TodayApril 16, 2022

Boxer to Barra – that would be CEO, Senator

Barbara Boxer  to Mary Barra

Lou Ann Hammond, the CEO, Driving the Nation, talked to John Batchelor, host of the John Batchelor radio show about the GM recall.

The question has come up numerous times, behind doors and in front of Congress, how much did the former Chairman and CEO of General Motors, Dan Akerson, know before he resigned and appointed Mary Barra head of General Motors? Was Mary Barra thrown under the bus by Dan Akerson?

If everyone believes that Akerson didn’t know about the ignition switch, and he was CEO until January 14, 2014, why would Mary Barra have known?

On Tuesday General Motors CEO Mary Barra was asked by Congress if she was aware whether Akerson was aware of the defective ignition switches issue, “Not to my knowledge,” she said. Ms. Barra said she first learned of the switch issue last December, weeks before the recall, a month before she was given the CEO title. Mark Reuss was the person that told Barra about the switch issue. Why would Reuss tell Barra and not tell the former Chairman and CEO of General Motors?

“I think we need to hear from people who had the key positions at GM who perhaps had knowledge of this,” Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., said.

Barra is waiting to hear the final findings from the internal investigation led by Jenner & Block LLC Chairman Anton Valukas. Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer who managed funds for victims of Sept. 11, 2001, has also been hired to help General Motors with the appropriation of funds for compensation. Barra is going to have to strategize how much to pay the victims of the old General Motors that produced the cars that have been recalled versus the fiduciary duty she has to the new General Motors, it’s shareholders and the reputation/goodwill of the company.

In my Opinion:

Female Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte & Democratic House Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado all had their turn grilling and a lot has been made of the fact that so man women grilled CEO Barra.

But those Senators kept it civil and gender-neutral.

It was Senator Barbara Boxer of California that said to Barra, “Woman to woman, I’m disappointed.” This is not a gender issue, Senator, it is a Congressional hearing. If a man had said that to CEO Barra he would have been taken to task for treating a woman differently. Unless there is a need for an issue to be gender-specific in Congress I see no reason for one of the highest women in the United States (Boxer) to take another woman to task, especially when the woman that is in front of you isn’t the one that was in power during the time and has only recently taken over as CEO of the company.

Call former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Motors Rick Wagoner, call former President and Chief Executive Officer of General Motors Fritz Henderson, call former Chairman and CEO of General Motors Ed Whitaker, call former Chairman and CEO of General Motors Dan Akerson. Ask them what happened, because each of these gentlemen were part of the old General Motors, before bankruptcy.

Tell them that human to human, you are disappointed.

That and a buck will get you a cup of coffee.

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.