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01/26/2011 - 16:20

Colombo mobster Thomas "Tommy Shots" GioeliThere are few things quite like a mass arrest to serve as a reminder of the Mafia's continuing presence in American life. The mob roundup last Thursday morning, the largest in U.S. history, at once underscores the large dent that the Justice Department has been making in organized crime and how deeply entrenched so many organized crime operations have been. Some 800 FBI agents, U.S. marshals, state police and New York City cops fanned out and arrested nearly 120 wise guys and associates named in an 82-page, 16-count indictment for acts of murder, racketeering, money-laundering, loan-sharking, extortion and other offenses going back three decades. The takedown includes crime soldiers from each of New York's "Five Families," plus the DeCavalcante (Northern New Jersey) and Patriarca (New England) families. A number of the arrestees were heavily involved in labor corruption.

01/26/2011 - 09:23

golden parachuteAs someone who has sponsored "Say on Pay" shareholder proposals with companies like Boeing and Procter & Gamble, I wonder whether SEC-mandated votes on executive compensation will do any good. In fact, I worry that it may lead to a false sense of shareholder empowerment.

Yesterday, the Securities and Exchange Commission voted 3-2 to adopt a rule requiring public companies to hold an advisory vote on executive pay at least once every three years.

01/24/2011 - 17:44

GM logoUpbeat reports of GM's "progress" have prompted politicians to pronounce the auto bailout a "success" and rocket the share price to 37. But do these reports reflect reality? The unrelated declines of both the American automotive and daily newspaper businesses have resulted in even less reporting on a beat that was thinly covered to begin with.

Right now, news about GM is what GM says it is. Business editors have little choice but to recycle GM press releases. They do not have the troops to do actual reporting. Even in the heat of the IPO coverage, GM's financial data was uncritically repeated, never mind that the company could not even attest to its own financials.

01/24/2011 - 15:50

NLRB logoLabor leaders enjoyed a number of triumphs during the 111th (2009-10) Congress. But they are seething over the fact that a Republican Senate minority once again managed to block proposed legislation to force private-sector nonunion employers to recognize a union as a collective bargaining agent if that union persuades a majority of affected workers to sign a card indicating a desire to join. For them, this "card check" legislation is the Big One that got away, especially in a time of continued declining union membership. Given last November's elections, union officials are even less enthusiastic about their prospects in the new Congress. That's why, more than ever, they are turning to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as a de facto legislative body. And the NLRB, given its current composition, may well deliver, piece by piece.

01/24/2011 - 13:31

man in barrelThe New York Times reported last week that policy makers are working behind the scenes on ways to allow states to declare bankruptcy. States are currently banned from seeking protection in federal bankruptcy court.

One has to wonder if General Motors' bankruptcy outcome will embolden lawmakers to pursue a similar course for states that are overburdened with pension obligations and municipal bond debt. In the case of the GM outcome, union pension obligations were given precedence over creditor claims. The precedents set by the Obama Administration's manipulation of GM's bankruptcy will continue to have far-reaching, negative implications.

01/21/2011 - 10:40

Schwarzman photoStephen Schwarzman is Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of the Blackstone Group private equity firm. He is reportedly worth $8 billion. According to the Blackstone website, 36% of the money it manages is in public pensions, the largest single source.

On Wednesday, the Blackstone Group put out this statement:

01/20/2011 - 13:28

Akerson photoGeneral Motors has announced that its Daewoo Group unit will now sell all of it vehicles under the Chevrolet name. The Korean Daewoo operation has suffered from falling sales and a reputation for shoddily built cars. So what is GM's answer to these challenges? Change the name!

The name change game has been played before when GMAC became Ally Financial. More recently, GM introduced the "all new" Chevy Sonic, which is an updated Aveo. This smoke and mirrors marketing philosophy will only take GM so far before the public asks, "Is this all GM has got?"

01/18/2011 - 13:03

Rep. Steve King photoWhen Congress last November approved $1.15 billion to settle residual claims of racial discrimination by black farmers against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), supporters lauded the vote and President Obama's signature the following month. This, they said, was justice belatedly done. Yet critics justifiably have argued that the class-action suit rests on an edifice of fraud. One of them, a member of Congress, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is taking action. He's lined up a pair of unnamed witnesses, one a black farmer and the other a longtime USDA employee, willing to tell all. Early this month, Rep. King announced these individuals indicated a willingness to reveal to Congress that plaintiffs' attorneys engaged in an unscrupulous campaign to sign up co-plaintiffs, many of whom never farmed in their lives. The issue now is whether he can persuade his colleagues to hold a hearing.

01/14/2011 - 13:27

McCrudden photoThe FBI's reported arrest of money manager Vincent McCrudden for allegedly making threats to kill members of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other government officials prompts the question of what role, if any, anti-capitalist and anti-Wall Street rhetoric played in his actions. If the logic of the Left that was applied to the Tucson shootings - that Tea Partiers and Sarah Palin somehow had something to do with Jared Loughner's rampage -  should not President Obama and other politicians be held responsible for McCrudden's threats?

According to CampaignMoney.com, a Vincent McCrudden made a $2,300 donation to Obama for America on April 19, 2007.

01/13/2011 - 14:30

autoworkerThe New York Times reports that the auto industry "overhaul" (AKA General Motors' bankruptcy) is about to "pay off handsomely" for UAW workers at GM. GM, along with Ford, is expected to announce profit-sharing checks for hourly workers this month. UAW president, Bob King, states that workers expect to get a piece of GM's profits.

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