SONICblue chief ousted after
challenging insider loans
SAN JOSE — A tech company executive who demanded that his board members repay their sweetheart loans early or resign was himself fired after he went public with his ultimatum.
SONICblue Inc. chief executive and chairman Ken Potashner said he was ousted Thursday after describing his boardroom confrontation to a newspaper.
His immediate replacement, interim CEO L. Gregory Ballard, denied Friday that the loan dispute was behind the ouster but said the board would re-evaluate the loans now that investors are scrutinizing accounting at many companies.
Loans to the SONICblue board members totaling more than $500,000 were not illegal when they were issued in June 2000, and the board later voted to not hold the directors personally liable if they default.
Nor were such loans uncommon — server maker Sun Microsystems Inc. disclosed Friday it loaned $6.4 million to six executives and board members in 2001 and this year, of which $5.4 million was outstanding.
Shipping lines want mediation
in stalled talks with dockworkers
LOS ANGELES — Negotiators for shipping lines that use West Coast ports called Friday for a third-party mediator to help restart stalled contract talks with dockworkers.
The Pacific Maritime Association said mediation is the only solution unless the International Longshore and Warehouse Union presents a “serious” offer when both sides return to the table on Tuesday.
The union’s contract expired July 1. The two sides have agreed to rolling 24-hour extensions through Tuesday.
Joseph Miniace, president of the PMA, said mediation is essential to move talks along. During the past 10 weeks, the parties have met 28 times for a total of nearly 54 hours, he said.
“How can you expect to get anything done like that?” he said.
A spokesman for the ILWU called the mediation proposal a public relations ploy, saying negotiations have been ineffective because they have been undermined by government support of the PMA.