Kwame and Compuware – A Perfect Match?

Everyone in the greater Detroit area is buzzing about Kwame Kilpatrick.  In case you don’t know who he is – here’s a short introduction from his (really long) Wikipedia entry :

Kwame Kilpatrick (born June 8, 1970) is the former mayor of Detroit, Michigan. When elected at the age of 31, he was the youngest mayor in the history of Detroit. Kilpatrick’s mayorship was plagued by numerous scandals and rampant accusations of corruption, with the mayor eventually resigning after being charged with ten felony counts, including perjury and obstruction of justice.  Kilpatrick was sentenced to four months in jail after pleading guilty to reduced charges, but with good time awarded to county jail inmates in Michigan, he was released on probation after serving ninety-nine days. On May 25, 2010, he was sentenced to 18 months to 5 years in prison for violating his probation.

Detroiters are buzzing  because of that last sentence.  Going to prison for a probation violation is newsworthy when the prisoner is Kwame Kilpatrick, and whether prison is too harsh a sentence for a probation violator is the topic du jour.

But no one is talking about Compuware, who is an interesting player in this whole drama.  For the uninformed, here’s what happened: Almost immediately after being released from his original jail sentence, in February 2009, Kwame Kilpatrick landed a 6-figure “account executive”  job (allegedly selling medical software) with Covisint,  a subsidiary of Compuware.  He had no experience, and was a convicted felon – convicted of lying in court. Under oath.  Just the skills needed for a sales executive job, right?

The CEO of Compuware, Peter Karmanos, Jr., was a supporter of Kwame and a financial contributor, so everyone just dismissed that job, and the fact that it was handed to Kwame on a silver platter, as business as usual. But what message is sent about the culture and corporate responsibility of Compuware?  Why wasn’t the judgment of Karmanos questioned more by the media and other observers at the time? Or is cronyism and political back-scratching just a fact of business life?  I find Compuware’s actions to be particularly shameful, given the economic downturn at the time, and the fact that Compuware employees were being  simultaneously terminated. Perhaps Kwame and Compuware are perfectly matched – both being corrupt, greedy, arrogant, and impossible to shame.

In case you hadn’t heard, Compuware/Covisint fired Kwame on Tuesday, about an hour after he was led away from court in handcuffs.  Their statement?

“It’s an unfortunate situation, and we feel bad for his family, but our hands are tied.”

I guess that Compuware’s hands weren’t tied until Kwame actually lost the ability to show up in Dallas (where he was based) once in a while. They are paying him until the end of the month, though.

So what do you think?  Is Compuware a poor corporate citizen with a bad CEO to boot?  Did they enable Kwame to misbehave by handing him an undeserved job and income?  Does everyone deserve a chance to overcome their past, including people like Kwame?  Your comments, please!

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