International Business Ethics Expert Chuck Gallagher featured at Medtronic meeting in Geneva, Switzerland

December 18, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Medtronic Gray and BlueChuck Gallagher, international Business Ethics expert was the featured keynote speaker at the Medtronic – Culture of Ethics and Integrity Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland on December 11th and 12th, 2012.

Medtronic, Inc. (www.medtronic.com), headquartered in Minneapolis, is the global leader in medical technology – alleviating pain, restoring health, and extending life for millions of people around the world.

Focusing attention on the “Human Side of Ethics” Rob ten Hoedt selected Chuck because of his unique background and ability to deliver a compelling ethics message – one that will be remembered long after the meeting is over.  Rob ten Hoedt is the Senior Vice-President & President, EMEA & Canada, a role he has been in since 2009 and in which he is responsible for all sales and distribution of Medtronic products and therapies across these regions. He is a member of the Company’s Executive Committee (ExCom).

“I am excited to share with the folks at Medtronic the reality of how and why we make the ethical choices we make and what we can do to stay within our ethical boundaries.  All to often we focus on the compliance and legal issues surrounding our companies, when the most important issue of understanding the human element of our choices and the consequences that follow.”

Speaking and consulting with companies worldwide, you may have seen Chuck on television, or heard him on CNN, CBS or NPR radio programs.  His business insights are sought after for his strong position on ethics and sales leadership.  Chuck Gallagher’s focus is business – but his passion is empowering others.  His unique presentations, from Expert Sales Training to Effective Business Ethics clearly demonstrate he brings something to the platform that isn’t often found in typical business speakers.  Chuck’s personal experience in building businesses and sales teams while leading companies provides a practical and powerful framework for success.

Currently COO of a National Company and former Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing for a Public Company, Chuck may have found a sales niche early on in life selling potholders door to door, or convincing folks to fund a record album of his musical performance at age 16 (and yes those were the days when an album was made of vinyl), but it was the school of hard knocks that provided a fertile training ground for Chuck’s lessons in Success.  Described as Creative, Insightful, Captivating, and a person that “Connects the Dots” between behavior, choices and success, Chuck Gallagher gives his clients what they need to turn concepts into actions and actions into results.

It has been said that with Chuck you have an industry professional sharing practical tested and time proven methods that can enhance personal and professional performance with a clear focus on Ethics.  What Chuck shares in his presentations – whether training, keynotes or consulting – are understandings of not only “How To”, but also “what motivates behavior” – behavior of individuals which create personal and professional success.

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Chuck Gallagher is the founder of the Ethics Resource Group and for information about Chuck’s Ethics presentations, he can be contacted via http://chuckgallagher.com, email at chuck@chuckgallagher.com or phone 828.244.1400.

Chuck Gallagher is represented by Eclectic Media Productions a national PR firm.

http://www.mediaproductions.tv

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When it comes to the Federal Government and the Budget are Ethical Actions Possible?

May 30, 2011

A recent CNN report quoted below clearly indicates that where there is a will there is a way.  It seems that access to money – taxpayer money – to buy votes or support from constituents is just too irresistible.  Those elected say on one hand that spending has to come under control and on the other hand create back door ways to spend.  Every choice has a consequence and it seems that out of control government spending is going to create a consequence that few will like! The CNN report is quoted below:

Washington (CNN) — The defense bill that just passed the House of Representatives includes a back-door fund that lets individual members of Congress funnel millions of dollars into projects of their choosing.

This is happening despite a congressional ban on earmarks — special, discretionary spending that has funded Congress’ pet projects back home in years past, but now has fallen out of favor among budget-conscious deficit hawks.

Under the cloak of a mysteriously-named “Mission Force Enhancement Transfer Fund,” Congress has been squirreling away money — like $9 million for “future undersea capabilities development,” $19 million for “Navy ship preliminary design and feasibility studies,” and more than $30 million for a “corrosion prevention program.”

