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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Gone But Not Forgotten

- Wayne Gertmenian may be gone, but the Jockeys' Guild is still feeling the effects of his reign of corruption. Not only is the organization still digging its way back financially, helped in part by a reported $500,000 loan by its national manager Dwight Manley, but some still doubt the integrity of the present leadership. That's no doubt at least partly due to the fact that, as reported by Bill Christine, back on the beat for the LA Times, the present board...still includes holdovers from the Gertmenian years, including Eclipse Award-winning John Velazquez, who was reelected chairman.

Two California jockeys, Joey Castro and Paul Atkinson, peppered Manley with questions at the meeting in Las Vegas, which was attended by about 80 jockeys. Manley says that membership is at 1,353, an increase of about 200 since he took over.

"I expected a hell of a turnout, and we've got this," said Castro, looking around a half-empty room. "You [the board of directors] let this happen. Why did you sign Gertmenian's contract?"
Gertmenian "fooled a big university," Manley told Castro. "He was a real con man, and it's not fair to blame us" for the guild's problems.
Dr. G has done more than just fool a big university which, by the way, continues to employ him and post his resume as fact. Here's a guy who was disgraced at a Congressional hearing, where he was exposed as a liar and a thief. Rep. Ed Whitfield told the Associated Press last November that "we're still looking at" possibly pursuing perjury or other charges against Gertmenian. Subsequently, it was discovered that wrote checks to himself and his cohorts as he was being voted out of office.

Yet not only is there no legal action against him underway that I know of, he's suing the Guild!! That's like Donald Rumsfeld suing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan that were tortured. How this guy gets away with this I can't imagine. I've joked in the past about him being from outer space, but perhaps there's something to that. Has anyone checked out his hands?

Manley is trying to prevent a movement by jockeys in individual states to form local guilds of their own from becoming a trend. Delaware jockeys already have their own insurance for their local organization, and at Philadelphia Park, where on-track insurance is still capped at $100,000, jockey Tony Black is trying to enroll 30 Philadelphia Park jockeys in a trade union that includes blacksmiths.

Now, there's a move to organize riders in California, where jockeys have it relatively good. The state covers worker's compensation costs, and health insurance premiums are kept low by a $1 million subsidy from uncashed tickets. However, some members are upset at a proposed increase in health insurance rates. Manley explains that "the Guild does not have the resources to overcompensate or subsidize on insurance like it had in the past."

But he also issued a stark warning.
During the annual assembly, he said the organization is developing programs in the area of sports marketing that could open new revenue streams.

"Just because jockeys want to switch or get something that sounds good to start with doesn't mean it's going to stay that way," he said, "(but) if you're out, you're out. You're not going to leave (the Guild) and come back a month later. There's a loyalty reward now." [Bloodhorse]