The Proposal Goldman Sachs Didn’t Want Shareholders to See

Blankfein and Buffett photoThe Securities and Exchange Commission recently notified us that it will allow Goldman Sachs to exclude our shareholder proposal that asks for a report on the company’s lobbying priorities. The basis for the exclusion was that another shareholder, The Needmoor Fund, had already submitted a similar proposal. We disagree that the proposals duplicate each other. We hope that Needmoor will raise the issues that prompted our proposal, especially Goldman’s endorsement of Dodd-Frank, but we doubt they will.

Goldman has reportedly bowed to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) who filed a proposal to split the positions of Chairman and CEO, a role now filled by Lloyd Blankfein. Often dismissed as pests or gadflies, it is nice to see shareholder activists score once in while, but its clear that Goldman is more responsive to its left-wing critics.

Here is our proposal:

Goldman Sachs’ primary responsibility is to

Rhode Island AFSCME Council under Investigation

Historic PawtucketAuthorities in Pawtucket, Rhode Island aren’t giving out any names, but they’re fairly certain they have the right person. Local police confirmed a few days ago that a City Hall employee is at the center of a probe of missing finances of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Rhode Island Council 94. Police Chief Arthur Martins did not name the suspect, but confirmed suspicions that members of his force are looking into a complaint filed last week by the council. Kenneth DeLorenzo, executive director of Council 94, remarked, “We are working with Pawtucket Police regarding the finances of the city employees of Pawtucket Local 1012.”

Several sources have commented that the suspect is a longtime female employee of the Pawtucket Tax Assessor’s Office who also serves as an officer of AFSCME Local 1012. A spokesman for the assessor’s office expressed knowledge of the probe but stated it was strictly …

Detroit-Area AFSCME Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Records Fraud

AFSCME logoOn March 2, Brenda Bywater, former treasurer of Local 100 of the American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of making false entries in the financial records of the Pontiac union. She had been charged in December. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.…

New York State Public Employees Union President Charged

John Vinson isn’t the only former local official within New York State’s mammoth Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), an AFSCME affiliate, to be in recent trouble for embezzlement. Rank-and-file members no doubt hope he’ll be the last. Vinson, president of CSEA Local 659, was arrested by state police on Wednesday, February 17, and charged with embezzling more than $70,000 from the Albany union. He was arraigned in Albany City Court and released on $10,000 bond. 

Investigators allege that Vinson, 52, a resident of Cohoes, N.Y., who had headed Local 659 for most of the previous decade, stole roughly $71,000 from the union during June 2005-August 2008. The thefts were noticed after a local auditor recognized discrepancies in financial records and tipped off the authorities. The 70,000-member CSEA has had its share of problems lately. Early in 2009, Carol Bruno, former treasurer of CSEA Local 1000, pleaded guilty to embezzling …

Former Treasurer of Detroit-Area AFSCME Local Charged

AFSCME logoOn December 16, Brenda Bywater, former treasurer of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 100, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with an information count of making false entries in financial records of the Pontiac union. The charge follows a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.…

Detroit-Area AFSCME Former Local President Indicted for Embezzlement

AFSCME logoFor more than two and a half years Deidra Lucas couldn’t stay out of her organization’s cookie jar. Her main challenge now will be to stay out of prison. Lucas, formerly president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 100 in Pontiac, Mich., was indicted a month and a half ago by a Detroit federal grand jury on four counts of embezzling nearly $40,000 in union funds. The local represented workers at the former (city-owned) North Oakland Medical Center, since 2008 having operated as Doctors’ Hospital of Michigan, a privately-owned entity.

According to federal prosecutors, Lucas, 42, during the period December 21, 2004-July 17, 2007 fraudulently obtained $38,803.72 from the local. At various points, she allegedly made unauthorized cash withdrawals, and falsely claimed reimbursements, stipends and lost time payments. The announcement of the indictment by interim U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg on December 15 follows an …

Former Corrections Officers Treasurer in Ohio Sentenced

AFSCME logoOn September 23, Jack Hooks, former secretary-treasurer of Ohio Civil Service Employees Association Local 11, Chapter 7010, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to two years probation, including six months of home confinement, for embezzling $15,192 in union funds. Hooks, who pleaded guilty in May, also will have to make full restitution and pay a $2,000 fine. The union represents corrections officers at Mansfield Correctional Institution (“MANCI”), and is affiliated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The sentencing follows a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.…

AFSCME Ex-President in Upstate New York Sentenced for Thefts

AFSCME logoOn August 6, Donna Caltabiano, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 888 in Catskill, N.Y., was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York to six months of home confinement and five years probation, and ordered to make $23,644.76 in restitution. Caltabiano pled guilty in March to theft of union funds in the same amount during 2002-06. The sentencing follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.…

AFSCME Local in New York City Put Under Trusteeship; Sues District Council and Headquarters

AFSCME logoLabor unions have been no more immune to reckless investing in the stock market than any other institution. The recent takeover by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) of a major New York City public employees union brought that reality home. On September 4, AFSCME headquarters in Washington, D.C. placed Local 2054 in receivership following revelations that its president, Colleen Carew-Rogers, had lost more than $1 million worth of member dues on bad investments. The action came three days after the local executive board removed Ms. Carew-Rogers from office. Apparently, money management skills weren’t the only issue. She also allegedly pilfered union funds to buy her since-deceased predecessor an expensive new car and otherwise usurped the authority of her office. With Carew-Rogers gone, the new leadership on September 8 filed suit in federal court against New York City’s AFSCME District Council 37, the parent union and …

Missouri Public Employees Union Official Sentenced for Bank Fraud

AFSCME logoOn May 27, Wendy Bentzen, former information/financial manager for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Officials Council 72 in Jefferson City, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri to six months home detention and five years supervision for bank fraud and was ordered to pay $32,256.60 in restitution plus a $100 special assessment. She had pleaded guilty last September. The sentencing follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS).…