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Join Prosperity Watch in Publicly Shaming PNM’s Overpaid Execs

By Tracy Dingmann

Outrage over the Public Service of New Mexico’s plan to raise rates on New Mexico customers while paying its top executives millions has prompted one local group to form a “Shame Campaign” against PNM.

Prosperity Works, a nonprofit that works to bring energy efficiency and economic stability to New Mexico families, recently launched the campaign after the Albuquerque Journal reported that PNM’s new top executive, CEO Pat Vincent-Collawn received a $1.22 million bonus in addition to her $550k salary, for a total compensation of $1.7 million.

The company’s other top four officers received bonuses ranging from $166,466 to $525,466, and the chairman of PNM’s board was paid $1.2 million, for a total of about $ 5 million in bonuses.

This news comes approximately one month before PNM’s hearing before the Public Regulation Commission regarding its request to raise New Mexico’s rates by $85 million, as well as charge an additional $20 million in fees and riders.

Here’s what Prosperity Works want to know: Should executives of this company be rewarded for the way they are running their company? Shareholders may think so, but what about the rest of us, who pay the ever-skyrocketing rates? Consider this – since 2008 our rates have gone up by 25% – that’s about $150 million dollars a year – forcing all of us to allot more of our household budget to energy costs.

In response to PNM’s news, Prosperity Works is calling on fellow New Mexicans to join the “Shame Campaign” against PNM by calling their PRC commissioners at 1-888-4ASK-PRC (1-888-427-5772) and telling him or her that the PNM should not get a cent more of your money until it starts serving the people of New Mexico.

Oddly enough, the idea of shaming executives for their exorbitant pay came from a column written by staunchly conservative columnist Cal Thomas (a frequent panelist on “Fox News Watch.”) In fact, his syndicated column calling for the idea ran in the Albuquerque Journal on the very day the paper carried the news of the PNM bonuses and salaries.

In his column, called “Honorable Way to Spread Wealth,” Thomas said overcompensated CEOs have a moral obligation to take less money when people are struggling and being laid off in our current recession.

The point is not whether these executives have “earned” this money, or whether they “need” it, Thomas says.

He writes:

“At a time of high unemployment, too many layoffs and too few new jobs in the private sector… it is disheartening to see so many CEOs having recovered enough from their personal recession to pay themselves salaries and benefits that would have shamed the super rich in American’s Gilded Age.”

Public shame for overpaid execs?  What a great idea, even if it did spring from a very unlikely source.

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