cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
Associated Bank has accepted $525 million in TARP (troubled asset relief fund) money from the federal government even though they apparently didn't need it according to their CEO, Paul Beideman.
Associated Bank is sending about 100 employees to Puerto Rico for a celebration of their high levels of achievement. That will cost quite a bit of money when you consider the airfare, the $450 per night rooms plus all the extra activities that are planned. This is apparently a valid reward for excellent performance, and that is all well and good.
However, this is simply not the time for them or any other recipient of federal largess to be so blatant as to spend money on a trip of this nature. They have a "tin ear" and their Board and senior leadership might've been better-advised to re-think this plan at this time.
People are understandably upset with our current economic situation. This trip will do little to further damage the economy, but the Congress has been "posing for holy pictures" on such subjects so they are very much top of mind. The adverse public relations that will almost certainly beset Associated Bank as the result is simply unnecessary.
I suspect that the associates who will be treated to this reward would've understood had the trip been altered or delayed. It may well be that canceling outright would've resulted in significant penalties to Associated, but it seems they'd have been able to work something out. Even if they had to forfeit some money that may've guaranteed this event, that may well have carried a lesser cost to the bank than will this adverse publicity.
On top of all this, CEO Beideman came across as somewhat arrogant in the news article interview printed on JSOnline today. Ill-timed, at best.