A generous bonus for failure
Los Angeles Times
When the California utility Pacific Gas and Electric announced it was—again—headed into bankruptcy, it made sure to go on one last splurge, said David Lazarus: a $4.5 million golden parachute for its departing chief executive. “My first thought was ‘Are you kidding?’ Then I remembered what company we’re talking about.” I’ve covered PG&E for a long time, since long before it faced billions of dollars in legal jeopardy for possibly sparking, through equipment failures, numerous deadly wildfires in Northern California. Two decades ago, during California’s energy crisis, PG&E gave us “rolling blackouts.” And it gave its executives $17.5 million, though they steered it into bankruptcy. Then in 2004 it handed them $83 million in bonuses for “doing such a good job during the bankruptcy proceedings.” And then another $89 million. How unpopular was PG&E? In 2000, PG&E moved its shareholder meeting to Boston so executives could get away from protesters. PG&E’s rank-and-file workers weren’t at fault here. They’re “exceptionally dedicated, trustworthy people,” as angry about the company’s misdeeds as anyone. The latest executive handout suggests that PG&E hasn’t learned from its experiences. Unless the lesson was how to go bankrupt and still give the bosses millions of dollars in severance.