Monday, March 26, 2007

Prima facie

The director of the Smithsonian resigned over the weekend.

On the face of it, it seems only sensible -- over the last 7 yrs he's been making between $400K and $1M a year, but also saw fit to charge the Smithsonian for $90K in unauthorized expenses (jet trips, gifts) and over a $1M for use of his house.

Understandably, some people thought that was excessive.

On the other hand:

I'm guessing one of this guy's main functions is to bring in money to the Smithsonian. Some people, by virtue of their talent, their charisma, their connections, or whatever are really good at that. And it appears that this guy was -- during his tenure, he apparently brought in a record one billion dollars (ie, hundreds of times more than they paid him).

Maybe it's just understood that in order to snag one of the guys that can bring in this kind of cash, you have to pay them a lot, and you're happy to pay for his housecleaning and his personal assistant and his pool boy and whatever else it takes so he can keep entertaining his rich friends at his house and organizing fundraising activities managing the endowment and raking in the green.

IOW, maybe he's not such a scoundrel -- maybe he's just taking advantage of a widely understood arrangement. Or maybe I'm totally wrong, I don't know.

And speaking of prima facie, i'm reminded of this quote:
Like a ski resort full of girls looking for husbands and husbands looking for girls, the situation is not as symmetric as it might seem.


At Tue Mar 27, 06:06:00 AM PDT, Blogger Irma said...

NPR reported the guy plays guitar and studies Spanish. Maybe you can get his job.

At Tue Mar 27, 10:32:00 AM PDT, Blogger blogball said...

Sound to me like the Institute wanted to improve the bottom line so they went in a different direction and hired a business person instead of a scientist.

I don’t think his salary is that extravagant for these days. He just went a little overboard with his unauthorized expenses but if these expenses help raise more money and improve the bottom line I would say that’s what you get when you hire a business person instead of a scientist.
Plus he didn’t ask for any final compensation or severance packages.
So he’s not leaving with an 18 million dollar check in his hands like some CEOs.

At Sun Apr 01, 12:09:00 AM PDT, Blogger bryan torre said...

I'll give them a call, thx Irma. (Do you think the job requires any other talents, or will I be able to just sit around practicing Malaguena and talking on the phone with Camila?)


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