OLD Media Moves

Compensation czar to speak at SABEW conference

November 17, 2009

The man whom Time magazine called “the Solomon of settlement,” Kenneth Feinberg, will speak to the Society of American Business Editors and Writers’ 2010 national conference here in March, SABEW announced Tuesday.

President Barack Obama appointed the acclaimed mediator in June as special master for executive compensation, and has become known in the mass media as the White House’s “compensation czar,” with sweeping authority over the compensation given to executives of corporations receiving federal bailout money.

In late October, Feinberg announced that 25 of the highest-ranking executives at seven firms receiving large amounts of tax dollars would see their annual salaries cut by an average of 90 percent from what they were in 2008.

The seven companies are AIG, Bank of America, Chrysler, Chrysler Financial, Citigroup, General Motors and GMAC.

“Kenneth Feinberg is performing one of the Obama administration’s most high-profile duties, and his recent decisions to massively reduce some executives’ pay have been debated in corporate conference rooms as well as discussed by SABEW members,” said SABEW President Greg McCune, training editor at Thomson Reuters. “We will have even more to talk about after hearing his presentation to us in Phoenix.”

Time’s Nov. 2 issue contained a story by the magazine’s Stephen Gandel that said Feinberg, 64, “holds a unique position in American society. He decides what people –- their pain as well as their day-to-day roles -– are worth. Appointed 25 years ago to distribute about $200 million to Vietnam vets poisoned by the herbicide Agent Orange, he has become the Solomon of settlement.”

Feinberg’s other well-known assignments include those as administrator of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and, in the wake of the shocking 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, as fund administrator for the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund.

In 2005, Feinberg’s book, “What is Life Worth?”, was published by Public Affairs Press.

Feinberg is the second major speaker to be secured to appear at the Phoenix conference. Ricardo Salinas Pliego, chairman of one of Mexico’s biggest business conglomerates, has agreed to be its keynote speaker.

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