Tag Archives: ethics

The State of Ethics (and college basketball) in Kentucky

I find it fascinating to see the dysfunction that is basketball in Kentucky.  On one hand you have John Calipari whose former team, the University of Memphis is having to forfeit 38 victories and a trip to the Final Four while on the other hand, you have Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who decided to have sex with a women, having his equipment manager marry her, and then paid her $3000 for either an abortion or medical insurance so she can have an abortion (more here).  Yet because they win, everything is overlooked because in the end, it isn’t academic standards, it isn’t integrity, it isn’t anything like that, it is winning that matters.  You have boosters, university administration, and even the Governor defending one or both of them, although Pitino did have to apologize.  Even the AP seems to be caught up in it with this story wondering what will happen to the Rick Pitino brand.

It is incidents like this that make me really like Bobby Knight.  Sure he had a bad temper but he won the right way.  His players graduated, there were no sanctions or scandal, and not only that, he helped create a culture at Indiana University where his successors were held up to a high ethical standard as well.  I know there is a balance there.  Ty Willingham was a great human being but a horrible coach at the University of Washington and probably deserved to be fired but I would rather be a booster of a program that won and lost the right way than be a basketball fan in the state of Kentucky right now.

Moving the abortion debate beyond partisanship

Tony Campolo writes about his experience in writing the Democratic Party abortion platform

Tony Campolo These achievements were lauded by Democrats for Life and by the Catholic Alliance for Life.  While at the Democratic National Convention, religious leaders of other faith traditions personally thanked me for my efforts.  Even leaders of some pro-choice organizations hailed this compromise, claiming that at last they could find some common ground with pro-life advocates.

Purists, on the other hand, have had hard words for me, claiming that I should not have been involved in any way with a political party that is pro-choice.  While I understand their desire to settle for nothing less than the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, I nevertheless believe that my decision to work for abortion reduction was a good one.

Consider these questions:  If 10 children are drowning in a swimming pool, and you can only save six of them, should you save the six?  Or, should you wait until help arrives that can save them all, even if you know that the six you could save will be lost in the meantime?

On the Take

mulroney2 Warren Kinsella has posted about this but all of it sounds a little familiar.  Unless I am missing something, much of this was talked about in Stevie Cameron‘s (whose website was just hacked) book On The Take and the money came from the PC Canada Fund.

While the optics of bag loads of cash being delivered to 24 Sussex Drive is pretty horrible, is it wrong for a party to willingly decide to supplement the salary of it’s party leader?   This would be more interesting to me if there was evidence that people were donating to the PC Canada Fund knew it was being redirected to the Prime Minister and his wife AND those people had business dealings with the government.  Now I think that would be interesting.  I don’t know what information Norman Spector has but I can’t see anything new coming out that hasn’t been written about before.

From the Toronto Star

Spector, chief of staff to Mulroney in the early 1990s, wrote about the payments in a forward to Toronto lawyer and author William Kaplan’s book about Mulroney’s relationship with Schreiber.

He describes Mulroney’s networking with wealthy and powerful people. He writes also of Mila Mulroney’s “expensive lifestyle.”

“Mulroney was not a rich man. Party funds were being drawn, and one of our staff was assigned to pore through personal expenses to determine if some might be reimbursed. Every month I cashed a cheque at a local bank and remitted the funds to Mila,” Spector wrote.

A spokesperson for Mulroney downplayed Spector’s talk of the cash deliveries.

“There’s nothing new in these allegations,” Joseph Lavoie said yesterday.

The committee also expects to hear from François Martin, Mulroney’s former chef, who has told of transporting thick envelopes of cash for the family.

In Stevie Cameron’s 1994 On the Take, Martin tells of visiting Mulroney aide Fred Doucet in the Prime Minister’s Office to pick up thick envelopes of cash and deliver them to Mila Mulroney.

“Cash came in like it was falling from the sky,” he said in the book.

While the allegations may date back years, they provide fresh fodder for opposition MPs who are already seeking answers about the cash payments Mulroney received from Schreiber after he left office.

Of course if MP’s read a little more history, this would be old news.


Adrian Wojnarowski on Isaiah Thomas and the New York Knicks

As the jury watched one Garden official after another trash a well-decorated, well-compensated employee, they could see for themselves what everyone understood about this dysfunctional, failed organization: Beyond its basketball futility, the Knicks organization is an out of control embarrassment that needs to be punched in the mouth.

The Knicks and Thomas lost the case, which isn’t surprising because they lose everything. In the recent past, they wrote tens of millions of dollars in checks to make a long list of underperforming, overpaid players and coaches go away. That’s the way of Daddy Boy Jim Dolan’s Cablevision empire, just throwing money at problems to get them out of the Garden’s path.

Browne Sanders would’ve been the biggest bargain in franchise history. She wouldn’t go away. She wouldn’t back down, the way everyone does to Thomas and the Garden. She stayed, she fought and she’s going to walk away with millions in damages and perhaps part of her good name again.