So in a year dominated by demands for spending cuts, where did all the money come from?

Yet a better question…what would motivate an elected official to support in any way back door fund availability?  Seems that – especially those newly elected – would have called attention to this publicly.

Politics: Loophole for earmarks?

Roughly $1 billion was quietly transferred from projects listed in the president’s defense budget and placed into the “transfer fund.” This fund, which wasn’t in previous year’s defense budgets (when earmarks were permitted), served as a piggy bank from which committee members were able to take money to cover the cost of programs introduced by their amendments.

And take they did.

More than $600 million went to a wide number of projects, many of which appear to directly benefit some congressional districts over others.

For example, that $9 million for “future undersea capabilities development” was requested by Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Connecticut, whose district happens to be home to General Dynamics Electric Boat, a major supplier of submarines and other technologies to the U.S. Navy.

And the $19 million for “Navy ship preliminary design and feasibility studies”? Rep. Steve Palazzo, R-Mississippi, asked for that. His district’s largest employer is Ingalls Shipbuilding — a major producer of surface combat ships for the Navy.

A fair question is – how did these get in and what promises were made for funds for these projects?

Nothing in these expenditures appears to be illegal, but critics say they still may violate the spirit, if not the language, of the earmark ban.

“These amendments may very likely duck the House’s specific definition of what constitutes an earmark, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t pork,” says Leslie Paige of Citizens Against Government Waste, a government-spending watchdog group. The group believes if modification of the National Defense Authorization Act generated savings, that money should have been put toward paying down the deficit.

In their defense, supporters say the amendments offered by various members may very well represent good governance. The $30 million Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, set aside for corrosion prevention could go far to help tackle the Defense Department’s corrosion problem, estimated to cost the military more than $15 billion a year.

However, there are two things worth considering: Sutton’s request comes on top of the $10 million already included in the bill for corrosion related programs, and Sutton’s district is home to The University of Akron, which created the country’s first bachelor’s degree program for corrosive engineering in 2008.

Then, on May 9, two days before the defense bill mark-up, it was announced that the Defense Department had given the University of Akron $11 million to build its new “National Center for Education and Research in Corrosion and Materials Performance.”

Sutton was the biggest supporter of that new spending.

CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash contributed to this report.

One things seems real – in order to be elected one must learn to speak from both sides of ones mouth…cause it appears that it’s quite impossible to ethically speak the truth and stand by it.  If, in this country, we are to face our growing economic issues we need to do what we say and if that means no “earmarks” then NO EARMARKS or PORK!

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


Robert “Joe” Halderman pleads guilty to David Letterman extortion! Why did he do it?

March 9, 2010

Well…this story is all over the news so one might ask what can a simple blog add that has not been stated in, almost, every other media outlet reporting today?

Answer: Perhaps motive!

The real question is – how can a person, like Joe Halderman, a former CBS News producer make such a choice that has the possible implication of prison?  But first, let’s see what is being said in the new reports:

CNN states:

Robert “Joe” Halderman, the former CBS News producer accused of trying to blackmail comedian David Letterman, agreed Tuesday to plead guilty to grand larceny in the second degree in exchange for six months in jail, five years probation and 1,000 hours of community service.

In a separate statement, the former “48 Hours” producer admitted that he tried to extort $2 million from Letterman to keep quiet about the “Late Show” host’s sexual affairs.

“On the morning of September 9, 2009, I gave a sealed envelope to Mr. Letterman’s driver as he waited outside of Mr. Letterman’s Manhattan home,” Halderman said in the statement, called an allocution. “I asked the driver to give the envelope marked ‘Privileged and Confidential’ to Mr. Letterman.

“The envelope contained a number of documents, including a document I created entitled ‘Treatment for a Screenplay.’ This so-called treatment was just a thinly veiled threat to ruin Mr. Letterman if he did not pay me a lot of money.

