Rye Golf Members Teed Off at Club Management, Opacity

What was scheduled to be a regular Rye Golf Commission meeting had plenty of rough spots.

page 1 rye golf
Published October 9, 2012 5:00 AM
3 min read


page 1 rye golfWhat was scheduled to be a regular Rye Golf Commission meeting had plenty of rough spots.

By Robin Jovanovich

page 1 rye golfWhat was scheduled to be a regular Rye Golf Commission meeting had plenty of rough spots.


On the agenda was the proposed 2013 club budget, but that matter was buried under the weight of questions about the club’s financial operation, especially the increased use of one temporary employment agency in which Club Manager Scott Yandrasevich apparently has an interest.


Yandrasevich began the meeting by reading a prepared four-page summary of club operations, including seasonal (non-union) and agency employee overtime hours.


With only eight full-time employees, Yandrasevich said overtime and part-time help are “essential.” He said the amount paid from January through August of this year — $1.654 million — was “not significant in light of overall costs.”


Members in the audience begged to differ, especially because $1.1 million of the total was paid to RM Staffing for whom he consults and his wife works.


It was only after serious accusations and repeated questioning that the club manager acknowledged he consults for RM “at nearly all or no cost [to the company].”

Yandrasevich has been working closely with the Oak Hills Park Golf Club in Norwalk on a deal in which they would lease their restaurant, which has been losing money, to RM. (Whitby Castle loses an average of $300,000 a year according to their financial statements.)


We tried to pay a visit to RM, which is located at 4 Nursery Lane, off North Street. The one-room office was empty, and contained only a desk, chair, and a number of book cartons.


What is RM? It’s hard to say. It was created in 2007, the same year Rye Golf took over management of Whitby Castle and hired temporary help. The owner, Suzanne Ruggiero-Madeo is a graphic designer. There is no indication, much less public documentation, that she operates a temp agency.


Rye Golf member Leon Sculti, who has done a lot of background checking through public record requests, demanded to know why the club was paying so much in overtime and why hourly rate increases to temporary employees had increased from 11% to 140% in 2012.


In the sheets handed out by the Club Manager, many of the employees are identified by their first name alone.


Attorney Tony Piscionere expressed his astonishment that the City had not seen there was an inherent conflict in allowing the Club Manager to do consulting work for a firm he is employing. “In my world, there would have been a Chinese wall around you,” he remonstrated.


Former City Councilman Mack Cunningham questioned why RM was chosen as the main provider of employee services. “Why would RM get a million dollar-plus deal?”


Starting in 2013, Yandrasevich said he would submit the agencies to the Golf Club Commission for approval.


Most people in the audience were surprised to learn that the Commission isn’t involved in the approval process.


Pat Geoghegan, who was appointed to the Golf Club Commission in 2008, told the paper, “Members aren’t given a particular task. We’ve relied on our Finance Committee. In that regard, we’ve been too trusting.”


She went on to say that what got her attention about this year’s budget was that it included a significant line item change. “The profit should be broken out. We’ve had more events than ever this year and yet we continue to lose money. We shouldn’t be running events at a loss. Why do we have a deficit?”


Further, she said, “I’m an advocate for the club, but not for the way things have been done. I object to any appearance of conflict.”


There would be no vote to approve next year’s budget. RGC member Jim Codispoti said, “I think the Golf Club Commission needs to be more than an advisory board. We’ve lost confidence in the management. I don’t want an increase in dues until it’s justified and explained.”


Contacted earlier in the week, City Manager Scott Pickup said, “We are going to get a re-submission of the proposed 2013 budget by October 10, and will have a budget workshop on the club, tentatively scheduled for November 28.”


He continued, “Other work is still ongoing, which involves some of the staffing and employment companies, and this will be the subject of upcoming Council discussion.”

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