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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Network membership has its privileges

When you pay your shockingly increased natural gas bills this winter, just smile and remember where your money's going.

In the September Oregon Business magazine, they've got a list of the top-paid business executives in Portland for the 2007 fiscal year. And guess who's right there at No. 4? Mark S. Dodson, CEO of Northwest Natural Gas. His total compensation for the year? A cool $4,894,439 -- more than double what he brought in the year before.

Dodson is a member of the inner, inner Neil Goldschmidt circle, and it's obvious that he's parlayed his talents and connections into some serious dough. Of course, you'll forgive us when we wonder why his salary is going up more than 100 percent while our gas bills are going up only 40 percent. It doesn't add up!

Right behind him is Eric E. Parsons, the head of StanCorp Financial Group, which I believe is Standard Insurance and related companies. You may remember Parsons as one of the Portland Development Commission's board members in its last Goldschmidt network heyday -- when Don Mazziotti and Matt Hennessee were running it. Parsons's total compensation for the year from Standard? $4,621,121 -- a mere 21 percent boost from fiscal 2006.

Nice work if you can get it.

Comments (5)

You missed #3, John Carter of Schnitzer Steel and formerly of Goldschmidt, Imeson and Carter.

The free market aside, I don't know why we allow utilities to be publicly traded, for-profit entities. There's no way that guy deserves nearly $5 million in compensation for running a monopoly.


Seven of the top 10 succeeded in beating the market. Andrew Wiederhorn deserves Businessman of the Year for his unnatural ability to squeeze huge compensation out of abysmal performance.

Here's the 10 highest paid CEOs in order of YTD stock price performance (does not account for dividends):

Mark S. Dodson - Northwest Natural Gas Co.: +1%

Eric E. Parsons - StanCorp Financial Group: -1%

Mark G. Parker - Nike: -5%

John D. Carter - Schnitzer Steel Industries: -7%

Peggy Y. Fowler - Portland General Electric Co.: -8%

Don R. Kania - FEI Co.: -10%

Earl R. Lewis - FLIR Systems: -11%

S&P 500: -13%

Mark Donegan - Precision Castparts Corp.: -26%

Andrew A. Wiederhorn - Fog Cutter Capital Group: -65%

Kay L. Toolson - Monaco Coach Corp.: -73%

John Carter of Schnitzer Steel and formerly of Goldschmidt, Imeson and Carter.

Formerly of Bechtel? Ah, the network. Still laughing at the rest of us -- laughing hard.

I do remember Eric Parsons. I don't know anything about his work at Standard Insurance, but I can tell you that he was the best PDC Commissioner in the last ten years. If he was part of the infamous network he did a great job of hiding it because he was a completely honest and thoughtful fellow. But, no denying, the compensation is ludicrous.

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