“Later that month, on three different occasions I met with Mr. Letterman’s lawyer, Jim Jackoway, to work out the details of the extortion. On October 1, 2009, I deposited a check for $2 million that Mr. Jackoway gave me.

“I knew throughout this time that I was not engaged in a legitimate business transaction with Mr. Letterman and that what I was doing was against New York law. I understand that my attempt to extort $2 million from Mr. Letterman violated his and his family’s privacy. I promise to respect their privacy in the future.”

Then-District Attorney Morgenthau said Letterman gave Halderman a $2 million check in October and Halderman deposited the money into a Connecticut bank account the day before he was arrested.

So does the above answer the question – WHY?

Not really.  Rather, the next to the last paragraph in the CNN news report gives us the clue.

Halderman closed his statement by expressing “great remorse” and apologizing to Letterman and his family and to the family of Stephanie Birkitt, one of the women Halderman said had engaged in a sexual relationship with Letterman. Birkitt was an assistant to the talk show host and a former live-in girlfriend of Halderman.

SO TO THE QUESTION OF WHY?

First, when a crime like this is committed, typically there are three components that come together to create the “perfect storm.”  NEED – OPPORTUNITY and  RATIONALIZATION.   Let’s explore these and see if we can find out where Joe came from when he concocted this hairbrained idea.

First, OPPORTUNITY is easy.  Few people have the connectivity to David Letterman to pull this off.  Frankly, I can’t imagine many who read this thinking that they would even know how to get close enough to Letterman to pull of such a stunt.  So the OPPORTUNITY portion was primarily effected because Halderman was a “former” CBS News producer.

Second, NEED.  That might be a bit more complicated.  It was reported that one of the ladies that Halderman accused Letterman of having sexual relations with was Stephanie Birkett who happened to be a live-in girlfriend of Halderman in the past.  Perhaps (just speculation) Halderman held some ill intent toward Birkett and Letterman – a man’s scorn?  Maybe…  Or, as reported here, Halderman was debt ridden and desperate.    The report states in part:

“I also tried very hard to convince my ex-wife to not go, or to at least not go so far.”

Halderman complained his ex, Patty Montet, “was not interested in my opinion and is determined to make this move.”

Halderman’s daughter decided to stay with him in Norwalk, Conn. But his romance with Stephanie Birkitt, one of Letterman’s sidekicks on the “Late Show,” soured, sources said.

“It was devastating for him having his son move away with his ex-wife. … He loved his kid like I’ve never seen a father love his child,” said Jeff Dyment, 43, who used to coach a youth soccer team with Halderman.

It was in the midst of that emotional maelstrom that Halderman – perhaps inspired by the true crime stories he produced for a living – tried to shake down Letterman by threatening to reveal the comedian’s numerous affairs with female staffers, prosecutors charged Friday.

Emotion is a strong driver for NEED.  Bernie Madoff illustrated that when he effected the largest Ponzi scheme in history.  His need:  the need to be right!

Lastly, RATIONALIZATION.  If you were to ask anyone who effected a crime (long before they did it), would it be right to extort or blackmail someone?  Well, you and I both know that the answer that Mr. Halderman would have given would be a resounding – NO.  Yet, in the midst of emotional turmoil with high NEED and OPPORTUNITY – anyone (an I mean ANYONE) can rationalize bad behavior.

The RATIONALIZATION key is the part that allows a good person to make bad choices and, as I say to every group I speak to, EVERY CHOICE HAS A CONSEQUENCE.

Perhaps Mr. Halderman can learn from his past misjudgements and focus on a more effective way to be a father, person and business associate.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME.


Tim Masters Finds Justice – at least $4.1 million of it! How do we answer the question now – Victim or Victor?

