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Peabody, at Taxpayer Expense, Pays Out Millions in Executive Bonuses

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Dave Roberts for Vox:Two recent items from the news are likely to add fuel to the Peabody-hating fire.Item 1: Peabody is heading into bankruptcy, workers are getting screwed, and executives are profitingThis week, Peabody signaled that it is likely to file for bankruptcy.It’s not a huge surprise; the company has not been doing well. After a peak share price of $1,079 in 2011 (during the heady market for metallurgical coal), its stock has fallen, and fallen, and fallen, all the way to $2.19 a share.Naturally, Peabody has been laying off lots of workers — more than 20 percent of its global workforce between 2012 and 2015.But that’s not all it’s been doing.You see, Peabody made promises to its US workers. In exchange for doing the dangerous, unhealthy work of mining coal, they would have pensions and health benefits for life.But those obligations are expensive, especially with employees’ propensity to develop black lung. Peabody needed a way to get them off the books.So in 2007, Peabody created a new entity, Patriot Coal. Reporter Alec MacGillis tells the story in the New Republic:[Peabody] transferred to [Patriot] 13 percent of its coal reserves. It also transferred to it about 40 percent of its health care liabilities—the obligations for 8,400 former Peabody employees. A year later, Patriot Coal was loaded up with even more liabilities when it acquired Magnum Coal, an offshoot of the country’s second-largest mining company, Arch Coal. This left Patriot with responsibility for another 2,300 retirees, and, by last year, total liabilities of $1.37 billion.Eventually Patriot Coal was larded up with more than $3 billion in liabilities from Peabody and Arch, representing 22,000 miners, retirees, and spouses.“Oddly, for a 5-year-old company,” labor journalist Mike Elk wrote, “Patriot wound up with nearly three times as many retirees as active employees, more than 90 percent of whom never worked for the company.”Can you guess what happened next?Yup, Patriot Coal filed for bankruptcy in 2012. And it wasted no time asking a bankruptcy judge to let it jettison all those health care liabilities. (The judge said yes, just as she said yes two weeks prior when Patriot asked for permission to pay their executives almost $7 million in “retention bonuses.”)Patriot had no loyalty to these retirees, of course. For the most part, they’d never even worked for Patriot. According to a 2013 story in the Wall Street Journal, “90 percent of retirees listed as Patriot’s obligation today never worked for Patriot, but were once employed by Peabody or Arch.”What about Peabody? Doesn’t it have any loyalty to the workers who gave it so much of their lives? The Wall Street Journal asked:A spokesman for Peabody, the nation’s largest coal company by production, said Peabody has lived up to its obligations. “This is a matter solely between the union and Patriot Coal,” the spokesman said.Damn, that’s cold.(The coal employee pension funds have since sued Peabody and Arch, accusing them of designing Patriot to fail as a way of escaping their obligations.)Ditching its obligations to workers — “restructuring,” in the antiseptic language of corporate law — didn’t save Patriot. It filed for bankruptcy again in 2015. Its efforts to escape its liabilities are ongoing.Dumping liabilities onto Patriot didn’t save Peabody either, which is now on the verge of going under itself. It currently has hundreds of millions in unfunded liabilities, which are likely to be jettisoned in some future deal between a corporate restructuring lawyer and a bankruptcy judge.But have no fear! The Peabody executives who oversaw all those mergers and big bets on metallurgical coal — and the subsequent destruction of virtually all the company’s value — are in no danger. In fact, they’re doing great.This 2015 report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis reveals that the top five Peabody executives pulled down about $27 million in compensation in 2011, when the stock was at its peak.In 2014, after the company’s stockholders had lost $16 billion in value, thousands of workers had been laid off and Peabody was headed for bankruptcy, they pulled down about … $25 million.To atone for his sins, the compensation of Boyce, the CEO, was reduced from $10 million in 2011 to $11 million in 2014.(The, er, disjunct between corporate performance and executive compensation is a familiar tale in US coal these days.)So that’s the first item regarding Peabody’s enduring status as the Worst. Now here’s the second.Item 2: Peabody has been heavily subsidized by federal taxpayersTurns out US taxpayers are helping to pay for all this.According to a new report from Greenpeace, based on Department of Interior data obtained via FOIA, Peabody relies heavily on coal mined from federal land. In fact, the three biggest US coal companies all rely heavily on it.coal corporate welfare(Greenpeace)Here’s the thing about coal on federal land: For decades, the US public has been letting coal companies mine it for dirt cheap, well beneath market rates. Over time that adds up to a lot of foregone revenue.In his 2014 piece on coal leasing, Brad Plumer wrote about a study by Tom Sanzillo of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis that “argued that the federal government had foregone as much as $28.9 billion in revenue over the past 30 years by getting below-market value for its coal in these non-competitive auctions.”And that’s to say nothing of the social costs imposed by the coal thus mined. Consider this statistic from a previous Greenpeace report:A ton of publicly owned coal leased during the Obama administration will, on average, cause damages estimated at between $22 and $237, using the federal government’s social cost of carbon estimates — yet the average price per ton for those coal leases was only $1.03.This amounts to the American people subsidizing their own suffering.How your taxes ended up enriching coal executives who are betraying their workers Peabody, at Taxpayer Expense, Pays Out Millions in Executive Bonuseslast_img read more

