Just as they paid their taxes in 2002, American shareholders were receiving corporations’ annual reports in the mail, and what they were finding was causing their blood to boil. This episode of NOW With Bill Moyers considered how, when the value of their holdings are down, chief executive officers can still make off with a fortune.
The second segment looks at how the United States’ astonishing diversity may be the greatest challenge facing law enforcement in our big cities. In the 20 years before this show was broadcast, close to 100 black men were killed by the police in Miami. You can access the original Web page for this program at the archived NOW With Bill Moyers website.
MOYERS: Good evening, and welcome to NOW.
On Monday, our tax returns are due at the post office, so there will be much grinding of teeth across the country all weekend. But that’s not the only cause of discontent in the land.
Annual reports of American corporations have been arriving in the mail — those Rosetta stones of graphs and bars, flow charts and footnotes promissaries and promises, that tell us how companies are doing. What shareholders are finding is causing their blood to boil. Shareholder value may be down, but the chief executive officers are still making off with a fortune. Literally.
Here’s our report.
BILL MOYERS: In downtown Rochester, New York, a group of workers from the telecommunications company Global Crossing have gathered in frustration and anger.
RAY BUEBEL (WORKER): I just cannot fathom these people at the very top of these corporations ripping people off.
BILL MOYERS: They’re holding a town meeting following the company’s recent bankruptcy. Global Crossing is one of Rochester’s major employers.
REP. LOUISE SLAUGHTER (D-NY): The economic displacement to our community is profound, and we stand to lose if these people move away to find jobs elsewhere.
PAT BAUER (WORKER): I believe Enron and Global were set-up for the same purpose, to make millions of dollars for their CEO’s and to leave the rest of us behind.
MOYERS: We’re hearing a lot of complaints about corporate executives these days. Most of those complaints are about the high pay they get, even when companies do poorly, or in the case of Global Crossing, go bankrupt. And often, executives are getting rich while workers are left with nothing.
BAUER: Most of us are out, on the minimum, of at least a hundred thousand dollars from when the stock was high.
MOYERS: Consider this: from 1999 to November 2001, the Chairman of Global Crossing, Gary Winnick, cashed in stock worth nearly $735 million dollars. Co-founder Barry Porter reaped 95 million dollars from stock sales. And co-chairman Lodwrick Cook made almost 32 million dollars from his stock.
RAY BUEBEL: They were taking their stock and selling it and making millions off of those, like Gary Winnick did. He took his big profit right out of the top of the company here.
MOYERS: Global Crossing and Enron provoked such outrage is because a select few got rich while many suffered. But although they may be the most glaring examples of executives getting fat pay at faltering companies, they’re not the only ones.
BUD CRYSTAL (COMPENSATION ANALYST): It’s pay for any performance. That’s what we have. Pay for any performance. Bad — we pay for that too. I mean, it’s a joke.
MOYERS: Bud Crystal is one of the country’s foremost analysts on executive pay. He writes for Bloomberg News. He’s been looking over the numbers for last year, looking for other overpaid underachievers.
CRYSTAL: For example, at SBC Communications, the huge giant phone company, Ed Whitacre has a couple of years in a row now received a $10.5 million retention bonus. And you say, ‘Pardon me, but the performance of this company is not very good. Why do you want to retain Ed Whitacre?’ I mean, maybe what we should do is encourage him-we’ll do the Trojan Horse School of Management-we can encourage him to go work for another company and wreck that one. What do we need to retain this person for?
MOYERS: For 2001, Crystal cites plenty of examples he finds outrageous. Gordon Bethune runs Continental Airlines. Not only did Continental lose money last year, the company got 174 million dollars as part of a federal bailout. Yet, Bethune received over three million dollars in bonus and incentive payments.
And then there’s Dennis Kozlowski. He’s the Chief Executive Officer of the conglomerate Tyco International. The return on Tyco stock in 2001 was a negative 12.2%, yet Kozlowski was paid 80 million dollars.
CRYSTAL: If you had a good year, the CEO appeared in front of the shareholders garbed in the robes of Caesar, he had the laurel wreath around his head, and you know, ‘I am the person who brought you this magnificent performance.’ So then we have a bad year and we don’t have Caesar anymore. Now we have a CEO out with a Pontius Pilate wash basin and he’s washing his hands and has the towel and he says, ‘It’s not my fault.
MOYERS: Crystal knows the world of CEO’s. He was once America’s top compensation consultant, advising companies on how much to pay their executives. But he quit the business — fed up, he says, with the greed and hypocrisy.
CRYSTAL: Pardon me — If you pay in the good times and pay in the bad times, there’s only two types of times as far as I know. Good times and bad times. When is it that these guys really get it, you know, in the neck? They never do.
IRA KAY (COMPENSATION CONSULTANT): I think when you have six or seven thousand companies, there’s going to be egregious examples.
MOYERS: Not everyone, of course, believes CEO pay is out of whack. Ira Kay is a well known compensation consultant who advises some of America’s biggest companies. He says, overall, pay is just about right.
KAY: Are there examples of tremendously bad performance with relatively high pay? Yes. Are there examples of tremendously high performance with relatively low pay? Yes. Those examples are not the typical, they’re not the modal, they’re not the median, and they’re certainly not good policy.
MOYERS: Kay says to think of executive pay this way: A 100 million dollars for a CEO may sound like a lot, but given the economic growth they create, a 100 million dollars is a drop in the bucket.
