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Years ago, I was Toyota’s mid-American PR manager, and we never dreamed of a recall disaster like the one they are experiencing now, calling back millions of cars and stopping production because of a sticking accelerator problem. Thousands of run-away car incidents and 19 reported deaths, so far. Toyota is doing full disclosure on the situation, as far as I can tell (though there have been some questions about how quickly they acted) and taking rapid steps to fix the accelerator pedals, yet many people are afraid to drive their cars in the interim. This is beyond a PR nightmare — it’s just a nightmare. We drive a trusty old, reliable Highlander — one too old to have this problem.

The only PR advice I can give Toyota at this juncture is to be totally open and honest and accessible to the news media and to its customers. They should work with the NHTSA and National Safety Council and their dealers, to teach people how to check for a problem, if possible, handle a car in event of a situation, and how to avoid dangerous situations. They should work out and announce some sort of compensation or insurance from Toyota for damage and injury, and expedite legal remedies for those effected. It will cost them a fortune, but they are already losing a fortune in their plummeting stock and lost sales, so they must redeem their reputation and remedy the problems they have created with dramatic, meaningful and effectively communicated actions and assurances.

Nimble Nomad 24

At first sight, the Nomad, build by Nimble Boats, Inc. of Odessa, FL, is likely to elicit such adjectives as cute, quaint and perhaps even impractical. But, owners are quick to extol its virtues as an alternative choice for boaters in search of a mini cruiser for exploring protected bays, small lakes, rivers and canals.

The Nomad is trailerable, dramatically expanding its cruising range and a feature taken advantage of by many owners who have enjoyed cruising from the Florida Keys to the Gulf Islands of British Columbia and places in between.

Noted yacht designer Ted Brewer who, in his long career, has designed everything form dinghies to three-masted schooners, designed the Nomad, which does not fit into any particular genre. In profile, the design has a mini tugboat appearance. Her hull form is somewhere between that of a flat bottom skiff and deadrise sharpie, and the layout, with forward, aft cockpits and walk-through passage between them, has some characteristics reminiscent of an English canal barge.

via Boat Reviews by Jack Hornor, N.A. – Grady-White Offshore 24.

ARGUMENTS PRO and CON (condensed)

(for the enactment of Congressional Term Limits)

List of Arguments in Favor :

1. Overwhelmingly, voters prefer term limits. (It’s their native commonsense!)

2. Term limits downgrades seniority, favors meritocracy.

3. Increases competition, encourages new challengers.

4. Builds a ‘citizen’ Congress, drives out career politicians.

5. Breaks ties to special interests.

6. Improves tendency to vote on principle.

7. Introduces fresh thinking, new ideas, eliminates ‘old bulls’.

8. Reduces power of staff, bureaucracy, lobbies.

9. It will create a natural reduction in wasteful federal spending.

10. Encourages lower taxes, smaller government, greater voter participation in elections.

11. There are more reasons in favor of term limits than reasons against.

12. Gets reelection rates back to near 50%, versus the current 99%. (Founders called it “rotation in office”)

List of Arguments Opposed :

1. Terminates the good politicians along with the bad.

2. Instead of term limits, a reform of Congress’ procedures would be easier.

3. Reduces range of voter choice.

4. Loss of knowledge and experience.

5. Increases the power of staff, lobbies, and bureaucracy.

via Term Limits Arguments Pro and con.

Three weeks ago, Charles Hayward, NYRA’s president and CEO, drew first blood in another pitched skirmish with the State of New York, threatening to shutter the racetracks after the Belmont Stakes was run if the State didn’t begin funneling money from the proposed Aqueduct racino to the franchise soon. Two weeks ago, NY Breeders president Jeff Cannizzo attended an OTB hearing at the Capitol with a tombstone in tow, denoting the death of horse racing in the State if horsemen didn’t get their share from the bankrupted entity.

These were two recent attempts made by horse racing’s leaders to use fiscal miseries to achieve legislative leverage. And there was more of the same acrimony in the news following that. Hayward rejected an order by Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli to hand over the books so that DiNapoli could confirm where the last batch of money New York gave the sport had gone. A subpoena came down and Hayward gave in. A week later, NYRA was found dumping manure into Jamaica Bay. How much shit can the game shovel before nobody cares?

“I’m not really sure how much the people who like coming to the track care about all the political stuff going on,” Silver said, when I asked him about the fallout of fans from these unflattering rows. “I know I didn’t pay much attention to it, when I started going to the track when I was 18,” he confessed, while attempting to credit Aqueduct for boosting its attendance above the 1000 visitors count on the day that I called him.

Unlike Silver, Cannizzo perceives that collateral damage occurs from waging open warfare. Yet, he’s willing to try just about anything to have his message heard, even claiming annihilation. Putting the horse before the sport, the breeders’ leader said, “The best way to keep horse racing is to keep horses. One of our biggest concerns is the fans. But without the horses, there won’t be fans.” The question, then, I suppose, is of what importance are fans to the horses? The paradoxical problem is not an easy one to wrestle with.

Chuck Ebeling, the former head of public relations at McDonald’s and Baxter Labs, defined Hayward’s “going out of business” pronouncement and Cannizzo’s tombstone pilgrimage as public relations stunts. In defending the practice, he said, “A stunt is something you do when you don’t think the facts will be given the attention they deserve.” He said, furthermore, “It is typically the act of some desperation.” Good public relations are about being part of a good communications strategy, Ebeling added.

via Stunts Stunt Attendance.

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. Public domain.

Trawler yacht

January 2010

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