As most people know by now, the WWE will be handing out its merchandise near polling places this Tuesday as Linda McMahon tries to beat Dick Blumenthal for a seat on the U.S. Senate. The WWE says the tokens will be handed out just to thank McMahon supporters following a judge’s overturn of state Secretary Susan Bysiewicz’ ban on WWE apparel at the polls, but honestly — there’s a time and place for everything, and the election polls are neither for merchandise from the WWE or any other company. The WWE states that the merchandise will be outside of the 75-foot perimeter barring materials directly endorsing candidates to prevent any controversy, even though they would not violate election laws by doing so because they would not resemble Linda McMahon. True, but again — there’s a time and place for everything. While I’ve covered a few local races in my day, I don’t profess to be an expert on politics, yet I have enough sense to know that a polling place is not the appropriate venue to be handing out products for free, especially when they are made by a company owned by one of the contestants. One may argue whether or not the freebies would influence a voter’s decision — and I’m sure most of you reading this blog know which side I’d take in that argument — but what’s even more important is that — and I’ll say it a third and final time — there’s a time and place for everything. The polls are places where Americans can freely practice a privilege that so many people have died for — the privilige to vote. They are not areas where merchandise should be given out, no matter what the reason. The WWE’s doing so on Election Day at the polls sets bad precedent, and I hope other companies have enough sense not to follow WWE’s example.
Archive for October, 2010
My colleague and I were talking today about the ever-changing street scapes of many towns from quaint rows of small stores, whether they be mom-and-pops or national chains, to practically indistinguishable thoroughfares lined with one enormous box store after another. The fact that this is happening in towns across America is not breaking news, but it got me thinking to when I used to try to find a small shop among the hundreds lining a town’s main drag, only to realize I had passed it. Needless to say, I hated having to turn around in my quest to pinpoint the exact store, but now I find myself getting teary with nostalgia and actually missing all those little hard-to-find stores. Granted, those big box stores may be easier to find, but herein comes my dismay. Now I find myself making my way to the right box for whatever product I may need. Oh well. I guess I should see the bright side and cheer up. After all, if I don’t find what I need at one box, I suppose I’ll just find it at the next one down the road — or the next one.
Former General Electric Co. CEO Jack Welch gave some volume to his support for Republican senatorial candidate Linda McMahon Wednesday afternoon at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.
After seeing only a smattering of hands among the students and faculty at the Schine Auditorium in response to his question about who was registered to vote in Connecticut, Welch said, “It’s hardly worth my effort, but” — shouting now — “vote for Linda McMahon!”
Welch was at the John F. Welch College of Business, the Sacred Hart school that he endowed after retiring from GE in 2001, for a give-and-take with the students in which he emphasized repeatedly the need for government to be business-friendly to get the economy back up to speed.
In a brief interview after his talk, Welch noted that McMahon was a successful business executive likely to foster policies that would help grow jobs and support the business sector. He had no good words for Richard Blumenthal, the Democratic candidate.
Today, while I was walking to the New Haven train station to catch the 8:04 to Stamford, I passed a man scuffling along, hunched over and talking to himself.
I thought, what went wrong in his life? I’d say he was in his 40s – plenty of life left to live. But apparently whatever potential he had as a youth was gone. What a pity.
As our nation struggles to compete in the world with emerging giants like Brazil, China and India, we cannot continue to turn our backs on youths as they struggle with their classes or move through their lives – particularly those “average” children – the ones not destined to attend an Ivy League school.
Corporate leaders lament that our secondary schools are not producing graduates who are ready for the workplace.
In response, to their credit, they have provided millions of dollars for education.
But as budget cuts hit cash-strapped school districts, important non-classroom positions and resources are eliminated.
Perhaps it is time for American industry to expand its aid beyond math and science to save the jobs of those school psychologists and preserve those after-school programs for at-risk youngsters.
Otherwise, we will have millions more of at-risk adults who will not be there to answer the call.
Stamford-based Affinion Group, which in May registered with the SEC to sell shares to the public, has been put up for sale by its private equity owner, Apollo Management.
The New York Post reported the story Thursday, adding the Deutsche Bank had been hired to market the marketer of customer engagement and loyalty programs.
Affinion, along with its Norwalk-based peers Vertrue and WebLoyalty, all trace their roots back to CUC International, a membership services formerly company based in Stamford. CUC’s founders, Kirk Shelton and Walter Forbes, are serving prison terms for accounting fraud in CUC’s merger with HFS Corp. to form Cendant Corp. in 1997.
Affinion has been the target of enforcement actions by several states, paying fines for allegedly misleading customers into accepting memberships in programs that charged a fee to their credit cards every month. Affinion has maintained that it did nothing wrong, but agreed to alter some practices to give customers more disclosure.
The company, founded in 2005 when Apollo acquired the remaining membership loyalty assets from Cendant, employs about 400 people at 6 High Ridge Park in Stamford.
Greenwich resident and Stamford hedge fund manager Steve Cohen was in London Wednesday browsing the Frieze Art Fair, according to Bloomberg News. My bet is he didn’t fly commercial to get to the special VIP day.
Cohen, who owns the infamous Damien Hirst sculpture with a large, dead shark floating in formaldehyde (which used to grace the foyer of SAC Capital’s Stamford offices), didn’t buy Hirst’s latest fish-in-fluid work, which boasts 400 finned species in three glass cases. It went to an Asian collector.
Stevie — and everybody else at the show, according to Bloomberg — also passed on a $6 million cabinet some 10 feet tall filled with Viagra tablets.
Now, I can see some hedge fund managers thinking that’s a pretty low co-pay for a virtually never-ending script of little blue party pills, but the art lovers at the show gave this new Hirst installation the cold shoulder. Good for them.
All the moaning from Fox and Cablevision about not having a new deal for Channel 5 to be carried on the area’s biggest cable provider is pretty misleading.
Fox is appealing to viewers to lobby Cablevision so we don’t “lose” our access to House and Bones and the World Series. The real issue is how Fox and Cablevision split up the money that subscribers pay. All that is certain is whatever Cablevision pays Fox will be reflected in our bills at some point.
A pox on all their houses, I say.
The solution, and both Fox and Cablevision should take note, costs $10 at Walmart. Rabbit ears work just as well on new HDTVs as the did on old B&W tubes. And TV over the air is still free.
Paul Greenwood, the former Greenwich hedge fund manager at WTG Trading, is losing all his teddy bears today in a sale at Christie’s in London.
I’m having trouble getting too worked up about his personal tragedy. Mr. Greenwood, who pleaded guilty to charges of fraud over shenanigans at WTG, dropped more than a million dollars of his ill-gotten gains buying stuffed toys. Hopefully the people he defrauded will see some return from the sale of the teddy bears, and that the Steiff’s have not gone the way of Beanie Babies on the value scale.
And as an aside, what kind of hedge fund manager collects teddy bears, anyway? Maseratis or Gulfstreams or sports teams I can understand, even Steve Cohen’s classy paintings, but teddy bears? Sheesh.