KAY: So if they created, you know, ten billion dollars worth of value, one percent of ten billion is 100 million dollars. We think that a typical chief executive officer who is earning one or two percent of the appreciation in their company’s market value, one could look at that as a pretty good bargain.
MOYERS: But as critics like Bud Crystal point out, 100 million dollars is a huge loaf of bread, no matter how you slice it.
CRYSTAL: When I did a study of CEO pay in 1973 for major companies, the ratio of pay of the CEO to the worker was 140 times. Then it kept rising and rising…200…300. Now it’s very close to 500 times. So I mean, there’s some just enormous numbers. We have some billionaires now, who got all their money by being CEO’s of companies.
MOYERS: To understand why CEO pay is so high, you need to look at how CEO’s are paid. Not only do they get salaries and bonuses, they get another form of pay called stock options. Simply, a stock option is the right to buy a share of company stock at a low fixed price. For example, let’s say that fixed price is ten dollars. Now, let’s say the stock goes up in value to $20 a share. Since you can buy it for ten, you make ten dollars profit per share. And if you have been given a million options, that’s ten million dollars profit.
CHARLES ELSON (PROF. UNIV. OF DELAWARE): Nothing surprises me today.
MOYERS: Charles Elson is a Professor of Business at the University of Delaware. He says stock options are almost always a guarantee of riches for two reasons: They can be exercised years after they are first given, and stock prices generally rise over time.
ELSON: The country’s gross national product always grows. Three, four percent, we’re always expanding, there is a natural affinity to expand. The same thing with a corporation.
MOYERS: In other words, because stock prices tend to rise over time, options set at low prices today can have huge payoffs down the road.
CRYSTAL: When you think about stock options, people are in effect, in a given year harvesting crops that were planted often as much as seven or eight years earlier.
MOYERS: It was assumed CEO pay would decline last year because of the recession. And in many cases, salaries and bonuses did go down. But options continued to be a big part of executive pay packages. And options will ensure many CEO’s continue to prosper.
MOYERS: Again, a couple of case studies. Wayne Sanders is CEO of the consumer products company Kimberly Clark. He didn’t get his bonus last year because of missed goals. But never mind. He still got stock options for half a million shares that, in the future, could be worth as much as 55 million dollars.
William Esrey is the CEO of phone giant Sprint. Sprint lost 1.4 billion dollars last year. Yet Esrey got five million options that could be worth as much as 188 million dollars.
So Crystal says, don’t believe it if you hear executives claim they went through hard times last year.
CRYSTAL: It’s almost like we have to book Carnegie Hall for a benefit concert for these poor souls. At the very time that’s happening, very quietly, you know, all of New Jersey is being planted with options. I mean, you just can’t see anything but stock options in the ground. Just little tiny shoots, but pretty soon they’re going to become nice sized plants.
MOYERS: Last year also saw another twist involving options. It’s called “re-pricing.” Remember, over time, it’s assumed stocks will rise. But what if stocks fall? With re-pricing, a CEO turns in his existing options and then gets new ones that allow him to buy stock even more cheaply. Last year, Gordon Bethune of Continental Airlines initiated such a swap. Industry analysts say he’ll soon get 800,000 replacement options, making him a winner even in a down market.
PETER CLAPMAN (TIAA-CREF): That produces a heads I win, tails let’s flip again kind of mentality.
MOYERS: Peter Clapman works for TIAA-CREF, the world’s largest pension fund.
CLAPMAN: You can’t have a compensation program where people constantly adjust the different components and different methodologies based on whether the market is going up or down.
MOYERS: TIAA-CREF manages retirement money for millions of small investors. They say tricks like “re-pricing” are costing their shareholders money.
CLAPMAN: That’s money that really should not be going to the executives that are producing mediocre performance. They’re taking money out of the shareholders returns.
MOYERS: Over the last few years, TIAA-CREF has started to confront companies over the issue of pay, seeking reforms. As a large institutional investor, TIAA-CREF has the muscle to negotiate with companies. But many individual investors are also upset. So how does one person gets heard?
ROGER RATH (SHAREHOLDER ACTIVIST): So this is all coming off the bottom line. As a shareholder, you know, I’m disgusted.
MOYERS: Roger Rath is what’s know as a shareholder activist. He, too, tries to get companies to change. But he does it by attending annual company meetings where an individual can speak directly to those in charge.
RATH: I think the board of directors of these companies have to stand up to these people who are apparently very greedy and say, “Enough is enough. And when are you going to deliver the goods for us? And even if you do, we’re not going to continue to pay you outrageous sums of money.”
MOYERS: Rath believes the problem of excessive pay can be traced to so-called “crony boards” — board of directors packed with friends of management. After all, it’s the board of directors who approve pay packages and oversee how a company is run.
RATH: It’s a club. And you know they’re on each others’ boards. They basically are there to rubber stamp anything the CEO wants.
MOYERS: TIAA-CREF also believes that crony boards are a problem and has focused much of its muscle on busting them up. Professor Charles Elson now sits on the board of directors of several major companiesm — put there at the suggestion of big pension funds. The hope is an outsider like Elson can act as an independent voice.
CHARLES ELSON: If the board itself is management, it’s impossible to negotiate with yourself. Everyone knows if you negotiate with yourself, you negotiate a very good deal for yourself, and not necessarily a very good deal for the company.
IRA KAY (COMPENSATION CONSULTANT): I have found that on these key corporate governance issues that board members take their responsibilities extremely seriously.
