Archive | April, 2011

April 2003

California Supreme Court Ruled CalPERS in Violation The California Supreme Court has ruled that CalPERS violated several state laws. The decision also extends to CalSTRS, the nation’s 3rd largest pension fund. According to the press, the justices let stand a January appeals court ruling in a lawsuit brought by former state Controller Kathleen Connell who […]

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Hess: How I Voted

Hess is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up May 4. Today is the last day to vote on the  MoxyVote.com platform. ProxyDemocracy.org had two funds voting, covering all the issues. MoxyVote.com has four advisors or compilations of advisors offering opinions. I voted on the MoxyVote.com platform and went […]

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EMC: How I Voted

EMC is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up May 4. Today is the last day to vote on the  MoxyVote.com platform. ProxyDemocracy.org had three funds voting, covering all the issues. MoxyVote.com has eight advisors or compilations of advisors offering opinions. This time, several are comprehensive. I voted on […]

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SEC Seeks Comment on Investor Education

On April 19, the Securities and Exchange Commission published a request for public comment on the effectiveness of existing investor education efforts as part of a review mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act. Request for Comment Submit Comment Section 917 directs the SEC to conduct a study of retail investors’ financial literacy and submit its findings […]

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CalPERS Candidate Forum

As some of you may know, during the last 25 years I’ve run for the CalPERS Board more than anyone, raising issues like gifts, placement agents and generally fighting for higher ethical standards. For years, I tried to get elections regulated by the Fair Political Practices Commission and covered by newspapers. I recall testifying in […]

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Excess-Pay: Beyond the 2% Solution

Excess executive pay can impose substantial costs on companies and shareowners even if manipulation or misconduct isn’t involved. Executive pay is the biggest lightening rod in corporate governance, prompting Dodd-Frank to include clawback requirements, mandatory say on pay, and say when on pay votes, as well as the coming ratio between executive pay and the […]

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Moody's Shareowners Vote to Split Chair/CEO

At the annual meeting of rating agency Moody’s Investors Service, a resolution calling for an independent Chairman of the Board was supported by 56% of shareowners. The resolution was co-filed by Hermes Equity Ownership Services (EOS) and the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA).” Citing both the Corporate Core Principles and Guidelines of the […]

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Five Game Changers

CTPartners (AMEX: CTP), a leading global retained executive search firm, reported five major forces impacting corporate Boards, which include: The power shift from the Board to the shareholder. If Boards don’t take the lead on big issues like CEO compensation, Board structure, director competence and succession planning, shareholders will. Social media activism. Boards need to […]

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Berkshire Hathaway: How I Voted

Berkshire Hathaway is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up April 30 Again, I’m a little disappointed not to see more voting advice available at this late date. Where are Florida SBA, CalSTRS, CalPERS, and all those SRI funds? Only AFSCME is reporting so far on ProxyDemocracy.org but they […]

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Don't Let Them Get Away With Stealing Elections

Glyn Holton’s How To Steal a Corporate Election informs us of recent outrages on how elections are tipped in favor of entrenched managers and boards. If you’ve taken the time to read his post, I urge you to take another five minutes to help remedy the situation. To address the situation at American Tower Corporation […]

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5th Analyst Call on Oxy Proxy

Do you have governance questions on Oxy’s proxy? This first ever ever “Fifth Analyst Call” shows promise. Let’s hope it gets widely adopted by many companies. F&C Asset Management and Occidental Petroleum invite investors to ask independent directors questions prior to voting at the annual meeting. The call is on Tuesday April 26th at 9:00 […]

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Kellogg: How I voted

Kellogg is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up April 29. I’m a little disappointed not to see more voting advice available at this late date (only 1 fund reporting on ProxyDemocracy.org). The “Reduce Supermajority Vote Requirements” proposal is mine, so of course I was sure to vote for that […]

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How To Steal a Corporate Election

There are plenty of ways to steal an election. Some require guns. Others depend on bribes. Perhaps the simplest involve misleading ballots. For its corporate election this year, American Tower Corporation (AMT) has produced a humdinger. Item 04 of their ballot (technically a VIF; I will explain this legal nicety some other time) gives shareowners […]

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Uncovering Erroneous Assumptions

Bartley J. Madden’s recent paper, Management’s Knowing Process and the Theory of Constraints, explores the brain’s capability for forming and re-forming neural circuits that constitute our perceptions of the “world out there.” Our “realities” are built up from specific and limited past experiences. Managers and boards would do well to be more attuned to uncovering erroneous assumptions […]

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Canadian National Railway (CNI): How I Voted

We’re getting more heavily into proxy season, so I’ll be brief in explaining how I voted, since I have so many companies in my portfolio and so little time. Below is a cut and paste of my completed ballot using MoxyVote.com (I see the last day to vote through them is today). I also (more…)

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The Psychology of Cheating

Paradoxically, it’s often an obsession with fairness that leads people to begin cutting corners in the first place. “Cheating is especially easy to justify when you frame situations to cast yourself as a victim of some kind of unfairness,” said Dr. Anjan Chatterjee, a neurologist at the University of Pennsylvania who has studied the use […]

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Immelt Stock Option Conditions – Real or Illusory Governance?

On one level, the recent action of General Electric in adding performance related conditions to the vesting of stock options recently granted to its CEO (GE Realigns Immelt’s Incentives, Barrons, 4/19/2011) would seem to reflect improvement in its governance. Tying CEO options to company performance can not be a bad thing for shareholders, so long […]

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The Board’s Role in Safeguarding Reputation

There is a good reason why Warren Buffett wrote in a recent memo to Berkshire Hathaway managers, The priority is that all of us continue to zealously guard Berkshire’s reputation. We can afford to lose money – even a lot of money. But we can’t afford to lose reputation – even a shred of reputation. […]

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Confusion About Proxy Access Suit

Readers may have noted the WSJ’s lead editorial of last Saturday, Proxies vs. Profits, railing against the pending proxy access rules and supporting the appeal taken to the D.C. Circuit by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable. However, the editorial misses the fundamental point of the issue: the pending rules do not guaranty […]

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Companies with Best Corporate Governance

As consumers increasingly clamor for companies to embrace social responsibility, good corporate citizenship is fast becoming a vital part of any business or stock’s success. Corporate Responsibility magazine recently released its “100 Best Corporate Citizens” list, in which it rated members of the Russell 1000 large-cap index on more than 300 different elements related to […]

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Don't Betray the Public Trust

Alan Hevesi, former New York state comptroller, was sentenced Friday to one to four years in prison for his role in the political influencing of investment business with the $140.6 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany. via Hevesi gets up to 4 years for pay-to-play – Pensions & Investments, 4/15/2011. While certainly not […]

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