For speaking up about sexual harassment at the Garden, she ended up with a job at the University of Buffalo. She paid a price. Browne Sanders deserves this, all the way. Whatever she gets paid, she lost a fast-track career in the pros.

There’s a passive-aggressive way to how Thomas bullies people – that charming, radiant smile that turns into something far different behind closed doors, where for too long his motives have forever left people distrustful, even fearful, of him. Between his professional competency and his workplace behavior, it says so much about the Knicks that they’re still the one franchise in basketball that would even employ him to scout Siberia – never mind run and coach the Knicks.

Off The Court

The first thing I read this morning was by Adrian Wojnarowski and it set a bad tone for my day,

For 15 years, Jeff Nix worked his way as an advance scout, assistant coach, scouting director and assistant general manager with the New York Knicks. He worked with four of the five most winning coaches in NBA history – Pat Riley, Don Nelson, Lenny Wilkens and Larry Brown. Ernie Grunfeld and Jeff Van Gundy could never agree on anything, but they did on Nix.

He survived regime after regime at the Garden because his employers trusted his loyalty to the Knicks, the job.

“Nix of the Knicks,” the media guide called him.

That was until sometime after Jan. 1, when Nix was deposed by lawyers probing Browne Sanders’ claims that Thomas had berated her and later made inappropriate passes at her. As he did then and again in federal court this week, Nix testified to witnessing Thomas hugging Browne Sanders in a Garden hallway in February of 2004, and her pushing away. When Nix asked her what happened, he testified, she told him that Thomas said he was in love with her and that their contentious relationship reminded Thomas of the characters in the movie “Love and Basketball.”

What’s more, Browne Sanders told Nix at the time that Thomas called her a “(expletive) bitch, and a “(expletive) ho,” after reporting to Thomas that another Knicks executive, Frank Murphy, had called her a “bitch.”

Nix had nothing to gain by backing Browne Sanders, except perhaps a clear conscience and a sober stare in the mirror every morning.

And to lose? Between those depositions in January and the trial this week, Nix was dismissed of his duties as director of scouting.

In Nix’s mind, telling the truth would cost him a $250,000-a-year job.

Nix wants this nightmare behind him and wouldn’t be interviewed for this column, but a close friend of his in basketball said, “The moment Jeff told what he knew in the depositions, he understood he was finished at the Garden. He knew they would get rid of him, and they did.

“But he also knew that he couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t tell the truth.”

As little respect as most league owners and executives have for Dolan, Thomas and the Garden, it will be fascinating to see how many admire Nix for doing the difficult thing, for sacrificing a career on principle, and how many still subscribe to the locker room code that says siding with a female marketing V.P. over the top basketball executive and coach is a move of weakness, even treachery. No matter how disdainful the alleged behavior with Thomas, in some corners, there’s still the belief that Nix should’ve protected one of his own – a basketball guy.

I want to blame this on the Knicks. It is easy to not like James Dolan. He may be the most incompetent owner of any major league sports franchise (and yes I have put some thought into that) and while I liked Isaiah the player, I have never been a fan of Isaiah the coach, business man or executive. If these allegatation are true, I don’t have a lot of respect for Isaiah the man either but this isn’t about the Knicks, it is about the last line.

in some corners, there’s still the belief that Nix should’ve protected one of his own – a basketball guy

Sadly that happens outside of the Knicks, outside of basketball, outside of sports and is all over the place. If Isaiah did it, let him be accountable for it but of course it doesn’t work that way, not in the NBA at least.

I hear sports gurus question Roger Goodall and wonder if he is ruining the NFL, as if the NFL couldn’t function without guys drinking and driving, assualting people at strip clubs, and running dog fighting rings. I look at the NHL and see a culture of drunk driving and the league doing nothing about it and I wonder why we allow sports figures (outside of the NFL) to act the way they do and look the other way. I think of Lawerence Phillips and his history of violence and yet fans in St. Louis, San Francisco, Calgary, and Montreal all embraced him because he helped the team. It can be tough to be a Saskatchewan fan but one of the days I was proud to be one was the day when they fired Roy Shivers and hired Eric Tillman who was given the mandate to win but win in a way that the fans would be proud of their team. Not all communities demand that but I respect franchises like the Phoenix Suns who do place character over winning.

Canadian cyclist Jeanson admits to doping

I was a fan of Jeanson but like too many cyclists, Jeanson admits to doping throughout her career.

At the 2003 world championships in Hamilton, Jeanson was prevented from racing because her level of red blood cells was dangerously high, raising suspicions.

At the time, Jeanson went before the Quebec media to deny ever taking erythropoietin.

It was not Geneviève that lied,” she said in Thursday’s interview. “It was someone else I did not know. It was something I was told to do and yes, I do regret it.

Jeanson, 26, now lives in Phoenix, Ariz., where she has a business selling bicycles online.

