NARDELLI TO SHAREHOLDERS: DROP DEAD

If you assume that the jury's recent conviction of Enron CEO Kenneth Lay will chasten America's top execs and dampen their autocratic arrogance – you haven't met Bob Nardelli.

If you assume that the jury’s recent conviction of Enron CEO Kenneth Lay will chasten America’s top execs and dampen their autocratic arrogance – you haven’t met Bob Nardelli.

He’s CEO of the Home Depot big box chain, and he’s become notorious for both a bloated ego and a bloated paycheck. In his five-year tenure as Home Depot’s chief, Bob has raked in $245 million in personal pay, while the company’s shareholders have seen the value of their stock fall by 12 percent. In contrast, Home Depot’s chief rival, Lowe’s Inc., has seen its stock price go up by 185 percent in that time, yet Lowe’s CEO was paid only a fraction of what Nardelli hauled off. So, shareholders – for whom Bob technically works – went to Home Depot’s recent annual meeting to demand that they be given a say in setting the CEO’s future pay. Some waved protest signs saying, “Hey, Nardelli! Your stock price turned to jelly!” Others branded him an OPCEO – Over Paid CEO.

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Did Bob humbly try to make amends with his corporation’s owners? Ha! That’s about as likely as a hog learning table manners. Instead, he insolently thumbed his nose at them, refusing to let shareholders ask any general questions, and offering no response to the few shareholders who were allowed under the corporate bylaws to speak about their pay proposal. After only 30 minutes, Nardelli declared the proposal dead, abruptly gaveled the annual meeting closed, and rushed off to the airport without pausing to speak with anyone.

Rep. Barney Frank has introduced a bill to cool such high-handed executive arrogance. Corporate lobbyists, of course, oppose the bill, claiming it could “very well be destabilizing” to corporate decision-making.

This is Jim Hightower saying… I would hope so! It’s time to give shareholders some real say over OPCEOs like Nardelli. For information, call Frank’s office: 202-225-5931.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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