Monte – as you were, well almost

December 7, 2014 by Henry Benjamin
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An attempt to replace the president, vice-president and treasure of Sydney’s Montefiore Home  has failed and David Freeman, Gary Inberg and Tom Mautner have retained their positions.

Former secretary Max Kahn has retired from the board with his position on the executive being taken by Peter Gonski. The slot available on the board itself has been filled by Alex Abulafia.

Treasurer Tom Mautner, retiring honorary secretary Max Kahn, vice-president Gary Imberg and president David Freeman.        Photo: Henry Benjamin

Treasurer Tom Mautner, retiring honorary secretary Max Kahn, vice-president Gary Inberg and president David Freeman. Photo: Henry Benjamin

J-Wire understands that the incumbent group’s victory represented two-thirds of the vote.

The contest had been hard-fought. Freeman responded to comments made about a letter it circulated to the Monte members detailing tactics engaged in the challenge to its position. He said: “We thought long and hard about alerting the members to the 120 applications for membership on June 30 accompanied by a bundle of cash.” He added that the Board thought “it was in the vital interests of the members to know what was going on.”

Those attending the Hunters Hill meeting did learn a lot of what was going on the plus side when several members of staff were allowed the microphone to refute media reports that not was all well in the Land of Monte.

New honorary secretary Peter Gonski   Photo: Henry Benjamin

New honorary secretary Peter Gonski Photo: Henry Benjamin

New board member Alex Abalufia with son Daniel and wife Natasha

New board member Alex Abulafia with son Daniel and wife Natasha at the meeting

Nursing home operator Jonathan Shteinman had stood for president and community stalwart Richard Scheinberg contested the vice-president’s position along with former board member Gaby Berger who challenged for the role of treasurer.

For a time it was thought that Scheinberg would not speak but long-time member Roy Cohen took to the microphone saying: “I have travelled a long way to hear what he says and what his vision is for the home. If it takes five minutes, it is five minutes well-spent.”

David Freeman asked Scheinberg: “Mr Scheinberg are you coming up here or what?” It was pointed out that the incumbent vice-president Gary Inberg should speak first. Inberg said that his family had been associated with the Home for almost 100 years. He pointed out that the Randwick campus had been singled out both locally and internationally for its excellence in aged care design. Inberg said that the Monte cares for almost 300 financially disadvantaged residents.” He pointed out that the Homes cared for poorly financed resident from the for Soviet Union, South Africa and Zimbabwe…”many of whom do not receive a pension in Australia”.

He added: “The philosophy of offering top grade care and comfort “is at the heart of Monte’s charitable endeavours.” He quoted Frank Lowy claiming he said “directors should only be judged on the basis of their performance.” Inberg claimed that there were directors on the board capable of executive role and that succession was in place.

Richard Scheinberg said that he admired the current board “for their community experience”.  He said that there is a time when these people “should have their lives back” and that there are other people capable of contributing. He said that other boards he served on employed term limits, something which at this point in time, the Montefiore Home does not. He said he would bring to the Board strong experience in business and in construction. Scheinberg said: “It is not easy to get on this Board.. People have been trying to get on this Board but have not made much progress over the years.” He asked why governance is important answering: “If you’ve been on the Board too long, decisions that were made ten years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago or in Mr Freeman’s case 29 years ago, become fossilised.” He said that it is important that the board is renewed and that “new ideas come forward and new responsibilities emerge”. He said that decisions made a long time ago should not become “entrenched”.  He said that if David Freeman was concerned about his group then he was concerned that decisions made a long time ago exist without the ability to move forward.”

David Freeman watches Richard Scheinberg   Photo: Henry Benjamin

David Freeman listens to Richard Scheinberg Photo: Henry Benjamin

President David Freeman told J-Wire: “It was not a pleasant campaign but the members have voted.” Freeman has headed the care organisation for over ten years and has come under heavy criticism from segments of the community for not having a succession plan and hot holding the position for too long.

More than 600 members attended the meeting held in a specially constructed marquee at the Monte’s Hunters Hill campus. For over 6o of them it was standing room only.