February 16, 2010

Almost one year ago I wrote the following related to a story that caught national headlines.  Tim Masters – wrongly imprisoned was angry and bitter.  Then I wrote:

As I rose this a.m. – checking e-mail, CNN – just checking in with the world I was faced with another article on Tim Masters – the Fort Collins, Colorado man who was wrongly imprisoned for 9 years.  This must have been an eternity, especially for an innocent man.  Having spent time in federal prison (justly deserved – as I was guilty), I know that prison can change you.  But, as a business ethics and fraud prevention speaker, it wasn’t the wrongful imprisonment that caught my attention, it was the lead line of the article.

CNN’s writer states:  “Tim Masters squarely blames Fort Collins, Colorado, police and prosecutors for his inability to land gainful employment and for his not having a wife and kids at this stage in his life.”  The full CNN article can be found here.

Today, February 16, 2010 – some 10 days short of a year – CNN reports that Tim Masters may never get his life back (not completely), but $4.1 million as a settlement of a suit for wrongful imprisonment helps.  CNN reports:

It won’t make up for almost a decade of imprisonment, but a $4.1 million settlement is a “good start,” one of Tim Masters’ attorneys said Tuesday.

The Larimer County, Colorado, Board of Commissioners voted earlier Tuesday to settle a lawsuit that Masters filed after a judge exonerated him on a murder charge that put him behind bars in 1999.

“There’s no dollar figure that’s going to give him back his 10 years,” said David Wymore, one of the attorneys who represented Masters in the case. “Tim just wishes this never happened to him, but it did.”

Masters’ co-counsel David Lane emphasized there is still a lawsuit pending against the city and that Tuesday’s settlement represented only a “good start” to compensating a man who was “framed for a crime he did not commit.”

One year ago I wrote – Every choice has a consequence.  There must have been reasons that Tim was considered a suspect in the first place.  Not that it was his fault, but evaluating those actions (way back then) might prove to be powerful lessons to youth today.    Tim has a powerful story.  He can have an impact.  He will be heard.  The power to reach out to others and help them discover what and/or who they are and how their choices can shape their life is powerful.

I hope that as the issues with his suits against those involved in his wrongful imprisonment wind down that Tim can find some peace and channel his energy into using his experience to help others.  Tim has been a victim of a judicial system gone bad.  Yet, Tim has also emerged victorious in that truth came to light and (in a sense) he’s having his day in court.  No…money cannot replace the time lost, but then was it lost or has his experience created a foundation for him that can help others?

Tim…are you a victim or a victor?  Money aside…which is it?

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


Charles E. Phillips – What you do in the dark will be brought to the light – the billboard campaign outing…

January 23, 2010

As a kid I’ll never forget my mother buying an Elvis Presley gospel record with an upbeat song entitled “Run On.”  Elvis seemed to sing it so fast that I recall not being able to completely understand all the words.  But, one line I understood clearly went as follows, “As sure as God made the day and the night
What you do in the dark will be brought to the light.”

Now, I admit, I didn’t completely understand the implication of those words…not until my hidden activities came into the bright light of the media.  In my case, that fact that I was a liar and a thief was splashed all across the front pages of my hometown newspaper.  Were the headlines true?  Unfortunately yes!

Now it seems, according to a CNN report, another man named Charles – Charles E. Phillips – is finding out the implications of those words as his ex-mistress has elected to operate a “fatal attraction” splash of her own on billboards in major cities.  Charles was outed.  And, my heart goes out to him.

The CNN story reports in part (the whole story is here).

Phillips, 50, the co-president of Oracle Corp., admitted the affair with Wilkins, 42, in a statement released by his spokeswoman Friday.

Often talked of as a potential successor to Oracle founder and CEO Larry Ellison, Phillips is one of the software company’s most senior and highly paid excecutives. On top of an $800,000 salary for 2009, he took home stock options and other compensation valued by Oracle at more than $18 million.

“”I had an 8½-year serious relationship with YaVaughnie Wilkins,” the statement said. “My divorce proceedings began in 2008. The relationship with Ms. Wilkins has since ended and we both wish each other well.”

Phillips is reportedly still married to his wife, Karen, and the two have a son together.

