Thursday, December 02, 2004

Boardroom Reformer Got Calpers Boot

Labor leader Sean Harrigan lost his spot as a Calpers director after another California agency -- the State Personnel Board -- decided to replace him as its representative on the pension fund's board with another one of its members. Since he joined the Calpers board five years ago, and especially since he became president of the pension fund last year, Harrigan has been an outspoken advocate of corporate reform.

Pension funds have been the closest things to activist shareholders we have in recent years. And in our "ownership society," They are by far the biggest owners that are not completely in bed with corporate management. CALPERS is the biggest one of all, and one of the most active. So I guess it should be no surprise that the tallest nail is the one getting smacked down first.

The linked article makes it sound like this one is no big deal, but I think it is. It is a clear signal that corporate management, like our national CEO, will not tolerate difficult questions or the people who raise them. Pnesion funds may be the last effective corporate watchdogs we have (other than Elliot Spitzer, anyway).


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