MOYERS: Compensation consultant Ira Kay says the criticism of boards, like the criticism of pay, is often exaggerated.
KAY: I attend two or three compensation committee meetings a month. Probably one full board meeting a month. And there is excellent questioning by very, very intelligent people. So I think they are extremely interested and they are very motivated.
MOYERS: That reassurance doesn’t mean a whole lot to someone like Matt Fico. He worked for Global Crossing. In the company’s collapse, he not only lost his job, but his savings and his severance-a payment of $1000 a week.
MATT FICO (GLOBAL CROSSING EMPLOYEE): To me, the money they owed me is a lot of money. It might not be to some people, but it’s a lot of money that we were relying on to pay our daily needs. Food, mortgage, car payments. It was a big blow.
MOYERS: But at the same time Fico was being let go, Global Crossing hired a new CEO named John Legere. As part of a “welcome aboard” package, Legere was given bonuses and gifts totaling at least 16 million dollars.
FICO: If the company’s doing so poorly, why is there millions of dollars available to executives? Its almost like they’re speaking out of both sides of their mouth.
MOYERS: And don’t forget the other Global Crossing executives, like Chairman Gary Winnick. It was proceeds from his 735 million dollar stock sale that helped him to buy this estate, reported to be the most expensive single-family home in America.
FICO: He bought a $62 million dollar home. It’s the most expensive home in the United States. He’s putting 15 million dollars into this house but until he walks in my shoes for a day he will never understand.
CRYSTAL: I mean, that’s what I like to call the executive compensation Olympics.
MOYERS: Bud Crystal says the next time you hear a story about a company like Global Crossing, where the top guys got rich as the company went down the drain, think of it as a new version of the Olympic high jump.
CRYSTAL: You know, in the real Olympics, if you’re doing the high jump, you set the bar at six feet, and you invite the person to jump over it. And if he does, you move the bar up. If he crashes into it, that’s the end. He’s finished. Now the executive compensation Olympics starts the same way, we have the bar at six feet. But if you crash into it, we don’t send you to the showers, we lower the bar to five feet and invite you to try again. And then, if that doesn’t work, then we lower it to four feet and to three feet. If we have too, we’ll bury the bar. And you can walk across and get the gold medal.
MOYERS: In other words, no matter how bad a job they do, the CEOs get the gold.
Unlike the Olympics, there is no end to this story because every day there are new headlines to report. The fired chief of Ford Motor Company gets 18 million dollars, while the company loses 5-plus billion.
The chairman of Chase Manhattan gets 20 million for buying JP Morgan and Company–and the stock falls by a third.
Xerox has to pay a record fine of 10 million dollars for inflating its stock with false information. But while the stock is up, the CEO sells his shares for 16 million dollars.
Not only are executives wallowing in wages, says THE ECONOMIST magazine, their pension plans are suffering rampant inflation. But ordinary workers are now putting more money into employee-sponsored pensions than their companies are — and the plans are not as safe as the old ones.
These CEOs are the new feudal lords, writing the rules to suit themselves. They’ve even rigged the tax codes so companies get a tax writeoff for those stock options that make executives rich.
So consider these headlines: THE WALL STREET JOURNAL – “Bush Administration Seems to Ease Curbs on Tax Shelters for Corporations.”
THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE: “American Corporations Balk at Disclosure of Tax Shelters.”
NEWSWEEK: “Corporate America Has a Gift For Finding Loopholes (including on some lovely off-shore islands.)”
We’re beginning to hear voices saying enough’s enough, the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Harvey Pitt, for one. And Warren Buffett, perhaps America’s most successful investor, this week urged Congress to require more honest accounting on stock options. But the last time this was tried, Senators voted it down… making — and these are Warren Buffett’s words, not mine — “Making a number of their largest campaign contributors ecstatic.”
Well, ecstatically back to those tax returns.
MOYERS: A week from today, in Geneva, Switzerland, an election will decide the new chair of the world’s most influential panel on climate change.
This may seem remote, but there’s a story behind it. A story about hardball politics. It goes to the heart of power, to who’s calling the shots in Washington today.
Take a look at this memo sent to the White House last year. It’s trying to oust the head of that panel I mentioned, Dr. Robert Watson.
And who wrote this memo to the White House? Why, the energy giant Exxon-Mobil. That’s right, Exxon-Mobil used its inside access to the Bush White House to declare Dr. Watson persona non grata. Message heard, and Dr. Robert Watson has joined the list of endangered species.
Why? Well, let’s ask him directly. Thank you for joining us.
When did you learn that Exxon-Mobil had you on its hit list?
DR. ROBERT WATSON: I’d heard a number of months ago that a memo had been sent to the White House arguing that I should be displaced from the head of the inter governmental panel on climate change.
MOYERS: Why? What do they have to fear from you?
WATSON: I think they don’t like the message that I’m portraying. I represent thousands of scientists across the world, and the conclusion of these scientists is that the earth’s climate is changing, and it can be attributed to human activities.
And the dominant reason that we’re changing the earth’s climate is because we’re increasing the concentrations of a gas called carbon dioxide, and that comes from the combustion of fossil fuels — coal, oil, and gas.
MOYERS: There are reports this week that lobbyists for the coal industry, the electric utilities, the automobile industry, they’ve actually joined with Exxon-Mobil to seek your ousting.
I mean, that’s quite an axis of influence that you’re up against. I just still don’t understand why they have to be fearful of the kind of information you’re just talking about.
