on November 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Michigan calls off meeting on GM, Chrysler deal

DETROIT (Reuters) – An economic development group in Michigan on Friday canceled a meeting where local officials were to discuss the possible impact of a merger between Chrysler LLC and General Motors Corp, saying it had received far too much media attention.

The announcement from the Michigan Economic Development Corp that it was calling off the gathering angered some local politicians, who argued the meeting should have gone ahead regardless of the media attention.

“I am absolutely disappointed by the decision to cancel the meeting,” James Fouts, the non-partisan mayor of Detroit suburb of Warren, Michigan, where the meeting was to take place.

“It would have been better to let the media and public know where we are and what our contingency plans are instead of adopting a bunker mentality like this.

“A merger of GM and Chrysler could lead to tens of thousands of job cuts and push Michigan from recession to an outright recession. Until I hear a compelling case for a merger, I am firmly against it,” he added.

Warren is home to several GM and Chrysler plants that employ thousands of workers. The two companies are Warren’s top taxpayers, paying property taxes that make up to 15 percent of the city’s budget, Fouts said.

The MEDC meeting had been billed by some local politicians, including Fouts as an emergency meeting spurred by concerns that a merger between the No. 1 and No. 3 U.S. automakers would lead to tens of thousands of job cuts in Michigan.

In a statement, the MEDC insisted the meeting was not an emergency gathering. Spokeswoman Bridget Beckman said the meeting was merely “one in a series of meetings to get the ball rolling and work on contingency plans” and had garnered too much media attention.

“This is much ado about nothing,” she said.

Beckman said the gathering of local officials would instead now take place after the U.S. presidential and congressional elections on November 4.

Peter Auger, city manager of Auburn Hills — the Detroit suburb that is home to Chrysler’s sprawling headquarters — said he was disappointed the meeting was canceled, but understood the state agency’s wish to avoid having a planning meeting get out of hand.

“I wish we would have had the meeting,” he said. “But if meetings like this get too large, then you just don’t get any work done.”

(Editing by Andre Grenon)