Public companies required to report more details on pay and perks

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Today the [tag]Securities and Exchange Commission[/tag] ([tag]SEC[/tag]) voted to require public companies to report the details of pay and perks for executives. The new rule will take effect in 2007, and is aimed at making total [tag]executive compensation[/tag] clearer.

The details companies will be required to provide about the executive compensation include:

  • Salary
  • Bonus
  • Dollar value of stock options
  • Changes in the value of pension benefits
  • Above-market earnings on deferred compensation
  • All perks exceeding $10,000 per year
  • Golden parachutes and other benefits paid to executives who are fired or released pursuant to a merger

These disclosures will be required for a company’s top five executives, including the CEO and CFO. The disclosures must be made in “plain English” so that investors can understand the items.

McGee/Jackson Will Not Be Held Accountable for Criminal Behavior

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Today Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Karen Loebel issued a letter stating that charges would not be filed against Milwaukee Alderman Michael McGee (aka Michael Jackson) for threatening to kill his ex-mistress while in court for a hearing on a restraining order.

During the May 17 hearing, McGee/Jackson turned to Kimley Rucker and said:

If you drive past my house, I will kill your ass.

The District Attorney’s Office was supposedly considering charges of disorderly conduct and violation of a domestic abuse injunction. Continue reading

Misrepresenting Milwaukee’s property tax problem

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On Sunday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had an article on [tag]property taxes[/tag] with the subtitle: “By one measure, Milwaukee is among ‘tax havens’ in area.” That subtitle and the information in the information in the article are completely misleading and Milwaukee is NOT a property [tag]tax haven[/tag]. Here’s why.

The original theory to be tested was whether or not high property tax rates in Milwaukee have prompted people to move to the suburbs. The rates themselves are high. $22.93 per thousand of assessed value in Milwaukee County, compared to $15.59 per thousand in Waukesha County.

The Public Policy Form studied the rates and said the following: By one key measure, the city of Milwaukee ranks as a “property tax haven.” The folks doing the study found that the average property tax bill in the region was over $4,000 in 2006, while the average tax bill was under $3,500 in the city of Milwaukee. The city of Waukesha had a average property tax bill of $4,079.

Why is this misleading? The average home sales prices were $299,023 for Waukesha County and $176,837 for Milwaukee County. As you can see, even though Milwaukee might have lower property tax bills in raw dollars, when compared to the value of the property, Milwaukee’s taxes are sky-high.

If you compare the average tax bill to the average property sales value, the numbers look like this:

$3,500 / $176,837 = .0198
So the average property taxes equal 1.98% of the home’s value in Milwaukee.

$4,079 / $299,023 = .0136
So the average property taxes equal 1.36% of the home’s value in Waukesha.

That calculation puts Milwaukee’s property taxes at a rate that is 45.5% higher than Waukesha.

The effect of inflated home appraisals

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A slowing housing market is bringing attention to the issue of inflated [tag]property appraisals[/tag]. While home values were climbing and interest rates were low, this wasn’t a problem. Even if an appraisal was too high, the [tag]market value[/tag] of the home would quickly catch up. But now that the market is slowing down, some homeowners are finding out that their market values are below their old appraisals.

Inaccurate appraisals become a problem when it is time to sell or [tag]refinance[/tag] a house. Homeowners are finding that they have less equity in their homes than they thought. This is especially critical for those who bought homes with no downpayment or those who used all of their equity for improvements or debt consolidation. As homeowners borrowed against inflated and unrealistic values, they now have fewer options when looking to sell or refinance. Some are finding that their home value is less than the amount they have borrowed against it.

It is believed that loan officers put subtle pressure on appraisers to declare a home’s value at or above the buyer’s offer. Without such an appraisal, a deal will almost certainly fall through. Since appraisers depend upon loan officers for their business referrals, it is in their best interest to help close as many deals as possible.

Ringtone rip-off?

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I was checking out the blog P2P Filesharing, and I found Marc’s post about ringtones. He makes a good point that the rintones people pay $2 or $3 for a rea a rip-off. He mentions that it’s possible to download a whole song for a fraction of the cost, and then make your own ringtone.

One-of-a-kind shoes for President Bush

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bush071206.jpgPresident Bush visited the Allen-Edmonds shoe factory last week and was presented with a pair of red, white, and blue shoes. They were inscribed in the insole: Made exclusively for President Bush.

The company has received numerous requests for a pair of the shoes, but the company will not make any. Mark Birmingham, COO, says they were made “exclusively” for the President, and that’s how it will stay.

Two pairs of the red, white and blue shoes were made for the President in case one didn’t fit right. About 130 employees participated in making the shoes, which were crafted in one day. The second pair will remain on display at the company.shoes_072106_big.jpg

Photos courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Former DA Joe Paulus charged in state court

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Former Winnebago County District Attorney Joe Paulus, who is already serving a term of almost 5 years in federal prison for accepting [tag]bribes[/tag] in criminal cases, has been charged in state court with one count of [tag]misconduct[/tag] in public office and one count of [tag]conspiracy[/tag] to obstruct justice. Reportedly, Paulus has agreed to plead guilty to the charges brought by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, and the prosecutors will recommend two years in state prison to be served after he completes his federal sentence.

Finally, a Consequence For Michael McGee’s Behavior

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This isn’t much, but it’s a start. Milwaukee Alderman Michael McGee has had his drivers license revoked now that it has been determined by Wisconsin Department of Transportation that he had driver’s licenses under two names.

DOT merged the records of Michael I. McGee and Michael I. Jackson (the same person) on June 26. Jackson had a revoked license since March of 2000, so the entire record is now under a revoked license. The Jackson license dates back to at least 1994, and was revoked in 1997 and 2000, and these revocations were related to McGee/Jackson’s hitting of a parked car. The McGee license was issued in 2000, and has had 2 citations since then. Continue reading

The Journal Sentinel editorial board feels sorry for jail inmates

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Why? Because they think the cost of making a collect call out of the County Jail is too expensive. The calls cost between 22 cents and 37 cents per minute. They say that it’s unfair, especially since many of the inmates at the jail haven’t yet been convicted of crimes.

The phone company has said that the cost is higher than normal collect calls because so many of the recipients of the collect calls never pay their bills. Is there no other cause that the editorial board could get behind?