WATSON: It’s not at all clear, actually, because some of the energy giants in the world, like British Petroleum and Shell, have looked at the IPCC report and adopted its conclusions. They’re already starting to reduce their use of energy, their emissions of greenhouse gases.
There are some energy giants within the U.S. that seem to be fighting the results of our reports and don’t want to accept our results.
MOYERS: The IPCC stands for…?
WATSON: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
MOYERS: And it represents how many governments?
WATSON: More than 100 governments normally are represented every time we meet.
MOYERS: And you have a report coming out that says…
WATSON: Well, our report came out a few months ago, and it said the earth’s climate is warming, that we cannot explain observed warming on natural phenomena, and that most of the observed warming in the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.
We went on to say that the earth’s core will warm even more in the future, there will be more extreme events — heat waves, floods, droughts — and that for most people in the world there will be adverse effects.
MOYERS: Why does that threaten these companies?
WATSON: If one wants to deal with climate change, one has to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. That’s to say we have to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and the other gases that warm the atmosphere.
MOYERS: Have you ever met Lee Raymond, who is the Chairman of Exxon Mobil?
MOYERS: Did you read his famous speech he made in China in which he said, “We just don’t know enough to say with certainty that global warming is occurring ot …that human beings are causing it”?
WATSON: Yes, I’ve read the speech. He’s right, we haven’t gotten absolute certainty. There are uncertainties.
But the majority of the world’s scientists that have studied this problem are convinced that human activities are changing the earth’s climate, and on balance there will be adverse consequences for society.
MOYERS: He also says, the chairman of Exxon Mobil, that forecasts of future warnings — and this is a direct quote — come from computer models that are notoriously inaccurate.
WATSON: These computer models are not perfect, but they simulate the last 100 years quite well. They simulate the current environment quite well. And they are the best tool for the future.
Even if there’s uncertainty, it goes in two directions. We may be over estimating the impacts of human activities on the climate. We may be underestimating it, and so therefore the challenge is, how do you manage our climate system recognizing there are uncertainties?
MOYERS: Help me to understand, Dr. Watson, in plain English, the relevance to global warming of the kind of fuels we do use.
WATSON: Well, we burn coal, and that puts carbon dioxide into the atmosphere; we burn oil, we burn gas. Every time you combust one of these fuels, it emits carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere. It acts like a blanket.
The carbon dioxide stops the heat escaping to space and the earth warms up.
And we’re predicting — or projecting, I should say — that over the next 100 years, if we don’t reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases globally, the earth will warm an additional 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius.
This is very significant.
MOYERS: Who wins, who loses in such a consequence?
WATSON: There are some winners. Agricultural productivity may well increase for a short period of time in Europe and in North America.
But there will be sea level rise could potentially displace tens of millions of people in low-lying deltaic states like Bangladesh, China, Egypt. Small island states like are very threatened.
Agricultural productivity almost certainly will decrease where we already have hunger and famine today in the tropics and sub tropics.
Water, a scarce commodity in many arid and semi-arid lands, will become even more scarce.
And some of our fine ecological systems like coral reefs, absolutely threatened by global warming.
MOYERS: You mentioned hunger and poverty.
Lee Raymond, the chairman of Exxon Mobil, says that poverty is the greatest polluter of all. And isn’t there a legitimate argument that in order to do something significant about global warming, we’d have to accept a level of regulation and taxation that could threaten to slow down the economy and increase poverty?
WATSON: Poverty is not the prime cause for environmental degradation. And in fact, environmental degradation hurts poor people the most.
He’s absolutely correct. We have to help poor people get out of poverty. Economic growth is the way to get people out of poverty.
Energy is a key ingredient for getting people out of poverty. But we have to produce this energy in a much cleaner way, and we have to use it in a much more efficient way.
But fundamentally, the IPCC, the economists and the technologists who are involved in IPCC believe we can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions at actually a very reasonable cost effective way that it will not hurt the world’s economy, will not hurt the U.S. Economy.
MOYERS: Well, a lot of people say, “Well, we don’t want to give up our SUVs.” Is that a legitimate concern?
WATSON: Every individual has their own choice, but let’s be quite candid. There are ways to make even SUVs more efficient.
I understand that Bill Ford has stated that over the next five years…
MOYERS: Chairman of the Ford Motor Company.
WATSON: Chairman of Ford Motor, over the next five years they will try and improve the fleet efficiency of the SUVs by 25%.
The auto manufacturers in all of Europe have said the fleet efficiency of new cars in 2008 compared to today will be 25% more efficient.
So no one is asking people to give up their cars; we’re trying to make the same technology much more efficient.
We can make our houses more efficient. We can make the appliances that we use in our houses more efficient.
We can produce the energy without so much emission of greenhouse gases.
MOYERS: And you say there are industrialists, there are corporations that understand this and accept the arguments that you scientists are making?
WATSON: Thirty of the largest multinationals in the world have already agreed to voluntary reductions in greenhouses gases that exceed the international Kyoto Protocol.
They include some American companies like DuPont, Japanese companies like Toyota, British Petroleum, Shell, Rio Tinto, the largest mining company in the world, Kodak, Alcoa, the largest aluminum company.
All of them have actually said that they are going to reduce greenhouse gases, and so far they’re actually making money by reducing their emissions.
MOYERS: Have they gone to the White House and said, “We want to keep Dr. Watson in his post”?
WATSON: Not that I know of.
MOYERS: Well, why is the administration then listening to the others?
WATSON: I honestly don’t know.
They’ve obviously got reasons why they don’t want me.
