10-25-07 by simpson
Chevron CEO Dave O’Reilly came to Los Angeles to make a speech. We figured it was a great opportunity to remind him what the company’s soaring gasoline prices do to consumers. I dropped by to present him with the “Golden Nozzle Award” for sticking it to California consumers.
I had bought my $55 ticket to the Town Hall Los Angeles event where O’Reilly was speaking. Before going into the reception I chatted with the media about the award.
I stressed that soaring gas prices are largely caused by a lack of refined gasoline, not rising prices of crude oil. I said, “Chevron controls the amount of gasoline they make and the company artificially lowers gasoline supplies to drive up gasoline prices. When refinery utilization rates are cut, prices to consumers and Chevron’s profits go up. That’s why Chevron has not built a new refinery in 30 years.”
Having set the context for the award, I headed for the reception, cameras following. I was stopped at the door and told that cameras weren’t allowed and that it was a private reception. I explained that I was invited and had paid my money and showed my ID badge.
The gatekeepers agreed I could go in, but not the cameras. I explained that I had an award that I wanted to deliver to O’Reilly. One of the gatekeepers asked if I wanted someone to come out to accept it.
I said that would be fine, but it would be best if O’Reilly himself came to receive Chevron’s award.
They sent Donald Campbell, manager of media relations. He listened to what I had to say, said he’d like to have us sit down with key Chevron executives so we could better understand the company, accepted the award and returned to the reception.
I headed in without cameras in tow, but was reminded that I was wearing a microphone and couldn’t enter with it pinned to my tie. I’d truly forgotten I had it.
After removing the offending electronics, I entered and was immediately engaged in discussion by Campbell. It was an interesting chat, but it dawned on me that he really was most interested in keeping me away from O’Reilly.
I asked him to introduce us, but he declined. Heck, at that point all I wanted to do was compare notes with O’Reilly about pubs on the north side of Dublin. O’Reilly is Irish and I spent a wonderful year there teaching at Dublin City University.
I went in for the lunch. The food was fine. After eating I asked Campbell if we could shoot video of the speech. Told him I didn’t plan anything outrageous, I just wanted straight-up coverage of the event. He declined. I asked again. Then I dropped by his table to see if he’d had second thoughts. “No,” he said.
I told him I was going to leave, asked that he please send me a text of the speech. He said he would. Then I told him I was going over to the head table to say good-bye to O’Reilly.
Campbell looked really worried. “Relax,” I said. “I’m not going to do anything crazy.”
I introduced myself to O’Reilly, told him who I was and that “his colleague” had accepted the “Golden Nozzle Award” in his behalf. Left him my card.
I’ll be following up with both of them to make sure that Campbell did pass along the award and O’Reilly truly appreciates what it means.