This article in Salon claims that the Enron collapse has been a September 11-like shock to Houston.
“Whereas Sept. 11 was a shock for the nation and indeed the world, this is a second shock for Houston, certainly not of equal magnitude, but up there on the Richter scale,” says Peter Bishop, chair of the studies of the future department at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. “Ken Lay. You couldn’t find a fairer person, a person who did more for the community, and just like the World Trade Center, that doesn’t exist anymore.”
It’s a sign of how shocked Houstonians are about Enron’s ignominious demise that Sept. 11 can be invoked — and is frequently — to explain the shock of the company’s collapse.
Umm, maybe I’m just out of touch, but I can’t honestly say that I’ve seen any September 11 references in the local Enron coverage. I certainly hadn’t thought of it that way myself. Yes, this has been a shock, but there’s still a fundamental difference between people losing jobs and money and people being vaporized by flaming jet fuel. Frankly, I think the comparison is overwrought to the point of being further evidence of an excessive sense of self-importance on the part of some folks connected to Enron, to wit:
“They had rock-star status here,” says Carlos Hernandez, a native Houstonian and business consultant of the Enron top dogs. Last year, before Enron’s downfall, when Jeff Skilling was still CEO, he’d be approached in local bars like a celebrity. “Out of nowhere people would come up to him and tell him how great he was. A friend of mine saw him at Volcano unshaven, wearing a leather bomber jacket, a white T-shirt and jeans,” says Hernandez. “He was a god, and Lay was king.”
You’ve got to be kidding me. Even today I wouldn’t know Jeff Skilling if he wiped my windshield for beer money. Don’t ask me what the T-shirt and jeans comment is supposed to mean. Maybe it was laundry day and that’s what was still clean.
I really have no idea where this story came from. Any Houstonians reading this, did I miss something? Do you feel this way? Please let me know.
UPDATE: Ginger beat me to the publishing punch. Her take is a bit different, but we agree that the article didn’t resonate for us.