(Readers: Please note the blog about the 5th revolution in the US is constructed as a story. While not all chapters are linked, the story might be more meaningful by starting at the beginning.)

(Want a PDF version for Entries #1-10, #11-20, #21-30 formatted as an e-book? Entries #31-40 available soon. Click links for download. America’s 5th Revolution Volume I (Entries 1-10), America’s 5th Revolution Volume II (Entries 11-20), America’s 5th Revolution Volume III (Entries 21-30)

Scene: Jordan’s office with Matt, reporter for major publication. Matt has been asked by POTUS’ office to help write the story of GM. POTUS wants to use the information as part of a plan to help rebuild US manufacturing. Entries about GM begin #41.

Matt: “As you were saying…something about a meeting.”
Jordan: “The GM EV1 (electric vehicle) program was effectively dead before it was ever introduced. Like we talked about earlier, when Bob Stempel supported the program, it likely killed his career.”
reporter on typewriter clipart Matt: “I hear you say that but really?”
Jordan: “Here’s the scene – GM Building, West Grand Boulevard, Detroit, small conference room, near executive offices and the Board room. Meeting starts at 3:00pm.”
Matt: “Who was there?”
Jordan: “Four executives from the EV1 program and four from GM corporate – chairman, president, head of financial staff and an assistant.”
Matt: “Man, heavy-weight group. What was the content?”
Jordan: “We presented a review of progress on EV1 – product update, interest among prospective buyers, media coverage, cost, etc. A bit broader than the typical product program update.”
Matt: “What was the reaction?”
Jordan: “The behavior of the individuals was the most telling. Stempel, who was a strong supporter of the program…”
Matt: “…He was still chairman, right?”
EV1 Jordan: “Yes. Stempel took notes during the meeting and asked a number of questions. Jack Smith, then GM’s president, sat with his arms folded and took not a single note.”
Matt: “What a contrast. Wasn’t Jack Smith really a financial guy?”
Jordan: “Yes, virtually all of Jack’s career leaned toward the financial side. No one ever called him a car guy…at least that I heard.”
Matt: “Then what happened?”
1700 ClockJordan: “During the meeting Jack would occasionally glance at his watch. Then at precisely 5:00pm, Jack stands up, turns to Stempel, who is to his right, and says, ‘Bob, you cannot afford the program.’ Then walks out.”
Matt: “What happened at the rest of the meeting?”
Jordan: “To tell you the truth I do not remember. Smith’s remark and then leaving the meeting effectively ended it.”
Matt: “Quite a scene. By the way, is Jack Smith related to Squeaky…I mean Roger Smith?”
Jordan: “No relation to my knowledge.”
Matt: “So Jack Smith says the EV1 program is too costly. How does Stempel counter the argument and keep the program alive? After all he is chairman.”
Jordan: “The short story is…he doesn’t. Within a few weeks Stempel resigns as chairman and Jack Smith takes over as CEO. My version of events is slightly different than the official story.”
Matt: “Different in what way?”
Jordan: “I believe that Jack Smith instigated a palace coup to throw out Stempel.”
Matt: “Why so?”
Jordan: “The Board of Directors was still packed with appointments from Roger Smith’s tenure. These were guys who supported Smith’s idea that earnings were more important than market share. Under Stempel, earnings started to fall, but through no fault of his.”
Matt: “It was on his watch.”
Jordan: “Matt, Matt, you know better than to say that. Earnings during Stempel’s time suffered from some of the shenanigans pulled under Squeaky’s reign. The poor economy just made earnings look worse. Truth be told, GM was probably technically bankrupt at the time.”
Matt: “Stempel gets caught in a vortex.”
Jordan: “My view is Jack Smith could see the problems coming. Rather than have the problems on his watch, he supported…or didn’t resist…putting Stempel in as chairman following Squeaky. Stempel was set up as the fall guy.”
Matt: “Really?”
Jordan: “Think about this. If you’re Jack Smith…or Roger Smith, who is still on the Board…you can state that Stempel’s support of the EV1 program when the company was so short of cash was proof that he did not understand how to run the company. Therefore a change at the top was needed.”
Matt: “I recall there was an issue about Stempel’s health.”
Jordan: “He did not look good at the meeting. I rarely talk about business issues with wife but I did mention to her how he did not look well.”
Matt: “How serious was the problem?”
Jordan: “He ended up with a stent as I recall. But Bob was very active for many years after the procedure. I think any concern about his health was a smoke screen.”
BeanCounter Matt: “OK, so Stempel is out and is replaced as CEO by Jack Smith. Based on what you’ve said, Jack is more of a bean counter than product guy. Then what happens?”
Jordan: “Soon thereafter, the GM Board of Directors effectively kills the EV1 program. And guess what date?”
Matt: “I have no idea.”
Jordan: “December 7.”
Matt: “You are kidding, right? How ironic. GM has a car that creates all kinds of interest and improves GM’s image. GM could capitalize on the improved image and begin to counter losses in market share to imports, especially Japanese imports. And then what does the Board do? Kill the EV1? And on what day? December 7.”
Jordan: “Hollywood script material, huh?”
Matt: “Better than Hollywood. True back asswards thinking. Actually, maybe no thinking by the Board.”
Jordan: “Let’s get another cup of coffee.”
Matt: “How about a glass of wine, instead. I’m still shaking my head.”

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