This story sums up pretty much everything that is wrong with corporate America today.
And it demonstrates why Americans are fed up enough to take to the streets -- not just on Wall Street, but across America.
Craig Dubow recently retired as CEO of Gannett Inc., the giant publishing company that owns many newspapers across the country. Medical reasons were cited -- he apparently has chronic hip and back problems.
To ease his retirement, Dubow will be getting as much as $37.1 million in retirement and health benefits from Gannett.
This is a man who laid off 20,000 Gannett employees in his brief tenure, sending many, if not most, of them to an uncertain future with reduced or no health insurance and a perilous retirement.
Not a single one of those 20,000 got even a tiny fraction of $37 million. In fact, as Jeffrey Goldberg writes in The Atlantic:
I'm pretty sure that none of the fired journalists received a $37 million retirement package. I'm not even sure if collectively, all the journalists fired by Dubow's company received $37 million.
Goldberg is so disgusted by Dubow's parting gifts, he's ready (sort of) to join Occupy Wall Street.
The Occupy Wall Street protests don't actually move me, in part because the goals of the movement are at once inchoate and ridiculous (as Caroline Baum at Bloomberg View points out); in part because I'm allergic to drumming circles; and in part because I think a regulated capitalist system is more or less a good thing. But news like this makes you despair. Does Craig Dubow actually believe he's worth $37 million? How much does a man need to live comfortably? How much can Craig Dubow eat?
Just how disgusting is this?
Back in March it was reported that Dubow received a $1.75 million cash bonus and that his salary from 2009 to 2010 had doubled -- partly due to the bang-up job he did in dumping thousands of Gannett employees. COO Gracia Martore received a $1.25 million bonus.
How did the rest of senior Gannett management fare? Pretty good.
* Chief Financal Officer Paul Saleh: $2.9 million; includes a $225,000 bonus, after joining GCI last November.
* U.S. newspapers president Bob Dickey: $3.4 million, including $600,000 bonus. (His total 2009 pay: $1.9 million.)
* USA Today Publisher Dave Hunke: $2.5 million, including $375,000 bonus. (Total 2009: $1.9 million.)
* Broadcasting President Dave Lougee: $2.2 million, including $450,000 bonus. (Total 2009: $1.3 million.)
How brilliant was Dubow's tenure?
The same day as Dubow’s resignation, Ganett announced — via internal memo rather than press release — that it will be shutting down its network of 90 MomsLikeMe websites.
That may be the bigger event for the industry, since Gannett has long touted the mom websites as a digital hit — targeted to a demographic that had lots to talk about with each other and was a good fit for advertisers of baby goods, summer camps and the like.
Gannett, which owns 82 newspapers and 23 TV stations, has seen its stock price plummet. It has fallen 31 percent this year alone and is hovering just above $10 a share.
I'm sorry that Dubow has such severe back problems that he has to retire at the age of 56. I wish him well in recovering.
But I am also certain that many of the folks who were kicked to the curb by Dubow had chronic health problems that could go untreated without health benefits. Their health needs are just as worthy as Dubow's.