Walmart Withdraws from ALEC, Wallows in Bribery Scandal

Mike Duke photoIn an unsurprising, capitulatory move last week, Walmart joined several other major companies and withdrew its membership from the American Legislative Exchange Council, which advances the principles of free markets and limited government at the state level through legislative idea exchanges.

The move preceded Friday’s annual shareholder meeting, in which executives emphasized their commitment to principles of integrity. That came into question especially since April, when the New York Times revealed that company officials authorized millions of dollars in bribes in order to expedite building permits and other favors in Mexico.

A number of investors and pension funds attempted to remove some Walmart directors from the board, including CEO Mike Duke (in picture), former CEO Lee Scott, and S. Robson “Rob” Walton, son of company founder Sam Walton. Because the family holds nearly 50 percent of stock in the company, proposals they don’t support will always …

Can Taxpayer-Subsidized Battery Maker A123 Survive?

A123 logoThe taxpayer-funded ($279 million) battery supplier that gave big raises and parachutes to its executives shortly after it cut “Green jobs” at its Michigan factories, reported last week it would suffer big losses again for 2011.

A123 Systems, whose fortunes were entwined with those of electric vehicle startup manufacturer Fisker Automotive, also announced it would look to China and India in order to survive.

A123 also received grants and tax credits from Michigan that could total more than $135 million.

The company said it would realize a loss of $257.7 million for last year, compared to the $152.6 million in losses for 2010. A123, which received a $249.1 million grant from the Department of Energy to refurbish plants in Livonia and Romulus, Mich. (plus another $30 million sub-grant for another energy storage project), has never been profitable. 

A123 is an investor in Fisker, which had its own $529

After Layoffs, Execs Get Big Raises at Taxpayer-Funded A123

A123 logoA taxpayer-funded electric vehicle battery company, that is considered in great danger due to its dependency on troubled EV company Fisker Automotive, has awarded its top executives big salary increases despite a steep downward trajectory in its stock price.

Massachusetts-based A123 Systems — which received $279.1 million in stimulus money from the Department of Energy, and up to $135 million in incentives from the State of Michigan — boosted the base salaries of two vice presidents and its chief financial officer on February 8.

Chief Financial Officer David Prystash was bumped 27 percent to $380,000; VP of Energy Solutions Robert Johnson’s base salary increased 51 percent from his 2010 level to $400,000; and VP of Automotive Systems Jason Forcier saw his pay rise 32 percent from 2010, to $350,000. The news was first reported by the Boston Web site of Citybizlist.com, which obtained the information from an A123 SEC

Taxpayer-Funded Green Job Losses Easy as A123

A123 logoIt’s another day, and another round of layoffs by a recipient of millions of dollars under the Obama Administration’s renewable energy initiatives, administered by the mismanaged Department of Energy.

This time the Recovery Act largesse – taken out of the hide of taxpayers – went to A123 Systems, Inc. The Massachusetts-based energy storage company was given $249.1 million to help launch two battery-manufacturing plants in Michigan. A123 also received grants and tax credits from the state that could total more than $135 million. In a separate federal grant as a subcontractor for another grantee, A123 received nearly $30 million for a wind energy storage project.

In the Wolverine State, the company will lay off 125 employees at the two plants in Livonia and Romulus. Officials said diminished production by a top customer – Irvine, Calif.-based Fisker Automotive – led to the cutbacks. A123 had expected to deliver batteries for …

John Kerry’s Yacht: Another Tax on Rich Republicans

Kerrry boatSen. John F. Kerry has just passed another tax onto wealthy Republicans – by having his wife pay half-a-million dollars in back taxes on his yacht.

Kerry has been docking his $7 million, 76-foot yacht, Isabel, in Rhode Island, which has no yacht tax, since he purchased it in March. However, Massachusetts has a 6.25 percent “use” tax on any item bought elsewhere for use in Taxachusetts. State officers regularly track down those purchasing tires, alcohol, or other consumer goods in neighboring states, such as tax-free New Hampshire.

Keeping the boat stashed out-of-state saved Kerry more than $500,000, including “$440,000 in Massachusetts sales taxes and $70,000 in annual excise taxes.” However, the Department of Revenue had begun investigating claims the sloop had been seen off the Nantucket coast.

The senator insisted to the press that the matter was “not an issue,” and testily demanded, “Can I get out of

Kerry Appears With Union Bosses Tainted By Corruption at Jesse Jackson Conference

Peter Flaherty, Pres. of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), accused Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) of “making a mistake” in agreeing to speak at an “International Labor Breakfast” at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund Annual Conference in Chicago on June 29.  The other two speakers at the breakfast are associated with unions having long histories of corruption.  They were John Wilhelm, Pres. of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE), and John Coli, Pres. of Teamsters Joint Council 25 in Chicago.

 

Wilhelm is the successor of disgraced HERE boss Ed Hanley, who died in 2000.  Hanley “retired” in 1998 in order to avoid civil charges by HERE’s court-appointed monitor Kurt Muellenberg, who sought to drive mob influence from the union.  Hanley allegedly ran “ghost Local 77” in Rhinelander, Wisc., near his and other union bosses’ vacation homes so that the union