That's Off-The-Record: The Almost Stillborn Nissan Z
I fell in love for the first time as a 10-year-old boy in tiny Pella, Iowa. She passed me and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her until she turned the corner and ran away.
That babe was the 1970 Datsun 240Z, and it was driven by one of the coolest cats in town.
Little did I know then that I’d have a hand in bringing the Z back from the dead some 28 years later.
That's Off-The-Record: Textual Healing Redux
Back in 2012, a Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) spokesman said one reason southeastern Michigan had seen an increase in traffic crashes and deaths is because the area is more urbanized, thus has more motorists than the rest of the state.
In a column the next day on The Michigan View, The Detroit News political website, I countered the spokesperson’s claim, arguing “more motorists” logically explained “why” there are more accidents and deaths in urbanized areas, but did not explain the increasing frequency of those rates. (That column is also featured in my second book, Jimmy Hoffa Called My Mom a Bitch: Profiles in Stupidity. Pardon the self-promotion.)
What could be behind the rise after years of declining numbers? Maybe, I argued, it was a regulation legislators began enacting in SE Michigan, the state, and — in fact — the entire country in 2007: the ban on texting while driving.
That's Off-The-Record: A CAFE With a Bad Menu
Not to go all political on you, but it’s amazing how President Obama acted more like a bitter foreclosure victim — one who goes nuts and destroys as much of the house as they can, just short of being arrested for vandalism — during his last days in office, and not a graceful man given two terms as the leader of the free world.
Mr. Obama did this in two ways: one action affected a short list of government folk, and the other impacted one of the most important industries in our lives — the auto industry.
The short-listed government victims are those affected by Obama’s order to share dirt on people talking with “foreigners.” It’s against the law — but when did that stop the former President? What’s worse, and perhaps deadly, is Mr. Obama’s decision to renege on his promise to check and perhaps re-adjust the daunting future Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard his administration first put in place in 2009, which the administration made even wackier in 2011.
That's Off-The-Record: Is Marchionne Trying to Pull the Wool (Sweater) Over Chrysler's Eyes?
About half a decade ago, FCA honcho Sergio Marchionne welcomed then-Vice President Joe “Lunch Bucket” Biden to the Jeep Toledo plant to celebrate all things Jeep. It was rather warm August day outside, but even hotter in the assembly plant where everybody’s favorite “uncle,” hair plugs and all, was decked out in a suit and tie. Marchionne, on the other hand, was “sporting” his signature blue wool sweater.
I was writing a politics blog for the Detroit News at the time, and I urged Mr. Marchionne to give his sweater shtick a rest. Why? Well, when the “Number Two” for the United States shows up in a suit, you look disrespectful in a sweater … even if it is from Nordstrom. Worse yet, I pointed out, it had to be hotter than hell in a wool sweater in an assembly plant humming with new vehicle production.
Up to that point, I was duly impressed with the Canadian-Italian and his rescue of my former employer. He was smart, funny and all-too-quotable. Most importantly, he had asked his Chrysler colleagues to work their butts off to save the company, and his minions quickly saw nobody worked harder than Sergio as he chain-smoked his magic on the often down-and-out company.
Marchionne did what former CEO Bob Nardelli couldn’t do in the former Home-Depot-throw-off’s two-year “Reign of Error.” Marchionne didn’t just lead the members of his team. He got in the trenches and inspired them.
Fast forward to late 2016 through today, and I’m asking myself: Is Marchionne a “loon” or a “boon” for FCA’s future?