David Freeman listens to Jonathan Shteinman   Photo: Henry BEnjamin

David Freeman listens to Jonathan Shteinman Photo: Henry Benjamin

The meeting was attended by staff members who took to the microphone to refute claims published in media that the Monty had problems with its staff and level of care focusing on staff turnover. The Home’s CEO Robert Orie answered the claims with facts which were later reinforced with testimonies from staff members.

Following the announcement of the result of the vote Richard Scheinberg repeatedly asked David Freeman when he would resign asking over and over again “Is it not 29 years,David?”  Montefiore CEO Robert Orie confirmed to J-Wire that David Freeman has been associated with the Montefiore for 29 years and has served as its president for ten.

J-Wire spoke with Jonathan Shteinman who failed in his bid to become president. He said: “I think that it’s very unlikely that anybody will ever run again in this context. It was difficult to get people to rune because they said it would be nasty. It was nasty. It was difficult to get people to run because they said to would be challenging. It was challenging. It is now up to the current board to work out what they want to do. If there is one thing I would  say it is that the interests of the members, the residents and the Jewish community now rest on one person’s shoulders. Alex Abulafia. He is the only new member of the Board. He stood last year on a renewal campaign. He needs to pursue that cause in his position on the board.  Alex Abulafia is either going to become Freeman’s lackey or he is going to pursue the ideals that he fought for last year and the year before that. It’s up to Alex.” HE said that he was happy with the campaign and that he “did his best”. He said that he wishes Monte “all the best”.

Alex Abulafia told J-Wire he was looking forward to serving on the board and maintaining a close watch on the interests of the members, residents and stakeholders.

The eleven board members are Dr David Berman, Lisa Brender, Max Einfield, Max Goldstein,Dr  Susan Hertzberg, Barry Joseph, Trevor Pogroske, Leora Ross, Renee Symonds,  Jeremy  Waine and Alex Abulafia.

There were 612 votes counted.




6 Responses to “Monte – as you were, well almost”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    Can we please also record a vote of gratitude and admiration for the quality of the photos OUR Henry took and posted, portraits, group pix mit family members and, most importantly groisse EXECUTIVE machers ( read mahhhers ), although not much revealed what they mach.
    Henry ,dear mate, do you also do passport , birth, barmitzavh, veddings , bucks’ parties etc. (!!!) …. tell you what , I’d love to be your Marketing Executive, well not as groisse as a Monte Executive, although I should try, maybe they need me there, me old missus keeps mentioning something about putting me in a home.

  2. Elizabeth Sapir says:

    I, too, attended the Monte meeting on Sunday and agree totally with Joanna Kalowski’s comments and queries. Who decided her article should be withdrawn from the website? It is the most accurate and honest piece of reporting that has been seen in the media, and should not be ignored.
    I stayed until the end of the meeting, but not for the results. When I left, after lodging my vote, there were dozens of blank voting forms strewn over the floor in the marquee. I could have picked them up and voted many more times – no control over the forms or the number of votes cast (by anyone!) To whom did these forms belong? Disgruntled members who gave up and left without casting a vote? Extra forms not belonging to anyone?

    A lot of questions remain unanswered after this AGM!!!

    Double Bay

  3. Jen Berger says:

    Thank you for your great letter ” Monte AGM a shambles ” Joanna Kalowski. You must have read my mind. I hope plenty of jwire followers read it.

    I see your letter has already been removed , and I’d like to know why?? Could it be because you called a spade a spade, instead of a high nett worth digging implement as the Monte board would have it?

    Jen Berger
    Point Piper

  4. Dean Ernst says:

    What would the result have been if proxy votes were allowed? Is it even legal that the board apparently refused to allow proxies?

  5. Gaby Berger says:

    It was totally inappropriate for the Monte President to allow so many employees to speak at the AGM. If they were Members – there was an inexcusable conflict of interest. If they were not members they had no right to speak at all.

  6. David Wilson says:

    Well done Henry!


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