Unethical Email Of The Month: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot

Lightfoot email

That obnoxious, bullying, uncivil and unprofessional memo from Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, is signature significance. Competent and effective managers don’t write and send memos like that, not even once. As a subordinate, I would resign after receiving such an email. As a supervisor, I would place a staffer who sent that memo on probation after requiring her to apologize to the recipient.

Chicago is one of the most difficult American cities to govern. Lightfoot is currently facing legal problems as a consequence of her discriminatory announcement that she would only do interviews with “journalists of color.” The email, just another of many pieces of evidence showing Lightfoot’s arrogance and incompetence.

This is what happens when voters elect officials based not on their management experience and revealed leadership skills, but on their gender and skin shade.

[Instapundit’s Ed Driscoll had a funny line about the email: “CHICAGO’S MAYOR MORPHED INTO JACK TORRANCE SO SLOWLY, I HARDLY EVEN NOTICED…”

Ellen DeGeneris Meets The Cognitive Dissonance Scale

Ellen DeGeneres’s brand and reputation have always been built on the illusion that she was nice. She was called the “Be Kind” Lady. Then, last July, BuzzFeed reported that several of her popular daytime talk show’s former and current staff members said they had been subjected to “racism, fear and intimidation” on the set. Other staff members said producers had sexually harassed them. Warner Bros. investigated the complaints and concluded that there were major problems. Three of the show’s producers were fired. When DeGeneres returned from the show’s summer hiatus to open its 18th season, she began with a vague and deeply unsatisfying apology. “I learned that things happen here that never should have happened,” she said in part. “I take that very seriously. And I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected.”

Well wait a minute: whose name is on the title card? Who believes that Ellen DeGeneres had no idea what was going on in the management of the Ellen DeGeneres show? How is that even possible? And if it is possible, it’s still unforgivable. She is accountable.

There were also increasingly frequent accounts suggesting that Ellen herself wasn’t so nice. (I am reminded of my late night conversation with the late Broadway choreographer Thommie Walsh, who said, “You have to remember, Jack, that virtually all star performers are horrible people.”) Among the disturbing allegations was the claim that staff on DeGeneres’ show were instructed not to talk to her. She supposedly tried to get a waitress fired who chipped one of Ellen’s nail. There were leaks that she expressed contempt for her audience behind the scenes.

Sometimes the public surprises me: after all, it voted for Joe Biden to be President, and Joe has a completely phony nice-guy image that has been exposed again and again as a cynical facade. Yet in Ellen’s case, her hypocrisy was rejected. “Ellen,” the ratings companies report, has lost more than a million viewers since September, averaging 1.5 million viewers over the last six months, down from 2.6 million in the same period last year.

Continue reading

“What’s Going On Here?”: The Rasmussen “Production Error”

What the hell?

In 2016 around this time I took Ethics Alarms to the woodshed for using unflattering photos of Hillary Clinton, like these.

It’s a dirty trick, essentially. Photos capture a split second of life and falsify it by freezing it forever. The news media has been using this tactic against Donald Trump with wild abandon, having essentially given up any pretense of fairness and objectivity. However, the Rasmussen graphic above wasn’t a photograph, and it was employed by the supposedly conservative-leaning polling service. Yet it could have been designed by the Democratic National Committee at its most nasty, portraying the President as a snarling, vicious threat, and Joe Biden as a calm and professional statesman.

Rasmussen was quick with a retraction that raised more questions that it answered:

  • Why did Rasmussen have the snarling Trump graphic at all?
  • What kind of “production error” would cause that?
  • If the company is so careless with its tweets, what else is it careless about?
  • Was a “rogue employee” the culprit? Again, this does not speak well for the company’s management, trustworthiness or culture.
  • Any organization that sends out tweets without a vetting and review process is incompetent. Yes, that includes the White House. Especially the White House.
  • Is Rasmussen really blaming the social media criticism of its botch? Or Trump supporters who have seen enough flagrant anti-Trump bias for a lifetime, and who expressed their anger at this example? The company needs to apologize, not blame the victims of its own system breakdown  ineptitude.

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Pointer: Althouse

Baseball Ethics The Dodgers’ Insane, Incompetent, Mookie Betts Contract

It is being reported that the Los Angeles Dodgers are about to sign an extension with new right-fielder Mookie Betts, acquired over the winter in a stunning trade with the Boston Red Sox, for an estimated 12-13 year contract at about 35 million dollars a year.

When I was giving my lecture to the Smithsonian about baseball this week, I mentioned writer Bill James’ argument that baseball is not “just a business” as detractors like to say. He has pointed out that because baseball’s market does not treat it as a business, but as a pastime, entertainment, a cultural touchpoint and a community institution, baseball teams are not run as rational businesses. Indeed, they are frequently run irresponsibly and incompetently, based on emotion and sentiment.