It seems that Charles Phillips did indeed have an affair that apparently is ending his marriage – as divorce proceedings are in the works.  But, obviously, the former mistress wanted the last word by posting a series of giant billboards in New York, San Francisco and Atlanta.

New Yorkers passing through midtown Manhattan this week saw the smiling faces of “Charles and YaVaughnie” beaming down upon them from one of two billboards in the city with the caption reading, “You are my soulmate forever! – cep.”

SO WHAT’S THE POINT?

As a business ethics speaker, I often speak to executive groups in major corporations and since I share my journey from Tax Partner in a CPA firm to federal prisoner, I, more times than not, see participants cop an attitude that they would never do something that would bring such dramatic consequences to themselves.  I imagine that Phillips felt the same way.  In fact, I would suspect that he would have felt that his private life had no effect on his business and that the first time he would be featured on CNN is when he took over the leadership of Oracle.

Instead the actions of his, obviously upset and less than ethical ex-mistress, is a perfect example of choices and consequences.  In fact, the first words that I speak to a group are – EVERY CHOICE HAS A CONSEQUENCE.

Consequences come in a variety of forms and in ways that we often don’t expect.  Appointed last year to President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, Phillips is finding himself dealing more than much needed economic recovery ideas.

Choices and consequences…sorry Mr. Phillips, but for those who read…this is just another example how ethical choices (or unethical as the case may be) has implications that are unavoidable.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


Scott Brown Wins Massachusetts Senate Race – But Ethical Deicsion now – Does US House Push through Legislation before Brown is seated?

January 19, 2010

With 89% of the results counted, Republican Scott Brown won a major upset victory in Tuesday’s special election for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy.   The irony is that Kennedy was known for his strong support of Health Care Reform and Brown’s campaign was focused on being the 1 vote that could derail the proposal before the conference committee of the House and Senate.

US HOUSE CONSIDERS SLIPPERY TACTICS:

It is now reported that the House may be considering passing an unamended Senate health care measure.  If that were to take place then President Obama could sign the bill into law without considering to Brown’s vote.  A CNN article is here.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added, “Whatever happens in Massachusetts, we will have quality, affordable health care for all Americans, and it will be soon.”

Several Democratic congressional sources tell CNN that having the House approve the Senate bill is probably the best of a series of bad options to pass health care reform in the event of a Brown victory.

ETHICS ISSUE:

As an ethics speaker and author…I must admit that I am amazed.  If Brown’s election is a representation of something larger than just a local Senate election (and with all the coverage – it is bigger), then how could our elected officials ignore the legislative process and deny Brown his opportunity to represent the people of MA.  It would appear that, should the House pass the Senate version, then it would be clear that “Change from politics as usual” that many people felt they were voting for was just a misguided belief.

What we see happen in the next few days will define our nation.  We are either a democracy that respects the will of the people or we have become so consumed with power, agenda and greed that we will have a much harder battle to restore respect and ethics to our government.

I hope that folks (regardless of your political persuasion), or better stated, government elected officials, will allow the legislative process to continue without making the unethical decision to force and agenda.

VOICE OF REASON:

Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia said in a statement Tuesday after Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley in the special election for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s seat.

“It is vital that we restore the respect of the American people in our system of government and in our leaders. To that end, I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated.”

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


Clifford Wayne Robertson – Real Estate Radio Talk Show Host Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud

January 18, 2010

He was heard on CNN 1190 in the Dallas, TX marketplace.  His topic – real estate investment strategies.  What folks apparently did not hear was “the rest of the story.”  It seems that, now former Dallas radio host, Clifford Wayne Robertson, 43, pleaded guilty to  charges of bank fraud.

The original indictment alleged that Robertson admitted to using the identity of another person to send fraudulent personal financial statements to a lending institution, the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleged. He submitted the statement to obtain money under false pretenses, prosecutors said in a statement.

