Grand Theft Auto – How Citizens Fought for the American Dream
May 14 and 15, 2009 – two days in which Chrysler and General Motors, with the help of the government, literally stole the life’s work from nearly 2,000 business owners.
Two years later, the history from the dealers’ perspective of those days are hitting the bookstores. And they are must reads for anyone associated with the automotive retail industry.
The first book out this year is by Alan Spitzer with his daughter Alison, whose account is appropriately titled, Grand Theft Auto – How Citizens Fought for the American Dream. Grand Theft Auto – How Citizens Fought for the American Dream.
The Spitzers’ book tells the inside story of how Jack Fitzgerald, Tamara Darvish and the Spitzers, along with numerous other dealers, put together the Committee to Restore Dealer Rights (CRDR) overcoming countless obstacles to try to save as many dealerships as possible. (Tamara Darvish just released her account, How Detroit and the Wall Street Car Czars Killed the American Dream).
The book begins as Spitzer is dropping his daughter off at school on May 14, 2009. It was a clear spring day with a lot of promise, yet would quickly become one of the worst days in Spitzer’s career. As his daughter is saying goodbye, he gets a phone call from someone at Chrysler telling him six of his dealerships were on the list to be closed.
The next day, he learned three of his General Motors dealerships were being closed.
The book’s pace at times is almost dizzying as the Spitzers puts the reader on the inside as dealers struggled and negotiated with White House, Congress, NADA and the automotive task force.
The account is impressive on many fronts. One, the book does not come across as a complaint session. Nor does it take pot shots at the people responsible for some the untruths that led to the dealership closures.
Instead, the Spitzers provides an objective and accurate portrayal of the events as they happened. It’s a classy read, but highly informative providing a blow by blow account of the how the situation played out. The book is incredible also because it outlines in great detail an insider’s view of how politics and legislation is conducted at the federal level. Not to overstate it, but the book may be one of the most informative political accounts ever written about the machinations inside our nation’s government.The Spitzers also have the facts to support their assertions. The book is well footnoted and includes government and manufacturer reports and documents in 13 appendices at the end of the book.
But it’s not a dry read. Despite the objective nature of the account, the desperation and hopelessness felt by the dealers who were losing family businesses is clearly seen throughout the book. Countless times when it appeared all was lost, Spitzer, Fitzgerald and Darvish continued fighting – even going against the Pentagon and President Obama.
In the end, it was a partial victory of sorts for dealers. Congress ended up passing a law requiring GM and Chrysler provide arbitration for all of their affected dealers. More GM than Chrysler dealers managed to reverse their closures.
If you’re involved at any level in the auto industry, or are just interested in politics and how our government works, this book is a great read.
The book is for sale on Amazon at this link: http://www.amazon.com/Grand-Theft-Auto-Alan-Spitzer/dp/1935547275
To read a preview, click here: Grand Theft Auto.