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In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Roberts: Foot in Mouth Disease

    This is why business guys should not go into politics because when they do, they sometimes act like arrogant business guys while being clue-less when it comes to public perceptions of their decisions.
     Exhibit A:  Roy Roberts.  He's a delightful chap with a ton of hands on leadership experience at General Motors but now he's in the public sector trying to save the Detroit Public Schools from itself. 
     Hence everything  he use to do behind closed doors at GM, is now out in the open for the whole world to see and what it saw recently regarding his new SUV was…well, let's just say it wasn't pretty.
     Roberts inherited a 2005 Chrysler Durango with 110,000 miles.  The thing broke down on a recent trip to Mackinac Island and set the district back about $1000 in repairs according to the Detroit Free Press.
     O.K. let's give Mr. Roberts the benefit of the doubt.  He probably needed new wheels but did it have to be a $40,000 Chevy Tahoe?
     Is that the cheapest buggy he could find?
     Did he shop around or just pick off the lot the one he wanted?
     Was the question ever asked, "How will this look to the public if I pop 40 thou for this SUV?"
      If the perception question was asked, somebody came up with the wrong answer. 
      With the teacher unions breathing down his neck about concessions they've been asked to make and with him in the courts trying to defend his decision to unilaterally cut their salaries and bennies, the $40,000 sticker shock is the last thing he needed right now.
      A more respectable hybrid at a cheaper price would not have produced any stories and no griping by his enemies, but now he's stuck with this not so flattering image that he is better than everyone else, even though he has taken a 10% pay cut.
      And to make matters worse when the paper asked why he didn't just buy his own car he noted, "I would if they paid me like they pay other" school leaders.
      Open mouth, insert foot.


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