They’ve publicly stated that they want to improve their relationships with India, the effect is they think it’s appropriate to…
MOYERS: By appointing an Indian to head the committee in your place.
WATSON: Yes, Dr. Pachauri, who’s an economist and a technologist.
MOYERS: But there’s something else going on, isn’t there? I mean, the paranoia is justified.
WATSON: All I can assume is that they don’t… they want to shoot the messenger.
Whether I’m the chair of the IPCC or Dr. Pachauri, the world’s scientists will continue to study this issue. The IPCC will continue to assess it. And unless our basic knowledge and understanding of climate change changes — and there are ways of course it could change — the message will be the same: that human activities are affecting the earth’s climate system.
MOYERS: You’re saying that there is a consensus among the scientists that this is happening.
WATSON: The very large majority do believe the results of the IPCC.
In fact, after we published our report 17 national academies of science throughout the world, including China, India, United Kingdom, and others all signed a document to NATURE magazine saying the process of IPCC was solid, and they endorsed the conclusions.
President Bush then asked the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to review our document.
They put Lyle Cicerone, the Chancellor of the University at California Irvine in charge, and they assessed our report. They also endorsed the findings.
So it’s not just the scientists involved in IPCC, but independent scientists in academies around the world, very prestigious organizations, have also endorsed the results.
MOYERS: What about the argument of some people that you’re captive of the environmentalists?
WATSON: Not at all true.
About 2,000 experts, they range from natural scientists, to ethicists, to technologists, to economists from over 100 countries in the world, from universities, government labs, industry, and from environmental organizations, write the document and peer review it.
We go through three levels of peer review, so we subject it to criticism of both experts and governments.
The governments who have signed off on our documents include the OPEC countries such as Saudi Arabia, China, India, Russian Federation, U.S., European countries. There’s no way this process is at all a captive environmentalist’s.
MOYERS: The Exxon Mobil memo lists several specific things the company expects from Washington.
They want a scientist friendly to industry put in charge of the science process.
They want to replace the state department negotiator on global climate issues.
They want to defer this next report that the committee’s making until your departure.
They want to make a lot of changes that would put them in effect in control of the process.
What’s at stake in this?
WATSON: The credibility of the scientific process. I hope that all governments in the world including the U.S. strongly support an independent, transparent, credible scientific process.
Our job as scientists is not to make policy. Our job as scientists is to let the world know — the public, industry, governments — what we know about climate change, what we don’t know about climate change.
So what’s at stake is the credibility to make sure the world has honest, credible, neutral science.
MOYERS: The memo to the White House from Exxon Mobil asks, “Can Watson be replaced now at the request of the U.S.” And isn’t the answer to that question, yes, if the U.S. wants you out, you’re out, o-u-t?
WATSON: They wrote that memo a year ago, and clearly at that time they couldn’t get me out. Now we’re in a legitimate situation where we have to elect a new bureau and a new chair. So it will be the will of the majority of the governments.
There will be a vote next Friday, and it will be a straight vote: one country, one vote. And obviously the U.S. has decided to endorse Dr. Pachauri as, of course, has the Indian government.
But I also know there are many governments in Europe, Latin America, small island states, and other parts of the world who would like to see me remain as the chair.
So we’ll have to wait to see what the majority of the world’s governments would like.
MOYERS: Any prediction?
WATSON: No, I don’t know whether I have the majority of the votes or not.
But whether I have the majority or not, some governments have suggested an interesting compromise, and that is Dr. Pachauri and I co-chair it.
It would mean there would be a scientist, myself, co-chairing with an economist and a technologist; someone from the developed country, someone from the developing countries. I think it’s a very interesting compromise that should be looked at quite seriously.
MOYERS: As we say in politics we shall wait and see.
WATSON: Thank you very much.
MOYERS: Thank you for joining us, Dr. Watson.
WATSON: Thank you.
NARRATOR: And now a look at stories coming up on NPR radio this weekend.
KORVA COLEMAN: Hi, I’m Korva Coleman coming to a radio near you, it’s WEEKEND ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR news. Following the 9/11 disasters many people lined up to donate blood. One man has been donating blood every two months for years. We’ll find out why.
Meet sultry singer Norah Jones, her debut album has been influenced by Billie Holiday, Nina Simone and Hank Williams.
Find your local public radio station on our web site npr.org and tune in.
MOYERS: One year ago this week, the streets of Cinncinnati, Ohio, erupted in riots, the worst racial turmoil there in decades.
The cause was the shooting by police of an unarmed black man.
It’s a familiar story across a country where race, color, and class are a tinderbox of emotions.
The astonishing diversity of America may be the greatest challenge facing law enforcement in our big cities.
So tonight we’re taking a look at the story in Miami where, in the last 20 years, close to 100 black men have been killed by the police.
Here are NOW producer Keith Brown and NPR reporter Phillip Davis.
PHILLIP DAVIS: There’s a new American reality in Miami, Florida, one in which nothing is simply black and white any longer.
ROBERT STEINBACK (MIAMI WRITER): We are the cutting edge of the future in that this is what American cities are going to look like.
DAVIS: It’s one of America’s most diverse cities, a vibrant mosaic of whites, blacks, and Hispanics.
People from all over Latin America and the Caribbean now call Miami home.
Robert Steinback has been writing about the south Florida city for years.
STENBACK: We have a very rich, diverse mixture of cultures here. People mix at work, they mix at the mall, they mix at school, they mix, in some ways, socially. And then we go home to our very segregated communities.
