How many ways can you spell DISAPPOINTING?-October 17, 1999
Last night's opening game at the Hartford Civic Center was more that a little disappointing.
Well we might have played well last night, but we lost it in the end. The disappointment was the
loss in overtime, the fact that it was our first loss of the season and that it was the first opening night
On a positive note, our photographer took tons of pictures last night and hopefully I'll get them online
within a week.
Practice, Practice, Practice-September 28, 1999
For anyone that went to the Wolf*Pack's practice at the Civic Center, you know that Derek Armstrong can sure talk up a storm!
Well fans, our players aren't only good at hockey, they are also good at entertaining a crowd. Derek's witty comments,
and the well organized nature of the practice led to a general feeling that we are going to have a great season.
Coach Paddock also has some new tactics that will hopefully help us win more games. From the UVM, getting its name from
the University of Vermont, to the stretches led by Derek himself, the practice is sure to be rigorous.
I would like to personally thank whoever it was that had the idea to put body microphones on the players. It
certainly made the evening more interesting. Hearing what the players are saying brings you that much closer to the
action. This is especially true when you are listening to a guy (Derek) who could have made a decent
living as an actor. Derek loves being involved with the fans, and this really shows through on the ice and off.
Another player that should be commended is the All-Popular P.J. Stock. He can withstand an immense amount of
fan 'harassment,' and still maintain a pleasant demeanor.
Well here's to a great season. On a side note, I should have gotten some really great pictures that
should be up on the site ASAP.- Michael
Derek's Finger-August 26, 1999
I wanted to get the picture of Derek and me at the Science Center signed by Derek. It was the last game of the playoffs and I still hadn't had it signed. During warm-ups I asked Derek to sign it but he said he couldn't because he would get in trouble. After the game, we went to the players' garage to get the picture signed.
Most of the players were very nice and were willing to sign autographs and talk. Some, including Scott Fraser and Kevin Brown, were very rude and ran right by, ignoring everybody.
It seemed like we waited an eternity until Derek finally came out. As soon as he saw me he yelled, "Sharon!" and gave my Mom and me a big hug. After we talked for awhile I asked him to sign the picture of us. He was having trouble signing the picture and that is when I realized that he had something on his pinky finger. He explained that someone had broken his finger in the second game against Providence. Nobody else knew because then the other team would know to try and hit Derek's pinky.
We asked him if he was going to be able to go fishing like we planned. Derek said he thought his wife would make him come home, but he asked us for our phone number anyway. Even though he never came he has our number for next year.
Is He Back?-July 20, 1999
As all of you season ticket holders know, Derek is pictured on the cover of this year's renewal package. Although the picture itself lacks value and quality, it does hint at something else. The picture hints at an answer to a question every Derek Armstrong fan has been asking since the year-end... "Is the Wolf*Pack gonna sign Derek?"
I think that the answer everyone has been hoping for is "yes." There are two reasons why this might be the case. The first is that on the NHL Website, Derek is listed as a type two free agent. This means that the Rangers have made an offer under a certain amount of money. Therefore, any other team can make an offer, and the Rangers can bid back. Well, that is very hopeful in itself.
Now a new type of evidence has turned up in the return slip. Derek is pictured inside and out. The inside also features Johan Witehall, Ken Gernander, and Jean-Francois Labbe, who all have contracts with the Rangers. Would the Wolf*Pack prey of unsuspecting fans hoping for Derek, and buying tickets only to be sorely disappointed or do they know something they aren't telling us? You can decide for yourself, but I want to think he will be back.- Michael
Karmanos Strikes Again!!!-July 6, 1999
It was spring of 1998, and Peter Karmanos Jr. was sitting on top of
the world. A fireplug of a man with a piercing gaze and iron handshake,
the then-55-year-old co-founder, chairman, and chief executive of
Compuware Corp. had built it into a $1.1 billion purveyor of computer
software and services. Sales were soaring, earnings were fat, and
Wall Street loved him.
Moreover, the hometown boy was revered around Detroit for his community
involvement and philanthropy. Thanks to his 12% stake in Compuware-
-now worth $656 million--Karmanos had given millions to cancer research.
And, realizing a lifetime dream, he even owned a National Hockey League
team, the Carolina Hurricanes.
But things soon started to sour. On May 20, at Compuware's regularly
scheduled quarterly meeting, the usually convivial Karmanos turned
somber, according to several directors present. Karmanos sadly told
his board members that one of the company's highest-ranking officers
had complained he had sexually harassed her. Sheila McKinnon, the
company's senior vice-president for human resources, the board was
about to learn, had told other executives that Karmanos twice suggested
she engage in an extramarital affair with him, that Karmanos allegedly
rubbed her leg at a social event and on a company plane, and that
he later turned hostile and abusive when she spurned his advances.
