We apologize for the length of this post but we believe it is beneficial to have this discussion in this open form. After 4 and ½ years of our time and effort, the point of our original letter was to let all members know we could not continue and why. (See previous post on 3/17/08, "Letter to the Members of Rancho Murieta Country Club"). It is constructive to have this discussion.
First of all, in response to Beth: Saturday nights were definitely not bringing the revenue to "break even" for the night. So, as we previously mentioned, we perked up the music and since the first of the year, Saturday night attendance is up substantially. Vince mentioned this in his recent President's letter that some Saturday nights have seen between 60 and 80 members and that's not for a Jazz Club but for a regular Saturday night. Part of our job was always analyzing what worked and what didn't work and making changes accordingly. Saturday night bar entertainment cost between $200-$300 max.
Dennie: We have always worked under the direction of the General Manager. We met with him once a month and contacted him at all times for any changes to the schedule or program. Initially, we worked through and with the House Committee but in May of 2007, we requested that we be allowed to work with and through the General Manager and that procedure was approved by President Lepera and G.M., Bob Johnson. We were given a lot of responsibility because we were responsible. Why was that an inappropriate decision?
As to the hiring of a minor for entertainment, Joan was informed in an email from the Club after the ABC visit that she should not hire a minor. You can in actuality hire a minor but certain rules and regulations apply. She will be happy to discuss those with you. Also, no band ever brought 10 guests and if a member did or they came on their own that is not our responsibility, it is the responsibility of the Bar Staff.
Now, to changing the venue for the Jazz Supper Clubs, we did not refuse to discuss such a move. We have discussed it ad nauseum with Board members, the President and the G.M. The reason you can't put most of the Jazz Groups in the Murieta Room is that the Murieta Room is too large for most of the groups we book. The sound quality, in fact even the ability to hear the entertainers, which at times is a problem in the 19th Hole, would be a disaster in the Murieta Room. We do, however, put on our proposed schedule which of the bands would be large enough sound wise to play in the Murieta Room but the Murieta Room has many other functions and scheduling is a problem. The cost, of course, for appropriate groups in the Murieta Room would be more expensive by approximately an additional $375 to $500.
As to ignoring a "reasonable" request not to schedule entertainment more than one month in advance, we know Rancho Murieta is a wonderful place but, honestly, entertainers are not lining up to play here. For one reason, we pay less than they get for their other gigs, thanks to Joan. Friday nights cost $300-$500 and Saturday nights $200-$300 for bar entertainment. The idea that you can book musical acts on a month to month basis shows a naiveté of the reality of the music business. Christmas and New Years has to be booked almost a year ahead. The only reason the Club has had entertainment for the past several months is that Joan was able to book the entertainers without contracts because of her positive working relationship with them.
As to our childish behavior for not giving you our "contacts." First of all, we have no contacts. We don't use agents as they would cost the Club more money. Joan goes directly to the entertainers herself and establishes the best price she can for the Club. If we were to give you those names and phone numbers and a problem arose, such as a late cancellation or an unpaid bill, guess who those performers and the Club would call to complain? Joan. Plus, we know you have the ability to contact former performers without our help.
And to Frank: Obviously we are not responsible for the budget of the Club and were never privy to the information you disclose. We were never given a budget. Our job was to bring the entertainment. Our emphasis has always been to keep costs as low as possible and, as mentioned before, Joan negotiates contracts with our performers at a price less than they receive for their other "gigs." One big expense for 2007 was the band that was hired for the Murieta Room for New Years Eve. Joan and I fought in vain to keep the Club from hiring such an expensive band but the members of the House Committee prevailed. We had a less expensive band in mind but we were overruled. This is an example of why we wanted to work separately from the House Committee.
You can understand that promotion of the events is necessary. It does no good to have entertainment and not tell the members about it, which was the case when we took over the entertainment. In light of that we initiated the use of a banner on the Parkway. I procured the banners from Gytis Gavelis former owner of the Business Center, who was also a club member, and initially paid $90-$100 for them. I know the amount because I paid for the first banner out of my own pocket. We even used both sides of the banner to keep the cost down. When Mr. Lepera became President he told the G.M., Joan and me that he didn't like the looks of the banners and would take over providing the banners through his own printing company which you tell us cost the club $250-$300 each.
As we said in our previous letter, we met with Dennis Martel of the House Committee in high hopes that this new procedure of working through the House Committee would work. This has been an incredible strain emotionally on both of us. We debated, actually, for many months whether to put up with the continual problems and the disrespectful way we were treated by the President of the Club. The decision to resign was a difficult one to say the least.
We are delighted that the Country Club will continue the entertainment program which we have worked so hard to make successful and are glad that we, the Board and the members of the Country Club have had the opportunity to air some issues in this open forum.