Archive for May, 2009

New Advance Discloser: CalSTRS

This week we added CalSTRS to our list of advance disclosers, bringing the total to 9. There are several reasons why this is a big deal. One is that CalSTRS is a respected institution, with a large portfolio (about $114 billion) and a good track record of engagement in corporate governance issues. (Some information about their policies is available here.) CalSTRS also is disclosing on a very broad portfolio of almost 4000 meetings a year, which means that their votes can guide shareholder-voters at a large number of companies. Finally, it’s a big deal because we’ve managed to do the disclosure directly, ie we get the votes straight from CalSTRS rather than from a website, which made it easier for CalSTRS to get going and could make things easier for us as well. Philip Larrieu and Anne Sheehan at CalSTRS are to be commended for making this happen.

Their press release is below.

CalSTRS Improves Proxy Vote Transparency

CalSTRS offers public access to all its proxy votes through online services.

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) announced today its most comprehensive, transparent disclosure of proxy votes ever.

The degree and convenience of disclosure this effort offers is unique among institutional investors. Using online postings, CalSTRS will make its votes known before the annual meetings of its more than 3,800 holdings in North America.

CalSTRS now makes its individual proxy votes publicly available online through a partnership with ProxyDemocracy, Inc. Additionally, CalSTRS is offering Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc. ProxyEdge subscribers access to all its proxy votes online. Last year CalSTRS cast more than 47,000 individual proxy votes.

“CalSTRS has called for greater transparency from its portfolio companies and we intend to lead the way with comprehensive disclosure of our votes,” said Anne Sheehan, CalSTRS director of corporate governance. “Information is vital for shareholders to make informed decisions about the companies they own and CalSTRS intends to let fellow shareholders, as well as management, know how we intend to vote.”

Like other large pension plans such as CalPERS and the Florida State Board of Administration, CalSTRS has, for years, announced its proxy-vote intentions on selective companies. The addition of online disclosure opens the process to all CalSTRS portfolio companies, allowing other shareholders to know how the pension fund will vote.

“Announcing our votes in advance will open the door to engagement with more of our companies. This discussion will bear fruit in better corporate governance practices,” Sheehan said.

Apart from posting upcoming votes, CalSTRS will archive its votes starting from 2007 on ProxyDemocracy.

ProxyDemocracy is a nonprofit organization that offers free online investor information about portfolio companies, their annual meetings and proxy ballots. Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. is a provider of technology-based outsourcing solutions to the financial services industry.

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, with a $117.4 billion portfolio, is the second largest public pension fund in the United States. It administers retirement, disability and survivor benefits for California’s 833,000 public school educators and their families from the state’s 1,400 school districts, county offices of education and community college districts.

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May 29, 2009 at 6:53 am 2 comments

Voting tool alpha

You may have noticed a new “Your shares” tab on the left side of proxydemocracy.org’s banner. We are slowly rolling out a voting service that is designed to make it easier for you to vote your shares responsibly.

We already publish the intended votes of a group of institutions whose voting policies may match your own principles. You can already look at these votes as a guide while you fill out your ballot on proxyvote.com or elsewhere. Our new system goes a step further by allowing you to view a ballot on ProxyDemocracy, see personalized recommendations (based on the advance disclosures we collect and your own voting preferences), and submit your vote right here on PD.

We’re still working out a lot of kinks, so the service for now is private. If you’d like to take part in testing, email info@proxydemocracy.org to get set up with an alpha tester’s password.

May 26, 2009 at 1:29 pm Leave a comment

Chevron Meeting — Call for Proxies

I’m a bit late on this, but through Morgan Simon I got a notice from Amazon Watch asking for proxies for tomorrow’s Chevron meeting. I’ll attach the email below.

I expect it’s too late right now to help, but the interesting thing is the increasing ease of getting non-shareholders in the door to make the case on behalf of others. A few activists have suggested that ProxyDemocracy.org start helping with this, so we’re considering it (along with a lot of other initiatives). Let me know if you have any thoughts.

Amazon Watch is coordinating proxies for a large coalition of groups, representing communities on several different continents that have been negatively impacted by Chevron’s operations. We have speakers flying in from around the world to call on Chevron to improve its human rights and environmental commitments and live up to its talk of social responsibility. However, a handful of the proxies we were hoping to use to get these people into the meeting to speak have fallen through for various reasons. We would love your help at this late date if you can provide us with a proxy.

Specifically, we are looking for proxies for:

-Michelle Kinman, of the organization Crude Accountability, representing communities suffering pollution and human rights abuses from Chevron’s operations in Kazakhstan.

-Antonia Juhasz, author of The Tyranny of Oil and most recently the creator of an Alternative Chevron Annual Report, The True Cost of Chevron, which we will be presenting to the company and the media at the shareholder meeting to spotlight Chevron’s problematic operations around the world.

-Kenneth Jerome Davis, and Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, of Richmond, CA, where a proposed expansion to Chevron’s refinery poses a health and safety hazard to many neighboring residents, most of whom are working-class people of color.

The Chevron shareholder meeting is this Wednesday, May 27th. Thus, the situation is last-minute and urgent. The paperwork we would need from you is fairly simple – just 2 documents – but one of them requires contacting the brokerage firm or institution that manages your Chevron shares (if they are not held directly with the company), and you would have to do this first thing on Tuesday, and impress upon them the need to get you the required proxy form quickly (which they should be able to do).

If you will be able to help us with a proxy, please contact Daniel Herriges at daniel@amazonwatch.org , or by phone at 651-233-3034 (cell). (Copy Mitch Anderson at mitch@amazonwatch.org ) We can give you more detailed information about how to obtain and provide us the required forms to lend us your proxy.

May 26, 2009 at 1:22 pm Leave a comment


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