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
Sandy Lituack
Cynthia Harriss
Paul Pressler

RE: Area Management Concerns


This information is being sent to you from a few concerned members of management at the Disneyland Resort. We do not want to identify ourselves for reasons that will become obvious to you after you read this letter.
Our concerns involve the Loss Prevention Department and Security Operations. The problem appears to lie with the supervisors who control the Loss Prevention Department.
We have seen, and have been directly or indirectly involved with, or have heard about events that are completely without ethics, professionalism and blatantly lack Disney standards, at the direction of the manager of this department, Chris Penton. This person is extremely arrogant and doesn’t attempt to disguise this trait. He believes he has the power to direct Area Management, get the results he demands and that by doing so, he can force all of the Areas to submit to his way of thinking.

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".
He has made decisions involving our Areas without thinking of the consequences and how they will impact the Resort in the big picture. Specifically, issues dealing with Outdoor Vending, Custodial, Main Entrance and Food Operations. We’re sure you are aware of these incidents, but as a reminder, they involve large numbers of suspensions that literally wipe out entire shifts, all without prior discussion with concerned management.
Why doesn't the Disney Company do Criminal Background Investigations prior to the employee's date of hire; before allowing them to work for one minute? Why are employees being terminated for not mentioning traffic offenses on their application? Is it not a waste of manpower, resources, training and energy to bring in a Cast Member that's destined to be terminated? Would it not be more cost-effective to delay a potential Cast Member's first day of work in order to wait for the results of their background investigation, and simply make the choice not to hire said employee? Would this not also protect Disney from allegations of hiring Child Molesters, Rapists and other criminals right from the start? Penton’s perpetuating of the status quo effects the daily operation of the Resort. Why does it take an anonymous letter such as this to point these things out? Isn't it the Area Manager of Loss Prevention and Investigation's responsibility to push for a change in policy if it's in the best interest of the company? The answers are simple:

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 and Inquisitions.
Consequences directly attributed to Chris Penton's disregard for working with other Areas include the following:

~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 doesn’t 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 are uncertain what Chris Penton's staff thinks of him, but they have our pity. When we ask the Loss Prevention staff for reasons and explanations about things that we have questioned or disagreed with, we are answered with blank, helpless stares and referred to Chris Penton.

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 don’t want to believe he is the Company’s idea of a good Manager. That’s 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 you’ll discover that his idea of what’s 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 Penton’s 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?
A. If the watchers were managed better, no one would need to.
We would very much like to feel that we are all playing on the same team, towards the same goals. We’re afraid that if Chris Penton and people like him are allowed to continue unabated, then we will suffer a major setback in growth, our Disney values will be diminished and valuable personnel throughout the Resort will be forever lost.

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