Either it’s all black, all white, all Hispanic, usually even within that all Cuban, or all Colombian. Among the black community, all Haitian, all Jamaican, all Dominican and so on.
DAVIS: In this racial and ethnic sea change, one thing that’s remained constant is the strained relationship between blacks and the police.
We are riding on the tough streets of northwest Miami, with Officer Franklin Sanchez.
OFFICER FRANKLIN SNACHEZ: Being a police officer it’s kind of a no win situation. When they need you, they want you there, and when they don’t need you, they don’t want you there.
DAVIS: He is responding to a suspicious driver. A foot chase led him here to this house in little Haiti.
OFFICER SANCHEZ: Where did he go?
Tell me now.
DAVIS: You haven’t been able to get too much information out of the neighbors? Is that par for the course?
OFFICER SANCHEZ: They protect their own I guess. They may not even know them, but they’re…they’re not going to talk to us. They’re not going to talk to me.
DAVIS: Officers in Miami confront a wall of silence formed by years of fear, mistrust, and suspicion of the police.
JOHN RIVERA (HEAD OF MIAMI POLICE BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION): Police officers reach a point where they say, “Why should I risk my livelihood, my career, and my family’s future for an ungrateful community?
DAVIS: As head of the Police Benevolent Association, John Rivera represents officers throughout Miami-Dade county.
RIVERA: And what happens is officers tend not to get involved, or not to do more than they are assigned to do. And when that happens, people that live in those communities, those hot spots, they’re the ones that suffer.
NATHANIEL WILCOX: We want the police officers in our community. We want the police officers to arrest people who break the law, who break into our homes and violated the law.
We want them to do these things. But we also want them to be fair. We want them to be just in their administration of the law.
DAVIS: Nathaniel Wilcox works for Pulse, a community-based organization born out of Miami’s 1980 riots.
The city erupted when four officers, three white and one Hispanic, were acquitted in the fatal beating of an unarmed black man, Arthur McDuffie.
WILCOX: Black men are dying at the hands of the police. That’s the pattern.
DAVIS: The numbers are jolting.
Over the last 20 years, 89 blacks have been shot and killed by the police in Miami-Dade county, close to half of the total number of police shootings.
Yet blacks make up only 20% of the county’s population.
The deaths have continued, but what has changed over the years is the ethnicity of the officers involved.
STEINBACK: There is a concern about how it always seems to be that it’s the unarmed black men being shot and either the white or the white Hispanic cops generally being the ones being the shooters.
DAVIS: One of the reasons is the fragmentation of Miami’s diverse communities.
A map of the city of Miami shows just how segregated the city is — Hispanics, blacks, and whites living in distinct neighborhoods with limited interaction with one another.
STEINBACK: What you have are officers who don’t know the territory. They don’t know the people. They don’t know the mentality. And so they might be operating on this idea that, “Oh, these people are dangerous. Oh, these people are putting my life in danger, at risk. I’m in fear of my life.”
RAUL MARTINEZ (MIAMI POLICE CHIEF): We have some very good Hispanic officers who have been working for many years in the African American community.
DAVIS: Raul Martinez is the new face of the city of Miami police department, the first Cuban American at its helm.
MARTINEZ: So it has to do with the person and it has to do with how you deal with human beings, how you can arrest somebody and do it respectfully, do it professionally.
DAVIS: Martinez understands how sensitive the issue of race can be in Miami.
The force has tried to deal with that by making its own ranks just as diverse as the rest of the city.
MARTINEZ: Our police department mirrors this community almost to a “t” as far as percentage of police officers that we have that are African American and Hispanic and Anglo. We don’t have an occupying force that we bring in officers that don’t look like the community that they patrol.
DAVIS: Since the ’80s, the Miami police department has shifted from majority white, 67% of the force, to now majority Hispanic.
Of the thousand-plus officers on the force, 54% of them are Hispanic, 28% black, and 17% white.
DAVIS: But the change from white to hispanic has not stopped black fatalities.
WOMAN: I don’t want another Miami offer to feel free to shoot and kill an unarmed black man.
DAVIS: Since January 2001, 12 people have been fatally shot by area police, all but three of the victims black.
Police say most of these men were either engaged in a crime or had a long rap sheet. But on the streets, with each death, the cries of outrage and the calls for a change in the system get louder.
MAN: If I shoot someone and you put me in jail and I get ten, 20 to life, then if the police shoots somebody then they should get ten, 20 to life.
WILCOX: We’re not just talking about Hispanic, black, white. We’re talking about the system. We’re talking about the system that’s not operating. It’s inoperative, and it needs to be straightened out.
DAVIS: It’s a system Wilcox and other leaders believe has allowed rogue cops to get away with murder.
Over the past 11 years, there have been 102 judicial inquests into police shootings in Miami-Dade county. And police have been cleared in every one of them.
STEINBACK: I think the public would accept it if sometimes the officer is exonerated if in other cases, where the evidence is much stronger, the officer is proven to be wrong.
The problem is the officer never ends up being wrong.
DAVIS: We’re here in front of Elian Gonzalez’s house.
City commissioner Tomas Regalado, a Cuban American, admits many Hispanics did not support the black community’s claims against the police. Their relationship with the police had been a good one.
TOMAS REGALADO (MIAMI CITY COMMISSIONER): Unfortunately at that time, many people said, “that’s a different world.” The Hispanic community as a whole did not get involved on those issues.
