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Local woman organizes panel to discuss business scandals

Local woman organizes panel to discuss business scandals


September 26, 2002

CAPITOLA - There’s an image from the Great Depression that Lucille Pine can’t get out of her head.
She was 8 years old at the time. She and her family were at a New York City trolley station when they spotted a family friend, who had resorted to selling apples on the street to earn a living. Others sold pencils and similar trifles. The pennies they earned kept their families alive.
“That’s left its mark so well,” said Pine, now 81 and living in Capitola.
“I still identify with people who need to struggle to survive.”
Today, Pine sees the struggles continuing, and lays some of the blame on the perpetrators of corporate scandals. A trained accountant, she was dumbfounded by the abuses uncovered at Enron, and later at Tyco International and other corporations.
“When I learned (Enron executives) were encouraging workers to buy stock while they themselves were preparing to sell, I thought: ‘What absolute treachery.’ Not only did workers lose their money, they lost their jobs.”
With the help of her husband, Martin, daughter Amy and son-in-law Bob, Pine invited other county residents concerned about corporate abuse to a meeting earlier this month. From that gathering, a core of 10 people formed PACT, People Against Corporate Thievery.
The purpose of the group is severalfold, but starts with educating people about corporate scandals. The long-term mission is to see that executives who deceive shareholders and employees are punished with prison sentences; that their assets are seized; that money raided from shareholders and employees is returned; and that laws are rewritten to prevent more scandals.
Pine, a grandmother of three, hopes the group will draw enough attention to inspire residents in other counties to make noise about corporate abuses which she says are bound to reoccur if the government doesn’t clamp down on loose accounting standards.
“The human being is power-hungry, greedy, and unless we have proper checks and balance, we are going to have this,” she said.
PACT will hold a “town meeting” Oct. 1, at Temple Beth El in Aptos, which has contributed space for the gathering. A panel will address corporate legal loopholes, reforms, punishment and restitution, and will discuss what residents can do to curb abuses.
The panel includes former Santa Cruz Mayor John Laird, now a candidate for state Assembly; and John Isbister, a UC Santa Cruz professor of economics and chairman of the board of Santa Cruz Community Credit Union. Kathy Riley, an investor, and Joyce McLean, a representative from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, also are on the panel.
Pine worries the country’s economic problems could lead to another era like the one that followed the stock market crash of 1929. During the Depression, her father, a garment worker, was reduced to digging ditches for the federal government’s Works Progress Administration to keep the family afloat.
It was only when World War II broke out that business began to improve, she recalled.
“I fear having a real recession here, and I fear going to war to bring us out of it,” she said. “There’s got to be a better answer than that.”
Throughout her life, Pine’s done what she could to right what she saw as social wrongs.
At 18, she walked picket lines for fur workers in New York City; in her 40s, she joined marches protesting the Vietnam War.
She says her role model has been her mother, who bucked the social norms of her day and worked outside the home selling real estate and life insurance. Her mother also was a follower of Margaret Sanger, a pioneer in the birth-control movement that led to the creation of Planned Parenthood.
Pine also has worked on campaigns usually for Democratic candidates but sometimes for Republicans and in Fair Lawn, N.J., she was on a political committee advising local lawmakers.
After moving to Capitola six years ago, Pine helped organize residents at the Loma Vista mobile-home community to buy the park.
At 81, she’s not slowing her work for social change.
“I’m interested and, thank goodness, I’m a healthy woman: I have my energy and I have my head, and I’m grateful. As long as I can do it, I’m going to do it,” she said.
Contact Michael de Give atmdegive (at)
PACT meeting
WHAT: People Against Corporate Thievery meets to discuss corporate abuses.
WHEN: 7:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday. October 1st
WHERE: Temple Beth El, 3055 Porter Gulch Road, Aptos. Overflow parking available next door at Cabrillo College.
CONTACT: Lucille Pine, 464-9652
TUNE IN: PACT founder Lucille Pine discusses the group’s mission on ‘Prime Time,’ a radio show on KUSP-FM, 88.9 on the dial, at 12:05 p.m.

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