Accountability Heroes and Zeros of 2014

BlameWe thought it might be interesting to look back at 2014 and see who and what stood out – either as highlights or as lowlights in the area of accountability. Sadly, it is not difficult to find the lowlights – really, we could ask you right now and we bet you could rattle off 3 or 4 without a second’s thought. But do you know how difficult it is to find accountability heroes in this day and age? There were examples in 2014 – but we bet they don’t come to mind as quickly. That is sad too, isn’t it? Often these positive accountability stories are highlighted at a more local level and don’t really make the national or world news. Everyone likes the bad news stories, so sadly they prevail. We’d like to make an attempt to change that this year; however, more on that later. Let’s reminisce about 2014 and some examples of lousy accountability.

Accountability Zeros of 2014

  • The US Government – We have made a determined attempt to leave the government out of our blogs, articles, comments and book, until now. The government is always such an easy target to bash, with their partisan dysfunction and their posturing for re-election. So we’ve steered clear in the past but we really can’t hold back any longer. Infuriatingly, there are so many examples to choose from, but for now, we’ll address two of the biggies on which we feel everyone can agree.
    • Health Care Rollout – The embarrassing and dismal rollout of the president’s new health care law frustrated millions of Americans with a website that was not ready for the heavy traffic it was sure to encounter. In the end, signups for met expectations, but it came after months of costly repairs and resulted in the resignation of Kathleen Sebelius as Health Secretary.
    • Veterans Administration Scandal: Veterans nationwide faced long wait times at VA hospitals, and as many as 40 patients may have died while awaiting care. In some cases, VA employees were asked to change the dates of the initial request to alter the appearance of wait times. The outrage was enough for a polarized Congress to pass legislation meant to overhaul the VA health care system and help hold those in charge responsible for years of mismanagement. This also resulted in a resignation – Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki resigned in May.
  • The Downing of MH 17 – The Malaysian airliner was shot down, killing all 298 people on board on July 17. The West accused pro-Russian separatists, and Russian President Putin deflected to the Ukraine. To back up their story that the Ukraine shot the plane down, Russian state television produced a faked “satellite image” that allegedly showed the flight being shot down by a fighter jet, conveniently on the eve of the G20 economic summit. In reality, the Dutch Safety Board found the jet was pierced from the outside by a large numbers of “high-energy objects”, which was consistent with the main theory about the crash: that the plane was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher located on territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels. Regardless of what exactly happened, there has been – ZERO accountability! Hard to imagine isn’t it!
  • The car industry certainly wasn’t unscathed.
    • Honda – Honda North America will pay $70 million in fines — the largest amount in fines ever levied against an automaker by federal regulators — for failing to disclose more than 1,700 death and injury claims, as well as not honoring the warranty by refusing to fix or replace the defective brake pads, as required under federal law.
    • GM – Senior leaders chose to cover up the ignition switch issue which caused airbags not to deploy resulting in 30 deaths. Did any C-suite level people lose their jobs over this?

Before we take to our beds with depression, there were some bright spots in 2014 – people actually making the right decisions and showing some accountability. You know we have been impressed with Charlie Strong, the head coach at The University of Texas for his stating what the culture would be in his football program and then actually dismissing any who weren’t willing to comply (yes, even starters were let go!). Charlie even received some national coverage when Roger Goodell consulted with him during the NFL’s domestic violence issues (another lowlight we could have added). However, this time we will take this opportunity to recognize some others.  


Accountability Heroes of 2014

  • Pope Francis – At last, after so many years, someone in the Vatican takes accountability. Not only is he dealing with the financial irregularities within, but more importantly he is apologizing for the abuse inflicted by priests worldwide long before he became the Pope. Yea, Pope!
  • Adam Silver NBA Commissioner – Banned the LA Clipper’s owner, Donald Sterling when audio recordings surfaced of his repugnant racist remarks regarding African American basketball players. Sterling was forced to sell the LA Clippers. Nice Job!
  • Coach Gary Patterson – Head football coach of Texas Christian University – When faced with going from being ranked #3 in the college football polls to #6 in a week, and then missing out on being in selected among the top four teams for the playoffs in the newly created College Football Playoffs, Coach Patterson graciously accepted TCU’s fate and said something like – the best way to avoid this next year is to win all of our games. They had a 12-1 season and anytime a team suffers a loss it makes bowl game selection more difficult. His accountable and positive attitude, as well as his team’s achievements in 2014 led to his recognition as Coach of the Year in many polls! Well done Coach P!
  • ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – We’re not really sure who to give the credit to on this one. One story says it was the brainchild of 29-year-old ALS patient Peter Frates. The former captain of the Boston College baseball team who drew inspiration from one of that club’s post-game rituals and challenged some local athletes on Twitter to get iced. Another story reported that golfer Chris Kennedy was the first known person to take the challenge on July 15 then challenging his cousin, Jeannette Senerchia, whose husband has had ALS for 11 years. It doesn’t really matter; however, someone saw the need in raising awareness and money for this much underfunded illness and a novel idea was hatched. We also have to give credit to all those on Facebook and beyond who were accountable and followed through… to the tune of raising $100 million. We’d say that was pretty accountable!
  • Dale Hanson – ABC’s Dallas sports anchor – Michael Sam became the first openly gay football player prior to his participation in the draft. Several NFL officials told Sports Illustrated “that this will hurt him on draft day since a gay player wouldn’t be welcome in an NFL locker room. It would be uncomfortable because that’s a man’s world.” Dale Hansen responded in a segment titled “Hansen Unplugged: Celebrating Our Differences” with the following. “You beat a woman and drag her down a flight of stairs, pulling her hair out by the roots? You’re the fourth guy taken in the NFL draft. You kill people while driving drunk? That guy’s welcome. Players caught in hotel rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes? We know they’re welcome. Players accused of rape and pay the woman to go away? You lie to police, trying to cover up a murder? We’re comfortable with that. You love another man? Well, now you’ve gone too far!” How’s that for a reporter being accountable to speak some truths?

Wouldn’t it be nice if these types of stories of Accountability Heroes soared in 2015? At least get the credit for being a positive role model? We’d like to start a conversation with you our faithful readers – and get your help if we could. If you are interested in providing encouragement to someone who is doing a good job of being accountable, or if you hear a great accountability story this year why don’t you send it to us!? We would love to share these stories via our blog or even include it on Twitter and Facebook. We know people like to hear the good stories of accountability as well! Help us make it popular to be an Accountability Hero in 2015!