Tag Archives | elections

CalPERS Election Rules: Comments

CalPERS Election RulesCalPERS election rules, an obscure topic for most. Although the board of administration of CalPERS is very powerful, interest in CalPERS election rules is low. When proposed rules were discussed at a recent public meeting, I was the only one to provide any feedback. I expect that when there is a public hearing on the CalPERS election rules, I will be the only one testifying. Like corporate governance, pension fund governance gets too little attention.

I have seen much worse proposals before. For example, when they attempted to use CalPERS election rules to muzzle critics (CalPERS muzzles critics: Ballot rules protect board, keep others in the dark). The newly proposed election rules are not of that variety. Still, they hint at a certain degree of arrogance by seeking to put the Board above the law.

The current rulemaking attempts to create flexibility in CalPERS election rules by allowing the board to create rules of general application without going through the legally required rulemaking process. Sound like a technicality? Maybe, but democracy depends on the rules and an open process. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Recent Research in Corporate Governance: Part 1

Recent Corporate Governance Research Part 1 2015Now that proxy season is finally winding down, I had a few minutes to take a quick glance at recent research reported on SSRN. Below I am simply including a few citations and abstracts of studies that might be useful for shareholder advocates in the U.S. I’m sure I included some that are strictly academic and missed many more that would be useful. I would welcome  guest posts on such research from authors, critics or other interested parties. Please contact me via e-mail or by leaving comments below. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

CalPERS Candidate Forum: September 16, 2014

CalPERS Candidate Forum to be held in the auditorium

CalPERS Auditorium Looking Toward Board Seats

Please attend the upcoming CalPERS Candidate Forum. Sorry, I haven’t been keeping this site up but have concentrated on Corporate Governance. However, another election cycle is coming up at CalPERS. State and local government employees will each elect a candidate. Retirees can’t vote for any of the candidates running in the current election cycle. However, once elected, they will make decisions that impact all of us.

Everyone attending will  have an opportunity to ask candidates tough questions, which they will answer to a live audience and a much larger audience expected to view videos once posted on the Internet. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Corporate Governance WABAC Machine

MrPeabodysWayBackMachineCorporate Governance Publisher’s Note: Yes, you’ll find many broken links in the material referenced below. After 5, 10 and 15 years, the internet moves on. Many of the organization’s linked have since gone under. We’re just glad to still be here, offering our readers a sense of the history we have shared. More about the WABAC machine

Five Years Ago in Corporate Governance

Shareowners.org Launched. Finally a social networking site that will actually accomplish something. Yes, you can “friend” people and post to their “wall.” However, right now, ShareOwners.org will help engage typical investors by sending their comments in support of the group’s agenda directly to their members of Congress. Over the long run, ShareOwners.org’s broad four-part agenda focuses on the need for stronger regulation (including a beefed-up SEC), increased accountability of boards/CEOs, improved financial transparency and protection of the legal rights of investors. At some point, shareowners will also be able to vote their shares directly through ShareOwners.org. Unfortunately, the site went dark a few years later and nothing has arisen to take its place.  Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

CalPERS Announces Board Candidates

CalPERSbldgThe California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) is conducting two elections this fall for the State and public agency representative seats on the CalPERS Board of Administration. Current terms for both positions end in January 2015. The election for the school board member representative seat will not be conducted because the incumbent, Rob Feckner, was unopposed. George Diehr, Ph.D., the incumbent in the State member position announced he would not seek reelection.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Bio-Rad Laboratories (BIO): How I Voted – Proxy Score 20

Bio-RadBio-Rad Laboratories, $BIO, is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up on 4/22/2014. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of one fund when I checked and voted on 4/14/2014.  I voted with management 20% of the time.  View Proxy Statement. It is hard to believe but BIO not only doesn’t include a linked index, they don’t include an index or table of contents at all. Why make review ing the proxy so difficult? Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Video Friday: Rethinking the structure of corporations, Michael Yaziji

imagesMajor corporations are very good at maximizing revenue capture for their owners — but they do so by externalizing costs to society. This drives many of the fundamental problems we currently face, from environmental degradation to economic inequality. IMD Professor Michael Yaziji discusses limitations to the three current solutions to this root challenge: the free market, regulation and socialization. He also proposes a new fourth solution that deconstructs the concept of capitalism to maximize the benefits of market competition and minimize the societal impact of current systems: changing company ownership and governance structures to internalize the interests, and so create value for all stakeholders. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Dialogue – QVB vs Proxy Exchange: Buy Votes or Assign Them?