``I don't know how to handle this,'' Karmanos said to the board, according
to a later deposition. ``I'm hurt, I'm upset, I'm confused, and I
don't know what to do.''
SHOCK AND DISBELIEF. It was an intensely awkward moment for the board,
which includes Elizabeth A. Chappell, a former AT&T vice-president,
former Connecticut Governor and U.S. Senator Lowell P. Weicker Jr.,
and G. Scott Romney, son of the former Michigan governor. Suddenly,
they were confronted with perhaps the most difficult, sensitive problem
a board can face. Worse, McKinnon, 52, was not only a member of Karmanos'
inner business circle but also a close friend of his and his wife,
Equally troubling, McKinnon claimed that another woman, Karmanos'
former secretary, 36-year-old Troy Strong, was also sexually harassed
by him. Chappell recalls the sense of disbelief and gravity that filled
the room. ``It is a very, very serious subject. I don't care if it'
s Pete Karmanos or God, we needed to get to the bottom of that,''
Yet it didn't take long for Compuware's directors to decide they knew
enough. As the board sat silently, Karmanos turned the meeting over
to the company's general counsel, Thomas Costello Jr., who presented
an 18-page report from an outside investigator hired to look into
the allegations. ``Although no final conclusion can be reached at
this point as to what was actually said between Karmanos and McKinnon
when there were no witnesses, there is no independent support for
McKinnon's claims,'' the report said.
INVITING LAWSUITS? Compuware's 11-member board--which is weighted
heavily with insiders, the politically connected, Detroit area figures,
and others whose companies have done business with the company--began
to consider the report. But discussion quickly moved on to McKinnon'
s job performance. Within 90 minutes, the board reached a consensus
to terminate Sheila McKinnon's employment. ``We felt the company had
no choice,'' says board member Romney. ``We couldn't tolerate retaining
a head of human resources who we believed was fabricating a story.'
But by basing their decision to fire McKinnon on an investigation
of the CEO overseen by his subordinates--and moving beyond the report
and into a review of her performance--Compuware's directors appear
to have erred badly. Indeed, by failing to take on responsibility
for the investigation themselves, the board may have increased the
company's vulnerability to lawsuits.
As with all allegations of sexual harassment, those lodged against
a CEO can be virtually impossible to prove or disprove. Perceptions
of what took place often differ widely. In the ensuing battle to prove
who is telling the truth and who is lying, one key point is often
overlooked: At base, sexual harassment is about power. And a CEO of
a large corporation, by definition, holds enormous power, marshaling
vast legal resources in any confrontation. That's why experts in employment
law say it is crucial that when a CEO is accused of harassment, he
or she must step back and hand over the matter to the board.
However, a close examination of court records and interviews with
Compuware executives, the company's lawyers, and six of Compuware'
s seven independent directors reveals that both before and after the
May 1998, board meeting, Karmanos, his top staff, and their outside
investigator, Anthony J. Rusciano, set into motion a troubled investigation
that raises as many questions as it answers.
For starters, Rusciano alternated between acting as Compuware's
investigating attorney on the case and giving the company advice on
how to defend against McKinnon's allegations. He and his firm also
have a long-standing business relationship with the company. At least,
those ties create the appearance of conflict of interest that is
best avoided in such a sensitive case, according to Michael Duffy,
former chairman of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
and now a consultant on workplace issues. Moreover, company executives
who report to Karmanos--including one cited by both women as a key
witness--played a major role in conducting the investigation. Perhaps
worst of all, Karmanos injected himself into the McKinnon investigation
by talking about it with Strong.
NO REGRETS. General Counsel Costello defends the actions of the board
and company. ``You do what you think is right, and I think we did.
I think our board trusts us; they trust Peter, I know,'' he says.
``A lot of those folks have known me or known Peter for quite a while,
and I think they knew we would do things the right way.'' Compuware'
s directors also stand by their performance. ``I don't think it could
have been handled better,'' says Romney. ``If there had been any hint
of any merit in this, we might have done something different; there
just wasn't any scintilla of anything.''
Yet far from putting an end to the matter, the board's decision
set off a chain reaction of bad news. Within four days, McKinnon filed
suit against Karmanos and the company alleging sexual harassment and
retaliation. In the wake of the McKinnon case, Strong also left Compuware
and filed her own suit against the company for ``constructive discharge.'