The loss caused by his actions is estimated to be in the $3 million range.

Robertson was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sept. 10, 2009. He faces a maximum sentence of up to 32 years in prison. A sentencing date is still to be determined.

COMMENTS:  Since there are three components to the commission of a white collar crime like this – NEED, OPPORTUNITY and RATIONALIZATION – the question is, first, what motivated Robertson to commit such a fraud?  And, equally as important, how could he rationalize that statements issued under false pretenses would be O.K.?

I’m interested in your thoughts.

As a business ethics speaker and author, I know what Robertson is facing.  I, too, faced federal prison for crimes committed in the ’80’s.  Speaking from experience, the consequences of fraudulent actions are no fun.  And, the higher your profile the more likely you are to receive a more severe sentence – just ask Bernie Madoff.

If you have insight into what Robertson might have been thinking…feel free to share.


“Honest-Services Fraud” law – taking ethics and fraud deterrence too far?

January 12, 2010

Is it possible that in our quest for improved ethics and fraud deterrence that we’ve created a capture net that is too broad and too easy to be caught in?

Years ago I spent time in federal prison.  I am not proud of that fact, but it’s a fact that I cannot change.  Like Bernie Madoff, I defrauded clients (through the creation of a Ponzi scheme) and, when the card was pulled from the house of cards I created, I found myself facing that dreaded walk into federal prison.  Those 23 steps from the curb into federal prison were the longest 23 steps of my life.

Yet, while I was there…(as you can imagine) I became acquainted with many folks – most of whom had, in fact, done the crime.  They, like I, were paying the price for our crimes by doing the time (so to speak).  From that experience, one thing I learned was the broad sweeping power to convict of the word – CONSPIRACY.

It became clear that the government could use CONSPIRACY laws to capture “would be” criminals or make it easy to win convictions for those who committed crime, but otherwise would walk. Now it would appear that the broad bush word CONSPIRACY has been replaced with an even broader bush (or criminal capture net) called “HONEST SERVICES.”

HERE’S THE CONCEPT – according to an article in Fortune Magazine:

If a judge or governor accepts bribes, for instance, he is not necessarily stealing money from anyone, but he is depriving the public of the “honest services” they have a right to expect from him. Likewise, if a corporate purchasing officer accepts secret kickbacks from vendors, he’s depriving his employer of his “honest services.”

“Look around at all the high-profile cases today,” says Richard Craig Smith, a former federal prosecutor now with the law firm Fulbright & Jaworski. “Ninety-five percent of them are charged under honest-services fraud. That’s not just an accident.”

In fact, recent defendants in such cases compose a white-collar rogues’ gallery for our times, featuring such tarnished luminaries as former governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois; former U.S. congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana; newspaper magnate and former Hollinger International CEO Conrad Black; lobbyist Jack Abramoff; and former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling.

HERE’S THE RUB – Just about anything that someone might perceive as wrong could be captured with the very wide net of the “Honest-Services” doctrine.  The Fortune article goes on to say:  “The feature that prosecutors love about honest-services fraud is precisely what critics say dooms it constitutionally: its nearly infinite adaptability. “There’s almost no fact pattern that cannot be fit around 1346,” says Smith, referring to the section of Title 18 of the U.S. Code that defines the offense. Read literally, it seems broad enough to catch any deceit at all. If so, then who among us is not guilty?”

If the law is so vague, broad and ill defined that you could commit a crime without knowing that you’ve committed one…then it is possible that the law that prosecutors love could be struck down as unconstitutional.  In fact thee are two cases before the Supreme Court on that very issue.

The law “invites abuse by headline-grabbing prosecutors in pursuit of local officials, state legislators, and corporate CEOs who engage in any manner of unappealing or ethically questionable conduct,” wrote U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  “Carried to its logical conclusion,” he continued, it “also renders criminal a state legislator’s decision to vote for a bill because he expects it will curry favor with a small minority essential to his reelection; a mayor’s attempt to use the prestige of his office to obtain a restaurant table without a reservation; [or] a salaried employee’s phoning in sick to go to a ball game.”