She said she has no plans to return to Canada in the near future and while she does miss cycling, she’s glad she doesn’t have to live a lie anymore.

The thing is, it was Geneviève who lied, who cheated, and even if you were told to do it, you had a choice. Is there an elite cyclist that isn’t cheating anymore. If you find one, let me know.

Profiteering in Iraq

I am not sure what is more shocking about this video. The incompetence of American rebuilding efforts in Iraq or the profiteering that has been happening since the occupation started and the American companies started to roll up to the trough. Either way, the video is worth watching.

How childish?

Michael Silver has a great article over on Yahoo! Sports about how childish this whole thing is with Belichick spying on Mangini.

How did all of this happen? How did Belichick, probably the greatest defensive strategist of his era and a future Hall of Fame coach, allow one of his prodigies to distract him from the task at hand and make him look like a fool?

It goes back to the end of the 2005 season, when the Jets were courting Mangini as a replacement for departed coach Herm Edwards. Belichick, who as the Browns’ head coach in ’95 had given his fellow Wesleyan alum an assistant’s job after having noticed Mangini’s work as a public relations intern, had a deep-seated disdain for the Jets’ organization dating back to his infamous one-day stint as New York’s head coach following Bill Parcells’s resignation in January of 2000.

Go be a head coach anywhere but there, Belichick told his then-34-year-old defensive coordinator. There’ll be other opportunities, and I’ll help you get them, Belichick insisted. Just don’t take this one.

Mangini took the job anyway, and Belichick felt betrayed. When Belichick learned that Mangini, while still serving out his final days with the Patriots, was soliciting Pats coaches, support staff members and players to join him at his new gig, the war was on. Belichick had Mangini’s key card access revoked, but not before Mangini, a source says, took a laptop with confidential files stored in its hard drive out of the building. Mangini hired a Pats employee, Erin O’Brien, as his administrative assistant.

“He did exactly what Bill would do in the same situation,” says one high-ranking league source who knows both men. “Bill raised him too well.”

And they have been feuding ever since. Hell knows no wrath like a NFL coach who has been scorned.

Update: If you are going to fine, Billechick, don’t do it half-heartedly like the NFL is doing. Go all the way and fine him $100 million like Formula One did to McLaren. Wow.

Rolling Stone on Profiteering in Iraq

You can read the gory details here.

Operation Iraqi Freedom, it turns out, was never a war against Saddam ­Hussein’s Iraq. It was an invasion of the federal budget, and no occupying force in history has ever been this efficient. George W. Bush’s war in the Mesopotamian desert was an experiment of sorts, a crude first take at his vision of a fully privatized American government. In Iraq the lines between essential government services and for-profit enterprises have been blurred to the point of absurdity — to the point where wounded soldiers have to pay retail prices for fresh underwear, where modern-day chattel are imported from the Third World at slave wages to peel the potatoes we once assigned to grunts in KP, where private companies are guaranteed huge profits no matter how badly they f— things up.

On The Take

I finally read On the Take by Stevie Cameron the other day. I had bought the book years ago at a used book sale and had never felt motivated to read it before but I wish I had.

As Amazon.ca says about the book

When On the Take came out in 1994, it made author Stevie Cameron a household name in Canada. Her book’s revelations about the rampant corruption and petty greed of Brian Mulroney’s decade in the prime minister’s office reverberated for many years in the Canadian political landscape and helped destroy his Progressive Conservative Party. (The party, one of Canada’s most venerable, never recovered from Mulroney’s stewardship and eventually merged with the Canadian Alliance Party.) Cameron, one of the country’s leading investigative reporters, was one of the few reporters to consistently question and probe the corruption of the Mulroney years. She has a wonderful ear for storytelling, which helps make On the Take a page-turner. Cameron seems to rejoice in recounting the numerous unseemly episodes of the Mulroney administration and depicting all its seedy characters and hangers-on. Mulroney comes across as having been most comfortable in a powerbroker’s backrooms, surrounding himself with dodgy bagmen and devious lobbyists. Cameron suggests that the country was “open for business,” with a “for sale” sign on the front lawn. She writes that even in their final official act, as the Mulroneys departed from office in disgrace amid record-low popularity ratings, they tried to stiff taxpayers into buying their used furniture.

I am not sure why I read it but I kept thinking of Larry Lessig’s change in focus from intellectual property issues to the larger issues of corruption in culture. It made me ask three questions

  1. How did Mulroney find the nerve to do the things he did.
  2. How did he get away with it. (some of it made Adscam look minor league)
  3. How does a government pretend to represent all Canadians (or Americans) when only those that have money have access or influence on the decisions that are being made.

In the end I am torn. I know some very good people in public life. People I respect and like on both sides of the political spectrum who don’t believe in the political spectrum as much as they believe in solutions and helping people but at the same time they are generally footnotes to history. As Will Ferguson says, “the boneheads” while the country is often ruled by “bastards” and at the end of On the Take, you see which one of them was Mulroney.