Remarks in Response to Rasmussen’s Amendment on CEO Pay Vote

Transcript of Speech as Delivered

Councilmember Rasmussen’s amendment speaks to the track record of a CEO, and its correlation to pay increase, with the idea that if Mr. Carrasco’s record and accomplishments are great, then that justifies giving him up to $120,000 more, above the $245,000 he already makes.

It is correct that pay should have some relation to performance. As working people, we have the ongoing experience of being supervised by our bosses, and our salaries are cut when we don’t perform up to par. But when we start talking about pay increases at the level of $250,000 or $300,000, for those who are already in the 1% of the population, then it is not about performance, but about upholding Wall Street’s culture of executive excess that needs to be defied by elected representatives not promoted and added to.

And I am not necessarily claiming at this point that Mr. Carrasco’s record has been found wanting. However, if City Light had to pay tens of thousands of ratepayer dollars to an online reputation-management company to artificially spruce up the CEO’s image, then the question is: how good is the performance? If things are so great at City Light, then a Google search should automatically reflect that. Why do you need to pay someone to artificially polish your image?

I would also like to note for the record that since it was exposed by the Seattle Times yesterday that City Light paid money to a PR company to create blog posts to artificially burnish the CEO’s image, Huffpost Blog site has pulled down the City Light related blog.

The primary argument made by the Mayor’s office and by Councilmembers is that executives need to be paid as much as their “peers” in order to attract and retain “talent.” Such reasoning is empirically flawed. It is extremely tenuous for the City to argue that an executive who is already paid $245,000 a year is somehow unable to discharge his duties due to hardship and urgently needs a pay increase. Similar arguments for executive salaries have been made for decades by the financial sector, and it was some of the very same outrageously overpaid executives who precipitated the financial collapse of 2008 that has left so many lost jobs and destroyed lives in its wake.

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