“If you defraud someone out of money,” explains Susan Necheles, a white-collar defense lawyer at New York’s Hafetz & Necheles, “there’s clearly a crime, and there are plenty of statutes that cover it. When the government resorts to honest-services fraud, on the other hand, it’s almost always because there’s a real question whether this was a crime or just aggressive business behavior.”

SO HERE’S THE QUESTION:

As an ethics and fraud prevention speaker, I wonder, in the governments efforts to rein in fraud – have they gone too far in their efforts to broadly define “Honest-Services” for purposes of prosecuting and convicting those accused of (shall we say) “ethical” crimes?  The Fortune Magazine article provides an outstanding framework for this law’s background (read here).

In December the Supreme Court signaled, hearing an “Honest Services” case that the law was ambiguous and therefore likely to be struck down.  “A citizen is supposed to be able to understand the criminal law,” Breyer said, yet it was unclear what the law in question branded as a crime.

Early next year, the justices will hear a third case testing the honest-services fraud law, brought by former Enron Chief Executive Jeffrey K. Skilling.  The justices hinted that they would put off ruling on the issue until they had considered Skilling’s case, since his lawyers argued most directly that the entire law should be thrown out as too vague.

QUESTION:  Do you feel that this statute should be struck down for being too vague?  If so, what should replace it?

COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


No Negro Dialect – Harry Reid Apologizes! But What About All This “Political Correctness”?

January 9, 2010

So here’s the CNN report today:  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apologized Saturday following reports he had privately described then-candidate Barack Obama during the presidential campaign as a black candidate who could be successful thanks in part to his “light-skinned” appearance and speaking patterns “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

Apparently Mr. Reid’s comments are included in a book soon to be released in journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s new book “Game Change.”

I’m sorry, but I must admit…this political correctness thing is just becoming way too burdensome.  I expect criticism from this post, but it’s getting to the point that a person, especially in the public eye, can’t express themselves without offending someone.  Is it not possible anymore to express your opinion and allow folks to accept you for who or what you are?

LETS BE FRANK!

I’m a speaker.  Over and over I hear about what one should say and how one should say it in front of an audience.  Don’t offend.  Well, I’m becoming more and more convinced that offending is becoming easier and speaking what’s on your mind more difficult.

Reid verbalized what many American’s said about Obama before the election.  I admire Obama’s voice, speech patterns and ability to deliver a speech and inspire a crowd.  Now…here’s a fact.  If Obama spoke like a street thug – be he black or white…he would not have captured the imagination of the American people.  Straight up – Obama did not speak like stereotypical black man and that did contribute to making him electable.

If, candidate Obama, had said in a speech over and over again – “Let me axe you a question…” vs. “Let me ask you a question…” – would he have been elected by the American people?  REALLY…I’D LIKE TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK…  But read on…

SO WHAT DO YOU DO?

Fact: I was in prison in the mid-90’s and my cellmate was a young black ma named – Buck.  Buck became one of my closest friends and taught me much…in fact, he is one of the reasons that my prison experience became such a profound learning experience.  Today, when I deliver a speech I often share a dialogue that Buck and I had on my second day in prison.  When I share this exchange…I carry on the conversation just like it happened – speaking and sounding just like Buck.  He sounded like a Black street thug – which is exactly what he was when he entered prison.

I’ve been told – “Oh, you can’t do that.  You’re degrading African-Americans.”

No.  I’m not.  I’m sharing with an audience exactly what happened – tone speech patterns and all.  The lessons I learned from Buck happened, in part, because I was able to learn from his street smarts just as he was able to learn from my education.  Speaking like Buck is real.  What Harry Reid said was real and true.  I just don’t see what all the fuss is about.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?