DAVIS: That attitude changed drastically in April of 2000, all because of a ten-year-old Cuban refugee named Elian Gonzalez.
DAVIS: When federal agents seized Elian, Little Havana erupted in protest. The Miami police department responded swiftly.
REGALDO: People were shocked to be tear-gassed, to be beaten, to being arrested, you know, even people that were abused.
DAVIS: It was an incendiary time in Miami. Passions ran high. The police department says after the feds were gone, it was left to restore order in a community out of control.
REGALDO: The community was not out of control. The police was out of control.
DAVIS: Now blacks and Cubans began to see the police through the same lens.
WILCOX: When they were attacked by the same out-of-control police department, they got some licks upside their heads and some of their up-to-do people were…ended up in jail, they became outraged.
And when they saw what we have been going through for so many years, they understood what we had to deal with.
DAVIS: In September, the black community received further vindication when the U.S. Department of Justice announced the results of an extensive investigation into corruption and misconduct within the Miami police department.
GUY LEWIS (FROM TAPE): This morning we’re unsealing federal charges against 13 current and former city of Miami police officers.
DAVIS: Eleven Hispanic officers and two white officers who were previously investigated and cleared now face federal charges for their role in four police shootings in the 1990s. Black men were the victims in three of them.
GUY LEWIS (FROM TAPE): These officers planted weapons. They lied about their roles in the shootings. They lied about what they saw. They falsified reports. They tampered with crime scenes.
They stole money, personal property, and guns from people being arrested, guns that then were later used or dropped during the course of several of these police-involved shootings.
DAVIS: These drops are called “throw-downs.” It’s when a police officer plants a gun after a shooting of an unarmed suspect.
The guns had been confiscated during unrelated cases. All but two of the officers deny the charges and are vigorously fighting them.
But Rolando Jacobo, a former city of Miami narcotics officer, witnessed and was involved in more than one of these throw-downs. One case in particular blew the lid off the practice.
In 1997, Jacobo and his partners came upon two white homeless men who appeared to be fighting in Coconut Grove.
ROLANDO JACOBO (FORMER MIAMI POLICE OFFICER): They were on the side of the street. One had his foot on top of the other one, pointing what I thought was a gun. So I stopped, thinking that I was going to save somebody’s life, doing my job.
And I whipped a u-turn and told him to, “drop the gun, drop the gun,” and one of my partners subsequently shot, shot the one on top. The one holding what appeared to be a gun, shot him in the leg.
And it turned out to be a radio.
DAVIS: It wasn’t a gun?
JACOBO: It wasn’t a gun.
DAVIS: His partner ran to a supervisor.
Jacobo says the supervisor immediately called for a gun to plant at the scene.
JACOBO: He was calling for a gun.
I told him, “we don’t need it. We don’t need it. I could justify it.” But he didn’t listen to me.
DAVIS: Is this sort of a standard operating procedure if there’s a crime scene that there’s some doubts about, they could just call for a gun?
JACOBO: They were doing it all the time. So it’s obvious now where the other indictments… And that that little group was doing it.
DAVIS: If an officer got into trouble, were you taught if necessary to tell the truth? Or were you taught to lie to protect an officer?
JACOBO: Protect them. All costs, you know.
DAVIS: Crime had soared in the 1990s nationwide. Politicians and residents called for aggressive policing. In Miami, crime did go down.
But some say it created a police culture within the ranks that led to these cover-ups.
JACOBO: It was okay for me to lie for them because I was protecting someone they wanted protected.
DAVIS: After an internal investigation, Jacobo became the only Miami cop charged and convicted in this cover-up. He served ten months in prison.
Now he’s out, and he’s broken the code of silence, he says, because the police department did not protect him.
Now several of the officers involved in the shooting are named in the federal indictments.
JACOBO: They used me as a scapegoat, you know. I wasn’t part of their little group, and they figured, “Hey, let’s go let him take the blame, protect ourselves.”
And, you know, and I was dumb enough to fall in their trap.
DAVIS: Jacobo will never work as a cop again. He’s even fighting the city for his disability pension.
But in the wake of the federal indictments against the 13 officers, Jacobo says the truth is finally coming out.
JACOBO: They thought I was making it up, but hopefully others will come forward to really, you know, confirm the fact that I’m not lying.
DAVIS: And just recently, a second round of indictments has come down against some of the same officers charged last year. Now 14 officers in all face charges.
RIVERA: It tarnishes our reputation. It tarnishes our careers. And it makes our jobs tougher because for every police officer that gets arrested, regardless of what it is for, it taints the other officers.
And it makes our jobs only that much more difficult.
WILCOX: It just validated to those who were disbelievers, or unbelievers, what we were seeing, that there were corrupt police officers who were planting weapons, who were sending people to jail unnecessarily, and a whole battery of other police misconduct issues that have not been addressed.
DAVIS: Just a few months after the initial indictments, the citizens of Miami voted overwhelmingly to create a new police oversight panel, run by civilians that will have the unprecedented power to subpoena officers.
REGALADO: It came from the black community. It came from the Anglo community. It came from the Haitian community. The Cubans, Nicaraguans, it came from everywhere.
DAVIS: Will Miami be able to maintain this multi-ethnic cooperation in the civilian investigative panel, or will Miami’s ethnic tribalism once again get in the way?
What’s clear: how Miami deals with the panel and with its police problem will have significance for the rest of the country.
STEINBACK: The future of America is the future of Miami. Everyone is going to want a piece of the pie and everyone wants a piece of the power. Miami is not handling that well yet. But we’re the laboratory where the experiment is going to be conducted for the rest of the United States.
