* 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.