Guest Blog: It Depends On What You Mean By “Transparency”

January 8, 2010

As a business ethics speaker, I, from time to time, am pleased to have guest blogs featured on my site.  Ethics, by definition, are actions whose motivation is based on ideas of right and wrong.  In politics we hear, when someone is seeking election, a litany of ideas who have a fundamental ethics base.  Yet, when push comes to shove, it seems that ethics flies out the window and the politician is face with reality of accomplishing their agenda or operating ethically.  Guest blogger – Rick Krug – shares this in his piece entitled:  IT DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU MEAN BY “TRANSPARENCY” featured below:

As the Obama Administration continues to “duck and cover” over the attempted Christmas Day Boxer Bomber, it now finds itself searching for that Cloak of Invisibility regarding the health care debate. Having successfully locked out any Republican opposition by sheer numbers alone, the White House and both chambers of Congress have decided to have “informal” discussions on just how to craft the final health care overhaul. Now, when you read “informal”; this word is roughly translated “secret.”

For months before the 2008 election, candidate Obama was demanding the entire health care debate would be broadcast over C-Span, the cable station dedicated to all things US Government. By now, we have all seen the 8-10 video clips of Obama making this same promise to various rallies across America. When Nancy Pelosi was chosen as Speaker of the House in 2006, she stated, “This will be the most open and transparent government in history.”

Today, on CNN, John Cafferty essentially called Obama and the Democratic leadership liars as he pointed out the American public would not get to see the final outcome of the health care takeover until the secret meetings were over. In case you missed it, read the first sentence of this paragraph again: I said CNN made that charge – I know, you were thinking I said Fox News, right?

In fact, what was supposed to be the crowning glory for Obama and certain to place his face on Mount Rushmore, is now becoming the unmasking of what seems to be nothing more than a Chicago-style thug politician. Seriously, when Obama said the whole heath care debate would be on C-Span, I thought to myself, “wow, how would MCCain ever top that!” For starters, he might have simply kept his word. Is it just me, or does anyone else think the White House and Congress simply don’t care what Americans think….about anything?

So, just what am I missing about the word “Transparency?” I swear I thought it had something to do with being able to witness things in real time. Silly me.

I suppose I should have been suspicious when the 500 page starter yeast of the health care bill bloomed into a 1000 page bill, which, it seems, all those who were to vote on this thing admitted they had not even read. There probably should have been a couple of alarms going off in my head when the Senate version of this takeover sterioded out to over 2000 pages and nearly a trillion dollars. But it took this latest failure of truth to really get my attention. To be sure, there will be enough pork in the final healthcare package to make even Oscar Meyer jealous. But I can guarantee that there will be no Senator nor House member who will have ever read the final version.

We all know that health care is the main focus to the Obama agenda, while, it seems, national security is a minor annoyance, but come on, what in the world does the Pelosi, Reid, Obama product have to hide? Look, when you have a network who, second only to NBC, was as much as throwing palm branches down while the Messiah rode in on the back of Biden, begin questioning the integrity of the man’s promises, now you have a news story. To be fair, CNN could use a boost in the ratings, but Cafferty was no happy camper. Nor should he be, nor should any American be.

We all know campaign promises are usually only hopeful suggestions – “Read my lips, no new taxes” – but this outright lie is in fact an outright lie. One legitimately wonders if Obama ever planned on telecasting anything on C-Span. Then Pelosi said, “This is the most open process ever…” with a straight face. So I ask again, do these folks care even a little about what the American people think? Are we that stupid to them? This issue has carried elitism even farther than Hollywood could imagine.

I suspect the real reason the final debate on the health care plan remains secret is summed up in one word: truth. The Obama administration, the leader of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House simply do not want America to know the truth. They want it secret and they do not care.

All the while, Democrat after Democrat is running for the tall grass – shifting their registration to an ‘R”, or somehow coming to the conclusion it is time to retire. I believe this is the first time I have seen the rats leave the ship before the ship even left the harbor.

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