Dave Bing, the mayor of Detroit, knows all about performing under pressure before a crowd. As a Hall of Fame point guard with the Detroit Pistons, he routinely went up against the NBA's best. But as that debt-ridden city's mayor for the last two years, he's become embroiled in a potentially cataclysmic showdown with its four dozen public employee unions. Presenting his proposed 2011-12 budget to the city council before a packed house on April 12, Bing declared that municipal workers must contribute more toward union-negotiated health and pension plans.
Under questioning by me, Pfizer CEO Ian Read refused to repudiate the company's support for ObamaCare at the company's annual meeting today in Dallas. The exchange took place after my remarks in favor our shareholder proposal on the company's lobbying priorities.
When I asked Read if the company would drop its support for ObamaCare, he gave me a summary of what the company considers important in health care reform without directly answering. I said, "Sir, will you answer my question? A 'yes' or 'no' will do." Read rambled further and I responded by saying, "But have already cast your lot with one side." Finally, I said "I will take it as a 'no.' Thank you." Here are my remarks in favor of our proposal:
Hindsight is always 20/20. It's easy to look back after a mistake and pinpoint what went wrong. But there's something to be said for heeding warning signs ahead of time too - to avoid the blunder all together. And often times, when we look back, we realize those warning signs were everywhere. We simply ignored them.
More than two decades ago voters in California were fooled when Proposition 65 - "The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986" - was passed into law. Prop 65 was advertised as a means to protect California's drinking water and exposure to chemicals in consumer products from dangerous toxic substances that cause cancer and birth defects. Sometimes all the law required were warning labels in advance of those exposures. And who would argue with that?
Only 1½ years ago Greenpeace cheered Apple Computer for its departure from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over its disagreement on cap-and-trade and federal climate change policy. With Al Gore on the board of directors, you understand what side of the issue the company is on.
From General Motor's lavish presence at the New York International Auto Show taking place this week and next, you would think that the company is wildly profitable and that it has already paid back the $50 billion it got from taxpayers. Either that, or GM's much-ballyhooed cost cutting has failed, and that its bad old habits are very much alive.
NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica and I spent Wednesday walking the floor of the show at the massive Jacob Javits Convention Center on New York City's west side. It is impossible to know how much GM is spending on displaying its vehicles, technologies and related events, but it is more than any other car company. And it is certainly too much.
Karl Rodney, the organizer of the Caribbean junkets that were the downfall of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), has pled guilty to lying to Congress. During the Justice Department investigation, NLPC received a Grand Jury subpoena to provide photographs, audio recordings, and other materials from a November 2008 conference in St. Maarten.
I attended the event and documented the corporate sponsorship that violated House Rules, by companies like Citigroup, AT&T and Pfizer. It was this evidence on which the House Ethics Committee admonished Rangel in February 2010, prompting his resignation from the Ways and Means chairmanship.
Fans of the federal govern ment's auto bailout will push the "GM comeback" story at this week's New York International Auto Show. Good luck with that one.
Taxpayers still own about 26 percent of GM, and it looks increasingly unlikely that they'll ever get their money back: The share price would have to rise to more than $54, and it's stuck in the low thirties. Here's why:
Stephen Lerner is a hard person to admire. His specialty, after all, is economic sabotage. Yet his utility to the cause of public accountability is undeniable. Lerner, a longtime official with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) until his supposed ouster last November, was caught on March 18 and 19 on audiotape speaking before a closed-session audience at Pace University in Manhattan describing an SEIU plan to destabilize the U.S. economy. The campaign, which he heads, intends to take down the financial sector and trigger a massive redistribution of wealth and power.