Red light, Green light

Things get gray when it comes to green

Red light, green light:Brace yourself, Buzz is about to delve into the world of high finance, proving once again that ignorance is no bar when you have a deadline and a column to fill. Today's subject is a "scandal" involving Affiliated Computer Services, the Dallas-based technology services company to whom the city council recently awarded a $13.29 million contract to install red-light cameras in the city. (We put "scandal" in quotation marks because, really, can a story about business people nosing ever deeper into the trough really count as a scandal anymore?)

You may have read about the problems ACS has had with the feds and Securities Exchange Commission over how it granted its executives stock options. You could have read all about it in The Wall Street Journalback in March. But if you, like Buzz, prefer to read papers with comics sections, you may have been stuck with The Dallas Morning News, which has been a little slow out of the gate with the story.

Tapping into our vast store of biz acumen, allow Buzz to sum up: The case involves the backdating of stock options, a dodgy process that can be explained this way: If you don't know what a stock option is, you'll never get one, so don't think about it. The backdating part involves the clever use of general relativity to alter the flow of time so that some really well-compensated people become obscenely compensated. Backdating may or may not be wrong, because when you're talking kajillions of dollars, right and wrong, like time, are fluid concepts.

Here's the part the Morning News didn't mention in its report this week about the resignations of ACS CEO Mark King and CFO Warren Edwards, who quit after an internal investigation found they "violated the Company's Code of Ethics for Senior Financial Officers": They weren't exactly kicked to the curb. They'll stick around until June 30 to oversee the transition and load the trunk of their Lexuses with office supplies.

Hah. We kid. But truly, King will be paid $52,500 per month through June, and Edwards will get $34,300 per month. They'll lose a bundle in stock options, though. Poor babies.

To recap: Violate ethics, get paid as much in a month as many families hope to make in a year. Which leaves Buzz with one question: Whose wife do we have to screw around here to get that sort of canned?

 
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