VoteBuying

I recently wrote on what I thought were conflicting ideas. As I’ve indicated in the past, I disabled comments because of too much spam, even with filters. However, I encourage readers to comment via e-mail. Sometimes we get a good exchange. Here’s a recent example, starting with the first two paragraphs from the post, then moving to comments:BrocRomanek

Thanks to Broc Romanek I learned of what he termed the Wildest Idea of the Year? Creating a “Vote Buying” Framework, July 29, 2013. Here’s part of his take:

Two Professors from the U. of Chicago – Eric Posner and Glen Weyl – have used their economic backgrounds as a way to devise a solution to shareholders who are too lazy to vote or too ill-informed when they vote as Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Video Friday: CalPERS Candidate Forum

Videos are now available from the “CalPERS Candidates’ Forum,” moderated by the League of Women Voters of Sacramento County, on Wednesday, July 6, 2011 in the CalPERS Auditorium. I sponsor these CalPERS forums as publisher of PERSWatch.net because I think there is far too little coverage of these important elections in the press. This is my attempt to help CalPERS member be more informed voters.  I think there is some overlapping interest with readers of Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Video Thursday: CalPERS Candidate Forum

PERSWatch, also published by CorpGov.net publisher James McRitchie, sponsored the “CalPERS Candidates’ Forum,” moderated by the League of Women Voters of Sacramento County, on Tuesday, April 26, 2011. The forum took place in the CalPERS Auditorium, Lincoln Plaza North, 400 P Street, Sacramento, California.

Seven candidates running in the Special Election, to fill the Member-At-Large Position B vacancy, participated in the event. This forum was open to all CalPERS members, media and the general Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

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 the State Senate that Board members shouldn’t be allowed to accept gifts from those that do business with CalPERS. One of the Senators leaned over and said something like, “I’d bet you don’t think I should be taking gifts either, do you?” “That’s right,” I told him.

I was against gifts in either sphere but at CalPERS it was worse. At least the Senate disclosed its votes, so you could potentially track a reported gift and try to gauge if Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

CalPERS & the Press

Self dealing. Conflicts of interest. Actions that are quite possibly criminal.

These are the kinds of malfeasance a lawyer hired by the California Public Employee Retirement System has documented in a review that sheds new light on the bribery scandal that has rocked CalPERS.

Some of the details have previously been reported by The Bee and other media. But the scale of the alleged gross malfeasance and potential criminality laid out by lawyer Philip Khinda – involving members and former members of the CalPERS board of directors, a senior investment officer and CalPERS’ former chief executive officer – is stunning, and disturbing.

The current board and administrators at CalPERS are given credit for pursuing this review. Yet many of those serving on the board today or holding top staff positions at CalPERS served alongside those now implicated in criminal acts. That raises questions about their diligence as well. Editorial: CalPERS must hold overseers accountable – Sacramento Bee, 3/19/2011.

Where was the Sacramento Bee when I ran against Valdez, head of the CalPERS Investment Committee, who had already declared bankruptcy twice and had a history of accepting gifts? Where was the Bee when I ran against Bill Crist, President of the CalPERS Board, who was allowed to flagrantly violate CalPERS’ own election rules? The Bee and other papers sat on the sidelines.

When the Board tried to enact regulations that would prohibit candidates from criticizing others (Board members) in their ballot statements, the Bee finally wrote an editorial objecting. According to the Bee, “the vote by CalPERs incumbents muzzles challengers in ways that risk creation of a permanent board: unaccountable, untouchable and isolated from the people who elect it.” See my testimony on that issue.

We can see that involvement by the press certainly has an impact. After the Bee ran their Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

At CalPERS: One Pleads the 5th, One Quits

CalPERS announced that Kurato Shimada resigned yesterday to focus on “personal matters.”

“It’s with sadness that I accepted Kurato Shimada’s resignation from our Board today,” said Rob Feckner, CalPERS Board President. “We appreciate his desire to focus on personal matters and wish him well.” CalPERS will be scheduling a special election to fill his vacant seat. Press Release, August 31, 2010.

