Saturday, March 01, 2008

Leap Year 1988

(Peter Drucker) Tucson, Arizona. Twenty years ago yesterday on Monday, February 29, 1988, management icon Peter Drucker, the "father of modern management" visited Tucson to participate in two events. The first involved a meeting and panel discussion moderated by Tucson Economic Development Corporation's president Ed Butterbaugh and Tucson Tomorrow president Phineas Anderson. The panel discussed the changing world economy and how to be a more effective executive. On growth, Drucker said, "Those communities that don't manage growth become slums. Those that try to prevent growth become bigger slums."

The next day, Tuesday, March 1, 1988 Drucker gave a seminar on Leadership and Special Interest groups at the Westward Look Resort. Admission cost $275 ($500 in 2008 dollars). Drucker noted that special interest groups can become very powerful and exert great influence over elected officials. He cited the Women's Christian Temperance Union, which got Washington to pass Prohibition when less then ten percent of the population supported it.

Drucker wrote many books and coined the term "knowledge worker" and "knowledge economy" long before the explosion of the internet. While serving as Labor Secretary under President Clinton, Robert Reich in 1992 wrote the book The Work of Nations about the knowledge worker. Reich further distinguished knowledge positions and the importance of an educated workforce in a global economy. That same year, Reich dispatched his staff to San Manuel, Arizona to learn about an extraordinary copper company. They were blown away, and Reich flew CEO Burgess Winter to Washington to speak directly to Clinton about union-management relationships. The next year Australian giant BHP purchased the company for $2.4 billion.

Also on March 1, 1988 the Arizona Senate in Phoenix started its trial of Governor Evan Mecham on a variety of charges mostly associated with illegal loans and other financial improprieties, but his office created a lot of noise including a death threat, favors for buddies, and absurd statements like Chinese visitors having round eyes when they see Arizona's golf courses. When asked if Mecham's impeachment would hurt Arizona's economy, Drucker shrugged that a company thinking about moving to Arizona is interested in its education and workforce, not "whether the governor is a crook."

Drucker added that special interests are particularly powerful when the government is corrupt and lacking ethics. In such an environment, the highest bidders and most connected can forward their agendas at will. With the proper connections, one could even get Washington to pass legislation funneling billions of dollars to corporations making record profits. War profiteers certainly did not object to Johnson's escalation of Vietnam. Surely reasons can be found for favoring the connected. A corrupt regime might even fabricate justification for war.

The previous Sunday, February 21, 1988, televangelist Jimmy Swaggart broke down in front of an audience of thousands and confessed he had sinned against his wife. A couple years earlier, Swaggart exposed Assemblies of God minister Marvin Gorman's affair with a parishioner, and then he exposed televangelist Jim Bakker's sexual indiscretions, stating that Bakker was a "cancer in the body of Christ" on Larry King Live. Gorman hired a detective who found Swaggart in a motel with prostitute Debra Murphree. He took pictures. Murphee described her encounters with Swaggart as "perverted."

Super Tuesday loomed before the presidential candidates. Candidate Pat Robertson, competing with GHW Bush to succeed Ronald Reagan, claimed the Jimmy Swaggart exposure right before super Tuesday was a Bush campaign tactic designed to embarrass ministers. Bush became the GOP nominee and would later defeat Democratic candidate Michael Dukasis, who demonstrated terrible campaign judgment failing to understand Lee Atwater's deviant tactics (Willie Horton revolving door), common sense (wishy washy answer when asked for his feelings if someone raped his daughter), and of course, riding around in a tank like an absolute idiot reminding people of the Peanuts character Snoopy.

That May, in Miami, New York, Washington, Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Louisville, middle school students squared off in Michael "Cockroach Dundee" Bohdan's annual "Combat Great American Roach Off" to find the largest cockroach. The finals took place in New York the next month. The winner produced one over three inches long.

At exactly high noon on June 17, 1988 a certain blogger-to-be caught his daughter the instant she was born in the house on Second Avenue where John Dillinger hid out shortly before he was captured in Tucson. The following Wednesday at 3:05 PM, the Tucson airport reported the hottest temperature ever in the history of the facility, 112 degrees. Other parts of the city reported even higher temperatures.

On June 28, 1988, IBM Corporation announced it was eliminating 2,800 jobs from its facility on Rita Road. Almost exactly eleven years later, on June 24, 1999, BHP Copper announced the closure of San Manuel operations and the elimination of 2,600 jobs. Eight years after that, a small training institute that supported workforce development was shut down, causing five people to lose their jobs.

3 Comments:

Anonymous The Navigator said...

A delicious read, although first time visitors are not likely to have the slightest idea what you wrote.

The context and subtext put more between the lines than in the lines with multiple connections between dots thrown on the screen at multiple levels.

John McCain spoke recently of the need of the country to develop its workforce. He pointed out that current unemployment insurance and training programs for dislocated workers are based on the 50s economy. Politicians talk about support for education and do nothing for it.

Why would IBM move operations from Tucson to San Jose when San Jose real estate and cost of living are out of site? What motivated the move?

Do special interest groups exist in Tucson? What local agencies enjoy fat subsidies and special favors from the city and the county?

What is Tucson’s relationship to growth and how is it managed?

Who really runs this town anyway and what are their priorities? Who are Tucson’s Halliburtons and ExxonMobiles? Who do the elected officials represent for real?

I would like to hear Cigar Man’s take.

3/02/2008 10:10 AM  
Blogger x4mr said...

With hindsight, I find it embarrassing how much I failed to see. Never underestimate the power of denial.

3/02/2008 11:42 AM  
Blogger Cigar Man said...

Interesting and very creative.

No one can quite believe you did what you did. Some are appalled. Others cheer. They sought legal advice which told them a court entanglement with you would be devastating.

At least in the short term, history is written by the winners, but when a blogger writes irrefutable material packed with easily verified facts as well as documentation, it makes them cranky. EVERYONE has read Snell's letter.

Publicly people say what they think is safe. As you know, your predecessor is livid but readily dismissed as obsolete. No one likes the old jerk.

I think you misjudged Carol. You think too highly of her. For example, she didn't get the "number served" game. After you left, they had no idea. Everyone entered CYA mode. She threw you under the bus, but the sharp can tell she doesn't get it.

The rest are relieved and cite her to shift all blame to you and get themselves off the hook. As some speak you can hear the discomfort.

The suits know you leave Tucson next year. They are glad. No suit, not one, will have a conversation with you in public about SAIAT.

I confess I entertain scenarios, like your interacting with the Mayor about customized training for businesses. In my scenario, you look him right in the eye, voice intense, and ask, "Have you taken a course at Pima Community College?"

I read your paper. NPSAS six year panel.

The paper is a long way from a dissertation, but it's brilliant.

Publish the descriptives.

3/02/2008 9:32 PM  

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