A good lawyer knows that you never ask a question unless you already know the answer. A good leader would know never to accuse someone of wrongdoing when they have a bag of evidence that you were in on it.
Whatever scintilla of integrity that Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had when he said he had to close down the national broadcaster ERT to meet demands from international lenders to fire 2,500 workers this summer – there were 2,656 at the station, all of whom were summarily dismissed with five minutes notice – evaporated the moment the people he said (correctly in many cases) were lazy, incompetent overpaid political appointees doing little or nothing pointed out that he had hired many of them. He was hoist with his own ERT-ard here.
Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives and his alleged rival PASOK Socialists (politicians may have different ideologies but they all speak the same language – currency) have taken turns the last 40 years using ERT as a dumping ground for political hires, including bags of people knocking down three times the salary of real workers there as “advisors” whose job apparently was to advise where their check for doing nothing should be sent.
The problem here is that fat isn’t layered in, it’s marbled in, so when Samaras took the coward’s way out and fired everyone at ERT, he put decent, hard-working people on the bread line that already has 1.3 million people in it – all of them up to this point from the private sector which has a record 27.4 percent unemployment rate.
If Samaras wanted to get rid of dead wood he just had to look around the Parliament where non-workers are knocking down big euros for handing out glasses of water and saluting MP’s, but he not only didn’t fire a single one of the Walking Dead there, he caved in to their blackmail they would strike and exempted them from austerity measures.
But then again he has also given a free pass to his own political hires at ERT who didn’t get a pay cut at the same time everyone else there was getting hammered. Hypocrisy is its own vice and you can run on for a long time doing it, but sooner or later, God is gonna cut you down.
Samaras had a strong argument that people at ERT had to go – but all of them at the same time? Under that logic, every single fossil pretending to work in the Parliament are shining examples of merit.
In a feeble attempt to support his decision, he said there would be an investigation into corruption and mismanagement at ERT, without mentioning that it was his party and PASOK who piled a mountain of political cronies there.
Samaras said the truth would come out and embarrass the station’s supporters. It has, and it’s embarrassed him, taking away his integrity and credibility at the same time. “We had to do away with such an ERT for an investigation to start … those who rushed to defend ERT will regret it. When the embargo on information ends and the true face of ERT is revealed, some will start feeling ashamed,” he said. Take a look in the mirror, buddy.
What Greece needed here was a real hero, Gary Cooper in High Noon, or Spencer Tracy in Bad Day at Black Rock, Buford Pusser Walking Tall and swinging a big stick against corruption, someone who would do the right thing even if it came at a personal cost, not Samaras losing his chance to show Greece’s creditors and the world that he wasn’t afraid of real reforms.
Greece needed a new Sheriff in town, not another gutless wonder and when his chance came, Samaras showed himself to be just another empty, expensive suit, guilty of the greatest sin, wasted potential from a man who knows better.
PILING THE DEAD WOOD
The way to do this was to start getting rid of people at ERT who don’t work, but that would have meant the people he directly or indirectly ordered there in the last year at the same time he had pensioner’s benefits cut to the point that Alpo was a main course for many.
Before the financial crisis hit in 2009, it had about 100 on-air presenters earning around $650,000 a year, according to a former ERT manager, and workers there have put together a list of shame over who has been placed there under his tenure. .
Giorgos Kogiannis, a former head of news at ERT, accused the government of hypocrisy for closing ERT down to cut costs, claiming that the three-party government formed last June immediately appointed its own people to key posts there and tripled the number of advisers to the new chief executive.
“As soon as they came to government, they started the political appointments at ERT,” Kogiannis told the New York Times. “They put 20 advisers in the C.E.O.’s office, compared to six before.” He added that several positions were given to people with close ties to the government spokesman, Simos Kedikoglou – a former ERT employee who said it was filled with corruption but never noticed that while he was there – and other top government officials.
And how do you think Kedikoglou got his job at ERT? If you can’t answer that, you’re qualified to be director of the station. He will turn out to be the face of disgrace in this matter, right next to Samaras, who could have shown what a real leader does if he had fired 2,656 political appointments across the board – including many at ERT – but also at other state agencies, including one that is overseeing a dried-up lake.
ERT was “always a political organization,” said Elias Mossialos, a professor of health policy at the London School of Economics, who as minister of state from June to November 2011 tried to alter the culture of ERT told the Times that he was rebuffed every time he tried to touch a sacred pig.
“I was confronted by all,” he said, noting that the broadcaster was hamstrung by “politicization, patronage, clientelism, interventions,” as when government officials would call in to dictate the news. Still, he said he opposed Samaras’s decision. “It was antidemocratic,” he said. “Because they failed elsewhere, they shut down ERT.”
BURN THAT LIST!
Want more? Kogiannis, in a blog maintained by fired ERT workers, said Samaras shot himself in the foot at the same time it was in his mouth when he said that ERT was only a “center of waste,” and “stronghold of a lack of transparency and corruption.”
Kogiannis said that Samaras’ government ordered the hiring of at least 30 advisors and “special staff” (translation: no show jobs) to continue the tradition of placing nobodies at ERT and paying them to really work out of the offices of PASOK and New Democracy. Why do you think PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, a partner in Samaras’ Three Stooges coalition, really is objecting to the closing of ERT? You can’t fire all your friends.
Among these complaints is that the government directed a 1 million euros ($1.3 million) budget be given to a show called Mesogeion 136, which Kogiannis claims was created to give a job to Anthi Salagkoudi, a former New Democracy candidate and daughter of former New Democracy finance minister Yiorgos Salagkoudis, as well as other relatives of New Democracy officials who got jobs with ERT.
Kogiannis says ERT’s legal department refused to sign the contract with this show’s production company, a contract that was drafted by Aimilios Liatsos, who was brought in to head the news at ERT by the Samaras government, EnetEnglish reported.
Samaras apparently forgot to mention that among the oblique hires was a koumbaros, best man, Giorgos Antoniou, who was appointed to ERT on a monthly salary of 3,500 euros – more than twice that of a top editor who actually works. Or that Menelaos Sevastiadis, a koumbaros to Samaras’ communications director George Mouroutis, was also hired at 3,500 euros a month.
And don’t bleed for them or say that he fired them along with everyone else because they, and a lot of people like them, will be back when Samaras reinstitutes ERT with a staff of 1000-1200 to man its replacement, NERIT, by the end of the summer. He said the choices of whom will be brought back will based on “meritocratic criteria,” but you can take it to a recapitalized Greek bank that it will be a NERITOcracy.