Sunday, February 15, 2009

Karmanos: Clueless

Most people in southeastern Michigan don't see metro Detroit the way coaches, players and officials of the metro's prep games do.

In a word, it's rough. Detroit's infrastructure, like street curbs, street lamps and water mains, are in serious distress or outright failure. When I traveled to Allen Park Cabrini this past week, I missed my turn off of Southfield Road into the neighborhood Cabrini is tucked within because the businesses that used to help illuminate smaller street signs are now darkened. In River Rouge, the 'Joe' jobs, like plumbing and electrical work, are gone and greasy spoon diners are shuttered. They don't plow neighborhood streets in Farmington Hills like they used to and Royal Oak's schools ask for parent volunteers to weed and feed the flower beds. You could seemingly insert any city name you want throughout this paragragh and still be factual.

This is why Compuware's Chief Executive Officer, Peter Karmanos, is being vilified in so many corners today. He hired Kwame Kilpatrick, Public Enemy No. 1 in the city of Detroit, and gave him a golden parachute from hell, a hell he helped forge.

It was Kilpatrick who promised much and delivered little in a term-and-a-half as mayor. The city parks and recreation centers? The parks are still an open sore and the city's recreation centers, especially the ones that were viable, are now shuttered in plywood and have been pillaged of the metals that made up the buildings' electrical and plumbing systems. The city's school board? A dysfunctional disaster that makes George Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina look heartfelt and thoughtful. The city's finances? Imagine a 400-car freight train running downhill with no brakes as it heads for a city with 800,000 people. City services are still pathetic and much of the progress the city was making in entertainment and overnight accommodations has been erased with the economic depression we're in.

But here's why Kilpatrick's hiring ought to make you mad as hell. In a time when we really need to make stand against corporate misbehavior, Karmanos instead emboldens it. You don't reward your son with ice cream for stealing candy from the candy store!

Worse, 250 people not convicted of perjury, not on the hook for a cool million as a part of a plea deal and not found guilty of ruining the lives of two honest cops got pink-slipped from Compuware this week while Kilpatrick was hired. There's enough good people losing jobs in this state alone to re-populate the cities of Warren, Saginaw or Flint to make them look like they did when they were teeming cities with enough tax base to fund a small country's entire government. But Kilpatrick, who hasn't told the truth in what seems like never, steps out of the joint after serving just 99 days for being as big a jackass as anyone in Detroit's 308-year history and takes a $100,000-a-year job as penance.

America is morally bankrupt and you don't have to look far to find the source. It comes from people like Peter Karmanos, who got sweet-talked by Kilpatrick to locate his headquarters in downtown Detroit. It comes from people like Karmanos, who shied from saying anything critical of Hizzoner a year ago when Detroit desperately needed someone to step up publicly and take a stand. Not brave enough when Kilpatrick seemed determined to drag Detroit to the depths of well-fed sewer rats, Karmanos waits to hire the most famous liar, cheater and crook in Detroit's political history with the allure of his bottom line being advanced handsomely less than week after his jail time ends.

Alienate the many to line the pockets of the few? I'm willing to bet that's not in the Compuware mission statement. Even Vito Corleone knew how and when to say 'No'.

Morally bankrupt? Who cares, right Pete? As long as you make that loot, it's all good. Who's next, Pete? Was Reggie Rogers just misunderstood? Did Bob Probert simply get caught up with the wrong people? Are you holding a tasty position for Monica Conyers, too? I can own a room, too, Pete. Why can't I get a 100K-a-year gig?

On second thought, never mind. If Karmanos will hire Kilpatrick, I don't to be hired. I'll continue to work my three jobs to make a little more than half of what I used to make. You can't buy pride, honor or integrity. You lose your credibility, not to mention your mind, when you hire Kilpatrick. It's a move so disingenuous to the good people of metro Detroit that Karmanos should be stripped of all his Detroit privileges. The only question that comes to light is just how deep was Karmanos buried in Kilpatrick's pockets when Hizzoner was mayor? In light of all the truth, especially the truth Kilpatrick used taxpayer money to attempt to bury, it makes you wonder if any of Kilpatrick's previous dirty deeds have Karmanos's fingerprints on them?

Live with that, Mr. Karmanos.

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