MOYERS: of course, the reason we wrestle with the conflicts of diversity is because America is the final destination in the imagination of so many people, from so many places.
We’re descended from so many refugees, exiles, immigrants, sojourners, wanderers, squatters, dreamers, and schemers that the great melting pot was bound to become a boiling cauldron.
What surprises me is not that so many different people come to America, but that somehow so many manage to become American.
Take a look at the largest community of Haitians in the country in the town of Delray Beach, a couple of hours north of Miami.
They came for opportunity, for security. Many came illegally. Here, as always, that could mean conflict with the police. Our photographic essay shows how the conflict turned to cooperation.
JOAN LIFTIN (PHOTOGRAPHER): For Haitians, there’s no question that just leaving Haiti is an improvement.
Delray’s the community that has the highest percentage of Haitian-Americans in the country because of its placement near Miami was a favorite debarkation point for smuggled boats from Haiti.
I met this man because the news broke that two boats of smuggled Haitians were shipwrecked off the coast of delray.
Everybody had drowned.
It was his fiancée that indeed was one of the few bodies recovered.
It’s estimated that 50% of the boats do not arrive on the shores of Florida from Haiti.
That’s how bad things are there.
And that’s how much their hopes are to arrive.
Most Haitians who arrive in this country are poor, illegal, and fearful.
The Haitian community comes from an island where they have been crushed by corrupt regimes.
So when they arrive here, they just want to keep their heads down.
They want to work, they want to get by.
They are not looking to interact with the authorities in this country.
Therefore, it’s very unusual to have a police patrol come from the Haitian community itself.
But it happened because the community was growing and they could see that what was going on in terms of drugs dropping into the community was terrible.
One of the things the police did was start police patrols and police volunteer groups.
They would both drive patrol cars and then park.
They would talk to people.
They would ask them if they were having any trouble with maybe burglaries or whether there was the sudden emergence of a drug house somewhere on the block.
They were the eyes and ears of the community.
I think the success of the Haitian patrol in Delray can happen in other communities, but it really requires the police force of the town to really want it to happen and to help the Haitian community overcome a very justified suspicion and reluctance to help the police.
MOYERS: That was Joan Liftin. We talked this week to the police department in Delray Beach, and they say that program has made a real contribution to the community.
We can hope those small sprouts of hope that have appeared in Miami and Delray Beach prove to be harbingers of promise for the rest of the country.
In Cinncinnati this week, protesters made sure the city didn’t forget that shooting of a black man one year ago.
In matters of race, the route in this country is always uphill, and it’s getting more complicated because… well, because the face of America keeps changing.
We close our program with a commentary by Professor Frank Wu.
Professor Wu teaches at Howard University law school, established in 1869 as the country’s first black law school.
He’s the author of the book: YELLOW: RACE IN AMERICA BEYOND BLACK AND WHITE.
Here’s Frank Wu.
FRANK WU: My friends sometimes ask me why I’m obsessed with race. My answer is that we’re all obsessed with race. I don’t go walking down the street, thinking, “Here I go — an Asian American — walking down the street.” I go about my daily business, and I have encounters that show me how significant yet subtle race is.
Sometimes I run into a kid, a boy maybe 6 or 7 years old, usually white, occasionally black. When he spots me, he stops, smiles, and strikes a pose.
It’s a karate pose. It’s as if he sees me wearing a black belt; he imagines “fists of fury.” He says some gibberish – “ching chong ching chong” – and howls and hisses. Then he throws a kick or a punch, laughs, turns, and runs away. Now, I could chase this kid down the sidewalk, collar him, and say, “You’re a bigot.” But I would never do that. For I know why this boy behaves as he does. I credit him with the innocence of childhood. After all, if he turns on the TV or goes to the movies, and sees somebody like me, what am I doing? I’m a ninja assassin; I’m breaking cinder blocks with my head; it’s CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. That child doesn’t know that his clownish posturing connects to a pattern of trauma for me. When I was his age, kids would call me “chink” and “jap” and “gook” and pull their eyes into a slant and chant “Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, what are these.”
All too often, we speak about race as if it is literally black and white, as if everyone fits neatly into two and only two boxes. In that equation, “American” means “white” and “minority” means black. Asian Americans and latinos – the two fastest growing racial groups — are squeezed out. We become perpetual foreigners in our own homeland.
Whatever our identities or our ideologies, this is a bad starting point. It gives us a distorted picture of reality.
I believe that those of us who are neither black nor white can further the dialogue about black and white. For example, I chafe against the image of myself as a Kung Fu expert, a geek, someone who can do calculus in my head.
Yet I know I have it relatively easy. For if I were African American, I’d face far worse. Then the image would be I’m a thug, a felon, dangerous. It all adds up. The kid who pretends to fight me likely won’t deny me a job, refuse to rent me an apartment, or take my life. But as he grows up his head will fill with other images and attitudes — images that have the power to do much more harm than a moment of clowning around.
All of us — all along the spectrum of the color line — have a responsibility to think about what we’re seeing and what we’re saying about others. That’s where racial justice begins.
MOYERS: Thank you, Frank Wu.
WU: Thank you, Bill.
MOYERS: That’s all for NOW.
Now it’s your turn.
Tell us what you think about how much CEOs are paid, and about race and justice in America.
Go to pbs.org.
For NOW, I’m Bill Moyers.
This transcript was entered on March 18, 2015.