lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Aug 20 10:46:09 MDT 2003
George Pataki is shocked, shocked by the power outage.
by Matt Taibbi
Here’s a fun activity you New York blackout veterans might want to try:
Go online and check out the website of Niagara Mohawk
(www.niagaramohawk.com), the Western New York utility that has been
fingered as the possible culprit in last week’s hilarious, ridiculous
power outage. It’s a boring site, no question–not exactly
farmsecrets.com. But the banner at the top of the page is interesting.
Niagara Mohawk, a National Grid Company.
That’s what the site’s looked like for about three years now, or ever
since the London-based National Grid Company bought Niagara Mohawk in
September 2000. Some of you might be surprised to learn that an American
utility–a thing indispensable to daily life and national security–can be
owned by a foreign company. I know I was, when I first became a Niagara
Mohawk customer in Buffalo last year. Niagara Mohawk, or NiMo, as it’s
commonly known, is a popular villain in the press in Western New York
(particularly in what passes for an alternative press there).
Among other things, it’s one of about a gazillion giant companies to
announce major layoffs in the area in recent years. The NiMo layoffs
came in the wake of the $8.9 billion buyout, which was announced on
September 5, 2000. At the time of the buyout, National Grid USA
announced plans to eliminate between 500 and 750 jobs, or somewhere
between five and eight percent of its total workforce.
Wall Street liked that news. On September 1, 2000, before the National
Grid rumors started, NiMo’s share price was $13.87. On the day of the
announcement, it was $15.75. Ultimately, National Grid USA hopes to
eliminate as many as 950 jobs. Meanwhile the NiMo corporate officers who
signed off on the buyout deal rode into the sunset. CEO William Davis
left with a golden-parachute payment of $2.7 million, and he and nine
others were kept on staff at four times their annual salary. The NiMo
deal, National Grid itself and the blackout all have a common ancestor:
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