I must confess that I cannot personally confirm the veracity of most of the details I'm hearing, but I will say that I trust Claire, and David Codrea, and Mike Vanderboegh, in their judgment on this, and I would not be surprised to see El Neil pop back up over the whole matter, recovering-from-stroke or not. From my own limited exposure to Gottlieb's recent shenanigans with the Manchin-Toomey(-Schumer) pre-emptive surrender, I certainly don't have a great deal of confidence either, that he is not in fact the cat in this observation from the late and much-missed Aaron Zelman:
“A housewife and a cat will both chase mice out of the kitchen. But the cat wants more mice to come back.”Details sound bad. Bad enough that it's tempting to wonder if there is not a hand of some Bloomberg-like creep in all of this. I mean, jeez, where have we heard the "hurry,-we-gotta-do-this-now-before-the-little-people-find-out-about-it" line before? Again, Claire has details if you need 'em.
My observations at this point are two:
1) This is another (and extremely ironic) example of the risk of vesting power in a centralized authority structure--in institutionalizing. Claire notes that the board of directors is three people--meaning that any two can destroy the organization in an instant, and it's all "legal and proper". And in this case (presuming that past history is the way to bet), moreso than in most takeover cases, it would really be tragic to lose the organization's identity, as it is unique. The tragedy is amplified further by the specific who is "bidding" for the takeover: the way I understand it, Zelman would never have had anything to do with Gottlieb, going back for some time. The sense of betrayal among the JPFO rank and file must be seething, and once again, unless I'm getting some pretty bad information, it seems very likely that Gottlieb must have known of Zelman's opinion of him, and stipulating that, it does not exactly cast much positive light on Gottlieb's intentions here.
all of which brings up
2) If the fix consummates the way it appears to be intended, and the result performs the way long-timers seem to believe it will, it will cost the perpetrators, whether they realize it or not. It's one thing to take over an organization with no soul or passion, but another entirely to do the same to people who are devoted to speaking plainly and rejecting compromise. Maybe SAF really does see JPFO as just another list of protection-racket customers, newly available for exploitation. First of all, I'd say they're simply wrong. Second, even if that's what they believe and they are right, there is this: protection rackets can work famously, right up until the moment when they don't. If it really is Gottlieb's business to perpetually stump for money while never intending to kill his cash cow, he presumably understands that his ruse depends on others not figuring out they're being taken.
He would do well to remember that having a name on a list doesn't constitute...ownership.