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Memo to Wake Board: No more imperial CEO’s please

[1]It’s hard to know what’s more offensive: The fact that the old Wake School Board agreed to pay former Superintendent Anthony Tata $250,000 per year in the first place or the fact that the man accepted that much money and is now apparently accepting a severance payment of the same amount [2].

One of the biggest scams in modern America is, what Nobel Prize-winning economist Dr. Paul Krugman accurately describes as, “the rise of the imperial CEO.” [3] Over the last few decades, Americans have been snookered into believing that supposedly brilliant chief executives are somehow worth the princely sums they demand and receive.

This  is, in a word, baloney.

The skyrocketing salaries of CEO’s [4] have much, much more to do with the cozy and rigged game constructed by the insiders who run corporate America than they do with “market forces.”

And one of the few things worse than the scam being perpetrated by the fat cat corporate CEO’s is the phenomenon of public institutions falling for the same trick. The notion that Wake County had to pay a person with Tata’s limited education experience a quarter of a million dollars per year to run its schools because of his supposedly brilliant managerial skills was and is absurd. It was a huge and ridiculous blunder by the folks who hired the man.

But here’s the really offensive part about all of this: Tata’s apparent acceptance of a giant severance package as part of his dismissal. Why in the world does he feel he deserves this money?

He’s not going to be working for Wake County or the kids in the system.  The man was making more than $20,000 per month! What? he couldn’t put away a little nest egg to ease his transition out of that rather amazing income?

Sure, I understand he can get the money. I’m sure his lawyers are seeing to that. But that doesn’t make it moral or right.

What Tata’s acceptance of the “severance” money shows is this: His tenure as Superintendent was never about the kids; it was about him. Anyone who would take a quarter of a million dollars from a financially strapped school district for not working as “payback” or to ease his “transition” or simply because he can get it, is not the kind of a person to lead such a vital public institution anyway.

If that’s the kind of every-person-for-himself “morality” that Tata represents, then the two words seem most appropriate at this moment are these: Good riddance.