retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB reported yesterday that Mike Gilliland, 52, who co-founded Wild Oats and recently has been making a comeback as CEO of Sunflower Farmers Market, was arrested last week and accused of soliciting sex online from a girl who identified herself as a minor. The official charge is felony child prostitution, according to Phoenix police, who said that Gilliland is charged with arranging to meet the underage female, drive her to a hotel, and pay to have sex with her.

My comment:

Sad story, and not just because it sullies the reputation of a previously respected businessman. If he did it, of course, he deserves to have his reputation sullied...and it will be a shame that the tarnish also will end up rubbing off, in some measure, on the company he ran.

This story also reminds us all of the dark side of the internet. As if we needed to be reminded.

MNB user Greg Smith responded:

I was horrified by your "KC's View" regarding the charges against Mike Gilliland.  The fact that your only stated concerns are the "sullied reputation" either deserved or undeserved of a business man and the company he ran rather than the welfare of the purposed child prostitute in question is offensive.  There are children being neglected, abused and their souls literally being sold over the internet and your concern is to a prostitution soliciting CEO and the company he ran.  Of course he is innocent until proven guilty, but your comments went far beyond that, suggesting that the victims in this issue were reputations of CEO's corporations and that we all need to be careful of the "dark-side" of the internet.  

KC, you should rethink your own values and what you and your "morning newsbeat" stands for.  I suggest you pull your head out of your "retail"-end and quit pandering to the sentiments of corporations and CEO's.  If you are going to report and comment on issues such as CEO's and child prostitution, either have the courage to talk about the real problems or don't deal with real social issues.  Stick to new store openings, zip-code cases in California and "ah-ha" stories about Apple topping the list of "most respected" companies.  

The problem is NOT the "dark side" of the internet.  The problem is perverts and deviants scouring the world for underage, abused, neglected and forgotten children they can buy to satisfy their devilish appetites.  And that KC is the "sad story".  Hook, line and sinker.

You, sir, either understand the difference or you don't.

Point taken.

I certainly did not mean to suggest that the only victim in this case was a CEO’s reputation, or that of the company he used to run. And if that is the impression I left, that was my mistake.

Lots of reaction to yesterday’s Eye-Opener, which took note of a New York Times report that some hospitals and medical businesses “are adopting strict policies that make smoking a reason to turn away job applicants, saying they want to increase worker productivity, reduce health care costs and encourage healthier living.”

My comment, in part:

I can argue this both ways ... and I happen to be someone who is about as anti-smoking as one could be. There is something a little troubling about penalizing people for doing something that is, while incredibly stupid and self-destructive, still legal.

On the other hand, I cannot blame companies for wanting to purge this habit - and its associated costs, which can have enormous impact on a business.

And here’s the simple truth. If I were hiring someone, I would not hire a smoker. Could not do it. Would not do it.

I wonder how many other people and companies are going to start thinking the same way.

One MNB user wrote:

Boy, is this a tricky one with a potentially very slippery slope. I absolutely hate smoking. I’ve seen relatives die very painful and ugly deaths from smoking driven complications. And I have a strong leaning towards letting company’s make a lot of their hiring decisions based upon their own criteria and not forcing my personal views on them, as long as they are following the law. But as you point out, where do you draw the line. I know several people who are technically still smokers, but smoke on average 1 cigarette a day. They are either a ‘one a morning’ habit, or only smoke maybe 2-3 on the weekend when they go out. While not recommended, is that really enough to give them health problems? If not, then what is the daily average limit? Does someone who smokes the occasional cigar show up as a smoker on these tests? And what about second hand smoke, as some blood tests can be VERY sensitive; a college kid applying for a job who has never smoked a cigarette in their life gets rejected because her parents smoke?

And of course what is the limit to what is tested. Smoking is not the number one cause of health issues in this country, so do you start to also filter applicants by BMI, or high blood pressure tests? Or taking it to the extreme do you start doing genetic tests looking for markers of possible future health issues?

From a purely accounting perspective there may be cost benefits to hiring only ‘healthier’ people, but when you start excluding large percentages of the applicant pool (people of ideal health are a minority of the population) that smaller pool is going to know it and negotiate their pay and benefits accordingly. Get enough companies doing this type of screening and your cost benefits may quickly get cancelled out or even made worse. Very complicated stuff, but one that most companies need to give a lot of thought to as this issue continues to evolve.

Another MNB user wrote:

If it's all about the bottom-line then I assume you would not hire an obese person as well?

It is not all about the bottom line. It is also about the fact that I find smoking to be disgusting and cannot stand to be in the same room with it.

I also wrote yesterday:

I’ve always thought it both ironic and troubling when you see doctors and nurses outside a hospital grabbing a smoke; why would one trust any health-related advice that such people would give?

Which led one MNB user to write:

I suppose you have difficulty with the old adage:  "Do what I say, not what I do."

Only in the sense that hypocrisy annoys me.

Another MNB user, keeping in mind that there was another story yesterday about Walmart firing a man with cancer who was using legal medical marijuana, wrote:

Curious, in one day we have one story where a company is evil for firing a person for legal drug use and one story where a company is doing good by not hiring a person for legal drug use. (a smoker).

Interesting times indeed.

And, from another MNB user:

Again, we have an example of Government policies and the unintended consequences of their overreaching authority.  When we are all led to believe that for the public good someone else is to be held responsible for what should be our individual responsibility to our own health. 

If you force companies to bare the financial responsibility for our wellbeing and healthcare costs, then obviously they will.  After all, you forced them to do so.  If they are going to be responsible for all of those costs of your health care, then as a responsible company, they will control those costs in any way that they can.  Trust me when I tell you, this is just the beginning if Obama Care is no repealed in its entirety.  To be fair, you cannot blame the hospitals as they are bearing more than they can handle as it is.

And finally, another MNB user wrote:

I agree with your smoking comments Kevin.

I lost my son 3 years ago as a result of lung cancer, and I believe smoking.

Problem is it seems, everybody feels they are invincible and smoking might kill that other person, but not me.

I talked to my son I can't tell you how many times about kicking the habit and he finally did, but, too late.

All one needs to do is spend morning until evening for 28 days in a hospital then at home with a loved one watching them die to understand. Even then some are not convinced.

Too bad.....sad but true....I know as you do.

My heart breaks for you.

I lost my mom to lung cancer, which was awful. But I cannot even imagine the pain that is associated with losing a child, especially to a disease that could have been avoided.

As I said, I hope there’s a special circle of hell reserved for tobacco company executives.

I hope that, like me when I think about my mom, you don’t remember his illness, but instead are able to focus on the good times, the shared and happy moments.
KC's View: