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Steve Lunetta: Shirking our responsibility

Right About Now

Posted: June 20, 2010 10:21 p.m.
Updated: June 21, 2010 4:55 a.m.

After the Lakers sealed the victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, reporters rushed onto the floor and began interviewing hot, sweaty, but happy players.

Ron Artest, who had just finished a brilliant game, was asked about his reactions to the game.

Artest started by saying “First of all, I want to thank my hood.” Fair enough. He’s giving a nod to his neighbors, friends and the folks who helped shape him.

“Then, I want to thank my wife and family.” Alright, I’m still with him. Thanking your wife is always a good idea. Happy wife, happy life. With Artest’s history of bad behavior, his wife must be a saint.

Then, he said it. “And I want to thank my psychiatrist.” Trish turned to me and asked, “Did he say what I think he just said?” Yep. Only in Los Angeles would someone thank their shrink on national television.

Of course, Artest is not alone in stupid comments that get sprayed all over the media.

Last week, BP CEO Tony Hayward was verbally raked over the coals for his company’s inept and inadequate handling of the Gulf oil spill by the United States Congress.

As the oil continues to coat more and more Gulf coast marshland, BP’s chief said he was “so distraught” and was “devastated by this accident.” OK. I can see that. Bad things happen and the big boss can be upset by the situation.

Hayward went on to say that BP drills hundreds of wells per year. Rep. Mike Burgess of Texas delivered the best one-liner of the day by declaring, “Yes, I know. That’s what is scaring me now.”

The questions then turned toward the design of the drilling rig and the decisions that were made in its construction. Multiple investigations have uncovered documentation that showed BP built a less-expensive rig, saving $7 million.

Unfortunately, the less-expensive design also meant greater risk and less safety.

Then, Hayward made the finest Artest-esque comment. He said that he “was not involved in any of the decision making.”

He then went on to say, “I’m not stonewalling. I simply was not involved in the decision-making process.”

Are you serious? You are the CEO  of one of the most powerful companies in the world. BP’s empire spans the world and employs tens of thousands of people.

Millions of retirees in England depend on BP for income in their golden years. In many ways, the economic prosperity of England depends on your organization’s performance. 

You rose to your position through hard work, skill and talent. And now, when it comes time to show character, you prove that you have none. By blaming others, you mark yourself a coward and a fraud.

Of course, such behavior has become painfully commonplace. People in today’s culture are taught to avoid responsibility when confronted with negative situations. The virtue of stepping up and owning faults or shortcomings is becoming increasingly rare.

President Obama said the “buck stops with him” and he will be ultimately responsible. However, this is hollow and everyone knows it. The guy responsible for this mess was sitting in front of Congress ducking blame.

If the people who work in my department screw up, it’s my responsibility. If I did not train them correctly, if I gave them too much work or incorrect assignments, if I did not give them the right equipment, that is my fault.

If I did not know what they were doing, structure their work correctly, and have adequate feedback and reporting systems, that is my fault.

If a dozen people die when my oil rig blows up, that is my responsibility. And if that oil rig dumps millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf, that is also my fault.

And if I sit before Congress and am castigated for my organization’s failures, I will bear the assault because I have warranted it. My inaction and poor management bred the corporate culture that created the bad decisions, whether I made the specific decisions or not.

No, Mr. Hayward, you are responsible for BP’s actions, contrary to your protestations.

Why don’t you call Ron Artest’s shrink? He sounds like a nice man. And you are going to need a good psychiatrist after all of this is done.

Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and should probably see a shrink. He can be reached at His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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