Monthly Archives: May 2010
Last year about this time, Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo! said “fuck” on a conference call with analysts. Then just yesterday, she told TechCrunch founder and blogger Michael Arrington to fuck off.
At this point, I never want to hear another word about Jeff Skilling (rightly) calling Richard Grubman an asshole. He has officially be one-upped by Carol Bartz. Done and done.
I have been holding back on this news for a while now out of my deepest concern and sympathy for Joe Hirko and his family. But the news seems to finally be emerging, at least on the Web if not in the mainstream media, so I will talk about it now.
On May 15th, a Saturday, Joe Hirko’s wife, Kathleen, was visiting Joe at prison as she has been doing regularly since he was sent there back in December of last year. During the visit, Kathi suffered a stroke and died. Kathi’s three children are left without their mother, her four grandchildren without their grandmother, and Joe without his wife.
The tragedy and raw injustice of this event is almost too painful for me to write about. Joe Hirko, an obviously innocent man, was hounded by federal prosecutors for years. At trial, Joe was acquitted of a number of counts, and the jury hung on others. Instead of then dismissing the remaining ridiculous charges, as would have happened in all but an Enron case, the federal prosecutors continued to hound Joe, threatening him with another trial. As many innocent people have done, Joe decided to enter into a plea deal — he undoubtedly did this, at least in part, to spare his family more stress. The death of his wife, half-way through his prison term, is an unspeakable tragedy.
John Kroger, the federal prosecutor who originally brought the indictment against Joe and the other Enron Broadband defendants, admitted in his book that the Enron Task Force was under pressure “to get scalps quickly.” Well, this is what happens when scalp hunters are given free rein because the rest of us not only allow the abuse to happen but many of us cheer it on. Please pay attention to the Enron story, if not for the defendants, if not for the people such as Kathi, then for yourself and your love ones who may one day face the same abuse.
1. Getting ponytail stuck in mall escalator.
2. Toxic shock syndrome.
4. Accident while installing storm windows.
5. Auto-erotic asphyxiation.
7. Mis-timed trampoline jump.
9. Jealous husband.
10. Electric shock when plugging in laptop.
11. Too tight Windsor knot.
12. Expired H1N1 vaccine.
In Saturday’s Chron was the exciting and good news that Robert Furst has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department under which if he commits no crimes in the next year, and complies with other rules, the government will dismiss the charges pending against him in a case that arose from transactions involving Nigerian barges.
But the report also mentions:
In another Enron case, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Friday refused to dismiss charges against Rex Shelby, a defendant in a case involving Enron’s broadband unit. Shelby hoped the Supreme Court victory of a co-defendant would lead to the dismissal of his case too, but the appellate court sent it back to Houston for retrial.
Mary Flood, as is so often the case when the Chronicle reports on Enron, has her facts wrong. Rex Shelby’s Motion to Dismiss was denied on April 23, 2010. Not “Friday”.
It is a small mistake, but it builds upon an entire body of knowledge that is wrong. Dates, times, amounts – they seem small but they’re important. Get them right.
Thus, when I read about Furst’s deal I was very pleased and happy for him – if disgusted that he had to spend seven years being a defendant in the first place. But I must wonder how much of the Chron’s report is actually based in fact and how much is sloppy reporting.
What would be a good benchmark? That the Chron is reliably accurate 30% of the time when reporting on Enron? 50% ? Certainly not 80%. So let’s split the difference and say that the Chron is reliably accurate approximately 75% of the time. That means there’s a full quarter of stuff out there about Enron that is conjecture, opinion (not news), and general journalistic malpractice.
Enron and the people victimized by the Department of Justice in their relentless pursuit of scalps deserve better. They deserve fair, accurate reporting from the Chron, but since they won’t get it, they can, at least, come here – to the Enron blog.
Why The Skilling Case Affects Us All, an editorial in the Chron, is semi-supportive of Skilling, arguing against honest services fraud. I find this fascinating. Where were all these pundits, legal scholars and nattering talking heads four years ago when Jeff Skilling and Dr. Lay were fighting for their lives?
Are they as supportive as the Nigerian Barge defendants? What about Kevin Howard, whose travails with Honest Service could fill the Library of Congress?
I am pleased that some are speaking out against honest services, but I hope the public does not get mired only in the honest services debate. Jeff Skilling, the Broadband defendants, the Merrill Lynch defendants and the Nigerian Barge defendants are all innocent, even when honest services is not a factor. Rex Shelby, for instance, is not facing any honest service charges, but he is most assuredly innocent.
Despite its Tony nominations, Enron, the Broadway play, will close Sunday at a loss of between $3.5 million and $4 million. Enron opened last month to lukewarm reviews, but only managed 15 performances before its demise.
I am oddly unmoved by this. I didn’t like Enron (the company) being mocked but don’t feel any tremendous joy that Enron (the play) is closing. I did want to see the Raptors though.
The city floated on a sea of black oil. The city was vast and rich and the townspeople were generally very happy. There was one problem though. Every morning, the doj would run through the forest to the city, harassing citizens. Doj were large rodent-like creatures with blank eyes, a long snoot and a diabolical grinning mouth. Their bristly fur was black and oozed a fine oil that left a stink on everything to touched. They were wily, athletic enough to climb trees to find the citizens hiding in the branches, and they used their long snoots to root in the ground to find those who tried to hide beneath the surface. They were relentless. Some townspeople, in an effort to mollify the doj, would leave saucers of tender stewed meat in thick cream on their doorsteps. Even after devouring the dish, the doj would demand more.
The doj were ruled by Gov, the lord of all creatures. Gov was tall as the Transco Tower and his power was absolute. On every cobbled street were a tangle of chains, for Gov had forced each business and each home to commit to keeping itself tied to Gov. The men were sheepish about the chains. The ladies wore theirs as necklaces and bracelets.
But the Yeagermonster was unlike anyone else in the town. The Yeagermonster was huge, but not as huge as Gov, and he was beautiful and fierce, and many townspeople adored him, though others were frightened at his refusal to obey. When the doj came to his abode each morning, he crushed their necks with his giant foot, and threw the fetid bodies into the bog for the other doj to devour. He refused to don chains. Gov would move his massive arm, and shuffle the chains that coursed through the city like golden snakes, and Gov became suspicious that the Yeagermonster would not chain himself. Gov had sent doj only to lose them by the hundreds. But now Gov had lost patience.
Gov dragged his massive chains behind him and came to visit Yeagermonster at home. Yeagermonster refused to let him in! Because Yeagermonster refused to even discuss putting chains on himself or his business, Gov, whose word was final, accused him of doing something illegal.
Yeagermonster infused the air with information. Gov replied he could not see information in the air and thus his business did not exist. But Yeagermonster knew that it did, and he would not allow Gov to have authority of himself. He refused the doj and the chains and he would defy Gov himself.
Finally, one morning Gov demanded Yeagermonster answer for himself. Yeagermonster was angry. He had enough harassment! With a mighty sweep of his sword, he cut the chains of all the other businesses, and because Gov was so large and suddenly untethered by the millions of chains, Gov toppled backward, and fell in the bog and drowned.
The townspeople looked to Yeagermonster with awe. Because he had conquered Gov, they believed him to be all powerful and they quickly bowed and attempted to fasten their chains to him.
Yeagermonster refused. He did not want others’ chains. He only wanted the freedom to be unchained himself. But in giving himself freedom, he had given the whole city freedom.
Yeagermonster expected no gratitude. He wanted no fame. So after Gov was defeated, he left the townspeople to themselves and returned to the city, to work.