Real lawyers weigh in on reality TV’s lawyers

first_img Real lawyers weigh in on reality TV’s lawyers Florida litigators pull no punches in reviewing Roy Black’s new show ‘The Law Firm’ Jan Pudlow Senior Editor The camera pans a sleek high rise in Los Angeles, then zooms in to the glitzy interior of “The Law Firm,” where a dozen young trial lawyers gather in the conference room nervously clutching their briefcases.In strides Roy Black with the confident air of a top-notch Florida lawyer with national notoriety for successfully defending William Kennedy Smith on rape charges and offering legal analysis for NBC and CNN on high-profile cases like Scott Peterson and Kobe Bryant. His Web site brags that he got the highest score on the Florida bar exam in 1970, after graduating from the University of Miami, where he teaches a workshop in criminal evidence.Smart, effective, media-savvy Black is the managing partner of “The Law Firm” that airs Thursday nights at 9 on NBC.Real lawyers try real cases with real plaintiffs and real defendants, with real witnesses, before real retired California judges. The outcomes are final, legal, and binding for the parties.Like any managing partner, Black has the power to fire those who fall down on the job.“I don’t care what law school you went to or what your GPA was,” Black tells this polished collection of competitive, type-A personalities he personally selected to vie for $250,000 in cash and proud recognition from Black as “the finest young trial lawyer” in the firm.What matters, Black says, is “how you can perform under pressure and stress in the courtroom.”At the end of each of eight episodes, Black will kick two lawyers out of the firm until only the very best trial lawyer wins.Black said he agreed to do the unscripted series after he talked to Emmy Award-winning producer David Kelley (“Ally McBeal”and “L.A. Law”) and NBC President Jeff Zucker.“Both assured me it would be a program that would highlight how hard lawyers work preparing a case and show the behind-the-scenes, as well as the courtroom performances,” Black said.“Generally, this turned out to be true. Of course, this is television, so they needed entertainment, tension, and drama, as well. Usually, trials contain all of that in spades, but they also wanted to show the tensions that develop between the lawyers while working on the case. So purists may balk at some scenes,” Black said.“After spending over 35 years doing this, it doesn’t seem far off the mark.. . . I think it works.”Does this show — described by the Palm Beach Post as “essentially ‘The Practice’ minus the soap opera-y personal stories and Lindsay Dole’s incessant whining” and the Los Angles Times as “‘People’s Court’ meets ‘The Apprentice’” — succeed in making lawyers look good? Does it work?The Florida Bar News asked a couple of experienced Florida trial lawyers to watch the first July 28 episode and share their honest thoughts.“I am a big fan of Roy Black, but not a fan of ‘reality shows.’ With those two predispositions, I sat down to watch the first show of ‘The Law Firm.’ I remain a big fan of Roy Black,” commented David Rothman, a Miami trial attorney and member of The Florida Bar Board of Governors.Bill Corry, a Tallahassee trial attorney on the board of directors of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, agreed with Black’s premise that the public has little understanding of the time and energy required for trial work.“They see the glamour and the big verdicts. They think lawyers are just rich and don’t have to do much to hoodwink the stupid jury. They hear about runaway verdicts and too many lawsuits and so much propaganda the insurance industry tries to spread,” Corry said. “So, yes, I think it probably helped to improve the image of lawyers. Those young attorneys work very hard.”Corry’s biggest disappointment was not seeing enough of Black, who introduces the lawyers to their cases in the beginning of the hour, slips into the courtroom to hear closing arguments, and then evaluates their performances at the end using the Socratic method, complete with jabbing index finger for emphasis—not unlike the mock trials and critiques Black uses with his UM students.“I think Roy Black came across as dignified. He is a very fine attorney, and I was hoping he would be more involved in the dynamics,” Corry said.As Black says, “This show was designed to showcase the lawyers, not be an infomercial for me.”Feedback Black has received from legal colleagues so far is that “it was fun to watch, but most advised me not to quit my day job. Some, of course, wanted to know if The Donald gave me hair advice (fortunately not) nor did he agree to loan me any money,” Black said.In the first episode, Black divides the dozen lawyers into four teams of three to handle both plaintiffs’ and defendants’ sides of two cases:One involves a woman whose small dog had his leg gnawed off by her flamboyant next-door neighbor’s pair of huge mastiffs.The other is about a man with a flashing light on his dash who stops a woman who cut him off in traffic, demands to see her driver’s license, and chastises her about her driving skills. She thinks he’s a cop, but later finds out he’s really the county coroner.They may not be big cases, but they are important to the clients, Black tells the young trial lawyers.“I’d better see real commitment and passion in representing these clients — or you’re gone!” Black bellows.What the viewer sees watching “The Law Firm” are behind-the-scenes strategy sniping, personality clashes, and stressed-out deadline pressure to prepare for trial.“The lawyers work up to 20 hours a day concentrating on the case, tracking down evidence and witnesses, working on legal memos, preparing arguments—the type of work the public rarely sees and is generally unaware of,” Black said. “They argue over strategy, which witnesses to use, how to handle the judge and jury, all of which can result in heated discussions, just like lawyers and law firms do.”In the dog case, the maimed pooch hobbles up to the bar on three legs. The coroner/cop wannabe case is dissected before a stern arbitrator with the personality of Nurse Ratchet.Rothman was not impressed with the skills of most of the young lawyers chosen for the show.“Based solely upon their ‘performance’ in this one episode, with one, maybe two, exceptions, I would have fired all of the young lawyers who appeared in the show. Some, because they are lousy lawyers, some because they are rotten human beings, and all because they can’t act a lick,” Rothman said.“Roy Black, however, was terrific as the managing partner. One scary thought: One of these young lawyers is actually going to win $250,000 at the end of the show. I have seen better lawyering from third-year law students.”Corry wasn’t as harsh on the attorneys as he was on the quality of the cases.“I would have hated to be those attorneys and have those fact scenarios assigned,” Corry said. “A three-legged dog getting through a fence and a traffic stop by a coroner? I can’t imagine a firm in Tallahassee taking either case.”What was realistic, Corry said, was the inability of the lawyers to control their witness, the mastiff dog owner who just took off with a colorful narrative on the witness stand, and the frustration of the lawyer trying to deal with the rude arbitrator in the coroner case.As Black tells Kelly Chang, the L.A. lawyer booted from the first show because she allowed the arbitrator to run roughshod over her opening statement with a barrage of interruptions: “Great trial lawyers get judges to listen to them.”And Jason Adams, of Ventura, California, was the second lawyer to be told: “The verdict is in: You are out!” because he made the rookie blunder of objecting when the mastiff dog owner, on the other side of the case, made an outrageous comment about the three-legged dog: “You could cut all its legs off and it’d still be a menace to society!”“Great lawyers have good instincts,” Black said. “You couldn’t see a major blunder and take advantage of it.”Even with all of his years of experience as a trial lawyer, Corry said he “relearned to not be so quick to object.”Corry will watch the show again, especially interested “to see if Roy Black is more involved the second time. I’d like to see a case that’s more difficult that would generate significant damages.”Keep watching. Black promises the cases get progressively more difficult, including “a wrongful death involving murder” at the end of the series.Who does Black think the best audience is for his new show?“Good question. If you like David Kelley shows and highlights from Court TV, you will love the show,’’ Black said.“If you want plastic surgery, eating bugs, or celebrity appearances, this show is not for you.” Real lawyers weigh in on reality TV’s lawyers August 15, 2005 Senior Editor Regular Newslast_img read more