Shimada occupied one of two “at-large” seats on the CalPERS Board. Earlier in the day, the Sacramento Bee reported focused on former Board member Charles Valdes, who for many years, occupied the other at-large seat. From that Bee report:

In court papers, the state introduced written testimony from Buenrostro’s ex-wife Melissa Nevis, who said Villalobos once gave $500 in casino chips to Valdes and either of two other men: CalPERS board member Kurato Shimada and former board member Robert Carlson…

Questioned by a state lawyer, former board member Charles Valdes invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 126 times in closed-door testimony this month. Former CalPERS board member refuses to answer questions (SacBee, 8/31/10)

Today, the Bee provided further clarification, stating that “Shimada hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing in the pension fund’s bribery scandal.” CalPERS board member with ties to Villalobos resigns, SacBee, 9/1/10.

Shimada served two separate stints on the board. The first ended in 1999, and a year later he went to work for Villalobos. The two pitched an investment deal to CalPERS in 2000 on behalf of Los Angeles real estate firm CIM Group. CalPERS eventually invested $400 million with CIM, which paid Villalobos’ firm a $9.6 million fee. Called to testify in July in Villalobos’ bankruptcy case, Shimada said he earned more than $40,000 on the deal. Shimada rejoined the CalPERS board in 2002. He served a total of 21 years.

And there’s this from the LATimes (Villalobos bankruptcy judge is skeptical that state’s suit won’t get in the way, 9/1/10)

On Tuesday, the state Legislature passed a bill to regulate placement agents and their fees for directing public pension money to investment firms. The investment industry at first strongly opposed the bill but later withdrew its objections.

That bill, AB 1743 (Hernandez), will require placement agents with respect to public retirement systems to register as lobbyists. This would have many disclosure and economic consequences for placement agents and their employers. One of these consequences will be a ban on contingent compensation. (Placement Agent Bill Passes, calcorporatelaw.com)

CalPERS earlier enacted regulations regarding placement agents but they weren’t adopted according to the legal requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act. Southern California attorney, Keith Bishop, filed for a determination with the Office of Administrative Law to invalidate the underground regulations.

I also filed in support of that petition. However, OAL took the position that CalPERS’ certification of non-enforcement of the May guidelines deprived them of any ability to take action, since they can only rule on underground regulations that an agency intends to enforce. See past determinations (bottom of page) made by OAL at my request. At least this time CalPERS appears to be following up their underground regulations with real regulations.

I’ve probably run for the Board at CalPERS more than anyone else who never got elected. Each time it was very frustrating trying to get the attention of the press. They always seem ready to jump on any scandal at CalPERS but none of them have ever vetted or endorsed candidates prior to the election. Here’s something I wrote for a guest commentary in the Sacramento News & Review (Don’t overlook CalPERS election, 9/14/06):

When I asked the Sacramento Bee to consider making an endorsement, it told me the fall elections would “demand our full attention during the political season.” The paper only had time to focus on elections of importance to its readers.

When I’ve given talks in Shanghai or London about corporate governance, no one questions the importance of CalPERS. Yet, neither our local nor our national press seem to think CalPERS elections are important enough to cover. Perhaps that’s one reason why the number of candidates for office has dwindled. Years ago, almost one hundred candidates filed in a single year. This year, three seats were up for election. Only one seat is contested. Apathy is rampant, even as the press seems to carry more and more stories of problems.

CalPERS members need to give much more thought to how they vote in their elections. The press should also step up to the plate. Instead of sniping at CalPERS at every turn, they should live up to their responsibilities by not only investigating and endorsing candidates before elections but doing a much better job of covering Board activities throughout the year.

For the second year in a row, I’m co-sponsoring an opportunity for CalPERS members, concerned taxpayers and the press to meet and question Board candidates on the issues before they are voted into office. See 2010 Board Member Election & Candidate Forum.

I’m delighted to report that all candidates, including those with no opponents, have agreed to attend. I’m hoping it will stimulate more interest in and coverage of the election. I’m also hoping corporate directors will participate in similar forums when faced with proxy contests or proxy access director nominee challengers. Shouldn’t we be able to question potential directors before voting?

Given the continuing feeling of powerlessness, it seems to be harder for voters and investors to stand up and say “yes, we can!” However, if we don’t, our situation may only get worse.

Continue Reading ·

At CalPERS: One Pleads the 5th, One Quits

CalPERS announced that Kurato Shimada resigned yesterday to focus on “personal matters.”

