Cutting Prison Programs Hurts Us All

Sacramento Bee
By Orson Aguilar

The $250 million that California is about to save by slashing vital rehabilitation programs for prisoners will cost us many times that much money. The money we think we’re saving will cost us many times over in more crime, more drug abuse and ruined lives. Rehabilitation and alternative programs can save lives. I know. One of them saved mine.
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New York Fed Board Move Tone-Deaf on Public Service

American Banker
By Orson Aguilar – Executive Director, The Greenlining Institute

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the total amount of combined Tarp funds received by Citigroup, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. It is $105 billion.

It’s sad, but not much has changed since corporate greed and malfeasance nearly caused our economy to collapse. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, assigned the job of protecting banking customers, recently named two CEOs, including Jeffrey Kindler of Pfizer, to fill their public interest positions. One must wonder why the Fed could not find qualified directors, with proven track records of public advocacy, to serve the public good. Pfizer, a so-called leader in serving the public good, was recently fined a record $2.3 billion by the Justice Department for fraudulent marketing of drugs. Among the many allegations, Pfizer paid kickbacks to health-care providers to induce them to prescribe drugs for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Continue reading “New York Fed Board Move Tone-Deaf on Public Service”

Foreclosure Prevention Efforts Must be Grassroots-Not Trickle Down

By Len Canty and Orson Aguilar | OW Contributors

With reports that only 9% of eligible loans being modified, families across the country are beginning to lose hope that President Obama’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) will help them remain in their homes.

Continue reading “Foreclosure Prevention Efforts Must be Grassroots-Not Trickle Down”

Viewpoint: New Financial Values for Bankers and Consumers

American Banker  |  Wednesday, May 27, 2009

By Orson Aguilar and J. Alfred Smith Jr.

A major transformation in banking is revolutionizing America’s approach to financial literacy.

Some financial institutions, to their credit, such as Citigroup, have expended hundreds of millions of dollars each over the last generation in promoting traditional approaches to financial literacy. Continue reading “Viewpoint: New Financial Values for Bankers and Consumers”

Fostering Homeownership — the Right Way

American Banker
By Orson Aguilar and Faith Bautista

As the presidential inauguration draws near, it is increasingly clear that bailouts and government guarantees are unlikely to be successful unless government assistance is focused on the 10 million or more American homeowners who are in trouble and the millions of jobs than can be created directly and indirectly through homeownership. Continue reading “Fostering Homeownership — the Right Way”

Philanthropy’s Race Problem

By Orson Aguilar

A new compromise from foundations might be cause for some optimism.

The everyday challenges faced by the people in many neighborhoods seem far removed from the American Dream these days: the lack of good housing and jobs, poor health, immigration raids, the foreclosure crisis, failing schools and all-too-common homicides. Continue reading “Philanthropy’s Race Problem”

Viewpoint: Winning Main Street Hearts and Minds

American Banker | Friday, October 24, 2008
By Robert Gnaizda and Jorge Corralejo

Last week the secretary of the Treasury and the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board decided to save the American banking industry from its follies by partially nationalizing the banks through an infusion of $250 billion of taxpayer funds. Continue reading “Viewpoint: Winning Main Street Hearts and Minds”

Are Foundations Doing Enough for Society?

Source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy | Written by: George Dean and Nativo Lopez
Now that California’s Assembly has passed legislation designed to shed light on the diversity practices of the state’s grant makers and the measure is pending in the State Senate, it is time to ask Congress to take similar action and to look more closely at just what Americans are getting from the massive subsidies they provide to the nation’s foundations. Continue reading “Are Foundations Doing Enough for Society?”

Excessive Executive Compensation and the Decline of Median Family Income

Greenlining Institute has taken a lead role among nonprofits representing the 70% of Americans who live from paycheck to paycheck in raising questions about excessive executive compensation. Each year, CEO compensation increases by 10% or more while median family income has declined over the last five years by 5.9%.

Two years ago, Greenlining Institute reached an agreement with PG&E that required the highest level in the nation of corporate transparency for executive compensation. All PG&E officer compensation, whether received or deferred, had to be reported in a simple verified form and had to include not just the top 5 officers required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, but all officers.

Recently, the California Public Utilities Commission ordered So Cal Edison, at Greenlining’s request, to follow the PG&E model and, in addition, be the first corporation in the nation to fully report major severance and retirement packages, which often amount to millions of dollars in unreported income.

Presently, the CPUC has, partly at the request of Greenlining, taken the national lead in investigating the impact of excessive executive compensation on ratepayers. Going far beyond SEC requirements, Greenlining has raised the following in the investigation:

  1. All officer compensation must be reported in a simple fashion.
  2. Officer compensation must be made available to ratepayers on an annual basis and in merger proceedings to enable the public to be fully informed.
  3. To highlight the size of CEO compensation, the CEO must also set forth the median salary of non-mangement workers at his/her company and must report the dollar amount of corporate philanthropy to the poor.

The Wall Street Journal and Fortune Magazine report that CEO compensation is often 400 times that of the average workers salary. The CEO’s salary at Edison was approximately 350 times the median wage of non-management at Edison and the compensation of the CEO of Sempra was almost 400 times greater. This occurred despite both being monopolies whose profits are subsidized by ordinary people (ratepayers).

Based on Greenlining’s examination of hundreds of CEO packages, it appears that in almost every case, the compensation to the CEO and his top four officers substantially exceeds the dollar amount of philanthropy made by the corporation to low-income communities.

Perhaps it’s time for the nonprofit world to rise up and urge that cash philanthropy to the poor should always substantially exceed the aggregate compensation of a company’s top five officers. This might not stop excessive executive compensation, but at least low-income communities will benefit from this. Our estimate is that this alone would triple the amount of corporate philanthropy to nonprofits serving the poor.