Friday, February 18, 2005

Turns Out I Don't Have CEO-Size Desires

by Tom Bozzo

Some people drool over $5,000 TVs. Thanks to the local Stickley dealer's sale catalog, which was curiously delivered privately to seemingly the whole neighborhood — instead of being targeted for mailing to households of Sufficient Income (a sign of what rapidly rising house prices are doing to the perception of our neighborhood, I suppose) — I have learned that what I am inclined to drool over is a $5,000 Mission-style desk. My actual desk at the office is a big white Techline table on which a new LCD monitor rises above a field of papers broken here and there by baby pictures.

However, reading this story from yesterday's Washington Post, I see that my positional good ambitions are purely amateur in their scope.

On behalf of former chairman and CEO Joe Allbritton, troubled D.C. banking institution Riggs Bank paid $1.2 million to have an extra-large galley installed in the company's 1998 Gulfstream V jet. That is just the thin end of $100 million in company-paid aviation expenses incurred for the G-V and an older Riggs-owned Gulfstream III, overwhelmingly incurred for the personal use of the Allbrittons and of various politicians and media celebrities the Allbrittons wanted to schmooze.

Evidently, to answer my previous question about corporate jet envy, Allbritton must have been thumbing dreamily through the G-V brochure even as the lesser aristocracy were imagining themselves living the high life in the G-III.

Another juicy tidbit, in the department of the very rich are under-taxed, is that whereas Riggs spent some $5 million a year on its jets, under income tax rules that value personal use of company planes at applicable first-class airfares, the Allbrittons never reported more than $50,000 a year in income from personal use of the jets. That's about the cost of one one-way transcontinental non-stop flight in a Gulfstream. According to the Post, the Allbrittons took twenty-two purely personal trips, many with complicated itineraries, in the G-V in 2003.
Hey looks like I get to check out Madison next Saturday. I got a job interview up there for a national organization. I thought there was a Madison suburb of Chicago (silly Floridian). Looks like I have a little bit of a drive next Saturday. haha
A week from tomorrow? Drop me a line before you set off.

I'm not sure what Floridian standards are, but I'm a mid-Atlantic native who used to think it was a long way from Philadelphia to Baltimore. If you end up staying in this part of the world, you'll get used to 2-3 hour drives.
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