‘Twas not always thus. In the early days of professional baseball right up the end of the Calvin Griffith era in Minnesota, many teams were run as the sole sources of income by their owners, though by the time Griffith died, he was the last of that species. Beginning with Tom Yawkey’s purchase of the then perennial doormat Red Sox, however, the baseball owner as community philanthropist was born. Yawkey was a rich lumber tycoon, and he spent money lavishly on Boston teams to win games and make fans happy. He certainly increased the value of his sports franchise asset, but from a business standpoint his management was often irrational.

The Dodgers contract with Betts is in this tradition. Betts is a free agent after this year; that’s why the Red Sox traded him, because he was going to put himself up for sale to the largest bidder. The Dodgers sensed that the virus-truncated season changed the equation for them and the player: Mookie, one of the most talented, productive and likable players in the game, would not have a chance in 60 games to enhance his value, and each year passed  for a player is depreciation. Betts will be 28 this season, and most players peak at that age. Continue reading

One More Time: Leadership, Moral Luck, Accountability, And Scapegoating, Baseball-Style.

Here is part of the statement released by  Boston Red Sox owner John Henry yesterday after the team fired its head of Baseball Operations, essentially the team’s General Manager, Dave Dombrowksi:

“Four years ago, we were faced with a critical decision about the direction of the franchise. We were extraordinarily fortunate to be able to bring Dave in to lead baseball operations. With a World Series championship and three consecutive American League East titles, he has cemented what was already a Hall of Fame career.”

Wait…HUH? He was hired four years ago, the team won three consecutive American League East titles (for the first time in the franchise’s history), a World Series Championship (following an epic 2018 season that saw Boston win 108 games) and he’s fired? What did he do, sexually harass players? Flash the owner’s daughter? Continue reading

Taco Bell Ethics: I’m Going To Go Out On A Limb Here And Say This Is Unethical

“You want your tacos? HERE’S what you can do with your #@!$%&@ tacos…!”

On February 24, a Taco Bell  in Philadelphia was having trouble living up to the definition of “fast food.” The store was filled with angry people loudly wondering where their orders were. Some had been waiting as long as 45 minutes. So the resourceful Taco Bell employees finally did what you might expect—if you were a psychopath. Several of them  jumped over the counter and began beating up customers.

This is unethical.

A 32-second cell phone clip shows customer Bryan Reese and his friend getting attacked by multiple employees outside of a Taco Bell in the Center City District of Philly. One employee is seen repeatedly punching Reese in the ribs while another holds him down.

Taco Bell released the following statement: Continue reading

From The “Stop Making Me Defend President Trump” Files: Criticizing Trump For Following Management 101 Really Shows You To Be Ignorant As Well As Trump Deranged

I bet you can guess what Trump was saying here…

You know, it’s late, I’m finally finished decorating the tree, nobody’s visiting the blog anyway, and when they do and try to share an article without an scintilla of “hate speech” in it, Facebook blocks it. But ethics never rest, and I’m going to post this anyway.

The President announced that ol’ Mad Dog won’t be staying on for an” orderly transition” at DOD after all: today the President announced that Mattis’s deputy would take over on January 1, and Mattis can get head start on collecting shells in Boca, or something. One more time, the news media and social media are acting like this is some kind of scandal, because they 1) hate the President and 2) couldn’t manage a lemonade stand themselves.

I’m sure Mattis would have been welcome to stay on a couple more months as originally announced—if hadn’t publicized a resignation letter that implicitly attacked the President. You can’t do that and expect to stay in any job, much less one as powerful and important as Secretary of Defense.Oddly, Trump’s perpetual critics don’t understand this, either because bias has made them stupid, or they were ignorant to begin with. Continue reading

The Astounding, Clueless, Unethical And Doomed Hiring Of Brodie Van Wagenen

‘Conflicts of interest? I have no idea what you mean…’

Disclaimer: This is NOT a baseball ethics post. This is a business ethics post about a major ethics issue,  and the business happens to be a major league baseball team.

This week the New York Mets stunned the baseball world by hiring Brodie Van Wagenen—that’s him on the left—as its new general manager.

He is not only being hired to manage the business of a major league baseball team without having ever worked for a baseball organization in any capacity. That would be strange enough. He is also a player agent who has been the representative of several key players currently under contract to the Mets, meaning that he acted for them in negotiating against the team he now heads.Van Wagenen made $25 million in commissions last year on player contracts.

Anyone whose ethics alarms weren’t set ringing like the bells during the Great Chicago Fire by the Mets decision doesn’t understand what a conflict of interest is. Guess who this category includes. Yup: Van Wagenen and the New York Mets.