“It’s with sadness that I accepted Kurato Shimada’s resignation from our Board today,” said Rob Feckner, CalPERS Board President. “We appreciate his desire to focus on personal matters and wish him well.” CalPERS will be scheduling a special election to fill his vacant seat. Press Release, August 31, 2010.

Shimada occupied one of two “at-large” seats on the CalPERS Board. Earlier in the day, the Sacramento Bee reported focused on former Board member Charles Valdes, who for many years, occupied the other at-large seat. From that Bee report:

In court papers, the state introduced written testimony from Buenrostro’s ex-wife Melissa Nevis, who said Villalobos once gave $500 in casino chips to Valdes and either of two other men: CalPERS board member Kurato Shimada and former board member Robert Carlson…

Questioned by a state lawyer, former board member Charles Valdes invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 126 times in closed-door testimony this month. Former CalPERS board member refuses to answer questions (SacBee, 8/31/10)

Today, the Bee provided further clarification, stating that “Shimada hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing in the pension fund’s bribery scandal.” CalPERS board member with ties to Villalobos resigns, SacBee, 9/1/10.

Shimada served two separate stints on the board. The first ended in 1999, and a year later he went to work for Villalobos. The two pitched an investment deal to CalPERS in 2000 on behalf of Los Angeles real estate firm CIM Group. CalPERS eventually invested $400 million with CIM, which paid Villalobos’ firm a $9.6 million fee. Called to testify in July in Villalobos’ bankruptcy case, Shimada said he earned more than $40,000 on the deal. Shimada rejoined the CalPERS board in 2002. He served a total of 21 years.

And there’s this from the LATimes (Villalobos bankruptcy judge is skeptical that state’s suit won’t get in the way, 9/1/10)

On Tuesday, the state Legislature passed a bill to regulate placement agents and their fees for directing public pension money to investment firms. The investment industry at first strongly opposed the bill but later withdrew its objections.

That bill, AB 1743 (Hernandez), will require placement agents with respect to public retirement systems to register as lobbyists.  This would have many disclosure and economic consequences for placement agents and their employers.  One of these consequences will be a ban on contingent compensation. (Placement Agent Bill Passes, calcorporatelaw.com)

CalPERS earlier enacted regulations regarding placement agents but they weren’t adopted according to the legal requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act. Southern California attorney, Keith Bishop, filed for a determination with the Office of Administrative Law to invalidate the underground regulations.

I also filed in support of that petition. However, OAL took the position that CalPERS’ certification of non-enforcement of the May guidelines deprived them of any ability to take action, since they can only rule on underground regulations that an agency intends to enforce. See past determinations (bottom of page) made by OAL at my request.  At least this time CalPERS appears to be following up their underground regulations with real regulations.

I’ve probably run for the Board at CalPERS more than anyone else who never got elected. Each time it was very frustrating trying to get the attention of the press. They always seem ready to jump on any scandal at CalPERS but none of them have ever vetted or endorsed candidates prior to the election. Here’s something I wrote for a guest commentary in the Sacramento News & Review (Don’t overlook CalPERS election, 9/14/06):

When I asked the Sacramento Bee to consider making an endorsement, it told me the fall elections would “demand our full attention during the political season.” The paper only had time to focus on elections of importance to its readers.

When I’ve given talks in Shanghai or London about corporate governance, no one questions the importance of CalPERS. Yet, neither our local nor our national press seem to think CalPERS elections are important enough to cover. Perhaps that’s one reason why the number of candidates for office has dwindled. Years ago, almost one hundred candidates filed in a single year. This year, three seats were up for election. Only one seat is contested. Apathy is rampant, even as the press seems to carry more and more stories of problems.

CalPERS members need to give much more thought to how they vote in their elections. The press should also step up to the plate. Instead of sniping at CalPERS at every turn, they should live up to their responsibilities by not only investigating and endorsing candidates before elections but doing a much better job of covering Board activities throughout the year.

For the second year in a row, I’m co-sponsoring an opportunity for CalPERS members, concerned taxpayers and the press to meet and question Board candidates on the issues before they are voted into office. See 2010 Board Member Election & Candidate Forum.

I’m delighted to report that all candidates, including those with no opponents, have agreed to attend. I’m hoping it will stimulate more interest in and coverage of the election. I’m also hoping corporate directors will participate in similar forums when faced with proxy contests or proxy access director nominee challengers. Shouldn’t we be able to question potential directors before voting?

