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08/08/2010

Pimpin' Fords

   If I see one more politician at the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant on Chicago's south side, I might call police.

   Pimping is a crime in Illinois. 

   Isn't it?

   Last Thursday, his audaciousness President Barack Obama led a procession of pols onto the assembly line floor of the Torrence Avenue facility.  The President's entourage included Illinois Treasurer and U.S. Senate Candidate Alexi Giannoulias, media-fugitive Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. and his U.S. House colleagues Bobby Rush and Danny Davis, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Mayor Richard M. Daley.

  They were joined by several city and state lawmakers who came along for the leech.  

  All the pols preened and posed in Ford's oldest continuously-operated plant, trying to share credit for the resurgent automaker's plan to hire an additional 1200 workers to build energy-efficient cars and SUV's in Chicago.

  The presidential appearance meant "second helpings" for Quinn and Daley who earlier this year attended separate Ford events orchestrated in part by their media staffs.

  A week earlier, Mr. Obama visited struggling General Motors and Chrysler plants in Michigan.   Before The President's 15 minute speech in Chicago, his administration announced the U.S. Import/Export Bank would provide $3.1 billion in financing to help Ford sell its products in foreign markets.

  After the Presidential remarks, Governor Quinn's media staff worked reporters hard, practically begging them to re-tell the story of how the state used tax credits to help convince Ford to build its new generation of vehicles in Illinois.

Pimpin' Ain't Easy

  Jumping on the Ford bandwagon is a difficult leap for politicians, including the President of the United States.  Remember, the company is the only one of the Big Three U.S. Automakers that did not accept a bailout from the Federal Government.  And to hear Ford employees tell it, their savior is someone who has never run for public office.

  Ever hear the name Alan Mulally?

  Mulally is Ford's President and Chief Executive Officer.  He is a former aerospace executive at Chicago-based Boeing Corporation who was hired in 2006 to lead the then-troubled automaker.   Mulally spent the last four years directing Ford through a difficult and sometimes painful restructuring.  The company closed plants, laid off workers, dropped product lines, invested in new designs and made dozens of other major changes as Mulally's team "right-sized" Ford to compete globally.  

  When the world's financial markets collapsed in the fall of 2008 and U.S. automakers GM and Chrysler teetered on the edge of extinction, only Mulally's rebuilt Ford was healthy enough to weather the economic storm without taxpayer assistance.

  In fact, it was announced last month that Ford had actually turned a profit for five consecutive quarters dating back to the spring of 2009.  That performance is remarkable given the fact the success occurred during the worst economic downturn in 70 years.

   And that leads to another observation during last week's theatrics at the southside Ford Plant:

   Alan Mulally was a no-show.

   And there was nothing in the handout material given reporters to explain why Ford's CEO did not take the one-hour flight from Dearborn, Michigan to welcome the leader of the free world and many of the most powerful elected officials in Illinois to the company's Chicago works.

  Apparently, Mr. Mulally had more important things to do than watch his company's success pimped by politicians who had little or nothing to do with it.

  

  


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