Thursday, August 20, 2009

Having Already Placed the Blame for the Airport Authority's Luxurious Spending Habits During a Recession

I'm noticing a troubling tendency among some in the social media since the controversy first broke to give corporate PR firms like McNeely, Pigott, and Fox a pass from criticism akin to the minimizing excuse "boys will be boys." To paraphrase the logic as I've seen it: MP&F doesn't force their services on anyone; they simply respond to calls for proposals; they make their pitch; it's the government that accepts their proposal; MP&F is a private company, not part of the government, and they have a right to ask for whatever the market will bear.

All things being equal it would be that simple. But I got news for you. Take yourself down to the election commission and look at the lists of corporate contributors. You're bound to find individuals with MP&F on the campaign contribution lists of Metro's elected officials. They lobby and they give money to prime the pump so that when jobs go out, they haven't merely responded to a call and made a no-strings-attached pitch. It's not simple and all things are not equal.

When campaign finance is driven mostly by industry, powerful special interests, and political action groups, the line between private enterprise and government service gets blurred. Corporations effectively become the government and decisions on contracts get weighted by patronage rather than performance. And the business community has to shoulder some responsibility for that situation.

It takes at least two to tango, and while the the Mayor's Office is mostly culpable, firms like MP&F take up the trot. They are not unwitting accomplices. They join in the dance. Hell, they even tip the band and make special requests.

I don't know why MP&F should be given more latitude to rip-off taxpayers than any common sap who might attempt to do so. And the interest in making a $1,000 holiday card for the airport should not be confused with the avarice of charging $10,000 just because they can.

Business ethics still matters even if good-ole-boy government gives a wink and a nod and looks the other way. Ethics is still what one does when no one else, especially not NewsChannel5, is looking. Right?

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