General Dynamics' 'Contraction' Plan Is a Door in the Face of Workers

How do you tell your wife that you're abandoning her and running away with a bimbo?

If you follow the example of William A. Anders, the boss of bosses at General Dynamics, you use Novocain language of reptilian coldness.

Here's Anders, in a release from GD's public relations department, announcing the decision to sell two of the company's San Diego divisions and upend the lives of 10,400 employees and their families:

"We have adopted a 'plan of contraction' that reflects our intention to place our non-core businesses in other hands as their markets permit and appropriate transactions can be negotiated."

See, this isn't a cutback, a selloff, a sellout, a fire sale, a retreat, or a greedy grab for higher profits. Heavens no!

It's a "plan of contraction." Contraction, kind of like giving birth, painful but leading to a wondrous payoff.

The Convair and electronics divisions in San Diego aren't slipshod or money losers, just "non-core." Never mind the thousands of lunch-bucket schmoes who have spent years producing high-quality products.

As of now, Anders said, "Under generally accepted accounting principles, our non-core businesses will be accounted for as discontinued operations in our future financial statements."

Don't tell your spouse: "I'm dumping you, but I'm sure someone will pick you up on the rebound."

Just say calmly: "My intent is to place you in other hands. Under generally accepted accounting principles, you're being discontinued."

It's not that top management and shareholders of General Dynamics are hot for even more money after a profitable year. It's just that they have "liquidity needs."

To critics who suggest the company should instead diversify into non-defense work, Anders answered:

"We continue to believe the most effective and efficient way to apply our excess cash to the commercial economy is through its distribution to our shareholders."

Try telling that to your wife as you clean out the family bank account and head for Las Vegas:

"Sorry, babe, I'd like to support you and the kids, but frankly I believe the most effective and efficient way to apply our excess cash . . . ."

Better yet, just issue a written statement.

Timely Deployment: Pizza, Not Police

Rodney redux.

* One large-sized civil disturbance to go, with everything except cops.

Peter Navarro, the mayoral candidate, has been telling crime-edgy voters in San Diego that "we live in a city where pizza gets to the door faster than the police."

Now we find out that San Diego isn't alone in the comparison of pizza vs. police.

The news this week out of Los Angeles is that the cops were agonizingly slow in responding to trouble.

Amid all the talk about police sluggishness, Domino's Pizza issued a press release taking a bow for delivering 500 pizzas to victims and cleanup volunteers last weekend after "just one call from the mayor's office."

An aide to an L.A. councilman is quoted:

"At a time in which the entire city was in a crisis state, it was most commendable for entities such as Domino's Pizza to provide support . . . ."

* U.S. News & World Report is upbeat about San Diego's community-oriented policing approach, where cops work with residents to prevent crime.

Title of the article: "What the LAPD Ought to Try."

* David Atherton, musical director of San Diego's Mostly Mozart Festival, also directs the Hong Kong Philharmonic.

So he was in Melbourne, Australia, this week for auditions. Things did not go smoothly.

He was pinned in his hotel by angry anti-American demonstrations sparked by the Rodney King verdict. Atherton is British, but that didn't seem to matter.

* Yes, Vons markets sell cans of charcoal lighter fluid with "L.A. Area Approved" in big letters on the label.

A reference to air standards, not arson.

With Mouths Shut

The rest of the story.

* Sweet smell of success.

San Diego comic ventriloquist Joe Gandelman has just been booked for the Garlic Festival in Gilroy.

* Bill Clinton is set for a campaign stop at the Hotel del Coronado a week from Sunday.

* San Diego bumper sticker: "Politicians Should Be Limited to Two Terms: One in Office, One in Jail."

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