I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Arizona CEO pay up two years in a row.

This speaks for itself...these are the cheap bastards whose incomes we protected by raising the sales tax - slamming the poor instead.


Executive pay in Arizona increases 6 percent

Apollo Group, First Solar, Freeport-McMoRan place several leaders on list of highest-paid bosses

The recession is gradually ending in boardrooms across Arizona.

Mainstream Arizonans still might be grappling with a weak job market, stagnant personal incomes and a rising bankruptcy rate, but the men and women who run public companies based in the state are faring better overall.

Helped by higher values on vested stock awards and options, the chief executive officers and chairmen at 47 Arizona-based firms earned an average $1.04 million in 2009.

That was up nearly 6 percent from 2008, and it marked the second-straight yearly rise in pay.

According to public reports submitted by Arizona firms, another 63 executives who are neither CEOs nor chairmen earned at least $750,000 during the year.

Check out what Arizona executives make

In Arizona, executive-salary increases were a bit more common last year than in 2008, and more firms paid bonuses. These factors helped to pave the way to slightly larger compensation packages. So did a rising stock market, which made option grants and vested stock awards from prior years more valuable. In that sense, the rising pay numbers reflect a gradually improving business climate.

Prominent trio

Three companies dominated the Arizona list, with Apollo Group, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold and First Solar accounting for seven of the 10 highest-paid executives. Those three companies also are among the state's most prominent, ranking in the top five in both 2009 profits and stock-market capitalization, or worth.

John Sperling, founder and executive chairman of adult-education firm Apollo, finished first with $42.3 million in compensation, with nearly all of that coming from exercised stock options granted in prior years.

He leapfrogged Richard Adkerson and James Moffett, the two top executives at mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, who in 2008 finished first and second, respectively.

Moffett and Adkerson finished No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in compensation in 2009.

"Our board recognized our company's extraordinary operational and financial accomplishments under volatile conditions, including the successful implementation of revised operating plans and positive safety performance," wrote Eric Kinneberg, director of external communications at Freeport-McMoRan, in a response.

Freeport's stock returned 229 percent in 2009, and the firm recovered from an $11.3 billion loss in 2008 to post a $2.5 billion profit.

Pay for performance

Of Arizona companies responding to requests for comments, most cited a pay-for-performance link.

"The majority of our leadership team's pay is 'at risk,' meaning they are paid only if the company performs and drives value for all its shareholders," wrote Michelle Friedman, a PetSmart spokeswoman, in a reply.

"We design our total compensation packages to be competitive with the marketplace, allowing us to hire and keep the best people. Our executives' pay packages are comparable to those in companies of similar size and make up."

PetSmart shares returned 46 percent in 2009.

Of the 64 CEOs and chairmen tracked in our survey, only 15 received a cash bonus last year, although that was up from just eight in 2008. More top executives received a salary hike than took a cut.

The slightly higher executive-pay packages earned in Arizona contrasted with single-digit pay declines reported by some national CEO-compensation surveys.

"Salary increases were minuscule, if at all," said Kevin Nussbaum, a vice president at CBIZ Inc., a benefits-consulting firm in St. Louis.

"With a lot of companies cutting jobs or asking other people to take pay cuts, (keeping a lid on executive compensation) was an easier sell."

Departing leaders

Several Arizona executives left their firms during the year, which boosted overall pay figures by encouraging them to cash in options or providing them with generous severance.

At First Solar, John Gaffney's compensation was helped by $4.7 million in severance. The former executive vice president left the firm in December. So, too, for Richard Fennessy, the former CEO at Insight Enterprises, who received $4.5 million and other income after resigning in September.

Jack Brucker left as president and CEO of Rural/Metro at the start of 2010, but that wasn't reflected in the firm's pay report, which came out in October.

It's often tricky to say exactly how much an executive makes, especially at larger firms, since the value of some benefits might not be known for years to come. Also, there are so many components to a typical pay package.

Steve Sanghi, president and CEO at Microchip Technology in Chandler and one of the perennial pay leaders in Arizona, said he's disturbed by a trend in which more executives are receiving compensation from restricted stock awards or grants than from options.

For a stock option to prove valuable, Sanghi said, the underlying stock must rise in price over time. But when restricted stock vests, an executive could make money even if the underlying shares don't gain.

Last year, 27 Arizona CEOs and chairmen realized compensation from the vesting of restricted stock, compared with 13 who cashed in options.

Stock awards don't give executives as much incentive to create wealth for shareholders, Sanghi said.

"It's giving compensation whether the stock goes up or not," Sanghi said. "Executives are making money when investors aren't."