' In her suit, Strong alleged that Karmanos twice suggested ``we need
to take the afternoon off and fuss around at a hotel,'' and that he
had touched her inappropriately. Strong's suit alleges that as a result
of being dragged into the McKinnon case and forced to provide testimony
that would put Karmanos in a negative light, her working conditions
In an interview and in court records, Karmanos denies all the allegations
made by both McKinnon and Strong. Says Costello: ``In any other business
[McKinnon's allegations] would be called extortion.'' Compuware and
Karmanos countersued McKinnon, charging defamation, but dropped the
case roughly three months later. Explains Elizabeth H. Tipton, a Houston-
based defense attorney hired by Compuware: ``We didn't want to be
perceived as a bully in front of a jury.'' The two sides agreed to
an out-of-court settlement in April of this year and signed a ``non-
disparagement'' clause. McKinnon declined to be interviewed. Unable
to find a comparable job, Mc-Kinnon is now working as a consultant,
says her attorney, Kathleen Bogas.
Strong's case is pending. She left the company in August last year
and now works as a management trainee at a Detroit area retail store.
``Nobody cares that my reputation is ruined. Everybody is concerned
about Pete's,'' she says. ``I do respect him as a businessman, but
what he did isn't business.''
Whatever really happened, the entire episode has been a bitter
pill for Karmanos, 56, a proud man who has enjoyed a brilliant career.
``You sit here, running a company for 26 years, and then this,'' he
says in an interview. Karmanos has been the heartbeat of Compuware
for as long as anyone can remember. Since pooling his income tax refund
with two friends to raise $9,000 and start Compuware in 1973, he has
put his personal stamp on every aspect of the computer services and
Compuware makes its money helping big organizations, such as Ford
Motor Co. and New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority, get their
computer networks running smoothly. Under Karmanos, the company has
posted 30% or higher annual growth in revenues and even higher profit
growth in the past three years, earning it the No. 6 spot on the BUSINESS
WEEK 50 list of top-performing companies this spring.
More than just a bottom-line guy, though, Karmanos has won plaudits
for giving Compuware workers a state-of-the-art gym, day-care center,
and gourmet cafeteria--making Compuware one of the most sought-after
places to work in the Detroit area. The constantly gum-chewing Karmanos
is by most accounts a popular CEO. The son of Greek immigrants who
got his first taste of business as a kid waiting tables in the family
diner, he prides himself on being a regular guy. Nor is he afraid
to pepper his conversation with loud and profane remarks. And just
two months ago, Detroit rejoiced when Karmanos promised to move Compuware'
s headquarters and 6,500 high-skill jobs from the company's lush suburban
campus in Farmington Hills to a now-rubble-strewn lot in the heart
There seemed no limit to what Karmanos could accomplish. But his
life became immensely more complicated in April, 1998. That's when
Denise Knobblock, Compuware's executive vice-president for human resources
and administration, walked into Karmanos' office. A longtime colleague
of McKinnon's, Knobblock had been promoted over McKinnon. ``Sheila
has been making allegations that you sexually harassed her,'' Knobblock
told Karmanos, according to her deposition. Karmanos says: ``The first
thing I did was call my wife.''
Karmanos says his wife burst into tears. A former top-performing
saleswoman at Compuware who wed Karmanos in 1990, Debra had become
good friends with Sheila since the two met through their husbands,
boyhood classmates. The McKinnons were among a handful of couples
invited to vacation every summer with the Karmanos family at a condominium
on the New Jersey Shore. Back in Detroit, Debra and Sheila often socialized,
attending the opera and dinner together and going on ``girls-only
weekends,'' according to company documents.
HE SAID, SHE SAID. At first, Karmanos says, ``I sat there for the
longest time trying to figure out what happened.'' But a couple of
days later, he ``decided to deal with it as a businessman.'' He summoned
Costello and instructed him to find someone outside the company to
do an independent investigation. With Karmanos' approval, Costello
turned to Rusciano, chairman of the board at Plunkett & Cooney, a
respected Detroit law firm that had represented Compuware in employment
Rusciano says in his report that he ``interviewed 26 individuals'
' over the next three weeks, including top executives at Compuware
and friends of both Karmanos and McKinnon. According to the report,
none of them backed up McKinnon's allegations. Some of those interviewed,
in fact, contradicted McKinnon's claims. Friends at the Jersey Shore,
for instance, told Rusciano they believed it was McKinnon who was
pursuing Karmanos. Pamela Burt, a friend of both couples, told Rusciano
that during the trip to the shore in August, 1997, McKinnon was ``continually
in [Karmanos'] face'' and later, in a sworn deposition, she said McKinnon
was ``acting like a schoolgirl.'' But there was one very big problem.
