|This is a copy of Internal memo sent in 2000, anonymously, by Disney employees to top management -- including Walt Disney Co. Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner, theme park division Chief Paul Pressler and Disneyland President Cynthia Harriss. It criticizes the behavior of Chris Penton, the head of the Disney Security Team and some of his subordinates.|
TO: Michael Eisner
RE: Area Management Concerns
Penton has turned a great number of our Areas throughout the Park against
him and therefore against his Loss Prevention Department. Many of our
Areas now refuse to work with him because of his inflexible attitude.
We know from one of our managers that he has said certain managers "will
have to answer for their decisions".
Changing the policy would actually prevent loss and limit Disney's liability
but it would take away from Chris Penton's productivity. The best interest
of the company is not more important than the best interest of Chris Penton.
It is Chris Penton's agenda to pad his figures with superficial results
and artificial productivity, which serve only to bolster his career and
self-serving rhetoric. A man such as he should not be given the power
to endeavor in wild fishing expeditions against tenured employees of the
company, under the guise of the term "investigation", purely
for the purpose of self-promotion. It is my understanding that he is the
Area Manager of Loss Prevention and Investigations, not of Loss Retention
~Chris Penton is avoided. None of our Areas wish to cooperate with him in any way on a personal level. If at all possible, we will turn away from issues involving him. His demands, not requests, are usually sent to us via an abrupt and curt CC mail or by one of his Assistant Managers, because he has refused to talk to anyone who is not his political equal or superior.
~Chris Penton is not respected as an authority. This is due in part to the fact that he is very condescending. It is difficult to comprehend why this is since we understand that he has a lack of experience in the field with which he has been reputed to specialize in. This runs adverse to his attitude. As a result, many of us have dismissed him as the type of person who demeans others, in order to make himself look better.
~Chris Penton is perceived as a blowhard. He has no respect for management from our Areas and when he doesnt get his way regarding the disciplinary action taken towards a Cast Member he attempts to bully us using threats and Gestapo-like tactics. He threatens that he will go over our heads and take the matter up with someone of more authority. We understand that he has butted heads with Cast Relations on the topic of who has the final decision regarding discipline. He has gone head-to-head with upper management in open meetings and lost, only to boast about how upper management "will soon have to eat their own words".
~Chris Penton has damaged the reputation of his Area. He has taken Loss Prevention to new lows, lows unfamiliar and incompatible to the Disney image. He has completely alienated his department from the rest of the Resort. Management no longer recognizes Loss Prevention and Investigations as a respectable, ethical or professional team. We used to regard this department as being one of integrity and impartiality. Both qualities have been eradicated within the last year.
~Chris Penton does not set a good example. There seems to be a double standard in his rationalizations. Penton can be seen parking his own car in a "Restricted - No Parking" area beneath the Monorail beam next to Harbor House every day. We, management, (and in fact, everyone who sees him enter and exit his red Mustang), as we get off the Shuttle bringing us to Harbor House after we park at KCML, question this because we are told not to park in this area. We have even seen tickets placed on other vehicles parked in the same area, but never on his.
~Chris Penton is not a good leader. We see from his lack of quality
leadership, marked differences in the Managers of Loss Prevention. Penton
has made it clear through his actions that he does not wish to speak to
us unless it is absolutely required. This has filtered down to the two
people who are his Loss Prevention Managers. Because we ask each other,
"where are his two managers"? Some of us have never even seen
one of them, yet we are told he is one of the Loss Prevention Managers.
v David Sietz is this Manager's name, but that is all we know
about him. Why has he not met with our Areas? When he is supposed to attend
meetings with us about specific matters he sends one of his staff to attend
the meeting in his place. And several of our managers have said that when
they have called him to talk about a loss prevention matter, if he even
responds, he passes us off to one of the people who work for him. He obviously
learned these traits from Chris Penton.
v Chris Ota, the second manager of Loss Prevention, leaves us
confused. On one day, Chris Ota will tell us a direction he is going with
a situation in our area. The next day, he will tell us something completely
different. When we ask why something is being handled a certain way, his
answer is "because that is the way we have decided to handle it",
or "Chris Penton said this is the way we are doing things now".
When we call him, he also doesn't return our calls. And with most instances
when we do finally speak to him and we ask him a direct question on just
about any issue, he tells us he will have to ask Chris Penton and get
back with us. So why are we dealing with Chris Ota? When Chris Ota does
speak to us, he talks to us as though we are stupid, and offers us no
real substantial information. It is obvious that Ota has no opinions of
his own. When he is forced to react, he gets worked up into frenzy, and
acts on impulse without thinking. Some Area Managers have experienced
events with him that are bizarre. He will speak to us and make it seem,
as though a "case" he is having his department work on is the
biggest criminal investigation ever. Then when all is said and done, there
is no substantiation behind the fervor, and he has left our Areas in total
ruin. Perhaps this is another thing that Penton trains his managers in:
making a mountain out of a molehill.
It's not that we don't like working with Sietz's or Ota's people. Rather
in some fairness to their department, most of the individual assistant
managers and staff we have dealt with have conducted themselves in an
open, professional manner. They return our calls. But why doesn't the
Loss Prevention Managers or the Area Manager of Loss Prevention and Investigation
work with us? Are they too busy to assist us with loss prevention issues?
We could go on and on, with individualized events, but they could possibly
identify some of us. We think the conduct of Penton is deplorable and
we dont want to believe he is the Companys idea of a good
Manager. Thats why we want to call your attention to him and his
impact on his environment. Take a good, hard look at Chris Penton we think
youll discover that his idea of whats best for the Company
is quite a bit different from what actually is best for the Company. If
you were to check his employment thoroughly, which he is so eager to do
of everyone else, you may find more than you bargained for.
Please act on this and see for yourself. Some verification can be obtained
by talking to our Operations Managers, Directors and Vice Presidents (some
of them have had some very up close and personal dealings with Penton).
We are hesitant to go to his Director, Tammi Harrington, with this information
because we feel she may not respond. We hear that she is somewhat aware
of Pentons activities. But we fear that she may protect his status
because he is an embarrassment and to do otherwise would reflect badly
on her. On the other hand, She may only know what he tells her and as
yet has no reason to doubt his reputation and ethics.
We understand that the Loss Prevention and Investigation Department is
a very important part of the Disney Resort and Company, and that it is
important to have a system of checks and balances in place. But those
checks and balances must be managed with a careful and intelligent hand,
not a forceful and ignorant one.
Q. Who watches the watchers?