Given the continuing feeling of powerlessness, it seems to be harder for voters and investors to stand up and say “yes, we can!” However, if we don’t, our situation may only get worse.

Continue Reading ·

Annual Elections & Short-Termism

Annual elections of directors, do they ensure accountability to shareowners or encourage companies to concentrate too much on short-term returns. I was surprised to read the following in Responsible Investor (UK: stewardship elusive as pension funds buck governance code, 7/21/10):

Hermes, Railpen and the Universities Superannuation Scheme – with combined assets of £106bn (€126bn) – have written to companies in the FTSE 350 saying they would back them if they ignore the Financial Reporting Council’s recommendations on annual elections. The trio are worried that annual elections – a key, though controversial, plank of the FRC’s new Corporate Governance Code – could lead to a “short-term culture” and undermine collective decision-making.

The article goes on to say the National Association of Pension Funds, Confederation of British Industry and Standard Life Investments also favor terms of three years. The Council will review the code in three years, should US investor groups do the same?

Continue Reading ·

Free Webinar: Director Elections 2010 – A Shareowner's Guide

Join The Corporate Library on April 28 for a free webinar with Chief Analyst and co-founder, Ric Marshall. New SEC proxy disclosure rules and changing director election standards have greatly expanded the ability of shareholders to influence election outcomes for individual corporate directors, but for many investors they have also increased the complexity and uncertainty of the voting process.

Current subscribers of The Corporate Library’s Board Analyst database will benefit by learning more about the individual director screens employed by our top analysts in evaluating individual director and board effectiveness, while non-subscribers will have an opportunity to better inform their own analysis and decision-making by learning more from these same insights. Time: 1:00 – 2:00 PM EDT. Register; I certainly did.

Continue Reading ·

Proxy Reform

Chris Kentouris takes up the issue of Who Pays for Proxy Reform? at Securities Industry News (1/12/2010) “In one corner is the New York-based Broadridge Financial, which is only too eager to tout the efficiencies of the current system in which it holds a virtual monopoly. It’s actually the world’s largest distributor of proxy materials for broker dealers and banks on behalf of beneficial shareholders. On the other corner are the Washington, D.C.-based Shareholder Communications Coalition (SCC) representing issuers and transfer agents, and The Altman Group, a proxy solicitation firm in New York. They say plumbing in the proxy industry is in major need of overhauling.”

Giving corporate management direct access to shareowners registered in street name “goes hand in hand with giving them a say in who will mail or electronically distributes their proxy materials and counts up their votes.” SCC wants issuers to have unfettered access. The Altman Group wants issuers to have access to objecting beneficial owners during a limited number of times a year, like when proxies go out.

For a more thorough comparison of proposals, see my Comparison of “Proxy Plumbing” Recommendations.

Companies have always been able to communicate with shareowners. The layers they have to go through just add expense that ultimately reduce shareowner earnings… although I’m reluctant to endorse any system that puts corporations fully in charge of their own elections.

As indicated in Co-Filers Wanted on Petition to Eliminate Street Name Registration, the United States Proxy Exchange and CorpGov.net are working on “proxy plumbing” reforms that result in more communication between shareowners. We need to look at safeguards, such as “do not call” lists, so that shareowners themselves decide who can contact them directly outside annual elections and proxy contests. There are many details to work out.

Personally, my major concern is that those under “street name registration” only hold “security entitlements,” not real shares. SEC laws and regulations are written to protect shareholders, not those with security entitlements.

Therefore, Broadridge and others are interpreting requirements that apply to proxies as not applicable to their “voter information forms.” Counting blank votes for management, with only a microtype warning on the ProxyVote screen and summarizing resolutions so voters can’t even guess the subject are abuses that would end with a system of direct registration and the use of actual proxies.

These are issues left unaddressed by SCC or the Altman Group. Let’s hope the SEC gives them full attention.

Continue Reading ·

Can We Change Voting Behavior?

We Own You!: How technology can help stockholders take control of the corporations they own, Slate.com, 1/12/10.  Eliot Spitzer writes,  “Twitter, text messages, YouTube, and other technology transformed politics in 2008. This success raises a compelling question: Can the same technology awaken the more dormant world of corporate democracy?… Could proxy voting in 2011 generate the same enthusiasm as actual voting did in 2008?” It just might if we can get a few people with Spitzer’s star power to focus attention.

