Call Of Duty: Akerson's Battle With The Truth

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
call of duty akerson s battle with the truth

GM CEO Dan Akerson might be in another one of his battles with the truth.

In a softballed interview with Fortune, GM’s CEO Dan Akerson said that he was suddenly and surprisingly drafted to lead GM as if it was time to go to war. “This was a call to service for me,” said Akerson, as he wrapped himself in a red, white, and blue flag and regaled interviewer Geoff Colvin with stories from the U.S. Naval Academy. Akerson makes the CEO job sound like a hardship post:

“It was somewhat of a dislocation to me from a personal routine point of view, I had to move. I am sixty-some years old and it’s a little late in life to try to reinvent yourself.”

Hardship or not, Dan Akerson followed the call to duty, even if he “wasn’t expecting it.”

He wasn’t?

The Wall Street Journal says that it was Akerson who applied for the job, and that he used personal connections to get it:

His path to GM began about two years ago. A former Naval Academy engineering student and ship officer (he ran the ship’s power plant), he was at Carlyle in 2009 leading the global buyout unit. But he had followed GM’s troubles closely, and, hoping to get on its board, spoke to a colleague who knew the Treasury Department’s GM point person, Ron Bloom.”

The colleague, David Marchick, described Mr. Akerson to the Treasury man as a “tough-as-nails, no-B.S. conservative Republican.” To his surprise, Mr. Bloom responded: “He’s perfect.”

Well, maybe the Wall Street Journal got it wrong. Certainly, the U.S. Navy Alumni Association must have had its story straight when it wrote:

On a humid June day in 2009, armies of lawyers were hashing out General Motors’ recent bankruptcy filing in a courtroom without air-conditioning in lower Manhattan. In Washington, Akerson, a managing director of the Carlyle Group, confided to an associate that he’d like to serve on GM’s new board of directors.”

The associate again was David Marchick. He tried to talk Akerson out of it. The job would demand a lot of Akerson’s time. The pay would be much less than at Carlyle. Most of all, Akerson would have to deal with Washington. But Akerson, says the article, “wouldn’t let the idea go:”

“If you’re really serious, I can give Ron a call,” offered Marchick, who had done business with Ron Bloom, the head of Obama’s auto task force. Akerson agreed.”

Also according to this story, Akerson was pitched to auto task force chief Ron Bloom. Also according to this story, Bloom responded: “He sounds perfect.”

The article was reprinted many times. Some sites even swear they had seen the same article in the Detroit Free Press. Where it can’t be found anymore.

These stories don’t jibe with Akerson’s claim that he was called up out of the blue, and that he followed the sudden call of duty, personal inconvenience or not. If the stories don’t jibe, then someone does not tell the truth. You decide who is telling lies.

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2 of 13 comments
  • Slab Slab on Jun 02, 2012

    "Oh, I'm taking one for the team." Retires three years later with a $30 million separation package.

  • Dolometh Dolometh on Jun 02, 2012

    I'm no fan of Akerson's, but to be fair, serving on the board and becoming CEO are two different things. If I recall correctly from Steven Rattner's book, it's true that he didn't want the CEO post. Seemed like he got thrust into it when Whitacre bailed.

  • Dukeisduke In an ideal world, cars would be inspected in the way the MoT in the UK does it, or the TÜV in Germany. But realistically, a lot of people can't afford to keep their cars to such a high standard since they need them for work, and widespread public transit isn't a thing here.I would like the inspections to stick around (I've lived in Texas all my life, and annual inspections have always been a thing), but there's so much cheating going on (and more and more people don't bother to get their cars inspected or registration renewed), so without rigorous enforcement (which is basically a cop noticing your windshield sticker is out of date, or pulling you over for an equipment violation), there's no real point anymore.
  • Zipper69 Arriving in Florida from Europe and finding ZERO inspection procedures I envisioned roads crawling with wrecks held together with baling wire, duct tape and prayer.Such proved NOT to be the case, plenty of 20-30 year old cars and trucks around but clearly "unsafe at any speed" vehicles are few and far between.Could this be because the median age here is 95, so a lot of low mileage vehicles keep entering the market as the owners expire?
  • Zipper69 At the heart of GM’s resistance to improving the safety of its fuel systems was a cost benefit analysis done by Edward Ivey which concluded that it was not cost effective for GM to spend more than $2.20 per vehicle to prevent a fire death. When deposed about his cost benefit analysis, Mr. Ivey was asked whether he could identify a more hazardous location for the fuel tank on a GM pickup than outside the frame. Mr. Ivey responded, “Well yes…You could put in on the front bumper.”
  • 28-Cars-Later I'll offer this, offer a registration for limited use and exempt it from all inspection. The Commonwealth of GFY for the most part is Dante's Inferno for the auto enthusiast however they oddly will allow an antique registration with limited use and complete exemption from their administrative stupidity but it must be 25 years old (which ironically are the cars which probably should be inspected). Given the dystopia being built around us, it should be fairly simply to set a mileage limitation and enforce a mileage check then bin the rest of it if one agrees to the terms of the registration. For the most part odometer data started being stored in the ECU after OBDII, so it should be plug and play to do such a thing - this is literally what they are doing now for their emissions chicanery.
  • Probert For around $15 you can have a professional check important safety areas - seems like a bargain. It pointed to a rear brake problem on my motorcycle. It has probably saved a lot of lives. But, like going to a dentist, no-one could say it is something they look forward to. (Well maybe a few - it takes all kinds...)