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Can everybody finally settle down now and get to work? Thanks

Thursday, Mar 31, 2011

* Perhaps now all the Nervous Nellies will stop claiming that the sky is falling

News reports that Peoria-based Caterpillar Inc. was thinking of exiting Illinois were misleading, Doug Oberhelman, chairman and chief executive of the construction and mining machine maker, said Wednesday.

The media read too much into his recent letter to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, he said.

“The headlines were sensational — they said things like ‘Cat leaving Illinois,’ and lots of other things, which isn’t what the letter said,” Oberhelman said in an address to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce gathering in Washington, D.C.

“I actually said, I’m looking forward to finding ways to invest more in Illinois and to change the business climate,” he said at a summit hosted by the chamber’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness.

The business climate in this state is in definite need of improvement. If nothing else, the shock from those nutty headlines might hopefully spur Springfield to act.

* Much of the reporting and commentary on this story has been crazily sensationalistic and just downright horrible. Here’s just one goofy example

Joliet became part of TV news coverage of the Caterpillar story Sunday when Andrew Mihelich, one of the city’s mayoral candidates in Tuesday’s election, held a quickly staged rally in support of the company and invited coverage of the event. Four Chicago TV news crews came to town, and at least two stations aired footage of the event attended by about 40 of the candidate’s supporters, many of whom held up “Mihelich for Mayor” signs and wore Mihelich T-shirts.

No Caterpillar employees were even at that rally

About an hour into the rally at Mihelich campaign headquarters, no Caterpillar workers could be found. But Keith Godsey of Joliet, who said his father is a Caterpillar retiree, was there and said he supported Mihelich’s efforts.

It was pure politics and the media fell for it

Joliet City Councilman Warren Dorris, another Joliet mayoral candidate and a former manager at the Joliet plant, said Sunday that he thought the news coverage of Oberhelman’s letter was overblown.

“I worked for that company for 36 years,” Dorris said Wednesday. “Caterpillar has always challenged the state of Illinois and the governor to improve the business climate of the state.”

Dorris said he was “not surprised at all” by Oberhelman’s comments Wednesday. “His letter was intended to open dialogue. It did that. Unfortunately, some people took it and made political hay.”

Dorris has been critical of Mihelich’s rally, saying it was an attempt by a candidate to gain attention for his campaign.

Dorris is exactly right.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


14 Comments
  1. - just sayin' - Thursday, Mar 31, 11 @ 9:23 am:

    Well said Rich.

    When will the press in this state stop playing the fools for GOP nitwits who WANT this state to fail and for CAT to leave, thinking that will somehow make Cross and Radogno leaders.


  2. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 31, 11 @ 9:27 am:

    What was clear from most of the media coverage and political reaction was that many did not even read the letter or care to find out the issues that were being raised. The stories and commentaries were unleashed without any basic due diligence.

    The exceptions to the hysteria were found here and Engineering News-Record (quoted here), which summed up CATs position succinctly:

    ==Caterpillar executives are chiefly concerned about lawmakers’ ability to balance the state budget, reduce state spending, create new workers’ compensation reform and renew a research-and-development tax credit. –

    Just the facts — and no mention of the corporate income tax, the focus of most media reports and reaction.

    Illinois news outlets, bloviating politicians and yapping radio yabbos might want to review how they got it so wrong.


  3. - Downstate - Thursday, Mar 31, 11 @ 9:30 am:

    Work Comp. still remains THE issue. CAT may keep their headquarters here, but they’ve been shifting manufacturing jobs out of state for the past several years. I’m involved with a tier three supplier to Caterpillar. The movemement of jobs to more “business friendly” states is pretty clear.


  4. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Mar 31, 11 @ 10:00 am:

    Rich said,

    “Can everybody finally settle down now and get to work? Thanks.”

    Sorry, Rich. I’m still under the influence of yesterday’s Apocalypse thread…


  5. - Anon - Thursday, Mar 31, 11 @ 10:56 am:

    –The movemement of jobs to more “business friendly” states is pretty clear–

    Cat’s expansion into southern states and emerging markets (e.g. China) is oversimplified and politicized if argued that it is solely a reaction to Illinois’ “bad business climate.” Those areas happen to be where the population is shifting, and is where demand is growing or expected to grow. Shipping costs will be a serious issue in the upcoming year(s) and moving production closer to your consumer will help keep cost down.

    That said, the cheap labor and less red-tape in these “right-to-work” states definitely play a major role in the decision-making but shouldn’t be viewed as the only factor.
    The problem is regional. The solution thus far has been to “squirmish” within the region with other job-poaching governors.


  6. - Dirty Red - Thursday, Mar 31, 11 @ 11:07 am:

    I wonder how Gov. Quinn’s relationship with Oberhelman is now that his office leaked the letter in the first place.


  7. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 31, 11 @ 11:13 am:

    –I wonder how Gov. Quinn’s relationship with Oberhelman is now that his office leaked the letter in the first place. –

    There’s a theory. What would have been the Quinn administration’s motivation?


  8. - Nice Kid - Thursday, Mar 31, 11 @ 11:17 am:

    Keith Godsey runs a blog called the Will County Watcher. His political rants are generally long on rhetoric and VERY short on facts.


  9. - Dirty Red - Thursday, Mar 31, 11 @ 11:32 am:

    Upon further review of yesterday’s post, I doubt that’s what happened.


  10. - Responsa - Thursday, Mar 31, 11 @ 11:49 am:

    == …GOP nitwits who WANT this state to fail and for CAT to leave…==

    You cannot possibly believe this to be true, do you? Such flamethrowing and contempt toward half the state’s population is not helpful for solving Illinois’ problems. Not helpful at all.


  11. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Mar 31, 11 @ 11:50 am:

    ===toward half the state’s population===

    I think the reference was to a handful of nitwits, but I also think the commenter should tone himself down.


  12. - Downstate - Thursday, Mar 31, 11 @ 11:56 am:

    Anon - You must have much better insight than I do. My information only comes from CAT corporate.

    Please tell God I said “Hello”


  13. - Park - Thursday, Mar 31, 11 @ 5:53 pm:

    Still haven’t heard who leaked it. But I think the letter served its purpose. I don’t think anything will change Quinn’s mind on his mismanagement of the State. But I think a number of GA members will now look over their shoulder a little to see how new programs might affect businesses. Good result.


  14. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 31, 11 @ 6:44 pm:

    :
    –Still haven’t heard who leaked it. But I think the letter served its purpose. I don’t think anything will change Quinn’s mind on his mismanagement of the State.–

    Yeah, in two years, Quinn poisoned the business environment that made CAT an internationl giant for the last 75 years. Way to go, Pat!

    What’s the point of this ignorant stuff? It’s not smart, it’s not helpful. What brilliant insights are you bringing to the party?

    You sure it was Quinn? It wasn’t Len Small? Or John Altgeld? Or Jim Edgar? Or Adlai Stevenson? In less than 200 years, Illinois became and is a giant in the world economy. Ask the folks in the UK, France, Germany and the rest of the world if they would like out problems. Who screwed up what?

    Does your mindset even want to be in the game of dealing with the state’s issues? Or can you make a living with mindless negative talking points?


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