Walt Baker, the guy who compared Michelle Obama to a chimp is FIRED! Don’t let the door hit you in the ASS on the way out!
March 11, 2010
You wonder what is going though people’s minds when they do some shit like this? You can’t stop people from thinking racist thoughts, but I am glad that they are stupid enough to express them and write them down for all the world to see. Also, this is another message to remember that e-mail is almost forever. You lose track of the message as soon as you press send.
Some people are willing to show their racism out in the open, which makes it easier to avoid them, or at least know that they are racist.
But, the racists have taken it too far. They went after the first lady. It’s over. The election has been decided. Try again in 2012, but for now, let the man try to run the country. Walt Baker, I think that they just called your number in the unemployment line…
Walt Baker was fired Monday afternoon by both the Tennessee Hospitality Association and the Greater Nashville Hospitality Association — and will split with longtime business partner Phil Martin — days after he created a political firestorm by forwarding an e-mail that compared first lady Michelle Obama to a chimpanzee.
Both groups’ executive committees were unanimous in their decisions to terminate their contracts with Baker and Mercatus Communications, the marketing and communications firm he launched with Martin in May 1995. Baker had served as the CEO of the associations, managing them and championing industry interests such as the recently approved Music City Center convention hall.
Executive committee members said Baker’s behavior misrepresented the nature of hospitality and the associations’ desire to promote diversity.
“It’s upsetting both personally and professionally,” Tom Negri, general manager of the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, said. “One wonders why such e-mails even exist, and they shouldn’t. The e-mail is abhorrent, and there’s no better explanation for it.”
Partner leaving Mercatus
Martin said Mercatus landed a contract with what was then called the Tennessee Hotel and Motel Association more than 12 years ago. After eight years of helping the association plan its strategies and craft its message, Mercatus was hired to fill the CEO position in 2005.
“He has in essence thrown away a 30-year career in this business, and he has effectively killed this business,” Martin said. “I’ll be leaving Mercatus. … Effectively, there is no confidence or trust left in that entity, and I understand why.”
Martin said he is working on a transition plan for the clients he has outstanding obligations to. Baker handled hospitality related contracts for the firm while Martin worked with businesses in other industries.
Baker apologized over the weekend for the e-mail, which he said he previously received and forwarded to a small number of people as “political humor.”
“I am saddened that anyone misinterpreted the sentiments behind the e-mail,” Baker wrote in a Saturday morning e-mail to Metro Council members. “I deeply apologize to anyone who is offended by this action. I hope that those who know me realize that the message was not intended to be malicious or hurtful in any way and can find it in their hearts to forgive me.”
The damage was done, however, and both Mayor Karl Dean and Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau President Butch Spyridon issued statements later that day denouncing Baker’s actions. Spyridon also announced that the bureau would be terminating its contract with Mercatus.
The Tennessee Hospitality Association lost a combined $93,526 in 2008 and 2007, according the group’s 2008 Form 990 tax return. According to the return, the association spent $173,862 on salaries, other compensation and employee benefits in 2008. The return also states that the association spent $88,910 on management fees to non-employees. Board members would not reveal the exact value of the associations’ contract with Baker. When Mercatus was first hired in 2005, officials valued the contract at about $75,000 and said it was an open-ended arrangement that the executive committee could end at any time if it was unhappy.
Greater Nashville Hospitality Association President Pete Weien said the associations’ other employees were not affected by today’s decision and will continue working. He said the groups will soon reconvene to form a selection committee and begin searching for Baker’s replacement.
Attempts to contact Baker today were unsuccessful.
You can reach Brandon Gee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-846-4258.