One of the 26 people Rusciano claimed to have interviewed, he spoke
to for ``less than a minute.'' The person was Troy Strong, Karmanos'
former secretary, the one person who might have given credibility
to Sheila McKinnon's claim.
Three weeks later, at the May 20 board meeting, Costello presented
Rusciano's findings to the board as Karmanos sat uncharacteristically
mute. In the course of their 90-minute discussion, the board soon
turned its attention to questions prompted by the report about McKinnon'
s job performance. The report, for instance, said Karmanos was concerned
that McKinnon ``was not telling him the truth'' about a study of pay
differences between men and women employees done by consulting company
William Mercer Inc. ``In Pete's mind, lying about the Mercer study
was a big deal,'' says Diane Prucino, Karmanos' personal attorney,
in an interview. From there, the board moved into a wide-ranging
discussion of her performance. Board member Elaine K. Didier, a former
administrator at the University of Michigan, said senior executives
told the board meeting that McKinnon had caused a ``breakdown of trust.'
Bogas, McKinnon's attorney, disputes that charge. ``Sheila denies
that she ever lied to Peter or ever misrepresented any findings of
any study,'' she says.
That alleged breakdown was key to the decision to fire McKinnon,
says Didier. Yet court documents show McKinnon had performed well
since joining the company in 1992 and was respected for her accomplishments
prior to the alleged incidents of sexual harassment. She was promoted
to senior vice-president in 1996, becoming one of the highest-ranking
women executives in the company. In a sworn deposition, Larry Fees,
Compuware's vice-president for facilities, described McKinnon as
an ``energetic, witty, and charming'' person who transformed the atmosphere
in the human resources department from ``cold and caustic'' to ``warm
and inviting and friendly.'' Fees believes McKinnon was largely responsible
for the creation of the fitness center, the day-care center, and the
top-notch cafeteria, according to his deposition.
In interviews with BUSINESS WEEK, board members say another reason
they agreed to terminate McKinnon was her failure, as the head of
human resources, to follow company policy and lodge an official complaint
about Karmanos' alleged behavior with her supervisor or the general
counsel. Instead, McKinnon ``was talking behind his back,'' says board
member Didier. ``That just tears down a management team,'' she says.
But given the risks involved in making a formal complaint against
a CEO, sexual harassment experts say that it would make sense for
McKinnon to discuss her experience informally with a few trusted confidants.
``You don't have to be a brain surgeon to figure out why she didn'
t go public with it,'' says Susan L. Webb, president of Pacific Resources
Development Group Inc., a Seattle consulting firm.
SHORT SKIRTS. Had the board heard the full extent of Strong's allegations,
they may have viewed McKinnon's allegations in a different light.
Strong's alleged troubles with Karmanos began shortly before Christmas,
1996, she says. That's when Karmanos allegedly suggested to her that
they go to a hotel. She says that she ignored the proposition, but
that Karmanos repeated it about a week later. In an interview and
in her complaint, Strong alleges that Karmanos made other offensive
remarks, such as, ``Could your pants be any tighter?'' and ``I want
to see you bend over.'' He also allegedly hiked up Strong's skirt
while she was sitting at her desk and grabbed her buttocks at a Compuware
Christmas party. Karmanos denies these allegations in an interview
and in a court deposition. He says he once had to tell her that her
skirt was too short and too tight for work.
Karmanos characterizes the relationship between Strong and himself
much differently. He says they simply had a personality conflict and
didn't work well together. ``It was awful,'' he says. ``In 20 years,
it was the first time in my career that I couldn't get along with
somebody.'' Strong disagrees. ``We got along fine until he propositioned
me,'' she says.
Strong, who says she wanted to avoid going public with her allegations,
transferred to another department in September, 1997. In making that
move, however, Strong says she confided her problem to Denise Knobblock.
According to McKinnon's lawsuit, Knobblock, in turn, told McKinnon
about Strong's allegations. But when McKinnon cited Strong's charges
to back up her own claims of sexual harassment in April, 1998, Strong
told BUSINESS WEEK, Knobblock summoned her to a meeting and discouraged
her from cooperating with McKinnon. In a deposition, Knobblock says
she doesn't recall giving Strong that advice.
Then, on Apr. 29, Rusciano dispatched Knobblock to the company
cafeteria to meet with Strong, according to Rusciano's deposition.
But Strong refused to answer questions, saying she needed to speak
with a lawyer first. In his deposition, Rusciano says: ``The message
I kept getting back from Ms. Knobblock and Mr. Costello was that she
just didn't want to get involved.''
