Sunday, July 20, 2008

Reflections on Retirement Plans

Not everyone in Northwest Arkansas is behind John McCain's efforts to implement George Bush's plan to privatize Social Security or to starve social support for senior services such as Meals on Wheels. But, then again, not everyone is counting on Social Security for subsistence living during their retirement years. They know how to retire in style at the expense of their employers, public and private.

Tom Coughlin, 58, retired a few years ago from Wal-Mart and received lavish praise "after a 27-year career in which he distinguished himself as a motivational leader and difference-maker to whom the company often turned to get things done." Now this former business leader, who "had an ability to inspire others and was a powerful motivator capable of imparting the values and operating philosophies" of the corporation, faces a court hearing set for August 22 over whether he entitled to his retirement package valued at up to $15 million. He thinks he deserves it for past service, even though he admitted stealing nearly $400,000 from the corporation, but fellow Wal-Mart executives don't think he should be supported in such style by the shareholders.

Dan Coody, 55, announced last year that he would not run for reelection and received lavish self-praise about "
a list of accomplishments made during his terms of office, citing changes, accomplishments and awards in most of the city's divisions." Now he has reconsidered whether he wants to keep his word and that $107,039 salary, suggesting that no one else could do the job as well as he has and finish all the projects that he wasn't able to complete in eight years. Also, as pointed out in today's Northwest Arkansas Times, Coody could be eligible for a public pension of at least $53,500 a year from the city's general fund if he can get reelected, even though his sewer plan debacle cost the taxpayers an extra $63 million above estimates. Coody said the generous retirement benefit from the taxpayers was not a factor in his seeking to hold office for another term.

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