Des Hague has survived the terrible dog-kicking scandal that threatened his position as the CEO of Centerplate. On Wednesday, company officials issued a statement saying Hague was being placed on indefinite probation and will take anger management classes. He’s also agreed to volunteer 1,000 hours with animal welfare groups and he will personally donate $100,000 to establish a foundation to honor Sade, the dog he reportedly kicked in the elevator.
The dog, it turns out, might actually belong to Hague. BCSPCA spokesperson Lorie Chortyk told a newspaper in San Diego that the dog seen in the video was likely registered to Hague. That contradicts Hague’s original statement characterizing the incident as a “minor frustration with a friend’s pet.” Why would he lie about ownership of the dog, a dog that is now in protective custody? Who knows — as we’ve seen in recent days, dishonesty only makes things worse.
But I’m willing to move past that — for now. Both Hague and Centerplate have bigger problems to deal with.
The punishment issued by Centerplate does not seem to have satiated those calling for Hague’s firing — a recent poll by the San Diego UT found that 88-percent of readers wanted officials with the San Diego Chargers to drop Centerplate.
That’s not a very scientific poll — but there does seem to be a slowly growing chorus around the country calling for Hague’s dismissal. A petition at Change.org has collected over 30,000 signatures and even captured the attention of DJ Pauly D from MTV show Jersey Shore, who tweeted the petition to his followers.
There’s also been plenty of calls to boycott Centerplate at the various sports facilities where they provide concessions. That’s the real nightmare scenario for Centerplate — seeing their clients dragged in to this mess, forced to acknowledge and even comment on Hague’s behavior. It’s a distraction no one wants.
I’ve said before that Des Hague isn’t a bad person. He’s a good person that did something bad. He’s not the monster people are painting him to be. Centerplate’s board of directors recognized that and did a good job coming up with a creative censure of Hague. It’s a pretty large fine and a serious commitment of personal time — but did they really think it would pacify the growing chorus calling for Hague’s head?
Probably not. Centerplate had to know that anything short of firing Hague would only embolden the Twitterverse who are blasting the company through #deshague. So if they know their actions won’t satiate most people, then the only conclusion I can draw is that Centerplate’s strategy is to cross their fingers and hope this whole incident goes away.
And that’s actually not a bad strategy, especially after deciding that Hague is too valuable to lose. Right now, the public outrage over Hague’s actions appears to be growing. It’s as if each hour, a different city where Centerplate operates is waking up and learning about the fiasco.
Will it eventually peak and slowly fizz out? We’ll have a better idea two weeks from now. It’s highly possible that the whole thing will blow over, although the damage to Hague’s reputation is irreversible. One of Hague’s strongest assets is his charisma. I can’t foresee Centerplate bringing in Hague to help finalize any new multi-million dollars deals, at least not any time soon.
And of course, if the outrage continues to simmer and eventually scalds Centerplate, the company always retains the right to fire him. They’re keeping their options open, which is smart.
I’m sure I’ll be excoriated for my analysis — I was bashed on Twitter on Monday for taking a nuanced look at the incident. Knowing that, I’m going to take it a step further and say this — if you live at the Private Residences at the Hotel Georgia, know that anything you do in the elevator or the hallways might be turned over to the media. So much for “Private” Residences.
Privacy is dead. Now let’s see if the protests die out too.