Tuesday, May 26, 2009

When Love Flies Out Your Door, Money Comes Innuendo

Three months before Convention 2007, the ever-manipulative Tom Lee had a game plan. Phase one was to intimidate his critics. He began with a letter to RMA President Phil Ayling, accusing him of being a member of the Professional Musicians Guild (PMG) — allegedly a union competing with, and thus forbidden to members of the AFM — based upon conjecture and hearsay. Tom Lee's threatening letter continued:

"If any of the above is true, then you will not be welcome to participate in any official AFM activities or committees...it is my view that any participation by you in the PMG would place the RMA's status as a recognized AFM players' conference in jeopardy."

Ayling answered promptly and unambiguously, to Tom Lee and the IEB:
“President Lee is completely mistaken...I have no relationship with the PMG, and claims to this regard are totally without merit. [President Lee's letter] is laced with rumor and innuendo, and appears to be just the latest salvo of a longstanding campaign to silence me and my criticisms of the current administration.”

(Speaking of silencing critics of the administration, recall that during these very months, Tom Lee and his lawyers were in the middle of an unprecedented investigation to unmask the identity of an anonymous blogger who had criticized Tom Lee. The months prior to Convention 2007 witnessed Tom Lee not merely silencing critics, but bulldozing them.)

Tom Lee would not accept Ayling's denial. Tom Lee shot back in another letter:
"Your letter...carefully avoided any denial...I think you will be well served by a more direct response to these questions..."

Tom Lee followed with dozens of prosecutorial questions, demanding to know everything from whether Ayling would "recommend that musicians join the PMG" to whether he had "participated in the creation or review of a PMG application form."

Ayling again responded:
"[My first response] constituted a full and complete denial of the collection of rumor and innuendo which you sent to me...In [my official capacity as President of RMA International] I state that RMA International makes no "unofficial" endorsements of any kind and that our official endorsements and actions — though sadly ignored and trampled upon by this administration — are consistent with our role as a Player Conference...and solely in support of the AFM."

On the first day of Convention 2007, the June edition of the International Musician was passed out to delegates, containing Sam Folio's repetition of the charge: this time, a video game composer said he had discussions with “PMG leaders Mark Sazer and Phil Ayling.” Ayling personally asked Sam Folio that the implication that he is a "PMG leader" be retracted. Sam now cites more hearsay evidence to support it (edited for clarity):
"I verified the published letter [in the International Musician, accusing Phil Ayling of being a leader of the Professional Musicians Guild (PMG)] and the facts are correct, as well as three member friends advised they were at PMG house parties that were run by Phil Ayling who stated he would not join the PMG but was encouraging others to join."

This is the problem with hearsay: it's not credible and it's rarely even consistent. One piece of hearsay says that Phil Ayling is a "PMG leader," the other says he's telling others to join an organization which he would not join himself. Quoting "three member friends" is ridiculous — if it was "five member friends" the chorus would still be out of tune, having no ring of truth.

There was a game plan at Convention 2007, and it was to discredit Phil Ayling and the RMA to gain momentum at the convention, shunt in the Montreal Local with backroom quid pro quo dealmaking, and pass Article 9, Section 29 — at all costs. The charge that Sam Folio now weakly defends was merely part of Tom Lee's Convention 2007 machine.

Since 2001, this is how Tom Lee's administration has spent its time. Nothing of substance has been accomplished; in fact, quite the reverse. There have been two costly lawsuits against the AFM, one resolved for now, the other still pending, with the rumored prospect of a third. The AFM and Tom Lee personally have sued a dissenting anonymous blog into oblivion, which lawsuit, by the way, is still not closed.

The contracts this administration has "promulgated" and "negotiated" — video game, film, jingle — have been met with an overwhelmingly negative response from those members most connected to them. For example, before the video game contract was finalized by the IEB, letters between Tom Lee and Pete Anthony, Vince Trombetta and Dave Pomeroy revealed Tom Lee’s adversarial and argumentative attitude, negating any input, honest inquiry and suggestions by highly qualified leaders who have concerns for their members. It’s Tom's way or no way.

Practically speaking, there have been no winners. We have seen alienation, mounting legal expenses, separation, distrust, loss of members, and the subjugation of locals, members and potential members to the all-powerful Tom Lee.

The IEB has control and power to interpret the Constitution and Bylaws of the AFM, and Tom Lee has total control and power over the IEB. When will we wake up from this collective nightmare?

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