Then on May 1, the final day of Rusciano's investigation, came
a much-disputed meeting between Strong and Karmanos. Karmanos called
her into his office, and according to Strong's deposition, he said:
``You've got to talk to the lawyer. You've got to tell him that the
reason why you left was we had a personality conflict and we just
didn't get along; that I didn't sexually harass you.''
Crying and upset, Strong says in her deposition, she went back
to her cubicle, and the phone rang almost immediately. It was Karmanos,
saying he had Rusciano with him, and Rusciano wanted to talk with
her. Then, says Strong, ``Tony got on the phone, and said, `Hi, I
was just talking to Pete. He told me you want to tell me that you
were never sexually harassed and that the reason why you left was
because you had a personality conflict. Is that correct?'''
Karmanos' account of the May 1 meeting is different. ``I didn't coach
her on what to say in any way, shape, or form,'' he says angrily.
Karmanos says he called Strong to his office ``to find out what was
going on, because she wasn't getting back to Tony.'' Rusciano says
he viewed the joint phone call simply as an opportunity to reach Strong:
``I didn't want her to be told what to say.''
BAD MOVE. Experts, however, insist that Karmanos seriously erred.
``Whether he said those things or not, he shouldn't be calling her
into his office,'' says Richard H. Koppes, an attorney at Jones, Day,
Reavis, & Pogue and a teacher of corporate governance at Stanford
University School of Law. Even Compuware attorneys concede it was
a bad move. Says Tipton: ``Do I wish that meeting hadn't taken place?
Of course.'' But she insists Karmanos never tried to influence Strong'
In any case, Strong said she couldn't talk to Rusciano at work
and asked him to call her at home that evening. Although he says he
tried to reach her three times to ask her about Karmanos' alleged
harassment, he never reached her. That ended Rusciano's efforts to
contact Strong. On Monday, May 4, Strong received a message from Knobblock
saying that the investigation was complete and Strong's participation
wasn't needed. Strong says at first she was relieved. ``I thought
Sheila had changed her mind.'' Instead, Rusciano concluded in his
report, based on what Knobblock told him, that ``Strong denied any
such behavior by Karmanos toward her.'' Strong not only disputes that,
she says Knobblock was the person she first told of her allegations.
It wasn't until July, 1998, that Strong finally told her story
to Rusciano, even though his firm was by now representing Compuware
in the McKinnon lawsuit. Although he was not the attorney of record
on the case, Rusciano was providing advice on how to defend the case.
But Rusciano and Costello insist that in interviewing Strong, Rusciano
was again acting in his capacity as independent investigator. Strong,
by this time on medical leave, quit a few weeks later and filed a
suit against the company.
Over the next several weeks, Rusciano continued to advise Compuware
on the McKinnon case. But by mid-August, Rusciano was back to wearing
his investigator's hat, this time performing a second probe for the
board into Strong's allegations. His conclusion: ``I find no evidence
to independently support or corroborate any of Ms. Strong's harassment
or retaliation claims.''
It's unclear whether Compuware's board of directors would have
reached a different conclusion in the McKinnon case if they had known
earlier about the extent of Strong's allegations. But board member
Chappell says she had no second thoughts after his report. ``I know
I should say yes, but I didn't. I still believed there was nothing
There may have been other questionable signs worth a closer look.
In McKinnon's diary of events surrounding the period of the alleged
sexual harassment, she refers to a conversation, dated ``1-27-98,'
' in which Knobblock informed McKinnon of Strong's own allegations
of sexual harassment. Four days later, according to the diary, part
of the court record, Knobblock told McKinnon that some syringes containing
an impotency drug were found in Karmanos' trash.
In an interview, Karmanos confirms that he had brought ``some pre-
Viagra stuff'' into his office from home. But he maintains that the
syringes were unopened and in their original package and that he brought
them to work in order to renew an expired prescription. He then says
he threw the drug and syringes into the trash. Knobblock, who declined
comment, concurred with Karmanos' version in her deposition.
Could Compuware's legal mess have been avoided had the directors
taken charge of the investigation from the start? Costello says the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines emphasize handling
sexual harassment allegations quickly, and that was why management
did an investigation ahead of the board meeting. ``If we wanted something
absolutely bulletproof, yeah, it would be a great idea to have a separate
committee, and not have the inside directors there. But there were
time constraints. We had a board meeting coming up.''
But was speed really the priority? There is a lesson for every
public company in how the Compuware management and board handled the
allegations, experts say. ``The question is, who's the client here?
The client is not the CEO. It's the company, the board,'' says Jones
Day's Koppes. It is a lesson Pete Karmanos and his hugely successful
Compuware have had to learn the hard way.-BusinessWeek