West Florida Finishes 14th in Director’s Cup Standings

first_img June 22, 2007CLEVELAND, OHIO – After an athletic season that produced six Gulf South Conference championships and 10 teams earning national tournament berths, West Florida earned a 14th place finish in the Director’s Cup Standings.The Director’s Cup is an award presented annually by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics to the most successful athletic program in each division. Grand Valley State in Allendale, Mich. won the 2007 award for the fourth consecutive season.West Florida, who totaled the most points among GSC schools, collected 495.50 points to claim 14th place. Delta State was the second-highest conference school in 33rd place with 383 points.Despite not fielding a football team, West Florida’s 183 points were the seventh-highest total among Division II teams during the fall season. Bill Elliott’s men’s soccer team won conference and south region titles before advancing to the national semifinal in Pensacola. Meanwhile, Joe Bartlinski’s women’s soccer team claimed their first GSC title since 1999 and advanced to the south region finals. The Argonaut volleyball team advanced to their first appearance in the national tournament and knocked off 19th ranked Washburn in the quarterfinals.West Florida added 309 points during the spring season. The men’s and women’s tennis teams combined for 173 points (women-90, men-83). The men’s team advanced to the national semifinals, while the women’s team won their second straight GSC title and advanced to the championship finals of the national tournament. The women’s golf team added 58.5 points after repeating as conference champions. Mike Jeffcoat led the baseball squad to their first GSC title and first appearance in the national tournament. The baseball team completed the spring total by collecting 50 points.The Sports Academy Directors’ Cup was developed as a joint effort between NACDA and USA Today. The United States Sports Academy, based in Daphne, Ala. is the program sponsor. The points are awarded based on each institution’s finish in up to 14 sports – seven women’s and seven men’sPrint Friendly Version Share West Florida Finishes 14th in Director’s Cup Standingslast_img read more

Hillman sex offender admitted to another sex crime, gets prison time

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisALPENA, Mich. — A registered sex offender from Hillman confessed to another sex crime. Marc Whitney plead guilty on Monday and will serve a minimum of 4 to 20 years in prison.The Huron Undercover Narcotics Team concluded their three month investigation into Whitney possessing child sexually abusive material. He also admitted to using a computer to commit a crime.In 2018, parents reported that girls between the ages of 10 and 16 received requests to follow Whitney — a local sex offender — on social media. Whitney violated the sex offender registry act and was previously convicted of criminal sexual conduct involving a minor.AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisContinue ReadingPrevious Police shutdown Indian River man’s meth labNext Upcoming trivia fundraiser to support child victims of abuselast_img read more