Good to see Eliot Spitzer talking up use of ProxyDemocracy.org, MoxyVote.com and Shareowners.org. He gets his facts slightly wrong, Both ProxyDemocracy.org AND MoxyVote.com intend to be neutral information providers. MoxyVote.com labels its information sources as “advocates” but that doesn’t mean MoxyVote.com agrees with them.

Both work on the concept of trusted brands to help shareowners vote more easily and more intelligently. In the case of ProxyDemocracy.org, their “respected institutional investors” spend considerable resources investigating not only resolutions but also director nominees. By announcing their votes in advance, they allow retail shareowners to benefit from their research and they create brands with a larger following than they would have voting alone.

Spitzer says there are at least two critical hurdles that still have to be overcome:

  1. “First, most shareholders don’t vote because they assume their votes don’t matter; shareholder votes are almost never close.” However, this year that is changing. With most of the Fortune 500 using majority vote requirements to elect directors and with “broker votes” no longer allowed when retail shareowners fail to vote within 10 days of the annual meeting, your vote counts more than ever. We are sure to see several directors turned out of office. That doesn’t stop them from replacing tweedle dee with tweedle dum, but its a good start.
  2. “There is no water cooler for corporate democracy. A presidential or mayoral race prompts conversations among friends and colleagues and generates daily press coverage. A corporate proxy vote doesn’t. We don’t all own the same shares, and even if we did, we probably wouldn’t talk about it.” That’s where sites like Shareowners.org and my own blog come in. People should be talking about how they are voting. It would be great to have TV shows like the Nightly Business Report actually providing analysis of the issues facing owners, rather than tips for the next bet. If PBS doesn’t do it, Spitzer could do it through Slate.com.

Of the two problems, the second is more important. When shareowners start talking to each other about how they’re voting, more will vote… and, more will vote intelligently. We will also start taking on more of the issues that currently send the system off balance.

For example, this morning I received a copy of a letter from Goldman Sachs to the SEC referencing my resolution to allow shareowners to ask the board to amend the bylaws, allowing owners of 10% of the company’s stock to call a special meeting. Management at Goldman Sachs wants to omit the resolution from the proxy on the basis that they intend to submit a proposal to the 2010 annual meeting to allow shareowners of 25% to hold a special meeting.

They argue that Rule 14a-8(i)(9) allows them to exclude the proposal from its proxy, since the proposal directly conflicts with their proposal. In the past, the SEC has allowed such exclusion based on confusion that would reign if shareowners passed both resolutions. That is nonsense. If both pass, the lower threshold applies. If we can ever get the “water cooler” discussions going around corporate democracy, shareowners won’t stand for a system that tips the balance of power to management at every turn. We will see if the SEC under Mary Schapiro acts to protect shareowners by allowing the resolution, or if they protect management by issuing a “no action” letter.

“Street name registration” undermines our culture, turning investors into gamblers by providing them “security entitlements,” instead of real ownership rights. Just as poker chips allow us to play under rules which often favor the house, those holding “security entitlements” do not acquire the rights of share owners. For example, one right sharowners have is to receive a proxy, whereas those of us registered in street name receive a voter instruction form (VIF). SEC rules guarantee certain rights to proxy holders but not, it is argued, to those voting through VIFs. (see
Investors Against Genocide Fighting American Funds, Broadridge and Vague SEC Requirements: More Problems Solved Using Direct Registration.

On January 13th I will post a draft petition to the SEC that I have been working on with Glyn Holton, of the United States Proxy Exchange, and others to convert from “street name” to a system of direct registration. I hope you will consider signing on as a co-filer. Can we change voting behavior? Yes, we can! Just give us the rights of ownership and see how democracy transforms the world of corporations.

Continue Reading ·

CalPERS muzzles critics: Ballot rules protect board, keep others in the dark

CalPERS“Self-serving” is what one critic called the vote last week to sharply limit what candidates for the California Public Employees Retirement System board can include in their ballot statements. Certainly, “self-serving” is one word that characterizes that vote. “Anti-democratic,” “chilling” and “wrong” are among the others.

In a decision sweeping in its arrogance and disregard for First Amendment speech rights, the CalPERS board voted 9-4 to restrict ballot statements to “a recitation of the candidate’s personal background and qualifications” — and nothing more. Incredibly, board members even voted to delete a proposal by their staff that would have allowed ballot statements to include “candidates’ opinion or positions on issues of general concern to the system’s membership.” Continue Reading →

Continue Reading ·

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes