Monthly Archives: February 2011

Timely Retirements, Outrageous Bonuses, and Other Epic Executive Handouts

Experienced financial reporters know that the best dirt on executive excess isn’t found in a press release or annual report, but gets buried deep in routine reports corporations file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The folks over at the footnoted website make it their business to sift through that corporate fine print so you don’t have to. They are very good at finding the hidden gems and — just as difficult — explaining what it all means in an entertaining manner. Recent postings chide Yahoo for the absurd lengths it’s taken to obscure even mundane details of a deal with Microsoft; McGraw-Hill executives for almost tripling their own layoff benefits as they cut workers; and Disney directors for juicing up their pay package.

Now it’s time for footnoted’s yearly contest to name the worst footnote of the year. Together the 2011 candidates make a strong case for why pay equity has emerged as a powerful issue. (Executive pay and perks have been off the charts for years, of course; the mild surprise is how well they have survived the slowdown.) The list also gives more ammunition to those who contend that the outsized gains of top earners in recent years have more to do with executives’ ability to strike favorable deals with compensation committees than with any gains in corner-office productivity.

Without further ado, here are the candidates, in footnoted’s words:

  • MF Global agreeing to pay then-CEO Jon Corzine a $1.5 million retention bonus months before the company imploded.
  • Clear Channel Media Holdings paying $3 million a year to a company controlled by Bob Pittman so that Pittman can fly in a Mystere Falcon 900 that Pittman owns for both business and personal use.
  • Leo Apotheker collecting around $25 million in severance and other benefits from Hewlett-Packard, including relocation back to France or Belgium after less than a year on the job.
  • IBM’s outgoing CEO Samuel Palmisano becoming eligible for as much as $170 million in retirement benefits, just by waiting until he was past 60 to announce his retirement.
  • Nabors Industries agreeing to pay outgoing CEO Eugene Isenberg $100 million in severance on his way out the door.


Vote here. A winner will be announced on Dec. 30. My vote goes to Pittman (that’s him in the photo, above). His isn’t the largest payout by any means, but in some ways it’s the most artful. He convinced Clear Channel to pay his leasing company $3 million upfront so he could fly his own jet — and it will cover taxes, insurance, and operating costs, too. And just look at some of the places Pittman’s jet has been over the past three years: two dozen trips to Telluride, Paris seven times, Montego Bay, and Las Vegas.

Well played, sir!

Update: Wendy Goldberg, executive vice president for marketing and communications at Clear Channel, sent the following on Tuesday evening:

“I did want to respond to your article quoting footnoted as it relates to Bob Pittman and the plane he owns and flies. His compensation agreement and aircraft lease arrangement with Clear Channel represent a significant value for the company’s stakeholders, especially when compared to the typical level of compensation for the CEOs of major media companies. The aircraft lease arrangement was negotiated because Mr. Pittman is an accomplished pilot and, where possible, prefers to fly himself to business meetings.”

Article source: Bloomberg Businessweek.

Image source: Huffington Post.

Education Dept. must tell parents about plans to rid schools of PCB-tainted lights, Council says

The City Council’s Education Committee unanimously approved two laws pushing the Education Department to better inform the public of PCB contamination in schools.

But the DOE insisted that it’s already doing a thorough job in letting parents know about its plans to replace lights in schools that might be PCB-contaminated.

Caroling against greed

Last night, groups in Long Island and Buffalo caroled in front of major corporate building to fight for educational equity. Volunteers from the Alliance for Quality Education and Citizen Action of New York sang mock holiday songs to protests corporate tax loopholes in the state’s tax structure, and instead work to build revenue and restore teachers and programs to schools that have lost funding.

RELEASE: 1200 Parents & Students Rally Against $1.5 Billion in Education Cuts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For Info: Nikki Jones, AQE Communications Director 315-416-9393

New York State Opportunity to Learn

EDUCATION LOBBY DAY

1200 Parents and Students Rally Against 

Governor Cuomo’s $1.5 Billion in Education Cuts

Protect Kids, Not Millionaires

ALBANY–1200 parents and students from across the state were joined by elected officials, clergy, teachers and community organizations in a rally against the proposal by Governor Cuomo to enact $1.5 billion in cuts to schools combined with $4.6 billion in tax cuts for wealthy New Yorkers. The rally, at the Albany Armory, was followed by a march to the Capitol and Legislative Office Building and lobby visits with legislators. Governor Cuomo’s cuts are the largest ever proposed in the history of New York State, the tax cuts for the state’s highest income earners are supported by the Senate Republican Majority as well as the Governor. Polls show that three-quarters of New Yorkers oppose the education cuts and two-thirds of New Yorkers oppose tax cuts for high income earners.  If the cuts are enacted, schools across the state will need to get rid of thousands of teachers, guidance counselors and librarians, cut arts, sports, music, college and career prep courses and basic educational services.  School closings are also proposed in districts across the state as a result of the proposed cuts.  The rally was sponsored by the Alliance for Quality Education, Citizen Action of New York, New York Communities for Change, New York City Coalition for Educational Justice, Long Island Progressive Coalition, Metro Justice of Rochester, Make the Road New York, and the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

"Education is the most fundamental obligation government has to society's children. If we have to move mountains to make sure our children have a quality education, then that's what we'll do. I'm asking ALL elected officials to step up and uphold what the Campaign for Fiscal Equity is all about. A budget crisis is never an excuse to turn our backs on our kids," said New York Council Education Chairman Robert Jackson, Lead Plaintiff in Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.

“The Governor’s budget is a travesty for New York’s students, particularly poor children and children of color who have been systematically disadvantaged for years.  It strips away the initial investments of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity promise and makes it significantly harder for them to receive their Constitutional right to an opportunity to learn,” said Dr. John Jackson, President and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education.

“Overwhelmingly New Yorkers disagree with Governor Cuomo’s record setting cuts to schools and with the plan by the Governor and the Senate Majority to give the wealthiest New Yorkers a tax cut,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education. “Tax cuts for the rich, and massive school cuts for our kids? It’s nonsensical.”

 “A $24 million cut to Buffalo City schools will mean that our district may be forced to eliminate instruction to students in their native language, a program offered by bilingual aides to %12 of students.  Too many children that rely heavily on this and other programs to achieve their dreams of on-time graduation will be let down if Governor Cuomo’s tax break to the wealthy makes it in the final budget,” said Bryon McIntyre, of Citizen Action of New York, a parent from Buffalo.

 "It’s irresponsible for the Governor to balance the budget on the backs of those of us who need funding the most, while allowing the wealthiest New Yorkers continue to ride the wave of prosperity. We demand that he make them pay their fair share so that teachers can keep their jobs and resources and programs can be provided for our children so they can be college and career ready!” said Ocynthia Williams, a New York City parent and member of the Coalition for Educational Justice.

 “The governor's education budget proposals are well far off from what most of us believe and know to be right for our children.  I am optimistic however that this governor, which we elected, will listen, and he will get our message, which we must deliver loud and clear, I do believe we have a governor who understands the value of a sound education, and will provide the appropriate funding to make sure our children really do not get left behind,” said Assemblyman N. Nick Perry of Brooklyn, Deputy Majority Leader and Chairman of the NYS Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators.  “We must commit to our children from pre-K through college.  I stand together with the many concerned parents that traveled to our state capital today, and assure them that I will tenaciously advocate on their behalf and work towards passing an education budget that provides every single one of our children with not just a sound, basic education – but a first-class, quality education that will help them be successful in life and firmly plant their feet on the path to success.”

"Working families and communities of color like the ones I represent in the Bronx are being disproportionately impacted by proposed budget cuts to education funding and crucial state services. They are the ones that send their children to public schools and depend on English as a second language programs and special education programs that are facing drastic cuts. My neighbors understand the need to sacrifice during tough times, but we cannot ask them to bear the brunt of these budget cuts and then give a tax cut to the wealthiest New Yorkers. We have to work toward a budget that is about shared responsibility and shared sacrifice – minimizing cuts to education funding," said Senator Gustavo Rivera of the Bronx.

"Last year's massive education budget cuts meant a loss of lost teachers, educational staff and programs that students need to be college and career ready, such as after school, tutoring, math, reading and English as a second language. Now, Governor Cuomo's budget proposes to take an additional $1.5 billion from school children. How much more can we take and still expect our students to excel?" said Marie Pierre, New York Communities for Change board member.

“I am delighted to join with other religious leaders in support of the AQE and CEJ fight to challenge the Governor and legislators that the state's financial crises should not be solved by destroying the communities that are most in need and vulnerable.  We urge Albany legislators not to cut Education, Senior Services and Healthcare,” said Bishop Orlando Findlayter, Churches United to Save and Heal.

"It is unthinkable that we would continue to break the promise we made in 2007 to our schools and the children they teach to properly fund our low-and middle-income districts in order to give the multi-millionaires and billionaires of our state a tax break. That new yacht can wait — kindergarten only happens once. Most New Yorkers are clear on what's more important," said Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton of Ithaca.

“When politicians demagogue about public servants, their pensions, collective bargaining or other hard earned benefits, it is our democracy that is being attacked. This must stop. Tax the rich!” said Senator Bill Perkins of Manhattan.

“Allowing the rich to benefit at the expense of school children will mean that so many of our children will face heart break while the rich welcome a $1 billion tax break and continue to become wealthy.  The state budget should be balanced in a way that allows everyone to pay their fair share and the only way to do this is to extend the millionaire’s tax,” said Javier Valdés, Deputy Director Make the Road the Road New York

"With a $1.5 billion cut in aid to schools, now is not the time for a tax cut for the state's wealthiest," said Senator Jose Peralta of Queens.  "This is not about creating a new tax or raising taxes.  This is about shared sacrifice.  Balancing the budget will require many difficult choices.  Extending the surcharge will not be one of them."

 “We need to make sure that people in every community on Long Island realize how damaging these cuts will be to their children. Every district is looking at cuts. In some districts the students will be losing an opportunity for a second language. Others it will mean no pre-k program at all. What will happen to my granddaughter when there is no program offered for her?” said Amparo Sadler, Central Islip grandmother and Long Island Progressive Coalition member.

"The Committee to Save NY has it backwards. The best investment we can make is in the people of NY, especially our children. Give our kids the education they need and our communities, and all of NY, will flourish. Committee to Save NY?   Real Estate moguls and Wall St. Executives?   I am not impressed. I would be more impressed if they were saying, ‘Yes. These are tough times and we will help. We believe in the people of NY.’ When times are tough, everyone has to pull together. That includes the wealthiest among us. What makes this state great is the belief in the value of every New Yorker, and the potential for each person to do great things, a good education is key to that," said Cathy Fahey, 7th Ward Councilmember, Albany

 

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RELEASE: 1200 Parents & Students Rally Against $1.5 Billion in Education Cuts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For Info: Nikki Jones, AQE Communications Director 315-416-9393

New York State Opportunity to Learn

EDUCATION LOBBY DAY

1200 Parents and Students Rally Against 

Governor Cuomo’s $1.5 Billion in Education Cuts

Protect Kids, Not Millionaires

ALBANY–1200 parents and students from across the state were joined by elected officials, clergy, teachers and community organizations in a rally against the proposal by Governor Cuomo to enact $1.5 billion in cuts to schools combined with $4.6 billion in tax cuts for wealthy New Yorkers. The rally, at the Albany Armory, was followed by a march to the Capitol and Legislative Office Building and lobby visits with legislators. Governor Cuomo’s cuts are the largest ever proposed in the history of New York State, the tax cuts for the state’s highest income earners are supported by the Senate Republican Majority as well as the Governor. Polls show that three-quarters of New Yorkers oppose the education cuts and two-thirds of New Yorkers oppose tax cuts for high income earners.  If the cuts are enacted, schools across the state will need to get rid of thousands of teachers, guidance counselors and librarians, cut arts, sports, music, college and career prep courses and basic educational services.  School closings are also proposed in districts across the state as a result of the proposed cuts.  The rally was sponsored by the Alliance for Quality Education, Citizen Action of New York, New York Communities for Change, New York City Coalition for Educational Justice, Long Island Progressive Coalition, Metro Justice of Rochester, Make the Road New York, and the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

"Education is the most fundamental obligation government has to society's children. If we have to move mountains to make sure our children have a quality education, then that's what we'll do. I'm asking ALL elected officials to step up and uphold what the Campaign for Fiscal Equity is all about. A budget crisis is never an excuse to turn our backs on our kids," said New York Council Education Chairman Robert Jackson, Lead Plaintiff in Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.

“The Governor’s budget is a travesty for New York’s students, particularly poor children and children of color who have been systematically disadvantaged for years.  It strips away the initial investments of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity promise and makes it significantly harder for them to receive their Constitutional right to an opportunity to learn,” said Dr. John Jackson, President and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education.

“Overwhelmingly New Yorkers disagree with Governor Cuomo’s record setting cuts to schools and with the plan by the Governor and the Senate Majority to give the wealthiest New Yorkers a tax cut,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education. “Tax cuts for the rich, and massive school cuts for our kids? It’s nonsensical.”

 “A $24 million cut to Buffalo City schools will mean that our district may be forced to eliminate instruction to students in their native language, a program offered by bilingual aides to %12 of students.  Too many children that rely heavily on this and other programs to achieve their dreams of on-time graduation will be let down if Governor Cuomo’s tax break to the wealthy makes it in the final budget,” said Bryon McIntyre, of Citizen Action of New York, a parent from Buffalo.

 "It’s irresponsible for the Governor to balance the budget on the backs of those of us who need funding the most, while allowing the wealthiest New Yorkers continue to ride the wave of prosperity. We demand that he make them pay their fair share so that teachers can keep their jobs and resources and programs can be provided for our children so they can be college and career ready!” said Ocynthia Williams, a New York City parent and member of the Coalition for Educational Justice.

 “The governor's education budget proposals are well far off from what most of us believe and know to be right for our children.  I am optimistic however that this governor, which we elected, will listen, and he will get our message, which we must deliver loud and clear, I do believe we have a governor who understands the value of a sound education, and will provide the appropriate funding to make sure our children really do not get left behind,” said Assemblyman N. Nick Perry of Brooklyn, Deputy Majority Leader and Chairman of the NYS Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators.  “We must commit to our children from pre-K through college.  I stand together with the many concerned parents that traveled to our state capital today, and assure them that I will tenaciously advocate on their behalf and work towards passing an education budget that provides every single one of our children with not just a sound, basic education – but a first-class, quality education that will help them be successful in life and firmly plant their feet on the path to success.”

"Working families and communities of color like the ones I represent in the Bronx are being disproportionately impacted by proposed budget cuts to education funding and crucial state services. They are the ones that send their children to public schools and depend on English as a second language programs and special education programs that are facing drastic cuts. My neighbors understand the need to sacrifice during tough times, but we cannot ask them to bear the brunt of these budget cuts and then give a tax cut to the wealthiest New Yorkers. We have to work toward a budget that is about shared responsibility and shared sacrifice – minimizing cuts to education funding," said Senator Gustavo Rivera of the Bronx.

"Last year's massive education budget cuts meant a loss of lost teachers, educational staff and programs that students need to be college and career ready, such as after school, tutoring, math, reading and English as a second language. Now, Governor Cuomo's budget proposes to take an additional $1.5 billion from school children. How much more can we take and still expect our students to excel?" said Marie Pierre, New York Communities for Change board member.

“I am delighted to join with other religious leaders in support of the AQE and CEJ fight to challenge the Governor and legislators that the state's financial crises should not be solved by destroying the communities that are most in need and vulnerable.  We urge Albany legislators not to cut Education, Senior Services and Healthcare,” said Bishop Orlando Findlayter, Churches United to Save and Heal.

"It is unthinkable that we would continue to break the promise we made in 2007 to our schools and the children they teach to properly fund our low-and middle-income districts in order to give the multi-millionaires and billionaires of our state a tax break. That new yacht can wait — kindergarten only happens once. Most New Yorkers are clear on what's more important," said Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton of Ithaca.

“When politicians demagogue about public servants, their pensions, collective bargaining or other hard earned benefits, it is our democracy that is being attacked. This must stop. Tax the rich!” said Senator Bill Perkins of Manhattan.

“Allowing the rich to benefit at the expense of school children will mean that so many of our children will face heart break while the rich welcome a $1 billion tax break and continue to become wealthy.  The state budget should be balanced in a way that allows everyone to pay their fair share and the only way to do this is to extend the millionaire’s tax,” said Javier Valdés, Deputy Director Make the Road the Road New York

"With a $1.5 billion cut in aid to schools, now is not the time for a tax cut for the state's wealthiest," said Senator Jose Peralta of Queens.  "This is not about creating a new tax or raising taxes.  This is about shared sacrifice.  Balancing the budget will require many difficult choices.  Extending the surcharge will not be one of them."

 “We need to make sure that people in every community on Long Island realize how damaging these cuts will be to their children. Every district is looking at cuts. In some districts the students will be losing an opportunity for a second language. Others it will mean no pre-k program at all. What will happen to my granddaughter when there is no program offered for her?” said Amparo Sadler, Central Islip grandmother and Long Island Progressive Coalition member.

"The Committee to Save NY has it backwards. The best investment we can make is in the people of NY, especially our children. Give our kids the education they need and our communities, and all of NY, will flourish. Committee to Save NY?   Real Estate moguls and Wall St. Executives?   I am not impressed. I would be more impressed if they were saying, ‘Yes. These are tough times and we will help. We believe in the people of NY.’ When times are tough, everyone has to pull together. That includes the wealthiest among us. What makes this state great is the belief in the value of every New Yorker, and the potential for each person to do great things, a good education is key to that," said Cathy Fahey, 7th Ward Councilmember, Albany

 

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