In a press conference at Citi Field, Mets executives were asked about the conflicts issue, which should have been predictable, mandating a careful, thorough answer.  As a player agent for Creative Artists Agency (Van Wagenen has divested himself of all shares in the company and future commissions…at least he figured out that much) Van Wageman’s responsibility was to negotiate the most lucrative contracts for his clients. As the a general manager for the New York Mets, his responsibility is to build a successful team within its resources, regardless of the best interests of his former clients, the players he worked with over the past 18 years. When the “C” word was raised bu reporters,  Mets President Fred Wilpon interrupted before Van Wagenen could answer  and said that he had spoken with the commissioner’s office and Major League Players Association chief Tony Clark, adding, “We have provisions in Brodie’s contract to deal with any conflicts of interest.”

Oh! Well never mind then! The contract deals with it, and the Mets have spoken to people! All taken care of!

Neither Wilpon nor Van Wagenen would say what those provisions were, but I guarantee this as an ethics specialist: the only provision that could effectively deal with Van Wagenen’s conflicts would be “Van Wagenen can’t be the Mets general manager.” Continue reading

Unfinished World Series Ethics Business

Today the victorious Boston Red Sox took their now traditional duck boat parade through Boston and down the Charles River, so even for the Sox, the 2018 season is officially done.  My job isn’t however, because there were two striking examples of moral luck and consequentialism during the World Series, and apparently I was the only one who noticed.

I. The “Bad News Bears” moment.

When Red Sox Game 4 starter Eduardo Rodriguez surrendered what seemed at the time to be a decisive three-run homer to Yasiel Puig, putting the Sox behind in the 6th inning 4-0, he angrily hurled his glove to the mound. Commentators joked about how he resembled the Bad New Bears’ combative, potty-mouthed shortstop Tanner in the Little League classic, but other than the ribbing, nobody criticized “E-Rod.” Indeed, his manager, Alex Cora, exonerated him for the home run, saying that he, the manager, screwed up by letting his tiring pitcher face the dangerous Puig.

Yet earlier this season, Boston reliever Carson Smith, regarded as an important member of the Red Sox relief squad, threw his glove in the dugout after giving up a home run, and partially dislocated his shoulder. He was lost for the season, and both team officials and Boston sportswriters blamed Smith for his injury. He injured himself you see. It was stupid and selfish, and showed him to be unprofessional and untrustworthy. Many thought Smith should be fined, or even released. Yet it was a completely freak injury. It wasn’t as if Smith had punched a wall or a water cooler. Baseball players throw their gloves all the time, and I’ve never seen it injure anyone. So why was Carson Smith treated as a pariah for throwing his glove, but Eddie Rodriguez doing the same thing shrugged off? The only reason is that Smith’s angry gesture happened to injure him , which nobody, including Smith, could have predicted. In fact, Rodriquez was more, much more, irresponsible than Smith, because he knew throwing a glove could cause an injury. He knew, because it happened to Smith. Continue reading

Call Me Cynical, But When A Religious Leader Responds To A Scandal This Way, I Check My Pockets…

The Pope takes a page from Jimmy’s playbook!

Last week the Vatican  began a three-week-long assembly to discuss how to bring young people back into the Catholic Church. As the Synod of Bishops began, Pope Francis said, “This moment has highlighted a church that needs to listen.”

No, the moment  highlights a church that needs to stop letting its priests molest kids.

Protesters have been much in evidence at the gathering,  denouncing what they (and I) see as the Vatican’s refusal to take necessary actions to ensure that sexual predator priests and those who cover up for them be stopped. Said one protester, a victim himself, “They should center the discussions where it hurts most — and this is the outrageous abuse of power, and the thousands and thousands of children and young people hurt by officials of the church in the last decades all over the world. You can’t discuss youth without talking about this point.”

Other victims held up placards demanding, “No More Cover Up”; “Make Zero Tolerance Real”; “Establish an International Inquiry and Justice Commission”  in Italian and English.

So far, the Pope’s approach to the renewed scandal has been to point fingers, or change the subject. He did publish a letter in August that appeared to be a holy, Italian version of “huminahuminahumina,” as Ralph Kramden used to say when words and wit failed him in a crisis. That the Pope’s efforts to either ignore, or duck, or spin his accountability for the fact that children are still not safe around priests almost 20 years after the scandal of high-level cover-ups and the facilitating of serial sexual assaults in the Church across the globe were not going well became clearer than ever last week, when Francis adopted the same tragedy used by Jimmy Swaggert, Jim and Tammy Lee Baker, Ted Haggard and so many other TV evangelist con artists did when they were caught either with a hand up a dress or in the till.

He blamed the Devil. Continue reading