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Bankrupt Kmart seeks raise for new CEO

By Maxine Shapiro, KERA 90.1 commentator

Dallas, TX – So, I'm checking out the Wall Street Journal Online Sunday edition, and I find this article that REALLY gets my goat. The headline reads: "Kmart Seeks to Raise Compensation To $1.5 Million for CEO Adamson." I'm Maxine Shapiro with KERA Marketplace Middays.

That's right, the discount department chain that recently filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, closed 284 stores, including 11 in North Texas, and cut 22,000 jobs, is looking to give new CEO, James B. Adamson, a raise. You must be kidding! It was originally proposed that he get a meager $1 million. But in a motion filed late Friday night - a convenient time if you don't want the press get hold of it - Kmart felt that because of Mr. Adamson's "wealth of experience in both retailing and restructurings," he deserves a higher amount. I mean, face it, he's been on the job ONE MONTH. It's got to be grueling.

Now in addition to the one and half million dollars, Kmart wants to give their new CEO a bonus equal to 125% of his base salary. He'll have to wait until they emerge from the bankruptcy to receive this bonus, poor thing.

So where does a bankrupt company come up with this kind of money? With a $10 million letter of credit - pending bankruptcy court approval, of course. The $10 million will pay for his salary, bonuses, incentives, benefits and perks. If I may quote the Journal: "The letter of credit in effect guarantees that Mr. Adamson will be compensated as promised, regardless of how Kmart fares in the future."

Wouldn't it be nice if we all got paid that way? I mean, l love this country and I really like capitalism, but what's fair is fair.

I've got an idea: instead of asking the court, why don't they ask one of the 22,000 ex-employees if he should get this raise. Heck, ask the current ones who have probably had their wages frozen at 8 bucks an hour. For KERA Marketplace Middays, I'm Maxine Shapiro.

Marketplace Midday Reports air on KERA 90.1 Monday - Friday at 1:04 P.M.