I’m going to ask you for a personal favor

Posted by lex, on April 13, 2006

 

I’m going to ask you to do a bit of light reading, and then I’ll ask you to pick up a phone, write a letter, or send an email. Maybe a couple of emails.
But first the reading:

I’m Jim McDaniel, webmaster for the 174th Assault Helicopter Company’s web site. I refer you to one of our web pages that I put together back in 2004. It is about Hal Koster, one of our 174th crew chiefs from Vietnam. Hal crewed the UH-1C SHARK gunships that I flew 1967-68. Hal and I flew together. Please see the page about his restaurant and his support of our veterans at http://www.174ahc.org/koster-iraq.htm.

Now, having read the page, Hal has continued to host our veteran amputees every Friday night. I have been to several of the dinners, and it is absolutely WONDERFUL what Hal has been doing at significant effort and personal expense (every dollar he spends on our veterans could be money he puts in his pocket). You really have to be one of these dinners to fully appreciate what this means to these soldiers.

Well I received this message (below) from Jack Cunningham, and I couldn’t believe it. I was last in Hal’s on St. Patrick’s Day, and Hal didn’t mention his difficulties to me then. I just called Hal and he confirmed for me this report is TRUE. Hilton has terminated his lease and the restaurant has been ordered closed on April 31 (just over TWO WEEKS from now). Apparently Hal’s support of our wounded veterans is playing a MAJOR part in Hilton’s decision to shut him down. Part of it is that Hilton has refused to put in wheelchair access to the restaurant and their concern over liability if one of the amputees should be injured in the restaurant.

Oh, there’s a great deal more at that source link, and FbL, who alerted me to this mess has more as well. Go on, read it all. I’ll wait.

Are you back? Did you read it all? Are you angry?

Don’t be. It’s just business, the kind of hard-eyed cost/benefit analysis that businesses make all the time. The Hilton people apparently looked at all of these wounded soldiers, many of them in wheelchairs, coming every Friday night to the premises they leased out , beckoned by the lure of free food (in a place where a T-bone can run you $30) and beverages and what they saw was not mutilated American heroes who have served their country to the utmost extremity of personal sacrifice and pain moving along a path towards recuperation and recovery in the company of comrades, sponsored by another hero who did not forget what it was like to come home from an unpopular war and determined, at his own cost, to make a difference for these men and women.

No, instead they appear to have seen potential lawsuits and possible liability. They saw risk, and lost revenues. What are the feelings of one restaurateur against these unpalatable corporate risks?

Nothing.

What are the marginal costs of the feelings of these little people who anyway volunteered for all of this, and now look what happened to them?

Hard to say.

But let me stop there, because all of that is getting my blood up, and making me angry. And this is not an emotional issue – it’s just business.

So let’s get back to business. Sometimes a corporation makes a risk decision which seems straightforward, but isn’t. Sometimes there are hidden risks. Like the risk that you, gentle reader, might learn of this business case analysis and come to some conclusions of your own. That you might, at my personal request, do something:

You might call or email the Hilton Corporation’s representatives, Dan Boyle (212) 838-1558 (daniel_a_boyle@hilton.com), or Brian Kellaher (202) 393-1000. You might tell them, in as unemotional a way as possible, that you have recently learned about their corporation’s decision not to renew Fran O’Brien’s lease. You might intimate that under the circumstances, the decision has surprised you – you had thought a great deal more of the Hilton brand, but were apparently mistaken. You might inform them that, should this decision stand, you have regretfully concluded that you and your family will no longer be able to do business with the corporation – ever. You might add that this decision is sufficiently troublesome to you that you have decided to contact all of your friends, and let them know what has happened here, and what you have decided. That you will encourage your friends to take the same stand as you have.

You might even call or write your Congressman, and ask his staff whether or not a decision like this in any way goes contrary to the spirit and letter of the American’s with Disabilities Act. If it doesn’t (and it probably doesn’t), you could ask him to look into whether it ought to, at least in the specific case of Hilton Corp and Fran O’Briens. There is an election coming up, after all. What Congressman wouldn’t relish the opportunity to stand in front of the mic, flanked by wounded soldiers, in front of the corporate facade?

But don’t be angry, gentle reader. This is just business. And sometimes, businesses make mistakes. Look at this as an opportunity to help Hilton recognize that they have miscalculated the risk/benefit analysis, that there were hidden costs behind what seemed a straightforward decision. In cold, unemotional terms.

But do act quickly. The lease expires at the end of this month.

Do it.

Do it for them.

For the rest of their lives, they will live with the consequences of what they did for you.

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Filed under by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Politics and Culture

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